Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I see the light

You get out what
you put into it

FightingAtheist posted a helpful video on YouTube so that theists could understand what it would take to turn him into a believer. FA suggested that a fulfilled prediction could fill the bill, supposing that the prediction had sufficient specificity to demonstrate genuine knowledge of the future and wasn't trivial in nature. He also observed it would have been impressive if Jesus had tipped off his disciples to the theory of relativity and Einstein's equation for mass-energy equivalence:
Just think, what if Jesus had said something like this? “My disciples, I say unto thee that energy is mass times the speed of light multiplied unto itself.”
Yes, that would have been a killer item to embed in the Bible and way better than most of the stuff you find there. I also agree with FightingAtheist that it would have made the Bible a much more credible tome. If Scriptures were that scientific, a lot of us would have to line up behind FightingAtheist to be inducted into the ranks of the believers.

Unfortunately, however, the Bible is more famous for things like the implication that pi might be 3 or that crickets have four legs. The Bible is not a work of science.

Or is it?

FightingAtheist challenged his theistic viewers to post videos explaining what it would take to change their minds about God and turn them into atheists. Some of the respondents, however, preferred to try to convert FA instead and prove to him the existence of their supreme deity. (No doubt FA could have predicted this without requiring any miraculous foreknowledge of the future.) I was especially taken by the rebuttal posted by h20Enthusiast, aficionado of quack energy schemes, Christianity, and 9/11 conspiracy theories. It is h20's contention that the Bible is a book of science. The Bible clearly identifies—with astonishing accuracy—the value of the speed of light. He can prove it mathematically!

Of course, you have to do a little work to winkle it out, because it's not like Jesus simply says, “Verily I say unto you, but light traveleth as many cubits in a day as the number of weeks in a year multiplied unto itself eight-fold. That's a lot, bitches.” (There are 52.177 weeks in a year and (52.177)8 = 5.49 × 1013, which equals a light-day for a cubit of slightly less than half a meter—which by most accounts it was in the time of Christ. It would certainly have been in the ballpark.) h20 says it's more subtle than that.

You can (and should, but with the sound turned down) watch h20's video for the full impact of his reasoning (try not to be offended by his obligatory use of “Fools say there is no GOD” and “ATHEISTS are FOOLS”), but here's a summary of his delightful argument:

The second epistle of Peter, in chapter 3, verse 8, says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” It's obvious, of course, that 2 Peter 3:8 is referring to time dilation, right? How fast does one have to be traveling in order to achieve a time dilation where one day in the traveler's frame of reference equals a thousand years in the rest frame? It's simple algebra, right?

Hmm. It looks like we're about to subtract a number very close to zero from 1, leaving a number very close to one (just a tiny bit smaller, of course). Which means that we're about to discover that v, the speed of travel, is awfully goshdarn close to c, the speed of light. (But just a tiny bit smaller. Big surprise.) In fact, we get v = 0.999999999996c. To the utter amazement of h20Enthusiast, however, when he plugs in 299,792,458 m/s for c, he gets v = 299,792,457.999, plus some loose change and a bunch of exclamation points. (He's very good about showing all of his decimal places, less good in his prose style.)

h20Enthusiast finds the results compelling, astonishing, and thoroughly gratifying. You see, God encoded the speed of light into the Bible. Yes, indeed. You can tell, because when you apply Einstein's theory of relativity, which says that extreme time dilation occurs near the speed of light, and demand extreme time dilation equating 1 day to a thousand years, you get a velocity very near the speed of light. Awesome. And when you plug in a long decimal expression for the speed of light, you get it back!

Amen. And try not to laugh.


h20Enthusiast may be pleased that his YouTube video went from 60 viewings to 300 in less than half a day after I cited it here (and drew a crowd of visitors from Pharyngula). He seems less pleased that his argument (which he attributes as original to xRevelator) is regarded as unpersuasive. He's posted some responses to the comments on the YouTube page for his video:
h20Enthusiast (1 hour ago)

I do understand your objection.... it doesn't look like evidence to you ... I get it.

h20Enthusiast (1 hour ago)

im implying the AUTHOR also CREATED the speed of light.

sorry if that doesn't fit inside your head.
Actually, it fits inside my head just fine. Perfectly comfortably. Vacuous statements don't take up much space.


h20Enthusiast quickly grew tired of being assaulted by atheist hordes (or so it appears) and made his video private. Although I captured the key items in this post (and you can see other details at Good Math, Bad Math, the entire content of h20's video is essentially a video transcript (with a few anti-atheist insults sprinkled in) of xRevelator's screed on his YouTube page, which you can check out in its original form here. Or just pore over the following rant, where I quote xRevelator's statement in extenso for your edification:

Why do I believe in God? I am a scientific person and everything should be weighed carefully by facts and evidences. No compromises.

The verse that peaked my interest is this one:

Peter 3:8 NIV

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

One might ask, how can a day be a thousand years and a thousand years be a day? This sounds rather absurd. But, using scientific knowledge, the absurd becomes logical.

It is called Einstein's Theory of Relativity - Time Dilation.

Here is a mathematical explanation:

Say, if a spaceship traveling at 80% the speed of light for 1 hour, how much time has passed by relative to Earth?

Δt' = γ Δt
. . = Δt / √( 1 - v² / c² )
. . = ( 1 hr ) / √( 1 - ( 0.8c )² / c² )
. . = 1 hr / √( 1 - 0.64 )
. . = 1 hr / 0.6
. . = 1.667 hr

The earth experiences 1.667 hours.

Therefore, the spaceship is effectively traveling to the future as 1 hour on the spaceship traveling at 80% the speed of light equals 1.667 hours on Earth.

Reading the verse again (Peter 3:8), how fast is the Lord traveling so that a thousand years on Earth is like a day with Him?


1000 years=1day/√(1-v²/299,792,458² )
365250 days x √(1-v²/299,792,458² )=1 day
133407562500 x (1-v² / 89875517873681764) = 1
133407562500-133407562500v²/89 875517873681764=1
-33407562500v²/898755178736817 64=-133407562499
-33407562500v²= -11990073767863191518066568236
v²=89875517873008072.672541095 531972
v=299792457.998876403809564537 24992

The answer is 299,792,457.998876403809564537 24992 m/s. The speed of light is exactly 299,792,458 m/s. It strangely yields a resultant of 99.999999999625% of the speed of light. This is truly baffling.

We should take note of the strange accuracy of the verse. It could result to any random number, but what is truly baffling is that it registers a resulting answer digit for digit accuracy of the speed light except for the last digit before the decimal.

The answer obviously should be less than the speed of light because time will cease to exist at infinity at the speed of light.

The Bible has clearly demonstrated by this simple verse on its precise accuracy of scientific facts way beyond its time. The first quantitative estimate of the speed of light was only made in 1676 by Ole Christensen Rømer and Time Dilation by Einstein only in 1905.

How is it possible that the ancient Bible holds hidden knowledge of time dilation and the speed of light? This is quite strange which offers no logical explanation.

Either we dismiss this as mere coincidence or we accept the Bible as a book of truth.

This is no longer a matter of belief, but rather a matter of accepting reality.


Anonymous said...

The song playing in the video was Judith, by A Perfect circle, a song about a son's disdain for his mother's religion. Fundies have no sense of irony. The line, "fuck your god" is screamed right there in the beginning.

Anonymous said...

Als he's saying is that given Einsteins special relativity and an extreme time dilation, v/c is small. He's also saying that God is massless...

Zeno said...

Actually, Anon, he's just discovering that extreme time dilation implies that v/c is approximately one, but doesn't recognize how mundane that is in the context of special relativity. h20 thinks it's a miracle.

Anonymous said...

And try not to laugh.

Too late. You should have warned us earlier on ...

miller said...

I think he forgot to estimate his error bars. *snicker*

I love his totally gratuitous "TELL HIROSHIMA and NAGASAKI that EINSTEIN's THEORY doesn't HOLD WATER!" He sure is skilled at anticipating counterarguments.

K. Signal Eingang said...

So if I'm getting the implications of this correctly, Earth and God are currently rocketing away from each other at nearly the speed of light?

According to Wikipedia estimates for the date of authorship vary from 60AD to 160, so, splitting the difference we can say that God and Earth are now separated by approximately 1,900 light years away, about as far away as the M42 nebula in Orion.

I guess you learn something new every day.

K. Signal Eingang said...

(er, date of authorship of 2 Peter, that is.)

Anonymous said...

So, "The verse that peaked [sic] my interest...." His command of the English language is wanting. There are some things that pique my interest, but drivel such as his isn't one of them.

Howlin' Wolf

Anonymous said...

No, no, no, Anonymous #1! God isn't massless! He must have a mass if his velocity is less than c. Only a truly massless particle can travel at c. On the other hand, we can't determine what Jehovah's rest mass is here. But we do now know that God is not infinite! Here:
God has some $v < c$. Therefore $M_{God} > 0$, since only massless particles can have $v = c$. Since $v < c$, $ \gamma = 1/\sqrt{1 - v^{2} / c^{2} } \neq \infty$. If $M_{god} > 0$, then $E_{God} = \gamma M_{God} c^{2} \neq \infty $ because $\gamma \neq \infty$.
If you don't read TeX, we know that
gamma, the Lorentz factor (one over the square root of one minus v-squared over c-squared) is finite because God's velocity is less than the speed of light. If the Lorentz factor is finite, then no matter what God's mass is, his relativistic kinetic energy cannot be infinite. Therefore God does not have infinite energy available, and it is therefore proved that God cannot make a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it. QED. Eat my shorts, h20.

Jens Knudsen (Sili) said...

Somehow *headdesk* just doesn't quite do it.

But I do like the idea of G-D hurling away from us at close to the speed of light.

Though I guess one could suggest that he's orbiting. Earth is the centre of the universe after all.

That "Ezekiel spaceship" looks a little like those gizmos they use for demonstrating propulsion with strong lasers.

Anonymous said...

Peter 3:8 NIV

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."


Interesting. I think I got what the author of that site meant.

There is one thing missing. I don't think the verse only shows time dilation through velocity (SR). It also shows time dilation through gravity (GR).

Blackhole (1 day)<--Earth (1000 years) -->Speed of Light (1 day)

Otherwise the verse would not be structured as such, both ways. The verse is merely demonstrating that time dilation is possible. Otherwise, without Einstein's equation, this verse will sound silly.

Any mass approaching the speed light will exceed even a thousand years. If given enough energy it will even exceed a trillion years. Nothing can pass the speed of light if you have mass. The more a mass goes faster, the more time dilates, and your c will always be less than the speed of light – 99.999%, no matter what for infinity. On the other hand, if the mass goes slower, at 80% c, the less time dilates at 1 hr : 1.667 hr.

I think this not more on the speed of light being encoded in the Bible, because any mass at extreme time dilation like 1day: 1000years will always yield at 99.99999% c, no matter what. But, the mere fact that what was written is extreme time dilation which yields 99.999999999625% c, should be noted and the mere fact that it shows two types of time dilation is something worth thinking about. Which comes to the question of, can God have mass?

The problem here is misunderstanding of the verse. Otherwise, it will only write, “A day with the Lord is like a thousand years” period. Why does it need to bother writing the other half? What for? It made the point.

On the other side, extreme gravity can also dilate time. One does not need to travel that fast in order to dilate time. Extreme gravity dilates time. Black holes dilate time.

Can the God of the Bible dilate time through gravity? Read this verse:

Isaiah 13:10 - RSV

9 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light

According to this verse, it is understood that the light of the stars withdrew. How can light withdraw from stars? By putting a blanket over it? Viola its gone. You guessed it, by becoming a black hole, especially those stellar sized star. Nothing can escape a black hole, not even light.

I don’t think this is a matter of light speed being discovered in the Bible, but rather time dilation. C is just a component of the equation. Without the discovery of the speed of light and time dilation, I’m afraid this verse will become non-sense.

If you were to convert the energy involved to perform such extreme task, its phenomenal. Only an omnipotent being can do it.

But, in your reality, God does not exist at all. I understand that. We're cool. Useless arguing about something which does not exist to you guys, right?

Good day!

Zeno said...

You're working way too hard, Anonymous, in trying to put a scientific gloss on a literary device intended to illustrate God's supposed power. A day is like a thousand years? The writer is implying that his deity is many times more powerful than a mere human, to whom a day is not that much (you can't even build Rome in it). A thousand years is like a day? So this God guy must be immortal and a day is just an insignificant amount of time.

He's God, you see, so he can have it both way. Amen, etc.

The author of 2 Peter 3:8 didn't know beans about time dilation and wasn't talking about the speed of light. The author of 2 Peter was glorifying God. Believers who try to make it out to be more than that are just being silly.

Nonbelievers, of course, have it easier, since we don't have to contort ourselves to try to reconcile Bible verses with reality.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zeno, that is what the Bible says. It is not many times powerful, but omnipotent - infinite powers, you can't measure it. The Bible says He is an immortal being having no beginning or an end, like Energy which cannot be created nor destroyed.

The time dilation is just a mere demonstration of how God can dilate time with his powers. Relative to God, the entirety of the whole history of the Universe and Earth is already done finished at the speed of his thought, a blink of his eyes. We are the ones that goes through time really slowly.

If the author didn't know beans, then, he is talking rubbish because how can a day be a thousand years and a thousand years be a day? Two time dilation. Correct?

If the speed of light wasn't discovered, then Einstein cannot complete his equation and that verse will be deemed nonsense. And Einstein, if he was to attempt to explain time dilation without the component of c, then he is also talking nonsense, Right?

If you say the Bible does not contain facts, you just didn't give it a fair chance.

The Bible says, the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood. Without scientific knowledge being applied here, it will seem silly. How can the moon turned blood and the sun to darkness? Science says, it is simply a Solar Eclipse and a Lunar Eclipse which turns blood red due to the refraction of light on the Earth's atmosphere. Nothing magical about this right? You have to understand the language used before to describe a celestial event. You can't expect them to say "eclipse" or "refraction of light" when these words didn't exist in their time yet, right?

The Bible also says that cow dung can be used as fuel. This is silly, correct? How can manure be used as fuel? Science says this is possible. It is called biofuel.

The Bible says the Earth is spherical. But some see the Earth is flat. Science confirms the Bible that is indeed spherical.

Is the Bible just poetic, stories concocted for adults who like fairy tales? Then, why does it contain accurate scientific facts?

All in all, science is not a belief but a mere tool to test what is claimed is nonsense or not.

You got it wrong. It is not trying to reconcile Biblical verses to fit facts, making some amazing gymnastics, rather it is using modern Science to test what is claimed whether it is true of false.

Science is not a belief system, religion is. Right?

Don't worry, I am not here to convert anyone. Just saying what the Bible says you think is nonsense.

Cow dung to cook your food is nonsense. Moon turned to blood is nonsense. A thousand years can be turned to a day is nonsense.

Good day!

Zeno said...

The Bible also says that cow dung can be used as fuel. This is silly, correct? How can manure be used as fuel? Science says this is possible. It is called biofuel.

That's a load of crap, Anonymous, if you'll excuse the expression. Cow dung can be used as fuel because it burns when dry. That's it. People have used dung as fuel for thousands and thousands of years and the Bible merely records that mundane fact. It is not a prediction of "biofuel", which involves (among other things) conversion of animal waste products into modern fuel.

Don't worry, I am not here to convert anyone.

Don't worry, you won't.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a load of crap, that is why it is dung. Excuse me as well. lol!

You are missing the point here. We are not talking about people having to use it since ancient times, we are talking about whether the statement that is written in the Bible is true or not.

I don't really care about people using it before, the real issue here at hand is whether the statement is true or not.

True or False. 1 or 0.

Simple isn't it? Right?

1. Can the moon really turn red during a Lunar Eclipse? True or False?

2. Can the Sun turn to darkness during a Solar Eclipse? True or False?

3. Can a thousand years turn to a day? True or False?

4. Can a star withdraw its light? True or False?

5. Is the Universe expanding? True or False?

6. Is there such a thing as a black hole? True or False?

7. Is the Earth really spherical? True or False?

8. Are there two types of time dilation? True or False?

Simple isn't right?

I don't really care about what you think about God or the Bible and how you feel about it. I don't really care about what you believe in life either. This is beside the point.

All what is simply required here is this: is the statement true or not? 1 or 0? Yes or No.

Good day!

Zeno said...

You have no idea what a time-waster you are, do you, Anonymous? You have a pointless list of (arguably) true statements from the Bible. It proves nothing and doesn't even suggest anything. The men who wrote the Bible knew stuff like the combustibility of dung, the darkness of an eclipsed sun, and the redness of an eclipsed moon by simple observation. Not a big deal. Other passages may be figurative or just plain wrong. Suggesting that the Bible implies that the Earth is spherical misses the point that many used the Bible to argue the opposite (the "circle of the Earth" could just as well be a flat disk).

You could make just as impressive a list of insignificantly true statements by paging through Moby Dick.

If you really want to have a good time, try to figure out whether Jesus drove out the moneychangers from the temple at the beginning of his public ministry or at the end. John's gospel disagrees with the others. John also places the Last Supper a day earlier than the others relative to Passover.

P.S.: Two kinds of time dilation? Please, spare us your blather.

Anonymous said...

All I'm asking is a simple Yes or No and not an essay.

Bye anyway and I wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

Zeno said...

You can't always get what you want, Anonymous, especially when a Yes or No answer is bogus (as my "essay" should have made clear). "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

Thank you for the New Year's felicitations. I wish you the same.

Unknown said...

Not that well verse in science stuff, but I'll post what I have looked up.

In Albert Einstein's theories of relativity, there are two types of time dilation. In special relativity, clocks that are moving with respect a stationary observer's clock run slower. In general relativity, clocks that are near to a a strong gravitational field (such as a planet) run slower.

Source: Wikipedia

According to this source, its two types. So, no. 8 will be true then.


I'll try no. 7,

I’ll use the modern translation here.

Isaiah 40:22 :

The Message translation:

“God sits high above the round ball of earth.”

The Douay-Rheims translation:

“It is he that sitteth upon the globe of the earth”

Isaiah 23:7 – The Message

Is this the city you remember as energetic and alive, bustling with activity, this historic old city, Expanding throughout the globe, buying and selling all over the world?

According to these sources, it is true then. The Earth is a ball, a globe, or a sphere. So, yes, No. 7 is true.

The rest I need to look up though.

Zeno said...

Thanks for the reference regarding time dilation, but this exercise in "Bible truth" is futile.

Isaiah knew the Earth is a globe? You say, "I’ll use the modern translation here." Of course all modern translations are done by people who know the earth is a sphere. They can interpret any ambiguity to match what they know. I note, however, that the literalists at the NIV say "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth," in keeping with the KJV phrasing.

It's not a strong argument.

Anonymous said...

Is the computation above correct the one in red? I'm poor in math.

Anonymous said...

Hi again,

I think all of you got it wrong, somewhat.

"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth."

I think it does not talk about the Earth's shape rather it talks about the circle of the Earth.

I checked with this online dictionary:

Equator: the great circle of the earth that is equidistant from the North Pole and South Pole.

The circle of the Earth is nothing more than the equator. You cannot have an equator if an object is not spherical. The Equator is what divides a sphere.

Technically, all translations are correct, although structured differently but the same conclusion anyways.

Anonymous said...

1000 years = 365 000 days

So you would to be traveling at a speed where 1/Sqrt(1-v^2/c^2) = 365,000.

Solve for v to give

v = 0.999999999996247 c

That will yield about

299792457.998874878905126 m/s

Computation is correct.

The author use 1 year = 365.242199 days and the speed of light at
299,792,458 m/s to be exact.

Anonymous said...

It's rather amusing to see efforts to try to fit the Bible to modern science. Never mind the fact that the fitting is dubious to the extreme, any science textbook that were to be written as obtusely as such fittings would indicate for the Bible would be completely useless as a textbook and ridiculed correspondingly.

Anonymous said...

new anonymous here lol

It's interesting. Certainly at the very least the 'imagination' - that a process could work in terms of time relativity is an important contribution.

The one sort-of problem I see with this equation, is the ratio of 1 day to 1000 years is not precise as far as I can see. For example, had it been 1 day to 100 years, we also would have gotten a number close to the speed of light, or 1 day to 1 million years as well. The larger the number, the more decimal places it holds to. if 1 day to 1000 years held for each decimal place up to zero I would wonder if there was a precision in that but it seems to be a random number of decimal places that it holds to. The equation is just set up so that a large number yields a v close to c.

Anonymous said...

Something you fail to comprehend is a simple two letter word which makes all your math inconsequential: 'as'.

'a day is AS a thousand years' -- not 'a day IS a thousand years'.

The reference is to give an idea; not an actual frame of time. The concept that God is not limited to time/space as we know it, as our knowledge is finite.

Anonymous said...

I realize I'm late to this party, but this is a lot like the set of labs I just marked, in which the student measure the ideal gas constant in PV = nRT. They are supposed to measure the n, the P , the V, and T of a sample of gas and calculate R. Every year, half of the students dutifully report values for n, V, and T, but when it comes to the value of P....they use their n, V, and T, look up the value of R, and calculate it using PV=nRT. Then they plug that value back in to determine R, which is astoundingly close tot he literature value!