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Earth Science What are the Problems with the Big Bang Theory?

What are the Problems with the Big Bang Theory?

The purpose of this paper is to present to the reader a foundation upon which to understand some of the basics of the Big Bang Theory. More specifically, it will be an attempt to describe in brief many of the major problems with the theory as well as define the terms used. The reader is encouraged to expand their knowledge by further reading on any particular topic. Suggested readings would include those texts quoted in this summary. One text in particular is noteworthy. William C. Michell’s analysis of the Big Bang in his book Bye Bye Big Bang, Hello Reality, lists as chapter headings many of the problems we will look at further. Following is a list of some of the chapter headings mentioned:[1]

Singularity Problems
Cosmological Constant Problems
Smoothness Problems
Microwave Background Radiation Problems
Horizon Problems
Redshift Problems
Flatness and Missing Mass Problems
Quasar Problems

Singularity Problems

What is a “singularity”? The big-bang universe begins in a singularity (all matter, energy, space, and time crushed into a point of infinite density).
There is no known mechanism to start the universe expanding out of the singularity – the equations in the theory only work after the expansion has begun. [2] A singularity is considered to be a breakdown of theory. That is, it cannot be assumed that the laws of physics as we know them can apply to the event, thus presenting serious questions about it. W.B. Bonnor (in 1960) wrote that, “a singularity in mathematics is an indication of the breakdown of a theory” that must be done away with, and Cambridge astrophysicist B. J. Carr (in 1982) said that “all known physics breaks down” in a singularity. Oxford professor of astrophysics Dennis Sciama (in 1967) declared the big-bang singularity to be “one of the botches” of the universe.

[3] Possibly the most serious aspect of the big-bang singularity, of course, is that it is the creation of all the mass and energy of the entire universe out of nothing. According to Standard big-bang theory, before the big-bang there was nothing: no space, no time, no matter, no energy. No explanation had been given for that within reasonable bounds of known physical science.

Other difficulties which need explanation:

– The dynamics of speeds greater than light that would be necessary.
– The universe as a black hole. The infinitely dense big-bang universe would initially be in exactly that state.
– A closed cycling big-bang universe which deals with the collapsing of the present universe or a previous one.
– A convergence problem for a closed cycling universe which deals with irregularities in the distribution of matter in space.
– Violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in a closed cycling universe, which necessitates the total entropy of the universe decreasing from a high level to nearly zero. [4]
– The dynamics of speeds greater than light that would be necessary.
– The universe as a black hole. The infinitely dense big- bang universe would initially be in exactly that state.
– A closed cycling big-bang universe which deals with the collapsing of the present universe or a previous one.
– A convergence problem for a closed cycling universe which deals with irregularities in the distribution of matter in space.
– Violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in a closed cycling universe, which necessitates the total entropy of the universe decreasing from a high level to nearly zero. [4]

Smoothness Problems

What is “smoothness”? It is generally believed by big-bang theorists that the universe is homogeneous or isotropic (the same in all directions as well as the same everywhere). In other words, when the big-bang occurred, matter spread out evenly throughout the universe. Evidence for this uniformity comes from the Microwave Background Radiation (MBR). The MBR is believed to be the remnant of the big-bang radiation returning to us from the universe from all directions. The MBR is remarkably smooth, so smooth that for 25 years after its discovery, no variations could be detected. Increasingly precise instruments were designed and launched into space to look for variations in the MBR’s intensity, because the big-bang theory said they had to be there. [5]

The major problem with using the MBR to prove the big-bang theory is the difficulty in reconciling it with the clumping of matter into galaxies, clusters of galaxies and larger features extending across vast regions of the universe, such as “walls” and “bubbles”. [6] Microwave radiation coming from these clusters and non-homogeneous areas, would not be uniform. The Hubble Space Telescope has photographed the extreme edges of the visible universe. Most experts expected to see diffuse matter slowly gravitating together to form galaxies. This is what one would expect if the extremely smooth MBR was left over from the big-bang. Instead, galaxies were already “bunched together” – having formed very early in the history of the universe. [7]

It appears that using the MBR as a proof of the big-bang, is a major problem because the smoothness of radiation cannot be reconciled with the “lack of smoothness” observed in the formation of galaxies and other features. Consequently it is believed that the MBR is not a result of the big-bang and must be caused by something else. More will be said about the MBR later in this paper.

Horizon Problems

The BB “horizon” is simply the outer edge of the universe which of course is expanding. Why is there a horizon problem? This problem is related to the MBR and its uniformity. For a homogenous radiation to occur in the universe, it is necessary for photons to be mixed a lot and thermalized, through particle collisions just as perfume emanating from a container in a room will diffuse throughout the room over time until an average homogenous or isotropic state is reached. The problem for the big-bang theory is that collisions cannot move information faster than the speed of light. In the universe that we live in, photons moving at the speed of light cannot get from one side of the universe to the other in time to account for this observed isotropy in the thermal radiation. Photons cannot travel across the universe and mix well enough with other photons to produce the uniformity of the MBR. [8] How can matter widely separated in various directions from the source interact subsequently to produce the evenness that is presently measured? Unlike the perfume illustration, the expanding universe is not a closed system.

If the radius of the big-bang universe were for example, 15 billion light years (BLYs), two regions at the edge of space are thus 30 BLYs apart. But because the universe is only 15 BLYs old, it is impossible for those two regions to ever have been in contact with each other. [9]

Flatness Problems

What is meant by “flatness”? Flatness has to do with the shape of the cosmos. The large scale geometry of the universe is governed by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Einstein showed that gravity curves three-dimensional space, and that space in turn moves matter. For the universe as a whole, the shape of the curvature depends on the average density of the matter. Omega is the term used to describe the ratio of the average density to the critical density. If Omega is exactly one – that is, if the average density of the universe is equal to the critical density – then the universe will expand to a maximum density and remain there for eternity. The universe is flat; it has zero curvature. [10]

Our universe is apparently flat. That is, it appears to have just the “right” density – or nearly so- to continue its slow expansion forever. To make the standard big-bang theory correspond to reality, cosmologists had to make the assumption that the average density of the universe was equal to the density immediately following the BB. That density would be remarkably high. It’s not clear how an enormously fast rate of expansion might result in an average density at this critical level. The low observed density of the universe now represents an especially severe problem to inflation theory. This assumption, like the isotropy assumption, isn’t explained. Since an Omega of one corresponds to a flat universe, this is known as “The Flatness Problem.” There is a disconnect between what “should be” – a dense universe, – and what is “observable”, – a much lesser density than should be.

Inflation comes to the rescue. Inflation’s rapid expansion caused space to become flatter, forcing omega toward one, no matter what its initial value. Even if the pre-inflation universe were curved like a sphere (corresponding to Omega less than 1) or hyperbolic (Omega greater than 1), that tremendous burst of expansion forced the scale of any curvature to flatness. Although the estimated values of Omega hover around one, the range implies a lot of uncertainty about the average density of the universe. Part of the problem lies in the fact that we can only see a mere 5-10% of the matter that’s thought to comprise the cosmos. The rest is mysterious “dark matter” whose presence is inferred from the gravitational motions of galaxies. We just don’t know how much dark matter is out there. [11] Assumed dark matter is supposed to account for the density we can’t see or measure.

Big Bang Age Problems

The simplest way to calculate the age of the universe, within the big-bang world view, is to wind its expansion back to zero. This is called the “Hubble age” because it is the inverse of the Hubble expansion constant. The best current estimate is 15 billion years.

However, there are some profound anomalies within the big-bang time scale. Galaxies are largely found in a cluster – and clusters of clusters, called “super-clusters.” Some clusters contain as many as a thousand galaxies. Space is supposed to have expanded enormously since the galaxies were first formed, yet these galaxies are still grouped together. The only “glue” available to bind them together is gravity. Yet when the speeds and masses within individual galaxies are calculated, it frequently turns out that they are moving much too fast too be held together by gravity. The clusters should have ceased to exist long ago. [12]

A second problem involves the time it takes for form galaxies. There may not have been time for the formation of observed gigantic galactic configurations. The time required for those to form (due to gravity) in accordance with big-bang theory has been estimated to be on the order of 100 billion years. Proponents of this time period include Paul Steinhardt, who is quoted (in 1991) as saying that, “There wasn’t enough time in the history of the universe for gravity to pull together these structures,” and astrophysicist Edwin Turner said that, “We’re starting to find that we just don’t have enough time to get the Universe from an early state to the one we’re seeing now.” [13]

Other reports indicate that some quasars were formed within a few hundred million years after the big-bang. Their red shifts indicate a speed equivalent to 94-95% of the speed of light which places their formation early after the big-bang. [14] So we end up with quasars and galaxies forming too quickly for the BB theorists.


1. Mitchell, William C., Bye Bye Big Bang Hello Reality, Cosmic Sense Books, 2002, p. v
2. Williams, Alexander and Hartnett, John, Dismantling the Big Bang, Master Books, 2005
3. Mitchell, p. 52
4. Mitchell, pp. 52-55
5. www.creationscience.com/online book/FAQ423.html
6. Peterson, Ivars, Seeding the Universe, Science News, Vol. 137, 24 March 1990, p. 184
7. www.creationscience.com/online book/FAQ423.html
8. http://superstringtheory.com/cosmos/cosmos4.html
9. Mitchell, p. 63
10. http://archive.MCSa.edu/cyberia/cosmos/cosmosShape.html
11. Ibid.
12. Williams et al., pp. 199-200
13. Williams et al., pp. 199-200
14. Mitchell, p. 87