I am glad to see the resurrection of Bloom County, one of the best comics of all time (behind, perhaps Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert and the Peanuts). Today’s comic deals with the failure of our cosmological models in understanding the expansion of the universe. Scientists have literally made up Dark Matter and Dark Energy to fix the gap between our current models and the observations from the Hubble telescope. 1
Why We “Made Up” Dark Matter and Dark Energy
The universe is expanding much more quickly than the big-bang old universe model predicts (one sign that the model is a failure). So what do they do to explain the invisible force that must be driving it? Not a young universe closer to the original singularity (big bang or other). So, we guess that there must be something like dark energy (not dark matter as the cartoon indicates, but they are related).
Dark energy originates from our efforts to understand the observed accelerated expansion of the universe. In a nutshell, current theory cannot explain the acceleration. One speculative possibility is that the acceleration is a consequence of another new form of matter, nicknamed dark energy, which has hitherto gone undetected….
Dark matter originates from our efforts to explain the observed mismatch between the gravitational mass and the luminous mass of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. 2
Essentially, until we figure out what is going on, dark energy and matter are fudge factors – theoretical entities, not yet observed, created to make our model work. But as one creationist puts it:
How do you know the expansion of the universe is accelerating? Only by applying the standard model with dark matter and dark energy to the observations. Two fudge factors are required to come to that conclusion….
Millions of spiral galaxies rotate too fast and hence they need a universe of 85% dark matter, but it is not observed in the lab. If it is so ubiquitous why has it not been discovered after 40 years of searching? 3
Scientists themselves are ambivalent about dark matter and energy as necessary evils until we figure out what is going on:
No one knows what dark matter is, but they know what it is not. It’s not part of the “standard model” of physics that weaves together everything that is known about ordinary matter and its interactions. 4
We know little about that sea [of dark matter and dark energy]. The terms we use to describe its components, “dark matter” and “dark energy,” serve mainly as expressions of our ignorance. 5
In fact, one recent paper (2012) claims that the current model employing dark matter has been falsified:
The current standard model of cosmology (SMoC) requires The Dual Dwarf Galaxy Theorem to be true. According to this theorem two types of dwarf galaxies must exist: primordial dark-matter (DM) dominated (type A) dwarf galaxies, and tidal-dwarf and ram-pressure-dwarf (type B) galaxies void of DM….Only one type of dwarf galaxy is observed to exist ….Therefore, The Dual Galaxy Theorem is falsified by observation and dynamically relevant cold or warm DM on galactic scales cannot exist. It is shown that the SMoC is incompatible with a large set of other extragalactic observations.
The author goes on to suggest other theories to answer these questions, but concludes his abstract with:
Major problems with inflationary big bang cosmologies remain unresolved. 6
Why Dark Matter Matters
I know not everyone cares about this, but as a young-earth creationist sympathizer, I like to look into the unanswered questions of cosmology and life science to see where science is stumped, and what they do about it.
What they do is theorize, and often, without any evidence, postulate the existence of new particles, objects, or forces which must exist for their models to work. I don’t blame them, you can’t just say “God did it” in naturalistic science. But they studiously avoid the implications that the universe might be very young as YECs claim.
Yet the rapid expansion of the universe we observe may be due to a younger universe than we have supposed.
Other Theoretical Constructs with No Evidence (Yet)
Besides dark matter and energy, there are other cosmological models put forth that propose to solve existing problems in our models, but put forth with no evidence. Yet many people think that such theories are true and make YEC untenable. Those theories include:
- The Multiverse: The problem the multiverse theory is trying to solve is this: since it is so unlikely that our finely tuned universal constants could have arrived by chance, the only way to beat the zero-odds is to suggest that ALL possible universes were created, so that our unlikely one is no longer unlikely. Mind you, we have no evidence of other universes, but you can’t say it was intelligently designed by a creator!
- Oort Cloud: Named for named after Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, the Oort Cloud is a theoretical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals believed to surround the Sun at a distance of up to 100,000 AU. Why do we need it to exist? Because if the universe is as old as we suppose, we wouldn’t have so many comets as we do, they would have long ago died out. Young universe? Nah. Instead, scientists have suggested a complex, but still undiscovered region of space that essentially is filled with comets and generates or sends them out. Brilliant.
I admit it – I have a selection bias for articles relating to cosomology and human origins – there are at least two reasons why they are so often argued about.
First, the farther back you go into history, the less direct or even indirect evidence you can find, and so much of it is built on assumptions – many of them somewhat testable, but not entirely. This means that people with different assumptions and interpretive mythologies (creation or biogenesis/big bang) can intrpret the same data differently.
Second, in the origins debate, we are essentially debating the theism v. atheism arguments, and we all use these to make meaning or to interpret life.
Such foundational world views are important to individuals, and important to society. Bad theories of both creationism and atheism, such as determinism (theistic and atheistic) or racial superiority (theistic or atheistic) can lead to catastrophic social calamities. But that’s another post!
- New Hubble Data Explains Missing Dark Matter (nasa.gov) ↩
- What are dark matter and dark energy, and how are they affecting the universe? (Scientific American, 2006) ↩
- Claimed dark matter find won’t help end big bang crisis (creation.com) ↩
- Jenny Hogan, Welcome to the Dark Side, Nature, Vol. 448, 19 July 2007, p. 241. ↩
- David B. Cline, The Search for Dark Matter, Scientific American, Vol. 288, March 2003, p. 52. ↩
- The dark matter crisis: falsification of the current standard model of cosmology (Astronomical Society of Australia) ↩