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Hey, not so fast with the Nobel Prize!

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Published: 3 April 2014 (GMT+10)

Already the alleged discovery of not only primordial gravitational waves but also the big bang era of inflation (which I discussed in Has the ‘smoking gun’ of the ‘big bang’ been found?) has been questioned in a paper by leading cosmologists. This is in a paper,1 submitted to the preprint archive (arXiv.org) on March 20th, 2014, just three days after the press release (on March 17th) of the “discovery” by the BICEP2 Collaboration team.

On March 25th a press item appeared on phys.org quoting these cosmologists and entitled ‘Cosmologists cast doubt on inflation evidence’, with a storyline saying

“Some theorists are advising that we ‘put the champagne back in the fridge’ … at least for now”.2
You cannot make a definitive claim of proof of anything unless you have first ruled out all other possibilities that might cause the same effect.

Researchers from the BICEP2 project at the South Pole Telescope had claimed unambiguous evidence of primordial gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background, the residual rippling of space and time created by the sudden inflation of the Universe a quintillionth quintillionth of a second after the big bang. And there were even whispers of a Nobel prize nomination. The team’s findings were hailed as the best direct evidence yet of cosmic inflation, and even support for the existence of a multiverse—multiple universes outside our own.

The theorists James B. Dent (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Lawrence M. Krauss (Arizona State University and Mount Stromlo Observatory, ANU) and Harsh Mathur (Case Western Reserve University) question those findings:

“In order to provide compelling evidence, other possible sources of the signal need to be ruled out. While the Inflationary signal remains the best motivated source, the current measurement unfortunately still allows for the possibility [of another cause]”.

In other words, you cannot make a definitive claim of proof of anything unless you have first ruled out all other possibilities that might cause the same effect. In my article I wrote:

“In this case it would have to be shown that the evidence could not come from any other possible source or mechanism. This is the problem with cosmology in general.”

Cosmology is not science in the usual laboratory repeatable experiment sense. The idea that one could treat the universe as a lab to test your model and obtain definitive outcomes of an experiment belies credibility. The universe is too large, we cannot see all that we need to see, and when we are talking of the putative big bang or events one cannot truly justify ‘seeing’ that which we cannot actually see. We only have the radiation arriving at our telescopes on earth or in orbit within the solar system. The interpretation of that evidence is circumstantial at best. The universe still has much we don’t understand. Why do cosmologists have to make up stuff like inflation, dark matter and dark energy? Simply because we do not understand the universe.

The cosmologists in their paper also state that,

“ … it is important to demonstrate that other possible sources cannot account for the current BICEP2 data before definitely claiming Inflation has been proved.”3

But I would go even further and claim that there is a plethora of other possible sources; some that may be known, and some that have not even been thought of yet. To claim a definitive proof from the cosmos is pure speculation. It is not science.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. James B. Dent, Lawrence M. Krauss and Harsh Mathur, Killing the Straw Man: Does BICEP Prove Inflation?, arxiv.org/pdf/1403.5166v1.pdf. Return to text.
  2. See phys.org/news/2014-03-cosmologists-inflation-evidence.html. Return to text.
  3. Dent et al., Ref. 1. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Jim M., Australia, 3 April 2014

I am guessing that, within the evolutionary mindset, supernatural creation would not qualify for consideration as the cause of one of those "other possible sources"?

The atheistic definition of 'science' precludes any supernatural cause, especially the GOD of the Bible!

Robert P., Australia, 3 April 2014

Good article John, thanks for your surviellance of the current literature and your timely feedback/heads-up. Good pick-up.

michael S., United Kingdom, 3 April 2014

This is why the fallacy of The Affirmation Of The Consequent is important.

(Theory X then evidence P.

Evidence P ERGO Theory X)

When there are any number of theories that could fit with evidence P, any "proof" claims are highly premature, and as far as I can see, just because the evolutionists have hijacked the evidence, and called it, "Big Bang", that doesn't mean that the evidence is not evidence of creation.

Think about it, they have said that evidence would support a Big Bang but the claim of a Big Bang does not match all of the OTHER evidence, that being a sophisticated universe.

A Big Bang is still an absurd answer for existence, and the evidence we see is simply the "how" of how God created time and space. All they have really shown is that there was a beginning, and the bible said that all along!

As far as I can see, this is just as much proof that God inflates universes like man inflates balloons! ;-)

Carl Wieland responds

God may well have rapidly stretched out the heavens at creation. (As someone said, inflation, in which gravity is reversed to start it, for no known reason, and then stops again for no known reason, is the postulate of a miracle without postulating a miracle-worker.) However, the big bang model itself, well before we get to the concept of what happens to generate complex creatures, is one which denies the Genesis order of creation, for one thing. See Williams and Hartnett's Dismantling the Big Bang for the many scientific problems as well.

Debbie W., Canada, 4 April 2014

And yet the Bible says several times that God "stretched out" the heavens (Is 42:5, Is 45:12, Jer 10:12, Jer 51:15) ... so perhaps the cosmologists are right about "inflation" ;-) ... though they would never attribute its cause to our all-powerful and loving God.

George H., United Kingdom, 7 April 2014

Very interesting article, however I'm a little lost when you say; 'Why do cosmologists have to make up stuff like inflation, dark matter and dark energy?'. You see, these things are "made up", as you so eloquently put it, because they explain phenomena that otherwise would be left unexplained, and are provable by mathematics, so therefore do exist. Surely creationists could have "made up" the book of Genesis in an attempt to understand how we came about because they didn't understand? For example, Genesis 1:1 - 2:4 could not have been written as an eyewitness account, so is it not possible that these things were made up to explain how the Universe was created?

Although I think my favorite quote of the article at the end is 'To claim a definitive proof from the cosmos is pure speculation. It is not science.' How is it possible then to claim God? If he exists, why would he create so much evidence to support other views, just for you to gladly say that it's rubbish and contrary to the Bible? So many scientists do not support the Big Bang Theory, however what the research suggests is that if we find another source of the Universe that is concordant with the BBT, then it will also have to explain this 'inflation' effect, and maybe this research will even lead us on to new theories of how the Universe started.

Again, still an insightful article.

John Hartnett responds

When I say "made up" it means inventing "unknowns", like dark matter, dark energy and inflation to explain the unknowns, like anomalous rotation curves of spiral galaxies, or, the very large deficit of the standard model (just mathematics) to fit the high-redshift supernova observations (they are dimmer than expected). Saying 'provable by mathematics' makes no sense. Mathematics does not prove a model. It is the observations in an experiment that are used to test a model, but only to disprove. But cosmology is really a worldview issue and all evidence is interpreted through that worldview.

In the first article I quoted from a Science journal article where 3 leading big bang cosmologists agree with me that 'cosmology is not science'.

The evidence is not being disputed here. It is the interpretation of that evidence. As I said in the first article one would have to rule out all other possible sources to "prove" it is from inflation. That is the main point of this article which Krauss and others themselves seem to agree with. But to "prove" anything in cosmology is really impossible. Astrophysicist Richard Lieu even says 'astrophysics is not science'.

Sonica M., United Kingdom, 14 April 2014

Thank you for the article. I am no scientist but I absolutely love all your articles. Every time I read something like this I realise how great our God really is. No matter what evolutionists claim to find, nothing will ever stop me from believing in God and his creation. Now that my husband and I are expecting our first child we pray over this child and made a promise to teach our baby the Truth. Thanks to your articles we don't have to be scientist to explain to our children why we believe what we believe but we can simply let them explore your reading material for themselves. Thank you for making it easier to be parents who teach the Truth to our children.

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