Astronomy and the age of the universe

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Astronomy and the age of the universe

Postby tjguy » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:24 pm

Just read this article on Answers in Genesis and I thought it was quite good.

It points out something that I have been realizing/thinking about lately as well - that most secular estimates of the age of the universe are based on materialistic views of the origin of the universe.

It turns out that all secular age estimates are based on two fundamental (and questionable) assumptions. These are naturalism (the belief that nature is all there is),1 and uniformitarianism (the belief that present rates and conditions are generally representative of past rates and conditions).

In order to estimate the age of something (whose age is not known historically), we must have information about how the thing came to be, and how it has changed over time. Secular scientists assume that the earth and universe were not created supernaturally (the assumption of naturalism), and that they generally change in the slow-and-gradual way that we see today (the assumption of uniformitarianism).2 If these starting assumptions are not correct, then there is no reason to trust the resulting age estimates.

Perhaps it is a bit simplistic, I don't know, but I think it is a good point.
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Big Bang Theory is NOT a "Reason to Believe"

Postby tjguy » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:32 pm

Dr. John Hartnett points out clearly all the problems involved in reading into the Bible the secular story for the origin of the universe - the Big Bang Theory.

Here is a good graphic highlighting some of these issues:

Here is the beginning of the article:

Astrophysicist Dr Jeff Zweerink works for the Hugh-Ross-led organization Reasons to Believe. He recently wrote the above article. Relevant portions of his words are reproduced (in green) with my comments interspersed.

"A remarkable correspondence exists between inflationary big bang cosmology and the Bible’s accounts of the universe’s origin."

This is his summary statement, which one would assume that his article itself will support. But if you look deeply into the details the substance evaporates.
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Re: Astronomy and the age of the universe

Postby tjguy » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:46 pm

Here is another article along the same lines on

The authors of the claimed biggest astrophysics discovery of the century admit they may have been wrong

by John G. Hartnett
Published: 3 July 2014 (GMT+10)

In March 2014 a team of astrophysicists announced to the world, through a public press release, that they had made the biggest discovery of the 21st century.
Cosmology is really historical science and as such there could be a plethora of possible explanations for the same evidence

Using the BICEP2, a telescope located at the South Pole, they claimed that they had discovered evidence of the early inflation epoch of the big bang universe. This was in part identified through what they claimed was the signature of primordial gravitational waves generated by distortions in spacetime during the first quintillionth of a quintillionth of a second after the alleged big bang and the effect of gravitational lensing on the B-mode polarization of the CMB photons1 that have travelled for allegedly the past 13.4 billion years since they left the big bang fireball. The discovery was celebrated worldwide and some even spoke of a Nobel Prize for the work.

Soon after the announcement on 17 March 2014, I pointed out the logical fallacy of this sort of thing. Cosmology is not science in the usual sense of experimentally repeatable tests. Cosmology is really historical science and as such there could be a plethora of possible explanations for the same evidence. Then a short while after the champagne corks had been popped, leading cosmologists, including Lawrence Krauss, also questioned the premature announcement stating,

“ … it is important to demonstrate that other possible sources cannot account for the current BICEP2 data before definitely claiming Inflation has been proved.”2

But then instead of this discovery being further hailed as the claimed ‘smoking gun’ evidence of the big bang, a significant controversy developed among scientists who had had time to analyse the results in more detail. It was reported in Science,

“The biggest discovery in cosmology in a decade could turn out to be an experimental artifact—at least according to an Internet rumor. The team that reported the discovery is sticking by its work, however.”3

And I wrote,

Some experts have suggested that the polarized emission from dust in our galaxy can account for most of the swirls in the BICEP2 data and that the BICEP team made a mistake,4 making it more likely that the signal came from a source other than gravitational waves.

There have since been many articles written on this in a media storm from even the very first day of their media release.5,6,7,8 In the 5 June 2014 edition of the prestigious scientific journal Nature, Dr Paul Steinhardt, a distinguished Professor of Physics at Princeton University, under the headline ‘Big Bang blunder bursts the multiverse bubble’ wrote,

“Now a careful reanalysis by scientists at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study, also in Princeton, has concluded that the BICEP2 B-mode pattern could be the result mostly or entirely of foreground effects without any contribution from gravitational waves. Other dust models considered by the BICEP2 team do not change this negative conclusion…”

For this observation Steinhardt has come under personal attack. One blogger wrote that this,
The BICEP2 B-mode pattern could be the result mostly or entirely of foreground effects without any contribution from gravitational waves—Paul Steinhardt

“… puts him almost in the same category with hardcore cranks…”9

But that same blogger admits the problem here,

“What actually follows from the facts is that cosmic inflation as a paradigm doesn’t make unambiguous predictions about (at least) one physical quantity, namely the strength of the primordial gravitational waves.”

Which is just what I have been saying all along.

Finally on 20 June 2014, the BICEP2 Collaboration had their paper published in the prestigious Physical Review Letters.10 Their paper comprises 25 pages in a journal that has a normal strict limit of four pages (actually 3500 words11) and, in special cases, extension to six pages is sometimes seen. This gives you some idea of the ‘impact’ to the scientific community that the editors have attributed to the discovery.

However, in those 25 pages there appears a one-half page “Note added” during the review process (prior to publication) wherein they admit that galactic dust contamination “… may well be higher than any of the models considered… ”12 [emphasis added] by them in their analysis.

Since their paper was submitted for peer-review and publication, new information on polarized dust emission from the Galaxy has become available from the Planck satellite, a space-borne telescope, which measures the CMB radiation with higher resolution than any previous telescope. This new data indicates that the polarized dust emission may be stronger than any of the models considered and hence they admit there is doubt about the B-mode polarization signal they claimed to be primordial from the big bang inflation epoch. They now admit the possibility of foreground dust contamination,

“Accounting for the contribution of foreground, dust will shift this value [of their claimed confidence interval of detection] downward by an amount which will be better constrained with upcoming data sets.”13

This is code for ‘we may be totally wrong’, because if the confidence limit is shifted down below 4 σ then, statistically, there is no detection. That is, it would be the result of foreground contamination from dust in the Galaxy. But they live in hope,

“More data are clearly required to resolve the situation.”14

But they can’t

“…exclude the possibility of dust emission bright enough to explain the entire excess signal,”15 [emphasis added]

which they had attributed to the primordial gravitational waves in that putative big bang inflation era.


Cosmology is a weak form of science, at best. It relies heavily on statistical arguments and on observations that have many possible interpretations. In that sense it is not on the same footing as repeatable operational science. It cannot make predictions on that basis, because even if you do make a prediction and discover the effect you predicted, you cannot rule out many other possibilities. And some of them you may not have even thought of.

Another problem here is that the big bang is now a paradigm. It is believed to be true—that the universe started that way—so evidence found that contradicts it is woven into the established fabric by use of additional ad hoc hypotheses and new parameters. These result in unknowns that are used to explain the unknown.

Inflation itself is one of these unknowns used to explain the unknowns like the horizon problem, the flatness problem, the monopole problem, etc.16 So, even if you find evidence to support your unknown, what if the unknown is purely fiction? It would not be the first time in science that such a situation has developed. Phlogiston is one such example,17 which was eventually eliminated. But that did not have a bearing on our origins and carried less philosophical and theological weight as to the verity of a Creator.

The big bang is claimed to be the uncaused cause, the beginning of the universe without God. Cosmic inflation is used to support that conjecture, and because of the conflicting evidence, it is necessarily supported by unknowns. This is a deep hole that those believers in scientism have dug and they must blithely continue else they will have to admit the Creator.

Unwisely there are those, like Hugh Ross and his ‘Reasons to Believe’ ministry, who have hung their Christian theology on the unstable ‘sand’ of big bang cosmology.18 They claim BICEP2 and other lines of evidence to support the Genesis 1 creation, via a supposedly ‘literal’ reading of the text. But no such reading is possible and to use this weak form of science to support your theology is so dangerous because the science continually changes. Only the solid ‘rock’ foundation of the biblical account, taken as straightforward history, is appropriate for this—meaning that there was no big bang, but a big God Who created the universe that we can see out to the limits of our telescopes. And He is worth putting your trust in.

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