Creationist Physicist Cosmologist John Hartnett

Big Bang cartoon

Exploding the big bang!

by Gary Bates

Dr John G. Hartnett received his Ph.D. in Physics, with distinction, from the University of Western Australia, where he is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow.  His current research interests include ultra-low–noise radar; ultra-high–stability microwave clocks based on pure sapphire resonators; tests of fundamental theories of physics, such as Special and General Relativity; and measurement of drift in fundamental constants and their cosmological implications.  He has published more than 30 papers in refereed scientific journals.

How did our universe come to be? This is one of the ‘big’ questions, and scientists who study the origin and history of the universe (cosmos) are called cosmologists.  Nearly all modern cosmologists believe that everything was ‘kickstarted’ by a ‘big bang’ about 15 billion years ago, where the universe suddenly emerged from an extremely hot and dense state.2

But one dissenter from this ideology is Dr John Hartnett—this makes him a ‘rare breed’ of physicist.  He is one of a relatively small number of Bible-believing creationists worldwide involved in cosmological research and thinking.

Facts vs their interpretation

When they view distant stars that are millions of light-years away from the earth, many folk, including Christians, have trouble accepting the biblical account that God created the universe about 6,000 years ago.  But believing the Bible right from the start is not a problem for John, which puts him at odds with his evolutionary counterparts.

Often they will accuse him of denying reality (‘look, we can see it—it’s obvious’).  But John explains that when looking at the universe, it’s no different to looking at the fossil record. 

It’s the interpretation of the evidence’, he says.  ‘Sure, distant stars and galaxies might be millions of light-years away, but that doesn’t mean that it took the light millions of years, by our standards, to get here.  A light-year is a measurement of distance, not time.  [It is the distance that light would travel in a year through a vacuum at its current speed of 300,000 km/sec (186,000 miles per second), i.e. 9,461,000,000,000 km (5,878,000,000,000 miles).] In other words, it’s just an expression used to tell us how far away something is—not how long it took the light to get here.’

John did not always believe in Genesis creation.  He explains that he was interested in cosmology from a very young age, and mixed with those of similar interests.  When John was 16, he and a friend co-authored a cosmology book that won a local science contest.

Big bang founded on unprovable assumptions

He says, ‘At that time, I would have described myself as an atheist, believing that the big bang had all the answers, although there was actually very little in the way of specifics about this model.  It was this that drove me into further investigation. 

Interestingly, most people think that the big bang has already been worked out, but they don’t realize that there are differing versions of the big bang model—and not everyone agrees.  By inserting a few unprovable assumptions at your starting point, you can end up with virtually any model you like.   The big bang assumes that the universe has no centre or edge.  Not only is this not proven, some recent research on redshift patterns have badly damaged its credibility by indicating that our galaxy is at, or near to, the centre of the universe.

‘What I really find amusing’, he says, ‘is the way people from various other fields of science often quote the big bang as if it’s set in stone. I don’t wish to sound unkind, but because they are not experts in this field, many of them have no idea what the big bang is really all about and misunderstand it.’

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image credit: Giuseppe R