When all possible confirming efforts say she or he is the right one, one can be confident that the right decision has been made.
The same principle applies in scientific research. Scientists strive to test their hypotheses by developing as many independent experiments and observations as possible of the phenomenon under investigation. Given an adequate number of independent tests, if every possible experimental and observational method produces results consistent with a particular hypothesis, then scientists can be reasonably assured that the hypothesis is correct.
For many years now the Supernova Cosmology Project (SCP)—a team comprised of seventy astronomers working in institutions in eleven different nations—has been striving to improve one of the observational linchpins of the big bang creation model. This linchpin is the observation of Type Ia supernova eruptions in galaxies across a wide range of distances as a tool to measure the cosmic expansion rate throughout cosmic history. The theological importance of such a measurement is that for thousands of years the Bible stood alone in predicting that the universe continuously expands under constant laws of physics from an actual beginning of all matter, energy, space, and time.1
Each Type Ia supernovae possesses the same mass at the time of its eruption, namely about 1.4 times the mass of the Sun. Possessing the identical mass means that, except for some minor adjustments for variations in their metal abundances, all Type Ia supernovae manifest the same luminosity or brightness. Consequently, they are standard candles. Thus, accurate distances to extremely faraway supernovae can be determined by comparing their measured brightnesses with those of nearby supernovae, which astronomers already have determined precise distances by independent means of measurement.
In order to determine the cosmic expansion rate throughout the universe’s history researchers need, besides accurate distances, precise measures of the rates at which the respective supernovae are moving away from Earth. Astronomers gain these data by assessing the redshifts in the spectra of the supernovae. According to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, the faster an object moves away from an observer the closer to the red end of the spectrum the spectral lines in the object’s spectrum shift.
The SCP has updated their cosmic expansion results by assembling measurements of 414 different Type Ia supernovae from several supernovae survey catalogs.2 This update includes nearly double the number of supernovae used in their previous work though 107 of these 414 had to be eliminated because of doubtful measurements.
With their analysis of the additional measurements, the SCP published improved constraints on a number of important cosmological parameters. They determined a value for the quantity of dark energy, namely that it comprises 71.3 ± 2.8 percent of all the stuff of the universe. This compares very favorably with the best WMAP measurement, which placed the quantity of dark energy at 71.2 percent. The SCP also produced the best constraint to date on possible variation over time of the dark energy parameter. While not proving that the dark energy parameter is strictly constant over the history of the universe, the SCP’s results were consistent with that parameter being constant.
Improved precision of the SCP’s results and their consistency with the best WMAP measurement of the cosmic microwave background radiation means that scientists now have reasons for even greater confidence in the big bang creation model. Thus, the cosmic creation model most consistent with the Bible remains even more securely established.