Monthly Archives: December 2011

Star Distance Measurements and Genesis

Some questions were asked on star measurements and the age of the universe in a forum I hang out at. Being I taught observational astronomy for a bit, I figured ok I can chime in on this… So, here we go with star measurement methodologies.

1. For nearby stars one uses geometry based upon the earths rotation around the sun. The math and measurement approach is solid. It can be observed in ones own backyard with very modest equipment. The observational data is then modeled and a distance is calculated. The geocentric worldview which was derived from the scriptures was in conflict with this… It took many years for the church to accept, but the geocentric worldview was finally known to be in error. As such, the interpretation of scriptures leading to such a worldveiw was proven to be in error.

2. For more distant stars, one looks at their color distribution and brightness. A given color distribution must have a known brightness… if the brightness is lower than its color distribution would suggest, the star is further away. This too can be observed in ones own backyard with pretty modest equipment. This data is then modeled and a distance is calculated.

3. For very distant stars, one looks at their color distribution and how far it has shifted towards the redder colors, not unlike hearing the pitch of a train whistle or car horn decrease as it proceeds away from a person. This too can be observed in ones own backyard, but it takes a fair amount of work. This data is then modeled and a distance is calculated.

As Christians, what we have is the following:
A. The scriptures and how we interpret them.
B. What we can see with our own eyes, how we interpret what we see, ie observations, models, and conclusions.

This leads to the messy situation, where in your buddy sees a orange cat, and yet you tell him its white as thats what the Bible says it is. Even worse, you tell him its white with great authority, even though you have not taken the time to go look for it yourself or even consider that how you are interpreting the scriptures could be in error.

What if the cat really is white, and your buddy needs to get to an eye doctor fast?

What if the cat really is orange, and your interpretation of the scriptures is in error like the geocentrists was… Have you put a stumbling block in front of your buddy?

Does the color of a cat, or the age of the universe really matter as concerns issues of faith or practice?

If it does matter in areas of faith and practice, what will happen to your belief system should star distance measurement denial follow a similar course as geocentrism?