Has the RATE project's heat problem been solved?

Has anyone seen this paper by Russell Humphreys presented to this year’s International Conference on Creationism? He claims to have come up with a mechanism by which the excess heat from accelerated nuclear decay could have been removed.


A cursory glance at it suggests to me that there are a whole raft of questions it still leaves unanswered (for example, it doesn’t explain the correlation between different dating methods, nor does it explain why stable nuclear isotopes did not become unstable) but I’d be interested to know what others think of it.

Note that I’m not interested in critiques of the form “he’s starting with the conclusion and working backwards” or “it’s not testable.” I know that already. What I’m interested in is (a) whether or not he is getting his facts straight, (b) whether or not his treatment is mathematically coherent, and (c) what questions it leaves unanswered and what it doesn’t account for.

Any thoughts?


“The end note also proposed that under certain extraordinary conditions the Bible calls
the opening of the heavens, some of the emitted light could leak directly into hyperspace.”

It still involves the supernatural or miracles that aren’t supported by any evidence, so I really don’t see how it is a scientific explanation for heat loss, if that is the goal. He might as well say that God whisked away the heat through miracles and be done with it. Trying to incorporate scientific explanations around the miracle at the center of the paper just seems like window dressing.


Here is a key sentence from the paper:

It is very likely that God adjusted the heat leakage to hyperspace by making the critical angle theta depend on both wavelength and location, in order to get the temperatures He wanted from place to place in the Earth.

This is a fancy way of saying:

It was a miracle that defies scientific explanation.

Add to that the proposed dispersal of heat via an unobserved 4th spatial dimension–a phenomenon that has never been observed in a scientific way. Clearly, this must be classified as a miracle. Nothing scientific here at all.

I am all for miracles such as the Resurrection that are described as historical in the Bible. Since the Bible says nothing about dispersing heat through the “windows of heaven,” however, I am not inclined to accept Humphreys’ speculation.

Grace and peace,

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Neither am I to be honest. In the end of the day it’s just a layer of science fiction to try and work around the problems introduced by another layer of science fiction that itself was introduced to try and squeeze the evidence into a doctrine that is simply not Biblically necessary.

I’m fully aware that he’s appealing to miracles whose main (if not only) purpose is to make the earth look older than it really is in the most complicated and convoluted way imaginable. But what I’m interested to know is what other flaws his hypothesis has besides appealing to miracles. For example, what predictions does it make that are not observed? Any factual inaccuracies, arithmetic errors or quote mining? That sort of thing.

One other thing that I spotted was that he claims that the RATE project found evidence for accelerated cooling. That one is news to me. Last time I looked, I don’t remember the RATE technical report making reference to any specific evidence for the kind of rapid cooling that they were hypothesising.

If we are introducing miracles into the process then anything can happen, including results that exactly mimic the standard decay chain of all isotopes, including things like secular equilibrium. It’s a bit like a defense attorney saying that the DNA and fingerprints at a crime scene are consistent with God transporting material through hyperspace.

The Aether is Back?

I think that the first section is a bit odd but not necessarily incorrect. A conceptual understanding of general relativity does imagine spacetime like a stretchable fabric that is ‘told’ how to bend by the location of masses and this bending of the ‘fabric’ of space predicts many effects like gravitational lensing quite well. And sure, we know that ‘empty space’ is not really ‘empty,’ but we have no evidence or mechanism for how such a quantum vacuum impacts astrophysical processes. And thus all astrophysical processes basically treat it as if it is not there,since something is canceling out this quantum vacuum energy to virtually nothing on larger scales. But Humphreys does ask an interesting question as to why the speed of light isn’t infinite. However, I’m surprised that he doesn’t reference some more recent research on the topic like this paper:

Four Dimensions of Space?

I don’t actually see any evidence that there are four dimensions of space in the ‘evidence that the fabric of space is four dimensional.’ He also suggests that the ‘Big Bang Theories’ use four spacial dimensions implicitly. I am not sure what he is referring to, nor why he pluralizes Big Bang ‘theories’ instead of engaging the Big Bang theory. Maybe I am just ignorant, but a casual search for ‘5D cosmology’ or ‘5 dimensional big bang theories’ results in virtually nothing. I have several books on General Relativity and all the matrices of tensor math are 4x4 matrices- 3 for dimensions of space and one for time. On to the next section.

Success of the 4-D Fabric Model

This certainly would be interesting though i’m not quite sure that this can be appropriately titled ‘success of the 4-D fabric model.’ However, he references his paper posted to the CMI website so let’s to a brief glance there.

He does point out that his model ‘takes literally a number of scriptures which many people have regarded as figures of speech devoid of physical meaning.’ I am surprised then that he is not a flat earth geocentrist but no matter, let’s go on… He has a rather technical set of equations that I am inclined to believe are hogwash. On the CMI website a few of the citations are miscited and there are a few other basic errors without going into too much detail (like ‘f’ in Feynman’s equation is not the force but rather the force per unit area). Part of the reason is that he claims to have solved the cosmological constant problem- he really should get a Nobel Prize for that. Writing a few articles and publishing to a few non-specialists is not the way to go.

Blackbody radiation into Hyperspace:

That Noah needs to eat more food so that his energy doesn’t lose energy to hyperspace… I’m not sure exactly what to say. So I won’t say anything at all.

Opening the heavens might also accelerate nuclear decay:

So there was an incredible loss of heat and accelerated nuclear decay also when:

  • The prophetic signs of Isaiah 24:18 were/will be fulfilled.
  • Anytime someone brings the whole title into the storehouse, God opens the windows to hyperspace (Mal 3:10).

In other words, it’s not physics, but physics theatre. (By analogy with IT security expert Bruce Schneier’s concept of security theatre.)

Good point. The fact that not a single equation in his entire paper includes a single tensor should be a major red flag.

Precisely. Why aren’t any of these guys claiming that there was an episode of accelerated nuclear decay at the Crucifixion and/or the Resurrection?

@T_aquaticus, @Chris_Falter

By the way, @pevaquark’s answer was exactly what I was looking for here, and this illustrates an important point that I’ve made in several other threads here and elsewhere. It’s easy to respond to YE or ID claims as being “religion, not science,” or “introducing religious presuppositions into science,” or “appealing to miracles.” But these are cheap shots.

I am firmly of the opinion that we should respond to YEC claims first and foremost on the issue of honesty, factual accuracy and quality control in how they handle the data. Then, and only then, can we consider questions about the honesty or otherwise of their motivations, and whether or not it appeals to miracles are appropriate.

Objecting to religious presuppositions or appeals to miracles, even if factually accurate and technically correct, diverts the discussion away from the issue of honesty and factual accuracy and onto the level of debates about the philosophy of science. When you do that, the debate just becomes a case of your worldview against theirs.


I am of two minds on this one. The entire purpose of the RATE project was to come up with scientific explanations as to why radiometric dating is wrong. The underlying argument is that there is scientific evidence for a young Earth, at least in their estimation. As soon as you insert an ad hoc mechanism that is designed solely to make inconvenient data go away, you are no longer doing science. So I really think the very first question that one should ask is if it is scientific, which obviously it is not.

I would agree that we shouldn’t classify it as a miracle or supernatural intervention but should instead be labelled as an ad hoc mechanism. This will hopefully avoid all of the cultural baggage that comes with discussing religion and science. If they are truly trying to be scientific about this, then they need evidence for this mechanism independent of the effect they are claiming. What other effects would this mechanism produce that we could measure in the here and now?


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