June 17, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Cosmology Could Be Way Off

The “lumpiness problem” in cosmology refuses to go away.  This old conundrum about why the universe is lumpy with stars and galaxies has been around for decades.  The big bang predicts no such lumps.  Since the late 1990s, tiny differences in temperature measured in the cosmic background radiation held hope of being the seeds of lump formation (06/12/2008), provided theories added copious fudge factors like dark matter, dark energy and inflation.  A new survey finds more clumps than expected, casting doubt on whether the fudge factors are wrong, the hot big bang is wrong, or relativity is wrong.  Words can hardly express the gravity of the situation when gravity itself – an icon of scientific verity – is called into question.

An article by Lisa Grossman in Wired Science contains disturbing indications of the extent of ignorance by cosmologists.  “Clumpiness of Distant Universe Surprises Astronomers,” she headlined her article about a measurement conducted by astronomers at University College London of galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, published in Physical Review Letters, that found twice the clumpiness with distance predicted.  The study mapped galaxies at least 4 billion light-years away at length scales of 2 billion light years, representing a “reasonable fraction of the size of the universe” that “haven’t really been measured before.”

Notice the areas that could be wrong:

  • General relativity: “Maybe on very large scales, Einstein’s general relativity is slightly wrong,” lead author Shaun Thomas said…. “gravity could behave differently on very large scales than it does on smaller scales, meaning Einstein’s theory of general relativity needs an overhaul.
  • Big Bang:  “The extra clumps could call for a redesign of the standard model of cosmology,…”
  • Gravity:  “…and maybe a new understanding of how gravity works.”
  • Dark energy:  “The result could mean cosmologists need to reassess their understanding of dark energy, the mysterious force that drives the universe outward at an ever-increasing rate…. The extra lumps could also mean dark energy doesn’t exist at all.”  (cf. 3/15/2008)
  • Observability:  “…the clumpiness could also come from systematic errors in the observations….”

The astronomers stand by their observations but don’t seem to know what to do with the lack of concordance with theory.  The solution was put off into the future, in hopes that a new Dark Energy Survey will “help resolve lingering doubts.” 

An astronomer was quoted tossing out an empty hope, “We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”  How long should the public wait for the wizards to get it right?  How many will remember the quandary long enough to compare their next announcement as success or failure? 

If former confident claims about the big bang and dark energy are so flimsy, if astronomers cannot judge the vaility or their own observations, and if some of the most solid theories in all of science (gravity and general relativity) are due for an overhaul, how much trust can mere mortals place in the much less solid pronouncements coming from the wizards of biology?

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Comments

  • Christianmandoad says:

    Wow. general relativity, the Big Bang, gravity, dark energy and the observations themselves. That pretty much covers all the bases.

  • greg says:

    In order for a model in physics to be fully correct, it must be fit all observations at all scales.  None of them do.  There is much room for discovery.  It’s a great time to be a Christian and a physicist.  It’s a bad time to be a dogmatist.

  • rsharris says:

    I was a physics major at Knox College, Galesburg IL in the early 1970s.  My profs were VERY adamant that there is no such thing as “truth” in science.  Only theories that “work” or “don’t work.” 
    On a pure logical level, this is not hard to figure out:
    If theory then observation.  Go observe.  Therefore, theory.
    That is a logical fallacy, affirming the consequent.
    All scientific theories are based on that fallacy.
    There no way to prove that theory-1, theory-2, theory-3, etc do not exist that do not predict the same observation, and therefore, the observation can NEVER prove the theory. 
    Moreover, even the “falsification” doctrine has come under fire:
    If we do NOT make the observation, the theory is NOT true.
    That may be simple logic, but the situation in science is far from simple.
    There are always excuses to be made for failure to make the observation, from equipment failure, to experimental design flaws, to analomous situations.

    As far as induction goes:  Many observations, therefore we predict the same will happen again in the future.  That too is a logical flaw.  We can NEVER PROVE that the past regularity is an absolute indicator of a future event.

    So, science is based on flaws in both deduction and induction, and THEREFORE can NEVER establish TRUTH.

    If that seems too heavy, try this:

    Deduction from theory to observation:

    If it rains, the yard is wet.
    My yard is wet.
    Therefore it rained.
    That is clearly a FLAW in logic.
    Obviously, it could be dew, a spontaneous spring came up in my yard or a neighbor’s yard, the fire truck came by and sprayed all the yards, or any of a number of other “theories” to account for why the yard is wet.

    Induction problem:
    The sun has always come up every morning.
    Therefore, it will come up tomorrow morning.
    Above the arctic circle, there are months of light and dark, not on a 24-hour cycle.
    Moreover, a day will come when Jesus will return, create a new heavens and a new earth and the LAMB will be the LIGHT, with no sun or moon to provide light.  Past regularity is NO PROOF of future regularity.

    One does not need to acknowledge that biblical doctrine to get the point:

    Science is based on a few FLAWS in logic and therefore can NEVER establish anything besides a “working hypothesis” that “works” for our limited range of observations for now.

    More could be said, but epistemology tends to be a heavy subject for most people.  Try
    Presuppositional Apologetics by Greg Bahnsen (ed. by Joel McDurmon, (Copyright 2008) http://www.AmericanVision.org.

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