Tuesday, August 11, 2020

How Old is the Universe?

An astrophysicist at the University of Oregon suggests that the universe might not be 13.8 billion years old but maybe just 12.6—a drop of 8.7%. From the university website:

Dating the Big Bang, which gave birth to the universe, has relied on mathematics and computational modeling, using distance estimates to the oldest stars, the behavior of galaxies and the rate of the universe’s expansion. The idea is to compute how long it would take all objects to travel backward to the beginning. 
A key calculation is the Hubble constant, named after Edwin Hubble, the namesake of the Hubble Space Telescope, who first calculated the universe’s expansion rate in 1929. A more recent technique uses observations of leftover radiation from the Big Bang. It maps echoes in spacetime, known as the cosmic microwave background, and reflects conditions in the early universe as set by the Hubble constant. 
The science for such research, [University of Oregon physicist Jim] Schombert said, is ruled by mathematical patterns expressed in equations that often reach different conclusions. The universe’s age, under the differing scenarios, ranges from 12 billion to 14.5 billion years.

The new calculations use something called the baryonic Tully–Fisher relation (bTFR) rather than the Hubble Constant, which makes use of much more refined infrared measurements. The publication appears in The Astronomical Journal and is pretty dense to the non-astrophysicist.

That didn't stop Ken Ham from weighing in.  In an Answers in Genesis post, he writes: 

So which is it? 13.8 billion years or 12.6 billion years? That’s just a difference of a “mere” 1.2 billion years, after all, but why such conflicting results? Well, it’s because both have the wrong starting point—man’s ideas of naturalism and billions of years.

The correct starting point for our thinking isn’t billions of years. That’s a belief imposed on the observable evidence, such as the cosmic microwave background and light from distant galaxies. Because the models of these researchers have the wrong starting point (i.e., wrong assumptions), they’re drawing wrong interpretations and conclusions from the evidence.

But we can know the age of the earth and universe because Scripture gives us the information we need to determine how old earth and the universe are. Genesis chapter 1 tells us God created everything in six days (Exodus 20:11 reaffirms this), so we know earth and the universe are roughly the same age.

It is quite true that an 8.7% change is sizeable and, subject to further refinements, we will probably be able to narrow down the discrepancy in age. 

Do you know what the astronomers didn't find, though?  They didn't find a universe that is 6,000 years old (a decrease in age of 230,000,000%).   Ken Ham wants us to believe that, because our older estimates were 8.7% off, we have no idea how old the universe actually is.  This is similar to his arguments against radiometric dating, and they are just as faulty.  Even if we did not have the astrophysical estimates, we know, based on geological and radiometric evidence that the earth is vastly older than 6,000 years. 

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