Creation Science

Creation Science Book Review

Dismantling the Big Bang

Book by Alex Williams and John Hartnett

(Master Books, Green Forest, AR, USA. 2005)

 

Review by Mike Hore

First Published April 2015

Introduction

First let me say that I’m a bit hesitant to tackle John and Alex, since I knew Alex many years ago and have also met John and heard him talk.  I have a great respect for both of these men as scientists, and as committed Christians.  If I must disagree with them here, I hope it’s with proper gentleness and respect.  And of course they’re fellow Aussies, but I won’t hold that against them.  But as usual with YEC publications, I’m irritated by the way they term everyone who isn’t a YEC, an “evolutionist”.  Any creationist who accepts long ages, is apparantly an “evolutionist”.  Well with that off my chest, let’s continue.

Next I want to say that I actually agree with a large part of this book.  It gives an excellent introduction to the whole field of cosmology, including a good account of the history of how we came to our present level of knowledge.

(The big bang is quite often written with a hyphen, big-bang.  For consistency I’m not using a hyphen except when quoting text that uses it.)

I remember in the 1960s there was a lot of enthusiasm for the “steady state theory”.  This was championed by Fred Hoyle, Tom Gold and Hermann Bondi.  Gold and Bondi spoke at several televised meetings for high school science students in Sydney which I watched.  Under this theory the universe is eternal, without beginning or end.  As it expands, every now and then a hydrogen atom pops into existence in empty space.  This would occur so rarely that we wouldn’t observe it in the laboratory, but it would over time add sufficient material to keep the average density of the universe constant.

This was apparently philosophically attractive to its proponents.  I remember the point being made that an eternal universe didn’t need a Creator.  This seemed a rather odd argument to me at the time, and I was right.  As a Christian I was very dubious about the steady state theory anyway, but as a means of getting rid of God it seemed to miss the mark.  Why would an eternal universe not need a cause, just by being eternal?  It’s true that everything that starts at a point in time needs a cause, but it’s faulty logic to argue the reverse, that anything that doesn’t start at a point in time doesn’t need a cause.  We still have the problem, why is there something rather than nothing?

At the time the alternative to the steady state theory appeared to be to extrapolate the expansion of the universe backwards and argue that at some past point of time everything was in a super-dense state of some kind, or even a singularity, from where it expanded at a colossal speed.  Fred Hoyle thought this was ridiculous, and jokingly coined the term “Big Bang” to describe it.  The term stuck.

The discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) changed things dramatically.  Suddenly the big bang was in vogue.  Christians were quick to see that “Let there be light” in Genesis 1 could be a good description of the big bang.  It therefore might seem strange that YECs are so quick to dismiss it as incompatible with the Bible.  But even stranger, this view seems to have more recently spread to other Christians as well.  To those of us who remember how much atheists loved the steady state theory, this is downright weird.  We’ll talk more about this below.

But first I must concede that while the general big bang scenario seems to give the best account of the evidence, the details are still very much being worked out.  Hartnett and Williams point out many of the problems, and while this book is now 10 years old, these problems are generally still there.  The April 2011 edition of Scientific American has an article “The Inflation Debate” which outlines serious theoretical problems with an important part of current big bang theory.  There is genuinely still a lot of work to be done.  Noteably, the big bang represents a superdense state or a singularity where both quantum mechanics and general relativity would be relevant.  But at present we don’t have a good theoretical account of how these two areas of science can work together.  General relativity is wonderfully successful over latge scales where gravity dominates, and quantum mechanics is similarly successful at atomic and sub-atomic scales.  But attempts to work out a quantum theory of gravity have proved enormously difficult, and await more results from very high-energy experiments to help decide between different possible theoretical ideas.  So my point is that we are stull struggling to find a good theoretical description of what happened immediately after the big bang, and the same applies to black holes.  So without a solid underlying theory, a lot depends on actual observation and using observed results to try to constrain the theory.  But this of course makes an easy target for critics who claim that scientists studying the big bang are just making up theory to fit the facts.

Anyhow, the real issue isn’t that problems exist—of course they do.  The real issue is whether these problems are so huge that a more reasonable position would be to ditch the big bang entirely.  Are cosmologists really desperately trying to salvage a lost cause here?  Read on.

The Book, by Chapters

A Brief Overview

This is the title of the first chapter of the book, which gives readers some idea where the book is going.  There is a section “Four Reasons to Reject the Big-Bang Theory”.  These reasons (with my comments) are:

1. “It doesn’t work.”  But it does.  See later.

2. “The theory lacks a credible and consistent mechanism.”  All right, as I’ve said, it’s a theory still under development, but there is excellent evidence. But YEC cosmologies have exactly the same problem without the evidence, and the only answer given is “God did it”.

3. “Chemical evolution of life (eventually leading to intelligent life, an essential ingredient of any evolutionary cosmology) is clearly excluded by the evidence.”  Well I actually agree with this statement.  But this is talking about biological evolution, and has nothing to do with the big bang.  The big bang doesn’t require any kind of biological evolution to be either true or false.

4.  “Science cannot produce any final answers on the subject of origins.”  Of course.  So what?  This is the usual YEC attempt to undermine scientific presuppositions, which they use when they want to ignore clear evidence.  This tells us where we’re going.

The next section is “Four Reasons to Accept Six-Day Creation”.  You’ve seen all this before.  The Bible says it.  Jesus taught it.  QED.

Introduction

This is a good introduction to worldviews and the fact that a physical explanation cannot be a final answer, and certainly not for the origin of the universe.

1. From the backyard to the Big Bang

This chapter is subtitled “A brief history of Cosmology”.  It gives a brief overview of the entire development of astronomy and cosmology, going from the earliest times when people looked at the sky with their unaided eyes, right up to the discovery of the CMBR by Penzias and Wilson in 1965.  The authors correctly point out that the CMBR is the strongest evidence for the big bang, since it is actually consists of the photons that first started travelling through space as soon as it became transparent, very soon after the big bang.  The expansion of the universe has “red-shifted” these photons, so that by now they are in the microwave part of the spectrum.

Most of this section is uncontroversial.  However in the section “Jewish Cosmology” the authors do take the opportunity to point out that the early Hebrew scholars who speculated about the Creation, did believe in 6 literal 24-hour days.  But whether they did or not, this is somewhat beside the point.  Nobody’s contesting that people in pre-science times might have read Genesis very literally, just as people in non-scientific cultures might today.  They would still get the main message from God that presumably he intended us to get, that he created the universe from nothing by his word alone, and he planned the whole thing in detail.  The question of how literally to take the details of the Genesis account, does not even arise until scientific investigation proceeds to the point where the question could actually become an issue.

2. Science, world views, and cosmological models

This chapter is basically an extensive elaboration of the point 4 above, “Science cannot produce any final answers on the subject of origins.”  As I said, one of the standard YEC strategies is to undermine scientific presuppositions, so that they can discredit the evidence.  That’s what this chapter is about.  It starts with presenting the big bang as a “juggernaut” that is ruthlessly crushing other theories.  This sounds ominous but of course is casting the strength of the evidence for the big bang in a bad light, as though any alternative theories actually have some evidential credibility but are being ruthlessly squashed by the establishment.  Whatever that is.  The argument proceeds to a lengthy discussion about assumptions.  “An obvious place for a mistake will always be somewhere in your assumptions.”  Quite so.  This is true for all of us, YECs included.  “Atheists are keen to use God’s absence from scientific explanation of the universe as a justification for their atheism, but in fact it is nothing of the kind—it is simply the result of the fundamental limitation of the scientific method!”  I couldn’t agree more.  The authors present a good example, in Carl Sagan’s introduction to Stephen Hawking’s well-known book A Brief History of Time.  Hawking states in the book that the big bang theory is “in agreement with all the observational evidence that we have today.”  Sagan in the introduction says “This book is also about God … or perhaps about the absence of God … a universe with no edge in space and no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do.”  I assume that Hawking read Sagan’s introduction, so if he noticed that Sagan was going well beyond what Hawking actually said, he chose to ignore this fact.  In any case, in the light of the old big bang / steady state debate, Sagan’s comment is rather remarkable.  Hoyle et al objected to the big bang because they saw it as inelegant and leaving room for a Creator.  Now Sagan is apparently saying that the big bang shows we don’t need a Creator.  Yes, assumptions can get you a long way, in any direction you like.  YECs take note.

The chapter now proceeds to expound the dichotomy between the naturalistic world view and the biblical world view.  The point is made that we have a choice in the kind of God we seek—a god of our own making, or the God of the Bible.  There’s a cute diagram of two boxes, each with a cross on top.  One is labeled God’s Word / Six Days / Recent Creation, and the other Man’s Opinion / Billions of Years / Evolution.  Well, who’s making assumptions now?  Apparently, if we believe the Bible, we have to accept a recent creation.  The worst assumptions are the ones you don’t see.

The rest of the chapter is an exploration of the limitations on the scientific method as a way of discovering truth, and shouldn’t be controversial.  But it’s interesting that Intelligent Design gets a favorable mention, whereas YECs are generally dismissive of ID since its proponents don’t usually promote a young earth.

3. Tools for explaining the universe

This is a long chapter, and is largely uncontroversial.  It is a wide-ranging disussion dealing with the nature of scientific explanation, what chance can and cannot achieve, and many other topics, including singularities, which is important groundwork for the next chapter.  The section on comets has the usual YEC argument that since comets are comparatively short-lived, the solar system must be young.  As usual, the Oort cloud is dismissed as an ad-hoc explanation with no evidence.  Where the left-over material from the solar system’s formation was supposed to go isn’t discussed—naturally enough, since YECs don’t believe the solar system formed by natural means at all.  Assumptions again.

4. The big-bang model

In this chapter the standard big bang model is presented in detail.  Hartnett and Williams use as their main text a book by Joseph Silk of Oxford University (The Big Bang, 3rd ed, New York: Freedman & Co, 2001).  As we would expect, the problems and difficulties are highlighted, with frequent use of words such as “supposedly”, “alleged” etc.  Well, they want to make it clear that they don’t actually believe any of this.  They describe the various stages of the big bang:

Stage A: The Primordial Singularity

Since this is in principle unobservable, it’s easy to imply that its (past) existence is an unjustified assumption.  Some big bang theorists have come up with scenarios where the initial state of the universe wasn’t a singularity, but as I indicated above we’re going to need a proper theory of quantum gravity before we can say much more here.  Hartnett and Williams make the point that big bang theory can’t explain the existence of the singularity or why it suddenly expanded when it did, or by what amount.  This is correct with our present state of knowledge, but of course it doesn’t mean that something like this didn’t happen at all.

Stage B: Inflation

This is probably the most problematic topic in this whole field of study, so is worth some explanation.  Inflation is a theory initially developed in the 1980s by Alan Guth and Andrei Linde.  Under inflation, the early universe went through an exceedingly rapid expansion phase, from about 10-36 sec after the big bang to around 10-33-10-32 sec., expanding exponentially from a size scale of around 10-30 cm to about 1 cm.  This theory might seem strange, but it can be described in a way consisten with our present understanding of particle physics, and it solves three main problems with the big bang—the horizon problem, the flatness problem and the magnetic monopole problem.

The horizon problem arises because of the extreme evenness of the CMBR, in all directions.  Without inflation, space would always be expanding faster than would allow photons to get from one end to the other.  Yet the evenness of the CMBR would imply that the very early universe allowed heat to “mix” evenly, which would need photons to be able to travel right across space.  With inflation, space before inflation was small enough for photons to get across, even in the very short time available.

The flatness problem refers to the fact that space is “flat”, so that for example, the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees.  Compare a triangle drawn on a round ball, where the angles will add up to something greater.  Now it may seem obvious, but there isn’t any theoretical reason why space should be flat, or even smoothly curved.  Inflation has the result of smoothing space out.

The magnetic monopole problem is also not very intuitive.  Magnetic monopoles would be like a north pole without a south.  They have never been observed, yet  current particle physics cannot exclude them from existing in the very early universe.  Inflation solves this problem simply by moving them so far apart that we wouldn’t expect to find any.

These problems with the big bang mightn’t seem like show-stoppers, but theoreticians have been quite worried about them.  Inflation neatly solves them.  However inflation itself does have serious problems of its own—in particular, why should it start when it did and stop when it did?  We don’t currently have a good answer, and yet the starting and stopping has to be quite precise for us to have the universe we have.  Hartnett and Williams give a good desctiption of these problems.  However we should note that inflation is not now regarded as an essential feature of the big bang at all.  The Scientific American article I cited above gives more detail.  This means that when Hartnett and Williams state “Inflation is a second miracle, a second necessarily ad-hoc faith assumption”, this is overstating their case somewhat.

Stage C: From Energy to Matter

Hartnett and Williams don’t have a problem with the standard scenario of the extremely high energy in the very early universe being converted to matter particles as the universe expanded and cooled.  They draw attention to just one problem here—we would expect roughtly equal amounts of matter and antimatter to be produced, whereas as far as we know our present universe is almost entirely matter.  The mainstream answer is simply that there is no reason why the initial quantities of matter and antimatter should have been exactly equal, and in the very early stages after the particles were formed there would have been massive matter/antimatter annihilation, leaving our present matter left over.  Hartnett and Williams imply that this argument is “cheating with chance”, but most scientists don’t seem to have a problem with it.

Stage D: Decoupling and the CMBR

Decoupling refers to the decoupling of matter and radiation, about 400,000 years after the big bang.  Previously, the universe consisted of a plasma of charged particles, which didn’t allow free passage of photons.  But when the universe expanded and cooled sufficiently, electrons could combine with protons resulting in neutral hydrogen atoms, and from this point on photons could travel unimpeded.  By today, the expansion of the universe has lengthened the wavelength of these photons to the microwave part of the spectrum—the CMBR is equivalent to a black body radiating at 2.7 degrees K.

Hartnett and Williams don’t explain much of this.  They concentrate on early guesses as to what the CMBR temperature would be, which varied considerably.  In this way they try to suggest that big bangers keep adjusting their model to fit the evidence, and thus they try to cast doubt as to whether the CMBR has anything to do with the big bang at all.  It is true that there are still some scientists who claim other expanations for the CMBR, but as more accurate measurements of this radiation have become available, these other explanations have become harder and harder to maintain.  One particular point is that prior to detailed measurement and mapping of the CMBR, big bangers thought it would show fluctuations over different parts of the sky.  But now we know that while there are small fluctuations, the CMBR is isotropic to one part in 100,000.  The development in big bang and inflationary theory to account for such a small fluctuation certainly gives critics something to point at, but of course it doesn’t prove anthing either way.

The authors mention the two NASA satellites that have mapped the CMBR, namely COBE and WMAP.  You can find all the details in Wikipedia.  The authors highlight the failure of COBE to find fluctuations in the CMBR, and call this a “hugely expensive mistake”.  They also mention that WMAP is “even more expensive”.  They imply that the cost of these satellites was unjustified, but then they turn around and suggest that some of the small fluctuations in the WMAP readings actually support a YEC interpretation!  However the Wikipedia article on WMAP gives a good account of the various interpretations of these fluctuations, which give excellent confirmation of the most popular “Lambda Cold Dark Matter” version of big bang theory, under which cold dark matter has a strong gravitational effect and there is an overall repulsive force in the universe (“Lambda”).

We should remember that at the time the book was published, only one year’s data from WMAP was available, but the satellite continued returning data for another 8 years and didn’t cease functioning till 2010.   And more recently the European Space Agency has launched the Planck platform to further refine the CMBR observations.  So there is a huge amount of new data available, which broadly supports the Lambda Cold Dark Matter big bang picture.  But all this is unlikely to trouble YECs.  We can see from Hartnett and Williams’ comments about the cost, that in spite of what YECs would have us believe, they are really anti-science.  They would have us abandon all this excellent research and save our money, since the Bible tells us the big bang didn’t happen.

Stage E: Origin of the Galaxies

This is a long section, and basically is attempting to show that nobody has found a convincing way that the early universe could have got from an expanding mass of hot gas to having some parts of the gas gravitationally collapse into structures which could become galaxies.  They list a number of theories, and show why they wouldn’t work.  Note that this argument isn’t specific to the big bang, but could apply to any theory of the early universe which has gas gravitationally condensing into galaxies.  This sounds a bit like “God of the gaps”, and it is.  I won’t give a detailed account since this whole argument is flawed, and is now very dated.  It has been obsoleted by more recent work, such as shown in these Wikipedia articles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_formation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illustris_project

Briefly, computer simulations of the conditions in the very early universe are enormously demanding on computer power.  10 years ago any realistic simulation was out of the question.  However we are now just beginning to be able to gain some understanding, and the simulations are showing that various modes of gravitational collapse of the expanding gas cloud are indeed possible, and tend to produce large filaments and webs of condensed matter, which can lead to the formation of galaxies and galaxy clusters.  So basically, this shows us yet again how unreliable any “God of the gaps” argument is.  YECs love them, but we use them at our peril.

There is also a long section here about dark matter and alternative theories such as MOND which may reduce the need to postulate dark matter, but are somewhat left-field.  YECs love to pour scorn on dark matter, but this is really another “God of the gaps” situation.  When we finally pin down the nature of dark matter, and I’m sure we will, YECs will have serious egg on their faces.  But of course they’ll simply ignore this and carry on as if nothing had happened.

Stage F: Origin of Stars

YECs normally argue that stars could not have arisen naturalistically, since every theory that has been raised requires other stars to have existed previously, so (they allege) there is no way that the first stars could have arisen without special creation.  This is another “God of the gaps” argument, and to their credit, Hartnett and Williams don’t repeat it.  They give a good account of how stars form and evolve over time, and while emphasizing the difficulties in getting the process started, they state “The key question from our point of view is this: can stars form by chance and necessity, or is intelligent design necessary? No simple answer is available at present. We believe that the weight of evidence is in favor of intelligent design, but so much is happening so quickly that it is premature to come to firm conclusions.” (p140)  This is a very reasonable and comparatively balanced statement coming from young-earthers.  I wish all YEC comments were so reasonable and balanced!  A sensible debate and discussion might even be possible.

Stage G: Origin of Planets

This section is probably the most dated in the book, because of the colossal rate at which we are discovering exoplanets (planets around other stars), and also because of the rapid advance of computer simulation technology, allowing us to investigate various scenarios and compare with actual observed data.   This subject also has very little to do with the big bang as such, since any theory of planetary formation works from a collapsing cloud of gas and dust, which formed the sun and planets, regardless of how the gas and dust got there.  However the subject of planetary formation has been a favorite of YECs with the usual “God of the gaps” approach, which is running out of steam rapidly.  I would suggest you skip this chapter and look up Wikipedia on “Nebular hypothesis”.  Of course there are unsolved problems, but we’re gaining knowledge so fast in this area that even what I say will soon be out of date.

There is also a section here on “Origin of Life” which has the usual YEC arguments against evolution.  This also has nothing to do with the big bang, and many Christians who accept long ages would actually agree with it.

To summarize, Hartnett and Williams give a not unreasonable account of the whole big bang model, though much of the description is now dated, and as we would expect they highlight the perceived difficulties of the theory to a degree which isn’t really justified, especially in the light of more recent work.

5. Time scales

I will be briefer here, since this is all standard YEC fare about the age of the earth, and has been conclusively refuted umpteen times.  It’s also hardly relevant to the big bang.

In this section there is also an exposition of Russell Humphries’ “White Hole Cosmology” which he no longer supports in quite this form, and also John Hartnett’s “Young Solar System” model.  Both these models feature relativistic time dilation, under which billions of years can pass in the remote universe while just 6 days pass on earth.   Now these theories have serious problems—I have pointed out some of these in another article:

http://www.oldearth.org/distant_starlight.htm

Also you can find an excellent rebuttal by Hugh Ross of Russell Humphries’ current time dilation theory here:

http://www.oldearth.org/starlight.htm

6. The Biblical model

We’ve now left the big bang far behind.  This chapter presents the standard YEC arguments about how there is only one way to read Genesis, and in fact the whole Bible.  This is familiar territory, so I’ll just concentrate on a few key points.

“Theologians and Biblical commentators differ in their interpretations of the Bible, especially in the foundational passages in Genesis 1-11.” (p207)  Of course they do.  But all except a tiny tiny minority have no difficulty agreeing with the accepted age of the universe.  Without this qualification, this sentence is misleading to say the least.  This is in a section on principles of Biblical interpretation, which it is always good to give attention to.  “People accept the billions-of-years dating methods thinking that it is ‘science’ and then they change the Bible to fit the long-age framework.  As our previous chapter shows, all long-age dating methods are interpretations based on assumptions, and they yield different results if different assumptions are made.  The Bible is not a scientific textbook, nor was it meant to be, but it does give us a framework for thinking about the world and interpreting scientific evidence.” (p208)  Here we seem to have missed the fact that interpreting the Bible also inevitably involves assumptions, and phrases like “change the Bible” are contentious, and show that the YECs are also making assumptions.  Anyway, the argument proceeds “...therefore, we shall endeavor to interpret the Bible within the culture of the major characters that it deals with.” (p209, authors’ emphasis)  All right, but I suggest this buys us more than we bargained for.  If we’re going to get the age of the earth this way, we would also need to argue that the earth is fixed in space, because of passages like 1 Chron 16:30, Ps 93:1 and Ps 104:5.  Of course these passages are poetic, but the references to the earth being unmoving are not in any way figurative—this is clearly simply what the authors believed.  John Lennox makes this point very well in his book Seven Days that Divide the World (Zondervan, 2011).  He mentions that even John Calvin believed the earth was fixed.  But YECs don’t try to hold us to this.  It seems they actually interpret the Bible whichever way suits them.  I won’t even go into questions like what women should wear in church.  Let’s remember, the “major characters” knew nothing of modern science.  Our sorts of scientific questions could not have even occurred to them.  So how can it be appropriate to try to get from the Bible, any answers whatsoever to these modern questions?  Wouldn’t this be misusing the Bible?

But attempting to work out what people in the Bible supposedly thought is a risky business anyway.  The authors bring up “Jesus’ view of Genesis”.  This is something of a lay-down misere for YECs.  These passages reputedly show that Jesus was a YEC.  There are two actual quotations from Jesus, both recorded twice.  The first one is Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees’ question about divorce, in Mark 10:2-8 and Matthew 19:3-8.  The words quoted are “...from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’.”  The other quotation is recorded in Luke 11:47-51 and Matthew 23:34-36, where Jesus is talking about persecution of the prophets: “The blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, [will] be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel…”.  Now we should note carefully that in neither quotation is Jesus making a point about when or how the earth was created.  Both quotations appear to be more about the span of human existence, and in each case his main point was something different, i.e. God’s purpose in marriage, and the guilt of those who persecute God’s servants.  To try to read a YEC message into these passages again borders on misuse of the Bible.

But in any case, many theologians would argue that the Jesus on earth was subject to normal human limitations of knowledge, apart from what the Father revealed to him on certain occasions, and that even if he did believe that the earth was young that would have been irrelevant to his mission and so wasn’t a particularly big deal.  YECs will probably write me off as a heretic at this point.

But let us not be at the mercy of YECs who try to tell us what people in the Bible supposedly thought.  It’s too easy to get this wrong—let alone trying to find answers to modern scientific questions this way.

The rest of this chapter is a long exposition of the YEC version of what the Bible teaches us about the origin of the universe.  I won’t bore you further with this.

7. The Scoreboard

This is a summary chapter giving the author’s view of the “score” achieved by the big bang model versus their Biblical model.  Seeing they drew up the rules for this “contest” and also allocated the scores, the result isn’t exactly surprising.  The words “kangaroo court” come to mind.

8. Future Trends in Cosmology

Hartnett and Williams here present their guess as to where future investigation into a variety of subjects is likely to lead.  Not surprisingly, they speculate that further study into such things as the origin of the universe, new physics, the origin of galaxies, stars and planets will just throw up more and more problems.  This makes me wonder, since they believe God just did it, are they telling us to stop doing science?  Likewise with the origin of life.  Fortunately, most scientists aren’t quite ready to pack their bags and go home just yet.

Epilogue: The Choice

The book concludes with a short challenge for the reader to become a YEC.  Then there follow several appendices.  The first is a bit of a grab-bag of alternative cosmological theories.  Most would be regarded as very left-field today, as evidence for some version of the general big bang scenario continues to grow.  This is really part of the overall aim of the book, to undermine the evidence for the big bang.

There is also an appendix on “Theological Issues”, in which we are sternly warned not to dishonor God by compromising in our interpretation of His Word.  Of course this assumes the YEC interpretation is the only right one.  One sentence stands out for me:

“If Christians worship the ‘billion-year evolver’ or the ‘billion-year progressive Creator’ rather than the six-day Creator, then they worship an idol, a man-made god.” (p304)  Now major YEC ministries such as CMI are careful to say that they never accuse non-YEC Christians of not actually being Christian.  I think this sentence crosses that line, and I expect that many sincere evangelical Christians who can’t accept YEC beliefs, would find it quite offensive.  It appears to call into question our salvation,   I’m disappointed that it appears in a book which is overall, for a YEC publication, quite balanced.

Conclusion

This is my conclusion, not the book’s.  It is interesting to speculate as to why YECs are so opposed to the big bang.  Remember that there are various theories of relativistic time dilation which would seem to allow 13.7 billion years to pass in the remote universe during 6 days of earth time.  To a YEC who overlooks the problems with these theories, this approach might at first glance appear to allow some version of the big bang to fit within their cosmology.  So what is the difficulty?  I’ve heard several YECs explain that the problem is the order of events.  The big bang gets the order wrong, if you read Genesis 1 the YEC way.  So, they say, we have water existing before light, then the earth (with land and sea) before the stars.  Whereas of course the big bang has light first, then some stars which have to blow up as supernovae to send heavy elements into space from which rocky planets like the Earth could form.  We should note that some other views of Genesis such as the day-age theory, have exactly the same problem.

Finally, this is quite a reasonable book for a YEC take on the big bang.  Even though it is 10 years old now, it gives a good outline of the reasons the big bang theory arose, and a good idea of the points for and against.  As I’ve shown, in the last 10 years the evidence for the big bang has become stronger, and this book in my view makes too much of the problems with the theory.  Still, the problems are still there, and generally still awaiting answers.  I expect these will eventually be forthcoming.  My main objections to this book are the later chapters which aren’t addressing the big bang at all, but are the usual YEC propaganda with the assumption that this is the only correct way to read the Bible, and the vast majority of Christians who accept long ages are compromising with the world, or worse.

 

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