Galaxies, Black Holes, and Creation
Jonathan Sarfati chats with astrophysicist Dr Markus Blietz
Dr Markus Blietz was born in Germany in 1962, and studied physics at the Technical University in München (Munich). In 1994 he earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching (near Munich). He now works in the semiconductor industry as a patent manager, helping researchers to develop and patent new ideas. In spring 2008, he was born again, and since then has been a keen supporter of creation ministries. Dr Blietz and his wife Alexandra have two children and reside in a small town in Bavaria (Germany), not far away from Salzburg (Austria).
The educational and media system often contrast ‘creationists’ and ‘scientists’. But in every issue of Creation magazine we prove them wrong with an interview with a highly qualified scientist who is also a creationist. Not too many of them have been astronomers or astrophysicists like Dr Blietz.
His interest in science started at the tender age of five. Markus’s father took him kite flying, and the boy was very interested in why the kite could fly and stay intact. “This was the beginning of my interest in science,” he says.
Black holes and galaxies
After progressing through the rigorous German schooling, Markus eventually specialized in astrophysics. In particular, he explains:
“My Ph.D. work was about a special class of galaxy called Seyfert galaxies. These contain active galactic nuclei—very bright, star-like centres. The most common explanation is a gigantic black hole in the centre of these galaxies.”
Dr Blietz explained how a black hole is predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity if an unimaginable amount of mass accumulates in a very small space. E.g. the sun (mass 2 × 1030 kg) would need to be compressed into only 6 km (4 miles) diameter. But the centres of the galaxies are proposed to be supermassive black holes. These would be up to 100 million times the sun’s mass, concentrated in a volume with a diameter smaller than the distance from Earth to the moon (384,000 km / 239,000 miles).
So why ‘black’? He explained that such concentrated mass generates an extremely strong gravitational force, which bends the four-dimensional space fabric. As a result, even light, which has no rest mass and moves at 300,000 kilometres (186,000 miles) per second, cannot escape. Since no light should reach us, physicist John Wheeler called them ‘black holes’. But then, why do galactic nuclei emit so much light? Shouldn’t they be pitch black as well?
Dr Blietz explains:
“The strong gravitational force causes nearby gas clouds, which surround the black hole, to spiral into it. Due to the spiralling, the clouds are forming a disc, a so-called accretion disc. While this happens, the gas clouds accelerate and emit highly energetic X-rays. This radiation is then believed to hit other gas clouds, further away from the centre, which then heat up and emit longer wavelength radiation, which can be seen as visible light. Using special instruments, one can observe the spectral distribution of the light emitted by these further out gas clouds, which allows us to determine the chemical composition of the gas as well as the gas velocities. This again allows us—under certain assumptions—to calculate the central mass of the black hole.”
Unusually, Dr Blietz became a Christian quite late in life. He lost his father to cancer, and had a mental ‘burnout’, “so extreme that I could not even read one single word any more! Even the smallest decisions were too much for me. Basically my brain, the instrument which I trained all my life and which I was proud of, all of a sudden went out of operation.”
Secular science could not explain the clear reality of good vs bad. But this difference makes sense if there is indeed a Creator. Then he read the Bible owned by his wife, who was not yet a reborn Christian:
“I read the Gospel according to Matthew. Almost immediately I understood that Jesus was a real, historical person; that He came to fulfill a mission; and that I needed him urgently.”
Then a Christian friend lent him a small booklet that “explained the full plan of God, from the beginning of the creation, to the coming of Jesus on this earth, His crucifixion and resurrection, His second coming, the final judgment and the creation of a new heaven and earth. I knew this was the truth. In the booklet there was also a prayer, where one could confess his sins and give his life to Jesus. I did not hesitate a minute; I fell on my knees and delivered my life to Jesus.”
Importance of creation
That was an interesting point: this booklet started from creation. Yet many evangelists discourage talk about creation, and say, “Just preach the Gospel.” But Dr Blietz responds:
“If the Bible is not reliable in its historical statements, how can it be true in other statements? If Jesus didn’t speak the truth about Genesis, how could we trust what He was saying about sin, the cross, resurrection and everlasting life? Jesus Christ is the truth; and if He affirmed the literal creation of the world in six normal-length days, we Christians should do the same. If however we compromise and try to marry millions and billions of years with the creation account of the Bible, we may easily pull folk away from the truth of the Bible and the Gospel.”
But what about science, which would be important to a published scientist? Markus points out:
“Science is a human endeavour to find the truth about the world of matter. It is not fully reliable, because theories and models change over time. Also, science cannot say anything about the big questions of ‘where do we come from, why are we here, and where do we go?’ Science is limited in its abilities and should not step over the clear limits which have been set by God.”
Astronomical support for the Bible
Also, despite its limitations, science provides good support for the Bible. Dr Blietz listed a number of areas in geology and biology, but also in his own field of astronomy. For example, the existence of comets in our solar system, as he explains:
“Comets are like dirty snowballs circling around the sun on highly elliptical orbits. Every orbit, they lose material, because they start to melt when they come close to the sun. After less than 10,000 years they should have disappeared completely. Evolutionist scientists have therefore ‘invented’ the so-called Oort Cloud, which, according to their theory, should act as a source for replenishing the comets, and which they say is located in the most distant parts of our solar system. However, despite intensive search in the last century, up to now there is not the smallest piece of evidence of this hypothesis. If the Bible is true, one would of course expect many comets to still be ‘alive’, because 6,000 years is just not enough for most of the comets to have melted.”1
Dr Blietz is also highly critical of the big bang dogma. For example:
“The big bang model assumes the existence of so-called dark matter and dark energy. Neither of these have ever been observed in the laboratory. However, they are desperately needed to uphold the model and to avoid contradiction with the observational data.
“The big bang also has no reasonable explanation for the virtual non-existence of antimatter. This is an enemy of normal matter: when they meet, they annihilate each other with intense release of energy. But according to the model, an equal amount of antimatter and matter should have been generated.”
Dr Blietz has published papers in astrophysics journals on Seyfert galaxies, e.g. those classified as NGC 10682 and NGC 7469.3 But they are 47 million and 200 million light years away respectively. So I asked, “How could you study light from these galaxies if the universe is only 6,000 years old?” Dr Blietz responded with several ideas, including:
“A more ‘scientific’ explanation would be the models recently presented by John Hartnett and Russell Humphreys in their books and papers in the Journal of Creation. They propose time dilation effects from general relativity to have taken place. In their models, at the beginning of creation, time on Earth went much slower than time near the edge of the universe (based on the Bible, they assume an edge and centre for the universe; big bang theorists presuppose without evidence a universe without edge and centre). While only 24 hours passed on Earth during Day Four of Creation Week, billions of years passed in the distant parts of the universe. This way, light from the stars would have had enough time to travel from even the most distant parts of the universe to Earth. Whatever explanation is true, I see no contradiction between the biblical report and the science of Seyfert galaxies.”
What about young Christians wanting to study science?
Markus encourages Christians to pursue science if they are interested. Indeed, he affirms:
“Only belief in Jesus Christ can open our eyes and give us the correct view of our world. Before I was a Christian, I never felt really content with the evolutionary world view, which I had adopted. It produced too many contradictions and left open too many questions. Only the truth in the Word of God is able to give a full, comprehensive answer to our basic questions of death and life.”
However, he warns that many in the scientific establishment will ridicule and persecute dissenters.4 All the same, he says that we can “study science to be able to better serve God. And I think this is exactly what He wants every one of us to do: To use the gifts we got from Him and use them for Him, to the glory of Him and His son, Jesus Christ.”
Re-posted on homepage: 11 January 2023
References and notes
- Sarfati, J., Comets portents of doom or indicators of youth? Creation 25(3):36–40, 2003; creation.com/comets. Return to text.
- Blietz, M. et al., Near-infrared spectroscopic imaging of the circumnuclear environment of NGC 1068, Astrophysical Journal 42(1):92–100, 20 January 1994. Return to text.
- Blietz, M. et al., High Resolution Near-Infrared Observations of the Seyfert 1 Galaxy NGC 7469, First Stromlo Symposium: The Physics of Active Galaxies, ASP Conference Series 54, 1994. Return to text.
- This was documented in Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled, and in Dr Jerry Bergman’s book Slaughter of the Dissidents, both available from CMI. Return to text.