The subject of cosmology is said by its practitioners to be a science. It does have the trappings of science, encased in a heavy apparatus of relativistic mathematics and esoteric jargon. These experts have Ph.D. degrees in astrophysics or astronomy or perhaps in the philosophy of science, and they regularly send forth a voluminous body of speculative literature on the origin and structure of the universe, with new variations and speculations appearing every month or so.
Although cosmology in many respects is indeed a science, it has many philosophical, political, or even religious overtones. This aspect of cosmology appears in the very titles of the many scientific articles in this field being written for non-cosmologists. Here are some of them in my files--more or less picked at random:
"Law and Order in the Universe" (New Scientist. October 15, 1988)
"Big-Bang Bashers" (Scientific American. September 1987)
"Down with the Big Bang" (Nature. August 10, 1989)
"Are We All in the Grip of a Great Attractor?" (Science. September 11, 1987)
"Chaos Frees the Universe" (New Scientist. October 6, 1990)
"Is the Universe Made of Froth?" (New Scientist. February 13, 1986)
"Giant Structure Spells Trouble for Cosmology" (New Scientist. February 23, 1991).
An article with a particularly intriguing title is "Searching for Cosmology's Holy Grail," a review article by Ron Cowen (Science News, volume 146, October 8, 1994, pp. 232-234). The "holy grail," in medieval religious tradition, was supposed to be the cup used by Christ and His disciples at the Last Supper. It was the object of many fruitless searches by the legendary knights of the Middle Ages.
The cosmologists are engaged in a fruitless search for their own "holy grail," by which is meant the age of the universe. When I was in college, I was taught that the age of the universe was two billion years. Since then, its age has grown considerably.
How old is the universe? After years of fractious debate, astronomers still do not know the answer. Some believe the universe is 10 billion years old, others argue that it is closer to 20 billion (Cowen, op cit., p. 232).
The two billion years of my college days were supposedly confirmed by about five other independent age calculations--including the uranium lead age of the earth's oldest rocks. The age of the earth itself has since grown to 4.6 billion years.
I realize it has been a long time since I was in college (1939, to be exact, when I graduated from Rice University with my first degree), but not that long!
The current problem is that new measurements, both from the Hubble Space Telescope and from certain ground observatories, indicate that the universe is younger than many of its stars! That is, at least three recent independent measurements suggest that the cosmos is "only" 8 to 10 billion years old, whereas many of the globular clusters of stars in various galaxies are thought to be about 16 billion years old. On the other hand, a number of astronomers still insist that their measurements show the universe to be about 20 billion years old.
At any rate, it is obvious that they have not yet found their holy grail. Other important cosmological concepts--such as whether the universe is open, closed, or flat, whether most of it consists of invisible dark matter, whether the general theory of relativity has to be changed, and other such mysteries--are dependent in one degree or another on this search.
The cosmologists (with a number of notable exceptions) are all committed to the "Big Bang" theory of cosmic origin, the date of which is the age for which they are searching. But the "Big Bang" itself is highly speculative, and there are a growing number of astronomers who are questioning it. Especially if the many younger astronomers advocating the 8 to 12 billion year age of the universe should prevail, it would be in serious trouble. Such an age . . .
. . . suggests the universe is younger than its oldest stars, a logical contradiction that would destroy the big bang theory ("The Constant Hubble War," by Ken Croswell, New Scientist, volume 137. February 13, 1993, p. 22).
The author of this particular observation quotes a Canadian astronomer, Sidney van den Bergh, who is trying to be neutral on this issue, and who then quotes Mark Twain as follows:
The researches of many commentators have already thrown much darkness on this subject, and it is probable that, if they continue, we shall soon know nothing at all about it (op cit., p. 23).
But continue they will, no doubt, for that is how they make their living. Practically all leading astronomers are evolutionists, and most are either atheists or pantheists. They seem determined to find some means--any means--of eliminating the true God, the God of the Bible, from any role in the creation of the universe.
When the "Big Bang" theory began to run into serious difficulties about fifteen years ago, it was supposedly rescued by the "Inflation" theory. This esoteric theory postulated a period of very rapid cosmic "inflation" (moving far more rapidly than the speed of light!) in an infinitesimal moment of time before the "Big Bang" took over.
But the original inflationary theory has been modified in various ways by various cosmologists, for it has also encountered many problems. A. D. Linde, for example, proposed a scenario called "chaotic inflation." These are all intensely mathematical and impossibly abstruse (at least for laymen such as myself) and obviously cannot be tested experimentally.
One of the strangest ideas recently has been developed by Linde, based on his premise of chaotic inflation. He first notes that there have been many inflationary theories.
The inflationary theory itself changes as particle physics theory rapidly evolves. The list of new models includes extended inflation, natural inflation, hybrid inflation, and many others (Andrei Linde, "The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe," Scientific American, volume 271. November 1994, p. 54).
Dr. Linde, originally trained in Moscow and now at Stanford, proceeds to develop one of the most remarkable scenarios ever proposed. Instead of the universe inflating only to grapefruit size, as the original inflation theory proposed, he has it inflating almost instantaneously to a size many orders of magnitude greater than that of our whole observable universe! This inflationary bubble does not precede the "Big Bang" but includes it. Furthermore, it unceasingly produces other inflationary domains, each with its own Big Bang. Linde calls the process "eternal inflation," producing a fractal-like pattern of universes without end. Our own universe is merely one such inflationary bubble with an infinite number of sibling universes.
In it the universe appears to be both chaotic and homogeneous, expanding and stationary. Our cosmic home grows, fluctuates and eternally reproduces itself for all types of life that it can support (Ibid., p. 55).
But there is still a problem. Where and how did the first inflationary bubble, with its first "Big Bang," arise?
What arose first: the universe or the laws determining its evolution? Explaining this initial singularity--where and when it all began--still remains the most intractable problem of modern cosmology (Ibid., p. 48).
After 20 pages of examining the possibilities, one writer concludes as follows:
Thus we reach a general conclusion: there is no philosophy of big bang cosmology that makes it reasonable to reject the fundamental thesis of big bang cosmology: that the universe began to exist without a cause (Quentin Smith. "Did the Big Bang Have a Cause?" British Journal of the Philosophy of Science, volume 45, 1994, p. 666).
In other words, the universe is "simply one of those things which happen from time to time" (see "Everything from Nothing," New Scientist, volume 127, July 28, 1990, p. 55).
Cosmological theory seems to be a never-never land of ever-changing naturalistic speculations about the origin and meaning of the universe. They will never find their "holy grail" that way.
The answer to their search has been there all along, though it's not what they want. The very first words of God's revealed word--in fact, probably the first words ever written--say it plainly. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). Then, lest anyone misunderstand, God later wrote it down in stone, with His own hand: "In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is" (Exodus 20:11). And that's the way it was!
No cosmologist has ever yet disproved these majestic words of fiat creation by the omnipotent Creator who simply spoke the universe into existence; "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made: and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. . . . For He spake, and it was done" (Psalm 33:6,9).
* Dr. Morris is Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.