A second gravitational wave has been detected by LIGO

The LIGO team reported on June 15, 2016, their second confirmed detection of coalescing binary black hole pair generating a gravitational wave. This was published in Physical Review Letters,1 with an abstract that reads (with some editing in […]’s and emphases added):

We report the observation of a gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of two stellar-mass black holes. The signal, GW151226, was observed by the twin detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) on December 26, 2015 at 03:38:53 UTC. The signal was initially identified within 70 s by an online matched-filter search targeting binary coalescences. Subsequent off-line analyses recovered GW151226 with a network signal-to-noise ratio of 13 and a significance greater than 5σ. The signal persisted in the LIGO frequency band for approximately 1 s, increasing in frequency and amplitude over about 55 cycles from 35 to 450 Hz, and reached a peak gravitational strain of [about] 3.4 × 10-22. The inferred source-frame initial black hole masses are 14.2  and 7.5 [solar masses, i.e. mass of the sun], and the final black hole mass is 20.8 [solar masses]. We find that at least one of the component black holes has spin greater than 0.2. This source is located at a luminosity distance of 440  Mpc [about 1.4 billion light-years] corresponding to a redshift of 0.09±0.03. All uncertainties define a 90% credible interval.

second g wave

Estimated gravitational-wave strain from GW151226 projected onto the LIGO Livingston detector with times relative to December 26, 2015 at 03:38:53.648 UTC. This shows the full bandwidth, without the filtering used for Fig. 1. Top: The 90% credible region for a nonprecessing spin waveform-model reconstruction (gray) and a direct, nonprecessing numerical solution of Einstein’s equations (red) with parameters consistent with the 90% credible region. Bottom: The gravitational-wave frequency f (left axis) computed from the numerical-relativity waveform. The cross denotes the location of the maximum of the waveform amplitude, approximately coincident with the merger of the two black holes. During the inspiral, f can be related to an effective relative velocity (right axis) given by the post-Newtonian parameter v/c=(GMπf/c^3)^1/3 , where M is the total mass. (Click on image for larger version.)

This result further strengthens the argument for stellar mass size black holes and for their correct prediction by Einstein’s general relativity. As I have written before this largely falls into the category of operational science. Some assumptions are necessarily required, but the waveform (see right) extracted from the received signal very precisely matches the expected waveform. Read What impact does the detection of gravitational waves have on biblical creation?2

But how do they know that it was a collision of 2 black holes, or  that their masses are those reported or that the event took place at the reported distance, hence so long ago? Could it not be something else? For an answer to these types of questions see my article linked above (ref. 2) and also Impact of gravitational wave detection: A response to Setterfield’s response.

It is important to understand how science operates. We should realise that there is no such thing as a proof, but only disproof. In the cosmos, because we cannot interact with distant sources, operational science is more difficult than in a lab environment. But gravitational wave detection, because of its now repeatable nature (2 detections are good, 3 would be a charm) it is developing into what can be classed as operational science. This is akin to detecting spinning neutron stars–radio pulsars. Jocelyn Bell detected the first one in 1968 and nobody doubts the validity of such detections now. Or it is akin to detecting any other astronomical object on a repeated basis. The historical science comes in when you try to apply the knowledge of their existence to an assumed evolutionary history of the universe.

Secondly, this detection adds further weight to the argument I put in my first article (ref. 2) that the speed of light (c) is unchanged since the two black holes merged, which would have had to have been a long time ago. How soon after creation depends on your cosmology. Thus the notion that the speed of light has decreased by more than a million times since creation cannot be entertained by biblical creationists. There are alternate potential solutions to the creationist starlight-travel-time problem.4


  1. B. P. Abbott et al. (LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration), GW151226: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a 22-Solar-Mass Binary Black Hole CoalescencePhys. Rev. Lett. 116, 241103, 15 June 2016.
  2. J.G. Hartnett, What impact does the detection of gravitational waves have on biblical creation?, February 16, 2016.
  3. J.G. Hartnett, Impact of gravitational wave detection: A response to Setterfield’s response, March 1 2016.
  4. J.G. Hartnett, The lecture: Starlight and time—Is it a brick wall for biblical creation? January 29, 2016.

22 thoughts on “A second gravitational wave has been detected by LIGO

  1. The problem with positing an argument such as something cannot be entertained by Biblical creationists because scientific evidence says otherwise is flawed. God is all-powerful and he could have done a great many things supernaturally that are far beyond our understanding to ever comprehend. Your argument assumes we can know all things. To illustrate how limited our minds are, try to answer the following question.

    Why does anything exist at all?

    You will quickly find that even if you thought on this for a billion years, you couldn’t even come up with an hypothesis. There are some things we are just flat out incapable of ever grasping.

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    Isaiah 55:8-9


    • There is no doubt science is fundamentally weak in answering all of the important questions, especially the why’s. And science in the cosmos is very weak, especially cosmology (which is not even science), because of the necessity to make unverified, unverifiable assumptions.


      • Right. And one more thing to consider. In order to exclude anything from being possible you have to prove that a supernatural act of God must leave evidence that can be discovered by scientific investigation. And there’s really no reason to believe that a supernatural act of God would leave any sort of evidence that can be investigated by scientific methods.


      • But I do believe that supernatural acts can be scientifically verified given the right situation. For example, Virginia Brandt Berg was healed by God of serious sickness. She had broken her back, and had been worked on extensively by many doctors and as part of their “cure”, removed a portion of her backbone in an effort to relieve pressure from her spinal cord. Of course, she could not possibly walk; it was physically impossible. And due to her diseases she was severely disabled. X-rays had been taken of her back before the miracle and after she was fully healed, in one day, she could again walk. So according to science she could not even sit up, but God healed her. The X-rays, the medical records of all her diseases, were proof of the miracle that was done.

        Then there are other supernatural acts, like the creation of the stars and planets, that all have appearances of a fully functioning creation. But because someone’s worldview excludes the Creator they could not possibly see the creative hand of God. Yet the Lord has told us in Romans 1:20 that creation itself testifies to the work of God. The creation itself is the scientific evidence of a supernatural act.

        “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:20)

        You would need a biblical worldview though to see it. But like scripture also tells us

        “But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)


      • “But I do believe that supernatural acts can be scientifically verified given the right situation. ”

        That’s not the same as seeing evidence of the supernatural hand of God. What you are describing is a before and after. What you are suggesting is possible is that there would be evidence of going from before to after. In the case of the miraculous healing, you have the person’s condition before and the person’s condition after, but you have no actual evidence of anything acting upon her to bring about the end result. In fact, I wouldn’t expect that you would because it was a supernatural act of God. And this only proves what I am saying. If God wanted the speed of light to be infinite at the time of creation and change it just after creation then there is no reason for me to believe that I would see evidence of anything showing that it was once infinite. And you are suggesting that if we don’t see that evidence scientifically then it can’t be so. You need to come to grips with the fact that you actually cannot ever prove that a supernatural act of God would ever leave any evidence that could be empirically tested or observed.


      • So it depends now on what you would accept as evidence. You wrote: “If God wanted the speed of light to be infinite at the time of creation and change it just after creation then there is no reason for me to believe that I would see evidence of anything showing that it was once infinite.” If that was so it would leave evidence in the cosmos of it once being infinite. Because something was effected in a supernatural way does not mean that it leaves no evidence. A faster speed of light at creation may mean we still see evidence in starlight from distant sources. It should be massively blueshifted. But it is not. But it depends on your model; what happened and when it did. I am saying that the universe should in principle be able to be understood, even if the product of supernatural creation. Read: Modern biblical creationist thinking.


      • “If that was so it would leave evidence in the cosmos of it once being infinite. Because something was effected in a supernatural way does not mean that it leaves no evidence.”

        You’ve missed the whole point. You have no basis for believing this is true. Supernatural means beyond nature. Therefore it doesn’t follow logically or otherwise that any form of natural evidence would be left behind. Your own example of supernatural healing proves this. There was no evidence that could be measured or observed to show how the person went from the unhealed condition to the healed condition. Here is where you need to humble yourself before the almighty God and creator of all things. Can an ant ever contemplate the mind of a man? No. Nor can a man contemplate the mind of God. I will quote it once again because I don’t think you are quite grasping the weight of this scripture:

        For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
        Isaiah 55:8-9

        This is telling us that we cannot ever understand the mind of God nor know His ways. They are so far above ours that we cannot hope to comprehend.

        “It should be massively blueshifted. But it is not.”

        Again, no it doesn’t have to be anything at all. God acting supernaturally means he can affect his creation in ways beyond nature; in ways that are not detectable or noticeable by us at all. And to say otherwise would leave the burden of proof on you to demonstrate that a supernatural act of God “must” leave physical evidence. And I know that you cannot prove that point. It is mere opinion. And I have to tell you that it’s human arrogance that makes one think they can understand all things. It is the very core of the problem for secularist scientists.

        “I am saying that the universe should in principle be able to be understood, even if the product of supernatural creation.”

        And as Isaiah 55:8-9 says, you are clearly wrong. Yes, we can know some things, but even the sum total of all our knowledge about the universe is probably a tiny fraction of 1% of all that could be known. And as we know by history, most everything we think we know to be true about it ends up being changed or proven false in a very short time.

        Here is an analogy for you to consider. Imagine yourself as the creator of a virtual computer simulation inside a computer. You’ve created a magnificent 3D virtual world with 3D people having artificial intelligence. This simulation runs entirely inside the confines of the computer box; it is the universe you have created. You have a monitor, mouse, and keyboard that interface to this world and you can view your virtual people walking around your world. There are realistic weather systems, day and night and even planets going around virtual stars. Now, you are in complete control of this world except that you’ve given your little virtual people free will to move about and make their own choices. In fact, these little virtual people even have a consciousness. Your simulation is so advanced that you can turn on weather whenever you want and make it rain or snow or change from day to night in an instant. You can make things appear and disappear from the world at the click of a mouse and you can even stop or change gravity in any particular area at any particular time. Now, if you were to decide to perform one of these little miracles at any time, how could your virtual people ever know how it happened? What evidence would there be? Absolutely none. You can control your virtual world and make it do whatever you want and leave no trace of anything showing how it happened. Perhaps with this analogy it might make more sense just how powerful our God is.

        Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
        James 4:10


      • Ok, what you are saying is that God could create a universe in such a manner that we could not detect any evidence of His creation. Yes, of course, He is omnipotent and He can do anything He likes. I have included such a possibility in my 5 possible categories. That would then have to fall into the class of “Light created in transit”. Unfortunately it implies that the light coming in from the cosmos contains false history, but God never lies and so that cannot be the answer.

        You quote Isaiah 55:8-9 as if we have no idea about the mind of God. Isaac Newton said he was seeking to understand God’s mind in His creation. In Genesis 1:26,27 we read:

        And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

        It is logical to conclude that God gave mankind a rational thinking mind to try to understand His creation with. He says in Romans 1:20 that when we look at Creation we will understand the Creator. I don’t agree that God has so hidden Himself from His Creation.


  2. John,
    I was trying to highlight a point in one of your earlier post but unfortunately did not pursue it. I bring it up again below, and will eagerly look forward to the work of far more technically competent persons such as yourself.

    >>the speed of light has decreased by more than a million times since creation
    The operative term I watch out for above is “since”. This easily reads/means “from the first instant, about 6000 year ago, to now”. That is, the speed of light has been decreasing all this while till now. Worse, you might have meant it as being from the end of God’s creation work till now.

    Based on my study of the words of God in the Bible, and my limited understanding of Maths and Physics, and having to have left faulty notions by the wayside, I can find no other alternative but to say “the speed of light has decreased more than a million time IN the creation week”.

    I’ve read Lisle’s work and your work on the ACS with special interest on the phrase “is the language of the Bible”. And well it is, because God would have his simple children also understand his words. Nonetheless, he has blessed other of his children with a bit more understanding. One of my concerns is that folks who think strongly about the ACS and the “language of the Bible” tend to focus more on speaking of Young Earth Creationism (YEC) as compared to what we (6000y creationists) must inevitably think about, and speak more about, Young Universe Creationism (YUC). I sense an unfortunate slip-slidin’ of focus from YUC to YEC. We must come back to YUC.

    Such an approach naturally will take us into the realm of God’s infinite power at work during creation, and thus should point to the decrease in the speed of light IN that 2 day period from when the stars were created till Grandpa Adam and Grandma Eve saw the gorgeous skies. After he rested from his creation work, he had naturally set the normal laws of physics to take over, except for when he chooses to directly intervene.

    Seems to me that we (6Ky creationists) should do more work on addressing the impact of the decrease of the speed on light IN creation week and how THAT plays out now that normal laws of operational science are in place. At least, I am on the lookout to read more of work along the lines of this paradigm from you and the others at AiG, CMI, CRS, etc in the days to come.


    • Vincent, My statement regarding a decrease in the speed of light INCLUDES the possibility that it occurred wholely or partly in Creation week. If, as you seem to be suggesting, that the speed of light (c) was very large during Creation week then God decreased it to the current value, then that does not solve the starlight travel time problem, because light travelling at constant speed c would take billions of years after the close of Creation week to travel billions of light years. Maybe I am missing something but I cannot agree with you. All evidence is that the speed of light has never changed.


      • Hello Professor Hartnett,

        I have a few questions that may be a little off the discussion here but I would love to hear your thoughts.

        This discovery, like so many others, is being presented as proof of the Big Bang/atheism etc.

        But as I understand it, this discovery, if it is real and stands up, is support of Einstein not the Big Bang.

        If gravity waves are real, and we can detect them, then why haven’t we found any from the Big Bang?

        Am I off base here?




      • Larry, It is a good question. Astrophysicists indeed look for gravitational waves leftover from the alleged big bang. But because they expect that there were a very large number generated they look for what is called a stochastic background spectrum. It means they look for the accumulated effect of many primordial gravity waves. This in fact was one of the big claims of the BICEP2 Telescope fiasco in 2014. Read NEW STUDY CONFIRMS BICEP2 DETECTION OF COSMIC INFLATION WRONG and the Related Reading articles listed below that article.


  3. >>because light travelling at constant speed c would take billions of years after the close of Creation week to travel billions of light years
    To address the situation and context in which the above occurred, takes us to the first three days when God prepared that context. Unfortunately for me, and I suppose for most, I cannot conceive the Universe other than by looking at it from the inside out. Number of dimensions issue. [BTW: for some reason, Dave Berg comes to mind, if you know what I mean 🙂 ]

    Just so you know where I’m coming from: I am not holding to the Augustinian concept that God started to create in Gen1:3. In v2, because the words of God declare that the Spirit of God moved upon “something” that was without form and void, that “something” had to have been created in v1, which is also plainly declared. It is from v6,7 we know that God then divides “waters under the firmament from waters above.” And here is the crux, v8, where he defines this “firmament” to be Heaven, IN WHICH he later in v14 creates the Sun, Moon and stars.

    It is here, in this “firmament”/raqiya, where I’m finding myself having to focus for all of the issues concerning “stretching out” that come into play, whether the great God moved the physical objects rapidly, or stretched space-time itself, or worked some combinations thereof. It is here that I’m thinking the Lord worked (as pertaining to the cosmogony topic) with space, time, and matter outside normal laws, with his direct supernatural power.

    As you et al. have pointed out, how all that has played out now to space, time and matter, in terms of effects/”fingerprints of God” as evidence for us to study is where I’m finding myself desirous of looking into.


  4. I had read that earlier, and also briefly read portions of your link to the “waters above”. Will read this more fully.

    In both of those documents, especially where you show the “waters” as a ball, we are looking/perceiving/conceptualizing from the “outside-in”. And that is precisely what I referred to earlier, that we cant do that, and that I am unable to do with the “ball” of waters. This is because we are on the inside, looking out (the Einstein flatland issue). The reason is that a bit further, God states “waters above from waters below”. Now, I am aware that Mr. Calvin took this to imply the near atmosphere and related details in his commentary on Genesis. Other contemporary writers (Vern Poytress comes to mind), and you, have all indicated that this mostly is the near atmosphere. You , and likely other creation astronomers, being astronomy experts, and needing to go by evidence, expand that “heavens above” go up to the Kuiper belts regions, because after all, some of the comets do have H2O tracers.

    Now, if God had stated that on the fourth day he created in the firmament the greater light and the lesser light, and had STOPPED there, all would be fine, and I could instantly sync thoughts with you.

    But, God did not stop there. He had his pen, Moses, continue to write “…: he made the stars also”. By that little phrase, he teaches/reveals his work to us that the stars are IN the “firmament/raqiya”, and this then necessarily implies that the “waters above” are “outside” even beyond the distant QSOs, beyond the visible boundaries of the universe!

    This is no way should mean that the “waters above” cannot include the near earth clouds or the comets from the Kuiper belt. For example, when the great God, in Matt 10:30, states “But the very hairs on your head are all numbered”, we, today, instantly get his point that even the quarks, in EACH of those hairs, are also all numbered.

    Thus, I gratefully find myself being constrained by God’s words to be given NO alternative but to think/study in the context of the known universe being “under” the “waters above” (thus multiverses being meaningless terms) . It is in this, I’m thinking that the issues of raqia and natah and how that affected the speed of light then, and any evidence now, will need to be worked out by us 6Kyers .


    • Creationist do not agree on the “waters above”. By far the most common belief is the atmospheric water in the clouds. I do take an Earth-surface centric view on reading those verses and reason it would be perceived as being only our solar system with “waters above” outside solar system. Russ Humphreys uses Genesis 1:20, the birds fly through the face of the raqia (which he gets from the Hebrew), to mean raqia applies to both atmosphere and space. He thus reasons the raqia (“firmament”) must mean all space, and he places the “waters above” outside all galaxies, as you suggest. But I believe as I have said there is the earth observer frame of reference, and the following.

      On Genesis 1:16: It can be broken into two parts. “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night:” and “And God made … the stars also.” This is because that is the Hebrew grammar. The words “he made” in front of “the stars also” have been inserted by the translators to get the meaning right, but what I have written is correct. So the latter clause could be a parenthetical statement that God made the stars also, but He was not referring to their location within a region of space bounded by a watery layer around the whole creation.


  5. Likely I stepped across my paltry knowledge by saying ZPE :(. What I really meant to say was “energy”. In Genesis 1:1, God created with an amount of total energy known only to Him, which would stay conserved after the sixth day. I meant ZPE only in that very limited context, and not where it is sometimes taken to be the domain in which fluctuations occur. While I fully agree with you in what you say of the fudge factors of dark energy and dark matter, there might be something there that needs more 6Kyer investigations about how the “waters above”, beyond the distant QSOs, might have something to do with what intellectually honest secular astronomers, of the likes of H. Arp, had found or are finding.

    As for interpreting that the Bible saying “water” means the H2O we are familiar with, it too is transformed energy, isn’t it? Recall, God could certainly could have converted what was the H2O aspect associated with the Earth during the creation, and from which he made the Earth to appear, into what we now know to be molten metal (fluid, “waters?”) or a solid core of the Earth, or whatever is the best current knowledge. But appeared to whom? He alone, with the possibility of all of His holy angels, some not yet fallen. WE, however, can still ONLY perceive from the inside out. Which is what I have a hard time to justify visualizing a sphere of H2O.

    Finally, I am aware of the italics text that the KJV translators added missing text from the TR, but I am far, far more trusting in their deep knowledge of Hebrew than of anyone else today or for that matter the last 200 years. God’s preservation of His Scripture, and all that. And so, when they translate that God made the greater light, and then the lesser light, the stars also, THAT is just it. They were ALL meant to be signs. I simply will not fiddle and twiddle with their knowledge of Hebrew. As for “the stars also” being almost a “minor” additional fact, God knows that for the most part of human existence, humans would hardly know anything about the stars. Whereas even a small boy or girl will know about the greater and lesser light.

    In my own way, I am trying to urge the study of the serious impact of what the Lord had created in the earlier verses to what happened while the Lord was creating the greater and lesser lights, and the stars also. raqiya and natah does not seem to me that He did it as an instant act.

    I will stop now, but continue to encourage you in all your hard work for the Lord and His people and will delight in your continued witness to His glory that He has been pleased to let you display at your website and other forums. It is one of my favorite 6KyC sites 🙂


  6. John,

    Although I said I would stop, I must post again as something has dawned upon me from having viewed your “Is it a brick wall for biblical creation?” lecture, and which had not arrested me on earlier viewing.

    As you go through the top five scenarios, and ending at the topmost, ASC, one of the things you said that you believe and which got me was, (paraphrasing now) that the universe is “largely” static and that the universe was created mature. This implying that, ignoring local velocities, there was no expansion of spacetime, neither were bodies themselves moving “outwards”. I understand “mature” universe; no problem with “appearance of age” issues, at all. But what this does is a massive number on the secular reason for redshift and which my mind has latched on.

    I am unable to locate your article where you say someone has found some (large) number of possible reasons why redshifts can occur. Could you please point that link, and any other links that point to what you think is the most evidentially likely cause? After all, we DO see redshifts; no question there.

    If the light instantly arrived at the earth, over the billions, billions of kms of maturely created galaxies etc, that means the velocity of light was infinite (let’s put it slightly this side of infinite 🙂 ) I have no problem with this because we believe the Creator is at work, in creation week, and so we are outside the realm of operational science. This is faith, and we have to go by Heb 11:3. Not the slightest paradigm problem, at all. I think I am starting to see what you have. This means I was wrong earlier when I wrote “raqiya and natah does not seem to me that He did it as an instant act.” I will read some more of your study of the 15 verses you listed, tents etc, what Russ H discovered that also helped him change his mind.

    Nonetheless, I have a hard time to accept that ACS is only a convention. I’ve looked at Lisle’s drawing, etc. But it cannot simply be said that it is ONLY a convention, though it is. I think there is also far, far more to be said about “in transit”. It occurs to me, now, given mature universe, that we need to reword that phrasing, although folks who used that term in the earlier days, me included, might have got some perception of it correct. Further, we know God does not deceive; that is a no brainer. Mitch Cervinka, in response to your post somewhere, does raise some important points why light “in transit” does not imply deception on God’s part. I’d add it implies a problem of understanding on our part about what instant arrival at the Earth entails, when thought through a bit more keeping in mind a mature universe.

    Apologies; I have to cut short this post, but will be back with more of my thoughts on “in transit”, ACS light’s arrival instantly on the earth, and what might we understand of redshift that is evidenced NOW, and verses somewhere (I need to search) that God has set in place “something” stretching even NOW (KJV stretcheth, spreadeth – present continuous tense.)


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