Black Holes: Real or Imaginary? A Problem of Observational vs. Historical Science

by Ken Ham

Black holes form the background in many science fiction stories. But black holes are not fictional. A black hole, as you probably know, is so massive and dense that even light cannot escape from its enormous gravity, so it is invisible. Even though we cannot “see” black holes the way we see a star or the moon, there is overwhelming observational evidence that they do exist. Astronomers are able to see the effects of their enormous gravity on other things in space.

So if that is the case, why have two secular scientists now claimed that black holes might not even exist? Both Dr. Stephen Hawking and a scientist from the University of North Carolina have proposed that black holes, at least as we understand them, aren’t really there. As our Answers in Genesis astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner explains in his blog this week, much of the difficulty lies in our incomplete understanding of the physics that explains the nature of all matter and energy, great and small. But the root of the problem, he says, is a confusion of observational and historical science.

The scientist in North Carolina does not believe that stellar black holes could form the way scientists believe they formed. Therefore, she proposes they do not exist. Since we cannot observe the historical origins of a black hole, we actually cannot know how they formed! But that does not change the fact that they exist.

Astronomers like Dr. Faulkner, whose primary research concerns binary stars, tell us that stellar black holes can be part of binary star systems, and their presence, though unseen, explains the behavior of their companion stars. Unseen black holes at the centers of galaxies would explain much of the observable behavior of objects and gases near the center of various galaxies. Even though the laws of physics as presently understood struggle to explain what is going on in a black hole as well as how they form, astronomers can know that black holes exist from the observable way they affect other things.

Dr. Faulkner explains further in his blog:

Many people, including creationists, confuse the origin of black holes with the science of black holes. As I show in a DVD about black holes, there is very good evidence that black holes exist. This is experimental/observational science. The question of where black holes come from is an entirely different issue, one that experimental/observational science cannot address. Rather, scientists develop ideas based upon what science they know to explain how such things could have come about, but there is no way to test these ideas, because they happened in the past. This is historical science. As a creation scientist, I have no problem with God miraculously making black holes during the Creation Week, nor do I have a problem with black holes forming today through natural processes that God has ordained.
Evolutionists believe that evolution must have happened because life exists and, they think, could have come to exist in no other way. Perhaps the subject of black holes can help some people understand that, as with evolution, the existence and observable behavior of something does not reveal its unobserved, untestable origin in the unobservable past.

It’s quite ironic. Secular scientists can’t observe how life supposedly formed from non-life by natural processes and how it supposedly evolved over millions of years—yet they believe it happened and propose a story as to how they think it happened. However, the scientists quoted above can’t see how a black hole formed, so they now propose denying their existence!

Yes, Dr. Faulkner is right—these scientists don’t understand the difference between observational science and historical science. This is why I emphasized this important teaching during my recent debate with Bill Nye “the Science Guy.” Of course, if evolutionists like Nye admitted that molecules-to-man evolution was in the realm of historical science, then they would have to admit they hold beliefs!  And these secularists don’t want to admit this conclusion—they want to keep indoctrinating generations of people to believe molecules-to-man evolution is fact!

If you read Dr. Faulkner’s entire blog you’ll be better informed as you discuss this interesting controversy about black holes with your friends. Also, our review and discussion guide for Cosmos: “A Sky Full of Ghosts” also explores the nature of black holes. And be sure to check out Dr. Faulkner’s fascinating DVD Things That Go Bump In The Night to learn how black holes, dark matter, and dark energy fit into the universe God created.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,


This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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