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Cosmic Inflation: Did it really happen?


Published: 11 September 2015 (GMT+10)

Built on a house of cards


Astrophysicists have measured the temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation and its small variations (anisotropies) but also they have found it is partially polarized. They make the claim that,1

The largest contribution to the polarization was imprinted during the epoch of recombination, when local quadrupole intensity fluctuations, incident on free electrons, created linear polarization via Thomson scattering2 [emphasis added].

This is a key element in the alleged evolution of the big bang universe. The big bang supposedly produced a super-hot plasma of electrons, protons, and photons, and this plasma was opaque. The “epoch of recombination” is assumed to have occurred about 380,000 years after the bang, when it was cool enough for electrons to combine with protons to become neutral hydrogen atoms. This made space transparent to photons, so the CMB radiation separated from matter in the big bang fireball, called ‘photon decoupling’. Once radiation decoupled from matter it travelled freely throughout the Universe, no longer interacting with matter. Thus it should carry information of the physics from the early universe. This radiation, allegedly, after it cooled by about a factor of 1100, is observed at the earth as the CMB radiation.

The South Pole Telescope team did not make any claim of such a discovery or ‘proof’ of inflation.

The epoch of recombination produced the largest scalar E-mode3 polarization on the CMB radiation and it allegedly occurred long after any inflationary epoch. It is also assumed that there were gravitational waves, which generated both E-mode and B-mode polarisations as well as gravitational lensing, which generated B modes by distorting the scalar-induced E-mode pattern in the CMB radiation.

Prior to the epoch of recombination, primordial gravitational waves from an alleged cosmic inflation are said to have left their imprint on the CMB radiation in the form of B-mode polarization.4 By attempting to distinguish the various contributions, at different scale sizes, it is hoped to detect some evidence of the era of inflation. All of this hinges integrally on the standard ΛCDM (‘big bang’) cosmology being correct. If the model is wrong—remember also dark matter and dark energy are essential components here—then the house of cards crumbles.

Credit: NASA/ESA


Figure 1: Cosmic timeline illustrated showing redshift across the top, and ‘lookback’ time to the big bang along the bottom.

New CMB E-mode polarization data

Does newly published polarization data of the CMB radiation, from the South Pole Telescope (SPT), really show that cosmic inflation really happened? According to Hugh Ross5 it really did happen! He stated in his recent article, “Cosmic Inflation: It Really Happened”:

“… we now can be 99.9999999 percent certain that the universe indeed went through an inflation event when the universe was only about 10-34 seconds old. To put it another way, there is less than 1 chance in 900,000,000 that the universe did not experience an inflation event very early in its history.”6

Why was that not news on all the science/boffin news websites? The last time this claim was made, in March 2014, by the BICEP2 team, also from the South Pole, it was splashed around on all the news websites and published in all the news media. But it was a big flop. The BICEP2 team was heavily criticized for not more carefully looking for other sources, in particular foreground sources in the galaxy that could also result in the same signal they claimed was evidence of the inflation-era primordial gravitational waves that were their claimed ‘smoking gun’4 evidence. In the final analysis they admitted they were wrong.7

Last year, with the grandiose claim there was also mention of a Nobel Prize for a ‘proof’ of the big bang inflation epoch.8 Why is there no such story now? Why aren’t the news sites full of this story?

Just for a sanity check, and to be certain, I googled the words “the South Pole Telescope (SPT), cosmic inflation really happened”. All the ‘hits’ I got related to the 2014 BICEP2 claimed discovery, except for one, this article by Ross.

On top of that, according to Ross:

“This is good news for Christians because for more than 2,500 years the Bible and biblical commentaries were the only books proclaiming the fundamental features of big bang cosmology.”

I am almost lost for words! For all history, and certainly the last 2000 years, except for about the past 200 years, Jewish and Christian scholars have believed in fiat creation, which occurred about 4000 BC. That could hardly be construed as “biblical commentaries were the only books” teaching a big-bang-type cosmology. As for the Bible itself, the main texts in relation to the origin of the Universe are in Genesis, which are much older than 2500 years. The South Pole Telescope team has now published their latest measurements.1 But their paper was submitted to the preprint archive (which is freely available) on 4 November 2014. So this is not new news! At least Ross waited until it was published in a peer-reviewed journal, something the BICEP2 team did not do. But wait! The South Pole Telescope team did not make any claim of such a discovery or ‘proof’ of inflation in the very paper Ross gets his evidence from. Strange?

The scalar spectral index

Ross’s claim of detection of an inflation epoch comes from his belief in the big bang. He wrote:6

“The E-mode signal is sufficient to determine the scalar spectral index (ns) of the CMBR spectrum. For a universe with no inflation event, ns equals 1.0 or greater. For a universe that had a simple inflation event, ns equals exactly 0.95. For a universe that has had a complex inflation event, ns equals 0.96–0.97.”
Accuracy means that you know what the absolute fundamental value of the parameter actually is.

The scalar spectral index is allegedly related to primordial density fluctuations in the early universe. And the logic follows that those density fluctuations left their imprint on the CMB radiation. Modelling of different types of inflation indicate this number will be different from unity. If ns < 1.0 then the Universe must have had an inflation event, they say.

Clearly Ross did not learn from the BICEP2 fiasco. He shows that he has ‘faith’ in the modelled results; that they can only mean one thing. There are two obvious problems with this claim, apart from any sort of possible ‘proof’ that could show that is the only possible interpretation of that number.

One problem is that many unverifiable assumptions are made in order to determine the value of ns. The power spectrum of the E-mode polarization signal of the CMB radiation at specific frequencies is filtered and generated using certain cosmological assumptions where other effects are allowed for or extracted. Most E-mode polarization is expected to have occurred at a time in the evolution of the Universe later than the alleged inflation epoch.

In the extraction of the modelled parameters of which the scale spectral index is one, data from WMAP and Planck satellites and others are combined. There are 10 free parameters used in the comparison of the observational data with the standard big bang ΛCDM cosmology. This is all done in an effort to interpret the information as from the earliest epochs of the big bang. Ross states:

“Their measurements, in combination with the best results from the WMAP and Planck satellite, have yielded the most accurate determination of ns to date. The value they published: ns = 0.9593 ± 0.0067.”6

He speaks of accuracy, which is wrong, because accuracy means that you know what the absolute fundamental value of the parameter actually is. Without a revelation from God no cosmologically determined number can have accuracy. He must, of course, mean precision, which includes both systematic and statistical errors.

Ross quotes the one standard deviation (1σ) on the value of ns, given in the paper1 (± 0.0067 at 68% C.L.), from which he calculates his claimed 99.9999999% certainty that the Universe underwent inflation.9 An effect found with confidence greater than 99.99994% (or 5σ) is normally considered a discovery.10

But from Table 3 of the SPT paper1 it is evident that the inclusion of the SPT E-mode polarization (SPTpol) results have very little effect on the value of most of the standard ΛCDM cosmology parameters. They were assumed prior to the investigation (determined from other survey data, including that of the Planck satellite). So in effect these new results do very little to change any of their parameters, especially the value of the scalar spectral index (ns). When the Planck satellite polarization data was published11 in 2013, a very similar number was produced (ns = 0.9603 ± 0.0073 when combined with WMAP polarization data) but no claim of proof of inflation was made then.12 Following the same line of reasoning as Ross used, that result is equivalent to saying that the Universe underwent inflation with 99.9999934% certainty,13 which is also above the confidence level for a discovery. Statistically, this is the same as saying that there is less than 1 chance in 15,000,000 that the Universe did not have an inflation event. So why was no such claim made in 2013?

Now the claim of proof that the inflation event really happened hinges on the value of ns. But what requires that that number must be less than unity to ‘prove’ inflation really occurred? The modelling does. Depending on the form of the inflation theory, the mathematical modelling indicates that ns differs from unity due to the type and power in the alleged primordial gravitational waves generated by the physics of the early universe. So the logic is totally dependent on the models of the inflation epoch. What if all models are wrong because inflation never happened?

In cosmology, how can you be sure that you have a unique proof? Could some other effect explain the same result? For example, it was shown that dust emission from the galaxy was the cause of the effect the BICEP2 team saw in the B-mode polarization of the CMB radiation.8 It was not due to primordial gravitational waves after all. The believers of course hold onto hope that they will indeed find such an effect, but is not that an indication that the model or worldview determines what can be looked for?

Expanding universe

Ross assumes the validity of an expanding universe is strong despite the unverifiable assumed existence of the dark entities.

Ross assumes the validity of an expanding universe is strong despite the unverifiable assumed existence of the dark entities needed for this to be so.14 He even claims it a successful prediction of biblical texts. He cites several OT scriptures in support of cosmological expansion of the Universe. But careful examination of the meaning and intent of the Hebrew words used in those scriptures indicates that the ancients had no such concept of the standard rubber balloon analogy of cosmological expansion.15 At best those scriptures describe no more expansion than the stretching of tent or curtain material and, in some cases, beaten brass. Tent material may stretch a few percent of its size, but most certainly there is no concept of linear expansion by a factor of 1100, as required for the CMB radiation. If you include the inflation stage the linear expansion factor increases to more than 1029.

Ross wrote “ongoing expansion since that beginning” was a biblical prediction. But to say that the Bible predicted the expanding universe, including cosmic inflation, because it is in reference to “since the beginning”, then that prediction must be interpreted as involving a gargantuan ‘stretching’ and ‘spreading’. These words are used in the biblical verses he cites, one of which is Isaiah 40:22, which uses the expressions “stretches out the heavens as a curtain” and “spreads them out as a tent”. These are similes, and as such should carry some correspondence over to the intended meaning. But I have never heard of a tent being stretched by anything like that—1029 times. Have you?

The cooling of the CMB radiation is apparently also a prediction of the Bible according to Ross. He states: “A pervasive law of decay that implies a continuously cooling cosmos.” In regards to this point he cited Romans 8:18–22. The key verse is Romans 8:22, stating that the whole creation suffers in agony. This verse describes the effects of the Curse of sin that entails the entry of death and suffering into God’s “very good” creation (something that Ross says predated sin). It is somewhat of a stretch to get the second law of thermodynamics, the law of decay,16 from that, but that is what he means. There is no doubt that we see decay and we also see isolated systems headed to equilibrium. This results in cooling. These are experimental facts. But what is not proven is that the universe is expanding and as a result the expansion induces adiabatic cooling in the CMB radiation. To say this is what the scripture meant is clearly reading into it more than the Author intended.

To imply that any scriptures describe a big-bang-inflationary origin is really stretching it.

It is true that the Bible describes a “singular beginning of matter, energy, space, and time”, which are Ross’s words. Genesis 1:1 states God created the Universe. But Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11 also state He did it in six approximately 24-hour days, not in a big bang nor with the sequence of events the big bang evolution posits.17 To imply that any scriptures describe a big-bang-inflationary origin is really stretching it (no pun intended).

Finally Ross claims the Bible supports “constant laws of physics”, which I agree with. The laws of physics are part of God’s created order and we know we can trust in Him, who remains constant throughout all time (Hebrews 1:11, 13:8). This biblical perspective was foundational to the development of modern science, spurred on by the Reformation, when the authority of the Bible was rediscovered.18 However, to suggest that those laws are the product of the inflationary hot big bang early universe as many secular (or pagan) theoretical cosmologists assert, and not the product of a Creator, is what Ross must inherit as he believes the big bang is what the Bible describes. Where does he draw a line? Alternatively there are those theorists, such as Paul Davies, who believe not that God created the laws and the Universe, but that the laws created the Universe without any creator.19


In his article, Ross over-reached when he said the Bible predicted an inflationary-big-bang-expanding universe. He claimed that cosmic inflation has now been proven, even when the secular cosmologists have not claimed that. Quite obviously Ross does not understand cosmology. A few secular theorists do when they say: “Cosmology … isn’t a science”.20

The Universe began in time. That is the only similarity between the Bible’s account and the big bang’s. That similarity, though, stems from the big bang requiring an expanding universe to have an origin in time. The Bible however does not insist upon an expanding universe, so it does not support anything else big bang. But even that origin in time is now under attack from the secularists who don’t like any origin in time. What will Ross do if and when the secular cosmologists adopt an eternal big bang universe?21,22 What will the theology of Hugh Ross, William Lane Craig and others like them become then?

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Crites, A.T., et al., Measurements of E-Mode Polarization and Temperature-E-Mode Correlation in the Cosmic Microwave Background from 100 Square Degrees of SPTpol Data, Astrophysical Journal 805(1):36, 2015 | doi: 10.1088/0004-637X/805/1/36. Return to text.
  2. Thomson scattering occurs when low-energy photons are scattered elastically by photons. High-energy photons often give energy to the electrons, so the scattered photons have lower energy (so longer wavelength), called Compton scattering. Return to text.
  3. E and B are common symbols in physics for the electric and magnetic fields, respectively. The polarization of radiation can be decomposed into two components—E-mode (radial, curl free) and B-mode (circular, divergence free). In big-bang cosmology, E-mode polarization of the CMB radiation is said to result from Thomson scattering, while B-modes are not from magnetic fields but are said to result from gravitational lensing effects. Return to text.
  4. Hartnett, J.G., Has the ‘smoking gun’ of the ‘big bang’ been found?, 20 March 2014; Return to text.
  5. Dr Ross promotes the idea that ‘creation’ happened progressively over billions of years, which entails having death and suffering before the Fall of Adam, which undermines the Gospel, the goodness of God and eschatology. He also asserts that Noah’s Flood was a local event. His views are critiqued in articles listed here: Progressive Creationism Return to text.
  6. Ross, H., Cosmic Inflation: It Really Happened,, 3 August 2015. Return to text.
  7. Hartnett, J.G., New study confirms BICEP2 detection of cosmic inflation wrong, 5 February 2015; Return to text.
  8. Hartnett, J.G., Hey, not so fast with the Nobel Prize!, 3 April 2014; Return to text.
  9. This amounts to saying that an inflation event happened to within more than 6 standard deviations (6σ). Return to text.
  10. The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search collaborators once claimed some bumps in their data might be a weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP) signal at the 3σ level. But it was not a detection. And a faster-than-light neutrinos claim was found to be wrong even though it was from a 6σ result. For more information see Hartnett, J.G., Our galaxy near the centre of concentric shells of galaxies?, 26 May 2014; Return to text.
  11. Planck Collaboration (2013), Planck 2013 results XVI, Cosmological parameters, Astronomy & Astrophysics 571: (A16), See Table 2, p. 12, November 2014 | Return to text.
  12. In 2013 WMAP nine year data analysis produced a similar result (ns = 0.972 ± 0.013), See Nine-year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) observations: final maps and results, The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 208(2), September 2013. And an online review paper, Lahav, O. and Liddle, A.R., The Cosmological Parameters, September 2011, quotes ns = 0.967 ± 0.014. These results have double the errors of the latest paper yet still ns < 1.0. However, no claimed proof of inflation was made back as far as 2011. Return to text.
  13. This amounts to saying that an inflation event happened to within 5.4 standard deviations (5.4σ) Return to text.
  14. Hartnett, J.G., ‘Dark photons’: another cosmic fudge factor, 18 August 2015; Return to text.
  15. Hartnett, J.G., Does the Bible really describe expansion of the universe?, J. Creation 25(2):125–127, August 2011; Return to text.
  16. A better choice of verse would be Hebrews 1:10–11: “… the heavens are the works of Your hands: They shall perish; … they all shall wax old as does a garment;” (KJV). Return to text.
  17. Hartnett, J.G., The big bang is not a Reason to Believe, 20 May 2014; Return to text.
  18. Sarfati, J., The biblical roots of modern science, 29 Sept 2009; Return to text.
  19. Hartnett, J.G., The singularity—a ‘Dark’ beginning, 15 July 2014; Return to text.
  20. Hartnett, J.G., The big bang is pagan philosophy, 15 August 2015; Return to text.
  21. Hartnett, J.G., Rainbow gravity means an eternal universe, 16 July 2015; Return to text.
  22. Hartnett, J.G., An eternal big bang universe, 26 February 2015; Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Stefan S., Slovakia, 20 September 2015

Alexei V. Filippenko described the Inflation theory that he himslef supported in the following words: "The theory is seductively powerful" (Alex on the Frontiers of Astronomy 4 Our Universe One of many). Alan Guth, who proposed inflation theory in 1981, self-decribes his research interests in the following way at his web page (MIT, dpt. of physics):

"Working with Prof. Edward Farhi and others, Guth has explored the question of whether it is in principle possible to ignite inflation in a hypothetical laboratory, thereby creating a new universe. The answer is a definite maybe. They showed that it cannot be done classically, but with quantum tunneling it might be theoretically possible. The new universe, if it can be created, would not endanger our own universe. Instead it would slip through a wormhole and rapidly disconnect completely." This postmodern-science-way-of-thinking reminds me of gnostic traits: "The overwhelming impression of most Gnostic works is vagueness, word-spinning and tedium."

If "science" is bringing "The answer" in form of "a definite maybe," then from logical point of view this "maybe" should never turn into "yes" or "no," otherwise the word "definite" is deceiving. It seems if a persons stops believing Biblical God, it can be seduced by this modern scientism, just as Chesterton said, the riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man and the first effect of not believing in God is that person is losing the common sense (or according to É.L. Cammaerts starts believing in anything).

N. V., United States, 12 September 2015

This article effectively provides a great alternative explanation to the topic of expansion in the universe. However, I still have questions.

First of all, is this topic really something we should be debating as Christians? God didn't provide specific information about how He assembled the materials in the universe.

Yes, He spoke His creation into existence (except for man, of course), but the Bible doesn't mention how matter interacted to form our universe and our planet. Therefore, we, as Christians, don't need this information in order to be saved.

For this reason, I'm not really sure if we should debate the "How" when it comes to the creation of the universe (when it comes to the Earth's history & biology, the "How" becomes more important.). We certainly weren't there, and we don't know God's mysteries. And while gaining scientific knowledge is important, I don't think that it is necessary to debate areas which are nebulous to creationists and evolutionists alike.

That's just my view. I'm just wondering if it is valid.

John Hartnett responds

I agree debating how God created the universe may not have a direct bearing on your salvation, but it could lead to a proper understanding of the gospel and someone else's salvation. By that I mean, the origin of sin, for example. Hugh Ross teaches that death existed for billions of years before Adam was created some 40,000 years ago. In his worldview death is not a consequence of Adam's sin (only human death). It makes nonsense of the gospel message, when we look at Christ as the second Adam who brought redemption to all the sons and daughters of Adam which God saved. Adam brought the curse and death, Jesus Christ lifted the veil of death, with eternal life, and has promised to remove death (Revelations 21:4) and the curse also (Revelations 22:3).

That same Jesus spoke of the creation of male and female at the beginning of creation (Matthew 19:4). But according to Ross Adam was not created until 13.8 billion years after the beginning. That can hardly be called 'at the beginning' can it? The Ross' worldview brings into question the literal history of much of Genesis and in Genesis we find the origins of most Christian doctrine. So right thinking about the book of beginnings is very important, to the gospel, eschatology and other biblical doctrines.

Terry W., Canada, 12 September 2015

When it come to the microwave spectrum, biblical cosmology (i.e. God) has a lot of explaining to do, and so far, it seems that, rather than regular astronomers, He has decided to do so through Phil Wickham:

Beautiful and free, the song of galaxies

Reaching far beyond the Milky Way

Let's join in with the sound

Come on, let's sing it out

The music of the universe plays

Saying "You are holy, great and mighty"

The moon and the stars declare who You are

- Cannons, Philip David Wickham, 2007 October 2

I personally believe that the both the microwave spectrum and mass unaccounted for making stars in galactic peripheries revolve faster than the gravity of visible matter would allow for is caused by dark matter of some form surrounding galaxies. This is based on two ideas: observations of cosmic microwaves and galactic revolution, and the idea that God designed the galaxies in such a way that they would retain their beautiful arms and dust lanes for millions of years. The dust lanes might not be just pretty, but handy for interstellar navigation as a fuel source in the event of the "replenish the earth" mandate (Genesis 1:28) being extended to the galaxy.

I wonder if it's possible that the dark matter could be thinly spread halos of lampblack or similar dust surrounding the galaxies, stabilized at a temperature of 2.735K or so. A prediction of this is that the distant galaxies would be dimmed, and therefore closer than standard candle measurements indicate. They are currently out of parallax range, but the prediction of my hypothesis is that parallax would show them to be closer than standard candle measurement. I don't yet have the mathematical prowess or knowledge to figure out by how much.

John Hartnett responds

God has explained a lot to us in His Word but many Christians like Dr Ross choose to interpret differently to the straightforward intended meaning.

I believe the psalmist described the starry heavens beautifully in Psalms 8 and 19 for example. But there is no direct mention of the cosmic microwave spectrum (CMB). Creatonists have speculated as to its real origin, as have I, but it may not even be a background source. The Big Bang fails another test.

The ‘background echo of the big bang' was supposed to cast a shadow—but only if it is really true that this radiation is coming from far away, actually from the big bang fireball itself. It seems to be more of a foreground source. Then there are many problems that the big bang model fails to explain from both the CMB and galaxy observations. See ‘Cosmology is not even astrophysics’. So biblical creationists are not so bad off really in terms of explaining the source of the CMB, spiral galaxy rotation curves and other anomalies.

Do you understand why there is supposedly so much dark matter in the Universe? It has become the 'unknown god', the 'god of the gaps' to fill in where known physics cannot.

From a biblical creationist perspective, why can't we trust God to sustain His universe? Why resort to unphysical unknown stuff to do so? The stuff that the alleged dark matter is made from cannot be lampblack (soot) because it cannot be normal matter, which lampblack is. If it was it would be detectable by ordinary means using light. Just because lampblack is black does not mean it does not radiate at some other wavelength, like in the infrared for example.

Genesis 1:28 "replenish the earth" (KJV) simply meant that God told Adam to procreate and "fill" the earth. It is an 'extremely long bow' to suggest that it has anything to do with an interstellar fuel source for planet earth.

C. S., United States, 11 September 2015

in the 2nd paragraph of the conclusion where it says, "The Bible however does not insist upon an expanding universe, so it does not support anything else big bang." I beg to differ.. I'm not 100% [sure] the big bang was how he did it but...Did you realize, that at least 7 times, numerous times in the book of Isaiah, and the books of Job, Ezekiel, Psalms, and Zechariah, the Bible express CLEARLY, that God "Stretches the heavens out like a curtain. The OLDEST book of the bible, Job, it says "He stretches out the north over empty space, he hangs the earth upon nothing. Job 38:14 also states "It is turned like clay, by the seal." referencing the Earth also. This is a time where looking up was their greatest source of science. A time when it was thought everything revolved [around] the Earth. The following statement was made some 2800 years ago by a divinely inspired Isaiah. "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in." (Isaiah 40:22) just a couple out of the verses in the Bible where it talks the earth as a sphere, the rotation, and the expanding universe centuries before the science. :)

John Hartnett responds

In regards to cosmological expansion, which Ross claims is meaning of numerous verses, like you also claim, I wrote in the above article that Ross "...cites several OT scriptures in support of cosmological expansion of the Universe. But careful examination of the meaning and intent of the Hebrew words used in those scriptures indicates that the ancients had no such concept of the standard rubber balloon analogy of cosmological expansion." Then I cite my own article (reference 15) Does the Bible really describe expansion of the universe?, which if you would take time to read you will find that those verses including words translated as "stretches" and "spreads" cannot be made to mean even a 10 fold expansion of space let alone a 1100 fold expansion since the alleged cosmic fireball produced the CMB radiation. It does not CLEARLY describe cosmological expansion, but uses a tent, curtain or a canopy as a simile "like a curtain", etc. You can only stretch that type of material by a few percent, not a whopping 10^29 times if you include cosmic inflation.

But you cannot conflate, in Isaiah 40:22, the description of the spherical nature of the planet Earth (Hebrew word 'chug' translated 'circle') with cosmological expansion. The meaning of those verses is just that God created the heavens, with all its starry host, like one would put up a tent. You unfold a tent, you don't stretch it out like a rubber balloon. Isaiah 48:13 " right hand has spanned [Hebrew word 'taphach' meaning to flatten out or extend (as a tent)] the heavens: when I call to them, they stand up together." God calls and it is done together, just like putting up a tent or canopy. There is no indication of cosmological expansion here.

Alex W., Australia, 11 September 2015

Thanks John for yet another great explanation of new scientific discoveries and defense of the biblical worldview.

Just a comment about accuracy, precision, systematic, and statistical errors. Hugh Ross is clearly deluding himself (and his followers) in claiming 'accuracy' when the data only relates to statistical estimates of precision.

Here is an analogy that helps to separate out the components of the problem. An Olympic

champion shooter wins gold only when all shots are GROUPED CLOSELY around the BULLS-EYE. Such a result is both accurate (on target) and precise (grouped closely together). But if the gun sight and barrel are not properly aligned, all shots could be grouped closely together (precise) but well off-target (systematically inaccurate). Adjusting the sight could fix such a problem. However, if the shooter took one or more wrong turns while travelling to the competition venue (or made one or more wrong assumptions in his cosmological model) then his highly precise shots could be neatly grouped in the WRONG TARGET. He could, for example, have neatly shot himself in the foot, multiple times. There is no easy way to fix a problem like that. The competition is over. You would have to seek treatment for your wounds, wait until they have healed, and start again to practice for the next Olympics.

John Hartnett responds

Alex, Nicely explained! GBY!

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