Cosmology Physics

The Big Bang: How did one of the best attested theories in science become so unpopular?

Spread the love

Big Bang Exterminator Wanted, Will Train

Many in cosmology have never made any secret of their dislike of the Big Bang, the generally accepted start to our universe first suggested by Belgian priest Georges Lemaître (1894-1966).

On the face of it, that is odd. The theory accounts well enough for the evidence. Nothing ever completely accounts for all the evidence, of course, because evidence is always changing a bit. But the Big Bang has enabled accurate prediction.

In which case, its hostile reception might surprise you. British astronomer Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) gave the theory its name in one of his papers — as a joke. Another noted astronomer, Arthur Eddington (1882-1944), exclaimed in 1933, “I feel almost an indignation that anyone should believe in it — except myself.” Why? Because “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”

Note: This is the first in a series. Also, Hoyle (and a bunch of other famous non-religious folk you’ll be surprised to read) said all the stuff about the Big Bang demonstrating God and the supernatural that you can read here. I just wrote it down.

22 Replies to “The Big Bang: How did one of the best attested theories in science become so unpopular?

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    I don’t know if I posted this yesterday, as I had intended to. Seemingly, here, in this first article in the site linked below, is a Big Bang theory framed by the kabbalists which predated LeMaitre’s by some centuries.

    I imagine the book, Let There Be Light, by Howard Smith would be of great interest to most UDists, who haven’t read it.

  2. 2
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    “But the Big Bang has enabled accurate prediction.”

    The Ptolemaic model enabled accurate prediction too…

    Before another theory came along and dethroned it.

    Pardon me if I don’t genuflect 😀

    Personally, theories matter if they affect my life. Cosmological theories don’t affect anything in my life. They are a mere curiosity that will not be of any value at the time of my death.

  3. 3
    Phinehas says:


    “OP: But the Big Bang has enabled accurate prediction.”

    CS: The Ptolemaic model enabled accurate prediction too…

    Before another theory came along and dethroned it.

    And what theory has come along and dethroned the Big Bang?

    Before it was dethroned, the Ptolemaic model was the best explanation we had on offer. Shouldn’t the same hold true for the Big Bang theory?

  4. 4
    EDTA says:

    Cosmological theories don’t affect anything in my life. They are a mere curiosity that will not be of any value at the time of my death.

    If materialism is true, then one second after death, nothing matters.

  5. 5
    selvaRajan says:

    Frankly I find people believing in Big Bang weird. There is no coherent explanation for where the energy for Bang and expansion could have come from. The assertion by Physicists like Dr.Krauss that ‘Nothing’ is source of energy for expansion of universe, for all created matter and that everyone evolved from ‘Nothing’ is even weirder. It may be noted that Dr.Krauss is an ally of Dr.Dawkins and if both believe that matter was created from ‘Nothing’, then I think there is use arguing with them.

  6. 6
    goodusername says:

    How did one of the best attested theories in science become so unpopular?

    The Big Bang wasn’t “one of the best attested theories in science” 60-70 years ago.

  7. 7
    selvaRajan says:

    @Phinehas consider ‘Cosmic microwave background’ which is the thermal snapshot of ‘BigBang’. It is uniform.If there was a BigBang, the temperature corresponding to the period of BigBang SHOULD BE LOWER than surrounding parts since the universe would have expanded and cooled down drastically. Do you know how this anomaly is defended? Physicists/cosmologists say after a short period of BigBang the universe suddenly expanded 10^28 times in 1 second!so the temperature is uniform! and this was by phase change! What a load of BS and they question ID?

  8. 8
    tjguy says:

    I know most IDers are big supporters of the Big Bang along with the majority of cosmologists. In fact, belief in the Big Bang is probably the major difference between IDers who do not believe in common descent and creationists. However, I agree with Central Scrutinizer here. A theory can make some accurate predictions and still be wrong.

    I have mentioned it before, but I think we all know that there is a growing list of dissenters(please check out cosmology who have signed a statement openly stating that they have grave doubts about the accuracy of the Big Bang model.

    But I appreciate the fact that creationists can post here and interact with IDers who have this worldview.

  9. 9
    selvaRajan says:

    @tjguy : I am a newly converted ‘ID’ist. I am still wrapping my mind around the intelligent agent concept, but I will not oppose any theory just because I don’t like it, but will oppose only if facts don’t support it. I don’t believe in Big Bang based on facts :
    1)Cosmic microwave background’ is uniform. It has to be non-uniform -colder during the period of BigBang.

    2) The concept that space expanded about 10^28 times in a second -faster than speed of light and that expanding universe is due to fluctuations in ‘Nothing’ is bordering on absurd.

    3)If the space expanded at speed greater than light,the space will contract – not expand! (Theory of Relativity) which means the Big Bang would have actually turned into a black hole! I have no idea why cosmologists, Darwinists, Physicists like Dr.Krauss and Dr.Richard Dawkins would support such a obvious BS

  10. 10
    Axel says:

    ‘The Big Bang: How did one of the best attested theories in science become so unpopular?’

    The same way quantum mechanics, particularly, its metaphysical implications has always been unpopular, once it was found the paradoxes and mysteries could not be explained away. The fact that its been uniquely successful has earned only ‘cupboard love’ from the brethren of the Covenant of the Double Helix.

    Note that it’s at the frontiers of both fields, inviting God’s foot in the door, in both cases, that their terror becomes pathological.

  11. 11
    StuartHarris says:

    What about the central absurdity of a steady state type model? If the universe has existed infinitely into the past, how can there be a “now”? An infinity by definition is something that can never be traversed, so how could time have marched on through the infinity of the past so that we have a present now that exists as I type these words?

    This same paradox applies to the multi-verse model.

  12. 12
    Mapou says:

    StuartHarris @11,

    Well said. Any hypothesis that appeals to infinity is a prime candidate for the crackpottery basket in my view.

  13. 13
    Mapou says:

    Having said that, I don’t think a steady state model necessarily calls for a physical universe with no beginning. It could have been created that way, with galaxies and stars all over the place.

  14. 14
    StuartHarris says:

    Mapou @13,

    Yes, that would be a steady state universe with a beginning, but I think the whole idea behind the steady state hypothesis was to explain away the observation that red-shifts in the spectra of objects increases with their distance. The red shifts definitely imply a beginning to the universe, and that’s philosophically troubling for many people so they throw out the evidence and make something up. A typical human trait, and scientists are humans…

  15. 15
    Mapou says:

    StuartHarris @14,

    The red shifts definitely imply a beginning to the universe, and that’s philosophically troubling for many people so they throw out the evidence and make something up. A typical human trait, and scientists are humans…

    I am not entirely sure that is true or even provable. It is possible that light loses some of its energy over huge distances, which would explain the redshifts. And why not? Interstellar gases and dust can certainly affect the energy of photons.

    Don’t take me wrong, I am not arguing against a beginning. I just don’t think that red-shifted light is conclusive evidence. The best argument for a beginning is that the concept of an infinite past is hogwash on the face of it.

  16. 16

    Dumb question for those who understand it better:

    The Big Bang is represented as an unbelievably massive explosion (for lack of a better word) of energy, which later coalesced into particles and then into larger forms of matter.

    What is the role of gravity in all of this? Did gravity exist and cause the various particles to form and later the larger particles?

    How does this occur? After all, the energy is supposedly heading out in all directions from the initial Big Bang. What causes the particles to later form and then coalesce together into larger masses, given that — by definition as a result of the explosion — they have all exceeded the escape velocity from each other.

    As a thought experiment, think of a uniform explosion of a tight mass in empty space. All the various particles immediately start to shoot outwards from the center of the explosion. But they are also moving away from each other. By definition they have reached escape velocity — not only from the central mass, but from each other (otherwise, no explosion). By what force or mechanism are various particles then brought back together to coalesce into larger particles? What kind of physical law is proposed to accomplish this?

  17. 17
    selvaRajan says:

    Eric Anderson @15,
    There is no coherent theory of how the explosion took place but the universe expanded because the space in between the matter expanded at more than light speed (in fact up to 10^28 times in under a second)and that is the reason the matter didn’t escape each other. Apparently while matter can’t travel faster than speed of light, the space in between is allowed.I recommend you watch Dr krauss Lawrence YouTube videos about ‘universe from nothing’ and his ‘FreeOk 2013’ speech. You will be mesmerized – despite his acerbic attitude towards IDist & Church (Just like his friend Dr.Richard Dawkins)

  18. 18

    Thanks, selvaRajan. I’ll check out the video if I get the chance.

    In the meantime, let me see if I’ve got this right: The matter didn’t expand at more than light speed, but the “space” (inconveniently defined, one presumes, as the separation between the matter) expanded at more than light speed? I trust this isn’t a semantic trick, so I’ll have to think about it some more. Hmmmm . . .

    Regardless, obviously most portions of the matter expanded away from each other at a speed that, by definition, exceeded their relative escape velocity. So if I’m understanding the theory right, what is being proposed is that the clumps of matter we see today as we look at the cosmos are essentially the same clumps of matter that just happened to be formed shortly after the explosion, and just happened to be clumped together due to the lumpiness of the explosion, some of which just happened to stick together in coherent formations of galaxies, stars, planetary systems, and so on?

    Or is a more uniform dispersal of matter by the Big Bang proposed, followed by some other force (again, I don’t see that gravity helps here) that would have caused the relatively uniform dust/gas clouds/whatever to coalesce into discrete objects? And then those objects, for example, start spinning for some reason to create magnetic fields and the other characteristics we see today?

  19. 19
    selvaRajan says:

    @Eric Anderson,
    Sorry didn’t notice your comment till now. Though the following explanation is weird, it is how physicists/cosmologists explain creation of universe Most matter was created by ‘Nothing’.Empty space is teeming with subatomic particles whizzing around so ‘Nothing’ is full of particles. When an electron inside ‘Nothing’ travels at speed greater than light, due to theory of relativity, the electron moves backwards for a very brief amount of time, but a negative electron moving backward is actually a positive particle moving forward, so a antimatter with -ve charge is created.
    In essence, for a brief period(far far less than a second), 3 particles exists. The matter and antimatter annihilate each other after that brief period. In essence a particle is created from ‘Nothing’and gets annihilated almost immediately.
    During inflation after Big Bang, the mass of matter and antimatter in ‘Nothing’ where thrown apart in space so fast that they couldn’t combine to annihilate each other. Large masses of antimatter and matter annihilated each other but a vast majority of masses of matter couldn’t be annihilated. Those mass of particles slowly clumped together over a period of billions of years, forming planets, stars and all the matter we see today. Essentially Universe was created from ‘Nothing’. In fact ‘Nothing’ forms 70% of universe and matter is only 30%.The part I don’t understand and many have commented on this is, theory of relativity is not about real effect. It is what an observer sees, so how can a particle be physically created? but the concept of particles from Nothing has been proved by Casimir effect.Quantum mechanics is weird but it is what drives the theory of ‘Universe from Nothing’ It would be easier to understand if you see Dr.Krauss presentation & videos of Casimir effect and Heisenberg uncertainty principle

  20. 20
  21. 21
    Mapou says:

    selvaRajan @19:

    the concept of particles from Nothing has been proved by Casimir effect.

    Although I believe that matter was created from nothing, it is extremely unlikely, or rather, it is logically impossible that matter can create itself. All the Casimir effect has shown is that so-called empty space is not empty at all but filled to the brim with energy.

    But I don’t need the Casimir effect to know that empty space is full of energetic particles. There is a little book authored by an exiled Jew about 2000 years ago that said it already. It even describes how this energy is structured (like a lattice) and its composition (4 types of particles). In fact, the amount of energy in space is so ridiculously mind-boggling that, if we knew enough to tap into a miniscule part of it, we would be sitting pretty indeed. Or we would destroy ourselves. Poof!

    Good night.

  22. 22

    Thanks, selvaRajan:

    I appreciate your explanation and thank you for taking time to respond.

    No doubt it is a limitation of mine, however as I hear about the Big Bang and how it allegedly occurred I can’t help but feeling like I’m being told how wonderful the Emperor’s Clothes are. Or perhaps being fed Sokal’s paper in Social Text. Or perhaps being exposed to a cosmic version of the Great Evolutionary Explanation we hear so much in biology: Stuff Happens.

    Mind you, I don’t have any particular qualms with the idea of a Big Bang and certainly don’t have any philosophical axe to grind. The story just seems to be tied together with so many conjectures and suppositions and “then-x-happened-by-coincidence” kind of statements that it is hard to know whether it is even possible in principle to assess the idea with any concreteness.

    In my initial question, I was driving at something even more basic. Assuming the Big Bang occurred through some powerful explosion of energy, part of which then turned into mass. Assuming the creation from nothing actually occurred (and even setting aside for a moment the semantic trick that “nothing” isn’t really nothing). Assuming that the universe is indeed expanding and has been since the Big Bang.

    With all of those assumptions granted for sake of discussion, and with a sincere desire to believe in the Big Bang that I am told is settled science, a very simple question gnaws at me:

    What in the world would cause particles of diffuse matter to come together to form large scale structures — from stars to planetary systems to galaxies? Gravity, the facile answer of choice, seems to be a good candidate only until we stop to think about it for a moment. And if not gravity, then what else? Is there any better explanation for the cosmos and how things got to where they are today than: Stuff Happens?

Leave a Reply