In 1929 an American astronomer, Edwin Hubble using the 100 inch Wilson Observatory Telescope, detected a shift in the light coming from distant objects in the night sky through his telescopic observations. He discovered that the further away objects were from the earth – things like galaxies, dust clouds or clusters of galaxies, the greater the shift in the light emitted by those objects. The light coming from distant sources indicated that those sources were moving at the time the light was released. All of the sources of light from distant galaxies observed by Hubble were moving away from the earth. This stretching or “shift” of the light increased the wavelength of the light toward the red end of the light spectrum; hence the term “redshift”. This meant that those objects were moving away from the earth.
Further study indicated that this redshift of light was
mathematically proportional to the distance of the object from the earth. The further away the object was, the greater the redshift. Ultimately all of this data indicated that the further away the object was, the faster the object was moving away from the earth. The Universe was apparently expanding.
This discovery led the science of astronomy to develop a new model to describe the cosmos. The model suggested that, from our vantage point on Earth, the entire universe was expanding outwards; outwards and away from our planet. The further away from the planet, the faster the objects in the universe were receding. This observation vanquished the static state model of the universe. The steady state model had assumed that the universe had always existed; it was eternal and never-changing. The redshift model meant that the motion of the objects in the universe could be due to an expansion of matter in space and time. An expansion implies a beginning. A beginning implies a first cause; someone or something had initiated the expansion.
This realization that the universe may have had a ”push” to get it started was only one of the findings of Hubble’s discovery. The expansion appeared to be detectable in every direction at any position on Earth. This was, in the least, very disturbing to Hubble. Hubble was an atheist. He let his philosophical commitments to atheism ignore the evidence of science and created a description of his findings that would effectively exclude God from his hypothesis of the cosmos. Hubble described his findings but before it is quoted here a few definitions are in order.
The definitions of a few terms might make the quote below more manageable:
Uniformity: the description of an even distribution of matter in the universe
Distribution: the dispersal of matter in the universe.
Density: how evenly the dispersal of matter is in the visible universe
Symmetrically: the even and equal density of matter in space.
Nebulae: Light sources from distant sources later to be determined to be galaxies.
Isotropy: The idea that uniformity occurs from any point in space, expansion has no origin, all things look the same from any reference point in space.
Homogeneity: The idea that uniformity of matter is the same in every direction and at any point in space.
Receding: movement of light sources away from our position in space.
In his own words Hubble had this to say concerning the scientific reality of his own findings:
“The assumption of uniformity has much to be said in its favour. If the distribution were not uniform, it would either increase with distance, or decrease. But we would not expect to find a distribution in which the density increases with distance, symmetrically in all directions. Such a condition would imply that we occupy a unique position in the universe, analogous, in a sense, to the ancient conception of a central earth. The hypothesis cannot be disproved but it is unwelcome and would be accepted only as a last resort in order to save the phenomena. Therefore, we disregard this possibility and consider the alternative, namely, a distribution which thins out with distance.
A thinning out would be readily explained in either of two ways. The first is space absorption. If the nebulae were seen
through a tenuous haze, they would fade away faster than could be accounted for by distance and red-shifts alone, and the distribution, even if it were uniform, would appear to thin out. The second explanation is a super-system of nebulae, isolated in a larger world, with our own nebula somewhere near the centre. In this case the real distribution would thin out after all the proper corrections had been applied.
Both explanations seem plausible, but neither is permitted by the observations. The apparent departures from uniformity in the World Picture are fully compensated by the minimum possible corrections for redshifts on any interpretation. No margin is left for a thinning out. The true distribution must either be uniform or increase outward, leaving the observer in a unique position. But the unwelcome supposition of a favoured location must be avoided at all costs. Therefore, we accept the uniform distribution, and assume that space is sensibly transparent. Then the data from the surveys are simply and fully accounted for by the energy corrections alone – without the additional postulate of an expanding universe.
Relativity contributes the basic proposition that the geometry of space is determined by the contents of space. To this principle has been added another proposition, formulated in various ways and called by various names, but equivalent, in a sense, to the statement that all observers, regardless of their location, will see the same general picture of the universe. The second principle is a sheer assumption. It seems plausible and it appeals strongly to our sense of proportion. Nevertheless, it leads to a rather remarkable consequence, for it demands that, if we see the nebulae all receding from our position in space, then every other observer, no matter where he may be located, will see the nebulae all receding from his position. However, the assumption is adopted. There must be no favoured location in the universe, no centre, no boundary; all must see the universe alike. And, in order to ensure this situation, the cosmologist, postulates spatial isotropy and spatial homogeneity, which is his way of stating that the universe must be pretty much alike everywhere and in all directions.
The departures from uniformity are positive; the numbers of nebulae increase faster than the volume of space through which they are scattered. Thus the density of the nebular distribution increases outwards, symmetrically in all directions,
leaving the observer in a unique position. Such a favoured position, of course, is intolerable; moreover, it represents a discrepancy with the theory, because the theory postulates homogeneity. Therefore, in order to restore homogeneity, and to escape the horror of a unique position, the departures from uniformity, which are introduced by the recession factors, must be compensated by the second term representing effects of spatial curvature. [i]
Multiple times Hubble convinces us that we are the center of the universe. Yet he finds this unacceptable. Why would our unique position in the universe be “unwelcome…intolerable… unfavoured” so much so that we must escape the “horror of a unique position” in the universe? In an effort to eliminate the scientifically observable fact that the earth is in a unique and favored position in the Universe, Hubble instituted isotropy (every point in space demonstrates itself an apparent center) and space homogeneity (there is no clumping of matter, no boundary to an expanding universe, everything is the same in every direction). He furthermore invoked a curvature to space as a fudge factor that rejects the fact of his discovery. Hubble complicated astronomy, denying its apparent expansion from or near the Earth as the origin of that expansion and invoking fudge factors to create an infinite, unbounded universe (no boundaries, that is, no edge to the apparent expansion of space).
It is essential that we understand that Hubble’s philosophical position on the existence of our place in the universe simply denied the existence of a metaphysical reality (intelligent design). This caused him to reject the facts of science and create fudge factors that supported an artificial universe. This was in preference to the results of the redshifts as measured from our position in the universe. The chance that earth just happened to be at or close to the center of the universe calculated from secular probabilities was just too astronomical, if not completely miraculous. The very thought that his discovery proved the fact that we are at the center of the Universe was anathema to his belief system. So frightened by the possibility that our existence had been proven to be unique, Hubble found it horrifying to contemplate such a Universe. This would be undeniable proof of God.
In 1968 a low-temperature microwave radiation was found in the background of the Universe. The calculated temperature that this radiant energy contributed to the largely empty regions of space was 2.73 degrees above absolute zero (Kelvin). Absolute zero, in scientific terms, is -273 degrees centigrade or -460 degrees Fahrenheit or zero in absolute terms called Kelvin. At absolute zero, even atomic vibrations of matter are frozen. For the
background radiation to make sense it was postulated that an explosion of cosmic proportion would we be needed to produce a homogeneous distribution of heat throughout space. The tiny residual heat left from such an explosion had to be explained by some real phenomenon.
This is the origin of the Big Bang Theory (BBT). Considering the possibility of such an explosion also seemed to support the recessional velocities of matter throughout the Universe. Together, the expansion of matter in the Universe and the faint residue of the heat generated by an explosion of matter and energy led many to postulate the BBT as a credible idea.
The BBT meant one thing for sure. The Universe had a beginning! While several postulates have been put forth to explain how the universe arrived from a single explosion, the one that has become most popular describes the existence of a cosmic egg just before the explosion. The description of the cosmic egg seemed to meet the requirements for the BBT. An infinite amount of mass/energy held in an infinitely small volume of space met the needs some of the important conditions just before the Bang. This infinite black hole held all the matter and energy that our Universe would ever release. However, once again science had to deal with a beginning.
Even more important, the beginning required that someone pull the trigger for the big bang to occur. Someone had to reverse the laws of physics to allow an infinitely massive gravitational hole in space to reverse its natural state and explode. Though these issues demanded a verdict other than a materialistic explanation, none has yet been given that would satisfy the atheistic requirements for a material explanation. Most cosmologists do not bother with who, what or the where of the cosmic egg. They instead puzzle over the conditions that led to the formation of the cosmos at the moment of the explosion.
Incidentally, because of the BBT many of Hubble’s assumptions also fell apart. Desperate to keep the theory a materialistic one and to continue to reject its metaphysical implications new fudge factors had to be added to the BBT. At least 18 different conditions or assumptions are needed to support the BBT. Many are required to assure that the explosion was pristine and fit certain physical conditions that are extremely unlikely (quite impossible) to occur by random expectations. Quite simply, however, the conditions needed for our Universe to exist had to be planned. This means intelligence. Furthermore, very few scientists are willing to reject the mythologies required to support the big bang theory and admit that a supernatural event is a reasonable explanation for starting space and time and, as we will see, required to support the structures of the Universe.
With this initial introduction to current cosmology, it is next appropriate to consider some of the other discoveries and conundrums that have complicated our feeble theories of the existence of the Universe. I am not saying the Big Bang is the correct model. Hubble did discover real facts about the Universe. But somewhere between the facts and His fiction is a truth so remarkable we are the poorer for not acknowledging it or accepting its simplicity.
In part 3 of this series, some of the findings gathered from the Hubble Space Telescope and other important discoveries about the Universe will be presented. Some of the complications that our current theories create will be reviewed, finally leading to a newer and simplified mathematical description of space, matter and time that considers a fifth dimension. This dimension is found in the very fabric of space. The fifth dimension is measurable and when applied to the observable universe requires our position in the Universe to be accepted as unique. Denying the proof, as we have seen in the Darwinian framework for biology, is not objective, safe or sane. The results of these new findings support the work that has been done in cosmology for the past hundred years and, to my way of thinking, renders an assurance that we are neither alone in the vastness of space nor are we on the brink of any extinction event. Human beings have a purpose. Someone is watching. While science cannot answer what that purpose is, it surely guarantees that seeking out that purpose is not a useless endeavor.
[i] Hubble, Edwin. The Observational Approach to Cosmology. 1937. Of the Mount Wilson Observatory Carnegie Institution of Washington. Oxford At the Clarendon.