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Creation 41(1):48–50, January 2019

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Is the big bang really scientific?

by

Big-Bang-scientific@350w

According to most text books promoting evolutionary beliefs, the universe came into existence around 14 billion years ago. Supposedly, it began as a singularity, an unimaginably hot ‘point’ into which was compressed all the matter and energy now making up the billions of galaxies found throughout space. Following the big bang, this singularity started to expand and cool, enabling quarks and electrons to form, these being the building blocks of atoms. As the universe continued to cool, quarks combined to form protons and neutrons. These then combined to produce ‘light elements’, namely hydrogen (including a little ‘heavy hydrogen’ or deuterium), helium, and lithium. And all this supposedly happened in the first three minutes of the universe!

However, these elements were still nuclei, not atoms. That supposedly needed about 379,000 years of cooling so the nuclei could combine with electrons and form atoms. This hydrogen and helium gas is said to have provided the material from which the first stars formed. (Hydrogen, helium, and lithium are known as ‘light elements’ because they have very little mass. Evolutionary cosmologists believe that the heavier elements (which they call ‘metals’) were formed inside stars.)

Biblical creationists, of course, should reject big bang theory because the order of events contradicts the Bible. Whereas in big bang theory, the stars precede the earth, in Genesis, the earth is made before the stars.

There are three main pieces of evidence presented in support of the big bang: background heat, the abundance of ‘light elements’ and the expansion of the universe.

Background heat

Space appears to be bathed in a low-level background heat which is said to be the ‘after-glow’ or ‘smoking gun’ of the original big bang ‘explosion’. This is known as the ‘cosmic microwave background radiation’ (CMBR).1 It has been measured very accurately, and in great detail, and is said to have a temperature consistent with what would be expected from the big bang.

Creation scientists, however, point out that this background heat is actually a major problem for big bang theory. This is because its temperature is virtually the same across the universe and this would not be expected from a big bang. A conventional ‘explosion’ would leave behind an uneven pattern of heat, not the extremely even pattern actually observed.

Evolutionists, of course, are well aware of this difficulty, called the ‘horizon problem’, and some claim to have a solution. Supposedly, very soon after the initial ‘bang’, and for only a brief period, the universe expanded at a much higher rate—in fact faster than the speed light—and this enabled the background heat to be smoothed out. This very rapid expansion is known as ‘inflation’.

However, according to Paul Steinhardt, Albert Einstein Professor in Science at Princeton University, “inflation is very flexible … [and] can be adjusted to give any result … any outcome is possible.” Hence, he says, “it is not possible to find evidence to support or refute inflation”.2 Creation scientists would agree, and argue that it is really no more than a story called upon to explain away facts that point to the big bang theory being wrong.

Abundance of light elements

Big bang theory is said to have accurately predicted the amounts of light elements that we actually find in the universe. Hydrogen would be expected to be the most common, followed by helium, deuterium and lithium—which is what is observed. Particularly, it’s said, the amount of helium (25%) is consistent with calculations based on big bang theory. Historically, however, this claim has been very controversial. As pointed out by Professors Burbidge and Hoyle,

“We have now reached the stage where it is argued that the existence of helium … is taken, together with the microwave background radiation, as primary evidence in favor of the … big bang … . However, this argument is only powerful if there is no other way to explain the helium abundance and the microwave background radiation.”3

They then argued that this helium was produced by the burning (fusion) of hydrogen in stars (rather than the big bang) and that the light emitted by the stars and absorbed by dust clouds produced the cosmic microwave background radiation.

According to Professor Burbidge, neither the observed abundance of helium, nor the level of the cosmic microwave background, were really predictions of big bang theory. Scientists had already measured the abundance of helium and the theory was adjusted so that it would give the ‘right result’. Referring to the parameter (the number in the big bang theory) which would result in it ‘predicting’ the amount of helium in the universe, he wrote:

It is chosen to make things come out right … . This is why the big bang theory cannot be argued to explain microwave background or to explain a cosmic helium value close to 0.25 [i.e. 25%]. … if you really believe in a big bang, you can choose parameters which will make observation and theory agree, but the argument is not based on basic theory” (emphasis original).4

Evolutionary cosmologists sometimes claim that big bang theory can predict the amount of the light elements using information (data) obtained from satellite measurements.5 This, however, cannot be so because their theory relies on the existence of ‘dark matter’, a form of matter that cannot be observed.4,6 (This ‘dark matter’, which many creationists and some secular cosmologists do not believe exists, is also needed to explain how galaxies and stars form by natural processes.)7

The expanding universe

It is thought that expansion of space would cause light waves to be stretched, resulting in light being reddened.8 This is known as ‘redshift’ and is observed when we view galaxies. Moreover, in general, the more distant a galaxy, the greater is the redshift.9 This is understood to indicate that the universe is expanding and that, the more distant a galaxy, the faster it is moving away. Hence, it is argued, winding the clock back, we would see the universe getting smaller and smaller until it reached its original state as a singularity.

While many creation scientists accept the evidence that the universe is expanding, this does not mean that it must have started off as a singularity—it could have started expanding from a fairly large state.

Creationist scientists argue that the atheists’ claim that our universe arose from a random ‘explosion’ is absurd. For example, the rate of expansion would have needed to be just right, as even a tiny deviation from the required rate would have been catastrophic. If just a little faster, particles would have simply flown away from each other, never coming together to form stars and planets. If just a little slower, gravity would have pulled everything back together resulting in a violent ‘great crunch’, with no planets and no life. According to Nobel prize-winner, Professor Steven Weinberg, the number determining the required expansion rate (known as the ‘cosmological constant’) would have had to be just to right to within 120 decimal places.10

But what does this mean? Well, let’s use as an illustration the mixing of concrete. Here the amount of water added has to be controlled quite carefully, otherwise the concrete will not have the required strength. Typically, for every 100 kg of cement, around 40 kg of water should be added. For a particular building project, there might be generous leeway, where an error of 1 kg in the amount of water added could be tolerated and the concrete still have the required strength. Working with a margin of error of 0.1 kg might still be practical; however, if the allowable error was only 0.000001 kg this would clearly be impractical. 0.000001 has the decimal point six positions to the left of the 1:

six-positions@349w

But a number with 120 decimal places has the decimal point 120 positions left of the 1:

120-positions@341w

How realistic is it to believe that an ‘explosion’ just happened to produce an expansion rate this critical?

RIP-Big-Bang@287w

The expansion rate, however, is just one of many factors that would have had to be ‘fined-tuned’ for the big bang to have produced a universe like ours in which life could exist. For example, unless the masses of the particles that make up atoms, the forces that hold atoms together, and the force of gravity had all had the right values, the big bang would have produced a lifeless universe.11,12 Creation scientists argue that a process that is this critical could not have occurred by chance.

Conclusion

Christians need not be intimidated into accepting secular accounts of origins. Big bang theory only appears to be scientific because people are exposed only to the evidence that appears to support it. At the same time, nothing is said about its major scientific problems. Big bang theory contradicts the account of creation in Genesis, and Bible believing creationists should reject it on the authority of God’s word.

References and notes

  1. Technically, CMBR is said to date from the 379,000 years after the big bang when atoms were formed. Previously, the energetic nuclei and electrons, as charged particles, would scatter any radiation, but when they combined to form neutral atoms, the universe became transparent to the radiation. Return to text.
  2. Horgan, J., Physicist slams cosmic theory he helped conceive, Scientific American, 1 December 2014; blogs.scientificamerican.com. Return to text.
  3. Burbidge, G. and Hoyle, F., The origin of helium and other light elements, The Astrophysical Journal 509:L1–L3, 10 December 1998. Return to text.
  4. Burbidge, G., The case against primordial nucleosynthesis, in: Hill, V., François, P. and Primas, F., eds, From Lithium to Uranium: Elemental tracers of early cosmic evolution, IAU Symposium Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 228, Paris, May 23–27, 2005; adsabs.harvard.edu. Return to text.
  5. That is, measurements of ordinary matter density. See wmap.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/bb_tests_ele.html. Return to text.
  6. Hartnett, J., Dark Matter and the Standard Model of particle physics—a search in the ‘Dark’, 28 September 2014. Return to text.
  7. Hartnett, J., Is ‘dark matter’ the ‘unknown god’? Creation 37(2):22–24, April 2015. Return to text.
  8. More precisely, because the wavelength of the light is now longer, it has ‘shifted’ towards the red end of the spectrum. Note that this does not necessarily cause a particular star to ‘look red’. Return to text.
  9. Professor Halton Arp, however, noted that there are many exceptions to this rule, which are difficult for advocates of big bang theory to explain. See Hartnett, J., Big-bang-defying giant of astronomy passes away, 31 December 2013>. Return to text.
  10. Weinberg, S., Facing Up: Science and its cultural adversaries, Harvard University Press, USA, pp. 80–81, 2001. Return to text.
  11. Lewis, F.G. and Barnes, L.A., A Fortunate Universe: Life in a finely tuned cosmos, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2016. Return to text.
  12. See also Statham, D., A naturalist’s nightmare [review of Ref. 11], J. Creation 32(1):48–52, April 2018. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Philip M.
You mention what evolutionary belief states happened “in the first three minutes of the universe”. Since time is relative, I am interested to know whether the evolutionary belief is talking in terms of big bang three minutes or in terms of current earth three minutes.
Ian B.
This is so consistent these days - as we move into a Post-Christian era, we have to adapt also to the fact that we now live in a Post-Truth era. When looking at Climate Alarmism, human sexuality, Origins, we find the same thing. Objective truth is no longer the bench-mark in our search for reality and truth. Ideology and sensationalism seem to be the order of the day. Charles Darwin died fully convinced that all the myriads of transitional fossils needed to back his Theory would turn up in the fossil record after his death. Hitler had fully convinced himself that his beloved Third Reich of the Germanic peoples was inevitable history in the making, and that he was the divinely-chosen one to usher it in. In the Hippie scene we used to often speak of the Age of Aquarius, which we believed we were part of - the ones chosen to usher it in, and leaders in the movement were referred to as Prophets of the New Age. Just to be passionate, dedicated, and devoted and sincere are not enough. We need to be devoted to the TRUTH. Jesus is the TRUTH. He is also altogether lovely, and nothing sleezy, shifty, or shonky is ever found in Him. He won my heart 45 years ago while in the hippie scene up in far north Qld., and now I am forever His. I am my beloved's and He is mine.
Miss Yvonne R.
The big bang theory even for a lay person is obviously not scientific. The big bang never existed - all a willful way in the minds of men as a way of denying the Creator GOD. Evolution is secular speculation, supposition, estimation. Has no foundation in CHRIST. A nothing theory. Last night on radio ABC a discussion on how the human brain developed from the minds of apes. From the first understanding of what the subject was, I changed stations. How could I listen to such nonsense? I am so thankful to know JESUS CHRIST as my LORD and SAVIOUR - HE has set me free from human limitations of believing this absolute abuse of who GOD is as our loving GOD. So say all Christians in agreeance to the glory of GOD. Thank you for these emails [pointing to articles] because this is a way of personally standing against the world and so honouring GOD. Praise GOD for your ministry bringing together comments from other countries for oneness in CHRIST.
Bruce A.
BRILLIANT!
Another nail in the coffin of the Big Bang rubbish.
Geoff C. W.
And where did that good old singularity come from, of course!
Chris S.
I have just been reading Who Made God? by Edgar Andrews. A commendable book in many ways but the author is ambivalent on the Big Bang. He makes some criticisms of Big Bang theory, but in conclusion he says:

Understood in this way, the Genesis account of creation is fully compatible with the big bang theory and, indeed, predicts some such creation scenario.


You have to go back to the previous paragraph to see what he means by “Understood in this way”. First, he says Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”) contains “no reference to how long ago that happened”. He then says that verse 2 and onwards are to be interpreted from the point of view on an observer of earth. So the appearance of the sun and other heavenly bodies he interprets thus:

As the sky cleared, the heavens became visible from an earthly perspective and the heavenly bodies (having already been created) were “set” or placed in the sky—a classic use of phenomenological language describing what would have been seen by an observer on earth had anyone been there to see it.


That might be compatible with the Big Bang, but it's not compatible with what I read in my Bible!
Jonathan Sarfati
Indeed not. Especially when Jesus made it clear that Adam and Eve were there “from the beginning of creation” not billions of years after the beginning—and there should be no doubt about what Jesus meant.

As for the second, this is a Rossite dodge, which I answered 20 years ago as follows:

The Hebrew word ‘asah means ‘make’ throughout Genesis 1, and may be used interchangeably with ‘create’ (bara’), e.g. in Genesis 1:26–27. It is pure desperation to apply a different meaning to the same word in the same grammatical construction in the same passage, just to fit in with atheistic evolutionary ideas. If God had meant ‘appeared’, then He would have used the Hebrew word for appear (ra’ah), as when the dry land ‘appeared’ as the waters gathered in one place on Day 3 (Genesis 1:9). This is supported by Hebrew scholars who have translated the Bible into English. Over 20 major translations were checked, and all clearly teach that the sun, moon and stars were made on the fourth day.


Anyway, check out a review of this book in our Journal of Creation.

RONALD M.
After reading this article, I read from some secular source like Howstuffworks, NASA, etc. I specifically read about the big bang theory and what it was that people think exploded. I found a lot of theories, usually accompanied by explanations why the theory does not work for many scientists. I wanted to know what matter scientists think existed before the initial big bang. Do do they think everything came from nothing? Some seem to think that "everything from nothing" is a definite possibility. But I still do not know clearly what leading non-creation scientists think about what existed before the big bng.
Maybe you can help with a basic short explanation.
Pratha S.
The Bible is clear—God SPOKE everything into existence! The Big Bang has nothing to do with it. You can understand how the secular world would say this, but how some Christians go along with this is something I just can't see—there's nothing about it in the Bible. And some of these are well-known Christians too{like Hugh Ross}. I would like to ask the Creation.com staff how they think some Christians can believe in the Big Bang? As I said, it's just NOT in the Bible!
Dean C.
There are many misconceptions about Big Bang Theory. As a theoretical physicist, what I read and hear is disturbing. There’s an enormous amount of confusion and misinformation. The majority of laypersons I talk to are unaware that BBT was initially a thorn in the side of atheism. What leMaître proposed based on the observations of Hubble and the theories of Einstein, was a rational and plausible idea. For the first time atheists could no longer avoid the classical cosmological argument by insisting the Universe always was and did not begin to exist. The Borde–Guth–Vilenkin Theorem (2003) and other discoveries/proofs have effectively debunked steady-state models. Please consider the following:

1. The horizon and flatness problems are only problems for those who insist on a Big Bang not directed by a Creator.
2. The author of this article correctly states that the condition prior to expansion may not have been a singularity, however this is a metaphysical argument and not a scientific one.
3. Similarly the multiverse is religion, it is not science.
4. Newton’s law of gravitation is an excellent and highly accurate estimation. Einstein built upon this foundation with an even more accurate estimation, but we know it is still an estimation.
5. We don't know if Dark Matter exists, but the proposal of DM is based on observations of galaxy clusters, galaxies, and gravitational lensing. It is reasonable to investigate the existence of DM.
6. Quantum fluctuation as a cause to initiate a Big Bang event from a singularity is ridiculous. This idea is a desperate attempt of those blinded by materialism.
7. None of my colleagues believe in Darwinian macroevolution. No amount of time can make Darwinism work, belief in long time scales is not an effort to support Darwinism.
Jonathan Sarfati
None of the above is news to us, as could be seen in the related articles below Also, chapter 5 in my book Refuting Compromise, refuting the long-age compromise of Hugh Ross, is all about the big bang. Ross also tries to recruit it for apologetics as well, despite the many contradictions with both science and the Bible—the time frame, detail, and even the order of events.

Hugh Ross has also popularized the trope that we oppose long ages because of fear that they would make evolution possible. But as we showed long ago, we are very well aware that chemical and biological evolution would be impossible no matter how old the earth is. The issue is that long ages are necessary for evolution, but not sufficient. So no long ages → no evolution.

Why would you imply that we have a problem with Newtonian gravitation or with Einsteinian relativity. We have no problem with quantum mechanics either.
Dean C.
Hi Dr. Safarti, I don't believe anyone at CMI has a problem with Newton, Einstein, or QM. Based on what I wrote, I'm puzzled that you would think I do. Please know that I have high regard for the work done at CMI. In an open forum that consists mostly of laypersons, I'm just trying to share information. For example laypersons don't know that DM (if it exists) is not dark, it's transparent. It neither emits or absorbs light at any frequency. DM interacts weakly, both with itself and other types of matter. It may even be weaker than the weak nuclear force. DM has so far failed to explain how stars are formed, but if it does exist, it could explain the observed velocities of galaxy clusters. Concerning galaxies; velocities become constant for stars far away from the galactic center, this is known as the flared rotation curve. DM may resolve this mystery. Some observations made by astrophysicists are not accurately explained by Einstein's field equations, DM could be a simple fix. DM is not a "dodge" by physicists to avoid reality and promote materialism, which I think the article does insinuate. The irony is that something known to exist (quantum fluctuation) is a dodge by materialists, if used to avoid the question of how the BB began, while something unknown (DM) is really not a materialistic dodge. We can tell you in detail how stars work and how they die, but have no idea how stars are formed, or planets for that matter. I don't want the readers to presume that we know more than we actually do. An interesting thing to note about inflation, if inflation happened it poses a huge problem for materialists. Inflation creates a fine-tuning problem greater than the average armchair atheist can imagine.
Dean C.
Dr. Safarti, I understand why I caused confusion. My comment "what I read and hear is disturbing", was directed at mainstream media, not CMI. Popular magazines, the NY Times science section, television shows, etc. These are the sources of misinformation. My comment was not directed at CMI, I should have expressed my thoughts more clearly.
Alan B.
Thanks Dean for your comments, I found them very enlightening, especially concerning DM, lets not be intimidated by the possible existence of dark matter, like you pointed out, discoveries initially appearing to shore up the Atheist's case often have an unexpected sting in the tale for their cause.
Jonathan Sarfati
Creationists are certainly allowed to believe in DM, in that it doesn’t contradict the Bible, and at least one prominent creationist astronomer makes a case for it. But I am still not convinced, because there are other explanations for phenomena such as galactic rotation curves that don't need any fudge factor. See for example:

John H.
A straightforward read of Genesis chapter one reveals a very orderly process our God of order is using to make everything. We are created in his image so we enjoy making things in an orderly way too. We are not as good at this as our Heavenly Father, but who would make anything starting with a huge explosion?
Norman W.
And all that chance does not even take into consideration that we are formed from left handed amino acids. That would reduce the possibility of life forming logarithmically. They argue that although it is clearly unlikely that life can rise accidentally, the fact that life exists proves it did happen. I would argue the fact that it is clearly impossible for it to happen by chance, it obviously happened by God speaking everything, including life, into existence. There is no sound argument against that.
Jonathan Sarfati
For more information, see Origin of life: the chirality problem.

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