Dark Matter Doesn’t Exist? Not so Fast!

by Dr. Danny R. Faulkner on July 30, 2022

How should creationists view the latest dark matter study?

Dark matter has been widely accepted by astronomers for more than four decades. Inclusion of dark matter in big bang models is more recent, going back about 25 years. Seeing this connection between dark matter and the big bang model, many biblical creationists are wary of dark matter. Therefore, many creationists are likely to view favorably a new study that calls into question whether dark matter is real. But is it prudent to do so? Before answering that question, we ought to review the history of our understanding of dark matter.

Evidence for Dark Matter

The first evidence for dark matter goes back 85 years. There are three independent lines of evidence for dark matter:

  1. Orbital motion of galaxies in clusters
  2. Rotation curves of spiral galaxies
  3. Gravitational lensing of distant galaxies or quasars by nearer clusters of galaxies along the line of sight

All three lines of evidence indicate the dynamical mass of galaxies (required to explain orbital motion or gravitational lensing) exceeds the lighted mass (mostly stars) of galaxies by a factor of 5-10. The concordance of all three methods is quite stunning. The galaxy rotation studies act as probes to reveal the distribution of mass within galaxies. Startlingly, there is a sort of anticorrelation between the light and mass distribution of galaxies, with much of the light of galaxies coming from their nuclear regions while most of their mass seems to be found in halos, far from the nuclei of galaxies.

For decades, astronomers generally ignored the data for dark matter, thinking it might be an anomaly that eventually would go away. But a series of papers in the 1970s by Vera Rubin and Kent Ford finally convinced astronomers of the reality of dark matter. It took cosmologists a few more years to accept dark matter. Most cosmological models, such as the big bang, assume that gravity is the dominant force in the universe. But if one leaves most of the mass of the universe out of a cosmological model, then that model cannot be very good. Once cosmologists included dark matter into their models, they found that they could manipulate dark matter as a parameter to solve problems for the big bang. Dark matter also has been invoked as the mechanism of galaxy formation. It is these connections to evolutionary ideas that have caused many creationists to view dark matter with suspicion.

The New Study

What did this new study calling dark matter into question have to offer? It focused on the phenomenon of dynamical friction introduced by the famous astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar 80 years ago. If dark matter exists in halos around large galaxies, then small galaxies orbiting the large galaxies ought to slow down as they move through the dark matter halos of the large and interact with the dark matter gravitationally. But this study found no evidence that this has happened. Popular reports of this study suggested that the scientists involved measured a decrease in the speeds of these smaller galaxies. However, that process would have taken billions of years, so obviously no direct observation of slowing velocity were made.

Indeed, this key part about billions of years ought to be of great concern to creationists. Since the Bible indicates the universe is young, creationists reject past processes taking billions of years. The report about this new study listed three other lines of evidence against dark matter than have recently been published (some involving the authors of the current study). All three studies rely upon billions of years and naturalistic theories of how galaxies formed within a big bang model. If creationists reject the arguments underlying this new study, then why would creationists support the conclusion of this study that there is no dark matter?

How do scientists who do not believe in dark matter explain the three lines of evidence for dark matter? They invoke modified Newtonian mechanics (MOND) as an alternative explanation. MOND is an adjustment to Newtonian gravity at great distance. One can adjust the inverse square of the distance law of gravity to fit the observations. One must ask the question of which is the more radical explanation for the evidence: postulating a previously unknown form of matter that gives off no light or altering the laws of physics?

But all is not well for MOND. Astronomers have recently found galaxies with no evidence of dark matter. The amount of dark matter would be different from galaxy to galaxy, so we would expect that some galaxies might have little or no dark matter. However, if MOND were correct, then all galaxies would have evidence that we usually interpret as the presence of dark matter. Thus, if any galaxies lack evidence of MOND, then MOND is falsified. Paradoxically, the fact that a few galaxies have little or no dark matter is evidence that dark matter is real.


It is inconsistent to praise the results of a study while simultaneously rejecting virtually all else that the paper said.

Creationists who doubt the reality of dark matter should be very cautious about this new study calling dark matter into question. If one examines the foundation upon which this paper’s conclusion is based, one finds that it is quite incompatible with biblical creation. It is inconsistent to praise the results of a study while simultaneously rejecting virtually all else that the paper said.

Many creationists seem to be confused about dark matter. All they seem concerned with is dark matter being a rescuing device for the big bang model and evolutionary ideas in astronomy. If one looks at only articles about dark matter published in the past couple of decades, it is easy to get the misimpression that this is what dark matter is all about. However, the history of dark matter is very different. The three lines of evidence for dark matter are observational science of the here and now, and they are not based upon supposed past processes of historical or origin science. Of all people, one would think that creationists would understand this distinction. Rather than rejecting dark matter, creationists ought to appreciate the fact that God has created a world more diverse and wonderful than any of us can contemplate.


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