Atheist astrophysicist Geoffrey Burbidge once worried aloud that his peers might rush off to join "the First Church of Christ of the Big Bang."1 The rush of which he spoke was precipitated by a deluge of observational support for the big bang. Astronomers had just verified specific predictions coming from the big bang model. Today, that verification continues. The latest comes from the discovery of something called "polarized radiation" in the early universe.
The big bang model anticipates that fluctuations in the temperature of the cosmic background radiation (left over radiation from the origin event) were polarized—that is, the light waves from these fluctuations took on different properties at different angles of transmission, most markedly for waves at right angles to one another. The model even specifies both the level of polarization and the spatial distribution of that polarization. This amazingly detailed prediction could be tested only by a powerful and sensitive instrument.
An array of radio telescopes at the South Pole has just done the job. A research team there found the polarization at exactly the level and distribution predicted by the big bang.2 Nature devoted a record-breaking twenty-five pages to the discovery (the norm is one or two pages). The editors also ran a two-page commentary for non-experts and featured a photograph of one of the telescopes on the journal’s front cover. This discovery gives researchers "confidence in the values of the cosmological parameters" and provides an "extraordinary picture of the origin and structure of the universe."3 That picture, more clearly than ever, reveals the work of the cosmic Creator, the God of the Bible.
This latest evidence for the big bang represents number thirty-three in a growing list of confirmations. (Some of these evidences are posted on RTB’s Web site at www.reasons.org.) Today the big bang is as well established as the shape of the Earth. Residual resistance to the big bang arises not from the data but from its profound theological implications—implications of a transcendent cosmic creation event and of supernatural design in so many of the universe’s characteristics.
This discovery from the South Pole generates excitement not only for what it has accomplished already—this resounding big bang confirmation—but also for what it may potentially accomplish in the months and years ahead. More refined polarization measurements of the cosmic background radiation will allow astronomers their first view of two "hidden" epochs of the universe’s history: 1) that brief moment (roughly a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the creation "bang") when the universe may have experienced hyper expansion, and 2) that period between light’s first separation from darkness (circa 400,000 years after creation) and the formation of the first stars (a few hundred million years after creation). Such observations are expected to yield even more evidence for a divinely guided cosmic origin and development.
To learn more about this amazing discovery, access the January 7 (2003) Creation Update webcast at http://c450903.r3.cf2.rackcdn.com/2003/cu155.mp3.
- Stephen Strauss, "An Innocent’s Guide to the Big Bang Theory: Fingerprint in Space Left by the Universe as a Baby Has Doubters Hurling Stones," The Globe and Mail (Toronto), 25 April 1992, 1.
- E. M. Leitch et al., "Measurement of Polarization with the Degree Angular Scale Interferometer," Nature 420 (2002): 763-71; J. M. Kovac et al., "Detection of Polarization in the Cosmic Microwave Background Using DASI," Nature 420 (2002): 772-87; Matias Zaldarriaga, "Background Comes to the Fore," Nature 420 (2002): 747-48.
- J. M. Kovac et al., 786.