The design of our universe continually frustrates the efforts of Big Bang proponents who try to explain our existence apart from the Lord. One of the difficulties in the original Big Bang model was something called the “flatness problem.” Because of their interpretation of the cosmological data, Big Bang theorists concluded that we live in a flat universe, in which space has a 3-D geometry analogous to the 2-D geometry of a flat sheet of paper. However, this presents a problem: A flat universe today implies that the universe must have also been flat shortly after the supposed Big Bang. Within the Big Bang model, this could not have happened unless the density of the very early universe was fine-tuned (to more than 50 decimal places) to a special value.1
Naturally, secularists do not like the idea that fine-tuning might have occurred, because that idea suggests a Designer. In order to solve the flatness problem (as well as the other problems in the original Big Bang model), theorists invoked a hypothetical concept called inflation, a dramatic but short-lived increase in the expansion rate of the early universe. Inflation solved the flatness problem without relying on fine-tuning by a Designer. Supposedly, space appears flat because of the enormous increase in the size of the universe caused by inflation—space is thought to appear flat for much the same reason that a sphere appears flat when viewed from a close proximity.1
Theorists originally thought inflation would stop all at once, but they eventually concluded that different regions of space would stop inflating at different times. This would result in “islands” of non-inflating space surrounded by a “sea” of still-inflating space. Each island of space would become one of infinitely many universes in an enormous multiverse.2
Secularists like the multiverse idea, since they think it provides an answer to the design argument. They acknowledge that it does seem widely improbable that our existence could be the result of a cosmic accident, but they argue that we were simply lucky enough to live in one of the universes having laws of physics permitting the existence of life. However, there is no evidence to suggest that these other universes actually exist, and even if they did exist, this argument is fatally flawed.3
Paul Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading inflation theorists, pointed out additional difficulties with inflation theory.2 Theorists believe that inflation is extremely likely to produce a universe that permits life to exist. This would seem to be good news for secularists. However, it is actually bad news for them because most of these habitable universes would have characteristics that do not match what we observe! Even when the observations are interpreted through the filter of the Big Bang model, obtaining a universe that matches these observations requires a great deal of fine-tuning. Thus, our existence in such an unlikely universe still requires an explanation—theorists invoked inflation in part to escape one fine-tuning problem, but only succeeding in replacing it with another!
Steinhardt also noted that one is far more likely to get a flat universe without inflation than with it, a conclusion supported by calculations done by Oxford physicist Roger Penrose in the 1980s: Penrose concluded that a flat universe was 10100 times more likely without inflation than with it.4 This is truly astonishing, since one of the main reasons inflation was invoked in the first place was to explain the apparent flatness of the universe! Trying to explain our existence apart from the Lord leads to frustrating conclusions: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision” (Psalm 2:4).
- Freedman, R. A. and Kaufmann III, W. J. 2002. Universe: Stars and Galaxies. New York: W. H. Freeman and Co., 670-672.
- Steinhardt, P. J. 2011. The Inflation Debate. Scientific American. 304 (4): 36-43.
- Hebert, J. 2012. A Universe from Nothing? Acts & Facts 41 (7): 11-13.
- 10100 is equal to a 1 followed by 100 zeros.
* Dr. Hebert is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Cite this article: Hebert, J. 2012. Big Bang Explanations Fall Flat. Acts & Facts. 41 (11): 16.