Reasons to Believe

Cosmic Acceleration Narrows Life's Time Window

Recent discoveries about the universes expansion rate significantly impact the case for divine design. Past research revealed that only after a certain period of expansion would the universe be ready to support physical life. The latest findings show that the expansion will soon be too great for life support. The narrowness of this life window has led some researchers to acknowledge the necessity of intelligent design.1, 2

Rather than continuing to slow down, as it did for the first nine billion years, the cosmic expansion is now speeding up. Why? The self-stretching property of the universes space fabric propelling expansion has caught up with and overtaken the force of gravity, the braking effect.3, 4

From now on, the expansion rate will increase exponentially. This runaway acceleration means that galaxy, star, and planet formation will eventually shut down. This shut down will occur when cosmic matter becomes too thinly dispersed for galaxies, stars, and planets to coalesce (or condense). Even before the total shut down, however, the conditions allowing formation of solar-type stars, i.e., stars capable of developing into stable planetary systems, are lost.

Low density galaxies begin with the formation of super-giant stars, and before any solar-type stars have the chance to form, these supergiants undergo the massive explosion sequence we call supernova. The effect of a supernova is devastating. A supernova blasts away all other gases in a low-density galaxy; no material is left for further star or planet formation.

Thus, a universe transitioning from deceleration to acceleration, as contrasted with one that continually decelerates, offers a shorter time window not only for galaxy formation but also and especially for star and planetary system formation. The time zone in which life-supportable planets can possibly form is significantly reduced.

Another problem uncovered by cosmologists Max Tegmark and Martin Rees is that the giant gas clouds from which galaxies form will fragment into stars only if they can cool faster than they can physically collapse.5 This means that the time period for life-friendly galaxies to form is much briefer than what we thought before the discovery of the acceleration factor.

Some astrophysicists hypothesize (and hope to demonstrate soon) that the number of carbon-forming stars a galaxy can produce drops precipitously with even a slight fall off in gas density.6 Given that carbon is essential for life, we can grasp how such a drop would impact this on the possibility for life and on the time frame for life. We already knew it had limits.7, 8 Now the limits look more confining. The implication of divine planning and intervention grows stronger.

References:

  1. S. Perlmutter, et al., Measurements of W and L from 42 High-Resolution Supernovae, Astrophysical Journal 517 (1999): 565-86.
  2. Hugh Ross, Flat-Out Confirmed!: The Flatter-Universe Discovery Affirms the Bible Three Ways, Facts for Faith 1, no. 2 (2000): 27-31. Promise Publishing, 1989), 123-24.
  3. Jaume Garriga, Takahiro Tanaka, and Alexander Vilenkin, Density Parameter and the Anthropic Principle, Physical Review D 60 (1999): 5-21.
  4. Jaume Garriga and Alexander Vilenkin, On Likely Values of the Cosmological Constant, Physical Review D 61 (2000): 1462-71.
  5. Max Tegmark and Martin Rees, Why is the Cosmic Microwave Background Fluctuation Level 10-5? Astrophysical Journal 499 (1998): 526-32.
  6. Jaume Garriga, Mario Livio, and Alexander Vilenkin, Cosmological Constant and the Time of Its Dominance, Physical Review D 61 (2000): in press.
  7. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, 1st ed. (Orange, CA: Promise Publishing, 1989), 123-24.
  8. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), 115-17, 119.

Subjects: Big Bang, Constants of Physics, Einstein / Relativity, Human Origins and the Bible, Laws of Physics, Universe Design

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. Read more about Dr. Hugh Ross.