what kind of big bang describes the origin and history of the universe
At two different outreach events this past month I met both atheists and young-earth creationists who expressed skepticism concerning the evidence I presented for the biblically predicted big bang creation model.1While admitting that the evidence I presented was compelling, they claimed the fact that astronomers cannot agree on exactly what kind of big bang describes the origin and history of the universe proves that the big bang creation model resides on a shaky foundation.
This critique could be brought against any explanation of any phenomenon within the record of nature. One would need to possess complete knowledge and understanding about every complexity of a phenomenon before one could settle upon a unique and exhaustively complete explanation of every detail of the phenomenon. Since only God is omniscient, such an explanation will forever remain beyond the bounds of human knowledge. Another way to put it is that only God possesses absolute proof.
Limitations on human knowledge, however, do not imply that astronomers can never achieve any degree of certainty on any aspect of the state of the universe. In a court of law an explanation for an event is considered proven if no other reasonable explanation for that event exists within the realm of possibility. Scientists employ the same principle in their scientific research. In addition, they possess another powerful testing tool.
Scientists consider a scientific theory or model to have attained a level of practical proof when, over a lengthy period of time, rigorous and thorough testing demonstrates that the model produces an increasingly more specific, more detailed, more comprehensive, more predictive, and/or more accurate explanation for the phenomenon. An issue for critics of the big bang creation model then becomes, have any of these practical proofs been established or has the reverse been observed?
Two researchers from Krakow, Poland, one an astronomer, the other a mathematician, recently developed a new practical proof, based on Bayesian statistics, for the big bang creation model. In their paper the Polish researchers, Aleksandra Kurek and Marek Szydlowski, consider ten different big bang creation models in the light of the latest measurements of the cosmic background radiation, type Ia supernovae, baryon acoustic oscillation, and the Hubble constant.2 Their goal was to determine whether the newest measurements offered a superior confirmation of the model in question by showing that a more, specified identification of the big bang creation event was possible. They sought to answer whether Bayesian statistical analysis could show that one, rather than many, of the ten possible big bang creation models was significantly more favored.
All of the new measurements decisively narrow down the class of viable big bang creation models. First they favor those in which the current universe is in an accelerating mode of expansion. Second, they all establish that most of the matter in the universe is comprised of exotic dark matter (matter made up of particles that interact very weakly, or not at all, with light). Third, they are also all consistent with a flat geometry universe and none permit anything but a small departure from flatness. These three conclusions by themselves establish a much more specific set of big bang creation models than what was possible a decade ago. Thus, astronomers are fully justified in their assessment that the scientific evidence for a big bang creation event has become much stronger rather than weaker.
Kurek and Szydlowski noted that the remaining family of big bang creation models fall into two philosophical categories: one where the accelerated cosmic expansion is explained by some kind of “dark energy” and the other where it is explained by some inhomogeneity in the universe’s distribution of matter, energy, or space. They classified five different sets of cosmic models that could be fit into the first category and five more that could be fit into the second. Their Bayesian statistical analysis first demonstrated that the new measurements favored the first category over the second. Within that first category the cold dark matter big model with a cosmological constant was the statistically favored model. In this particular model the exotic matter particles are predominantly moving at low velocities as opposed to velocities nearing the speed of light and the dark energy can be defined by a physical non-varying constant.
Thus, even stronger evidence now exists that the more astronomers learn about the universe, the more specific a big bang creation model they can identify as remaining consistent with their observations of the universe. New observations consistently provide increasingly stronger proofs for a big bang creation event and big bang Creator.
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- Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos 3rd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001): 23-29.
- Aleksandra Kurek and Marek Szydlowski, “The ΛCDM Model in the Lead—A Bayesian Cosmological Model Comparison,” Astrophysical Journal 675 (March 1, 2008):1-7.