Is the Universe really expanding — the evidence revisited

3d expansion question markThe Hubble law, determined from the distances and redshifts of galaxies, for the past 80 years, has been used as strong evidence for an expanding universe. In 2011 I reviewed various lines of evidence for and against this claim. It included the lack of evidence for the necessary existence of time dilation in quasar and gamma-ray burst luminosity variations, angular size tests for galaxies as a function of redshift, the Tolman surface brightness test which is sensitive to expansion of the Universe, evidence that the CMB radiation is not from the background, which it should be if from the big bang fireball as alleged, intergalactic absorption lines due to hydrogen clouds and Lyman-α systems, and what they do tell us. Here I present that information again in light of my current understanding.

This review concluded that the observations could be used to describe either a static universe (where the Hubble law results from some as-yet-unknown mechanism) or an expanding universe described by the standard Λ cold-dark-matter model. In the latter case, the imposition of size evolution of galaxies is necessary to get agreement with observations. Yet the simple non-expanding (i.e. static) Euclidean universe fits most data with the least number of assumptions. I made a straw table comparison with the various lines of evidence to see how they stack up. It was found not to be definitive and hence the result equivocal. From this review it became quite apparent that there are still many unanswered questions in cosmology and it would be a mistake to base one’s theology on any particular cosmology. Far better to base you cosmology and theology on the clear narrative historical prescription in the Genesis account and elsewhere in the Scriptures. (This was first published in two parts in the Journal of Creation 25(3):109-120, 2011.)

Introduction

Ever since the late 1920s, when Edwin Hubble discovered a simple proportionality1 between the redshifts of the light coming from nearby galaxies and their distances, we have been told that the Universe is expanding. This relationship—dubbed the Hubble Law—has since been strengthened and extended to very great distances in the cosmos. Nowadays it is considered to be the established dogma of the expanding big bang universe. This means that the space that contains the galaxies is expanding and that the galaxies are essentially stationary in that space, but being dragged apart as the universe expands.

Hubble initially interpreted his redshifts as a Doppler effect, due to the motion of the galaxies as they rushed away from our location in the Universe. He called it a ‘Doppler effect’ as though the galaxies were moving ‘through space’—the space itself is not expanding but the galaxies are moving through space, and that is how some people, especially astronomers, initially perceived it. This is different to what has now become accepted, but observations alone cannot distinguish between the two concepts. Later in his life Hubble varied from his initial interpretation and said that the Hubble Law was due to some hitherto undiscovered mechanism, but not due to expansion of space—now called cosmological expansion.

The big bang expanding universe model essentially offers a coherent paradigm or explanatory framework which can, in principle, provide answers to a wide range of key cosmological questions; examples are the origin of extragalactic redshifts, the dynamical state of the Universe (i.e. not apparently collapsing under gravity), Olbers’ paradox (why is the night sky dark?), the origin of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, the origin of galaxies, and the origin of the elements. The fact that its answers to some questions are currently unsatisfactory or unconvincing does not change the basic point that such a model will always be preferred to a more limited model such as a static Euclidean universe, which does not attempt to address such questions. In this sense the big bang model is necessarily preferable regardless of one’s theological position. Continue reading

Is the Universe expanding?

I am often asked this question: Is the Universe expanding?

690958main_p1237a1Previously 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. Continue reading

Expansion of space – a Dark Science

 Abstract: “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and He that formed you from the womb, I am the LORD that makes all things; that stretches forth the heavens alone; that spreads abroad the earth by Myself;” (Isaiah 44:24 KJVER) Scriptural texts like this have been used by biblical creationists to justify God creating an expanding cosmos. Aside from arguing that the scriptures do indeed describe cosmological expansion, I contend that expansion of space is of itself not tenable as a mechanism for the expansion of the Universe, as often cited with the famous rubber balloon analogy. Relativity theory, properly applied, tells us that detection of the expansion of space by any local measurement is not possible. And if the æther is the substance of the Universe that has supposedly expanded, with the galaxies embedded therein, then it is fundamentally undetectable. This assigns cosmology firmly to the realms of philosophy and metaphysics.  Article first published by Answers Research Journal 7 (2014):453–458. PDF available here.

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Universe: Expanding or Static?

After Edwin Hubble published his astronomical observations of the redshifted light from nearby galaxies in 1929 it has almost universally been taught that the Universe is expanding. Hubble observed in the light from most of those galaxies that the spectral lines were shifted towards the red end of the spectrum as compared to a local laboratory source of the same atomic gas species. See illustration below. From this he interpreted that it was a Doppler effect, where the galaxies were receding from us the observer.

Redshift

The Doppler effect is what you experience  when you hear the pitch of the sound coming from a speeding train rushing past you. Also you might have had experience with ultra-sound imagining–there the Doppler effect is used to see the flow rate of blood in your arteries and veins. Those examples employ sound waves but the Doppler effect is real physics applied to electromagnetic waves in police radar or weather radar.

The question needs to be asked though, is this the same effect seen in the light from galaxies around us? Cosmologists today say, No! They interpret the observations differently. They say it results from the expansion of space–called cosmological expansion. The galaxies are actually not moving (except for local motion within their own clusters). The universe is expanding and over time it appears to us that they are moving away from us. Hubble discovered, and it has been confirmed many times since, that the greater the distance to a galaxy the greater the spectral lines are redshifted. This is called the Hubble Law.

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