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Creation 39(2):48–51, April 2017

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Cosmic storytelling

The never ending big bang story



The big bang is indeed a good story … as far as storytelling goes. As one business website affirms,

“Storytelling has been the single most powerful communication tool for thousands of years and we are just starting to understand how relevant and significant it is today.”1

It also illustrates what Mark Twain is reputed to have said:

“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

And what Hitler’s propagandist Joseph Goebbels supposedly claimed, that “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

The story matters more than the science

As a physics professor working in a secular university in Australia, publishing in scientific journals and knowing the importance of communicating one’s science to the wider community, I have had many opportunities to see how the system works. Outside of the experts in your field the details do not matter, but a good story does.

For example, in early 2013 I published a cosmology paper in a specialist journal,2 where I found that using a finite bounded expanding universe, with a unique centre and an edge, one could describe the observed large-scale structure of the universe very well.

And one could do so without including ‘dark energy’ or ‘dark matter’, the fudge factors assumed in the standard big bang model.

Soon I received a call from someone from my university’s publicity department who wanted to write a press release on it. She asked me what I felt was important about the paper. I told her that the paper was consistent with the notion that our galaxy could be located in a privileged location in the universe. This was contrary to the oft quoted cosmological principle which states that there are no privileged locations—that our location is purely random and the universe has no centre or edge. My paper suggested that that is not necessarily so.

Once she understood what I was saying, her facial expression told me everything. She said: “I don’t think we can do anything with this.” I never heard from her again. I had published the science, passing secular peer-review, but the real story could not be told because it was contrary to the one the establishment promoted.

Cosmology needs a good story

Modern-day cosmology has developed a good ‘story’. The general public know it very well. But they have absolutely no knowledge of the details, nor if they were presented to them could very many of them even comprehend them.

The system adheres to the usual script. If you don’t depart from that you can get out your message. But if you suggest something different—for example, that our galaxy is in a special location in the universe—the response is deafening silence. You, the author, will be ignored. But those who accept the standard paradigm—the big bang story—won’t have any problem getting their message out.

That story, told over and over again, is full of made-up stuff: dark matter, dark energy, dark radiation, dark flow, dark fluid, dark photons,3 cosmic inflation, expanding space, big bang singularity, quantum fluctuations of a metastable false vacuum,4 colliding hyper-dimensional branes, and still more.

Who understands what these things are? The general public certainly doesn’t. The experts can’t, really, because none of these have ever been discovered or demonstrated in a lab experiment. But they are all needed in the modern big bang story, and it is a really big story. If you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one.

Figure 1 No matter what is observed in the cosmos the new results are always fitted into the story. The story is pliable. This is good storytelling. Nothing can disprove the story, because anything you find can be made to fit into it.

The big bang story has become the most popular account of both the structure and the origin of the universe. This cosmic evolution story is a complete epic, which starts with just hydrogen gas and after 13.7 billion years ends up with people (Fig. 1) and all sorts of living creatures on a beautiful blue fertile planet at ‘just the right distance’ from the sun that ‘only looks like’ it was designed for life. The story is still being written, as the big bang description keeps changing and evolving.

Galaxies and stars: facts vs story

For example, a newly discovered galaxy (see Fig. 2) far, far away was not as large in size as expected.5 Many other galaxies found at this stage of their story were much more massive, but the high dust content of this new galaxy meant that somehow it must have evolved from the primordial gas much earlier than expected. It should have been an ‘infant’ galaxy due to its size but was found to be a ‘mature’ galaxy due to its dust content even though it is small in size.

This new one is now simply rebadged as being ‘typical’. In short, it doesn’t matter what is discovered, now or into the future. The story will always be re-written or amended or embellished. In cosmology this is what is called ‘science’. As indicated, I call it good storytelling.

But actually there are no known processes that allow the stars to form by themselves in the first place. Evolutionists believe that the first stars formed when a huge cloud of mostly hydrogen and some helium contracted under its own gravity. Eventually, it heated up so much that thermonuclear fusion began in its core.

However, real science tells us that a contracting gas cloud heats up, and the resulting increased gas pressure prevents any further collapse of the cloud. Some have proposed ingenious methods of cooling, by infrared radiation from molecular hydrogen clouds, but these cooling mechanisms are impractical.6 Also, rotation, turbulence, and magnetic fields will further resist collapse.

Figure 2 NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the galaxy cluster Abell 1689 with the newly discovered galaxy A1689-zD1 located in the box indicated, although it is so faint that it is barely seen in this picture.

But the story must continue. So the answer is obvious, they say. It is the mysterious, invisible, never-observed dark matter that provides the solution.7 In order for the clouds of gas that formed into the first stars to begin collapsing there needed to be a lot of dark matter around to make the cloud collapse under gravity. Thus a far stronger gravitational force can be achieved, especially if you start your story with as much as 90% or more dark matter in the universe. That must be the correct story, because it did happen, we are told, and we know this because we are here to talk about it.

So dark matter is invoked at the critical moment in the formation of the first stars. In the story, the stars also form into galaxies. More dark matter is needed for that to happen, because again without this hypothetical, unobserved stuff, no galaxy formation can occur naturalistically.

It is an irony that professional astrophysicists can propose all sorts of hypothetical unknown stuff, but they cannot accept creative action by the Creator. One exception seems to be that theistic evolutionists at least permit God to have started off the universe in the big bang.

Now according to the story, the first galaxies were small and hence ‘young’. Only by accumulating more mass by merging with other galaxies could they ‘grow up’ and become more ‘mature’. In the era alleged for the galaxy in Fig. 2, only small ‘young’ galaxies were expected. But a high percentage of those observed are more massive than expected. But no need to worry, that also will be worked into the story. After all it’s a never ending story.


What have we learned from this? Mostly, that cosmology is not science. It is a philosophy, a belief system—a story—into which all the evidence, the observations are placed. It is already believed; the general plot is apparently known, and no matter how crazy the story gets with unknowns and fudge factors, that is OK, so long as the main storyline is preserved.

Where did the story come from? Not from God. It has no resemblance to His story,8 the true history outlined in the Genesis account in the Bible. This story is used to deceive the world into thinking that there is no Creator and hence no God—the universe, and everything in it, just made itself. But I don’t believe it—and neither should you.

References and notes

  1. See storytellingforbusiness.com.au; ©2015. Return to text.
  2. Hartnett, J.G., A valid finite bounded expanding Carmelian universe without dark matter, Int. J. Theoretical Physics 52 (12): 4360–4366, 2013. Return to text.
  3. Hartnett, J.G., ‘Dark photons’: another cosmic fudge factor, creation.com/dark-photons, 18 August 2015. Return to text.
  4. Hartnett, J.G., An eternal big bang universe, 26 February 2015. Return to text.
  5. An old-looking galaxy in a young universe, phys.org news, 2 March 2015. Return to text.
  6. Hartnett, J.G., Giant molecular clouds, 15 March 2016. Return to text.
  7. Hartnett, J.G., Why is Dark Matter everywhere in the cosmos?, 31 March 2015. Return to text.
  8. Hartnett, J.G., The big bang is not a Reason to Believe, 20 May 2014. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

R M.
I recently recovered my first secular book on the origins of the universe, titled 'The universe: a voyage through space and time' by Nigel Henbest (1991). I guess my reading-problems ended up being somewhat of a blessing, or I might have been persuaded by the story telling (I ended up just looking at the pictures when I was a kid). The book confidently tells the story of the origin and development of the universe using the Big-Bang as its basic explanation. It even has a chronology from the first second up to the present age 15 billion years later. It tells it quite matter-of-factly but the book ends with the prediction that within the next decades scientists will finally be able to answer the two big questions: 'how did it begin?' and 'how did it end?'
It does make one wonder how much of this presentation really is science. It talks about temperatures of the order of a 27 number figure, matter, anti-matter, quarks and anti-quarks... With all the ridiculously high numbers and long ages in play, how meaningful can this model even be?

It does feel like a story, and I'm getting annoyed by the fact that it (Big-Bang, evolution, millions of years) are assumed and repeated in almost every news story about discoveries of planets, stars or dinosaur bones. It is just put out there, never explained or defended, just assumed. And never do I find that the insertion of millions of years or evolution enhances the understanding of the news story in question. It literally could be left out and not make a difference.

The story needs to be challenged, but I'm afraid it is true what the author is pointing out here: the big bang story is so ingrained, people are not going to let it get challenged (and I mean openly, in the mainstream).
Ainsley C.
Dear Dr Hartnett, thanks for an excellent article. People I know keep talking about black holes at centers of galaxies and worm holes. Are these real entities or theoretical constructs like dark matter, dark energy etc? Also are galaxies winding up like a spring and if so after 14 billion years wouldn't they all now be completely wound up? And what would happen to a galaxy if completely wound up?
I am a PhD/YEC with 40 years medical research experience. I did basic physics in my first year of science. I was a theistic evolutionist for about 30 years before the light of Christ dawned on me.
Thanks for your reply, blessings Ainsley Chalmers
John Hartnett
I do believe supermassive black holes at centers of galaxies are a reality. They are a prediction of Einstein's General Relativity (GR) theory, which has stood many tests on Earth, in the solar system and in our galaxy. The detection of stellar mass size black holes also is a prediction of GR. As you may remember this was done with the LIGO gravitational wave detector. And gravitational waves are also a prediction of GR. Worm holes are a purely theoretical construct using GR. To exist they need a type of matter called exotic because it has a sort of negative energy but no such energy exists in the universe. White holes, which are time reversed black holes, also are a prediction of GR, but if they ever existed they must have evaporated very quickly after creation because we do not observe them today. They would have been comprised of normal matter and energy (not exotic) but it is highly probable that they never existed. Just because a mathematical theory allows for something it does not necessarily follow that it exists in reality.

From the standpoint that I believe is the biblical truth, ie. that we are looking at the universe in real time, and therefore it is only about 6000 years old, the lack of winding in spiral galaxies is a real problem for big bang evolutionary theory. Most galaxies should have had time to wind around about 50 times at least in the alleged 14 billion years since the big bang.

I am glad to hear that after 30 years you saw the light of the truth of the Scriptures.
Stanley B.
Dear Dr. Hartnett,

I find it ironic that one who believes in God is contesting the Big Bang theory. Usually it is atheists who do so. The reason being that the Big Bang implies a beginning, and a beginning suggests the possibility of a Creator.

Georges Lemaître was the discoverer of the Big Bang. He was a physicist, mathematician, and a Catholic priest. So he was not an atheist. When he told Einstein of his discovery, Einstein said to him that his mathematics was excellent but that his physics was lousy. (Not a quote, but the gist. Einstein, the greatest physicist since Newton, was incorrect.) On the other hand, the Pope congratulated Lemaître on proving that there was a Creator.

It is appropriate to mention that the universe is unquestionably expanding. What can be the explanation for this expansion?

John Hartnett
Firstly a good physicist, believer or not, should contest every theory. That is how good science works. The current formulation, which we call the big bang theory, or more formally the Friedmann-Lemaitre-Robertson-Walker theory is based on unprovable assumptions, the biggest of which is the cosmological principle (CP). That assumption made the math, at least, tractable but it does not necessarily mean the theory is correct. Besides there are other big bang models that do not assume the CP (not the homogeneity of the universe) which when tested against the observational data are better fits without the need for fudge factors (like dark matter, dark energy and the like). See Hartnett, J.G., Cosmology’s fatal weakness—underdetermination, J. Creation, 32(2):15-17, 2018.

Secondly, Lemaitre's reasoning was more secular than it was biblical. He was reported to have said he worked from a purely mathematical basis and did not start with the Bible. In 1931, Lemaître described the universe as exploding from a ‘Cosmic Egg’, which was like a giant atom, with all the mass of the universe. His idea was that the myriads of galaxies of stars in the Universe formed out of and expanded out from that initial state of the ‘Cosmic Egg’. Lemaître imagined that the universe started from a fluctuation of his first quantum of energy (his ‘Cosmic Egg’) when space and time were not yet defined. This is very different to the big bang story, which has the universe beginning in the infinitesimally small singularity. It is also very different to the biblical account in Genesis 1.

It is true Lemaitre found a solution of Einstein field equations (which Friedmann also did before him). But I would not say he discovered the big bang. There are two problems with that. Number one the big bang never happened, so you can't discover something that never existed. Lemaitre did apply his theory to early redshift data and suggested an expanding universe. That is true, but even an expanding universe does not prove it started in a big bang. The expanding universe story depends on the interpretation of cosmic redshifts as indicating that the universe is expanding. But there are many possible interpretations of that same redshift data. Expansion of space is not the only possibility. See also Big bang beliefs: busted.

Lemaitre never proved that there is a Creator. The Bible clearly tells us He exists, and the creation (not evolution either) tells us He created. But it is tenuous to suggest that a mathematical model, a cosmology, which is not testable by any experiment in a lab, is an absolute truth as expressed by the belief that the universe began in a singularity 13.8 billion years ago and from that the whole universe formed. The very mathematical model that you believe in has many serious problems, which if scientists were honest and believed in the Creator, they would reject it, because it needs many types of unknown dark entities -- dark matter, dark energy, dark fluid, dark photons, inflation and many more. All of these are just fudge factors to support a failed theory.
Thomas C.
We cannot get around the first and second laws of Thermodynamics discovered by science and still deal with reality. They both depend on a lawgiver and law enforcer. Real investigations of reality depend on laws and predictability.
Until someone derives, develops and justifies laws, predictability, logic, rationality and a rational connection to chance and un-directedness, all science is based on a reality that is from a mind and ruled by an intelligently applied power that pre-exists all else.
Dan M.
We don't observe these things, (sun's, galaxies) forming at the present so the story telling, (big bang) is necessary for the evo's to give their religion respectability.
We Christians on the other hand, have a written account that matches what we observe nicely that don't violate the laws of thermodynamics, (real science). I often wonder if God tweaked the natural laws of physics to form the universe and all it contains, (star's, planet's, galaxies) and then set them, (natural physical laws) to maintain the universe once it was formed, (very good)? I guess I'll have to wait until I stand before him to get those answers.
The Judeo-Christian account of the creation is the only one that makes sense to me.
Seathrun M.
Most people know the saying "There are lies, d-d lies, and statistics". (A little unfair on honest statisticians but fair comment on how their results are misapplied by others, such as politicians!) But how many know the saying "There is speculation, then there is wild speculation and then - there's cosmology"? (A bit fairer, but perhaps it should be "cosmogony". What do you think?) Anyway, it must make many feel that for "cosmology" we should often read "codology"!
John Hartnett
I think that my use of cosmology here is correct. It is also true of cosmogony (origin of the universe) which for many is included in cosmology or is confused with cosmology. Nevertheless even cosmology is tainted by a good story. Inventing dark matter, for example, is how the story of the formation of stars and galaxies is explained.
Thomas C.
We cannot get around the first and second laws of science and be real. They both depend on a lawgiver and law enforcer. Real investigations of reality depend on laws and predictability.
Until someone derives, develops and justifies laws, predictability, logic, rationality a rational connection to chance and un-directedness, all science is based on a reality that is from a mind and ruled by an intelligently applied power that pre-exists all else.
Bernard G.
Like Dr. Hartnett, I also once had a secular person initiate a conversation with me which abruptly ended and whom I subsequently never heard from again. All because I asked one simple science question: "If there is no Creator as you claim then is all the matter and energy in the universe eternally old violating the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics or did it arise by a natural process (e.g. the Big Bang) in violation of the 1st Law?"....
Richard G.
Dr Hartnett, As a New Zealander ( and a christian) I feel a strong affinity with you. God bless you. Now that you have retired please keep going with such articles as this. 1Cor 15:58 says "Always abounding in the work of the Lord" , and not just when you are 'pre-retired.'. Your particular field is important I think. Starlight and time seem to me to be a bottleneck to many, so stress the possible Bible answers to the problems of such. I'm 85 and still by God's grace working in Japan (since 1960). Your greatest work may be still future. "Who knows whether you have not come to the 'kingdom' for such a time as this.? Esther 4:14. You are a valuable man with your excellent profile. Use it to the full. 58 years ago starting in Tokyo my impact seemed small but now by God's grace I have six children all still in Japan and more or less working for God. Some of my 13 grandchildren are working for God here too. They should be taking part in Christmas Gospel activity in Japan involving a thousand or two people. Who knows who or how many will be confronted with sin and our wonderful Saviour, the Lord Jesus? Let us all pray. Acts 2:14 on.... "In the last days says God, I will pour forth of my Spirit on all flesh...and whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." The best is yet to be!

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