Conservapedia and relativity

Much chortling by the liberal arts types over the claim that relativity must be wrong because Jesus could do instantaneous action at a distance.

Schlafly also points to the Bible as a reason that Einstein\’s theory must be wrong:

9. The action-at-a-distance by Jesus, described in John 4:46-54.Conservapedia defines \”action-at-a-distance\” as \”Action at a distance consists of affecting a distant body instantaneously. At the atom level, this is known as \”non-locality.\” In non-confusing terms, that indicates the ability to cause something to happen instantaneously in another location (i.e., faster than the speed of light). Since Jesus could, reportedly, do this, thus Einstein is wrong.

Tee hee, eh?

Now of course Schlafly is indeed a loon and no, I\’m not about to start using the New Testament as my guide to modern physics either.

However, there is a point to be made here.

Things like quantum entanglement (I\’m not entirely certain that\’s the right name…quantum pairing?) do seem to both allow action at a distance and such instantaneously. No, we don\’t as yet have a theory which both explains and allows this and also explains and allows the various bits and bobs that make up relativity. To some extent we\’ve still got the division into macro and micro that economics has….each bit seems consistent and internally logical but not everything that is such in one set is in the other.

Yes, I know, real physicists will have a field day with my garbling in the above.

But the point is that Schlafly, purely by chance I\’m sure, has managed to light upon one of the very few things which really does point to the fact that relativity, while it may well be correct, is not as yet a complete theory of everything.

We thus have our liberal arts types laughing at him for being correct…..even if he\’s being correct for the usual loonish reasons.

Which leaves the interesting question….do the liberal arts types at TPM actually understand that he is correct here? That instantaneous action at a distance really is a challenge to our current understanding of relativity?

Just to repeat, yes, Schlafly is a loon.

11 thoughts on “Conservapedia and relativity”

  1. One reason that I was delighted when the fashionable adopted Chaos Theory as their must-refer-to science, was the thought that they might then stop wittering about relativity and quantum theory. Some hopes.

  2. The instantaneousness that you are talking about here does not violate relativity because no information can be transmitted. If you look up quantum teleportation you’ll find out how this works.

    Actually Quantum Field Theory, which is the unification of Special Relativity with Quantum Mechanics, is the most closely tested theory that we have with results showing the theory being accurate to amazing levels of precision.

  3. As far as science nonsense related to Relativity goes Luce Irigaray still wins by a country mile by claiming that e=mc^2 is a ‘sexed equation’ and that the speed of light is masculine. Another good one is Sandra Harding claiming that Newton’s laws are a rape manual.

  4. Dunno about quantum entanglement – IIRC the relativity problem is with information travelling faster than C, which I think we struggle to get – but,

    “… as of this writing [October 2007] there are no reproducible and generally accepted experiments that are inconsistent with SR, within its domain of applicability.” – the experimental basis for special relativity. As far as I know there is no experimental basis for the theory of the powers of Jesus.<

  5. (took my time writing this – I see others have beaten me to it, no matter 🙂 )

    Granted he’s a loon, but his argument fails.

    Assuming that the event happened exactly as described, the guy lived in the same town that Jesus was supposedly in at the time. Given that light can travel around the earth something like 7.5 times a second, Jesus’ powers could have worked well within relativistic frameworks and still seemed to be instantaneous. Without someone who had a ludicrously good timing method at both locations that had been synchronised to a level that’s probably still just about beyond us, we’d not be able to tell something that propogated at the speed of light from something that was instantaneous.

    Light travels at something like 300 million meters per second. The circumference of the earth around the equator is about 24,000 miles ~ 38.6 million meters. Light is really really fast.

    Regarding quantum entanglement, I still thought that we were bound by speed of light restrictions for transmission of information. I’ve not really looked at any of the literature recently, but I thought you can entangle two particles, and the state of both can be undetermined until one is viewed, at which point both become fixed, but you can’t tell if the one you have is fixed yet or not without looking at it, which causes it to become fixed. Thus, you can’t use it as a way of carrying information faster than the speed of light.

    There are a few things that can appear to move faster than the speed of light, or that can in fact move faster than the speed of light, but all that we know of are subject to restrictions meaning that they can’t be relied upon to carry information – and that’s the key part of relativity. It’s not so much that nothing can move faster than the speed of light, but that no information can be conveyed faster than the speed of light.

    (I think technically, all references to speed of light above should be considered speed of light in a vacuum – it’s been a while since I looked at Physics at University).

  6. Well that simply means that Jesus must’ve been quantumnly entangled. But that just begs the question: who was he quantumnly entangled with? Could it have been the anti-christ? 🙂

  7. Would not surprise me that at some time in the future once you “entangle” two things, they remain co-located on (an)other dimension(s), but only appear to be separated on the 3 dimensions our ape-brains are capable of comprehending.

    I try and keep in mind the concept of what we think is “magic”…

  8. To add a bit to UKLiberty – not only is there no experimental basis for Jesus’s powers, the whole point of miracles was that they were impossible to explain under natural laws. So their consistency or inconsistency with relativity or Newtonian physics or anything else is irrelevant, except to the extent that if they are consistent, they are less likely to be miracles.

    Either jesus is God and he doesn’t have to follow the rules, or he’s not and his miracles are fiction. Doesn’t seem to damage the scientists much either way.

    I was enjoying the mostly cheerful and intelligent “chortling by the liberal arts types” in the link (puts most UK grumpy/doctrinaire “comment” to shame), but the page keeps shutting down. Pity. Thanks for passing it on.

  9. “As far as science nonsense related to Relativity goes…”: it’s just struck me that e=mc^2 unfairly privileges the smallest of the Scottish clans, the mc^2. Somefink o’a be dahn abah’ i’.

  10. A Muslim dies and finds himself before the Pearly Gates.

    He is very excited, as all his life he has longed to meet the Prophet Mohammed.

    Having arrived at the Gates of Heaven, he meets a man with a beard.

    ‘Are you Mohammed?’ he asks.

    ‘No, my son. I am Peter. Mohammed is higher up’.

    And he points to a ladder that rises into the clouds.

    Delighted that Mohammed should be higher than Peter, he climbs the ladder through the clouds coming to a room where he meets another bearded man.

    He asks again, ‘Are you Mohammed?

    ‘No, I am Moses. Mohammed is higher still’.

    Exhausted, but with a heart full of joy, he continues to climb the ladder and, yet again, he discovers an even larger room where he meets another man with a beard.

    Full of hope, he asks again, ‘Are you Mohammed?’

    ‘No, I am Jesus…You will find Mohamed higher up’.

    Mohammed higher than Jesus! The poor man can hardly contain his delight and climbs and climbs, ever higher. Once again, he reaches a larger room where he meets a man with a beard and repeats his question:

    ‘Are you Mohammed?’ he gasps, as he is, by now, totally out of breath from all his climbing.

    ‘No, my son….I am God. But you look exhausted. Would you like a coffee?’

    ‘Yes, please, my Lord’

    God looks behind him, claps his hands and calls out:

    ‘Hey, Mohammed, two coffees!’

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