In the middle of the action
Recent observations undermine the idea of a ‘big bang’ and show that our earth is, after all, near the universe’s centre.
Image from H. Bond (STScl), R. Ciardullo (PSU), WFPX2, HST, NASA
Cocoon of a new white dwarf
ONE OF THE most important concepts of modern astronomy is the idea that the universe is expanding. This paved the way for acceptance of the big bang theory, the idea that the universe originated in a primeval explosion. The big bang is used as a means of explaining the origin of the universe without God. It also denies some of the basic sequences of the universe’s history as given in Genesis (e.g. it has the earth forming only after the sun).
The main reason for belief in an expanding universe was the discovery (by astronomer Vesto Slipher, about 80 years ago) of the ‘stretching’ of starlight (towards the red end of the spectrum, thus called a ‘redshift’). This is interpreted to mean that the galaxies are moving away from us. Then Edwin Hubble showed that the further away a galaxy is, the more its light is redshifted (Hubble’s Law). So this would mean that the furthest ones are moving away more quickly. This led to the idea that if you ‘play the tape backwards’, all the matter in the universe will end up in the same place.
However, is this the only possible conclusion from the ‘redshift’ (of starlight) data? No, according to physicist Dr Russell Humphreys.1 In a recent Journal of Creation paper,2 he maintains that, properly understood, redshift data gives us a very different view of the universe—a view consistent with biblical creation but denying the big bang.3
We need to realize that big bang theory will not ‘work’ if the universe has a centre or an edge. The universe which ‘big-bangers’ assume, while not necessarily infinite, is called ‘unbounded’—i.e. it has no centre and no edge. This is an assumption which is not only necessary to make the big bang work, it has another philosophical ‘value’ to unbelievers.
Atheism and a ‘centreless universe’
It has long been pointed out that the universe, on a big scale, is ‘much the same’ in all directions. This makes sense if we happen to be close to the centre of the universe (if one side of the heavens, from our perspective, were closer to the edge than the other, there should be ‘less universe’ on that side). But that appears to put humanity in a ‘special spot’, one which would be hard to explain by chance. So to a materialist (someone who rejects the notion of God altogether) it is not acceptable. The alternative is to decree that the universe has no centre or edge. This is a philosophical assumption, known as the Copernican Principle (or the Cosmological Principle). Its advocates resort to complex theories of extra dimensions and hyperspace in order to make this assumption ‘work’. And the assumption is, in turn, needed to make the big bang work, as stated. For instance, in his book Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan says it is ‘wrong’ to think that our galaxy is near the centre of the universe. He further writes:
‘When the expansion of the universe was first discovered, many people naturally gravitated to the notion that the Milky Way was at the centre of the expansion, and all the other galaxies running away from us. We now recognize that astronomers on any galaxy would see all the others running away from them; unless they were very careful, they would all conclude that they were at the centre of the universe. There is, in fact, no centre to the expansion, no point of origin of the Big Bang, at least not in ordinary three-dimensional space.’4
Redshifts deny the big bang’s foundation
We are generally not told that the redshift data shows a highly significant pattern that undermines this ‘unbounded’ assumption. That is, the amounts by which distant galaxies are redshifted are not randomly distributed—they cluster around certain numerical values. By Hubble’s Law, this indicates that most of the visible matter of the universe is arranged in concentric circles, like the layers of an onion, surrounding our home galaxy, the Milky Way (see diagram below).
Image supplied by Russell Humphreys
Diagram of (idealized) spherical shells of galaxies concentric around our own home galaxy, the Milky Way.
This conclusion has been bolstered recently by published data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a precise 3D ‘mapping’ which shows ‘that our galaxy is centred on a great concentric distribution of galaxies’.5
This arrangement of galaxy redshifts is called quantization. It has been reported in the astronomy literature for over 25 years now. At first, the data was challenged, but more observational work has demonstrated the pattern clearly. Humphreys shows, using simple geometric calculations, that this ‘concentric shelled’ arrangement of galaxies should not be visible to us unless we are located at, or very close to, the cosmic centre. Thus, the simplest interpretation of this observation is that the universe does indeed have a centre, and the Milky Way is very close to it. Humphreys calls this view of the universe the ‘galactocentric model’ (see ‘Galactocentrism, not geocentrism’ below).
Mainstream astronomers are not anxious to bring quantized redshifts to public attention. Humphreys points out, ‘… secular astronomers have avoided the simple explanation, most not even mentioning it as a possibility. Instead, they have grasped at a straw they would normally disdain, by invoking mysterious unknown physics. I suggest that they are avoiding the obvious because galactocentricity brings into question their deepest worldviews’.2
What are these ‘deepest worldviews’? They may be summed up as this: the universe is random and uncreated, with no God shaping its past, or possibly interfering in its future. But this is not a conclusion from the observed evidence, it is rather a premise (starting point) that determines how they will (mis)interpret the evidence. We are reminded of Romans 1 (v. 28), ‘… they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God …’.
Galactocentrism, not geocentrism
Image from P. Goudfrooij (STScl), Hubble Heritage Team, (STScl/AURA), ESA, NASA
NGC 1316—a massive globular cluster galaxy about 75 million light-years away, towards the constellation known as The Furnace.
Geocentrism was the view of ancient Greek philosophers, who believed that the earth was at rest in the centre of the cosmos, with all the stars and planets revolving around it. They believed that the heavenly bodies were contained in spheres of varying size, which moved with perfect geometric precision.
In the galactocentric model indicated by the redshift data (see main text), the earth is not fixed at the centre, but close to it. The vast cosmos stretches out symmetrically around us. But it is not infinite; only God is. So if one kept travelling far enough away from Earth, one would eventually come to an ‘edge’.
Sceptics might tell us that Copernicus showed long ago that the earth has no central place in the cosmos, and that we should not try to reintroduce this ‘outmoded’ idea. However, invoking Copernicus (who claimed that the earth revolved around the sun, not vice versa) does their cause little good. He felt that the sun was at, or close to, the centre of the universe,1 and also affirmed his own belief in God as Creator.2 Galactocentrism would seem to be a very natural modification and extension of the Copernican view of the heavens.
References and notes
- Humphreys, D.R., Our galaxy is the centre of the universe, ‘quantized’ red shifts show, Journal of Creation 16(2):95–104, 2002 (footnote 54, p. 104).
- Knight, D.C., Copernicus: titan of modern astronomy, Franklin Watts Inc., New York, p. 198, 1965. Copernicus says, ‘At last I began to chafe that philosophers could by no means agree upon any one certain theory of the mechanism of the Universe, wrought for us by a supremely good and orderly Creator … .’
References and notes
- Formerly with Sandia National Laboratories, Dr Humphreys now works full-time for the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, California. Return to Text
- Humphreys, D.R., Our galaxy is the centre of the universe, ‘quantized’ red shifts show, Journal of Creation 16(2):95–104, 2002. Return to Text
- For a more detailed insight (both lay and technical) into Dr Humphreys’ model of the universe’s creation, based on the assumption that the universe has a centre, see his book Starlight and Time, Master Books, Arkansas, USA, 1994. See also Sarfati, J., Refuting Compromise, Master Books, Arkansas, USA, chapter 5, 2004. Return to Text
- Sagan, C., Pale Blue Dot, Random House Inc., New York, p. 26, 1994. Return to Text
- Hartnett, J., New evidence: we really are at the centre of the universe, Journal of Creation 18(1):9, 2004. Return to Text