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An eternal big bang universe


Published: 26 February 2015 (GMT+10)
Comparison of the density of the universe as a function of time in the two competing theories.

As a high school student, at a time when I was an atheist, I co-authored a book reviewing the various cosmological models that were discussed in the scientific literature in 1968. That was three years after the discovery of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, and the Big Bang Theory had just made a big leap forward in front of its competitor at the time, the Steady State Theory.

In our book—which by the way won us second prize in a Western Australian state-wide science competition—we outlined the two competing models. The Big Bang Theory at that time had three distinct forms:

  1. the cycloidal model, which would collapse back into a big crunch (and bounce out of the singularity cyclically) because the matter density of the universe was too great to resist the inevitable re-collapse (a finite closed universe);
  2. the coasting model, which had just the right amount of matter for an infinite universe that is neither accelerating nor decelerating in its expansion, continually expanding but never collapsing (an open infinite universe); and
  3. the hyperbolic model, an accelerating expanding universe, low matter density but driven apart by a cosmological constant term (an open and infinite universe).

 The most favoured of the three was the closed cycloidal model with a matter density greater than critical so it had to collapse back in a big crunch. Nowadays it is the accelerating infinite (open) universe, which is spatially flat due to dark matter and dark energy content.

On reviewing these models, and even knowing that the CMB discovery favoured these as a prediction of the big bang theorists, particularly George Gamow, I personally favoured the Steady State Theory. The Steady State Theory really had only one model, which was an infinite universe that was eternal both into the past and into the future. It had no beginning and no ending.

The Steady State Theory accepted an expanding universe, but that as it expanded hydrogen atoms were ‘created’ from the vacuum at a rate to just balance the decrease in density of matter caused by the expansion. The new matter forms new stars and galaxies and the universe remains in a steady state. The idea, promoted by such notables as Herman Bondi, Thomas Gold and Sir Fred Hoyle, needed no Creator because the universe had always been. It never had an origin. For a student like me, who wanted a simple answer to the question of the origin of the universe and to avoid the God question, the Steady State Theory was ‘it’. Why look elsewhere?

At that time I was an atheist and I satisfied myself this way by writing God out of the equation. But the evidence of the Hubble expansion and the CMB radiation was rapidly changing the views of the scientific community.

However, as the Big Bang Theory developed, its lead proponents in the 1950s (when Fred Hoyle coined the phrase in derision, being one of its most ardent opponents) were often called ‘evangelicals’. This could have been because they—Gamow, (Robert) Dicke, etc—were largely Americans, but not Ryle, an Englishman. But they were mostly atheists.

One prominent theist big bang believer back then was the Jesuit Roman Catholic Priest Georges Lemaître, who, along with Alexander Friedmann (a Russian atheist), had solved the Einstein field equations for the standard big bang solution that underlies the eponymous models.1

When Pope Pius XII declared, at the opening meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, November 22, 1951, that the Big Bang Theory does not conflict with the Catholic concept of creation, he gave a big boost to its acceptance in the wider community. But those who opposed it did so largely on the grounds that it involved an origin in time.

Many of the atheist Steady State Theory believers were from the UK, who vehemently opposed the Big Bang Theory on the grounds that it was irrational. One was Sir Fred Hoyle, who once famously wrote,

“[The Big Bang] is an irrational process that cannot be described in scientific terms … [nor] challenged by an appeal to observation.”2

There was much rivalry in the 1950s and 1960s as these theories competed. George Gamow, famously responded to Fred Hoyle, after the discovery of the CMB, purporting to be the afterglow of the big bang, ‘the death knell’ for the Steady State Theory, with:

“I am glad to say that it isn’t necessary any more to pour Hoil on the troubled waters of cosmogony.”

From 1965 on the Big Bang Theory rapidly gained ground over the Steady State Theory, and though most of its proponents have now died, there still remains a small devoted following. They follow a revived version, the Quasi-Steady State Creation theory. This was largely the creation of Fred Hoyle—even it needed a creator (Ha!). It incorporated a quasi-steady state universe with many cycles of expansion and contraction, but not with a big crunch into a singularity. We are apparently now in one of the expansion cycles, according to that theory, and the creation was not by a Creator, but a property of the universe itself.

I remember a debate I watched in the 1980s with William Lane Craig (an evangelical Christian apologist, who started the Reasonable Faith apologetics ministry) and a prominent atheist. Craig used the argument that the universe had to have an origin in time because we observe an expanding universe and that was his proof that the biblical creation account was true.

Essentially it is the Kalam cosmological argument, which argues that because the universe exists, and had a beginning, it had to have a cause to its existence, and God is invoked as the first cause, the uncreated first cause. That argument, in itself, is valid, but Craig used the Big Bang Theory to argue for the creation of the universe in a past moment of time.

By basing his primary argument on the idea that the universe is expanding, Craig said that the standard Big Bang Theory of Friedmann and Lemaître, a solution of Einstein’s field equations applied to the universe with the assumption of the cosmological principle, meant that the universe arose out of a universal singularity.

This singularity thus constituted a past boundary to spacetime, from which it follows that the universe had an absolute origin in the finite past. According to the Big Bang Theory nothing existed prior to the initial cosmological singularity, and everything that constitutes the universe now came into being from that event.3

Do you see it? It illogically elevates man’s theories to facts, and then uses those so-called facts as evidence to prove the thesis. This is the argument. But cosmology is just not that simple. The universe is not a lab in which arbitrary tests can be carried out. Cosmology, in fact, is not really even science. It is more philosophy, a belief system, and it requires the adherents of any particular cosmogony to believe in their story.

But here you have the Big Bang Theory used to ‘prove’ the creation account of Genesis in the Bible. The atheist followers of the Big Bang Theory really hate this aspect of its origin in time and have worked hard to overcome it.

Stephen Hawking, a real atheopath, has come up with the notion of the universal quantum singularity, where there was no origin in time. His idea is as if the universe passed through some quantum singularity created in a prior universe. This might lead to the notion of the multiverse, or, as Hawking promotes, the idea that the universe has many histories and we sample only some of them when we make observations. This is his claim from a theory he has developed using some quantum gravity formulation. In regard to the question, “How did the universe begin?” it has been reported that,

Many scientists would regard this as one of the most profound questions of all. But to Stephen Hawking, …, the question doesn’t … even exist. [He is] claiming that the Universe had no unique beginning. Instead, it began in just about every way imaginable (and maybe some that aren’t). If we start from where we are now, it is obvious that the current Universe must ‘select’ those histories that lead to these conditions. Otherwise we simply wouldn’t be here.4 (emphasis added)
Image via mondolithic.com standard-big-bang-theory
The standard big bang theory has the universe smoothly expanding from a singular spacetime point of zero dimension, a ‘singularity’ but this new study argues that a singularity is eliminated.

Now this brings me back to the main point of writing this. My main reason back in 1968 to believe in the Steady State Theory over the Big Bang Theory was because it didn’t need a beginning. Because of that I believed it didn’t need a Creator, and because if I believed it did need a Creator then I would have had to acknowledge Him. I believe many scientists who call themselves atheists believe the same. I was running away from God as fast as I could, and they are doing the same.

Now the problem does not end there. I would still have had a problem if I believed in the big bang cosmogony after I became a Christian. I know this because I did believe in the Big Bang Theory by the time I became a believer in Jesus Christ. It was only after I read the Genesis account of the Creation and believed that the Scriptures were authoritative, that I became a biblical creationist.

Nevertheless there are many Christians who believe in the William Lane Craig argument and use it. They believe the Big Bang Theory is a fair description of the creation of the universe. They also believe the first cause argument applies to the big bang out of the singularity, because it was an origin in time.

Hugh Ross, with his Reasons to Believe ministry team, claims something similar, even states that the Bible literally describes the big bang origin and he accepts it as proven science. Ross puts this so-called science on the same par as the books of the Bible. It would seem to me, in fact, that he puts science before the Bible and uses it to re-interpret it, where it plainly says something else.

However, recent theoretical work,5 published 4 February 2015, using a new quantum gravity theory, has an extra term in that theory so that in the early universe it eliminates the big bang singularity and predicts an infinite age for the universe. According to the theory the big bang did not start with a singularity. It is no longer needed.

Astrophysicist Brian Koberlein explains:6

The catch is that by eliminating the singularity, the model predicts that the universe had no beginning. It existed forever as a kind of quantum potential before ‘collapsing’ into the hot dense state we call the Big Bang. Unfortunately many articles confuse ‘no singularity’ with ‘no big bang.’ (emphasis added)

This new theory has an eternal big bang universe. Like some aspects of the Steady State Theory before it and like Hawking’s quantum theory this new theory has an eternal universe. It eliminates the origin in time. Koberlein again:

While this is an interesting model, it should be noted that it’s very basic. More of a proof of concept than anything else. It should also be noted that replacing the big bang singularity with an eternal history isn’t a new idea. Many inflation models, for example, make similar predictions. But none of these ideas eliminate the big bang, which is an established scientific fact. (emphases added)

Note how he is eager to dispel any notion that this eliminates the big bang. So it is now the big bang minus any beginning. The reports of the death of the big bang then have been greatly exaggerated. Big Bang theory is alive and well, they say.7

It is like merging the eternal history of the Steady State Theory (or histories in Hawking’s model) with the expanding out of an initially hot dense state of the Big Bang Theory (Friedmann and Lemaître’s model) but maintaining the dark-energy-driven dark-matter-filled fantasy that they call modern cosmology. Wow! An eternal big bang universe cosmogony! They sure have a lot of faith to believe that. I don’t.8

And they can’t escape their desire to eliminate the Creator. Now what remains is some eternal quantum potential, a new ‘god of the gaps’. What is that, but a substitute for the eternal uncreated self-existing One, Who created the universe at the beginning of time about 6000 years ago?

And what do those Christian apologists like Craig and Ross do to escape the dilemma, when the standard model turns away from an origin in time? Up until now, they have accepted the equations of the big bang theorists, like Friedmann and Lemaître. Do they accept it when the scientific community changes its cosmogony to an eternal big bang universe? What a quandary!

References and notes

  1. Note: Lemaître’s universe did not originate in a singularity but he said it began in a ‘cosmic egg’, i.e. of finite dimensions. Return to text.
  2. Fred Hoyle quoted by Smith, Q., in A Big Bang Cosmological Argument For God’s Nonexistence, Faith and Philosophy 9(2):217–237, April 1992. Return to text.
  3. Craig , W.L., God and the Initial Cosmological Singularity: A Reply to Quentin Smith, Faith and Philosophy 9:237–247, 1992. Return to text.
  4. Stephen Hawking quoted in Did Alternative Worlds Exist at the Big Bang, dailygalaxy.com and PDF document http://journals.aps.org/prd/pdf/10.1103/PhysRevD.73.123527. Originally published in Hawking, S.W. & Hertog, T., Phys. Rev. D(73):123527, 2006. Return to text.
  5. Alia, A.F., and Das, S., Cosmology from quantum potential, Physics Letters B(741): 276–279, 2015. Return to text.
  6. Koberlein, B., In the Beginning, briankoberlein.com, 10 February 2015. Return to text.
  7. What if the universe had no beginning?, earthsky.org, 10 February 2015. Return to text.
  8. For starters, eternal universe ideas, whether the Steady State Theory or the new ‘eternal big bang’ discussed in this article, all fall foul of the implications of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is thoroughly established by experiment; see World Winding Down. To say this I must make the implicit assumption that the same laws of physics apply when the pre-big-bang quantum potential supposedly eternally existed, and I also make the assumption, which might not be so obvious, that the Second Law actually applies to the universe as a whole. But Paul Davies said, “Yet the laws [of physics] that permit a Universe to create itself are even more impressive than a cosmic magician. If there is a meaning or purpose beneath physical existence, then it is to those laws rather than to the big bang that we should direct our attention”; see The singularity—a ‘Dark’ beginning. Hence we can make that assumption, because it is consistent with that worldview. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

B. P.
Dear Dr. Hartnett:

Realizing that just the mention of Hugh Ross's name invokes a certain ire that places him with other adversaries such as atheist Richard Dawkins (though I doubt Dawkins has any respect for him), however I was not trying to imply I believe nor side with him about the big bang, and I did not intend to imply I was alluding to it. My only point, though I have to read and assimilate more of your article on our position in the universe, is that his explanation of fine tuning that points to a God as Creator (not intending to argue the chronology of how long and when) as I understand him in "why the universe is the way it is" is at least some common ground. Personally, I am hoping one day to have a creation model allowed back in our (public) schools and while a compromise that even hints to partner with an evolutionary process as well as a big bang (that I was taught in secular university) cannot be the path. It would be nice, however deep the trenches of disagreement have already been dug, to have those who have claimed a faith in Christ to at least work toward that goal. The main complaints of the courts has from Kitzmiller on down have been that believers can't even agree what they agree on as the truth...Having said that, I hope you'd at least agree that God did give us unique conditions to view the cosmos (no matter if you feel He could have put us many places to do so) that back up my original assertion of an awesome power in a universe created by God who as Jesus came to earth and wants to have an ongoing personal relationship is something that should any believer great pause of just how much God does love us. As a physician, I am still in awe when I view the retina, and amazed at His design that allows us to see, grateful even more to see His cosmos.
John Hartnett
Bill, On your original assertion, if we can frame it as 'God placed us in a location that allows us to see the universe He created' regardless of the claim of centrality or not, I am in total agreement with that. And if it turns out that our galaxy is somewhere cosmologically central to the visible universe, that has a centre and an edge, that would be just the cherry on the already beautiful cake. And yes, I totally agree with the fact that Christ wants that personal relationship with us; the Creator of this universe is our personal Lord and Saviour.
B. P.
The one contribution I think Dr. Ross does make, but overlooked in criticizing him is that of our unique place in the universe (planet placement galaxy placement etc.). That likely anywhere else we would not be able to even "see" the rest of God's incredibly awesome universe. The fact that we can "see it all"; that we might never be asking any of the cosmological questions at all to me is a clear indication God wants us to see it as a reason to seek Him. That we are indeed unique to our Creator; that when we pray we have access through Jesus to the incredible entree to Him (all the more heartfelt Jesus' sacrifice for me), is another beautiful description Ross offers. It is for me, the what we know about the universe, the awesome amount of almost unbelievable power, that makes me in even more in awe of our Creator and humbles me in prayer. Knowing that if He created the universe and uniquely placed me here and wants to have a personal relationship with me, my knowledge of this makes me realize just how limitless God's love for me is, and has been and will be forever. Why wouldn't one want to pursue a permanent relationship through faith in Christ's "indescribable gift" as Paul relates.
John Hartnett
It surprises me to here that Dr Ross believes the Galaxy is in a special location in the universe. He believes the big bang model as 'science' which according to the cosmological principle there are no favoured locations. However, I personally do believe that, and have promoted that idea that the Galaxy is somewhere cosmologically near the centre of the observable physical universe, and, that the universe is finite and bounded, which is not the big bang model.

The concept of favoured location for Earth is not new and Scripture speaks of God's favour on man, at the centre of His attention. And if it turns out that our galaxy is not near the centre of the universe (there could be many places that God could have placed us to see the universe around us) it would not change anything in respect of His favour and attention to man created in His image.
Lyall V.
The Big Bang. 'First there was nothing then it exploded'. What puzzles me is that time is never mentioned. It's been slowing down since it started. Where does that fit in? God's magnificent.
John Hartnett
Geoff C. W.
Seems to me that if something has remained unchanged for infinite time, it will never change, since it has already never changed.
If something was said to have changed after infinite time, one could ask why it didn't change a day earlier, since it will have already had infinite time to do so.
I believe there is no such thing as infinity (perhaps you said the same, Dr Hartnett) - it's just a handy concept to describe the indescribable... the undefined. It has no use other than that.
Richard G.
The prophet Jeremiah 10:1-16 give an apt response and warning to those who refuse to accept the obvious Truth of Creation & Design in all that we see and know (Ps. 19:1-14; Ps 119: 89-104)

"Hear what the LORD says to you, O House of Israel. This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the Gentiles, nor be dismayed by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless "Tell them this:

'These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.

'For Yahweh, our God has made the earth by His Power; He founded the world by His Wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His Understanding.

They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish.

But He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for He is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the Tribe of his inheritance - The LORD Almighty is His Name.

We must learn to Trust in The LORD with all our hearts and not to lean on our own understanding. In all our ways we must acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths (Prov 3: 5-6) For the Secret of Yahweh God is with those who fear Him. And He will show unto them His Covenant (Psalm 25:14)

"This is what the (Sovereign) LORD says, He who made the earth, The LORD who formed it and established it--Yahweh is His Name:

"Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and unsearchable things which you do not know.' (Jer 33:2-3)

The Scriptures has enough internal evidence of to defend itself and The Awesome God who gave it to us. Richard
Robert W.
The goals of the atheist and evolutionist are to disprove that anything is Devinely created. Time and chance their mantle, they cannot not even agree on base models of cosmological existence, thus theory upon theory tweaked to the point of absurdity, and they all are absurd, continue to need tweaking. Never letting go of the "Big Bang" theory, regardless of how many other models posited, they admit without knowing it even, that in each of them, supernatural events had to have occurred.
But no matter the model, they stammer about in the darkness because Devine-Design is absolutely seen in everything everywhere. Rom. 1:20
And no "Big Bang", (or explosion of matter), has ever nor will ever produce order, as we see in both living and inanimate objects. Matter cannot ever be condensed to nothingness, and can never "explode" without a detonating force or device. And it always results in chaos and in disorder.
Nevertheless, these giants of science are brilliant and have made many wonderful contributions to their various fields. Their problems are not things of intellect, rather things of the heart. Many have defected to the God side once they figured this out.
I love them all and pray daily that many more will come to realize, simply, that nothing happens unless it is "made" to happen.
It does take a lifetime of many to try and disprove God exists, and men will keep trying. But a truly open-minded, open-hearted individual can find peace with our "maker" very soon after the search for Him begins. What a wonderful Creator we have, who says "Seek, and you will find." Matt. 7:7
William B.
John, as a creationist who rejects evolution and used to accept a literal 6000 years I found your article very informative and persuasive - right up to the third last paragraph where you take a sudden nosedive into sarcasm before closing. Did someone ring the dinner bell?
I agree it's possible that Lane Craig's resting on the Big Bang could well leave his theology (to use a previous commenter's brilliant illustration) widowed. This however is likely to depend on the extent to which he sees the Big Bang and the singularity as the same thing, which of course cosmologists (those scientific impostors!) know they never were. Inflation, which Alan Guth describes as "a class of theories", has always accepted this limitation. He is also on record as saying that "Despite its name, the big bang theory is not really a theory of a bang at all. It is really only a theory of the aftermath of a bang." [URL deleted according to feedback rules]

There is a wealth of astronomical evidence for the Big Bang but the singularity has always been 'out of bounds' to the laws of physics; it was clearly with this in mind that Koberlein led with the phrase, "While this is an interesting model, it should be noted that it's very basic."
Having discredited cosmology as science, your repeated (four) references to its proponents as 'atheists' might have required less emphasis had you mentioned the positive effect cosmology had on arguably the greatest 20thC cosmologist of them all, Allan Sandage.
To get back to the dinner bell, I'm afraid that extolling of God followed by assertive 'them v. us' territorial claims was a very disappointing way to wind up an article which began so well. I know how hard it can be trying to lead people to faith via reason, but dogmatism never, ever works.
John Hartnett
You say that "There is a wealth of astronomical evidence for the Big Bang but the singularity has always been 'out of bounds' to the laws of physics" but lets examine.

Firstly all evidence by definition must be 'for' the big bang if you are a big bang believer. As you acknowledge 'cosmology is not really science' it is philosophy so all evidence is for your belief system. It is just that your opponent also claims the same evidence.

Secondly you claim the singularity is "out of bounds." But that is not so. I am currently reading books by Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist and the one who framed the origin of the multiverse from singularities by 'natural selection' modeling his idea from Darwinian evolution. It is the laws of physics that are their only constant. Those laws putatively operated inside the singularity. Paul Davies wrote (bold emphases added):

“Yet the laws [of physics] that permit a Universe to create itself are even more impressive than a cosmic magician. If there is a meaning or purpose beneath physical existence, then it is to those laws rather than to the big bang that we should direct our attention.”
Jean P.
Even if this problem was scientifically solved beyond all doubt, atheists would be no further on because of the Chirality problem. It has been proven beyond all scientific doubt that proteins could not arise by chance, nor for that matter could information. So no life whatever in their Big Bang soup, and the philosophical questions of "Who am I?" and "From whence came I?" remain.
John Hartnett
You bring up other unsolved issues which relate more to the origin of the solar system, the planet Earth, and life on earth itself. But of course non of those issues could be issues if the big bang universe was impossible. What I mean is, that based on their current premise, that the universe created itself, naturalistically, then if that is shown to be invalid then it invalidates everything else that follows in their model. But you are quite right: the vexing questions remain. See here and here for more details on that.
K. H.
If cosmology is just philosophy with no basis in observation, how did an atheistic scientific community come to accept the big bang theory in the first place? Given two equally wrong answers (steady state theory and big bang theory) wouldn't you expect them to converge on the answer more compatible with their Godless worldview rather than spending over 50 years trying to eliminate the singularity implied by the big bang?
John Hartnett
Just because I say cosmology is philosophy and not science does not mean there are not astrophysical observations. Absolutely there are. The problem is that there is a plethora of possible interpretations for the same observations. The same observations may be explained by competing models. Read more here. Also my chapter on Cosmology in the book "Evolution's Achilles' Heels". And you might like to watch Cosmic Mythology: Exposing the big bang as philosophy not science.
Don L.
I am not a scientist per se but have had a life long interest in it and do regular scientific research in connection with my video productions that deal with reality as both perceived by us and "science" and as revealed by the word of God. In particular how the word of God, BEYOND all human capability ALWAYS conforms to the reality we see and experience about us even when science finally catches up with what the Prophets and Apostles of God ALREADY knew (but not by their OWN ability).

One thing I noticed recently is that in order to PRESERVE the Big Bang Theory and that of the Expanding Universe those atheist adherents to the Big Bang/ expanding Universe Theory had to INVENT a new and totally arbitrary (and quite illogical and irrational) UNOBSERVED, UNTESTED, and UNVERIFIED new velocity to everything in addition to its observed velocity.

They called this newly INVENTED velocity "The Hubble Recessional Velocity" and it is not caused by MOTION but by the magical ability of the nothingness of space to continually produce more nothingness out of ... nothing. AND against all known laws of physics create the necessary force and energy for this nothingness to push whole galaxies ahead of it AGAINST the forces of Gravity.

They were forced to do this because the observed motion of distant Galaxies does not match the necessary motion to create a uniform Redshift in direct proportion to DISTANCE.

I just HAD to make a video explaining it all. I called it "Intellectual Redshift" But the full title is "The Intellectual Redshift of Science into Theoretical Insanity" (In their single-minded pursuit to eradicate God).

[Web address deleted according to feedback rules--Ed.]
Kobus V.
Constructing any type of model in order to understand the workings and being of the cosmos can only be founded on physical observations, any other fanciful scheme is a priori fiction.

Any model professing to be premised on physical observation only cannot account for all cosmological observations and hence, fanciful ideas are contemplated.

Even when the benefit of the doubt is given to these fanciful ideas, they remain solidly within the "natural" understanding.

All of nature had to have a cause bigger than itself. Regressing infinitely, does not solve the problem.

Therefore the infinite Greater Cause remains the only rational explanation.

Then, rationally, the Greater Cause has to be known, and we do know Him in a Romans 1 kind of a way, or by knowing Him through His revelation, the Bible and God the Son incarnated to save us from a sure death.

It is God's revelation to man that there is no need for fanciful ideas, He spoke the cosmos into being, and stretched out the heavens, and divided the waters above from the waters below.

This creation story is mind blowing, however, not fanciful.

Such is the salvation story mind blowing, however, not fanciful.

We all have but one life to accept our Savior and live eternally, or spend our one life attempting to dishonour Him and thereby die eternally.
Richard L.
Thanks, Errol. Towards clarification, I wasn't questioning your thinking. Instead, I wanted to help equip you when you next encounter 'blocked' theologians.

Most such individuals I have encountered can listen--at best--with half an ear. They seem to strongly suspect that what we say somehow violates their intellectual integrity--but they never do the due diligence to clarify (and escape) that (wrong) impression. They thus stay locked in, captured (Col. 2:8).

I've done a sketch that sometimes helps. At the bottom of the paper is listed the hard-fact stuff--the God's-objective-truth-in-nature stuff, such as red-shift data (though are these sufficiently representative samples?) This is the stuff everyone has to acknowledge in order to keep integrity.

Above those items, several parallel horizontal lines across the paper 'wall off' this stuff from the stuff above.

Above the 'wall' are a number of arrows fanning out to various cosmogony models. This indeterminacy represents the need to CHOOSE initial conditions--a very worldview thing!--in the developing of model-solutions to Einstein's field equations.

In other words, regarding the cosmogony/cosmology-reality search map, there HASN'T yet been scientific closure down to the Big-Bang zone of BBT variants. Thus, there is integrity-freedom to consider pro-bible models.

When theologians and pastors can deeply enough internalize this realization, they are released from this area of capture, and they then have "ears to hear". (But there is then still the possible fear-of-man factor, that can also block off intake.)
Stephen H.
I am a geologist. I was a Christian first and in childhood accepted theistic evolution, in that I never even heard of a Creationist of a young earth variety. I still vainly tried to scrunch my “science” into the Biblical narrative and thought I had succeeded. When I first came to studying geology in a university setting, I had recognized that what churches were talking about were just the nattering of ignorant…until I fell among a crowd of candid evolutionists who pretty much admitted an extreme ignorance of actually what goes on below us. This was about the time in 1965 when while still studying the old orogeny theories of mountain building, plate tectonics theories began to percolate. Maybe my brain was NOT big enough to assimilate all the facts somehow mixed in with all the theories, but I did find myself swimming, and from just sheer frustration grabbed hold of the idea of just checking out what the Bible DID say, and the Bible not really changing as far as what it testifies, I might at least begin to actually KNOW (‘science’ is but an Anglicized form of the Latin word for knowledge, ‘knowledge’ itself seems to be a rendered down Greek word Gnosis) whether Bible is true or not. Of course it might be that I was lassoed by the faith given as gift from God in what was testified of what Jesus said and did.
Errol B.

I’ve just finished reading ‘World Winding Down - Understanding the Law of Disorder' and started ‘Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels.’ Cannot wait for the chapter on Cosmology.
Errol B.
I may have given the wrong impression. I agree with Dr Hartnett & Richard L. The misunderstandings I were referring to were on behalf of those who mistakenly put science before the plain reading of the bible. I understand the selective interpretations by secular cosmologists who cherry-pick the data, which is ironically called ‘precision cosmology’. Occam’s razor is discarded by the secular cosmologists, but if a biblical creationist tried that in a secular publication, you could imagine the outcry. I merely had genuine questions regarding theoretical physics like curved space etc. I wanted to know if seemingly contradictory equations could coexist. I suspect that just because the math works for a given model, say the discarded geocentric model with epicycles upon epicycles, that doesn’t mean it’s true. Just as big bang math [might] work, it doesn’t mean it’s true either.
Incidentally, the circularity of reasoning can be plainly seen by Mr R Pierson while debating Dr Robert Carter in the DVD ‘The Great Dothan Creation/Evolution Debate’ where Mr Pierson argues cosmological expansion, abundance of light elements & CMBR as evidence ‘confirming’ the big bang. Dr Hartnett has exposed CMBR as a non-specific, non-exclusive prediction… but the first 2 evidences were actually the initial observations which led to the hypothesis in the 1st place, but Pierson probably unwittingly tried to use them as secondary evidences after experimentation ‘confirming’ the big bang predictions, i.e. the scientific method was circled back on itself instead of following a linear thought process. I wonder how many miss this type of logical fallacy.
Again, where’s Occam’s razor in the secular cosmogony. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
John Hartnett

I agree, it is often circular because they initially assume the conclusion they wish to prove. Yes, the math might describe the observations but there may be other mathematical models that also describe them and sometimes without extra needed ad hoc parameters. This, I think, is what you must mean by Occam's Razor. Let's keep in mind cosmology and cosmogony are really philosophy, and not experimental science. I am sure you already agree.
Richard S.
Cosmology and Theology have a common problem: they both depend upon the power of Reason. As we learn from the parable of the Tower of Babel, Reason is sufficient for knowledge in a certain context, but is woefully insufficient for the highest knowledge, which is a defining knowledge of God. Cosmology and Theology attempt to repeat the elevation of Reason to build a foundation and an elevation capable of allowing men to look God in the eye and to read His Mind. God chuckled at this, one may opine, then scattered them about the earth offering them the opportunity to rediscover true science where Reason becomes the common language of communication between men and God's Creation.

It was the attempt to assert powers men did not possess, and could not possess, that got mankind in trouble by following the suggestions of The Great Egotist, otherwise known as The Serpent, or Lucifer; but in scattering men and confounding their language to make it particular and limited, God returned men's attention to the only pathway truly open to men after the Fall to perceive one dimension of God's nature: Reason. For us, Reason is a "reaching up" while for God it is a "reaching down." He also gave us Biblical Revelation in terms applicable and understandable for our lives as the middling sort of being we are.

Aristotle, the founder of Western Science, in de Anima, Metaphysica, and elsewhere, discovers the frontiers of human intelligence and understanding. He comes to see that to resolve the issues associated with these frontier subjects would require him to know and explain the Prime Mover, but that would require him to abandon Reason. Lacking a Bible, he nevertheless chose piety over hubris.

Perhaps our frantic cosmologists/theologians should do the same.
Joseph M.
Since laws of logic, mathematics, information, etc. cannot be destroyed they must be within the eternal immaterial realm. Anything that can be destroyed or die is proof of a beginning. So, death of a star, galaxy, etc. is the established proof for a beginning. Quantum gravity theory, universal quantum singularity, singularity, Steady State, Big Bang are all built on immaterial theory. The preconditions of the theoretical includes logic, information, mathematics, etc. which successfully represent the deterministic laws physical matter and energy follows that are observable today and which we have comprehensible recorded data, in history, for.

The evolutionist materialist historical scientist don’t understand their dilemma in a similar way they do not understand the origin of life argument. They concentrate on the origin of the physical constructs of DNA i.e. how molecules form in a deterministic way to produce the physical DNA structure, which ultimately dies when it can't stand up to the laws of nature. But miss the real issue which is the origin of the immaterial specified complexity of information in DNA.

The true pursuit should be the understanding of the eternality of the immaterial. The biblical worldview answers this because an ultimate absolute immaterial authority makes the claim that justifies the existence of the formal (logic, information, etc.). And if anyone questions that ultimate supernatural authority, then one raises themselves to being omniscience which their subsequent death falsifies their lofty elevation and opinions.
Paul S.
The critique of the Big Bang is compelling. However, there are many other cosmological propositions (some of which are incorporated into the Big Bang) and theories which deserve as much scrutiny, as they involve metaphysics as well as physics. While space doesn't allow me to present detailed arguments, the following theses are not unequivocally supported empirically (which means that the evidence typically used to support them is subject to other rationally coherent interpretation(s). These include the following: (1) the thesis that the universe is expanding (interestingly, Hubble came to have doubts about this thesis which is typically tied to his name); (2) Special and General Relativity with its notion of a "space-time continuum (e.g. the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment, typically cited in favor of Einstein's theory, was predicted in advance by classical physicists on the basis of classical physics; Einstein stated that he "abhorred" the notion of a privileged frame of reference in support of Relativity - not exactly an empirical scientific criterion); (3) Copenhagen Quantum Mechanics (e.g., Bohm's hidden variable theory accounts for the empirical evidence just as well). The Christian apologist does well to avoid arguments which rely in any way on the truth of any of the above theories/theses.
Thomas M.
Wow. This is an amazing article, not so much for the technical details and history of cosmological arguments (which is also informative and fascinating), but much more so for its conclusion and the implications of why we believe what we do! In my own Christian journey I have been accused of believing in a book of mythical stories and trying to convince compromising Christians of this would just drive them to atheism. However, fundamentally, you must have faith in something and I have chosen to have faith in God’s Word through his grace (but as it has been pointed out many times, this is not blind faith). I have been asked what I would do if “science” disproved the Bible (particularly genesis) – what would happen to my faith then? But this is the interesting thing about faith. Because I believe God, I have faith this would never happen. I will not waiver at “temporary” evidence that may seem to contradict the Bible at the time, but then is changed or disproven later. You can point to numerous times in the history of science where this has actually occurred. Bottom line is that I’d rather put my faith in God’s Word never being “disproven”, then put my faith in the fallible imagination of human “scientists” (as has Craig and Ross) that believe one thing today and another tomorrow which has surely driven many compromising Christians to Atheism. Thank you and God bless you John for your work and your faith.
Pieter P.
These so called professionals of the Big Bang models (all of their theories) are the dumbest lot of smart scientists that creationists have to deal with. Don't get me wrong, it is the duty of Christians to point them to Jesus, but their efforts to blot out GOD, the most powerful Immortal being in the Universe, is laughable.
Melvyne C.
I find the articles by John Hartnett most uplifting. It seems to me, looking at the picture of the singularity, that such a theoretical point cannot be depicted without space surrounding it. That we live and move and have our being in God, as Acts tells, then some form of eternal space and time must exist. Hence, it seems that some form of a steady state background theory which allows for God to cast creation into the vaults of heaven may need be considered in conjunction with any big bang theory. However, we must not forget we are dealing with miracles and a super science, which after the first effects of the big bang miracle, whatever that means, natural laws took over.
God bless this ministry.
R. D.
I remember this publication a few weeks back - and I thought it'd probably not be long before we saw some comment from Dr. Hartnett on it too! I think this no-beginning cosmos is one of the more exciting developments in cosmogony for many years. If an when it gains widespread acceptance in the secular academic community, it really will force people like WL Craig to reconsider their tactics. The trouble for people like him is that, now that he has been using it for decades in attempt to support theism, there's pretty much no way to change tack without eating a sizeable chunk of humble-pie. At least it might convince some of those who have a less public profile to reconsider. And that can only be a good thing, if it draws people closer to God's Word.
Vincenzo R.
Hi all.

I often use the following argument, which I think invalidates any attempt of an eternal universe. But it'd be nice to have your opinion.

«If the universe were eternal, that would imply time has existed (i.e. has been going on) forever. That is, it'd span from minus infinity to plus infinity. However, if that were the case, none of us could be arguing about it, because you can't move from minus infinity to a finite point in time, no matter how much time you add to minus infinity. That's because -∞ + anything = -∞
Since we are having this conversation, it means time has had a finite beginning, and so did the universe, since time it's one of its properties.»

Praise the Lord.
John Hartnett
I agree, it is illogical, the idea of eternal existence for anything outside of the Self-Existent One, the Creator.

But the BB theorists might argue that because the universe exists, and there is/was no Creator, then it created itself. The details of the infinity in time past is a research problem, which Hawking seems to think is solved by quantum indeterminism. For them this is their way to explain it, and hence it is proof enough. It is their statement of faith, faith in a miracle.

Incidentally, I don't believe there are any infinities in the real world, of any kind, anywhere.
Aleksandar K.
If the universe is infinitely old, then it should be filled with infinite amount of entropy. Or not?
John Hartnett
Entropy in any closed system always increases, and only in the special isentropic case entropy is conserved. If the system is non-isentropic then whatever free energy is in the system should dissipate, and entropy should increase, so I suspect in this case it would have to be insentropic until the quantum potential collapses. Otherwise they have an intractable problem. See footnote 8.

And in regards to your comment on ‘infinite entropy’; the physical universe (given the assumptions mentioned in footnote 8) would tend to a state of maximum entropy. It could never result in an infinite amount of entropy. Once the universe has attained total thermodynamic equilibrium, i.e. ‘heat death’, with no free energy left with all space at a uniform temperature, then no more entropy increase can take place.

But it is really just 'a bunch of fairies in the bottom of the garden,' isn't it?
Richard L.
Dear Errol,

What realization most liberates theologians (and others) from mental/spiritual/volitional bondage to Big-Bang (or the next consensus-science) cosmogony? The greatest liberation comes by a successful delineation between speculation and hard facts (a discipleship command a la 1 Thess. 5:21, cf. Col. 2:8 & 2 Cor. 10:5).

We are not to wrongly obligate ourselves (wrongly misinform our consciences) to speculation, since speculation is errant. Wrong speculation (“foundational principles of the world”) leads to “hollow [doesn’t connect to reality] deception” conclusions. Being caught up in those produces battlefield-intensity-unto-slavery [the Greek word] “capture” (Col. 2:8). Many theologians are captured unto slavery through wrongly informing their consciences that to believe other than the Big Bang (or the next popular cosmogony) is a violation of intellectual integrity / honesty. They stay locked in. No matter the comprehensible input from CMI and others, they block themselves from intake.

Of the many good points that Drs. Hartnett and Humphreys and other creationist astronomers make, I find the following point to be most helpful: MORE THAN ONE solution is possible to Einstein’s General-Relativity (GR) field equations. The hard facts STOP with the red-shift data and (very-close-to-reality) GR. BEYOND THAT POINT is speculation, with multiple scenarios mathematically possible. Thus, (1) no obligation exists to Big Bang, and (2) it is NOT intellectually dishonest to consider a more biblical-compatible model.
Israel S.
CMI has always warned us about how marrying unchanging theology with constantly fluctuating secular science will one day leave the theology widowed. It looks like that day is quickly coming for those Big Bang Apologists! One can only wonder how they will react to this emerging "Eternal Big Bang". But as for us, what has been written through God's inspiration will continue to stand, giving us a rock steady foundation on which to base our faith.
Profe M.
Since it's been proven that matter is not eternal, due to the natural decay of the nucleus of the atom, then I see no logic in any steady state or so-called eternal universe theories. Now, the expansion of the universe is a fact –a very puzzling fact, though!–, isn't it? So it's quite logical to reason that the universe was, going backwards, condensed in one point. Now, that alone cannot disregard the idea of a creator, who has made things exquisitely logical beyond our full comprehension.
Andrew B.
I agree that cosmology is less science than philosophy. Science uses induction whereas cosmology uses abduction. Abduction [a third type of inference used in reasoning, the other two being induction and deduction--Ed.] is inference to the 'best' explanation.

So the former commentor referred to the scientific method as " observation → induction → hypothesis → test hypothesis by experiment → proof/disproof → knowledge."

In cosmology it often looks like this: observation of artifact → assumptions → abduction about past event→ hypothesis → test hypothesis by experiment [if possible]→ proof/disproof [if possible] → knowledge.

It's the same for paleontology, origin of life, Darwinism etc.
Errol B.
I’m just an average Aussie Christian with a keen interest in origins. Just to clear up my understanding of the relationship between theoretical physics and the scientific method.
Regarding theories like the steady state universe with includes cosmological expansion allowing matter to pop into existence to balance some kind of constant, or perhaps more sophisticated theories including dark matter, dark energy, inflation, string theory, ‘M’ theory etc.
My question is; are these theories mathematically viable and does the solving of mathematical equations mean they are tested via the scientific method? Or putting it another way, can theoretical equations be formulated which do not reflect reality [or] is it even possible for any given successful equation be disproven via the scientific method?
I’m thinking of the geocentric model with epicycles upon epicycles, or equations describing ‘flat’ v ‘curved’ space. Does the math work for these models, and can ‘flat space’ and ‘curved space’ coexist?
Perhaps a lot of misunderstandings arise from not differentiation between theoretical physics and the scientific method as defined by Sir Francis Bacon http://creation.com/its-not-science observation → induction → hypothesis → test hypothesis by experiment → proof/disproof → knowledge.
John Hartnett
The distinction is that cosmology is not science in the way you are thinking, i.e. testable, repeatable, Scientific Method. So that answer is that many models can be put forward that describe the same astrophysical observations and there is great difficulty in deciding which is the true description because researchers cannot know for certain what the universe should look like. See The largest structure in the observable universe, or cosmic variance?

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