astronomy Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

Stars just don’t form naturally— ‘Dark matter’ the ‘god of the gaps’ is needed

‘Dark matter’ is an essential ingredient to form stars naturally given only standard known physics. ‘Dark matter’ is a hypothetical exotic form of matter, unknown to laboratory physics, which does not interact with or emit light in any way, hence it is invisible to all forms of detection within the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio-waves to gamma radiation. ‘Dark matter’ itself, therefore, is outside of standard known physics. It is made-up stuff that has been given one special property, which is that it gravitates, that is, unlike normal matter, it is a source of gravity only.

Detection of ‘dark matter’

Figure 1: Image of dark matter detected using advanced methods.
Figure 1: Image of dark matter detected using advanced methods.

But has dark matter been discovered by any direct measurement? That is apart from inferring its existence due to anomalies like galaxy rotation curves where the motions of stars and gases in the arms of spiral galaxies do not follow the expected Keplarian law in line with standard Newtonian physics? No, it has not and that is after 40 years of searching in laboratory experiments. Yet it is believed to exist—a ‘god of the gaps’—and is essential, otherwise many astrophysical observations just do not agree with those expected by application of standard laws of physics. See Fig. 1 for image of dark matter.

Theoretical physicist Mordehai Milgrom has proposed an alternative to dark matter, called Modified Newtonian Dynamics (or MOND) wherein he slightly changes the law of gravitation on the very large-scale of galaxies to solve the problem of galaxy rotation curves and dynamics of galaxies on larger scales. In a 2014 NewScientist article1 Milgrom was asked by reporter Marcus Chown:

“Why is now a good time to take an alternative to dark matter seriously?”

To which he replied:

“A host of experiments searching for dark matter, including the Large Hadron Collider, many underground experiments and several space missions, have failed to see anything convincing. This comes on top of increasing realisation that the leading dark matter model has its failings. Among other things, it predicts that we should see many more dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way than we actually do.”

This latter problem I pointed out in Why is Dark Matter everywhere in the cosmos? In this article I will focus more on the problem, not of galaxy formation, but of star formation, though the two are related. Without stars galaxies would not exist. But before I get to that consider the following.

Large scale computer simulations of the universe

A BBC news headline read “Universe evolution recreated in lab.”2 This story was about an international team of researchers who “… created the most complete visual simulation of how the Universe evolved.” They used a super-computer to create a model of the alleged early universe wherein they showed “… how the first galaxies formed around clumps of a mysterious, invisible substance called dark matter.” Fig. 2 shows the results of their simulation compared to the real Universe. The result looks very good, doesn’t it? Maybe they have solved the problem of the origin of the Universe?

Figure 2: The real Universe photographed by the Hubble telescope is on the left. On the right is what emerges from the simulation. Credit Ref. 2.
Figure 2: The real Universe photographed by the Hubble telescope is on the left. On the right is what emerges from the simulation. Credit Ref. 2.

They were working not on the scale size of stars, but of large scale structure of the Universe and formation of galaxies. The article reports (my emphasis added):

“In the beginning, it shows strands of mysterious material which cosmologists call ‘dark matter’ sprawling across the emptiness of space like branches of a cosmic tree. As millions of years pass by, the dark matter clumps and concentrates to form seeds for the first galaxies.”

They had to use dark matter as the ‘seeds’ or the galaxies would not condense in their simulations. Prof Carlos Frenk (Durham University) said (my emphasis added):

“You can make stars and galaxies that look like the real thing. But it is the dark matter that is calling the shots.”

Without this unknown ‘god of the gaps’ you simply cannot make the simulations produce anything that look like the real Universe. The laws of known physics will not allow that. Dr Vogelsberger of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said (my emphases added):

If you don’t include dark matter (in the simulation) it will not look like the real Universe,”

Finally cosmologist Dr Robin Catchpole (the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge) adds what the reporter call a note of caution (my emphases added):

Although he hailed the simulation as “spectacular”, he added, “one must not be taken in by the sheer visual beauty of the thing. You get things that look like galaxies without them being much to do with the physics of how galaxies emerged.”

Star formation’s essential ingredient

As Prof Carlos Frenk pointed out in the above quoted article,2 dark matter is essential to making stars, and he means naturally, that is, with only the known laws of physics.

The visible Universe has about 1011 galaxies containing about 1011 stars on average, totalling about 1022 stars. Thus their formation is foundational to the Universe. Without stars there would be no universe. However, from the secular perspective, the theoretical understanding of star formation is quite lacking, but theorists are hopeful and they are continuing research via computer simulations trying to reconstruct the past history of the early universe and star formation.

The main difficulty comes in modelling the physical process of formation, which involves gravity, highly turbulent gas dynamics, magnetic fields, radiation, molecular and dust chemistry. Star formation also involves an enormous range of length and time scales, assuming only naturalistic processes, which make simulations difficult, even with super-computers.

Figure 3: The telling of the story of star formation (Source: Spitzer Science Center. See Ref. 3.).
Figure 3: The telling of the story of star formation (Source: Spitzer Science Center. See Ref. 3.).

Nowadays, dark matter is added as an essential ingredient to all simulations on star formation because once any hypothesized cloud of hydrogen gas condenses to a certain size it comes into hydrodynamic equilibrium. This means the outward force on the cloud, caused by the accumulated pressure due to heating of the compressed cloud, equals the inward force on the cloud due to the mutual gravitational attraction of all matter in the cloud. At this point no further contraction can occur, unless something else is introduced to overcome this limitation.

You may hear the expression ‘virialized’ system. In such a state a balance has developed between the kinetic energy and the gravitational potential energy of the cloud. Once this is reached no further change can occur unless energy is radiated away from the cloud cooling it, which may take an indefinite period of time, and if the matter density is below a certain value cooling is impossible. The way around that is to start with much more dark matter than normal matter, which immediately overcomes this balanced condition. That is justified by the assertion that spiral galaxies comprise 85% dark matter.

Any primordial gas cloud—consisting mostly of hydrogen—is assumed to be the product of the alleged hot big bang origin of the universe, wherein only hydrogen, helium and a little lithium was supposed to have formed, via nuclear fusion.3  According to that story, after 3 to 20 minutes the temperature of the big bang fireball had cooled to where no more fusion could take place.

Initially the elements (H, He) were in the form of a hot plasma but after about 380,000 years the plasma cooled sufficiently that the electrons re-combined with the protons and other nuclei forming essentially only hydrogen and helium gas. From that gas it is supposed, after about a billion years, give or take (the model is flexible), the first stars formed.4 But, and this is a big BUT, there is no known law of nature (physics) that allowed the first stars to form from the alleged primordial clouds of gas.

Figure 3 shows the believed formation process of a star. But note that in Fig. 3(a) the simulation begins with a dense core, such that gravitational collapse can occur in Fig. 3(b). ‘Something’ is added at the beginning else nothing can happen.

The Jeans limit

Without this ‘something,’ fundamental physics must necessarily be violated or the Jeans limit5 must be overcome by either compression of or cooling of the cloud. However, once this limit is overcome, gravity can take over (Fig. 3(b)) and compress the cloud further, to form the protostar (Fig. 3(c)). But without a mechanism to overcome this natural limitation the cloud would naturally heat up and that would prevent further compression, resulting in equilibrium.

In computer simulations of star formation the computer program is usually started with an over-density such that the Jeans mass is already achieved, hence the limit is not a problem because the simulation is started past that point (as shown in Fig.3(a) and (b)). The Jeans mass =Kρ1/2 T3/2, where K is a constant, ρ is the cloud density, and T is the absolute temperature.

A universe without stars, that is, one that only has hydrogen and a little helium gas and the known laws of physics, is not the universe we live in. Naturalistically there are only 3 possible lines of investigation to overcome this problem, that is, to form stars naturally.

  1. Cool the cloud so it can continue to compress, increasing its density (ρ). Given sufficient time for cooling to occur eventually it is hoped the Jeans limit is overcome;
  2. Compress the cloud to overcome the Jeans limit, by employing, magnetic fields like in a tokamak6 to confine the hot plasma, or, some external force, e.g. a supernova, to compress the cloud beyond the Jeans limit;
  3. Introduce some new exotic matter that is unaffected by normal thermodynamic considerations, because it does not interact with normal matter, therefore it provides an added gravitational force on the cloud but without contributing to its heating. Thus it is used to overcome the problem of the equilibrium condition reached in the cloud preventing it from being able to collapse any further to form a star.

It has been proposed that a nearby exploding star (supernova) can compress a gas cloud, and it is hypothesized that our own sun formed after the supernova of a red giant in our galactic neighborhood. Shock waves are generated by the outward travelling blast waves. See Fig.4 showing (as ‘cosmic pearls’) the hot plasma travelling outward from the source of the central explosion. But the idea of the shock waves from a supernova needed to compress the gas cloud introduces a ‘chicken and egg’ problem and hence hardly qualifies as an explanation for the origin of the first stars, the population III stars, soon after the alleged big bang.

Figure 4: Supernova SN1987A's Cosmic Pearls Credit: P. Challis, R. Kirshner (CfA), and B. Sugerman (STScI), NASA.
Figure 4: Supernova SN1987A’s Cosmic Pearls
Credit: P. Challis, R. Kirshner (CfA), and B. Sugerman (STScI), NASA.

Magnetic fields in the gas cloud are also being investigated. They are no help, but, in fact, an impediment to collapse, unless the cloud can remove the magnetic fields by diffusing away the ions that carry them.  The main hope of forming stars is with cooling channels, via infrared radiation from molecular hydrogen, but that requires long periods of time, and thus the simulations start with a mixture of dark matter and hydrogen (normal matter). There is no hope to form stars without the help of the assumed dark matter, no matter (no pun intended) how many hundreds of millions of years you give it. Physics is still the problem.

The following is how a Scientific American article entitled “The First Stars in the Universe”7 described the process (my emphases added):

This cooling plays an essential role in allowing the ordinary matter in the primordial system to separate from the dark matter. The cooling hydrogen would settle into a flattened rotating configuration that was clumpy and filamentary and possibly shaped like a disk. But because the dark-matter particles would not emit radiation or lose energy, they would remain scattered in the primordial cloud. Thus, the star-forming system would come to resemble a miniature galaxy, with a disk of ordinary matter and a halo of dark matter. Inside the disk, the densest clumps of gas would continue to contract, and eventually some of them would undergo a runaway collapse and become stars.

The following was written at the head of a sequence of graphics illustrating the alleged formation of the first stars and galaxies.

PRIMEVAL TURMOIL The process that led to the creation of the first stars was very different from present-day star formation. But the violent deaths of some of these stars paved the way for the emergence of the universe that we see today.

This was illustrated with my Fig. 5 (copied) showing a protogalaxy made up of a mixture of dark matter and ordinary matter (hydrogen gas).

Figure 5: From Ref. 7, page 8. 1 The first star-forming systems—small proto-galaxies—consisted mostly of the elementary particles known as dark matter (shown in red). Ordinary matter—mainly hydrogen gas (blue)—was initially mixed with the dark matter (original text).
Figure 5: From Ref. 7, page 8.  The first star-forming systems—small proto-galaxies—consisted mostly of the elementary particles known as dark matter (shown in red). Ordinary matter—mainly hydrogen gas (blue)—was initially mixed with the dark matter (original text).

The dark matter here is the ‘god of the gaps’ used to overcome the fundamental physics that naturally prohibits the collapse of the cloud to a star. In fact, it is assumed that most of the first proto-galaxies8 consisted of dark matter (of an unknown type of elementary particle9). The dark matter is given the needed properties to achieve the desired outcome. It does not emit radiation, which means it cannot be seen by normal electromagnetic detection methods; it does not lose energy because it does not interact with other normal matter particles. It is a ‘god’ that gravitates, creating strong gravitational forces, strong enough to overcome the resistance of the hot gas pressure in the cloud, causing the normal matter hydrogen to collapse into a star. This is just story telling at its finest.

It is further claimed that today we do observe stars forming where external forces, like shock waves from nearby supernovae, are not present. Most star formation allegedly takes place in the ‘density waves’ of spiral galaxy arms, which is a gravitational effect arising from the interactions of myriads of stars, gas, and dust orbiting in the galactic gravitational potential well. See Fig. 6.

Let’s unpack this. Firstly, even if it is true that the existing matter in the spiral arms of galaxies provided the needed gravitational potential well that causes the gas clouds to collapse into stars, this does not solve the problem of the first stars. Secondly, the argument used here—‘density waves’—is a theory to support the development of spiral arm structure that has the same problems as most of astrophysics—the need for dark matter. Because of the anomalous rotation curves of stars and gases in the disk regions it is supposed that dark matter exists in a halo surrounding the galaxy, and is found everywhere but in the core, where you would most expect to find it. But it is not needed there. Remember, it is not observed, only inferred to exist to solve problems with the motion of stars.

The ‘density wave’ theory is also used to support the notion of how a 10 billion year old galaxy can appear to have only one or two rotations (windings) in its spiral structure, when with a rotation period of 200 million years it should have 50 windings in the spiral structure. Astronomers sometimes call this the ‘wind-up problem’ of the spiral arms. The problem occurs because the inner parts of the disks of these galaxies are observed to rotate faster than the outer parts. Galaxies are not solid bodies and as they rotate they should wind up so much that their spiral structure should have been destroyed over 10 billion years of their alleged lifetime. This latter observational fact is something that biblical creationists have for a long time used as evidence supporting a young universe. The galaxies were, in fact, created almost just as we observe them, so there is no ‘wind-up problem.’

Figure 6: Bode’s galaxy showing strong emission from clouds of hydrogen gas (coloured pink). These regions in spiral arms are claimed to be active star forming regions.
Figure 6: Bode’s galaxy showing strong emission from clouds of hydrogen gas (coloured pink). These regions in spiral arms are claimed to be active star forming regions.

So this is all part of the story telling. Are gas clouds, in the act of collapsing into stars, actually observed in these galaxies? Well no! Intense emissions signal to astronomers active young new stars, so accordingly they report star-forming regions. But the very luminous emissions from hot hydrogen gas do not tell you how the stars were formed. Any biblical creationist model must also account for the first stars as well as stars forming in galaxies, but because the Genesis account says God made the stars on the 4th day of Creation we know that the first stars were formed by God supernaturally on that day. And because there is still this problem of the Jeans limit it is unlikely that many stars would have formed after the 4th day of Creation week.


One must invent unknown stuff—dark matter—with the right properties—the unknown ‘god of the gaps’—to get stars to form naturalistically. Without it, it just can’t happen!

But why invent this unknown stuff? There are various areas in astrophysics and cosmology where dark matter is invoked to solve some problem. But more fundamentally why invent a ‘god’ to overcome established laws of physics to explain star formation? Is it because if they don’t astronomers will have to admit that materialism fails and that there is more to the Universe than hydrogen, helium, some heavier elements, magnetic fields, radiation and the laws of physics?

References and Notes

  1. Marcus Chown, Forget dark matter – embrace my MOND theory instead, NewScientist, Magazine issue 2967, 6 May 2014.
  2. Pallab Ghosh, Universe evolution recreated in lab, BBC News, Science & Environment, 07 May 2014.
  3. Timeline of the big bang, The physics of the universe, accessed 2 July 2015.
  4. These are called population III stars, called metal poor (where metal means any element of an atomic number greater than helium). Their lack of detection has been a big big bang problem for a long time. The first population III stars are predicted to have formed at redshifts of about z = 10-30. The James Webb Space Telescope, tentatively scheduled for launch in 2018, is hoped to be able to detect some of the first galaxies, but it is doubted that it will be able to detect the first stars, the population III stars. The reality is that all stars ever observed, even in the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field, are not population III stars.
  5. Jeans instability, Wikipedia, accessed 2 July 2015.
  6. Tokamak, Wikipedia, accessed 01 July 2015.
  7. R. B. Larson and V. Bromm, The First Stars in the Universe, Scientific American, Special Edition, “The Secret Life of Stars”, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 7,9, 2004.
  8. Ref. 7, p. 8.
  9. J.G. Hartnett, Dark Matter and the Standard Model of particle physics—a search in the ‘Dark’, 28 September 2014.

By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.

23 replies on “Stars just don’t form naturally— ‘Dark matter’ the ‘god of the gaps’ is needed”

Dr. Hartnett, this article has served to frustrate me related to what is happening in the US. In the public school I just retired from, the school library could have a wide variety of books, but it could not have a Bible. There was exposure to the stuff of your article, to evolution, to all religions being of equal merit and accorded equal respect or endorsement. And now the schools will teach and honor gender diversity as well as various forms of marriage, and punish anyone who does not fall in line with the language changes and non-discriminatory gender-diverse rules.
Your article frustrated me because you show the “scientific” embracing of paganistic “dark” entities to make the religion of materialism work in outer space (and on earth). The priests of this esoteric and heady “scientific” enlightenment are, by most of the public, admired & accorded prestige & paid good salaries & granted adulation by indoctrinated students and adults, “Christians” included.
I am frustrated because the “dark” stuff that makes this modern “science” work does not exist! You, and others like you, have done a good job of making this clear. (Thank you!) In spite of this truth that you have exposed, this dark fairy dust that has (in this cosmic fairy tale) brought about so much of the universe surrounding us is also a huge part of the pagan materialistic worldview that is engulfing the US, and it serves as a black hole sucking in the last vestiges of morality (and sanity) in this country. Everything is a “chance” accident that started from nothing and has been made possible by the invisible “dark entity” in the cosmos all around us! It leads to a worldview where all rules and morality are based upon nothing, so why yield to some rule or authority that I don’t like when it is just someone’s vacuous idea. Thus, we now change the definition of marriage that has stood for thousands of years. My son told me of filling out a form that listed 8 genders one could choose from.
Frustration grips me when you reveal that it is believed that 85% of spiral galaxies are dark matter………. “It does not emit radiation.” “It cannot be seen.” “It does not lose energy.” “It does not interact.” “It is a ‘god’ that gravitates.” It is the Cause of the universe all around us, as we know it. Yes, “this is just story telling at its finest.” However, in my opinion, this is the insidious stuff that is a huge part of the successful destruction of Christian faith and the successful injection that prevents one from catching the Christian disease.
I hope I can get to sleep tonight. :^)


>”Everything is a “chance” accident that started from nothing”….

Mr. Kachtik, while I’m accustomed to seeing much fear and loathing from Young Earth Creationist ministry leaders as they worry about the dangers of “random chance” and “random accidents”, the enemy is not “chance” at all. The enemy within us is our supposing that God is weak and small and somehow not sovereign over the universe he created. That is a lack of a faith based upon a lie.

They fear chance only because they have such a small concept of the Creator, one made from their own devotion to TRADITION more than the Biblical TEXT. The God of the Bible has nothing to fear from chance because he is clearly sovereign over it. In fact, God uses “chance” for his glory. We are told in Proverbs 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.” An “accident” to us but certainly not to God.

We see “random chance” from a human perspective, but from God’s perspective, it is never “accidental” and “random chance” is something even humans understand to be so predictable that we apply statistical measures to those “random events” and determine all sorts of useful information. For example, we don’t know when the next radioactive isotope’s atom will decay—but the half-life of a sample of same is wonderfully predictable and allows scientists to determine the age of materials by means of radiometric dating methodologies. The “randomness” leads us to remarkable certainty. It’s just one of many answers God gives us in his creation.

Yes, we humans do often find “random chance” disconcerting but God doesn’t. He created a universe with natural processes which we have observed and measured in order to understand more and more of how God willed this universe to operate. We don’t always know where that “random chance” leads but God certainly does. There is nothing for you to fear in it.


The mass which fills ’empty’ space is beginning to be referred to as the ‘dark mass’ in order to distinguish it from the baggage associated with dark matter.

‘Dark Energy/Dark Mass: The Silent Truth’

“That is, all that we are certain about [is] the dark mass, not dark matter, let alone to say about the dark ‘particle’.”

What physics mistakes for the density of the dark matter is actually the state of displacement of the dark mass.

Particles of matter move through and displace the dark mass, including ‘particles’ as large as galaxies and galaxy clusters.

‘The Milky Way’s dark matter halo appears to be lopsided’

“the emerging picture of the dark matter halo of the Milky Way is dominantly lopsided in nature.”

The Milky Way’s halo is not a clump of dark matter traveling along with the Milky Way. The Milky Way’s halo is lopsided due to the matter in the Milky Way moving through and displacing the dark mass, analogous to a submarine moving through and displacing the water.

The Milky Way’s halo is the state of displacement of the dark mass.
The Milky Way moves through and curves spacetime.
The Milky Way’s halo is curved spacetime.
The state of displacement of the dark mass is curved spacetime.
The state of displacement of the dark mass *is* gravity.


I don’t know what you mean by dark mass exactly but it seems to me you are defining it as ordinary baryonic matter that would have to be non-emitting neutral hydrogen in the intergalactic medium of ’empty’ space. But even if one found this to be true and it solved the missing baryon problem it only increases the baryonic mass content of the Universe by about 50%, hence 4% of total mass/energy content becomes 6%. That is not enough for the dark matter crisis. The first web article you refer is evolutionary in nature and in assumptions, though critical of the standard model. But I agree, and I have often said this, that dark matter could be replaced by new physics.


‘Ether and the Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein’

“Think of waves on the surface of water. Here we can describe two entirely different things. Either we may observe how the undulatory surface forming the boundary between water and air alters in the course of time; or else-with the help of small floats, for instance – we can observe how the position of the separate particles of water alters in the course of time. If the existence of such floats for tracking the motion of the particles of a fluid were a fundamental impossibility in physics – if, in fact nothing else whatever were observable than the shape of the space occupied by the water as it varies in time, we should have no ground for the assumption that water consists of movable particles. But all the same we could characterise it as a medium.”

if, in fact nothing else whatever were observable than the shape of the space occupied by the dark mass as it varies in time, we should have no ground for the assumption that the dark mass consists of movable particles. But all the same we could characterise it as a medium having mass which is displaced by the particles of matter which exist in it and move through it.


But what is dark mass? If it is not made up from some hypothetical dark matter particles, it must be comprised of baryonic matter (protons, neutrons). Mass cannot be mass unless it is comprised of some form of matter. In the relativity example the analogy is with space itself, which may be curved due to the presence of mass. In that case, that is Einstein’s new type of ether, the space itself. Read Expansion of space — a dark science.


Mass is defined as that which physically occupies three dimensional space. And as Einstein noted, it doesn’t mean it has to be particulate.


Yes, it is the mass content of the space that ‘tells’ the space how to curve in Einstein’s general relativity theory. That mass will be largely made up of particles because matter is. Of course there can be a small contribution from the energy content of the space also. But after excluding the hypothetical ‘unknowns’ like dark matter, you are essentially left with only normal baryonic matter (protons and neutrons). There is no other mass (matter) that does not comprise of particles.


Dark mass fills the space unoccupied by particles of matter.

The matter displaces the dark mass which is gravity.


No, that is impossible. Einstein’s general theory requires matter or energy in the space to curve space. All matter is composed of particles thus whatever you might imagine your dark mass to be it must be comprised of particles of some kind. Your last sentence states “dark mass is gravity,” which makes no sense at all. Gravity is the short form of saying the force of gravity, an acceleration of all matter due to an attractive force between matter. Mass in space curves the spacetime according to Einstein’s tensorial theory.


Dark matter has not been proposed solely as a ‘fudge’ to allow for ongoing star formation during the past 13 bn years or so (something which has been directly observed as being in progress vast distances from Earth right ‘now’ though YECs always dispute this because it is ‘unbiblical’). The existence and properties of dark matter have been inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, on radiation, and on the large-scale structure of the universe. And, as reported in Nature, researchers employed a computer model to accurately recreate our universe – a model which assumed that the first galaxies formed around clumps of the so-called ‘dark matter’.
What will you science deniers do should dark matter ever be directly detected? Will you admit either that supernatural intervention by means of biblical ‘recent’ 6-day creation is not required, or at least concede that the biblical God must use ‘naturalistic’ means as well/instead and therefore the universe has indeed evolved and continues to do so?
I’ve also seen the comments here (unlike you, CMI always censor ANY comments I submit) as well as those above under THIS blog:
For once some of the comments actually address relevant scientific topics …
I note that you say: “The ‘density wave’ theory is also used to support the notion of how a 10 billion-year-old galaxy can appear to have only one or two turns in its spiral structure, when with a rotation period of 200 million years it should have 50 rotations in the spiral structure. This latter observational fact is something that biblical creationists have for a long time used as evidence supporting a young universe.” Since you suddenly start talking about the ‘density wave’ theory but fail utterly to explain WHAT the density wave theory proposes or why, or to provide any related link, I will dismiss your comments for the propaganda that they undoubtedly are.
Though in fact I have found and have scanned this previous blog article by yourself:
In your previous blog – a blog only and not a peer reviewed science paper apparently – you wrote: “Astronomers looked at spiral galaxies and saw they have only a few turns in their spiral structure. Based on their measured rotation rate one rotation should take about 100 million years. Thus there is only a few hundred million years of ‘age’ in the spiral galaxies” and “The observed galaxies must be at least 10 billion years old but based on their spiral swirls they are 50 times younger than that. They appear not to have turned enough times since they first formed”. You then implied that the density wave theory was specially concocted to deal with this ‘problem’ (an alleged problem for a very old universe you would claim). However, having checked online, the density wave theory was proposed to address something called the ‘winding problem’ – something you fail totally even to mention!
And are you really suggesting that 10 bn year old galaxies should have 50 spiral arms? Or am I taking your words TOO literally.


Ashley. I would argue that no one actually ‘sees’ star formation occurring right now. Maybe they record increased emissions over certain wavelengths and those wavelengths accord with their model, and so the claim is made of ongoing formation. I say this in the article. Hot spots are observed in spiral arms etc. But given that I also do not deny even the possibility of seeing star-formation, the argument is that it cannot occur naturallistically.

Yes, dark matter is inferred. But new physics also could be inferred. But you cannot say ‘accurate’ in terms of modelling the universe, because a) you would have to know exactly what the Universe looks like at great distances (assumed to be early in its history) and b) even the research staff themselves say the results are only due to the assumed stuff — dark matter — which has no basis in known physics.

I am hardly a science denier. I am one who is open to new physics but that it must be experimentally established, not just concocted for the sake of the standard LCDM cosmology. Of course God can use some naturalistic processes in His Creation. But you cannot deny the existence of the Creator and then make up your own ‘god(s) of the gaps’ to fill in where the theory fails.

When you say, if dark matter is directly detected, where do you mean? In a lab experiment? That would be great, then we are back to experimental physics. It would be a good outcome and we could more confidently insert it into our models. But if in the cosmos, you still have the uncertainties of cosmic variance and the unknowns in cosmology.

The winding problem is actually the same thing that I address. A 10 bn year old galaxy has only 200 millions years worth of winding in the observed arms, so the density wave posits that the whole disk of matter is undergoing a density perturbation that circulates in waves in the disk, maintaining the current appearance over the 10 bn years of assumed age. Nothing I have written is contrary to that. It seems you have confirmed it. It is as I have written. The meaning in what I wrote is that if they are 10 bn years old they should have wound around 50 times, not have 50 arms.


‘Stars don’t form naturally’ sounds like science denial to me (you are saying that God ‘did it’ and that he only did it once and in one go – on the first ‘Wednesday’ which you folk insist was only 6,000 years ago).
By ‘directly detected’ I mean whatever was meant at the start of this Wikipedia article:
An approximately 10 bn year old galaxy as viewed from Earth is of course approximately 10 bn light years distant.
According to Wikipedia, the winding problem is that “Originally, astronomers had the idea that the arms of a spiral galaxy were material. However, if this were the case, then the arms would become more and more tightly wound, since the matter nearer to the centre of the galaxy rotates faster than the matter at the edge of the galaxy. The arms would become indistinguishable from the rest of the galaxy after only a few orbits”.
Your recent articles referred to ’50 windings’ (or rotations in the spiral structure) without – for me – making clear exactly what you meant eg by means of a diagram. Your earlier blog that I flagged said very little about density wave theory – all you said was “A solution was advanced with the ‘density wave’ theory, which is supposed to solve this and save the 10-billion-year age of galaxies. But the belief system—the worldview—motivates the new theory”. Whereas the Wikipedia page says “Lin and Shu proposed in 1964 that the arms were not material in nature, but instead made up of areas of greater density, similar to a traffic jam on a highway. The cars move through the traffic jam: the density of cars increases in the middle of it. The traffic jam itself, however, does not move (or not a great deal, in comparison to the cars). In the galaxy, stars, gas, dust, and other components move through the density waves, are compressed, and then move out of them.
More specifically, the density wave theory argues that the “gravitational attraction between stars at different radii” prevents the so-called winding problem, and actually maintains the spiral pattern”.
I have to say that I find some of your writing – on of course complex topics – to be opaque, inaccessible to the layman, and rather lacking in clarity. In particular, although you are an expert (I don’t claim to be), you often introduce little known terms without bothering to define or to fully explain them.


Oh hum. It comes back to name calling….’science denial.’ It is not science denial to question the ‘gods of the gaps,’ the fudge factors invoked in standard cosmology for no other reason than to support a failed model. There is no ‘direct detection’ of dark matter. That is what lab experiments are for—40 years now of searching and nothing.

To state “An approximately 10 bn year old galaxy as viewed from Earth is of course approximately 10 bn light years distant.” is circular reasoning, because you cannot know the actual distance. Unprovable assumptions are involved. The Hubble law is a luminosity vs redshift law, and to determine the absolute luminosity of candidate type Ia supernovae a cosmology is assumed, then any candidate with an absolute magnitude that falls outside of a narrow range is rejected, and then those that pass that filter are used to test the same cosmology. But besides that there is the problem of the meaning of the redshifts themselves. One high redshift quasar in front of a low redshift galaxy is enough to question the whole paradigm. You want peer-reviewed publication that challenges the Hubble law, see Ref. 3 here. There are no independent distance measures and there is sufficient contradictory evidence to suggest the Universe is not even expanding.

Yes, the ‘density wave’ theory is as you have stated, to maintain the spiral structure over 10 bn years. But it is based on the underlying unprovable assumption that the Universe is as old as claimed and that the galaxies arose naturally from the hydrogen created in the big bang fireball. So there needs be an explanation other than ‘God did it!’

It is as I have said a worldview issue, a philosophical position taken a priori. Because if it was anything like experimental science, the standard LCDM model would have been rejected due to a lack of match to the observational data. But it is not experimental science, in fact, it is not real science at all. In DEVELOPMENT OF AN “OLD” UNIVERSE IN SCIENCE I quote some cosmologists. James Gunn of Sloan survey said:

‘Cosmology may look like a science, but it isn’t a science,’ ‘A basic tenet of science is that you can do repeatable experiments, and you can’t do that in cosmology.’

That creates a fundamental barrier to knowledge, which is cosmology’s Achilles’ heel.


This is a good point, John. Atheists have invented their “god of the gaps” when they appeal to fictitious stuff like dark matter, dark energy, an inflationary episode at the beginning of the Big Bang, etc. It really is a case of “the pot calling the kettle black” for them to accuse Christians of believing in a “god of the gaps”.

But the truth is that Christians do not believe in a “god of the gaps”. What I mean by this is that our belief in God is primary. It precedes any need to resolve scientific difficulties. God is at the forefront of our thinking—He is not simply an excuse to make sense of things we cannot understand. God is eternal, infinite and pre-eminent. He transcends creation, being not only its Designer and Creator but also its Sustainer and Director. All things were created by Him and for Him, and in omnipotent wisdom, He works all things according to the counsel of His will for His ultimate glory.

One of the problems of Naturalistic/Humanistic/Atheistic/Materialistic thinking is that it is horizontal thinking and lacks a vertical dimension. It cannot allow a divine foot in the door, so it refuses to look upward and humbly consider that there might be a divine Person whose thoughts, plans and moral character are infinitely higher and more glorious than anything we see in the physical universe—a divine Person who gives to human life purpose, meaning and value that can be found nowhere else.

Significantly, the Bible starts out with God, and brings in the created realm afterward… “In the beginning God …“. God existed first—and everything else resulted from His divine action: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He truly is the “First Cause”, and far more. He is the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. He is not only the Creator, but also the Provider, the King, the Lawgiver, the Judge and the Redeemer.

The Atheist has his “god of the gaps”—his speculative just-so stories about stuff he has never seen or detected and doesn’t know for sure if it even exists. The Christian has a Transcendent Creator who, along with all His other infinite and glorious attributes, just happens to possess the power and wisdom to create the universe with all its mind-boggling complexity and physical laws, and to create the diversity of living creatures with all their mind-boggling biochemical intricacy. This same God has condescended to communicate to us through human language in His inerrant word, telling us who He is, what He is like, what He has done, and how we can be saved from the real, legal guilt of our sins in order that we might have a loving, joyful, satisfying relationship with Him for all eternity.

He truly deserves our eternal praise!


“To state “An approximately 10 bn year old galaxy as viewed from Earth is of course approximately 10 bn light years distant.” is circular reasoning, because you cannot know the actual distance”. It is not. We know the distances – even the vast majority of online young earth creationist apologists accept these vast distances – and we know the speed of light in a vacuum.


The vast majority of online young earth apologists might be wrong. For a long time I have written about galaxy-quasar associations, and I have been continuing research in that area, with Halton Arp, before he died, and Chris Fulton. See Ref. 3 in the latter. This brings into doubt many so-called cosmology determined distances.

A high redshift quasar in front of a low redshift galaxy points to a flaw in the Hubble distance measure, and the standard beliefs in the big bang, therefore we have to rethink those distances. But I agree that there is a trend as illustrated in Fig. 1 of WHAT DO QUASARS TELL US ABOUT THE UNIVERSE?. Thus there may well be some truth to Hubble law at least for low redshift field galaxies. So I accept some of those distances but not the ages.

A cosmological model must be assumed to determine their ages. But we don’t know the distances—we assume them based on a cosmology, which needs fudge factors to fit observations. Then from the cosmology and you get their ages.


If dark matter is ever found, it can be incorporated into a creationist model, but since it comes from the bad fruit of cosmic evolutionary big bang model, it most likely isn’t real.

Question: I know the nebular hypothesis has many problems, but I never hear dark matter invoked to help solve any of them. Is that because it would be in abundant supply here locally and should have been found by now? Hmm.


John, if dark matter were necessary for star formation, what happened to the dark matter after the star formed? Where would the dark matter that supposedly helped to form our own sun go? Shouldn’t its gravitational effects still be felt? Wouldn’t this mean that the sun has far less conventional matter than has been previously calculated based on the orbits of the planets?


Hi Dr Hartnett,

I’m always encouraged by reading your articles on astronomy and how you refute the secular Big Bang interpretations of the origin of the universe and the existence of unverifiable assumptions included like dark matter etc…

But when they assume the Big Bang model to be true, after the alleged explosion and cooling they say hydrogen and helium atoms form. Is there any way for this to form naturalistically?

ICR published an article recently about some researchers performing a computer simulation about a supernova shockwaves striking a nebula with a given density and at a certain angle to produce RT fingers that give spin to the nebula and allegedly help to form the revolutions of planets etc.. Although there are a lot of assumptions included like the supernova being present and the angle which it strikes at and density of nebula which these researchers have imputed these factors in, my question is let’s say all these really happened does that mean planets can form naturalistically ?


Hydrogen and helium abundances are measured in the universe. When astrophysicists allegedly calculate the expected fractions of these elements expect form the so-called big bang fireball in the early universe they actually know what they need to produce. So this is not a prediction but a post-diction. The theory is worked to produce the needed fractions, thus in no way does it validate the big bang theory. Read DARK MATTER AND THE STANDARD MODEL OF PARTICLE PHYSICS—A SEARCH IN THE ‘DARK’.

In the case of the modeling of a nebular cloud collapsing to form planets in in the article “Protoplanetary Disc Model Falls Flat” by Brian Thomas from ICR, the cloud density is pre-assumed, and so is the angle of the shock wave. There is an admission there that without the formation of the particular density folds called R-T fingers into the modeled cloud no planets would form. So for the system to form naturalistically one has to assume an unlikely scenario and assume that the cloud density is at some state already where it can collapse, meaning it cannot get that way naturalistically.


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