On the Silliness of the Big Bang Hypothesis

Miriam English

Look out into deep space and you'll see objects whose light left them a long time ago ago. In 1929 Edwin Hubble published his finding of redshifts in the light of distant objects. The more distant an object was, the greater its redshift. It seemed natural to many to assume that this redshift is the result of those objects speeding away from us. This always struck me as simplistic.

The reasoning goes this way: If all these things are speeding away from each other, then in the past they must have been closer together. Extrapolating backwards, so the thinking goes, you should reach some point of origin -- the source of the universe!

This seems incredibly naïve, and doesn't actually explain anything. It uses an unproven assumption (that redshift is attributable solely to velocity) and some unknown mechanism to create all of the universe in a split second. You might as well believe in some grey-haired old man in the sky who did it all like in Genesis!!

According to the Big Bang hypothesis there should be a limit to how far "back in time" we can look when viewing distant objects. If objects can be seen "further back" than that limit, would it disprove the Big Bang? No. The Big Bang is not science, because there is no clear way to disprove it. In that respect it is like a religion. Finding older objects out there simply revises the "age" of the universe. This has happened before, when we got better telescopes that could see more distant objects, and it will happen again, each time we can see further.

One thing proponents of the Big Bang like to say is that space itself is expanding. But if space inflated like a balloon we would notice no change as we would be inflating with all the other space around and within us. Dimension is only good for measuring things against other things. If everything has expanded then nothing has changed! Of course, these people generally shift gear at this point and say they don't mean that space itself expands (even though it is actually what they say), they mean that the distance between objects has expanded, but that objects themselves are held together by gravity and electromagnetic forces. If that's so then they're guilty of using a spooky way of saying something mundane in order to give it a mystical gloss. An unexpected aspect is that if space really was expanding then it seems to me that this might actually prevent the redshift occurring in the first place! If space expands, but the things in it remain the same size, then would light waves remain the same size too? If space is expanding then is there even any doppler effect? Because now the objects aren't moving through space at all.

Probably the most abhorrent of all is the reintroduction of a single center for the universe. Aristotle strikes again! After Europe was the center of the world, we found out oops, Earth is round; there is no center. So then the Earth was the center of the universe, but oops! No, we orbit the sun. So our sun is the center of the universe. But oops again, we find that the stars out there are billions of other suns just like ours. So then our galaxy must be the center of the universe, but oops! we find that there are countless other galaxies out there. Each time we set a center we are forced to to rethink. Quite frankly, the idea that there could be any center in time or space seems to me totally absurd! I really don't understand people's difficulty with infinity.

The Big Bang people have learned to be incredibly slippery, and many will protest that there is no central point in the universe that it all came from, that all this is the center, because it all came from the same event. But this is just playing with words. You can ask them how big the universe supposed is to be now, and they'll come up with a number (about 12 billion light years across). Then you can ask them how big it was 6 billion years ago, and they'll come up with a smaller number. You can ask them how big it was 11 billion years ago and they'll give you an even smaller number. You can ask them how big the universe was when it was a billionth of a second old, and they'll give you a very small number. Yet they hate being pinned down to saying that the universe has a center.

O.K. So getting back to the redshift, how else can we explain it?

Well, space is not empty; there is lots of gas and dust, and gravitational and magnetic fields out there. I find it difficult to believe that light would travel millions, or billions of years through all that without losing some energy. Light waves, unlike sound waves, can't dissipate energy by losing intensity so they would have to fall in frequency. We would see this as, surprise, surprise, a redshift.

There is another possible cause of light losing energy over those immense distances. Low frequency electromagnetic waves spread out as they travel. The higher the frequency, the less this spread is and the tighter the beam. Might not the waves that are individual visible light photons spread very slightly over the cosmic distances they travel? And as they spread, they lose energy. As pointed out earlier, a quantum of light can't lose energy in intensity so the only way for it to dissipate energy is to drop in frequency. Redshift.

I am not saying that all redshift is due to energy loss from these sources and none is due to doppler. But I do think that jumping to a conclusion that creates the entire universe in an instant from some unknowable magic is a bit hard to swallow!

To believe that redshift results solely from velocities would appear to lead us to either the Big Bang or Steady State. While I find the Steady State more appealing (and it has been by no means disproved, contrary to what the prevailing dogma would have you believe) it too invokes spontaneous creation of matter. And I have seen no evidence of this happening either gradually (Steady State) or suddenly (Big Bang). If the redshift is simply light losing energy on its way through space then there is no need for either.

What of the microwave background radiation? Leave aside the fact that it is not a vindication of the Big Bang (in fact was considered a disproof of it when it was found to be "lumpy" but theories were tweaked and the Big Bang bent to fit). If light is dropping in frequency over vast distances I expect it would reach microwave frequncies. Does this explain it? I don't know, but I find the idea of "fossil radiation" still hanging around from the point of creation to be a bit dumb. Isn't this supposed to be travelling at the speed of light? And we have been travelling outward at less than the speed of light. That means the wavefront is racing ahead of us doesn't it? Some people will say that the waves curve around back to us. But that doesn't make sense. We continue to escape the gravity well and fly outward, but for some reason the microwave radiation which has been travelling just as long as we have, can't?? Anyway that's a circular argument (no pun intended); it relies on the matter in the universe occupying a limited volume, as if it expanded out from a central point. You can't use it to "prove" itself.

After all that, please understand that I'm not saying that there definitely was no big bang to create the local or observable universe. I'm just saying that the evidence is too thin to conclude that it did. The information we have could point in a number of different directions, if we let it. The Steady State is one such possibility. To jump to conclusions and simply believe that there was a big bang is a big mistake.

There are too many things which don't sound right.

If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck and smells like a duck... I think it smells like a very dead one.


Note: You may have noticed that I referred to the Big Bang as a hypothesis, not a theory. This is because a theory is a statement or proposition that is proved by logical reasoning from given facts and justifiable assumptions. That's like the theory of evolution, which is clearly a fact because we see it in action every day and can prove it logically any number of ways. In contrast a hypothesis is merely a supposition put forward in explanation of observed facts. Until we can logically prove the creation of everything from it, the Big Bang must remain a hypothesis.

(The two definitions above came from the Penguin Dictionary of Science, by E.B. Uvarov and Alan Isaacs, 7th Edition.)


2003-08