Models of the Origin of the Universe

by John Rankin on April 1, 1979

Originally published in Creation 2(2):26–32, April 1979

It is human nature to be curious about how things began. Here we shall consider the question of the origin of all things, the origin of the Universe.

Summary

Taken from an address to the first public meeting of the Victorian branch of the Creation Science Association. The author is Dr. John Rankin. He received a Ph. D. in mathematical physics in the field of cosmology for a thesis entitled “Protogalaxy Formation.”


It is human nature to be curious about how things began. Here we shall consider the question of the origin of all things, the origin of the Universe. The scale of this subject is stupendous. On this cosmological scale our floating life station, planet Earth, is totally insignificant, having a radius of only six thousand kilometers. Likewise for the Moon, the Sun, and the whole Solar System which, discounting the comets, is contained within a radius of only 6 billion kilometers. (The American “billion” is used here which is a thousand million and is equivalent to the English “milliard.”) In considering the origin of the Universe, even objects the size of our Milky Way galaxy with its billions of stars contained within a radius of a billion billion kilometers are of insignificant size. We are considering here the origin of all the galaxies constituting the metagalaxy (i.e. the whole known universe) so it is appropriate here to reflect on the nature of the metagalaxy.

Firstly its mind-boggling size. The biggest optical telescopes reach out through the depths of space to a distance of 10 billion light years, and a radio telescope such as the Australian telescope of Parkes observes celestial objects up to one and a half times this distance. Let’s do a quick metric conversion. A light year is the distance light can travel in one year, which is about ten thousand billion kilometers. So the known Universe has a radius of 150 thousand billion billion kilometers.

Secondly, the mass of the metagalaxy is calculated to be 10 billion billion billion billion tons. Yet if this enormous mass were evenly distributed over the entire volume of the metagalaxy we would have a better vacuum than can be produced in the laboratory! This gives us some idea of the size of the Universe.

Thirdly, the known universe consists of a billion swirling galaxies each as distinctly different as the humans populating the planet Earth, and each consisting of a hundred billion stars, again each distinctly different. Now when reflecting on the magnitude of the Cosmos, we should also take into account, apart from its intricate structure and the precision of its motions, the enormous amount of information being exchanged within it. For example electromagnetic radiation (i.e. light) from stars informs us of their temperature, radius, chemical composition, motions and so forth. Pulsars, quasars, neutron stars, black holes and other exotic celestial objects emit signals at colossal power rates. There are neutrino signals and information speeding around the universe in gamma rays and gravitational radiation.

To explain where all this came from we need to put up a scientific model by which is meant a framework of ideas used to help us understand how the known scientific facts could fit into an overall time-sequence. There are two broad types of models: evolution models and creation models. Let us define these terms. The Webster dictionary definition of “evolution” is: A continuous progression from unorganized simplicity to organized complexity—the development from a rudimentary to a more complex state. And “creation” is defined as the act of bringing the World into existence.

So by an evolutionary model is meant the general idea that the Earth, the Universe and all things came into their present form by a slow gradual process of self-transformation—from an inchoate rudimentary chaos of elementary matter over billions and billions of years into the present complex, intricate Cosmos that we know today. Whereas by a creation model is meant the idea that the Universe was brought into being by a special completed processes as a functioning, complete and balanced whole and has since been wearing down and disintegrating into disorder. The two philosophical viewpoints are diametrically opposed; all evolutionary models say the Universe goes from chaos to cosmos, while the creation model says it goes from cosmos to chaos.

Before we start looking at the different models, we should clear up some popular misconceptions. Let us mention three commonly held myths:

Myth 1: “Science provides absolute truth.”

Science is the body of systematic knowledge of physical phenomena obtained by the scientific method which is the research method characterized by:

  1. Clear definition of the problem
  2. Gathering of relevant data
  3. Induction of an hypothesis
  4. Empirical testing of deductions from the hypothesis

Thus the predictions of science are not absolute truth and an hypothesis stands only until it is disproved by a single fact. Science theories are always changing.

Myth 2: “All scientists believe in Evolution.”

This is not true for today there are thousands of scientists and educated professionals convinced that evolution is not the correct explanation of how things came to be. They insist that the facts of science looked at objectively and fairly give more support to the idea of special creation. For example, the international Creation Research Society consists of over 600 holders of a Master’s or Doctor’s degree in science, who all hold this view.

Myth 3: “Evolution is scientific and therefore based upon fact, whereas creation is religious, and therefore based upon blind faith.”

Neither evolution nor creation can be tested as a scientific theory, so believers in evolution or creation must accept either view by faith.

The idea behind evolution is Materialism, a belief which is accepted by faith. Materialism is the view of the world which sees matter and the laws of physics as the only relevant reality. On the other hand the belief underlying creation is Theism, especially Biblical Theism. Theism is the world-view that sees an infinite personal Spirit outside of the physical realm as the source of all reality. It is clear then that evolution and creation are equally religious. Each requires faith in a basically philosophical or religious understanding of the world.

Neither evolution nor creation can be tested because nobody observed and can repeat what happened in the ancient past history of the Earth or the Universe. The data collected by observation and experiment in the present world, and advanced as support of one or other theory of origins, is circumstantial evidence. By this I mean that the meaning or interpretation given to the data depends strongly on the presuppositions of the interpreter. Furthermore any objection raised against a theory of origins can be answered by some additional assumption. This is called a secondary assumption and it detracts from the credibility of the theory. Thus theories of origins, be they evolutionary or creationist, cannot be conclusively proven false by experimental test. Therefore they are outside the realm of science proper, though scientific data can be used to lend support and credibility to one model or another.

Let us briefly consider the history of cosmogonic ideas. The ancient creation mythologies of pagan nations who did not receive the Bible are in marked contrast with the rational explanation of origins as given in the Bible. Moving on to the scientific era, numerous “scientific” evolutionary hypotheses have been proposed from the 17th century on, to explain the origin of the Universe—or rather as much of it as was known at the time. But as knowledge increased and man’s conception of the Universe expanded, the models were discredited. Minor modification was insufficient usually. They had to be rejected and new models conceived. So we had the Cartesian Hypothesis, Swedeborg’s Nebular Hypothesis, Kant’s Nebular Hypothesis, Buffon’s Collision Hypothesis, Laplace’s Nebular Hypothesis, Darwin’s Tidal Hypothesis, Jean-Jeffreys Tidal Hypothesis, Von Weizsacker’s Nebular Hypothesis, Whipple’s Dust Cloud Hypothesis and so forth. It was Immanuel Kant who proudly said “Give me matter and I will construct a world out of it.” His world is no longer seriously considered. In fact no system of evolutionary cosmology devised by man, once it has been given an adequate length of time to demonstrate its worth has survived. It is apparently far easier to propose an evolutionary theory than to defend it. In the final analysis the only statements on the subject of origins that has weathered the test of time are those revealed in the Word of God.

We will consider in more detail four modern evolutionary models of the origin of the Universe.

Primeval Atom Hypothesis

Firstly we have the Primeval Atom Hypothesis set forth in 1927 by George Lemaitre, a Belgian Jesuit. The Lemaitre model is a special solution of the Einstein 4-dimensional curved space gravitational field equations. According to this model the Universe is the result of the radioactive disintegration of a gigantic superstar the size of the Earth’s orbit—150 million kilometers in radius. This superatom consisted only of closely packed neutrons and had a brief existence corresponding to the neutron’s half-life of 13 minutes. Following the blast there were 3 phases in the evolution of the Universe:

  1. Rapid expansion
  2. Deceleration due to gravity to an unstable coasting phase
  3. Renewed expansion which we now observe in the Doppler redshifts of distant galaxies

Lemaitre also pointed out that his model can explain the enigmatic cosmic rays as the “fossil rays” which emanated from the original explosion and still “testify to the primeval activity of the cosmos.” Cosmic rays are however nowadays believed to be of galactic origin namely as emanations from supernovas.

This model is no longer accepted as being realistic by the scientific community. One reason being that it was hoped that the coasting period, phase (ii), would be long and stable enough to allow galaxies to form by gravitational condensation from the chaotic gases that filled the model. However it was found by complicated calculations that phase (ii) was very unstable and even the slightest proto-galaxy formation would set it off into phase (iii) in which proto-galaxies could not survive the explosive rush of gases. Furthermore Lemaitre’s model uses the hypothetical cosmological constant. It is scientifically preferable to retain the experimentally and observationally well-established laws of physics rather than modifying them with terms as yet not detectable in laboratory experiments. Also the origin of the superatom is unexplained.

Big Bang Model

The Primeval Atom Hypothesis has been largely supplanted by the Big Bang Model put forward by George Gamow in 1947. He has written many popular books with “homey” analogies to promote the theory in an effective way. Because of this the Big Bang Model probably enjoys a more widespread acceptance today than any other cosmogony of the Universe, past or present, with the exception of special creation.

The observable Universe of galaxies appears to be expanding and it implies that all the matter in the universe was in the same place about 10 billion years ago. The Big Bang Theory assumes that this was so. The primordial fireball material was called “ylem” by Gamow and consisted of matter and radiation at a temperature of billions of degrees and density of 1014 g/cc (i.e. 100 trillion times the density of water). It was in a much smaller volume than Lemaitre’s superatom and the explosion was more violent. It sent hydrogen gas in every direction. The hydrogen cooled and condensed by gravitation into the galaxies then the stars we see today. The universal expansion will continue forever and eventually even the brightest galaxies will be too faint to be observed. Gamow also offers an explanation of how the ylem itself formed. The pre-ylem condition of the universe was one of contraction from eternity past—the mirror image of the post-ylem condition, and the Big Bang represented an elastic rebound between the two states. Hannes Alfven, Professor of plasma physics and a cosmologist, is vigorously opposed to the idea that the Universe could have attained such a fantastic density by virtue of a previous contraction. As particles come together in such a contraction there would be little actual contact and so little chance of them being packed into a ylem. To illustrate this point Alfven resorts to an amusing analogy set forth in the style of Gamow. He asks his readers to visualize a housefly that has been condemned by a firing squad. The hapless fly is placed in the centre of a large circle while an unusually large number of marksmen stand shoulder to shoulder around the circumference of the circle. If each man firing on a signal, can achieve perfect aim and timing, the bullets will aggregate together into one large cannonball. Such would happen in an idealized over-simplified mathematical model. But in real life the bullets will for the most part go streaking by one another without colliding. And so it is with the particles in the contraction phase of the Universe. They would fail to “co-operate” in the formation of the postulated ylem.

Another problem which has been recognized by Gamow and his co-workers has to do with the production of elements during the initial stages of the expansion. This view of atom-building is based on successive neutron-capture reactions to achieve elements of increasing atomic weights in a stepwise manner starting from 100% neutron content in the ylem matter. At the end of the first 30 minutes more than half of the ylem has been converted into hydrogen and slightly less than half into helium. There is an impasse when we attempt to go past the stable inert gas He. A gap exists therefore at mass 5 among nuclides that can actually be formed since neither a proton nor a neutron can be attached to a helium nucleus of mass 4.

A further difficulty with the Big Bang hypothesis is that mathematical analysis shows that galaxies will not form by gravitational condensation from random statistical fluctuations in the cosmic gases because of the disruptive effect of the expansion of the Universe.

Steady State Hypothesis

We come to the Steady State Hypothesis announced in 1948 by Fred Hoyle, Hermann Bondi and Thomas Gold. Rather than have the Universe become depleted of matter as it expands the originators of this scheme have suggested that new matter appears out of nowhere to replace what has been lost in any given region of space. The density of matter is thereby maintained at a fairly constant level and the Universe stays in a steady state. The self-creating matter is said to be neutrons which possess the ability to condense into galaxies within which evolve stars, planets, plants, animals and people—all originating from empty space.

The continuous creation hypothesis has been dignified somewhat by the introduction of a “creation field” into the Einstein equations of curved space. Matter is supposed to “happen” when the C-field builds up to sufficient intensity at a given point in space. As well as having to modify the Einstein equations, the Steady State theory requires the basic laws of Thermodynamics to be changed. The first law of Thermodynamics, known also as the law of conservation of energy, of course forbids the condensing of matter out of nowhere inasmuch as matter is recognized as being a form of energy. The law has to be modified to saying that the amount of mass-energy per unit volume is constant on the average in the universe. However there is no experimental evidence in favor of this change. The Steady State theory is also in disagreement with the second law of Thermodynamics according to which such perpetual motion machines are not possible in the real world. In 1965 Hoyle himself has admitted that the following evidences weigh against the Steady State theory:

  1. Radio astronomy counts by Martin Ryle and his associates indicate that the density of radio sources was greater in the past.
  2. Red-shift measurements from QSOs (quasars) indicate that the universe has expanded from a state of higher density.
  3. A background cosmic black-body radiation has been discovered which cannot be accounted for in the present state of the Universe.
  4. Helium to hydrogen ratios in stars and gaseous nebulae show an unaccountably high amount of helium.
  5. The structure of elliptical galaxies is not in accordance with expectations based on the Steady State theory.

Hoyle has since abandoned his original Steady State model. Alfven has also pointed out that a continuous creation of neutrons without a corresponding creation of anti-neutrons to offset them is a direct violation of the very basic principles of particle-anti-particle symmetries recently discovered by atomic and nuclear physicists.

Ambiplasma Hypothesis

So we finally come to the most recent evolutionary cosmological model of the origin of the Universe, Alfven’s Ambiplasma Hypothesis put forward by him in 1965. Alfven begins with an extremely tenuous mixture of koinomatter (i.e. regular matter) and anti-matter occupying an enormous region of space 1012 light years in radius. The primordial material is a mixture of protons, antiprotons, electrons and positrons which he calls “ambiplasma.” Over a period of trillions of years gravitational attraction gradually shrinks the sphere and increases its density. In the case of proton-antiproton annihilation reactions, neutrons and electromagnetic radiation result. After trillions of years the radiation intensity increases to the extent that its outward pressure not only hinders the gravitational contraction but eventually reverses its direction completely. Thus we have arrived at an expanding universe without the need for catastrophic “fireworks.” Professor Alfven concedes that there are serious difficulties concerning the mechanism of galaxy formation. He is uncommitted as to whether the process began during the contraction of the metagalaxy, or during the hypothetical 10 billion years since the beginning of the expansion. The detailed development within each galaxy at still later stages, he says, poses an even more formidable problem. A major problem with this theory is that of explaining how koinomatter and antimatter became stably separated. Alfven has offered the suggestion that thin buffer zones of ambiplasma might separate growing regions of koinomatter and antimatter. Such, however is a difficult feat to accomplish and could well be analogous to the statistical improbability of spontaneously separating lukewarm water into regions of hot and cold water. Alfven confesses that there are several problems here.

Having looked in some detail at the modem evolutionary models of the Universe we come now to the Special Creation Model of the origin of the Universe. Rather than being based on the idle conjectures of men, the Special Creation Model is based on the record God has given us of what He did in creation week. Archaeology has been able to verify Bible statements as true and accurate as far back as the Table of Nations in Genesis 10. Christians believe that the whole of God’s Word is true and accurate from the beginning as it says in Psalm 119:160 AV.

By the nature of the act of creation, the World was created “old.” In computer jargon we would say that creation week was “transparent to the observer.” As man’s knowledge increases (Dan. 12:4) he sees further and further into the depths of the Universe. Likewise, since God created all things mature, man can see further and further into time past as well as space. Space and time seem endless and such that man never quite arrives at an overall comprehension of God’s creation though men of almost every generation have believed themselves to be at the apex of knowledge. And this has been in the plan of God, for we read in Ecclesiastes 3:11: God has the Universe into man’s heart, yet such that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.

The real Universe matches very well with the Special Creation Model where an initial perfect balanced creation that was “very good” is now in bondage to decay and disruption, for we know that the Earth’s rotation is slowing down, the Sun is losing 5 million tons of mass per second in used up hydrogen fuel and emitted gases and energy, great masses of gases and dust are streaming out of galaxies, galactic and globular clusters are breaking up for lack of sufficient binding energy and the whole Universe is in a state of irreversible expansion heading for a “heat death” where all the stars have burnt out and the Universe has come to a uniform cold temperature.

Let us now conclude with two observations:

  1. Firstly, it is always possible to modify the Laws of Physics to suit a particular philosophy in such a way that the modification would be unnoticed on Earth, but have significant effects on the cosmological scale. This however is not good scientific practice.
  2. Secondly, people are forever hopefully inventing so called perpetual motion machines, which can sometimes take a trained scientist a good while to sort out the flaw. Evolutionary theories of the origin of the Universe where ordered systems are supposed to be self-created are just like those perpetual motion machines though on a much grander scale. The very idea that any ordered system can give rise to itself directly contradicts the most basic Laws of Science.

In conclusion we can say that:

  • All evolutionary cosmological models start off with matter, be it neutrons or hydrogen, without any explanation of where that came from.
  • All evolutionary cosmological models assume that this matter obeys certain physical laws with no explanation of why or where the laws come from.
  • All evolutionary cosmological models involve gross over-simplifications of reality and have not stood the test of time in the light of new information.
  • All evolutionary theories on the origin of the planets, the stars, the galaxies or the whole Universe that I have studied, at one or several points defy the Laws of Physics. My own studies have shown that the usual theory of gaseous nebula condensing to form the magnificent astronomical objects we see today of planets, stars and galaxies doesn’t even work if the Universe were a billion billion years old. It is far more likely for a celestial system to break up into its constituent parts than for the reverse to occur.

The only satisfactory explanation of the origin of the universe is to be found in the ancient book of Genesis:“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.