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Creation 37(2):22–24, April 2015

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Is ‘dark matter’ the ‘unknown god’?


Over years of researching cosmology and astrophysics, I have argued that ‘dark matter’ is a sort of ‘god of the gaps’,1 the ‘unknown god’. It is proposed mainly to rescue the standard big bang model from problems when a mismatch is found between the theory and some observations. However, secular cosmogonists (scientists who study the beginning of the universe) usually believe the big bang worldview to be correct as well as all its associated astrophysics. So they must postulate something invisible to explain the discrepancy. This ‘something’ is ‘dark matter’, a hypothetical substance that emits no light or radiation, so cannot be seen.


Several years ago, astronomers claimed that they now had direct empirical proof of the existence of ‘dark matter’.2 This was dutifully repeated in the popular media.3 It was claimed that this demolishes the criticisms of ‘dark matter skeptics’. Box below explains this further, and shows how there are many competing explanations for the same evidence.

However, even if those alternate gravity theories were disproven, this would still not prove dark matter. Let’s be clear: ‘dark matter’ is not an explanation for what we see; it’s an admission that no one has an explanation. Perhaps a more accurate headline would have been, ‘Scientists have proved that they haven’t got a clue what the universe is made of’, rather than, ‘Dark matter revealed!’4 because it isn’t revealed. But if you give a name to an admission of gross ignorance—‘dark matter’, ‘dark energy’—then you may eventually believe you have explained something!

Fudge factor eliminated by correct physics

Credit: ESA and the W. M. Keck Observatory galaxy
The claimed gravitationally-lensed galaxy seen as an irregular ring of radiation around the distant galaxy in the centre of this 2.2-micron CCD photograph, made with the 10-meter Keck telescope on Hawaii.

The detection of ‘missing’ dark matter

Recently, several earth-based radio and optical telescopes and the Herschel Space Observatory were used to image an object, shown above, where a gravitational lens (the middle and lower galaxies) is claimed to image a very distant galaxy, allegedly still in early formation. This is the faint ring around the central galaxies.

The central ‘lensing’ galaxy was found to radiate much more far-infrared radiation than the model predicts. So they reported that the central lensing galaxy “… contains an unexpectedly low fraction of mysterious dark matter … .”,1

Here is a situation where according to the standard big bang model and the theory of galaxy formation more unseen dark matter should exist in the lensing galaxy than expected from modelling the lensing galaxy. No dark matter is actually seen, but the missing matter is mostly missing. Thus, whereas gravitational lensing was used as part of the claimed ‘direct’ detection of the existence of dark matter in the Bullet cluster (Box below) here it is used to detect its non-existence in a ‘lensing’ galaxy.

References and notes

  1. Herschel Space Observatory is key to discovery of spectacular gravitational lens, astronomy.com, 13 June 2014.

Dark matter is also invoked to explain certain motions in galaxies that appear not to follow the laws of physics. In spiral galaxies, outer stars often orbit faster than inner ones, unlike the solar system where inner planets orbit faster because of the stronger gravity close to the sun. Most astronomers propose a dark matter halo around the galaxy to explain these anomalies.

But dark matter is reminiscent of the scientific proposal, popular in the late 1800s to early 1900s, about the existence of another planet, Vulcan. No, not the home of Mr Spock, but a hidden planet that allegedly perturbed Mercury’s orbit and thus explained why it did not follow Newtonian physics. But the proposed planet Vulcan could not be observed, because it was postulated that it orbited such that the sun would always hide it from observers on the earth. But that makes no sense, since any planet near Mercury must orbit the sun much faster than Earth does.

Nowadays, this proposal is regarded as quaint, because Einstein's theory of general relativity explained the anomaly in the orbit of Mercury. That is, rather than introducing a fudge factor that really explained and predicted nothing, what was needed was new physics that both explained observations at the time and predicted new ones.

I am not the only modern physicist/cosmologist who thinks that ‘dark matter’ is the Vulcan of today. It is a ‘god of the gaps’ for modern astrophysicists. It is a ‘fudge’, with unknown properties, and strange behaviour, such as being in a non-collapsing spherical halo around galaxies, and concentrated outside the galaxy more than in its centre. In fact, it is invoked many times in big bang cosmology to explain away anomalies.

The equivalent of general relativity in the Vulcan saga, i.e. the new physics required to do away with this whole ‘dark matter fudging’, could well be a new theory such as that proposed by the late Israeli cosmologist/physicist Moshe Carmeli. His 4D space-velocity metric explains the flatness of the universe (the fact that the universe has Euclidean geometry)5—without dark matter or other fudge factors. It also explains perfectly the anomalous galaxy rotation issues mentioned earlier.6 Just as Einsteinian relativity did to Newtonian physics, Carmelian relativity encompasses today’s physics but explains more data.

Dark matter—vital for big bang believers

The most powerful driver and motivator behind the ‘dark matter’ proposal is the perceived need to prop up the failing paradigm of the standard big bang cosmology. This includes not only the hypothetical beginning of the universe in a ‘big bang’, but also its structure and evolution.

For example, the big bang would result in hot gas, which could not form stars, galaxies and galaxy clusters without dark matter to help condense the gas. Also, testing of the big bang model with type Ia supernova measurements supposedly shows accelerating expansion where dark energy is also needed.7 Dark matter is also invoked to explain tiny irregularities in the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, allegedly the fireball from the big bang. Also, without dark matter, big bang nucleosynthesis (formation of light elements like helium and the hydrogen isotope deuterium in the hot big bang fireball) won’t work, either.8

In short, to get the big bang theory to work, the matter content of the universe must comprise 85% dark matter, hence only 15% normal matter, like protons and neutrons. That’s you, me, the magazine you’re reading, everything—to which add 85% dark matter.9 So there is a huge incentive to prove that the dark-matter skeptics (like me), who dispute the existence of the stuff, are wrong.


The solution is simple—dark matter never existed in the first place. That is why it is missing. It is invisible because it is not there. The standard big bang universe formation theory is wrong. Dark matter is needed to form stars and galaxies in the big bang theory. But galaxies don’t form naturalistically by themselves. They can’t.

The Bible says that on Day 4 of Creation Week, God “… made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:16)

That means God created the stars, and hence the galaxies also, at that time. Dark matter (an unknown god) is not needed when you have the Creator.

Source: NASA / CXC / CIA / STSci / Magelian / Univ.of Ariz. / ESO. bullet-cluster
The famous Bullet cluster where one smaller sub-cluster (the bullet) appears to have passed through a larger cluster. 

Dark matter proof?

The authors of one study claimed that the Bullet cluster (shown here) is a unique merger of two clusters, and that their analysis has “… enable[d] a direct detection of dark matter … .” The supposed evidence comes from visible arcs seen in and around galaxies in the two Bullet sub-clusters.

The arcs were interpreted as the result of gravitational lensing from unseen matter.1

Gravitational lensing is a prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. It describes the situation where a foreground galaxy (or cluster of galaxies) acts like a giant light lens and focuses the light of a more distant background galaxy and hence magnifies it like a normal lens would do. According to the theory, the lens distorts the galaxy image, often looking like a cross or a ring around the closer ‘lensing’ galaxy.

Is it really dark matter?

‘Direct proof’ was claimed. But that seems to be stretching things a bit, to put it mildly, given the many assumptions and interpretations necessarily involved. In this case they were out to disprove some alternate gravity theories that purport to explain the anomalies without the need to invoke ‘dark matter’. However, another researcher claims that they are mistaken and that at least one of the alternate theories can explain the arcs observed in this cluster—as gravitational lensing, yes, but without the need for ‘dark matter’.2 And another refutes3 their claims by introducing new physics, while yet another cautioned against “simple interpretations of the analysis of weak lensing in the bullet cluster”.4 In short, cosmology is not operational science5 and there may be many competing explanations for the same evidence. (Ironically, Box above highlights another situation where gravitational lensing was used to detect the non-existence of dark matter in a lensing galaxy.)

References and notes

  1. American astronomer Halton Arp (1927–2013) suggested that these arcs, which are very prominent in the Abell 2218 cluster, are not the result of gravitational lensing but ejections of galaxies and matter from other clusters. Of course that flies in the face of standard big bang cosmology, which assumes all matter originated in the initial big bang. See H. Arp, Seeing red, redshifts, cosmology and academic science. Montreal: Apeiron, 1998; and review, Hartnett, J.G., The heavens declare a different story! creation.com/declare. Note also that the redshift of the Bullet cluster is near 0.3 which is one of the discrete values that Arp claims is associated with ejection events of one galaxy giving birth to another.
  2. Moffat, J, Gravitational Lensing in Modified Gravity and the Lensing of Merging Clusters without Dark Matter, 30 August 2006, arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0608675v1.pdf.
  3. Milgrom’s perspective on the Bullet Cluster, www.astro.umd.edu/~ssm/mond/moti_bullet.html (accessed 8 September 2014).
  4. Angus, G.W., Famaey B. and Zhao, H., Can MOND take a bullet? Analytical comparisons of three versions of MOND beyond spherical symmetry, MNRAS 371(1): 138–146, 2006, arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0606216.pdf.
  5. James Gunn, cited in Cho, A., A singular conundrum: How odd is our universe? Science 317:1848–1850, 2007; creation.com/gunn.

References and notes

  1. Evolutionists wrongly accuse creationists of invoking a ‘god-of-the-gaps’, claiming ‘God did it’ where current science is uncertain, i.e. a ‘gap’ in our knowledge. But as science expands, supposedly these gaps shrink more and more. In reality, informed creationist arguments are based on what we do know about chemistry, information, genetics, catastrophic geology, etc. See also Weinberger, L., Whose god? The theological response to the god-of-the-gaps, J. Creation 22(1):120–127, 2008; creation.com/gaps.
  2. Clowe, D., et al., A direct empirical proof of the existence of dark matter, ApJ 648(2): L109, 2006, arxiv.org/pdf/astroph/0608407v1.pdf.
  3. Cain, F., Galaxy Collision Separates Out the Dark Matter, universetoday.com, 21 August 2006 (accessed 8 September 2014).
  4. Roach, J., Dark matter revealed! nbcnews.com, accessed 8 September 2014.
  5. Oliveira, F.J. and Hartnett, J.G., Carmeli’s cosmology fits data for an accelerating and decelerating universe without dark matter or dark energy, Foundations of Physics Letters 19(6):519–535, November 2006, arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0603500v5.pdf.
  6. Hartnett, J.G., Spiral galaxy rotation curves determined from Carmelian general relativity, International Journal of Theoretical Physics 45(11):2118–2136, November 2006, arxiv.org/pdf/astroph/0511756v3.pdf.
  7. Hartnett J.G., Big bang fudge factors, johnhartnett.org/2013/12/24/big-bangfudge-factors/. Return to text.
  8. Nucleosynthesis refers to the generation of new atomic nuclei from particles such as neutrons and protons. Big bang nucleosynthesis refers to the belief that certain nuclei formed in the early stages of the supposed big bang. See Hartnett, J.G., Dark Matter and the Standard Model of particle physics—a search in the ‘Dark’Return to text.
  9. Not to mention dark energy, which is even stranger than dark matter. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Richard B.
The article is a timely one for me since I'm developing a sermon along similar lines which involves the following verses.

Romans 1:21
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Ephesians 4:18
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart ...

The choice is simple and serious: the God whom we have not yet seen or the dark matter which we will never see. In both cases faith is necessary. The evidence for the former is so overwhelming that we are without excuse should we choose the latter.
Charles S.
Provided our Creator allows us enough time, we will unravel the mysteries of the universe. However, unless we start with the premise that God created in six days, we will forever blind ourselves to the answers. I am devoting some time into these mysteries.

I think we can easily confuse ourselves when our path begins with today's well established principles that are so tainted with speculation and inuendo such as the big bang and dark matter.

There is a double standard, when we speculate, it is poppycock, but when the so-called "scientific community" speculates, it is viewed as leading edge science. I believe the solutions are not so complicated and generally right before our eyes; we just have to see them! We need to borrow the principles of the liberal political mind by discarding the rules of the establishment and seek our own paths.

CMI is leading us out of the dark ages of ungodly science into the light of our Creator's work.
Anthony A.
Seems like a good article. Never really thought about dark matter in these terms.

What I'm wondering is what happens when secular cosmogonists move away from the big bang to something different? Or if they attempt to rescue their idea by incorporating the concept of an eternal universe? Seems like every revision to the evolutionary hypothesis of origins is touted as ‘science’ making adjustments based on facts. I think there needs to be some work done to preemptively head off this claim of scientific adjustment before a new view goes mainstream. The big bang hypothesis is a total failure and needs to be recognized as such. I think getting that point across would help undermine the crutch many atheists use for the rejection of God.
Joel E.
Whenever this comes up, I'm always amazed at how they can talk for so long and with so much detail and certainty about dark matter, while then later admitting they have no evidence for its existence.
You mentioned that Carmelian relativity explains the galaxy rotation problems. Does it also explain other observable problems for which dark matter has been invoked, like how galaxies and gas within galaxies are able to hold together? Why hasn't this idea been more seriously considered?
John Hartnett
Yes, it does explain clusters and X-ray emission from them as well as spheroidal galaxies also without the need for dark matter. There are several reasons why it has not been taken to. One is a purely group theoretic reason; it has to do with the form of the metric used by Carmeli. Another is that for the universe as a whole Carmeli found no 5D theory that describes the time development of the universe. His was a phase space of velocity of expansion (redshift) and distance. No time dimension. With a colleague I am trying to approach that from another direction and see if we can develop Carmeli's extra dimension with time as a by-product of space. Carmeli's theory also has several other unresolved issues which are a challenge to overcome.
Alan S.
Isn't the proof of the non-existence of something unknown an oxymoron?
John Hartnett
I think you have said it just right.
Oliver S.
The articles coming out from creation.com are simply amazing, as this one is.

Saying there is dark matter and backing it up with plenty of techno-jargon is like someone saying, "Hey, I saw the invisible man," and trying to describe how he looked!

It is one thing to have knowledge, but altogether another thing to come out boldly against false worldviews. I commend the straight-forwardness and the courage of people working with creation.com

Jennifer P.
It is always a great delight to read your articles Dr Hartnett thank you so much.

There was a Brian Cox interview in the Australian weekend magazine ( weekend before last. I think it came from the syndicated Sunday Times ? )
the following are quotes from him ;

" It suggests an incredibly heavy , rather messy particle, " Cox explains. "We know that dark matter exists. But we don't know what it's made
of. It could be that the diphoton excess (via LHC ) is a particle that belongs to a family of particles that explains dark matter. It could even signal that there are extra dimensions, above and beyond the ones we already know about . Dimensions that are curled up and invisible to us ."
And then the lack of belief kicks in again. " The thing is there are already more than 200 theoretical papers written about the diphoton excess which suggests that nobody really has a clue."
The Large Hadron Collider ( LHC ) is described as a vast and hugely expensive subterranean play pit. ( ! )
Earlier in the same article;
Cox eschews belief ; the word does not have a place in his vocabulary. We know nothing for certain. But we can be fairly comfortable now that the Earth was created between 4.4 and 4.5 billions of years ago, rather than ( as creationists would aver ) 6000 years ago.

If you use the term created surely you need to identify a Creator ? Cox certainly has a belief atheistic faith position ? Reminiscent of Dawkins assertion that we see evolution happening but we have never observed it while it is happening ? My paraphrase . I for one will never be " fairly comfortable " with the fantasy billions of years but totally comfortable with the Truth from our wonderful Creator and Savior. It is all there from the first verse to the last in the Bible.

Elizabeth S.
Very interesting if hard to grasp sometimes. In para 8 about Moshe Carmeli is it a metric or a matrix that he proposed. If metric what does it mean in this context?
John Hartnett
It is metric and it relates to the geometrical theory used to describe the universe.

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