In 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, as part of two separate teams which published their results around 1998 that they claimed showed that the Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. Also they claimed the existence of some sort of mysterious ‘dark energy’ that was driving the expansion at a faster and faster rate.
The interpretation of the 1998 data depended heavily on the big bang cosmological theory they applied and the assumption that it was the correct theory to describe the structure and time evolution of the Universe. It also depended heavily on the assumption that the type Ia supernova explosions that they used are reliable standard “light bulbs”, i.e. that those stellar explosions all were accurately chosen to have the same characteristic intrinsic absolute brightness.1 The latter, however, we now know is not the case.2
It has been shown that the stellar masses of the stars that result in the type Ia class of supernova are not so well-defined that they all fall within a narrow range as to give a clear standard in terms of the intrinsic brightness of the resulting explosions and hence the type Ia are not a uniform reference. Also as I have previously indicated circular reasoning was employed in the choice of the candidate supernova to be considered.2,3 The cosmology under test was used to choose the candidate Ia supernovae and then those chosen were used to test the same cosmology.
A new study, published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, on a data set ten times larger than the original studies used (5 years ago) has been carried out.4
Now, a team of scientists led by Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University’s Department of Physics has cast doubt on this standard cosmological concept. Making use of a vastly increased data set – a catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae, more than ten times the original sample size – the researchers have found that the evidence for acceleration may be flimsier than previously thought, with the data being consistent with a constant rate of expansion. (emphasis added)
In 1927 Roman Catholic priest Georges Lemaître1 developed his theory of the expanding Universe and published a paper describing his theory,2 which envisioned a universe with all galaxies moving away from all other galaxies. At that time the Universe was considered to be static. Lemaître solved the gravitational field equations of Einstein’s General Relativity theory for the Universe, taking into account the work of Alexander Friedmann, who published in 1922 (but died in 1925). From that he concluded the Universe must be expanding or contracting. Nowadays that formalism for the family of models they produced is called the Friedmann-Lemaître solution describing the big bang universe. From that Lemaître developed the idea of the Universe having a unique origin at some past moment of time.
In 1931, Lemaître described the Universe as exploding from a ‘Cosmic Egg’, which was like a giant atom, with all the mass of the Universe. His idea was that the myriads of galaxies of stars in the Universe formed out of and expanded out from that initial state of the ‘Cosmic Egg’. Lemaître imagined that the Universe started from a fluctuation of his first quantum of energy (his ‘Cosmic Egg’) when space and time were not yet defined.3
You might think that Lemaitre looked to the Scriptures, to Genesis, for a clue here (for an origin in time) but his reasoning was man’s not God’s. His assumption was a finite unbounded universe, having no centre nor edge–that is, there are no preferred points in his universe. And by winding time backward one could imagine that all points would come to a common point at a finite period of time in the past. Thus he reasoned that this must mean that the Universe had a beginning in time—hence a creation at a moment in the past. Apparently Sir Arthur Eddington, a Quaker, found Lemaître’s idea of creation philosophically repugnant, as there was a prior belief among cosmologists at the time of the Universe eternally existing.
From his quantum of energy—which he called a “primeval atom”4—his theory predicted that this was the material from which all matter—the stars and galaxies—was derived. He predicted that some form of background radiation, even cosmic rays, would be found, the leftovers of that initial explosion of matter into all the Universe.5 That is not accepted by big bang astronomers today.
Eventually from his theory the origin of the Universe was formalised not from a ‘Cosmic Egg’ but from a singularity of zero dimensions with the Universe smoothly expanding out of it, and beginning in an intensely hot fireball stage. It wasn’t until 1949 that this was, in derision, called a ‘big bang’ on a BBC radio program by Sir Fred Hoyle, while discussing what his opponents believed. Hoyle was very much against any idea of a big bang universe, as he firmly believed in the steady state model.
Now the story so far, many people know. But do they know that Lemaître was cheated out of his claim to fame?6
In April 2010, Marcus Chown wrote in an article entitled “Time waits for no quasar—even though it should”1 for New Scientist online,
“Why do distant galaxies seem to age at the same rate as those closer to us when big bang theory predicts that time should appear to slow down at greater distances from Earth? No one can yet answer this new question [emphasis added] … .”
He says no one can answer this question. But this question has already been answered before it was even asked. To understand this we need some background.
Quasars are assumed to be supermassive black holes with the mass of a galaxy2 that are the early progenitors of the mature galaxies we see around us today. See Fig. 1. They nearly all exhibit extremely large redshifts in their emitted light and the big bang community believes that these redshifts are nearly entirely due to cosmological expansion. Therefore it follows that these massive objects are extremely bright and are being observed at some stage only several billion years after the alleged origin of the Universe in the big bang. Hence, from their redshifts when interpreted as resulting from cosmological expansion of the Universe, using Einstein’s general theory of relativity, it follows that the greater the redshift the greater the effect of the distortion of time at the quasar. That is, local clocks on quasars at greater redshifts should run slower than local clocks on quasars at lower redshifts, which are interpreted to mean that they are closer to us. (This post is based on my original article “Quasars again defy a big bang explanation” published in the Journal of Creation 24(2):8-9, 2010.)
No time dilation
But that is where the problem comes in. Mike Hawkins of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, UK, looked at light from quasars and he found no time dilation. He used observations of nearly 900 quasars made over periods of up to 28 years. According to the article, he “compared patterns in the light between quasars about 6 billion light years from us with those at 10 billion light years away.” But the distances assigned here are actually derived from the assumed cosmology and the Hubble law. What was really measured was the redshifts of those quasars. However the problem arises because quasars scintillate or their brightness varies. This scintillation can have periods of as little as a week, or even a day. That tells us something about the size of the object at the core, since that time should be of the scale of the light-travel time across the light-emitting region.2
“All quasars are broadly similar, and their light is powered by matter heating up as it swirls into the giant black holes at the galaxies’ cores. So one would expect that a brightness variation on the scale of, say, a month in the closer group would be stretched to two months in the more distant group.”
Much has been written about the Universe, with its alleged big bang origin 13.8 billion years ago,1 with its expansion forcing all galaxies away from each other. And about two decades it was ‘discovered’ that the expansion is accelerating driven by some very strange form of energy – dark energy – that acts like an anti-gravity force, which is stranger than fiction. Yet the big question remains. What is the ultimate fate of the Universe? Secular cosmology does not have a precise answer, and I describe several of their scenarios below. However I believe that the Bible has the answer to this question. That answer may seem to many to be contrary to known science, but the same could be said of the creation of the Universe from nothing, whether it be by the action of the Creator God, or by secular physics invoking some quantum fluctuation of a metastable false vacuum.
Big bang fate of the Universe
Some believe the Universe will eventually die in a ‘big rip’,2 where space is literally ripped apart. This is alleged to result from the unlimited acceleration of the expansion of the Universe due to an unbounded increase in some very strange stuff called dark energy, for which laboratory science knows nothing. In that theory dark energy eventually becomes so strong that it completely overwhelms the effects of the gravitational, electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces, resulting in galaxies, stars and even atoms themselves being literally torn apart, at their core. See Fig. 1.
Others believe that the Universe will end in a ‘big crunch’.3 “Their calculations suggest that the collapse is “imminent”—on the order of a few tens of billions of years or so—which may not keep most people up at night, but for the physicists it’s still much too soon.”4 The big crunch is theorized to occur when the vacuum energy density (cosmological constant) becomes negative due to a change in some hypothetical scalar field changing sign. Details don’t really matter because it is really just ‘scratchings’ on pieces of paper.
Yet another option, they say, is that the Universe will end in some unremarkable heat death, where every physical process just peters out. This is known as the ‘big chill’, ‘big freeze’ or ‘heat death’. In that view, the Universe continues expanding while gradually all thermodynamic free energy is dissipated, meaning that all motion eventually ceases. Over a hundred trillion years or so, they say, it comes to a state of maximum entropy at a temperature very close to absolute zero, when the Universe simply becomes too old and too cold to sustain life. All that they expect to remain are cold dead stars, cold dead planets and black holes.
These three scenarios (Fig. 1) are what comprise the secular belief system, the worldview most widely held by cosmologists today. It is based on pure materialism, that matter and energy is all that there is. The atheists believe there is no Creator, no God who loves us or has any personal interest in our destiny. Their beliefs are really pagan philosophy.5
The 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.)
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.
It is not unusual to find Christian publications and websites1 extolling ancient scientific knowledge revealed in the Bible thousands of years ago. For example, see “Scientific Facts in the Bible,”2 which are claimed to be Answers from the Evidence Bible. I came upon this topic when asked to compile a list of genuine scientific knowledge revealed in the Bible between 2 to 4 thousand years ago. I collated my own list from what others wrote and from my own Bible searches.
In collating that list I found that there are many lines of evidence that are genuine examples of either a foreshadowing of true scientific knowledge that at the time given was yet to be discovered or clear Godly wisdom and knowledge known to those who read the Scriptures. But also I found that there is a significant amount of misinformation being disseminated. There are many examples given that could not possibly be interpreted, with any confidence, to mean what is claimed. The very same errors are repeated by many authors and websites.
To put this into context, it must be understood that the Bible was not written as a scientific text or collection of scientific books. It contains some books that deal with history, some with prophecy, some with songs and poetry and some moral teachings, but, as the revealed Word of God, any book, where it touches on a scientific subject, will be scientifically accurate, even if no detail is given. The knowledge in those verses was revealed to mankind by the Holy Spirit and as such must be accurate. But that does not mean we are not expected to test all things to correctly interpret the meanings. The true meaning of the Scriptures can survive any examination.
This time the story is about a galaxy of a billion stars that is allegedly seen from a time only 402 million years after the big bang. The galaxy is called GN-z11 because it supposedly has a redshift of 11.1,1 measured with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). That is the highest redshift assigned to any galaxy to date, and according to big bang cosmology it corresponds to a distance of about 13.4 billion light-years. It allegedly extends the time of observation of the universe back a further 150 million years than previously known. It also places the epoch of this galaxy in the period of predicted formation of a huge number of stars and galaxy formation built from these first stars formed after the alleged big bang.2
In a new analysis of the publicly available CANDELS data3 over the GOODS fields,4 a team of astronomers, with lead author Oesch,1 identified six relatively bright galaxies with best-fit photometric redshifts z = 9.2—10.2. But photometric redshift determinations are very model dependent and not so conclusive, so they chose the intrinsically brightest of them for 12 orbit passes of the HST, to collect grism5 spectroscopic data and more accurately measure its redshift. This galaxy (now called GN-z11) was previously labelled GN-z10-1. It was previously given a photometric redshift zphot = 10.2. It has strong emission in the infrared consistent with a very bright ultra-violet galaxy after taking in to account stretching of the source optical wavelengths down to the infrared. See Fig. 1.
The authors in their paper write:1
GN-z11 is remarkably and unexpectedly luminous for a galaxy at such an early time:
It is about three times brighter than expected for the time of its alleged existence only 400 million years after the big bang. Early in the alleged big bang history, the first stars were supposed to have formed into small nondescript galaxies. They are meant to have many ‘young’ stars but since the galaxies are not meant to be very large it also follows that they should not be very bright. They’re expected to have grown large later by mergers with other galaxies, where galaxy size is correlated with its intrinsic brightness. In this case the GN-z11 galaxy has the intrinsic brightness of a galaxy observed at a redshift near z = 7, at a time when the big bang universe is three times larger. Thus it follows that the only galaxy they have identified at the epoch of 400 million years after the big bang is three times brighter than galaxies when the universe is allegedly much older and when galaxies should be much larger and hence brighter. This means “galaxy evolution” has worked too fast on this newly discovered galaxy. It is the opposite of what is expected.
Why does the night sky appear black? Why isn’t it white-hot? This is an important question.
When we look up on a moonless night, except for the small number of stars we can see with our unaided eyes (about 2500 at any one time), why is it so pitch black? The answer may not be as obvious as you might think.
The 19th century astronomer Olbers posed a paradox. If you imagine as you look out in space, even though galaxies and hence stars are great distances from each other, if space extends far enough, eventually every line of sight in every direction should finish on a star. If the Universe was infinite in size and filled with stars this would have to be the case. Thus why isn’t the night sky burning bright? Why isn’t it white-hot like the sun?
This lecture deals the historical philosophical development of the notion that the universe is very old. It outlines how worldviews have changed and developed that are intended to replace the biblical worldview with an atheistic humanist worldview. That has meant assuming long ages for the earth and the universe. It is shown how in reality it is a pagan worldview that has grown to dominate ‘so-called science’ today. It is not actually science but scientism. Evidence/observations do not speak for themselves, they must be interpreted and nowadays it is all within the big bang/evolution/”old” universe worldview.