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

Solutions to the biblical creationist starlight-travel-time problem

If the universe is only 6000 years old according to Moses (Genesis chapters 5 and 11) then biblical creationists have a starlight-travel-time problem.  The universe is tens of billions of light-years across. There are good scientific grounds to believe that is the case. So shouldn’t it take at least billions of years for light to reach us from the distant galaxies?  How do you reconcile the size of the Universe with only the 6000 years or so available since the Creation, according to Genesis chapter 1 in the Bible? I once listed five possible areas that we might find a solution.1

I believe that within the following options or categories explanations may be found that are consistent with the text of Genesis and so maintain the interpretation of 6 × 24-hour literal earth-rotation days of creation, about 6000 years ago. They are briefly discussed here in no particular order.

1. A timing convention

690958main_p1237a1One possibility is that the language of Genesis is phenomenological language (describing appearance). In this case, stars were made billions of years before Day 4,but in such a manner that the light from all stars (and galaxies), no matter how far away, all arrived at the earth on Day 4 and so their light could have been seen first at that moment. This is reference frame ‘time-stamping’ events from the moment they are seen on Earth.

Lisle’s timing or clock synchrony convention3,4 describes this idea. He presented two possible interpretations: One is phenomenological language and the second has to do with the physical nature of  the created universe. Continue reading

Quasar Redshifts Blast Big Bang

Part 3 of series “Redshifts and the Universe”.
Watch Part 1 and Part 2 first.

The work and hypothesis of Halton Arp is presented of evidence for a creation scenario where galaxies are created out of the hearts of active galaxies, beginning as quasars, which evolve over time to galaxies we see (the word ‘evolution’ used here means change, not addition of new information by random chance). He shows that for at least quasars there is evidence that indicates quasars are not at their supposed redshift distances according to the Hubble law. This then says one cannot trust the standard redshift interpretation upon which the big bang model depends.

Additional Resources

Redshifts and the Universe

I outline what redshifts are and how they are used as a distance measure in the Universe. The usual practice is to equate redshift to expansion of space then in an expanding universe the greater the redshift the greater the distance in the Universe. That is known as the Hubble law. But can this be justified from laboratory experiments? How sure are we that the universe began in a big bang? Does it all come down to our interpretation of what redshifts are?

Additional Resources