The Cosmos: the Space Time Odyssey Continues (Part 4)
By Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
This installment of the current incarnation of the Cosmos series began with the host, Neil deGrasse Tyson saying, “Seeing is not believing.” Due to the fact that almost everything that has been presented thus far has been the evolutionary musings of the atheist’s version of creation, Dr. Tyson’s statement seemed appropriate. While these same agnostics and atheists have no trouble referring to the Genesis account of the Bible as a “creation myth,” they have no difficulty whatsoever presenting their “just so” story of creation sans a Creator as a scientific fact.
Did I mention that the producer of this series is Seth MacFarlane? He is the wildly successful American actor, animator, writer, producer, director, and singer. He is the creator of the TV show Family Guy and co-creator of the shows American Dad and The Cleveland Show. He manages to ridicule Christianity on a regular basis while wanting everyone to believe “in the beginning, nothing created something, and that something created everything else.”
This episode finds us in one of those animation sequences. This time it is the astronomer, William Herschel (1738-1822) walking on the beach with his young son John (1792-1871). William was a important man of science whose discoveries included double stars (binary) that he surmised were orbiting under mutual gravitational attraction. Discovery of other binary and multiple star systems followed. He discovered Uranus and conducted numerous deep sky surveys by which he discovered other galaxies beyond our own Milky Way.
The reason that the authors of this series were focusing on Herschel had more to do with his ability to peer deep into the cosmos and realize that we see stars that may have long ceased to exist. He tells his son that he does not believe in human ghosts, but likened these stars to ghosts that may no longer exist, even though we are seeing their light. All of this was so Dr. Tyson could liken our telescopes to time machines. He used the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second as a measuring stick to extrapolate the 15.8 billion-year-old universe. This has long been a dilemma for those of us who take God at His Word, rather than seeking ultimate truth from the minds of finite men.
This is the problem in a nutshell. So far as we know, the speed of light is a universal constant. We have never been able to produce anything faster than the speed of light. We measure the universe by how long it takes light to travel through space. Light can travel 6 trillion miles in one year. That is one light year. After explaining that the sun rising and the horizon we see in the distance are only illusions, Dr. Tyson explained that the planet Uranus is only 4 light hours away from us. Now he jumped to light years and our closet neighboring star Proxima Centauri (proxima, meaning “next to” or “nearest to” in Latin). This red dwarf is approximately 4.24 light years from our Sun. Then Dr. Tyson tells us “we can use our imagination to follow the light from Pleiades” that left that star cluster 400 years ago and is arriving to our eyes only now. If you want to know what Dr. Tyson is really doing, I will tell you. He is building a case against the biblical chronology of the creation of the universe. He chooses to tell us that the Crab Nebula’s light took 6,500 years to arrive here to where we can see it with our telescopes. If you think I am reading too much into this presentation, Dr. Tyson tells us that “to believe the universe is as young as 6-7 thousand years old is to extinguish the light from most of the galaxy, not to mention the light from all the other 100 billion other galaxies in the observable universe.”
At this point, it is necessary for me to mention that there are several well credentialed Ph.D. astronomers who disagree with the “billions and billions” of years that are extrapolated from the completely imaginary construct known as the Big Bang. Dr. Jason Lisle, who earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of Colorado and specialized in solar astrophysics, has his own theories concerning the accuracy of the biblical timeframe. Danny Faulkner is another young earth creationist with an M.S. in Physics from Clemson University and M.A. and PhD in Astronomy from Indiana University. Dr. Faulkner retired as a full professor and now holds the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus from the University of South Carolina, Lancaster. Russell Humphries has a B.S. from Duke and a Ph.D. from LSU in Physics. All of these men believe the Genesis account of creation is completely accurate and, along with dozens of others, they believe the universe is young.
We also need to understand, there are other chronologies that point to a biblical timeframe for the universe. While the starlight and time problem is a difficult question to address, it can be explained with several scientific models other than the 15.8 billion-year- old Big Bang generated universe. Other young earth chronologies, the age of the Sun. If the Sun were as old as evolutionary cosmologists say that is, it would have expanded to the point of engulfing the earth. The rate of recession of the moon from the earth, if the solar system is as old as evolutionary cosmologists say it is, the moon would be touching the Earth. Jupiter and Saturn gives off more heat than they receive is also evidence that they are not 4.6 billion years old as evolutionary cosmologists suppose. Their explanation these planets, like the Earth, have an internal heat source might still be compensating for 6000 years, but never without the 4.5 billion years evolutionists claim the solar system has existed. There are so much other evidence of a young earth/universe that time does not permit me to list all of them here.
The Big Bang has its own problems including distant starlight
In a blog under the auspices of Eric Hovind’s Creation Today ministry, Paul Taylor wrote an article addressing the four models that creationists use to address the distant starlight problem within a biblical framework [http://www.creationtoday.org/other-starlight-issues/]. Taylor notes, the Big Bang theory cannot account for the matter in the universe. Their equations require there to be much more matter in the universe than is actually detectable. To compensate for this, Big Bang theorists suppose that there is matter, which is not only undetected, but actually, by definition, its undetectable. They call this dark matter. There is a similar problem with the energy in the universe, so they postulate dark energy to address the missing energy from the Big Bang. These concepts are really a contrivance, to make their equations work. It is noteworthy that creationist cosmologies do not require the invention of dark matter or dark energy.
Another problem with the Big Bang theory is the so-called Horizon Problem. This problem is caused by Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation, a concept that Big Bangers like to claim, erroneously, supports their cosmology. In an article entitled, “Light-travel time: a problem for the big bang,” Dr. Jason Lisle describes the problem as follows:
Even assuming the big bang timescale, there has not been enough time for light to travel between widely separated regions of space. So, how can the different regions of the current CMB have such precisely uniform temperatures if they have never communicated with each other? This is an internal inconsistency for the big bang model. It is not a problem for a creation model; God may have created the distant regions of the universe with the same temperature from the beginning. This is a light-travel–time problem. [Misner, C., Mixmaster Universe, Physical Review Letters 22(20):1071–1074, 1969.]
There are four main models that creationists propose that would explain the apparent discrepancy between the cosmic evolutionary model with its billions and billions of years and the biblical model of creation within the first six 24-hour days described in the book of Genesis. They are as follows: 1) Mature creation, 2) Decay of the speed of light (CDK), 3) Anisotropic Synchrony Conventions, and 4) Gravitational Time Dilation.
Paul Taylor states that, in his opinion, the fourth model (Gravitational Time Dilation), is the model that he favors. For the record, Creation Studies Institute favors Russell Humphries’ Gravitational Time Dilation (GTD) as well. This article covering the fourth installment of the Cosmos miniseries is not the proper venue to cover all the models; therefore, I am only providing a brief overview of the GTD model. This does not mean that the newest model, Dr. Jason Lisle’s Anisotropic Synchrony Conventions, does not have merit.
Gravitational Time Dilation
The Creation Today ministry’s blog notes that the Big Bang theory is based on two assumptions: First, that Einstein’s theories of Relativity are correct, and second that the universe is unbounded. Creationists can accept the first of these assumptions. It is the second that causes serious problems. The Big Bang theory suggests that the universe has expanded from a single point they call the Singularity. The theory is frequently misunderstood. Some suppose that this expansion involves matter expanding by explosion into a limitless quantity of space. This is not what they believe. They believe that space itself has expanded and is expanding, and that, therefore, the singularity was not just a super-concentrated point of mass in space — it was, in fact, the whole of space itself.
Now, some of these concepts are not problematic for creationists. For example, the concept of space-stretching is biblical. Isaiah 40:22 describes God as the One who “stretches out the heavens like a curtain.” Indeed, the word for “firmament” in Genesis 1 in Hebrew is râqı̂ya. This word has the same root as the concept of hammering out metal in such a way as to stretch it out into a thin sheet. Although this stretching of space is counter-intuitive, it is verified by experiment and observation. It is this that gives rise to the effect known as Red Shift, and it explains why Red Shift is more common than Blue Shift.
The Bible’s use of the term “stretches” with regard to the creation of the heavens is what many creationists believe is the key to understanding how the time on the earthbound clock may appear far different from the time on the cosmic clock. There might have been billions and billions of years ticking way in the cosmic clock that only corresponds to the literal 24-hour days of the earthbound clock.
It is important to note from this discussion that the Bible does not give us a clear and definitive answer to the distant starlight problem. Big Bang theorists pounce on this and claim that this undermines our belief in the Bible. It does not. We should say two things about problems with the Big Bang theory before concluding the article. Paul Taylor concludes his article by telling us the Big Bang theory is contrary to not only Scripture, but it is also unscientific. It cannot explain important observations and measurements. Creationists cannot point to any of the models and say it is definitely the true way that it all happened. Some people worry about this. They shouldn’t. The Bible does not give us a clear answer as to how starlight traveled across the universe, so it is perfectly acceptable for us to make scientific models. However, we must never place these models on the same level as Scripture. The Bible is definitely true. Our models are not definitely true — they are simply models that attempt to explain the facts within a biblical framework. We must hold loosely to the models but tightly to Scripture.
Now, we go back to our miniseries and the authors once again illustrate those primitive, newly evolved cavemen who are painting the Lascaux Cave walls with animals to commemorate their hunt. Dr. Tyson tells us that when the light from the Sombrero Galaxy, a.k.a. Messier Object 104, M104 or NGC 4594, arrived at planet Earth our ancestors were tree-dwelling monkeys. He continues to use the “it took a long, long time for the light to get here” analogy to tell us that some of the distant light in the universe would have reached our planet when the fish first grew legs and walked out of the oceans. Isn’t it convenient when you can refer to any of the “just so” fantasies of Darwinian evolution as a fact? Get used to it; this will happen again and again throughout the miniseries. Finally, then the oldest light in the universe reached our planet 13.4 billion years ago coming from the very first generation of stars, and what did that light reveal? According to our narrator, that light revealed “Absolutely nothing! No earth, sun or Milky Way,” because according to the Big Bang timeline, they had not come into existence way back when. Finally, Dr. Tyson reveals, “light from the end of outer space would reveal, “the beginning of time.”
Then Dr. Tyson repeats a theme that has been stated in every episode, that “gravity” is the central (and perhaps the creative force) in the universe. He tells us, “Our life is a relentless struggle with gravity.” Tyson continues, “We are born, live and die in a force field, almost as old as the universe itself. We are then told that a glowing radiation cloud is the remnant of the Big Bang. Like everything else that the devotees of evolution say, we are never given any opposing opinion or critique of the status quo. Dr. Tyson repeats the claim that this background radiation is evidence of the Big Bang, and we are never told that there are serious problems with this interpretation. This cosmic background radiation (CBR a.k.a. CMB radiation) is highly isotropic (having physical properties that do not vary with direction). The cosmic background radiation indicates that the early stages of the Universe were almost completely uniform. This raises two problems for the big bang theory.
First, the temperature of this background radiation is a uniform 3 degrees Kelvin with only slight variations. When we look at the microwave background coming from widely separated parts of the sky it can be shown that these regions are too separated to have been able to communicate with each other even with signals travelling at light velocity. Thus, how did they know to have almost exactly the same temperature? As we have previously noted, this is called the horizon problem. The second difficulty with the Big Bang scenario with regard to CBR is that the present Universe is homogenous and isotropic, but only on very large scales. For scales the size of super clusters and smaller the luminous matter in the universe is quite lumpy. When you realize that the Big Bang model cannot survive with out fudge factors and hypothetical entities of which inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples, the entire model collapses in on itself, no pun intended.
Then Dr. Tyson asks, “What really happened before the Big Bang?” He then tells us that “Nobody knows, because no evidence survived from before that moment.” Not willing to admit that he really doesn’t know, Dr. Tyson tells us “We really have some pretty crazy ideas about where the universe came from that we’ll get to in time.” Well, I can’t wait to hear their crazy ideas. If the concept that all the matter in the universe just existed and, for no particular reason, it was compacted into a very small space (smaller than the head of a pin, with some cosmologists saying smaller than an atom) isn’t crazy, I wonder what Dr. Tyson does consider crazy.
At this juncture, Dr. Tyson repeats the “just so” story of star formation. Remember, like all the “just so” stories of evolution, this is what they think happened. Like so many other guesses, they will never tell you that there are serious problems with their speculation concerning star formation.
A few hundred million years after the Big Bang, cosmic hydrogen and helium condensed into the first star. The first stars become galaxies as space continued to expand. As stars died, cosmic evolution unfolded on a grander scale as these stars began seeding space with heavier elements making possible the formation of planets and alternatively, life. Matter and energy were formed in the Big Bang, and that’s not all, space and time were created too.
Dr. Tyson continues by telling us that Isaac Newton discovered mathematical law that describes how gravity works. With that law, he continues, Newton could explain the motions of the planets. Dr. Tyson noted that William Herschel would eventually discover that gravity could do much, much more. At this point, I must remind you that in a previous episode Dr. Tyson credits gravity with creative powers. This view of “In the beginning, Gravity created the heavens and the earth” has been promoted by the guru of theoretical cosmology, Stephen Hawking.
At this point, Dr. Tyson again brings up a giant of science, Michael Faraday. He notes that Faraday discovered that fields of force affect everything. Then James Clerk Maxwell translated the work of Michael Faraday’s fields into laws. I have already mentioned in a previous article that the three men who influenced Albert Einstein’s world were Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. All of these men were devout believers in God’s Word as well as the validity of the account of Creation in the book of Genesis.
Dr. Tyson explains that it was a book on the subject of electricity by Michael Faraday that “changed Einstein’s world” allowing him to develop his principles of relativity. Einstein proved the laws of nature are unbreakable. This is true of the speed of light and this relationship is expressed by Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2. At his point, Dr. Tyson introduces us to John Mitchell (1724-1793), and his discovery of a dark star. Mitchell was primarily known as a geologist, but he had an interest in gravity, magnetism and light. Later scholars would recognize that Mitchell’s dark star was in truth a black hole.
Now, Dr. Tyson explains that one in one thousand stars will become a black hole. When a star collapses in on itself, it causes a hole in the fabric of the space time continuum known as the event horizon. He notes that supermassive black holes appear in the center of every known galaxy. Initially, Dr. Tyson admits that falling into a black hole would send you into “who knows what,” but he tells us “if you could go into a black hole and look out, you would see the entire history of the universe.” He explains that space-time is warped by a black hole and “time is stretched to the limit.” Even though Dr. Tyson is good at stating the perfunctory “we really don’t know what happens inside a black hole,” and “we’re in uncharted territory,” He muses that there may be undisclosed laws of physics that govern events at the center of a black hole.
Then, through the magic of special effects, Dr. Tyson flies his spacecraft right into the center of a black hole. The ride we see Dr. Tyson take reminded me of the light show at the end of the Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you have never seen this science fiction classic, allow me to give you a very brief synopsis. Kubrick takes us from the dawn of man, where some mysterious intelligence, we can speculate is God, presents the apes with a black monolith. One of the apes touches it and presto, the ape becomes aware that he can use a bone as a tool for killing prey. According to Kubrick, human race is born. This leads the viewer into a space probe to the moon, where that very same monolith has been uncovered during a moon excavation. Then (we assume that someone touched it) and off we go to a manned mission to Jupiter, where the ship’s creepy onboard computer, H.A.L., picks off the crewmembers one by one. Only Keir Dullea makes it off the doomed spaceship only to find his escape pod sucked down a wormhole. It’s here that the light show begins. Keir eventually ends up in a mysterious mansion where his needs are all met. When he dies, at an extremely old age, and is reborn as a baby planet, the movie ends.
I only tell you this to let you know that Stanley Kubrick’s vision of history is not more accurate than Dr. Tyson’s view of the past. Well, that’s not entirely true. At least Kubrick’s vision of history included some divine intervention in the form of a consciousness upgrade from that mysterious black monolith. The history of the universe according to Sagan and Tyson is nothing more than an imaginary construct. At least Kubrick presented a theistic evolutionary viewpoint and not the “whoop there it is” version of life that Carl Sagan envisioned.
Now, back to our updated version of The Cosmos where William Herschel and his inquisitive son, John, take us back to their earlier conversation about ghosts. Now, William tells his son that he does not believe in Casper or any other earthly ghost, but pointing to the stars, he tells his son, “The night sky is full of them.” This brings our host to pose the question, “if you could survive entrance into a black hole, you might emerge in another place and time.” Dr. Tyson does remind us that the first rule of relativity is, “Thou shalt not travel faster than light.” I was not amused by Dr. Tyson’s using the King James language or the reference to the commandments of God. Dr. Tyson, and others who place their faith in a creation sans a Creator, will eventually have to bow the knee before the One who said, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me,” Ex. 20:2-3.
Dr. Tyson goes on to tell us that space can “stretch, shrink and be deformed. Then, time can be deformed too.” Dr. Tyson continues, “Black holes may very well be tunnels through the universe. On this intergalactic subway system, you could travel to the farthest reaches of space-time or you might arrive in some place even more amazing. We might find ourselves in an altogether different universe.” Then, Dr. Tyson asks and answers (sort of) his own question, “But how can a whole universe fit inside a black hole that is only a small part of our universe? That’s another magic trick of space time.” Did he really say that this purely imaginary construct of an alternative universe inside a black hole was a “magic trick of space time?” Yes he did. What he is not willing to admit is that most of the Big Bang is itself a completely imaginary scenario that is filled with completely imaginary things such as dark matter and dark energy.
Now the narrator takes us further and further away from reality by telling us that the extreme pressure and density at the center of a black hole can mimic the Big Bang that gave rise to our universe. He continues this improbable “just so” story of what might be and tells us that “the universe inside the black hole may give rise to its own black holes that could lead to other universes.” Dr. Tyson finishes his thought by letting us know that “maybe that’s how our cosmos came to be.” While my mind wandered along with Dr. Tyson into a possible plot for an episode of the Twilight Zone, Dr. Tyson brought me back to reality. He was standing in a parking lot as he continued, “For all we know, if you want to see what it’s like inside a black hole, just look around you.”
Now we are approaching the end of the this episode of The Cosmos and we return to William Herschel and his son John, who we are told, grows up to be a great scientist like his dad. He writes on his dad’s epitaph, “He broke through the walls of heaven.” The accomplishments of John were also noted as Dr. Tyson told us that John made several important contributions to the field of photography. This allows the writers of The Cosmos to describe John as “one of the founders of a new form of time travel.” These being a reference to the way photographs take a snapshot of a certain time and place. We are then presented with a photograph of John Herschel staring at us from across the centuries, a sort of ghost preserved by light.
Dr. Tyson begins to give us a glimpse of what he thinks will be available “in the near future.” He tells us that we will be able to capture the past in all three dimensions. We’ll be able to step inside a memory. We may not be able to travel back in time, but one day it may be possible to bring the past to us. Dr. Tyson gives us an example of this by remembering an event from December 20, 1975 when, as a young student, he visited his hero, Carl Sagan, during a visit to Professor Sagan’s home in Ithaca, New York. This reminded me of the teaching of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke 16:19-21. It was about the rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. No one can say for certain where Carl Sagan is today. But I am certain of this one thing, if Carl Sagan could speak to Neil deGrasse Tyson one more time, he would tell him to repent and believe the Gospel.