Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fr. Z's calculation of the world's creation off by approx. 123 million years

In a recent post, entitled "Happy Birthday Universe!" (Fr. Z's Blog, April 27, 2016), Fr. Z writes:
On this day in 4977 B.C., the universe [was] created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler ....
He goes on to relate a great many fascinating details about the life and times of Kepler, including the fact that he is sometimes considered the founder of modern science. In his concluding sentence, however, Fr. Z writes:
As for Kepler’s calculation about the universe’s birthday, scientists in the 20th century developed the Big Bang theory, which showed that his calculations were off by about 13.7 billion years.
Now please forgive me, but I take a fiendish delight in responding to such statistics by pointing out glaring errors when I find them. In his case, as any astro-physicist worth his salt knows, the figure cited above is off by a little over 100 million years. The exact figure can be inferred from the epiriometrics of the brilliant research scientist, A.D. Sokal, in his landmark essay, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" (1995), from which we can conclusively show that Fr. Z's figure is off by 123,857,487 years. The critical calculation is:

In light of which we are compelled to conclude that the Big Bang (and, omnia sint paribus, the creation of the world) occurred approximately 13.8 billion years ago, not 13.7 billion -- or, to be exact, 13,823,857,487 years ago at precisely 3:26 in the afternoon, Eastern Standard Time (anachronistically assuming Greenwich Mean Time existed then). I believe it was raining that afternoon.

In the interests of fair disclosure, my 'fiendish delight' in pointing out such errors stems from my studied skepticism regarding the philosophical conclusions inferred by scientists from their empiriometric and empirioschematic calculations, which are often presumptively taken for reality itself, as amply demonstrated by the physicist Anthony Rizzi in his book, The Science Before Science: A Guide to Thinking in the 21st Century, and by the Gifford Lecturer and Templeton Prize winning physicist, Stanley Jaki, in Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth. My skepticism also extends to the metaphysical claims either stated or implied in "The Grand Evolutionary Story" reiterated ad nauseam by contemporary textbooks of biology, parts of which Alvin Plantinga famously called "pure arrogant bluster."

So thank you, Fr. Z, for allowing me at your expense to skewer a bit of contemporary 'scientific bluster' with a bit of playful bluster of my own. I suppose you could claim that you covered yourself by the insertion of the cautionary term 'about' since 13.8 billion is 'about' 13.7 billion; and that might be true. Then again, would we really have any conclusive way of knowing whether we weren't off by 6-11 billion years, give or take a few hundred million? Or we could just take Stephen Hawking's word for it that it all happened "about 15 billion years ago."