Debate: The Origin of the Universe - Part 2
by Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Don DeYoung,
Dr. Duane Gish, Dr. Kurt Wise
note: In June 1990 The John Ankerberg Show taped a series of
interviews with men from several branches of the sciences regarding
the evidence for creation. For technical reasons we were unable to air
these interview. Nevertheless, we have decided to release portions of
these interviews in a series of articles so you could read the
arguments that were being made at that timeómore than a decade ago.
effort has been made to quote the gentlemen correctly. We have
attempted to find the correct spelling of the scientific terms used.
However, the reader should keep in mind that this is a transcription
of oral interviews. Mistakes in spelling and in the technical language
should be laid at the feet of the editor.]
Ankerberg: Letís go back to the Big Bang
because lots of people are interested and I know youíve got more to
tell us in this area. Isnít it true that the Big Bang Theory does not
posit an absolute beginning of the cosmos, a coming into existence out
of nothing, but only an initial event in the development of the cosmos
as we know it, an event that occurred some 15 to 20 billion years ago?
It seems to me, and I may be dead wrong, that with Einsteinís special
and general relativity, when it was checked out by certain scientists
that they posited that it did show that gravity, space, time, and
matter all went back to a point. Okay, and then other theories started
to develop. Now, what I want to know is can we truthfully say, on
either side, can we go back past a certain time or does the scientific
evidence show that we do have a full stop, or donít we know?
I believe that there was an origin, and from that we had our
concentration of energy and mass and order from which it all began.
Today, one of our basic laws in science is conservation of energy,
that energy is neither created nor destroyed, and yet we have a
certain amount of energy in mass in our universe. So it seems like
there had to be a beginning point when this was established and set
up, and then we take it from there. Indeed, the Big Bang Theory does
propose this initial kernel of matter that I was talking about, which
really, I think, takes the Big Bang Theory out of the origin category,
because it begins with something, and then starts to push it around
and change. I believe that really only the creation view is a valid
origin theory. Creation from nothing; the Creator spoke things into
existence. That is a real creation. Anything else, the man-made
theories seem to be just manipulating something thatís already there.
Don, some of the very recent developments in
astronomy, for example, the discovery of massive superclusters of
galaxies and these great voids in space, some things thatís come out
during the last year, doesnít that pose some serious problems for this
Big Bang Theory, which would predict a homogenous universe?
Yes. I think, Duane, youíre referring to the background radiation,
which is one of the evidences in favor of the Big Bang explosion. A
couple of decades ago, when this background radiation was discovered,
a low temperature that all of space has, and this temperature thatís
measured is said to be the last dying ember of the Big Bang explosion.
Well, our satellites, especially the cosmic explorer satellite, even
in the beginning 1990ís, has been making some measurements on this
background radiation and has found it to be a very smooth, very
homogenous. Itís the same everywhere in the universe.
problem for our current Big Bang understanding. Because when we look
at the universe, we see a rather lumpy structure, clusters of
galaxies. Itís not uniformly spread out. And so you have background
radiation which very smooth, and you have a physical universe that is
not smooth. And so we are beginning to wonder now about this
background radiation and instead of supporting the Big Bank theory, it
conflicts with it.
Yes, itís supposed to be one of the greatest proofs of the Big Bang.
Itís turning out, it looks like to me, to be the death knell, because
the real universe does not conform to the theoretical universe or to
the background radiation.
Thatís true. The background radiation and the other traditional
evidence in favor of the Big Bang is the Red Shift, the change in
starlight from faraway galaxies. It appears that they are going away
from us so their light is stretched out and Doppler-shifted or
red-shifted. And then if you extrapolate that back in time, then years
ago the universe was smaller and smaller and they begin again with
this kernel. And there are questions that are arising about the Red
Shift. I do believe that the universe is expanding, but there are also
some other possible sources of this red-shift, and itís not quite the
closed-case evidence for a big bang that there once was.
think that the Big Bang Theory is temporary. In fact, if you look at
the history of astronomy, back in the í60s there was a lot of talk
about the steady state theory. The universe had been around here
foreveróalways was and always will be. In the í70s and í80s, the Big
Bang has been very popular, but now weíre starting to see it weaken as
these holes develop. During the 1990s, it could well be that a new
idea will come across called the plasma theory, thatís a new one
thatíll replace the Big Bang. This ever-changing status of theories I
think is another reason why creation has become a little bit doubtful
and skeptical of the latest views of astronomy, because the theories
are forever changing. And of course, as creationists we have to be
very careful about hooking our theology and Scripture to the latest
views of astrophysics because those views, those theories, keep
Does thermodynamics, in terms of the entire universe, can it really
come into influencing our view of the beginning of the universe? There
are some scientists that apparently are saying that they can work
around the laws of thermodynamics and we can still have the universe
as we see it and itís not going to run down and just be an icebox
someday. What do you think?
Thermodynamics. I already referred to the first law, which is that
energy is constant or conserved. Then you have the second law of
thermo, which says energy sources are spreading out, that the universe
seems to be decaying. I really do think that these laws of
thermodynamics are strong evidence in favor of creation and maybe some
of the strongest evidence we have.
the same time thermodynamics, especially the second law, itís hard to
pin it down. Itís very complicated; it even involves the curse, I
believe, when the second law of thermodynamics was set up. And itís
difficult to get a handle on it.
Let me give
you an example. Again, I was referring to the Big Bang story, and we
began with a kernel of mass and energy. Well, if you do begin with the
whole universe contracted like that into some kind of kernel, some
kind of beginning, that would be defined as what we call today a Black
Hole, where all the matter is very much condensed down and trapped
into one place like that, and we donít whether black holes exist or
not today. But, anyway, if the early universe was like that, one part
of the idea of a black hole is that nothing can escape from it. Thatís
a problem with the Big Bang occurring in the first place. But with a
black hole, no atoms can escape, no clouds, not even any light.
So if you
canít get any energy out of a black hole, that energy is not
available, you could say that the Big Bang story postulates a
beginning where there wasnít any energy available, where entropy was
already very high. And, I think, thatís again a problem with the Big
Bang. But that doesnít stop the whole story, they have to have a
universe, so they do postulate that this kernel did explode and the
energy came out, so then they had that energy available, and then you
can play around with thermodynamics.
So you can
look at this both ways. Thermodynamics can deny the Big Bang
explosion, because entropy was already high, energy was unavailable,
but again, if you do push it and let it explode, then you can go along
with the story.
Didnít Stephen Hawking claim that black holes do eventually die, if
you wish, and, depending on their size, determines how long it is
before they actually give up their energy, but they do have energy?
This is one way to look at black holes, that even they are unstable,
and they can evaporate after a while and give off radiation. Thatís
one possible idea. We really donít know whether thatís true or not.
Black holes, theyíve been talked about now for a couple centuries, and
the theoryís there, we havenít located any black holes, we donít even
know if they exist, and there are a variety of theories like that, so
you donít know whether to go off in that direction or not.
Is my perception correct? Iíve looked at this field from the outside,
obviously. Iím a paleontologist; Iím way out of the field here. My
perception has been that there has been a creation of a large number
of theories that seem to be trying to avoid putting a beginning to
this universe: steady-state theory, oscillating universe theory,
accepting the Big Bang, but preceding it with oscillations, and
various others. Is it true that there seems to be within the field a
tendency for people to try to avoid an origin to things?
Yes. The astronomy world has never been happy with the Big Bang
theory, because it does have that embarrassing beginning point, where
something is there and it explodes, and it almost sounds like you need
a supernatural push to have that happen. And so there have been many
attempts to avoid that singularity at the beginning.
mentioned one idea of an oscillating universe, that the universe
explodes and as it expands there we get our stars, and galaxies, and
planets. But then after awhile the universe stops stretching out and
it falls back in and turns into a new nugget of material which then
explodes. And so the whole thing goes in and out, vibrating like a
bubble over time, and that is sort of an idea that has come along to
get away from one initial origin, but to say that the universe has
expanded and contracted forever, that itís just been going on and on,
therefore, there was no beginning origin and there is no final
destiny. We just happen to live at one of the episodes of when the
universe is expanding. Yes, they go to great lengths to avoid an
Is there any way to make a case for a definite origin that cans all
these other theories and says that they canít possibly be true; that
we have, there must be, an origin of things?
Well, yes, in fact, you can take some data in that area. The
oscillating universe is the popular thing these days. And if the
universe is going to stop expanding and contract again and then blow
up again, there has to be a certain minimum density of material in the
universe, stars and galaxies, there has to be enough mass, enough
gravity to stop this stretching rubber band of the universe expanding
and bring it back together again. And hence come a lot of surveys of
the sky, measuring stars and galaxies to come up with an average
results have not been pleasing to the astronomy world because it does
appear that the density is about a hundred times too small to have the
universe snap back again and then rebound in that way. They talk about
us living in an open universe, that even if you do allow a Big Bang
explosion, thereís only been one. They would rather find a closed
universe with more mass where again it goes in and out like a bubble
over and over again.
Suppose the only other alternative is to see the current Big Bang
universe being one of a series and this just happens to be the last
one. Which is almost as disturbing as to say there is a beginning.
Itís to say that this is unique, this is the last one.
Yes. They dearly would like to have us be in an oscillating universe.
They need more mass to do that, so thereís a search today for whatís
called the missing mass. Where is more material which we havenít seen
yet that might bring about this rebound of the universe? In fact,
theyíre so sure that itís there that itís not called the missing mass
these days, itís called the hidden massóthey just havenít found it
1 Dr. Don DeYoung
received his Ph.D. in physics from Iowa State University.
2 Dr. Duane Gish is a
biochemist who received his Ph.D. from the University of California,
3 Dr. Kurt Wise received
his Ph.D in paleontology at Harvard.
Copyright 2006, Ankerberg Theological Research Institute