Loweded
Alan Grant Wouldn’t Approve….

“Paleontologists have a huge incentive to twist the truth, just a little. If they can find a bone with a lump on it, theorize that it was a limb or a feather, give it an impressive name, say it is 73 million years old, and suddenly he has his picture on the cover of National Geographic magazine, has a book deal and lectures for life.”

-Ray Comfort.

Let me just start by making everyone aware that Ray Comfort has no formal training or theological degree. Yes, even in his own “career” he has had no formal training in theology. So it’s no surprise that he is again blissfully ignorant of an actual field of scientific study. If being a paleontologist were an incentive based career, then it would be no issue naming a few top paleontologists. Let me see….

Hmmmm. Well… There’s Alan Grant. No, wait! He’s a made up character in the novel, Jurassic Park. Seriously though without using Google search, name these top paleontologists and their major works that have garnered them all the press they so desperately seek. Chances are, unless you are working in the field, you probably didn’t name one.

 

Now I can name some prominent scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Michio Kaku, Brian Greene, and Neil Degrasse Tyson, all of whom have many book deals, lectures and have probably been featured in National Geographic. But Neil is an astrophysicist, Brian is a theoretical physicist and string theorist, Michio is a theoretical physicist, and Richard is an ethologist (one who objectively studies animal behavior) and evolutionary biologist.

Compared to Ray’s total lack of formal training and education not only in the topics which he heavily propagates, but especially in those which he opposes…

Dawkins attended Oxford. Tyson attended Harvard and Columbia Univ. Kaku graduated summa cum laude at Harvard and received a PhD at Univ. of California, Berkley. Greene obtained his bachelors at Harvard and his doctorate at Oxford. At the very least, these professionals have taken their interest to understand the world around them to the highest levels of self-motivation. (Note: if you believe that these schools are only in existence to brainwash people’s minds because the ideas that are learned don’t match up to your understanding of the world, then stop reading this post now. I cannot help you.)

The other difference between these professionals and Ray is that they are expressing ideas and facts related to observable nature and do so, not in the interest of proving a religion wrong, but in the sense of trying to better understand our natural world, though Dawkins has his opinion. Even so, Dawkins’ opinion doesn’t discredit his knowledge of evolutionary biology. Paleontology is the scientific study of prehistoric life. Sadly for Ray, many of these findings, for him, contradict his worldview and so his only avenue is to attack the profession. However, the fact is that even if a Paleontologist were to grace the cover with one of the biggest finds in history of a 73 million year old bone, it still wouldn’t make the evidence any less true, and even in these cases, scientists follow the road of doubt before total adherence. Not without peer review can any scientist shine in a spotlight. 

Now if you are going to sit atop a mountain and shout to the world that these scientific professions are misguided and completely false, then you had better be able to explain why they are. That’s always been Ray’s problem. He doesn’t understand mathematics, theoretical physics, paleontology, evolutionary biology, astrophysics, and I’d be willing to bet even the basic scientific foundations. Even I lack the level of understanding that Neil, Richard, Michio, and Brian do in their fields, but my lack of understanding is my problem and certainly doesn’t disprove their fields. Their books, lectures and public events help to bring their level of knowledge to a relatable level. Neil is probably the best at being able to relate his field to us less educated.

 

Ray distrusts their efforts to uncover truth because it doesn’t match his worldview, but no matter how loud he yells, the burden of proof still lies on his shoulders. If Ray can prove their methods and information to be inaccurate, they will be the first ones to compliment him on his rigorous efforts. For now, Ray is just yapping and I have to imagine that’s all he will ever do, because when one’s argument doesn’t hold up it’s then time to attack the opponent’s credentials in hopes that you can discredit them fully. Though I’d have to argue that in Ray’s case, he doesn’t really have any. Luckily I work in the field of design, so I don’t have to worry about this idiot screaming about Adobe CS, though I bet he’d be a Quark user.

What are the odds?…..

 

Imagine holding a vigorously shuffled deck of cards. Face down you spread them in your hands and think of a card. Really think about it. Imagine turning that card over. See it in your head. Visualize it. What are the odds of you selecting the exact card you thought of out of that shuffled deck? Magicians will say they can 100% of the time, but we know they have tricks up their sleeves. Real magic is the art of misdirection.

For this case the odds are 1 out of 52 that you are right. That’s a 1.9% chance you’re going to pick the exact card you visualized. Wouldn’t that be something? So lets see what happens, because lets face it, you have to play to win.

So you’ve picked and visualized your card and you flip it over. Wala! It’s the exact card you picked! How amazing is it that you were able to pick the exact card you were thinking of and visualized? Well, there are two ways of looking at this type of event. One is simply that the card you visualized, just happened to be placed exactly where you decided to pick from based on the earlier shuffling. Again that’s a 1.9% chance.

The second way to look at it is that you yourself had something to do with the fact that the card was placed exactly where you were going to pick. That maybe the visualizing of the card helped put that card in line with your destiny to pick it up. You could also attribute maybe an unknown outside source to this.

I lean towards the former idea, because as amazing as that event seems in that I was able to visualize a card and it appeared in front of me seemingly out of pure luck; there is something that cancels that effect. This cancellation of amazement is caused by retesting and peer review. Lets look at each of these.

It seems amazing because it happened on your first try. What if I ask you to do it again? Something inside you is telling you that the likelihood that you pull it off again is extremely rare; still possible, but rare. If I bet you $50 that on your second attempt, your visualization would prove you wrong, would you take that bet? Reshuffle that deck and try again and you will find eventually that over time the averages tend to trend to the fact that you wont be able to pull it off again anytime soon if at all. It sounds negative or even pessimistic on my end, but its simply realistic.

The second reasoning behind it being random has to do with the fact that peer review tends to show the same results. Lets imagine that while you visualized and selected that card out of the deck, that you had 100 other random people lined up beside you performing the same trick with the same intensity. They each have a random card in their head that they’re visualizing and concentrating on, each with a 1.9% chance to pull off the same trick. Shall we bet that they all pull it off the same way you did on their first try, if it was truly the visualization that placed the card where it needed to be? Then what happens when they all try the same trick over and over along with you? Again, maybe they all hit every time after visualizing, as you did on your first time. Would your conscious let you bet on it?

Taking a step back from this experiment helps us explore a few interesting concepts that help to even further separate some set personal power or destiny from simple reality. If you chose the ace of spades (for example) as the card you are trying to pull out of the deck then your chances are 1.9% that you will. However, the same goes with any other card in the deck even if you don’t visualize it first. Each single card holds a 1.9% chance that you will select it out of the deck and over an infinite amount of time and unlimited tries at it (props to Kaku, Greene, and Tyson), you can and you will eventually visualize and choose every card in the deck, which is something that many fail to consider when they perform a trick like this.

I urge you to try this at home. Grab a deck of cards and shuffle them good. Visualize a card and select it from the deck without knowing its location. Shuffle each time and repeat it 50 times. Write it down what you predicted and what you got, and see how many times you guess correctly, if at all. This type of pursuit of accuracy is exactly what makes the idea that we can control the physical world by visualizing its outcome, completely unfounded.

Ever wondered if you are somehow being shown something because every once in a while you look at a clock and it says 9:11 (am/pm). Are you special because you noticed this? Does it make you wonder? Lets ask random answerbag.com user “johnb1uk”…

“Hi there, first of all I’d like to dismiss or rather dispute what people say when they say that you are just looking at the clock and that time obviously happens to come around twice a day. There are 1440 minutes in a day and to suddenly look at the clock and catch one of them (and a specific one) twice every day is definitely more than just a coincidence.

There is definitely a higher leveled phenomenon going on and not everyone is tuned in to receive these signs - kind of like how not everyone has the gift of clairvoyants or mediums but we all know that they exist - there are countless books and TV shows by these gifted people who prove that they are tuned into a different frequency than most of us and most of us accept that they are real.”

You heard it hear first. Countless books and TV shows are proving the existence of “mediums”. Interestingly enough, I experience the same higher-level phenomenon every two months or so and I always point it out (followed by a ghostly ‘oooooooooh’). If it’s no coincidence, then why am I not the only one out of 20 or so people I know that experience the exact same event? Well let’s take a look at this.

One thing to consider is that many of the best shows on TV are on at 9pm, so that automatically makes it more likely for me to check the time around then, especially considering that most TV cable boxes show digital clocks. Also many shows go to commercial at about 10-15 minutes in, depending on how they’re structured. And most importantly, does anyone remember seeing those numbers before September 11, 2001? I sure didn’t. Is it unusual that I would see that number now after a horrific act of terror was ingrained in my mind over the last 11 years via TV, books, magazines, movies, and the internet.

There are examples everywhere that express reality in the idea that one single event doesn’t change the actual reality of the thousands of events that came before and after it oppositely. Everyone has probably seen that horrible image on FaceBook of a photo-shopped young girl seemingly safe inside a wrecked car where her “relatives” are all sprawled out dead. “What a miracle!” it exclaims. For now lets pretend it wasn’t photo-shopped horribly and think about this from a wider perspective. How is a small girl sitting in the wreckage of her family’s tangled car and dead bodies, a miracle?

Best-case scenario she ends up in a foster situation through the state, unless some caring family adopts her. Her family is dead, her future therapist will be well paid, and she will most likely struggle to keep PTSD and deep depression at bay (see the HBO documentary, There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane), all because of this accident. She might not see that as a miracle or as being lucky even if everyone around her does, but then again she is photo-shopped and thus we don’t have to worry about her. Hopefully she was photo-shopped from a family picture of her playing on a playground, or something pleasant.

We are humans and we live a short time in regards to the amount of time that came before us and will pass after us. There is a willingness to see things as extraordinary or awe-inspiring in the moment and I think generally that’s ok, because relative to our daily lives, it really can seem so. But facts are facts, and the physical world can’t be willed without physical involvement. Don’t get me wrong; mental and emotional involvements are important too, but no matter how much I visualize throwing a last minute touchdown pass wont matter until I physically throw it and we know how many of those don’t work out even when visualized.

Randomness is often mistaken for coincidence, because we disregard time, space, probability, mathematics, repetition, sense and most defining aspects of reality, while in the moment. So what are the odds? Are you making that card show up by visualizing it and willing it to be so, or are you simply a pawn of randomness like the rest of us?  Be honest and experiment for yourself rather than let emotions drive your decision making process.

Why is it that those who claim to levitate, merely hop across the ground? Why is it that Penn can’t really fire a real bullet and have Teller catch it with his teeth? How come every single horoscope of every sign seems to relate to my daily life? Why can’t I accurately predict a random drawing of a card from a shuffled deck? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why can’t anyone make a dump truck disappear live, in front of me, without a large sheet and a television broadcast? Why doesn’t my football team win every time I wear my lucky hat? Why can’t everything just be the way I wish it would be?

Reality….and the way you handle it, explains your happiness.

The Banana Man Can…


“I have an intellectually stimulating theory. It’s my theory of where the soda-can may have come from. Billions of years ago, there was a big bang in space. Nobody knows what caused the big bang, it just happened. And from this bang issued this huge rock, on top of the rock was found a sweet, brown bubbly substance. And over millions of years, aluminum crept up the side, formed itself with a can and a lid and then a tab. And then millions of years later, red paint, blue paint, white paint fell from the sky and formed itself into the words ‘12 fluid ounces - Do not litter’.”

-Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort seems like a nice enough fellow, and even his accent is quite charming (thanks to Flight Of The Concords). Above is a common argument on his part for the evidence of Intelligent Design in the natural world. He has formed this concept by pointing an audience to objects that they’re quite familiar with in every day life, and then he simply states, “we can’t see the designer of the [inanimate object], but we know it has been designed, so we know the [inanimate object] had to have a designer.” I’ve heard him state this about everything from the architecture of a room, a combustion engine, and yes even a soda can. Though I get what Ray is trying to do here in opening up a connection between man made objects having a designer and therefore “designed” object in the Universe and natural processes must also, but I think for the sake of his own argument he is ignoring one really heavy aspect of debate that I will attempt to bring to light.

 

Lets start with the coke can… and I’ll debate the parts within his statement.

“I have an intellectually stimulating theory. It’s my theory of where the soda-can may have come from.”

The first glaring issue is that if you are attempting to speak (even to mock) from the scientific viewpoint on the hypothetical evolution of the coke can, it would be better that he use the word Hypothesis rather than theory. I say this because he uses the words, “may have come from” in the second sentence. This for a scientist would be a hypothesis, not a theory. Now because he is not a scientist and he is speaking to an everyday audience of non-scientists, he is using the word theory in the context of everyday use. Theory in science implies an collection of evidence that points heavily to conclusion and is not likely to ever be overturned by any new evidence. Scientific theories can predict future findings and do quite well all the time. A hypothesis is a yet untested idea that can be proved or disproved once tested multiple times. I’ll forgive Ray, because even if he gets the terminology wrong, I do basically understand his meaning. For those he is speaking to who don’t know the context of theory in science, that is where I begin to worry about how they respond to his ideas. I’ve written on this subject before, so check it out if you want a clearer understanding.

 

“Billions of years ago, there was a big bang in space. Nobody knows what caused the big bang, it just happened.”

Yep. That’s about as layman as you can get with the explanation of the Big Bang Theory. No arguments here. We know from powerful telescopes, measuring light speed, and the readings of temperature variations in the radiation left over from the Big Bang, that the evidence points heavily to the entire universe expanding fast from a single, super condensed singularity. We certainly have no idea what caused the singularity to expand into the Universe we have today, though M Theory and currently un-testable hypothesis relating to black holes may eventually shed better light on the subject. We simply don’t have the technology to test them yet, so that’s up in the air for now.

“And from this bang issued this huge rock, on top of the rock was found a sweet, brown bubbly substance.”

Energy from the blast of the Big Bang expanded. Gravity caused swirling masses of gas to cool and collect to form burning stars, which then began the process of fusion which creates all of the elements and matter we know to exist today. The sweet brown bubbly substance forming on the rock is the beginning of the end of Ray’s argument.  

“And over millions of years, aluminum crept up the side, formed itself with a can and a lid and then a tab.”

Again I get what Ray is trying to do with this, but there is an issue that I will explain at the after we go through each set of sentences. Millions of years are certainly correct, but Aluminum is a compound (composed of two or more separate elements) found in nature and is never found in its pure form. We extract it from other minerals. Most of the world’s aluminum is extracted from a mineral called bauxite, which is made up of aluminum, oxygen and many other compounds. We process this mineral into alumina and then by using electrolysis (using electrical current to create a chemical reaction) we process it into aluminum. However these are all man made processes of inanimate objects. Keep that in mind. Aluminum can’t creep. It certainly can’t form itself into an everyday functional object without interaction from man. Again, I know he’s not being literal, but a little background on aluminum will not hurt anyone.

 

“And then millions of years later, red paint, blue paint, white paint fell from the sky and formed itself into the words ‘12 fluid ounces - Do not litter’.”

Once again paint is the combination of man made processes, which take a pigment as well as a liquid or paste “host” such as oil or water that carry it and attach it to a surface. Pigments are found naturally all over the Earth and from many different sources. But again these are processes that do not occur without man’s interaction with them. That English text on the can was formed from Latin base languages and developed over the years to where some like me (for a career) in modern times can use Adobe Creative Suite to help design and typeset that text accurately on the can’s surface with help from large industrial printers. Not literal, Ray… I know.

But all of this is what boggles my mind before I even start to think more about the point he wants to raise. I’ve heard many argue Ray well within the context of his statement though Ray himself admits it is a ridiculously hypothetical explanation to express his point. It is quite a ridiculous statement, though I’d venture that it’s ridiculous more because he is asserting that we know a designer designed everything natural in our Universe, while using a made man inanimate object as a reference.

Well Ray, we do know the coke can is designed, but we also can research and know how it was designed. We know all of the man-made processes; metals, techniques, factory locations, blueprints, ingredients, employees, founders, and creators that got that coke can into our hands. Some of them I touched briefly on above. It’s in our history, and it’s not hidden (except for that pesky Coca-Cola formula! Thanks a lot John Pemberton for not sharing). Not only can we know all of these things with enough research, we could even create an identical coke can ourselves if we use all of the same materials and processes. The same can be said for any building, combustion engine or man-made inanimate object that is designed from many inanimate parts.

And this is my point. If you are going to argue that the entire Universe around us has a designer, then you may want to start using actual life forms to construct your examples, because in the end wouldn’t that better suit your point. Plus, any actual scientific evidence would greatly help cement your assertion. Ill give you credit for trying to use organic matter as an example with that whole banana fiasco even though you had to reverse your statements based on the actual documented domestication by man of the banana. You’re going to have to try harder my friend to convince those undecided.

I know how I got the coke can. A dude (John Pemberton) with time and money created a tasty brown liquid from the many elements and processes easily found and that are repeatable on Earth. I love that liquid, and I buy it to satisfy my caffeine addiction. The can that encapsulates that tasty liquid is created by mining ore and using manufacturing processes to extract and refine the aluminum that is shaped into the form of a can to make it easier to drink. Problem solved. I know the creator of it and I know how he created it as well as the combustion engine or any building I ever stand in. Even if I don’t know and I’m just curious, I can do my homework and learn how. Science and those that innovate have kept pristine records. And those records show that yes, even the modern domesticated banana was actually intelligently designed…but contrary to your original idea it was merely by man. I’m glad you owned up to that mistake, but had you researched you would have never made it in the first place.

I get the deeper question you’re trying to pose for debate and its admirable, but you have to at least start with something that is not so easily solved or is at the very least alive. I don’t need the creator of Coca-Cola in the room to know that someone designed the coke can. It’s common sense, and that’s supposed to be the crux of your argument that you hope will persuade others to assume the same concept in relation to Intelligent Design, but it’s also completely known who created the coke can and how. All anyone has to do is leave after your lecture and look it up. You’re going to better serve your idea by showing an example that isn’t an inanimate object and that can be proven using the scientific method. Feeling that it’s created because it seems complex to you is not enough to prove your feeling. Relating your feelings to the design of a coke can does nothing for your bigger argument. Knowing a coke can has/had a designer doesn’t relate or carry over to the idea that everything has a designer. It’s a large leap on your part. Because it’s true of A, it must be true of B? Without evidence that others can reproduce you’re only dealing with straw man arguments or arguments with a stated premise that fail to support your proposed conclusion. These types of arguments always show your misunderstanding of the opposition’s ideas. 

To feel that something is designed or just know it is designed and isn’t just a process of a greater natural selection via evolution (which is evident in our DNA and the fossil record) you would need to show something other than just your assumption that it was intelligently designed, just because you can’t explain (or haven’t bothered to investigate) how it might not be. That or clearly show evidence that the opposition’s scientific findings are not accurate. That’s also a tough uphill climb, but any scientist would gladly welcomes the chance to be proven wrong. That’s what science is all about.

 

Lets relate that to a magician and his tricks. Some magic tricks are insanely well done. I may never know how they are completely pulled off, but I know that the magician is using unknown (to me) techniques of illusion and trickery to fool me into assuming it’s real. Also in magic, the selling of the events unfolding before me relies heavily on viewing it from one location or being obstructed from seeing every angle. From the front of the trick, as we mostly see them, it looks unbelievable, but if we were allowed to see it from every angle we might very easily see that the methods used to pull off the illusion are nothing special at all (in most cases they’re quite easy and functional). There is an art to hiding that one angle from view that would ruin the whole effect and that is the magic behind what magicians do.

So based on the information around me I make my best guess, not based in the idea of his magic being real, because I know that physically it’s impossible to for any man or woman to breathe under water for 18 minutes at a time, disappear into thin air at will, or catch a bullet with his/her teeth (which is an awesome trick by the way). Using what I know of the natural observable world, I create a hypothesis to how he/she may perform the illusion and unless they tell or show me, I may never really know.

Point being, we could feel that the trick is real and have no understanding of how it is done, though that’s not enough evidence to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt that the magician has special powers that are not possible for me to replicate. We suspend disbelief only for a moment to enjoy the show. Just because we can’t explain it, doesn’t make it believable that they have magic powers. We operate this way in most of our daily life. Watch the show Ghost Hunters if you want a great education in the absence of evidence while trying to believe that ghosts really exist. It’s certainly fun to think so, but even with six seasons under their belt, I’ve seen no evidence to support it. I certainly can’t explain some of the things they find, but that doesn’t make ghosts real.

So Ray, I would say do some more digging, read some more books, and at the very least spend some time with the evidence that supports your opposition’s side. Straw man arguments only make you less credible. Especially when the goal of your examples is to persuade others to know that the Universe and everything inside it was formed by Intelligent Design (or as the original first draft of, “Of Pandas And People” called it… Creationism).

 

You’ve written many books, one of which I actually have on my Kindle, so I know I won’t be able to persuade you probably ever from your asserted validity of these inanimate object intelligent design comparison examples, but I just wanted to offer you some friendly advice on constructing a solid argument for your future debates. Pick an object that actually correlates and corroborates the connection to the Universe and all inside it. That would be a good start.

I’m completely open to hearing the ideas you want to get across, but the coke can, the banana, the combustion engine, and human architecture all have the same issue for your argument. They don’t support the idea of Intelligent Design. They simply show that they all have human designers and that people aren’t stupid enough to assume otherwise. As far as the Universe, there’s a lot of work to be done on your part of you aim to convince those that deal with rationality. The world is waiting. So far you haven’t really connected anything one way or the other.

It’s Not “Just A Theory.”

The definition of the word theory according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is as follows:

  1. The analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another.
  2. Abstract thought: speculation.
  3. The general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art.
  4. A: a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of an action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn> B: an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances – often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all.
  1. a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain a phenomena <the wave theory of light>
  2. A: a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation. B: an unproven assumption: conjecture C: a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>

 

That’s quite a bit to take in, but like almost every word in the English language we reveal a different meaning for the same word within different context, which is why English is one of the harder languages to learn. With this in mind, the use of the word in scientific terms differs greatly than that of its everyday use by an average guy like me.

For example the definition of theory takes a much different meaning when in relation to science. A scientific theory as defined by the United States National Academy of Sciences is as follows:

The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence. Many scientific theories are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics). One of the most useful properties of scientific theories is that they can be used to make predictions about natural events or phenomena that have not yet been observed.

 

And with regards to that last part, all of the most well known theories are still proving accurate well beyond their inception. Now lets take my use of the word theory in everyday life. For instance while I’m standing at the gas pump cringing at the sight of $4.07 from the neon sign at my gas station versus the price I see later ($3.70) that day as I’m heading to work, I may throw out a thought such as, ‘If the prices are so different one place to the next, then in theory, we should just lower the price to anything we want?!’ I’d think this out of ignorance of how the overall system works, which would make my statement based off of conjecture or mere speculation. I’m not going to sit down a try to prove my theory on how the oil industry operates their pricing systems though I might do later research once the work day is over. In any case this is an example that falls under the abstract or unproven assumption context of the word. Call my gas comments, “just a theory,” and you’d be 100% correct.

Science, of course, does not operate that way and can’t operate that way because successful scientific theories purposed within scientific communities require reproducible extensive testing and peer review to then prove or illustrate their hypothesis. For example, I could say 1+1=3 but peer review and testing will prove otherwise. This is what science does in our culture. There is no claim to ultimate knowledge, which is not physically reproducible by peer review.

Lets look at some of the major scientific theories and how they relate to everyday life…

HELIOCENTRIC THEORY: (or Copernican Model)

 

This theory explains the fact that all of the planets within our solar system orbit around the Sun, the moon orbits the Earth, and that the Earth rotates rather than stars orbiting it. His philosophical hypothesis moved to a scientific theory (as we understand it’s context today) using geometry.

Before Nicolaus Copernicus published his idea in 1543, the general thought was that the Earth was the center of the solar system, that the other heavenly bodies were created of an unchanging substance not of Earth, and that the heavens contained uniform circular motion. He published his model towards the end of his life due to fear of ridicule and disfavor amongst his colleagues and church, according to most scholars. The Roman Catholic Church considered the idea of Heliocentric Theory to be heretical. Galileo would spend the last eight years of his life under house arrest for adopting this theory.

To this day it is still called the Heliocentric Theory. It is the scientific theory that explains our relationship to the Sun. It’s the reason we can predict exactly when and where planets and stars will be in our night sky views. Our first flights into space have proven its validity beyond any doubt. It has greatly shaped our understanding of our placement in the solar system. It is the foundation for some of the greatest scientific theories that have been discovered in the last 500 years.

 

THEORY OF RELATIVITY (Albert Einstein)

This is a theory that encompasses of two of Einstein’s theories: General and Special Relativity. This is not an easy subject to explain.

Special Relativity deals with the structure of space-time. It states that:

1. The laws of physics are the same for all observers in uniform motion relative to one another.

2. The speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers, regardless of their relative motion or of the motion of the source of light.

It deals with ideas such as Relativity of Simultaneity, Time Dilation, Length Contraction, Mass-energy Equivalence, and Maximum Speed is Infinite. I’m not going to touch on any of that, but I encourage you to go and discover more on the subject.

General Relativity deals with the theory of gravitation. The best way to think about what this theory illustrates is to imagine a mattress where you have one large bowling ball representing the sun. It will sink the mattress down. Now place a baseball about 12 inches away from the bowling ball and accelerate it to the point where it circles the big bowling ball without falling in towards it or speeding off away from it. This is the model for how gravitation really works in the universe. Some of the consequences (in relation to our universe) of this idea are that:

1. Clocks run more slowly the deeper the well in the mattress they sit. So a clock sitting 3 inches from the bowling ball will run much slower than a clock sitting 20 inches away.

2. Orbits precess and change based on the axis tilt of a planet.

3. Rays of light will bend when in the presence of a strong gravitational field.

4. The universe is expanding.

 

All this said, and again it’s a lot to take in, is proven constantly. Since 1905 (Special Relativity) and 1916 (General Relativity), no alternative theory has been able to disprove these concepts and ideas. For example, those of you who think about time travel may be shocked to know that it’s already been done. Sorry Back To The Future II fans. NASA has proved the concept of General Relativity related to clocks and their speeds. Every clock that is sent up and orbits the Earth at a lesser gravitational pull will tick faster. It has been shown true over and over though only percentages of a second faster, but using that information we can estimate how it may work when compared to larger planetary masses and gravitational pulls. Technically time moves faster for a person on the fourth floor of a building than that of a person on the first floor, however at that short distance its completely undetectable without massive spans of time (See illustration above).  And without scientist accounting for this weird time difference your car’s GPS system will send you straight off a cliff or into a wall. That’s the Theory of Relativity occurring in your everyday life.

Light has also been shown in Hubble photographs to bend around strong gravitational pulls (see above image). This is one way we can discover black holes, which were once thought (even by Einstein) to not have the ability to naturally occur, though that has since been proven wrong by scientist gazing at our Milky Way center. (I will touch on black holes one day in much greater detail)

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Moving away now from some of these widely accepted scientific theories based entirely on collections of related, observable fact, why do I bother to touch on this today? Well, really it comes down to the idea that everything we physically know and experience in our life on Earth comes from observation. The word theory is thrown around in the media, on the Internet, and in everyday life as to why something isn’t true or is conjecture or speculation in regards to our physical surroundings within the realm of science. And in the everyday life of someone who doesn’t understand or intensely study (or even bother to skim) advanced mathematics, astrophysics, cosmology, history, chemistry, biology, geology, paleontology, anthropology, botany, or any other field that attempts to understand our physical environment; it’s easy for that same person to confuse the context of the word theory in a scientific field. When we see a scientifically published article that passes reproducible testing and overwhelming observable evidence (that also means it isn’t likely to be changed by insertion of any new evidence) on a subject we aren’t familiar with and say things such as, “It’s just a theory,” we are actually out of context in regards to science.

In regards to my original gasoline price example the word theory is in its proper context, because I am speculating or making assumptions on unknown information to me. For you to say, “It’s just a theory,” would be completely correct. But the Heliocentric Theory and the Theory of Relativity aren’t assumptions or speculation based on unknown information. These are (as to this day) still reproducibly provable and are even useful and accurate on all predictions made using them as the starting point. The amazing thing is that people like Einstein, Newton, Copernicus, Hawking, and others were predicting future concepts  long before testing could come and prove them and they would have labeled them hypothesis’s. They don’t publish works that lead to massive speculation and overwhelming doubt. They require intense research, observation, testing, re-testing and peer review. Even crazier is that nothing has proved Einstein’s Theory of Relativity wrong yet (Though scientists at the CERN facility thought they may have last year, but then realized it was due to equipment failure). However, even if something ever does prove Einstein wrong, the scientific community would gladly accept it as a welcoming of new knowledge and new rigorous testing and would continue forward. Knowledge of our human experience isn’t ultimate and is ever evolving, but a speculative theory in everyday terms is nowhere near the same thing as a published, peer reviewed scientific theory in scientific terms. A person calling an accepted scientific theory, “just a theory,” is interesting in that it does show a trait in them relating to the beginning thoughts of being deductive in nature, which is highly necessary in the scientific method, but the trait that lacks is follow-through which requires massive amounts of evidence and testing to disprove a current theory. I know that if I drop an apple it will fall to the ground (Thanks Isaac!), but I also know that if I drop an apple on the moon it will fall slower due to the moons smaller mass (Thanks Albert). I sure as hell am going to have a hard time proving their theories wrong.

Want to learn more about the Theory of Relativity? Check out the following book, which helps to explain it for laymen like most of us…

 

http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Einstein-Demystified-Richard-Wolfson/dp/0393325075

Or feel free to comb through a list of Einstein’s actual published works here. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientific_publications_by_Albert_Einstein