Was the Big Bang Just Proven by Astronomers?
“Theory No More? Scientists Make ‘Big Bang’ Breakthrough with Find” (2014, emp. added). “Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun” (Overbye, 2014, emp. added). “Big Bang’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Confirms Early Universe’s Exponential Growth” (Vergano, 2014, emp. added). “Scientists Find Cosmic Ripples from Birth of Universe” (2014, emp. added). These titles are a sampling of the headlines after Caltech publicly announced some of their groundbreaking research. The impression being given (and, based on the many that have contacted us since the announcement, being accepted) is that the Big Bang has been finally proven. It has been “confirmed.” As usual, many in the media have shown themselves to be irresponsible with their overstatements and wild implications. Since most people only read article titles and never actually read the details of an article, false impressions are immediately spread to the four winds, and usually, never to be corrected.
Under the Big Bang model, the Universe is theorized to be expanding outward from the point in space where the cosmic egg allegedly exploded. However, no direct evidence has ever substantiated the claim that the Universe inflated in the violent way implied by the Theory—only circumstantial evidence. According to the model, gravitational waves would accompany the initial, rapid expansion immediately after the “bang,” but until now, no direct evidence has ever surfaced for their existence. The new discovery is being hailed as the “first direct evidence” of Universal inflation (“Theory No More?...,” 2014; “Scientists Find Cosmic Ripples…,” 2014; Landau, 2014). Does that mean the Big Bang has been proven? No.
First, it should be emphasized that the media seems to be admitting in unison, parroting what scientists have told them, that until now there has been no direct evidence of Big Bang inflation. What does that indicate about all of those who for years have whole-heartedly proclaimed the Big Bang Theory as a proven fact? Is it not true that they were holding to a blind faith in the Theory? If so, why have so many believed in the theory and scoffed at those who believe in Creation, claiming (falsely) that creationists have a blind faith? What about all the other tenets of naturalism held onto with such vigor that scientists and journalists have yet to admit are matters of blind faith? How are we to distinguish truth from misrepresentation? We have long argued that nothing should be believed without adequate evidence (the Law of Rationality), and the Bible verifies the importance of that truth (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Creation model is supported by solid evidence and does not have to be accepted blindly. In truth, even believing in the idea of the Big Bang after the recent discovery is still irrational. How so?
Notice that if you read the news articles carefully, ignoring the clear bias for the Big Bang Theory exhibited in the titles, you will see disclaimers about the find: “if confirmed” (“Scientists Find Cosmic Ripples…”); “The new results, assuming they’re verified…. The new results do have to be verified” (Lemonick, 2014).
Because of how potentially important these results are, they must be viewed with skepticism, said David Spergel, professor of astrophysics at Princeton University. The measurement is a very difficult one to make and could easily be contaminated. There are, as it stands, some “oddities” in the results that could be concerning, he said. “I am looking forward to seeing these results confirmed or refuted by other experiments in the next year or two,” Spergel said (Landau, emp. added).
Evolutionary astrophysicist Stuart Clark, writing in New Scientist, added his disclaimer, cautiously stating, “If the result is confirmed…” (2014, p. 34). Clark quoted several others who agree. Astrophysicist Duncan Hanson of McGill University stated, “Some sort of confirmation is definitely needed” (p. 34). Cosmologist John Peacock at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, UK said, “Assuming this is confirmed,” it would be quite a discovery (p. 34). Cosmologist Hiranya Peiris of the University College London noted, “[A]s a scientist, I have to be skeptical” (Clark, p. 34). Summarizing: nothing has been proven. So there is still no direct evidence of Big Bang inflation—implying that those who accept the Big Bang are still fideists.
Second, that said, actual, conclusive evidence of inflation would still not prove the Big Bang. In the words of one of the science reporters cited in the articles above, “There’s no way for us to know exactly what happened some 13.8 billion years ago, when our universe burst onto the scene” (Landau). [NOTE: Even with that admission, notice the blatant bias towards the Big Bang Theory, as though its truth is a given, when this very reporter admits in her article that the discovery in question is the first direct evidence ever found for gravitational waves, and even these results “must be viewed with skepticism.”] Clark admitted that “we can’t even be sure there was a big bang,” even if inflation is true, since “inflation effectively erases the details of what went before” (p. 35). Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves (the purported discovery in March) in his General Theory of Relativity years ago (Aron, 2014), as well as the idea of Universal expansion, and yet a recently discovered Einstein document highlights his resistance to the idea of the Big Bang Theory, which he at one point called “abominable” (Castelvecchi, 2014). While he accepted gravitational waves and the idea that the Universe is expanding, he was still hesitant to subscribe to the Big Bang Theory. So, clearly the Big Bang is not a required inference from expansion and gravitational waves—there could be other causes. Clark admitted, “Other theories can give rise to similar patterns, so their existence is not itself proof of inflation” (p. 34). No wonder New Scientist published a list of scientists who are skeptical and even doubtful of the Big Bang in 2004 (Lerner, 2004)—a list that has since grown to include several hundred scientists (“An Open Letter…,” 2014). In short, discovering the existence of gravitational waves says nothing about what actually caused them in the first place, and in truth, there could be many possible causes other than inflation. Consider the following example: if a three-year-old were to sneak into the kitchen and eat some chips, in all likelihood there would be crumbs on the floor. There are chip crumbs on the floor in the kitchen. So there must be a three-year-old who snuck into the kitchen and ate some chips. Really? While inflation and the existence of gravitational waves should be the case if the Big Bang model were true, the opposite does not follow: inflation would not imply that the Big Bang is true.
Clark stated, “Such a potential breakthrough is in urgent need of corroboration, not least because as things stand not everything adds up” (p. 34, emp. added). The data do not harmonize with what was expected according to the theory of inflation, and according to Hanson, the results indicate inflationists “may have to extend the cosmology” (as quoted in Clark, p. 35). Clark translated Hanson’s words: “By that he means dreaming up even more outlandish versions of inflation” to harmonize the evidence (p. 35). We might ask why, considering a plausible explanation for the origin (i.e., creation) of the Universe has been on the table for centuries, in no need of revision.
The Creation model does not exclude the idea of Universal expansion. God could have simply created the Universe in such a way that expansion happens. But the idea that the Universe was originally crammed into a little ball that exploded, rapidly inflated at a rate above the speed of light, and over billions of years morphed into the Universe we see today, complete with complexity and life, definitely contradicts Scripture (Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11). Universal expansion, however, or the existence of gravitational waves, would not inherently contradict Creation. In fact, the concept of expansion might be exactly what is being alluded to in Isaiah 40:22, 44:24, Psalm 104:1-2, and Zechariah 12:1. The Hebrew word translated “stretches out” (referring to God’s activity on the heavens) in Isaiah 40:22, for instance, is an active participle which, according to Hebrew scholars indicates “a state of continued activity”—implying that the stretching might be continuing to occur today (Weingreen, 1959, p. 66). While Isaiah compares God’s activity to that of spreading out a tent to dwell in and stretching out a curtain, cosmologists who describe expansion today describe it like the expansion that occurs as a balloon stretches out (Davis, 2010)—a very similar concept to that of setting up a tent.
Bottom line: the Big Bang has not been proven. And further, it cannot be proven, because (1) the nature of the Big Bang precludes it from being verified, and (2) because a false idea cannot be legitimately proven. It has been shown to be false scientifically (May, et al., 2003). Further, a supernatural Creator is required in the equation, and naturalism, including the Big Bang Theory, does not allow Him (Miller, 2013). In truth, God told us how the Universe was created in a Book which proves itself to be His inspired Word, and it was not through a cosmic explosion (Butt, 2007). If the Bible is inspired, it must be right. True science will never contradict it.
“An Open Letter to the Scientific Community” (2014), CosmologyStatement.org, http://cosmologystatement.org/.
Aron, Jacob (2014), “Einstein’s Ripples: Your Guide to Gravitational Waves,” New Scientist Physics and Math On-line, March 17, http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25243-einsteins-ripples-your-guide-to-gravitational-waves.html#.UymnpYXDWRg.
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Castelvecchi, Davide (2014), “Einstein’s Lost Theory Uncovered,” Nature, 506:418-419, February 27, http://www.nature.com/news/einstein-s-lost-theory-uncovered-1.14767.
Clark, Stuart (2014), “The End of the Beginning,” New Scientist, 222:32-35, April 26.
Davis, Tamara M. (2010), “Is the Universe Leaking Energy?” Scientific American, 303:38-43, July.
Landau, Elizabeth (2014), “Big Bang Breakthrough Announced; Gravitational Waves Detected,” CNN Tech On-line, March 18, http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/17/tech/innovation/big-bang-gravitational-waves/.
Lemonick, Michael D. (2014), “Cosmic Bulletins: Two Major Discoveries Rock Science,” Time On-line, March 17, http://time.com/24894/gravity-waves-expanding-universe/.
Lerner, Eric (2004), “Bucking the Big Bang,” New Scientist, 2448:20-22, May 22.
May, Branyon, Bert Thompson, and Brad Harrub (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1453&topic=57.
Miller, Jeff (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=%202786.
Overbye, Dennis (2014), “Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun,” New York Times On-line, March 17, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/space/detection-of-waves-in-space-buttresses-landmark-theory-of-big-bang.html?_r=0.
“Scientists Find Cosmic Ripples from Birth of Universe” (2014), Fox News On-line, March 17, http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/03/17/major-discovery-smoking-gun-for-big-bang-expansion-found/.
“Theory No More? Scientists Make ‘Big Bang’ Breakthrough with Find” (2014), Fox News Mobile, March 18, http://www.foxnews.mobi/quickPage.html?page=22995&external=2582508.proteus.fma#quickPage_html_page_22995_content_102688773_pageNum_2.
Vergano, Dan (2014), “Big Bang’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Confirms Early Universe’s Exponential Growth,” National Geographic Daily News, March 17, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/14/140317-big-bang-gravitational-waves-inflation-science-space/#.UymgsYXDWRg.
Weingreen, J. (1959), A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Oxford: Clarendon Press).