New images from the James Webb Telescope
Do they challenge the Big Bang?
Morgan B. wrote to us about the recently published images from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). JWST is a space telescope that has received a lot of media attention in the last few months. This telescope provided the best photos we have ever received of distant galaxies. In our previously published article on the telescope, we explain what the big bang theorists predicted they would see through this telescope.
The photos from the JWST have now been published, and so Morgan B. is curious to know what the photos actually reveal to us.
I am aware that there have been images from the James Webb Telescope that have been released recently. I clearly don’t have a trained eye because these pictures don’t look as remarkable as I’ve seen them reported. However, I came across this article in my recommended [reading list] and I’m not sure what to make of it: (link removed as per feedback rules)
You all have a better grip on the science … than I do. Is this cause for celebration …? Is this information sound?
Thank you for taking the time to respond.
CMI-US’s Bruce Lawrence replies:
Thanks for writing in.
You have a keen eye. The fact that these pictures don’t look particularly remarkable is what makes so many people think they are remarkable. They are seen as remarkable because many cosmologists expected these galaxies, and stars to look like hypothetical primitive stars and galaxies. Instead, they look much more mature, and more like the stars and galaxies that we observe in portions of space that aren’t as far away from us. CMI has written about the James Webb Telescope before, and what those who believe in the big bang expect to see.
So, what does the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) show?
According to the big bang, the universe started much simpler, and slowly, over billions of years, modern stars and modern galaxies formed. They have created models that predict what these early galaxies and stars should look like.
“Webb will be a powerful time machine with infrared vision that will peer back over 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe.”1
Big Bang theorists believe that by looking deep into space, they can reveal the ancient past of the universe. The idea here is that since light travels at a certain speed, light coming from stars that are billions of lightyears away will be light that depicts what the stars, and galaxies looked like billions of years ago. So, light from galaxies over 13.5 billion light years away, should show us what these portions of the universe looked like in this hypothetical past.
Because of this, they expect to see the ‘primitive’ galaxies and stars that would have existed in the early stages of the hypothetical big bang universe. This is where they hit a brick wall. Contrary to their predictions, we do not see these primordial structures. Instead, what they find are far more mature/modern looking stars and galaxies. This suggests (given their assumptions about the age of the universe) that even 13.5 billion years ago, stars and galaxies were already very developed and mature. Cosmic evolution requires billions of years of slow and gradual change to go from the early big bang conditions to what we have today, and what we observe from the telescope contradicts this.
Light from the most distant cosmic structures shows they are mature and well formed. It is almost as if they were created mature and did not slowly form over massive periods of time.2 This is consistent with God creating a complete, functional universe from the start, but does not fit with the idea of slow, gradual, cosmic evolution. When God made the creatures of the air and sea, he did not fill the oceans with eggs that gestated and hatched in the water. The animals were full grown, ready to feed and breed. God did not create Adam and Eve as embryos gestating in motherless wombs. The Sun and Moon were created and ready to serve their purpose from the very beginning. These images from the farthest corners of the universe are consistent with the work of our Creator.
Is this cause for celebration or caution?
I would recommend a healthy mix of both; cosmologists have a habit of sweeping problems under the rug, by appealing to fudge factors such as dark matter, dark energy, and superluminal inflation. These fudge factors are used to wave away difficulties between what the Big Bang theory predicts, and what we actually observe. Some secular scientists take issue with this practice, but the average person won’t know those things are fudge factors.
A fudge factor in this context refers to an ad hoc explanation or mechanism that is invoked to prop up what would otherwise be a failed theory. Here is an example of some of the fudge factors that are needed to prop up the Big Bang. An excerpt from a previous article explains:
“First it was dark matter, then came dark energy, followed by dark fluid, dark flow, and dark radiation; and now a new entity is suggested for the dark sector of particle physics—dark photons. The dark sector is full of hypothetical entities designed to save the big bang story but it is really just a lot of cosmic storytelling.
Previously I have argued that dark matter is a sort of ‘god of the gaps’, the ‘unknown god’ in astrophysics. It is an unknown invoked to explain the inexplicable, which, if you follow the chain of logic, is required to maintain a belief in the big bang paradigm. Its existence is only inferred from the application of known physics to certain observations in the universe …
Dark matter has never been observed in space or in any laboratory experiment.”
Since big bang theorists have previously either ignored the evidence or invented fudge factors to gloss over evidence that conflicts with the big bang, I expect them to do the same with this new discovery. The unscientific nature of cosmological models are such that even with a large amount of contrary data, the theory often goes largely unchallenged. This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but I won’t hold my breath. This has already been happening as articles pop up defending the big bang. Instead of addressing the questions raised by the images, they simply change the subject.
Some have done this by pointing to the lack of acceptable alternatives, and the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (which is a problem for the big bang)3, other secular scientists have tried to explain why their big bang predictions fail:
“Without the hypothetical inflation field, the big bang does not predict the smooth, isotropic cosmic background radiation that is observed, because there would be no way for parts of the universe that are now more than a few degrees away in the sky to come to the same temperature and thus emit the same amount of microwave radiation. … Inflation requires a density 20 times larger than that implied by big bang nucleosynthesis, the theory’s explanation of the origin of the light elements …
In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory.”
We also need to keep in mind what would count as an acceptable alternative in the eyes of big bang cosmologists.
“‘People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations,’ Ellis argues. ‘For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations.’ Ellis has published a paper on this. ‘You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.’”4
The big bang model is preferred and chosen based on philosophical bias. An alternative model could be proposed that explains the data far better, or even just as good, but it would be rejected due to philosophical preference. An alternative will only be accepted if the model conforms to the bias of the community, and it does a better job of explaining observations than the big bang does, that or the community will need to undergo a change in its philosophical bias.
Finally, this focus on acceptable alternatives is nonsensical, if a theory has a substantial conflict between prediction and observation it is illogical to continue promoting the theory as true, just because you don’t have a replacement narrative. One could simply admit “we don’t have a working theory anymore”.
The photos obtained from the James Webb telescope reveal a universe that is contrary to the expectations of big bang theory, and this is cause for joy, but we need to temper our expectations. This is by no means the first time that observations have heavily contradicted the theory and it is likely that this issue will largely be ignored and covered up through fudge factors.
References and notes
- Early Universe; webb.nasa.gov [Last accessed: 23 Aug 2022]. Return to text.
- Witze, A., Four revelations from the Webb telescope about distant galaxies, 27 Jul, 2022; nature.com. Return to text.
- Ryan, Jackson., No, James Webb Space Telescope Images Do Not Debunk the Big Bang, 22 Aug, 2022; CNET.com. Return to text.
- Gibbs, W.W., Profile: George F.R. Ellis; thinking globally, acting universally, Scientific American 273(4):28–29, 1995. Return to text.