HAS GOD BEEN FOUND?–A Reaction to Big Bang Euphoria.
Newspapers have plastered new findings about the Universe across their front pages. They have published quotes from scientists who claim that this is “one of the major discoveries of the century.” The reports are
often couched in highly religious terms, like saying that scientists have found the “Holy Grail of cosmology.” What is all this talk about, and what is its significance to the biblical record of creation?
The Big Bang theory rests on the following tripod: (1) that primordial nucleosynthesis can explain 99% of the visible matter in the Universe; (2) that the heat generated by the initial hot flash of nucleosynthesis
has cooled to a chilly few degrees above absolute zero; and (3) that the Universe is expanding away from a central point. How do these claims relate to the current controversy?
First, using certain assumptions about the initial conditions of the Universe, cosmologists made mathematical models of the creation of hydrogen and helium in the Big Bang (in a process they call
“nucleosynthesis”). Later observations appeared to match these predictions. However, the Big Bang theory requires that the Universe contain no more than 10% protons, neutrons, and other ordinary matter
found in stars, planets, and us. What makes the rest of the matter–90% to 99% of the Universe–is still a mystery. Cosmologists don’t know what it is, and they haven’t found direct evidence of its existence. One
idea is that it consists of “cold dark matter” (CDM). They say it’s “cold” because it cannot interact with other matter (except gravitationally), and “dark” because they can’t see what it is.
Evolutionary cosmologists need all this matter–both known and unknown–to make the Universe expand and galaxies form. If they didn’t have cold dark matter, then the ordinary matter of the Universe would
have scattered into the empty reaches of space without ever coming together to form galaxies.
The problem is that the Universe is very lumpy. There are clusters of galaxies stretching 550 million light years across the sky. Indeed, the Universe only begins to look smooth on scales larger than 150 million
light years. Unfortunately, the CDM theory can “explain” structures no bigger than 65 million light years. Although this is a big hurdle, CDM supporters suggest that the cosmic egg had defects–minor variations
that would grow to be major variations. But where is the evidence for such variations?
This brings us to the second part of this problem. In 1965, Penzias and Wilson pointed an improvised radio telescope into space and found a uniform background radiation of three degrees above absolute zero (3
kelvins). Cosmologists took this as evidence for a Big Bang. Then, in 1990, NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) found a perfect 2.735 +/- 0.06 K temperature to an accuracy of one in 10,000. Since then, it has conducted a survey of the skies to an accuracy of one in 100,000. The current media reports are all about the results of this survey. It now appears that there are minor variations in this temperature at the outer edge of the known Universe.
These variations are presumed to represent early defects. However, the variations are extremely small, differing by barely thirty-millionths of a Kelvin from the 2.735-K background. These may not be enough to
account for the large-scale structure of the Universe. Faye Flam, reporting on these findings in Science (May 1, 1992, p. 612), writes, “Team leader George Smoot says the [hot] spots range over all the sizes
COBE can see, although even the smallest are too big to have served as precursors for the greatest observed collections of galaxies. But Smoot says he thinks the smaller spots that seeded the growth of the galaxies
and clusters should show up soon in other detectors now operating in balloons and at the South Pole.” In other words, they are relieved to find some variation, but the results are not exactly what they need.
Flam mentions other concerns. For example, the measured temperature variations are, according to Smoot “well below the level of instrumental noise.” Team member Al Kogut adds: “You can’t point to any one point in the data and say that’s signal and that’s noise.” The researchers believe, however, that statistical tests confirm that they are looking at a real phenomenon.
Speaking of mathematical manipulation, it should also be pointed out that the variations were extracted from a large-scale pattern of two hot spots and two cold spots. The researchers attributed this so-called
quadrupole pattern to effects such as the motion of our galaxy through the background radiation.
It seems that the findings are not an unqualified success. Perhaps they should be downgraded from “greatest discovery” to “interesting,” and from “proof” to “possible corroboration.” The British journal Nature comments: “the simple conclusion, that the data so far authenticated are consistent with the doctrine of the Big Bang, has been amplified in newspapers and broadcasts into proof that `we now know’ how the Universe began. This is cause for some alarm” (April 30, 1992, p. 731).
Fundamental questions about the Big Bang theory remain unsettled in some people’s minds. For instance, the background radiation itself may not be proof that there ever was a “big bang.” To Big Bangers, it is the
“afterglow,” but it may be the result of some other process that has nothing to do with the origin of the Universe. Likewise, some scientists call these new-found variations “ripples,” implying that they
are an effect of the Big Bang, but they may have some other explanation. Of course, there is still the problem of creating the original cosmic egg–that 10 pounds of false vacuum that supposedly seeded the whole Universe.
Not so long ago, adherents of the Big Bang held to a smooth Universe, and pointed with pride to the uniform background radiation. Then they found large-scale structures, and revised their “predictions.” Now they have found infinitesimal variations, and are hailing them as the greatest discovery of the century. So, we must to urge caution when a theory, claiming to be scientific, escapes falsification by continual
modification with ad hoc, stopgap measures.
Certainly there’s no need for George Smoot to say, “If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God.” This statement spurred the media to seek comments from various religious quarters. According to the Associated Press, the “Rev. Mr. Burnham said many theologians will find having another confirmation of the big bang theory to be very compatible with the belief that God created the universe out of pre-existent chaos.” However, the idea that God just started the creation and left it to evolve on its own is not supported anywhere in the Bible. The evolutionists’ time scale is inconsistent with biblical chronology, and the creation record tells us that God created the heavenly objects on the fourth day. This order of creation differs markedly from the evolutionary account.
Overall, this new discovery is not anywhere near as conclusive as its promoters claim. The Big Bang theory is still rife with problems.
Trevor J. Major