Vicar resigns as school governor after child gender transition
Mon 27 May 2019
By Cara Bentley
A governor at a Church of England (CofE) primary school has quit, saying people are being 'told what to think'.
Rev. John Parker claimed that when a child wanted to transition there were no policies in place to tell other parents beforehand and that it happened without question.
The head teacher had informed governors in March 2019 that a parent of the child wanted no prior information about the situation to be provided to other parents at the school until the day the child announced the transition. The school isn't being named to protect the anonymity of the child.
The child then announced their transition to their class.
The vicar has raised concerns that there was little discussion about the implications of this or the school's policy on gender toilets, changing rooms and accommodation on trips.
The child's identity was not revealed to the governors and head teacher is said to have dismissed concerns from the governors, saying the Department for Education and the local Church of England diocesan education authority had advised that the school was obliged under equality laws to implement the policy.
Rev John Parker had previously left the Church of England for similar reasons.
In his resignation letter to the Bishop he wrote that he feared that children were being 'sacrificed on the altar of trans ideology'.
He said of the school's handling of the transition: "There wasn't the opportunity for disagreement, we could communicate with parents, we couldn't discuss this as governors, we couldn't form procedures, we couldn't consider any of the practical issues, we just had to go ahead as we were told".
Audio of the training shows John asking the trainer from the lobby group Mermaids whether he can share a different viewpoint for the benefit of other staff, to which she replied: "No, I don't think so John, I'm sorry, it's training today, it's not time to share your viewpoint."
In a statement, Mermaids said: "The governor insisted on attending the session but did not challenge the points made during the talk. Only at the end did he make his comments."
The local clergyman said he had safeguarding concerns and that governors were being 'kept blind' and 'being told what to think'.
The trainer from the organisation said to the governors: "You are all now honourary Mermaids, whether you want to be or not."
Before the child made the formal announcement to class mates, the children introduced two books: Big Bob, Little Bob, which tells the story of a boy dressing as a girl, and Red: A Crayon's Story, telling the story of a red crayon wanting to be a blue crayon.
The trainer said: "You cannot use personal, religious or cultural beliefs to discriminate. You can have them of course you can, we live in a free country, but you cannot use that to discriminate against another minority."
Rev Parker commented: "Throughout the training session there was an implicit threat to us that if we did not implement, enforce and fully affirm Mermaids ideology and affirm LGBTQI+ children, it would result in children committing suicide, self-harming, and police and Ofsted would enforce the policy.
"After the head told us about the plan to allow the pupil to transition, the school suddenly turned into a place where you did not even have the freedom to question or express a view. I felt it was no longer a Christian place of truth but a place of fear and intimidation. This was compounded at the Mermaids training session.
"Given the Christian ethos of the school, and the fact that a certain percentage of parents have sent their children to a CofE School because they sought for their children a Christian education in line with their own beliefs, the issue needed to be handled with those sensitivities in mind, and it has not been.
"There was no protocol set within the school for how this matter would be announced or handled. Many parents may well hold the view that sex and gender is fixed at birth and may wish to educate their children in line with those beliefs. Instead trans ideology was forced on their children as fact and without their knowledge."
HERE IS AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE FROM GAVIN COX AT CMI AND A REMINDER OF WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO!
Steve Chalke’s ‘New Reformation’—or new defamation?
Influential Baptist minister is busy redefining Scripture to fit modern sensibilities.1
Steve Chalke is a man on a mission: he wants a New Reformation, to replace the original one started by Martin Luther 500 years ago. Chalke is an influential British Baptist minister, international speaker, prolific author, entrepreneur and Oasis Trustfounder2—and a highly controversial figure. Since the start of 2018 he has been presenting his new ‘95 Theses’, not by nailing them to the Wittenburg Cathedral door, but by posting 95 ‘Big Questions’ on another public forum, YouTube. At the time of writing, Steve has so far chalked up 65 variously titled videos, including: “Bad theology costs lives”; “The Church needs heretics”; “Take the Bible seriously, not literally”; “Calling the Bible infallible has stopped us taking it seriously”; “Juvenile Bible reading endangering LGBT mental health”; “Traditional view of the cross ‘cheapens God’s forgiveness’”, and so on, ad nauseam.
As supporters of CMI may be aware, and as the titles of Chalke’s talks suggest, he is not advocating a return to biblical authority, certainly not in any sense that Christians are familiar with, or that Martin Luther would have approved of. Ever since Chalke’s unbiblical diatribe in his (co-authored) anti-gospel The Lost Message of Jesus, discerning Christians have become aware of his shocking slide into liberalism and apostasy. It was in that book that he penned his now infamous phrase “cosmic child abuse”, caricaturing the traditional understanding of Jesus’ atonement; as is sadly true of many professing ‘evangelicals’ today, he views the idea of Jesus being punished in the place of sinners (penal substitution) as unpalatable.3
Genesis up for grabs
Chalke has gone on record saying, “Creationism is a load of garbage,” never to be taught in his Oasis Trust academy schools,4 and that Genesis is simply poetry “based on Babylonian creation myth.”5 CMI has debunked that kind of thinking, Genesis is narrative, not poetry, and the Babylonian creation myth likely borrows from Genesis, not the other-way-around. But here is the crux of the matter: when Genesis history is jettisoned within academia, particularly to accommodate evolution with the Bible, a flood-gate opens wide that inevitably washes away the foundations of biblical authority, leading to the loss of faith of many. Vital truths are undermined:
So what of Chalke’s ‘New Reformation’? Actually, there’s nothing new in it as we shall see! For instance, in his talk “Take the Bible seriously but not literally” he says we must recognize the Bible as a “library” written by “multiple authors”.8 That’s ok so far as it goes. The problem comes when he falsely states that these authors had only a partial and gradually expanding understanding and that they spoke with “contradictory voices”. He reasons that viewing the Bible in this way is “intellectually honest” and offers his favourite example of a Bible contradiction: “in Genesis there are two different creation stories … [that] contradict one another … over the order of the creation … neither of them is written as a scientific text or a historical narrative”. However, no such contradiction exists if the text is understood in context. He argues that Genesis 1 and 2 were poems to be publically read in opposition to Babylonian creation myths. Knowing this, he says, adds “depth and meaning to the Genesis story, not to mention removing the unnecessary and misguided clash with science”. However, when we recognize world-view issues and the limitations of science, there is no clash with science, of the operational (experimental) kind.
Chalke advocates teaching his ideas to Sunday school children, encouraging them to “write their own creation poems and stories” which according to him would “save the faith of many … as they reach their teenage years”. However, this is absurd advice to give for it saps confidence in the authority of the Bible. Frequently, origins is the issue when it comes to evangelism and young people leaving the church—when these issues are not engaged with in the pulpit. This sad fact is backed up by the ‘fallout’ statistics.
Human origins and our moral failure
For Chalke, the account of the Creation and Fall of Adam and Eve is “not history, it’s a myth, a kind of profound fable rather than an historical narrative.”9 It is not about the origin of sin, he says, but “about the birthplace of true morality. The Adam and Eve story is not about the fall of humanity, or our total depravity, instead it’s about the journey of humanity, as well as that of every individual human, away from innocence to moral responsibility.” Clearly, he feels free to reinterpret the foundations of Scripture without any regard to what the text is actually saying, or how Jesus or the New Testament writers interpreted the account, or indeed how the Church Fathers saw it.
The Flood judgment
Chalke reckons that taking the Flood as an historical account is a massive stumbling block to faith, sceptically asking how Noah could “collect all those animals from around the world? How did he get them all on board? How did he feed them once they were there? How did he stop them killing each other?” CMI has answered all such questions, typically asked by atheists, on numerous occasions; e.g. showing that animals could fit on the Ark, that animal care was feasible, and that the Ark was a seaworthy stable design. Chalke thinks it would also be impossible for the human race to be re-established after the Flood, asking, “was the whole of humanity … rebuilt from Mr. and Mrs. Noah and their three sons and wives? The questions just keep on coming!” However, CMI has also answered such cynical questions with good science, showing that humanity could have repopulated to today’s level in the available time, from just Noah’s three sons and their wives (Genesis 10). Moreover, DNA evidence is consistent with this.
Unfortunately, Chalke is either unaware of, or ignores all such evidence answering his objections, leading him to proclaim that the Flood of Noah’s day never really happened! According to him, real “hard-history” only happens “with Abraham” onwards. Chalke’s solution is that the story of Noah was borrowed from the Gilgamesh Epic and that Genesis was written to “subvert” Gilgamesh, which, according to him, brought “meaning, hope and purpose” to the first hearers. But if the Genesis Flood account is merely re-interpreted myth, how could it bring hope and meaning? And any hope it did give would certainly be a vain one. Chalke asks if the Genesis accounts of Creation and Flood are historical narratives? He answers with a categorical “no!” but then proceeds to divorce theology from history by asking if any of these “stories are true?” His answer is “all of them! … What they have to teach us is far more important than mere history … !” But how can the theology arising from these accounts be true if they are historically false? However, the evidence points to the fact that it is the mythical Gilgamesh version which borrows its source material from Genesis—the true and inspired account of history.
A full-frontal attack on New Testament authority
Chalke jettisons God’s Word in favour of personal subjectivity, extending his questioning of biblical inerrancy to the New Testament. One talk is titled “Is the Bible the Word of God, or does it point to the Word of God?”10 Here Chalke pulls no punches in saying the Scripture contains error, or contains accounts of violence which cannot be accepted in modern culture. He defines his biblical hermeneutics (method of interpretation) like this: “if it looks like Jesus it’s God, if it doesn’t it’s not.”10 In other words, if a passage is read in the Bible that is deemed awkward or embarrassing, because of its violent or distasteful content, it should be rejected because it doesn’t sound like Chalke’s idea of a ‘nice, loving Jesus’. However, this novel approach to hermeneutics is subjective and self-refuting, as Chalke only forms his ideas of what Jesus was like from his watered-down version of the Bible. His method of ‘pick and choose’ from the Bible is one which atheists like Richard Dawkins rightfully scorn. How can he be sure the bits he reads about a ‘nice loving Jesus’ are any more trustworthy than the bits he rejects because they are deemed offensive?
Chalke gives an example of a New Testament passage that should be rejected as an historical account, due to its unpalatable content: specifically, in Acts 5, where Ananias and Sapphira are judged by God for their lying to the Holy Spirit. He recounts a radio interview where he rejected the idea that God could have killed them, and his surprise at the response: “was I really saying that the text of the New Testament could be questioned, that it might be less than entirely accurate; how heretical could I get? Everyone knows it’s infallible! But of course anyone who really reads the New Testament knows that this is far from the truth—it’s more complicated than that … ” However, the New Testament writers knew that they were writing inspired Scripture and moral objections to God’s judgment of Ananias and Saphira fall flat; see Is the Bible ‘evil’?
Chalke then proceeds to give a further example of why he questions the New Testament as a reliable historical witness. Citing the two gospel accounts of the violent death of Judas (Matthew 27:3–10; Acts 1:17–19) as evidence of inconsistent story-telling,11 he concludes that the Bible is “far from being infallible, it’s flawed … Although the texts that make up the Bible point to the Word of God they are not the Word of God.”10 These are stunning admissions from a Christian minister who used to be known as an evangelical.12
Clearly, Chalke disagrees with a lot of the Bible and feels free to disregard or re-interpret bits he finds unacceptable. That is why he redefines marriage and regularly marries same-sex couples.13 He even calls ‘conversion therapy’ (including prayer offered for those who want to deal with unwanted same-sex attraction) a “barbaric practice” which “undermine[s] the mental health and well-being of LGBT people, … an individual’s identity … [their] God-given humanity”.14 However, it is Chalke who is clearly undermining the straightforward teaching of Scripture on such fundamental issues as gender identity, equality, marriage, or human sexuality.
Christians must engage!
Steve Chalke challenges his viewers to “take the Bible seriously enough to teach it well”.15My answer to him is that he neither takes the Bible seriously nor teaches it well! He has abandoned biblical authority and inerrancy in favour of personal preference and subjectivity. More than ever we need to return to the authority of Scripture, starting from the foundational truths as taught in Genesis. That is why CMI exists, to issue a clarion call to the Church, to return to the Truth of the Bible, to help defend the faith of the young, build robust, biblical world-views and answer the questions of a sceptical, unbelieving age. The challenge for all true Christians is to counter the ‘New Defamation’ proposed by Steve Chalke and his ilk.
Nice theologians leading the church away from the truth
Nice church folk can destroy a person’s faith
Published: 16 January 2018 (GMT+10)
Previously published in a CMI newsletter, May 2017
I recently heard a conservative (biblical creationist) theologian sadly relating his experiences of various theologians who are leading the charge to get church leaders to accept a non-historical Genesis that is compatible with evolution/long ages.
He repeatedly said how pleasant and nice these men are, even while at the same time he exposed the anti-biblical nature of their teaching (mainly that Genesis is some ‘other genre of literature’ that can be ‘interpreted’ however they like—usually to accede to secular evolutionary, long-age beliefs).
The words of the Apostle Paul came to mind; about angels of light bringing error into the church at Corinth. These men presented themselves as Gospel workers like the Apostle Paul:
“for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14–15).
This indicates that people who appear to be genuine workers in the Christian community can, in reality, be dupes of Satan (although they are almost certainly not aware of this). They must obviously be doing winsome things, otherwise they would not be able to lead people astray. But deception is often like that. It appears to be nice and reasonable on the surface, otherwise it would not be convincing (just ask Adam and Eve!).
How do we tell the genuine workers from the agents of Satan? Clearly it is not by how ‘nice’ they are, or even what good works they are doing. Angels of light by nature are beautiful beings (they are not called ‘angels of darkness’). Lucifer indeed means ‘bearer of light’; Scripture says that “he masquerades as an angel of light” and that his servants “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15), so they look like they are faithful workers in the church.
Since these angels of light are doing Satan’s bidding, we need only to look to Satan’s activities to see what his unwitting servants might get up to. Some major ones are:
As the “father of lies” (John 8:44) Satan hates the truth, so he opposes God’s Word, encouraging people to doubt the Bible. Note that at Satan’s first appearance in the Bible he questions God’s word, saying to Eve, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3). He uses deception to undermine the faith of God’s people.
He questions the goodness of God. When Satan tempted Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:1–5), he not only questioned the honesty of God, but also His benevolence regarding Adam and Eve. The number one refrain from the unbeliever today is, ‘How can you believe in a loving God when there is so much suffering in the world?’ The theologians who advocate melding the Bible with secularism’s long ages, also must say that God created a world of death and suffering from the beginning (that’s what the fossil record entails if you accept that the fossils were formed over hundreds of millions of years before the first people appeared). Thus, the creation was not “very good” and so God is not good; He is robbed of his goodness.
He robs Christ of the worship that is His due because of his creating (Romans 1). He does this by getting people to accept evolution, ascribing to Nature (capital N) the credit for the creation of everything. Cosmic evolution entails nothing exploding and becoming everything, with no cause whatsoever! Many evolutionists will talk of incredible ‘design’ in living things, but do not give God the glory that He deserves as the Designer. Through Jesus all things were made, but attributing the making to a purely natural process robs Jesus of the worship that is His due. Science was once about ‘revealing the thoughts of God’ to bring Him glory. Now it is ‘denying any thought of God’, no matter what the evidence. As SUNY professor Richard Lewontin said, they “cannot allow a divine foot in the door”.1
Satan hinders the effective preaching of the Gospel (Acts 13:8–9). If people cease to believe in a real, ‘hands on’ Creator, then there is no one in charge and they can do whatever they please with no eternal consequences. There is no moral law to break and no Judge, no judgment and no need for a Saviour.
Furthermore, because evolutionary dogma totally undermines the Bible’s history, then it undermines the whole message. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, if people won’t believe the earthly things, how are they going to believe the heavenly (theological) things? (John 3:12). A Bible that is thought unbelievable in matters that can be tested will hardly be heeded in things that are not testable.
Also, the evolutionary story means that Adam was not a real person who actually rebelled against his Creator and brought death and suffering into the world because of his sin. Why then did Jesus, who is called the “Last Adam” in the New Testament, suffer and die? How could the actions of the ‘son of Adam’ (Luke 3), Jesus, be efficacious for us, the rebellious lost sons and daughters of Adam?
These apparent ‘servants of righteousness’ might even appear to be faithfully preaching the Gospel, but in opposing the basis of the Gospel in Genesis, they render the preaching largely ineffective. Think about it. Why would anyone convert to Christ by believing that evolution is God’s method? It’s like saying “You mean I don’t have to trust what the Bible clearly says? Sure, I’ll become a Christian then.” He blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor. 4:4). There is no doubt that evolution is a lie that has deluded many into thinking that they can safely ignore what Christians say. As the atheist biology professor, William Provine said, “evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.”2 Evangelist Mark Cahill says that the most common ‘intellectual’ reason given for not believing in God is evolution,3 so when church leaders say that evolution is OK, this just reinforces the unbelief of the unbeliever.
He is proud (1 Tim. 3:6). Pandering to the evolutionary mindset (secular academia) appeals to the pride of mankind, whereas submission to the Word of God requires humility. Universities are steeped in elitism and academic pride. There are huge rewards for being part of the prideful system and huge disincentives for not conforming. Thus, sadly, many Christians succumb to the temptations and blend into the scenery, never standing against the God-less indoctrination. They find ways of melding their ‘faith’ with the prevailing secular way of thinking. I was once in that situation; thankfully I was confronted about my unbelief and repented of it (although it was a process that took some time).
He foments division in the church (Romans 16:17–20). The only basis of unity in the church is the Bible. Anything else is a recipe for division. The Bible links disbelief regarding Genesis chapters 1-9 with disunity in the church.4 Most larger churches have some members who belong to the academic set described above. Because of their academic credentials they are often respected and looked up to as leaders in the church. These same people will quickly let a pastor know if he steps out of line by encouraging people to humbly submit to what the Bible teaches about the real history of the world beginning in Genesis. The academic will say that ‘such teaching is divisive’. However, such teaching honours God’s Word and it is only ‘divisive’ because the academic member is offended because it challenges his/her prideful unbelief. Sadly, there are even pastors who themselves have never submitted fully to God’s Word and come under its authority in all that it teaches. Rather, they wield their elitist training in theology at the academic theological college/university/seminary to twist it to say what they wish it to say.
Church leaders who compromise the Word of God can be far more effective at destroying faith than an atheist professor railing against God. This is because one can easily recognize the wiles of the enemy when it comes from self-professed opposition. It is not as obvious when the deception comes from within. Veterinarian Dr Jean Lightner shared how destructive this was to her:
“When I was having doubts, one of the most damaging things for my faith was when I read a respected Christian teacher who basically said that the Bible does not really mean what it says, particularly the creation account. That was probably more detrimental to me than the evolutionary teachers insisting that they were right. It was devastating to hear a Christian leader basically say, ‘God doesn’t mean that; you don’t have to believe that’.”
We need to be careful that we do not allow ‘nice’ people to influence us not to believe God’s Word. Anyone who does that is doing Satan’s work, no matter how nice they might appear to be.
1 Peter 5:8 warns: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Yes, Satan can be like a roaring lion, but he can also be like a subtle serpent with his ‘angels of light’. One day Satan will no longer be able to destroy, but for now we also need to be alert to the subtle ways that he tries to undermine the Gospel.
Quote from Paul Taylor's book entitled; In the beginning.... published by AIG.
The whole concept of evolution is not to be seen merely as a mild aberration, or misconception of the truth. Nor is it to be seen as a mechanism which God could have used as He created the universe. Rather it is to be seen as an attempt to deny God the glory for who He is and what he has done.This is one of the many reasons why Christians need to be clear on what they believe about the book of Genesis.
Meeting of the American Astronomical Society
A report by Dr Danny Faulkner.
January 8–12, 2018, I attended the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) near Washington, DC. From the numbering, you may think that the AAS has been around for more than two centuries. However, the AAS began in 1899 (I went to the centennial meeting in Chicago in 1999). For most of its history, the AAS has met twice a year, hence the high numbering. I hadn’t been to an AAS meeting in a couple of years, but I was very glad that I attended this meeting, because it was very profitable for me.
THE MEETINGS OF THE AAS ALLOW ASTRONOMERS TO GATHER, AND WHILE THERE, SOCIALIZE, NETWORK, SHARE OUR RESEARCH, AND LEARN NEW THINGS IN OUR FIELD.
What goes on at an AAS meeting, and why do we have them? The AAS is the professional society for astronomers in the United States, though there are AAS members from other North American countries, such as Canada and Mexico, as well as members from around the world. The meetings of the AAS allow astronomers to gather, and while there, socialize, network, share our research, and learn new things in our field. The meetings kick off with an evening reception and heavy refreshments. But many committees and working groups meet informally that day and even the day before. Then there are four full days of programs. There is a closing reception the final day, again with food. Generally, there are four plenary sessions each day. Like any scientific discipline, astronomy has become very specialized, so it is difficult for most of us to keep abreast of what’s going on in these various subdisciplines of astronomy. Many of the plenary sessions are reviews of different topics, so they are excellent opportunities to catch up on things outside of our expertise.
In between the plenary sessions there are many parallel oral presentations. These presentations are limited to five minutes, with five minutes of Q&A. Such a short format can be frustrating. However, presentations on doctoral dissertations are allowed 15 minutes, with five minutes of Q&A. These are grouped according to subdiscipline, so there is unity within each session. This meeting, I mostly went to presentations on cosmology and extrasolar planets. Each day, poster papers are displayed in the exhibit hall, again grouped by subdiscipline. While one might read these posters any time between 9:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., there is an hour set aside early and another hour late in the day for people to stand by their posters to be available for questions. Posters are up for only one day, so you have to check back each day for the new posters. My research partners and I usually present our work in this format. Also in the exhibit hall, there are vendors and space mission representatives. Finally, during lunch and in the evenings, there are various workshops, town hall meetings, and receptions.
What is the Value of the Hubble Constant?
The most interesting plenary session of the meeting was “A New Measurement of the Expansion Rate of the Universe, Evidence of New Physics?” given by Adam Riess. In 2011, Riess shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery that the rate of expansion of the universe is increasing, so he certainly is qualified to address this question. Ninety years ago, Edwin Hubble discovered that there is a linear relationship between the redshifts and distances of galaxies. That is, the farther away a galaxy is, the faster it appears to be moving away. The accompanying figure represents this Hubble relation, or Hubble law, with a line representing the best fit to the data.
The most straightforward interpretation of the Hubble relation is that the universe is expanding. The slope of the line, the Hubble constant, H0, measures how rapidly the universe is expanding. The value of H0 is an important cosmological parameter, so for nearly a century, astronomers have attempted to measure it as accurately as possible. The direct method of assessing H0 is to collect redshifts and distances of many galaxies. While measuring redshifts of galaxies is straightforward, measuring their distances is fraught with problems.
For half a century, the dominant cosmology has been the big bang model, the belief that the universe suddenly appeared 13.8 billion years ago in a very dense, hot, rapidly expanding state. During the intervening expansion, the universe cooled, and stars and galaxies formed to produce the universe that we see today. Cosmologists expect that gravity from matter in the universe slows the rate of expansion. This ought to show up as a slight upward turn at very great distance in the Hubble relation, but measurements of distances of faraway galaxies are the most difficult to make. Two decades ago, two teams of astronomers (one headed by Riess) tackled this problem by using type Ia supernovae in very distant galaxies to determine their distances. Much to their surprise, both teams found that instead of turning upward, the Hubble relation turned down slightly at great distance. So, rather than slowing, the rate of expansion is speeding up.
A century ago, Albert Einstein anticipated the possibility that the rate of expansion of the universe might increase, though most cosmologists long ago dismissed this possibility. What is causing this? No one knows, and it remains one of the biggest questions in astronomy and cosmology today. The best candidate appears to be dark energy, a hypothetical potential energy field in the universe. As the universe expands, this field releases energy into the universe that not only overcomes the tendency of gravity to slow expansion, but increases the expansion rate. The amount of dark energy in the universe is expressed by the density of dark energy, ΩΛ. The current preferred version of the universe, ΛCDM can be characterized by six parameters with H0 and ΩΛ being two of the six parameters.
I have already discussed the direct observational way to determine H0, but cosmologists think there is a better way to do this. Discovered in 1965, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) is considered the best evidence for the big bang. There are very subtle temperature fluctuations in the CMB, first mapped by COBE (COsmic Background Explorer) satellite nearly 30 years ago, and more recently by the Planck spacecraft. Cosmologists interpret these temperature fluctuations in terms of the ΛCDM model to measure the six parameters that describe the universe. And therein lies the rub. In his presentation at the AAS meeting, Riess summarized recent work of him and his collaborators. Their latest measurement produces H0 = 73.24 (± 1.74) km/s/Mpc. Other studies measuring the Hubble constant in this traditional way give similar results. On the other hand, those determining the Hubble constant by modeling the CMB find H0 = 66.9 (± 0.6) km/s/Mpc. He pointed out that this is a difference of 3.4 σ, indicating that the two results cannot simultaneously be right.
DO ASTRONOMERS AND COSMOLOGISTS CHOOSE TO BELIEVE A DIRECT MEASUREMENT OF A QUANTITY, OR DO THEY BELIEVE WHAT THE MODEL TELLS THEM?
This is a very serious problem. Do astronomers and cosmologists choose to believe a direct measurement of a quantity, or do they believe what the model tells them? This could indicate that the model is terribly flawed. That model is the big bang, something we at Answers in Genesis don’t believe anyway, because it contradicts what Scripture says about the origin of the universe. What does this result mean to biblical creationists? It isn’t entirely clear. Creationists are divided as to what the Hubble relation means, with some thinking that it reflects expansion, while others thinking that it is due to some other effect. No thoughts have emerged among creationists as to what the downturn in the Hubble relation at great redshift means. We still await a comprehensive biblical cosmology.
Before moving on, I’d like to mention a shift in thinking that I observed at this AAS meeting. One poster paper discussed the fact that real data indicate more dark matter in the universe than the big bang modeling of the CMB will allow. About 30 years ago, astronomers embraced the reality of dark matter after opposing it for half a century. Soon, cosmologists began to incorporate dark matter into the big bang model. A few physicists have resisted dark matter, opting instead to toy around with radical changes in physics instead. Some creationists have picked up on this. I think their motivation is a desire to undo the big bang model, something that I’ve written about. From Riess’ comments and those of other speakers at the AAS meeting, I detect that astronomers who have believed in both dark matter for more than three decades and dark energy for nearly two decades now are reconsidering new physics. It’s not that they are rejecting dark matter and dark energy in favor of new physics, but that the direct observational data indicating the amount of dark matter and dark energy are at odds with the indirect measurements from the CMB filtered by the big bang model. It is ironic that recent creationists who seem to reject dark matter because of a perceived association with the big bang model now find themselves in agreement with those who promote the big bang.
Odds and Ends
Another plenary session gave an update on our changing understanding of Jupiter. Most of us are used to seeing the wonderful photos of Jupiter from the Voyager probes four decades ago and the more recent Galileo orbiter. Less well known is the current Juno mission orbiting the Jovian system. The primary reason for this may be less emphasis on visual imaging from this mission. In fact, JunoCam, the only visible light camera aboard the spacecraft, was more or less an afterthought. It was added to gain public interest in the mission. Juno has a heavy emphasis on probing Jupiter’s gravitational and magnetic fields. This is leading to a new understanding of the interior of Jupiter. Juno also has an orbit that takes it over Jupiter’s poles. One surprising result is that Jupiter’s poles are blue.
The speaker also discussed the origin of Uranus’ odd tilt, something that I’ve written on. Most theories require that Uranus underwent at least two early, violent collisions to produce its current 98-degree axial tilt. Now the thinking is that resonances in the early solar system may account for part of this. This requires that both Uranus and Neptune originally orbited between Jupiter and Saturn and then migrated to their current orbits beyond the orbit of Saturn. However, this scenario can’t explain tilt more than 90 degrees, so there still must have been an impact from a body about the size of the earth as well. I find it interesting that astronomers must invoke all sorts of complicated scenarios to explain the solar system that we have.
I FIND IT INTERESTING THAT ASTRONOMERS MUST INVOKE ALL SORTS OF COMPLICATED SCENARIOS TO EXPLAIN THE SOLAR SYSTEM THAT WE HAVE.
Another plenary session discussed Venus. Though there hasn’t been a mission to Venus for some time, much debate continues. For instance, there are three schools of thought on past and ongoing geological activity on Venus. Planetary scientists are coming around to the idea that Venus’ surface isn’t static but may be changing faster than thought. Furthermore, now the thinking is that Venus may have had an ocean at one time. Of course, all of this is interpreted in terms of billions of years, so it’s not clear if recent creationists would embrace this.
Another interesting plenary session described new things going on in stellar evolution. I was intrigued by some aspects of this, which prompted me to ask a question at the end of that talk. I had never asked a question after a plenary presentation at an AAS meeting. In fact, I had asked only one question during Q&A in any previous AAS meetings, and that was after an oral presentation. This time, I asked a question after two oral presentations, and I peppered several poster presenters (more than my usual) with questions. I must be getting bold in my old age.
At AAS meetings, a group of self-identified Christian astronomers usually gather for lunch or dinner, a tradition we continued. There were about 20 of us at dinner one evening. It is a diverse group. I seriously doubt that many of them are recent creationists, but most of them seem to know that I am, and that doesn’t appear to matter to them. I find their willingness to accept me refreshing, and I’m thankful for their kind, Christian attitude toward me.
Overall, I enjoyed this AAS meeting more than any I’ve ever attended. I found much that is stimulating to my thinking in developing a creation model of astronomy. Perhaps I won’t wait so long to go back to another meeting.