Life of a Universe: Part 1 Creation
More big bangs for your buck
Published: 28 March 2017 (GMT+10)
English physicist and well-known media ‘star’ Prof. Brian Cox has been on tour in Australia, discussing two fundamental questions: How did the universe begin? and How will it end? He presented his answer to the first question on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s TV Channel 2 program Life of a Universe: Part 1 Creation, on 7 March 2017. Here is our response to this first program.
What is the big bang?
Cox begins by telling viewers that “every culture you study across the world has a creation story” and he then proceeds to discuss the 21st century atheistic story called the big bang. He answers the question “What is the big bang?” as follows.
“In 1927, the astronomer Edwin Hubble noticed that the light from distant galaxies is stretched. This means that space is expanding, our universe is expanding. So, you run time backwards in your mind’s eye, and that means that in the past, the distances between the galaxies was smaller; you can imagine a time when the distances were so small that everything is effectively on top of each other. That implies that our universe had a beginning, there was a day without a yesterday, and that is what we call the big bang.”
Cox may be giving us this euphemistic explanation of the big bang because he realizes that scientifically it is the most non-scientific argument ever propounded. Namely that all the matter and energy contained in the billions of stars in each of the hundreds of billions of galaxies was once contained in a singularity of zero dimensions and infinite mass, which expanded at many times the speed of light, by means of a quantum fluctuation, before there was any time or any place for anything to quantum fluctuate in, and all without producing hundreds of billions of galaxies of necessary antimatter. (See In the beginning God created—or was it a quantum fluctuation?.)
For an in-depth discussion of the meaning of Hubble’s observation see:
- Our galaxy is the centre of the universe, ‘quantized’ redshifts show
- Is there definitive evidence for an expanding universe?
- Does observational evidence indicate the universe is expanding?—part 1: the case for time dilation
Cosmic microwave background—evidence or not?
In this program, Cox offers only one piece of evidence for the big bang—the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), which he described as “a faint glow coming literally from everywhere in the sky, but not being emitted from any particular star, galaxy or object … photons that have travelled 13.8 billion years”.
He went on to say that at first the universe was initially filled with plasma [sub-atomic particles], until “380,000 years after the big bang it’s cool enough for atoms to form, the universe becomes almost instantly transparent, so light can travel in straight lines, and it will continue to travel in straight lines for the rest of the expansion history and it can enter our telescopes here on Earth 13.8 billion years later.”
Then: “The cosmic background radiation is considered such strong evidence in large part because the big bang theory predicted that it should exist. It was first observed in the mid-1960s, and it was only then really that the idea that the universe began at a hot, dense origin really took hold.” (For a history of the development of the big bang theory see The mind of God and the big bang.)
He is presumably referring to the work of radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson who, in 1965, detected a signal that came from everywhere in the sky at the uniform intensity of 2.726 K (degrees above absolute zero). However, this was not the first such discovery, as claimed. In 1940–41, astrophysicist and spectroscopist Andrew McKellar had already found a 2.3 K background temperature to space (see Nobel Peace prize for alleged big bang proof).
In fact, the CMB fails as an argument for the big bang because, if the big bang were true, the light from the fireball should cast shadows in the foreground of all galaxy clusters, but only if it is really true that the radiation is coming from so far away. But the needed shadows are missing.
- ‘Light from the big bang’ casts no shadows
- The big bang fails another test
- Planck sees the big bang—or not?
- CMB Conundrums
Problems for the big bang universe to have had a beginning
No doubt surprisingly for some viewers, Cox tells us: “The idea that the universe had a beginning in the big bang is in some ways unsatisfactory. It raises a series of childlike questions”, which he then lists.
“If the universe had a beginning, then what happened before the beginning?”1
“What caused it?”
“If time emerged at the big bang, then was there a time before time?”
“How can the universe appear spontaneously out of nothing at all?”
He then adds two more problems that he apparently considers a little more erudite than these, known as the horizon problem and the flatness problem.
The horizon problem
This is the fact that light has not had enough time to travel from a point on one extreme edge of an expanding universe to a point on the diametrically opposite extreme edge. Nevertheless the temperature (i.e. the CMB) is the same (to one part in 100,000) for both points, as well as being the same in all directions of our universe.
Cox says: “But these two points on the sky are separated today by 90 billion light-years. That means if you’ve got a universe that’s been expanding sedately and is only 13.8 billion years old, those two points could never have been in contact with each other, which means there’s no explanation for how they could be precisely the same.”
For comment on this problem see:
The flatness problem
This is the fact that all measurements we ever make in space are straight (meaning they conform to Euclidian geometry).2 Cox explains: “Our universe appears to be completely flat, which seems very strange, because it could be curved like the surface of a sphere or curved like the surface of a saddle.”
For comment see: Big bang beliefs busted
Cox’s solution to these two problems is a theory of ‘faster-than-light inflation’. By this he means that the universe was once “expanding incredibly fast, doubling in size every 10 to the –37 seconds. That’s one ten-million-million-million-million-million-millionths of a second.” He tells us that this solves the horizon and flatness problems because: “it suggests the universe has to be extremely big. And that means that it’s always going to look flat.”
He makes an analogy with the little piece of the earth he’s standing on. “[It] looks flat, even though we know the Earth is curved, because it’s very small compared to the size of the Earth.” Applying this ‘logic’ to the universe, he says that the two pieces of the sky that are so far away from each other “were once in contact with each other. They could jiggle around and get to the same temperature, but then they were ripped apart.”
Many viewers would not realize that what is being suggested—inflation—is a postulate to try to solve many intractable problems with the big bang hypothesis; but one for which there is absolutely no experimental basis or even a deducible mechanism. The proposal is that the universe expanded rapidly at many times the speed of light. And then just as suddenly this super-expansion came to a screeching halt—also for no known reason. If proponents of Genesis creation were to seek to solve a scientific conundrum in a similar way, inventing new scientific laws and processes, secularists would definitely cry foul at such a proposition. They would be justified in labelling it a convenient miracle invented for the sake of solving the problems of one’s model.3
Before! How could that be?
Returning to Cox, he then delivers his punchline: “If we are right about inflation, then this rapid expansion must have occurred before the thing we used to call ‘the big bang’.” This leads to a discussion on the need for a mechanism, which theoretical physicist Prof. Brian Greene (Physics & Mathematics, Columbia Uni) is enlisted to supply.
Greene tells viewers: “If you have an energy that is uniformly spread out through a region of space, it can yield a new kind of gravity, repulsive gravity—gravity that doesn’t pull things together, but pushes things apart.” He goes on to say: “This kind of fuel, if you would, called the inflation field, it’s like a fuel that generates this repulsive gravity, is what drove the universe to start expanding in the first place.”
For comment see:
- Does the new much-faster-than-light theory fix the big bang’s problems?
- Cosmic inflation: did it really happen?
- Has the ‘smoking gun’ of the ‘big bang’ been found?
- The authors of the claimed biggest astrophysics discovery of the century admit they may have been wrong
Viewers may well wonder what the purpose of all this is, until Cox says: “A more speculative addition to the theory exists, and it opens the doors to an intriguing possibility—ours may not be the only universe.” Cox then poses two questions:
“How long was inflation going on for before the big bang?”
“Could it have been going on for an infinite period of time? Could you push the origin of the universe back and back and back into the infinite past, so we have an eternal universe?”
For comment see:
This is followed by another conundrum for viewers, when Cox says: “There are other possibilities” and Brian Greene elaborates: “The other possibilities suggest that we are one of a grand collection of universes—we are part of a multiverse. … You have this repulsive gravity coming from the inflation field … it’s such an efficient process that you can virtually never fully use up the fuel that generated our expansion, so our big bang happens but there is some fuel left over. What does it do? It can generate another big bang, so you get this wonderful process of big bang after big bang after big bang, yielding universe after universe, after universe.”
Not so according to Stephen Hawking and the 2nd Law!
No less a big-bang promoter than Stephen Hawking disagrees with this theory because it is contrary to a scientific law to which there are no exceptions. He says: “If your theory disagrees with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is in bad trouble. In fact, the theory that the universe has existed forever is in serious difficulty with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Second Law states that disorder always increases with time. Like the argument about human progress, it indicates that there must have been a beginning. Otherwise, the universe would be in a state of complete disorder by now, and everything would be at the same temperature.”4
- Multiverse theory: unknown science or illogical raison d’être?
- Exploring the God Question 1. The Cosmos, Part 2 (Multiverses)
The big bang is the current secular alternative to creation by God. The latter is objected to so strongly by some that they reject even a beginning to the universe. This means that they have to concoct alternative theories such as those in this TV program, no matter how unscientific, illogical, or intellectually unsatisfying these may be. There is, in fact no better explanation for the universe than the one which God has given us in Genesis, that He created all things by His Word.
References and notes
- Readers should note English physicist and big-bang-proponent Paul Davies’ comment: “According to modern physics, the big bang represented the origin of space and time, as well as of matter and energy. This means that time itself came into existence with the big bang. Questions like: What happened before the big bang? or What caused the big bang? are therefore meaningless. There was no before.” [Emphasis in the original.] Source: Davies, P., ‘Science, God and the Laws of the Universe’, ABC Radio 24 Hours, August 1992, p. 36–39. Return to text.
- This depends on the mass density of the universe. Too much and gravity would cause the universe to collapse. Too little and the universe would expand forever. Observations show ‘flatness’, which means the density is minutely below the threshold required for collapse. This is a cosmological fine-tuning problem, where the force of the expansion matches the force of gravity to one part in 1060. Return to text.
- The proposition is often justified by showing how neatly it solves the problems of the big bang. But since it was designed to do that, this is hardly evidence for it. The obvious circularity has been pointed out by others. See Has the ‘smoking gun’ of the ‘big bang’ been found? Return to text.
- Hawking, S., The Beginning of Time, hawking.org.uk, accessed March 2017. Return to text.
I’m often surprised that articles from Christians about the origins of the Big Bang Theory don’t mention the fact that atheist physicists at the time lashed out at Dr Lemaître for, in their view, letting his Biblical theology get ahead of his science. In those days, obviously, atheist physicists believed that the universe had always existed, and many of them hated the idea that Lemaître’s universe had a beginning and therefore—as the Kalaam Argument for God had always asserted—a beginner . Even the Pope got on board by asserting that what eventually became known as "The Big Bang Theory" was a powerful argument for the God of Genesis being the Creator of the universe, which prodded Dr Lemaître to admonish his Christian brethren for letting their Biblical apologetics enthusiasm get ahead of the scientific evidence for a creation event.
I can still remember (late 1930s) some of the BBC shortwave broadcasts on this “Christian physicist Lets His Understanding of Genesis Taint his Science” topic, so it amazes me that so many Christians today think that the Big Bang Theory is some kind of "atheist conspiracy" launched by God-hating physicists.
Bible-affirming Christians will continue to debate and disagree on the scientific evidence for the Big Bang Theory. But Dr Lemaître never intended his theory to revolutionize Biblical hermeneutics nor to buttress his confidence in the Book of Genesis. (Lemaitre knew enough of Church history to recognize the pitfalls of “scientific proofs of God”. But not all Christian physicists have been as cautious as Lemaitre.)
A strange charge that we never mention atheistic opposition to the big bang, when it would be easy to check that we have noted misguided Christian apologists claiming just what you say we ignore. For example:
- Christian apologists should abandon the big bang
- Secular scientists blast the big bang: What now for naïve apologetics?
- William Lane Craig’s intellectually dishonest attack on biblical creationists
More likely, Lemaître was intimidated by the usual 19th-century lies that the Church once taught a flat earth and the common revisionism of Galileo as a science v religion affair instead of the science v science issue it actually was.
I presume by “cautious” you really mean fideistic, given your evident desire to separate faith from evidence and reason, contrary to the biblical definition.
Another issue that Big Bang can't account for the is the origin of information! Nor, the ability of living things to manage information. Big Defect!!
The Big Bang is a very nice story and all. I can follow the reasoning of there being a big bang. Some of the evidence does not make much sense to me, but the reasoning that everything came from one cause or point I can follow.
On day one of biblical creation everything came from God, so to me it would make sense that there would be a ‘bang’ when God created everything from nothing. So both sides believe everything came from nothing, just that the Christian side believe that something (God) caused nothing to become something rather than nothing causing nothing to become something. In other words, my question is that wouldn’t a lot of the “Big Bang Theory” fit with the Creation model with the only difference being a vast amount of time?
The scientists are saying that there is a disconnect with the horizon problem. So they attempt to explain away nearly 80 billion years, at that point isn’t it just as likely to be able to explain away a mere 10 billion years by invoking even more of another variable? Instead of dark matter/dark energy/new gravity/other mechanisms that nobody can find, instead of all that, God.
I just wish people could see their own logic through the Christian paradigm so they could see the validity of the Creation model as I do.
Thanks for the great article.
The problem is not just the chronology, although that’s bad enough. There are also problems with the details: the big bang says the universe began bright and hot, Genesis says it began cool enough for liquid water, and dark, until God created light. There are also problems with the order: the big bang says sun and stars came before the earth; Genesis says the earth came three days before the sun and stars. See Evolution/long ages contradicts Genesis order of Creation.
Thanks for a well-argumented article!
It is sometimes frustrating to see how much the Big Bang (and really, any secularistic cosmology) is favored by big media (= mainstream media) despite there being a ton of problems to be found.
It is also a little frustrating to see how secular or materialistic cosmologies are being taken into considerations all the time, despite them giving quite different explanations to cosmic problems while leaving out anything resembling creation/design.
But I guess it testifies to the period we live in, where a strong undercurrent of either secularistic materialism or new-age inspired thinking ‘rules’ the day in mainstream media.
Both would as such omit any moral responsibility to the Deity causing and creating the Cosmos.
It is as if all the atheistic arguments against special creation are just finding new reiterations and new people to hold them up as the only viable explanations for a society to consider. That must surely be a nice position to have; to be the instructors of society on the issues of what is to be ‘taken seriously’ …
And still—they spend an awful lot of time and money to engage such ‘ … childlike questions’ as whether the universe had a beginning, what was before that beginning, what caused the universe, if time is a part of the universe, if there was a time before time and how the universe can appear spontaneously out of nothing at all. How come they spend so much energy to answer ‘childlike questions’ like these? How come the proposed answers are all so categorically omitting the possibility of (a) God? Why would God be less of an explanation? Because God cannot be completely understood? What then about truth for truths sake, independent of whether we fully understand it or not...? Can reality be greater than science?
A question of trivial interest, although not sure I am going to explain myself clearly here, but since time is relative, when they speak of events occurring 10 to the -x or -y of a second at the big bang, from the evolutionist's perspective, are they equating the rate of one second of time at the big bang with the rate of one second of current earth time? Are they speaking in terms of the rate of earth time when they are talking big bang time?
They don't make such a distinction.
The trouble with Cox and his fellow ‘Big Bangers’ is that their arguments consist of nothing more than philosophical speculation.
They have no basis in real science as their theories of origins are purely hypothetical, and are not only unproved but also unprovable.
How much safer, more reasonable, and consistent with what we observe in the ‘fine tuning’ of everyday things we see all around us, is the creation account in Genesis!