Francis Filament: a large scale structure that is big, big, big bang trouble.

With the development of better and better large optical telescopes there is one big bang problem that is not so often talked about. It is one we call an horizon problem. Not the infamous horizon problem for infrared photons allegedly redshifted down to the 3-degree-above-absolute-zero temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, but an horizon problem for structure formation in the big bang universe.

As telescopes push the limits and detect more objects at higher and higher redshift they also detect what are claimed to be larger and larger structures. These structures (clusters and long filaments of galaxies) are believed to have formed very quickly after the big bang.

Various structures have been found–one, the Francis Filament of 37 galaxies at redshift z = 2.38, is discussed in the article below. However, since that was published there have been more such discoveries that are allegedly even larger than the Francis Filament: the Huge-LQG (73 quasars) though at a lower redshift (z = 1.27) and hence allegedly seen a billion years later; and another so big it allegedly would take light 10 billion years to traverse it.

The question then arises: How did the matter move across such large distances in the very short cosmological time available after the alleged big bang fireball cooled? Expansion of space is not the answer. But this presents a particle horizon problem for the big bang theorists. The best answer that can be provided is cosmic variance: because we sample too small a region of space, at these enormous distances, there are other galaxies not yet seen and the structures that are apparently seen are just part of the random distribution of galaxies in the wider picture, which cannot be seen as yet. And thus it is alleged that the structures being viewed are not a contiguous structure. But this is an appeal to the unobserved and the belief system that the big bang story is correct. It is used to fill in where the observations fail.

The following is slightly edited from an article more than ten years old now but it illustrates the problem. My original article first appeared as “Francis Filament: a large scale structure that is big, big, big bang trouble. Is it really so large?” in the Journal of Creation 18(1):16-17, 2004.

Image 1: Caption from NASA web article. This is a computer artist’s illustration of a giant but remote galaxy string discovered recently. The fuzzy, bright areas in the cube in Images 1 and 2, represent galaxies discovered about 10.8 billion light-years away in the direction of the southern constellation Grus (the Crane). [Big bang] astronomers believe these galaxies are members of a much larger structure at least 300 million light-years long and 50 million light-years wide. Since light took 10.8 billion years to traverse the distance between the galaxy structure and Earth, we see the structure as it appeared when the Universe was young, just a fifth of its current age. This new structure defies current models of how the Universe evolved, which can’t explain how a structure this big could have formed so early. (emphasis added)

‘From a galaxy far, far away comes a stunning new discovery’ so begins the article of science reporter Rosslyn Beeby of the Canberra Times (Australia), Thursday, 8 January 2004. The article continues with some sensational claims:

Existing theories about the formation of the universe have been challenged by a sensational new discovery—the existence of an enormous string of galaxies 300 million light-years long and 10,800 million light-years from Earth.

ANU astronomer Dr Paul Francis led an international research team which discovered the galaxies … Their discovery defies accepted theories of how the universe evolved. Current theories cannot explain how such an enormous galaxy string could have formed at such an early stage in the evolution of the universe.

Scientists claim the universe was formed during the Big Bang—a cosmic explosion that hurled matter in all directions—about 13.7 billion years ago.

“There simply hasn’t been enough time since the Big Bang to form structures this colossal,” Dr Francis said. “In three billion years matter should be able to move 10 million light years at most—you can’t make something that’s 300 million light years long in the time that’s given … It’s impossible.”

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Does the new much-faster-speed-of-light theory fix the big bang’s problems?

A recent paper1 by Niayesh Afshordi and João Magueijo asserts that they have discovered a testable cosmology wherein during a “critical” cosmological phase of the early universe the maximal speed of propagation of matter (and hence light) was enormously much faster than the current speed of light (c) and faster than the speed of gravity, which in Einstein’s theory is the canonical speed c. They revisit what has become to be known as varying speed of light (VSL) models, in contrast to the now popular cosmic inflation models. They believe light travelled much faster just after the big bang than it does now and have developed a mathematical model of a big bang universe only a miniscule fraction of a second after the alleged hot beginning of the Universe.


João Magueijo at the journée de la Science at the EPFL, 11 November 2005. Credit: Wikipedia

The big bang model has many problems, but the biggest and most difficult to solve is what is known as the ‘horizon problem’.2 Cosmic inflation has been invoked to solve this problem. Afshordi and Magueijo agree that,

… the Big Bang model of the Universe remains an unfinished work of art. Many of its late-time successes can be traced to the initial conditions postulated for its early stages, and these are put in by hand, without justification, other than to retrofit the data. The main culprit for this shortcoming is the so-called horizon problem: the cosmological structures we observe today span scales that lay outside the ever-shrinking “horizons” of physical contact that plagued the early universe. This precludes a causal explanation for their initial conditions.1 (emphases added)

Cosmologist believe that structure in the universe was seeded from initial density variations in the early universe. But for structures (clusters of galaxies, for example) to naturalistically form gravity must propagate over the scale of any structure in the timescale available to it at the past epoch when the structures were allegedly built. In addition we observe a uniform temperature across all the sky in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, yet sources on opposite sides of the observable universe have not had time to exchange energy, at the constant speed of light c, in the time available in the big bang universe. That is, they have not had to time to come into thermal equilibrium. These limitations are what are known as ‘horizons’. The major problem with the big bang model is that cosmic inflation scenarios are inserted by hand, to overcome these ‘horizons’ but without any justification for why inflation started and why it stopped. Quite obviously if the speed of light were infinite there would exist no such ‘horizon’ to thermal equilibration of the Universe. Continue reading

Mature creation and false information in starlight

Some biblical creationists argue for a mature creation as an explanation for the history of Genesis to align with modern cosmological observations. Don DeYoung1 is one who argues that such a view is not refutable, and he is quite right. But neither is any cosmology as really cosmology is not science.2 It is not subject to repeatable laboratory type tests that is normally required in science. Its goal is to reconstruct the history of the Universe, and in so doing cosmology is more akin to evolutionary biology or geology in which researchers must simply accept some facts as given. That makes cosmology more like a religion, a belief system, with its unprovable axioms upon which everything else is based.

De Young argues that all biblical creationist cosmogonies (i.e. worldviews) contain some level of mature creation, which I do agree with. The problem, though, which he does not address, is the issue of false information in starlight.


Credit: ESA & NASA; Acknowledgement: E. Olszewski (U. Arizona)

We know that the Universe is very large. Light travels very fast indeed, yet light travelling at its measured speed travels one light-year distance in one year (by definition). The Bible tells us that the Universe is only about 6000 years old, but the distances light needs to travel from the most distant sources to Earth, since creation, is about 14 billion light-years. So DeYoung, and others like him, claim that God created the ‘light in transit’. He says that this explanation is valid as it is equivalent to the mature creation of our sun or even to adult forms of life created on Earth (i.e. Adam and Eve created in the Garden as adults and not babies or embryos). On some level this may be true, but the ‘light in transit’ remains a problem in terms of God’s truthfulness.

No doubt DeYoung, and those others who hold similar views, believe that God is 100% truthful, yet they see no problem with false information in the ‘light in transit’. DeYoung excuses it by saying that it is nevertheless true in the mind of God. But there still remains a problem.

In Psalm 91 (and other passages in the Bible) we are told that the heavens tell us of God’s workmanship. Is this also only in the mind of God? Is everything that is in the astrophysical heavens just part of a big light show, which has no reality, such as the reality we can discover with the rest of our senses here on Earth? I don’t think so.

So how do you justify ‘light in transit,’ which does not relate back to real events in the past history of this Universe? If you want to take the approach of the least number of assumptions, that is, using Occam’s Razor,3 a law of economy, then I would say that a time-dilation model or a time-convention model is a far simpler and better choice.4 For example, I could construct a cosmogony (description of the origin of the Universe) where our Creator God makes the sun, the moon, the planets and all the stars and galaxies on Day 4 of Creation Week, according to Genesis 1.5 But in so doing He slows the rate of clocks on Earth during that day only. Really that means he slows the rate at which time passes on Earth relative to elsewhere in the cosmos. He makes some galaxies initially and places them throughout the Universe, like unfurling a flag or tent. It does not necessarily involve any stretching of the fabric of space, or of time or of space-time. This Universe is not an expanding, but created static, with the galaxies essentially in the same locations now as when they were created 6000 years ago, as measured by Earth clocks. Continue reading

20 big bang busting bloopers


There is about as much truth in the sitcom as there is in the actual big bang theory. Credit: Wikipedia

The following are 20 conundrums for the big bang theory for the origin of the Universe. These are problems in a universe which had no Creator God, but not in this Universe, created by the eternally existing uncreated One.

1. Where did the Universe come from? “Cosmology is not even astrophysics: all the principal assumptions in this field are unverified (or unverifiable) in the laboratory … .” Cosmologists have become “…comfortable with inventing unknowns to explain the unknown.” Dr Richard Lieu (University of Alabama, Huntsville)

2. How did nothing explode? Universe started in nothing not even space, time or energy. What fluctuated in the quantum vacuum if time did not exist and how do they know which laws of physics applied. Where did those laws come from?

3. How did stars and galaxies form? It is impossible to form a star without dark matter (or a nearby supernova, which is a chicken and egg problem). No stars means no galaxies which means no Universe. Dark matter is pure fiction!

4. The ‘Axis of Evil’ in the CMB anisotropies. Why a preferred axis? Why aligned with the ecliptic? There should be no preferred axes in the Universe. The CMB data from both WMAP and PLANCK satellites conforms a weird preference for a direction in the cosmos, which aligns with the orbit of the earth around the sun. Why?

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The lecture: Starlight and time—Is it a brick wall for biblical creation?

The universe is truly vast; tens of billions of light-years in size. If the universe is only about 6000 years old how do we see galaxies at all, which are more than 6000 light-years away? This is the biblical creationist starlight travel time problem. I present 5 categories wherein potential solutions may be found. Besides the big bang also has a light travel time problem—the horizon problem—besides many other various problems.

Lecture was given August 1st 2015. See Age and Reason Seminar Adelaide for details.

See also other lectures given at the same seminar:

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An eternal quantum potential or an eternal Creator God

JGH1As a teenager I co-authored a book comparing the competing cosmologies in 1968. They were the Big Bang Theory (BBT) and the Steady State Theory (SST). Even though the discovery of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation provided a big boost to big bang theories at that time, I preferred the SST because it had no origin in time. You see, I was an atheist then and I reasoned that if the Universe had no beginning then it didn’t need a Creator and thus I had no God that I needed to obey.

The fact that the BBT has an origin in time—a unique past boundary—has been particularly vexing for the atheist believers in that cosmogony. Using various approaches the BB theorists have been trying to eliminate the beginning, by replacing the Creator with an eternal quantum potential, which existed for eternity past, and then 13.8 billion years ago exploded into the big bang universe, … or, so they say. For now though, they are stuck with the universal origin in a singularity, which in itself has led them to worshipping the Universe itself.

The explanation given in the Bible I now find so much more satisfying. Any cosmogony, which attempts to correctly describe real history, must be consistent with and follow not only the biblical time scale but also follow the sequence of events in the Genesis account. I present a very brief summary of a few biblical creationist models. These models acknowledge the eternal Creator God as the source of everything in the Universe.

An illustrated talk presented at the Creation Ministries International 2016 Creation SuperCamp at The Tops Conference Centre, NSW, 9:45 pm Wednesday January 6, 2016.

Video of Powerpoint presentation

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Starlight and time: Is it a brick wall for biblical creation?

Notes of a lecture on starlight and time. Do they present an insurmountable problem for biblical creationists? The lecture was given August 1st, 2015. See Age and Reason Seminar Adelaide for details.

Here is the problem. The universe is truly vast in size, in fact, tens of billions of light-years in size.  One light-year is about 10 trillion kms. It is the distance light travels in one year. By taking a literal history from Genesis chapters 5 and 11 you can calculate that the universe is only about 6000 years old. If so, how does starlight get to earth from a distance greater than 6000 light-years? Shouldn’t we only be able to see to a distance of 6000 light-years in the universe?

Is this a brick wall? Does it mean the bible must be wrong? Distances are billions of light-years. Surely that must mean light took billions of years to travel here from the distant cosmos? How do you explain that?

Ok, lets first look at some simple maths.

Distance = Speed x Time

So if you drive your car a distance of 100 kms and travel at 50 km/hr it will take you 2 hours.  10 billion light-years represents a distance in the Universe to some of the most distant galaxies like those pictured here in what is called the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field 2014. Continue reading