Are there legitimate scientific challenges to the Big Bang theory?

big-bang

(Reuben Wong) #1

hi all,

A friend of mine was discussing the big bang with me, and cited some articles from Creation Ministries international. It’s a video on the Big Bang, link here. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? There were other articles that discussed problems with this as well, e.g. issues with red-shift in a quasar, and no shadows casted from CMB.

Some of the articles raise some issues with the Big Bang model, but does not offer a suitable alternative explanation. As a Physicist myself, the mathematics I did seemed reasonable at the time. and So while there may be empirical data of wrong red-shifts in quasars, or even fluctuation CMBs (cosmic background radiation) temperatures, I wonder if these really mean that the theory is flawed or not.

My initial view is that, while not everything can ever be experimentally verifiable, the theory still seems reasonable to me.

Anyone has views/comments?


(Harris Ratnayake) #2

Hi Reuben:

I don’t belong to any particular interpretation of Genesis but my view is that Christians should be careful not to jump into the latest theories of cosmology as these are not proven theories. There is so much we don’t know with dark energy and dark matter taking up some 95% of the universe. So I think it is foolish for us to adhere to any theory even if it appears to show that it helps our cause - such as the BB with a singularity point of creation.


(SeanO) #3

@harrisrat My question in return would be - what role do you believe theories play in scientific discovery? I do not think we should hold to theories as we do to the Bible - as truth with a capital T - Truth.

From my perspective, the purpose of a theory is to attempt to make the most sense out of all known evidence at the time. A theory is always subject to alteration if there is new data or a deeper understanding of a fundamental concept. In that sense, a theory being altered or updated or even replaced is perfectly normal and expected as a part of doing good science.

In addition, as my Physicist friend likes to point out, a theory is nothing more than a mathematical model. Even when we have equations - like E = mc^2, the equations are not reality - they are a way of modeling reality. Even if theories and associated equations give us good predictions of what happens in real life, that does not necessarily mean they truly represent what is happening in reality.

As long as we hold theories - like the Big Bang - understanding what they truly are - mathematical models that are always subject to change in the face of new evidence - I think it is fine to hold to them.

@Reuben_Wong Regarding your question about whether or not fluctuations in the CMB or data concerning red-shifts in quasars invalidate the Big Bang theory, I am afraid I am unqualified to answer :slight_smile:

What are your thoughts as a Physicist? How would you respond to these arguments against Big Bang theory?


(Helen Tan) #4

Hi @Reuben_Wong, I really don’t know much about the challenges to the Big Bang Theory but here’s one article from Reasons to Believe:

http://www.reasons.org/explore/publications/tnrtb/read/tnrtb/2015/04/21/has-the-big-bang-gone-bust

I hope that someone who’s knowledgeable in this field will add to this discussion :))


(David Cieszynski) #5

Hi Helen,

To be honest I’ve not looked into alternatives, but am interested in people’s thoughts.


(David Cieszynski) #6

Just to follow up on my last post I’m currently reading a book “The Creator and the Cosmos” by Hugh Ross. Short chapters and easy to understand for those who are not scientific minded.

In the book there are strong cases for the Big Bang theory.

I find it fascinating how perfect the universe is.


(Helen Tan) #7

Hi @Reuben_Wong , I just saw this article by Jeff Zweerink of Reasons to Believe entitled “Hawking’s Final Word on the Beginning” which indicates that the universe has a beginning. In the article, Jeff provides the link to the article by Hawking and Thomas Hertog entitled “A Smooth exit from eternal inflation?” I must admit that the maths in there is beyond me. Perhaps it will mean something to you.

http://www.reasons.org/explore/blogs/impact-events/read/impact-events/2018/05/11/hawking-s-final-word-on-the-beginning


(Harris Ratnayake) #8

Sorry I didn’t come back to this post to check for responses. My point about not adhering to a particular cosmological theory - especially when all the data doesn’t support it - is not to make theological conclusions from these theories. I have seen many try to do this especially with the BB and I think on the long run it is a detriment to our message.

Sure, the purpose of a theory is to make the most sense of all known evidence and a theory is always subject to alteration or rejection if it doesn’t match with new data. I am not sure what your physicist friend means when s/he says a theory is nothing more than a mathematical model. It seems to me that I could have a theory without having a mathematical model especially in other areas of science such as biology. I don’t see a purpose in having equations if it is not an attempt to reflect reality.


(SeanO) #9

@harrisrat Glad to have you back! Yes, there is a danger in hinging arguments for theism on scientific theories that may be replaced in the future. I agree 100%. Though I think it is okay to tease out the implications of a scientific theory for our faith as long as it does not become a foundation of our faith. As an apologist, I think it is okay to note how a theory currently in vogue lends support to the faith - so long as we do not convey that it is our reason for believing. Do you agree?

You are correct that not all theories require equations. My understanding of my friends’ point is that when theories do require equations - as they often do in physics, which is built on mathematics - those equations allow us to accurately predict what happens, but they are not the thing itself.

For example, gravity. Yes, we know that throwing an apple causes it to come down and particles have an attractive force related to their mass. But ‘gravity’ is not anywhere - you cannot touch it, put it in a bottle or measure it. Gravity is a word we use to explain what we observe when the apple is pulled back down to the earth and F=ma allows us to predict the behavior of objects with different mass. But F=ma is not reality - it is a model of reality - a way of predicting behavior that has been observed.

Scientists observe reality and then seek to create a mathematical model that can allow them to predict the behavior they observe. But the mathematical model (F=ma) is not equivalent to the actual observation - the apple being drawn back to earth.

The Big Bang theory also has such mathematical models based on observations of cosmic microwave background radiation, etc.


(Harris Ratnayake) #10

SeanO

    May 24

@harrisrat Glad to have you back! Yes, there is a danger in hinging arguments for theism on scientific theories that may be replaced in the future. I agree 100%. Though I think it is okay to tease out the implications of a scientific theory for our faith as long as it does not become a foundation of our faith. As an apologist, I think it is okay to note how a theory currently in vogue lends support to the faith - so long as we do not convey that it is our reason for believing. Do you agree?

You are correct that not all theories require equations. My understanding of my friends’ point is that when theories do require equations - as they often do in physics, which is built on mathematics - those equations allow us to accurately predict what happens, but they are not the thing itself.

For example, gravity. Yes, we know that throwing an apple causes it to come down and particles have an attractive force related to their mass. But ‘gravity’ is not anywhere - you cannot touch it, put it in a bottle or measure it. Gravity is a word we use to explain what we observe when the apple is pulled back down to the earth and F=ma allows us to predict the behavior of objects with different mass. But F=ma is not reality - it is a model of reality - a way of predicting behavior that has been observed.

Scientists observe reality and then seek to create a mathematical model that can allow them to predict the behavior they observe. But the mathematical model (F=ma) is not equivalent to the actual observation - the apple being drawn back to earth.

The Big Bang theory also has such mathematical models based on observations of cosmic microwave background radiation, etc.


(Harris Ratnayake) #11

Sean, I like your careful use of words here, “it is okay to tease out the implications of a scientific theory for our faith as long as it does not become a foundation of our faith” and " I think it is okay to note how a theory currently in vogue lends support to the faith - so long as we do not convey that it is our reason for believing." I cannot disagree! My concern is that what happens when the theory changes and it stops lending support for our faith, like the multiverse theory. Do we stay quiet or attack the new theory? I would prefer to question any theory, especially cosmological theories, and let its defenders try and defend them. Many of these theories are an attempt to come up with a naturalistic explanation for our existence and they would grab at straws to try to explain our existence without God.


(SeanO) #12

@harrisrat That is a legitimate question - what do we do when a theory changes and contradicts Scripture? Wouldn’t it be better to never lend credence to any theory to avoid this conundrum?

I think the answer is a resounding no - God has given us two books - the Book of Scripture and the book of nature. Scientific theories are mankind’s attempt to understand the book of nature and I think it is appropriate that we do so alongside unbelievers. Our motivation for studying nature will be different than an unbelievers, but let us not miss such a wonderful opportunity to spread the knowledge of God! The heavens declare God’s glory! Astrophysics and biology all point to the Creator of us all.

To the scientist become like a scientist, to win the scientists.

I Corinthians 9:20 - To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.

I think Hugh Ross is an excellent example both of how honest inquiry into science leads to God and how a scientist can study scientific theory in light of Scripture. Rather than leaving the scientist to themselves and their theories - Hugh Ross attempts to build a scientific framework - rooted in the Scriptures - that better explains the available evidence than current theories. By so doing, he hopes to win other scientists to Christ.


(Harris Ratnayake) #13

I am not saying at all that it is better to never lend credence to any theory to avoid the issue of contradicting scripture. Theories should stand on its own merit regardless of whether they agree or disagree with our particular interpretation of scripture. Is the theory sound? Does all the evidence support it and no evidence oppose it. If so, we should accept it. I don’t think the BBT falls into that category. Galileo’s theory is a good example of one that does. People pointed out various scripture to oppose it including Joshua stopping the sun.

I fully agree that God has given us two books. If there are conflicts we need to resolve it and depending on the strength of the evidence we need to change our interpretation of scripture like we did for heliocentricity.


(David Cieszynski) #14

I remember reading somewhere how science and theology have gone down separate paths, so instead of complementing each other they can oppose each other.


(SeanO) #15

@harrisrat Agreed. I also am uncertain that I buy into BBT.

Does that mean that when you said “I would prefer to question any theory” you simply meant that we should evaluate every theory and weigh its validity based on the quality of the defenses given?


(SeanO) #16

@David_Cieszynski Do you think that the opposition of science with theology / philosophy occurs when science tries to make philosophical / theological claims that are unjustifiable using the scientific method?

I ask because I think when science stays within its proper boundaries and only makes legitimate claims there is no issue. But when people use science to make metaphysical claims that are beyond the reach of the scientific method and observational science, that is when I think something irrational is occurring.


(David Cieszynski) #17

@SeanO in my opinion some scientists like to try and use science to further their claims, and conveniently misconstrue theological and philosophy points. Science in some cases can be recreated, history cannot.

I do believe scientists like Hugh Ross bridge the gap between the two camps, as they direct us to biblical texts which fit in with the latest discoveries in science.

Hope I answered your question?


(SeanO) #18

@David_Cieszynski Indeed!


(Harris Ratnayake) #19

Yes, indeed. I am currently discussing evolution with an evolutionist on Quora. I have 5 questions that I ask evolutionists that I am seeking answers to. So far I have not got satisfactory answers. If they are able to convincingly answer my questions I should be willing to give up my opposition to evolution and perhaps become a theistic evolutionist like Francis Collins.


(SeanO) #20

@harrisrat Yes - we must follow the evidence where it leads. The journey of investigating where the evidence leads is part of the fun of science :slight_smile: