I am often asked this question: Is the Universe expanding?
Previously I have challenged the notion expansion of space or expansion of the Universe as an interpretation of cosmic redshifts. The whole notion is integrally linked with the standard big bang model for the origin and history of the Universe. Also I have written that the interpretation of cosmological redshifts, as resulting from expansion of space, is just another big bang fudge factor. Quite obviously if the Universe is not expanding then there was no big bang. Hence the expanding universe must be vigorously defended by those who hold to such beliefs.
I once wrote a brief summary on this topic, where I listed references1,2,3 to a literature survey I once did on all the evidence at the time, both for and against the expanding universe concept. And I found there was significant evidence inconsistent with cosmological expansion. I did that survey back in 2011 and though much new observational data has been published since then little has changed by way of the conclusion.4
The discussion essentially revolves around cosmic redshifts and how to best interpret them. The concept of redshift is not so simple. Because we have no way to test our theories on the Universe itself5 — quite different to a lab experiment — many different explanations may be presented to explain the same observational evidence.6 Currently Ref. 6 here lists 59 possible mechanisms. Many of those are not related to an expanding universe. The mere existence of other possible explanations throws doubt on the idea of cosmological expansion as the correct explanation. Those that have been verified in the laboratory — e.g. gravitational and Doppler redshifts — do not include cosmological expansion.
For the particular case of cosmological redshift — the systematic trend of an increase of galaxy redshifts with the source galaxy’s distance from us, which, in its simplest form, is called the Hubble law — no lab experiment has ever been done that can locally test for cosmological expansion, nor will it ever be possible, in my opinion. If there was only one possible explanation for galaxy redshifts then you might be more confident that the expanding universe is the correct interpretation, but there are many possible explanations on offer.
I recorded a 3-part video series on cosmic redshifts,7 what we know, and how do we interpret them. From that you really only need to get the take home message, expansion of the Universe from galaxy redshifts is not proven, and, there are lines of evidence that contradict the notion. See in particular the Table at the end of Ref. 2.
Biblical creationists, even myself in the past, have used the argument that there are about 20 Bible verses that seem to support the notion of cosmological expansion. (I quoted many of those texts in support of my cosmology in research papers and in my book Starlight Time and the New Physics.) Hence they have been used to support the idea that God created the Universe with cosmological expansion.
Others, like Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe ministry, say the big bang history is described in the book of Genesis and other biblical texts and they quote those verses in support. Besides the many problems of trying to make the biblical timeline fit that of the big bang (6000 years compared to 14 billion years), the events of so-called big bang progressive creation are completely out of sequence with the Genesis account.8
But can such a claim of expansion of the Universe really be justified from the scriptures themselves? No, it can’t. The clear plain reading of the Hebrew texts (or their English translations) cannot be construed to mean cosmological expansion.9 Their plain meaning is that God created the starry sky, like putting up a tent or a canopy, not a rubber sheet that gets stretched a thousand times or a million times its size. Tents just don’t stretch that much.10
So to answer the original question: I don’t know. The Hubble law could apply to a static universe, only that the mechanism of the galaxy redshifts is unknown. Quasar redshifts certainly indicate that they do not follow the simple Hubble law trend at higher redshifts.11 Therefore we have another reason to doubt the standard explanation of the expanding Universe.
- J.G. Hartnett, Does observational evidence indicate the universe is expanding?—part 1: the case for time dilation
- J.G. Hartnett, Does observational evidence indicate the universe is expanding?—part 2: the case against expansion
- J.G. Hartnett, Is the Universe really expanding? PDF
- J.G. Hartnett, Is there definitive evidence for an expanding universe?
- That means we cannot interact with the Universe; send in a light signal, for example, and get a reaction, as we might do in a lab experiment.
- L. Marmet, On the Interpretation of Red-Shifts: A Quantitative Comparison of Red-Shift Mechanisms II, 4 December 2014.
- Redshifts and the Universe, Redshifts burst big bang bubble, and Quasar redshifts blast big bang.
- J.G. Hartnett, The big bang is not a Reason to Believe.
- J.G. Hartnett, Does the Bible really describe expansion of the universe?
- J.G. Hartnett, Tension not extension in creation cosmology.
- J.G. Hartnett, What do quasars tell us about the Universe?