Changing Theories in Astronomy

By Wayne Jackson

Recently I viewed a television program out of San Francisco. It involved a panel discussion between several prominent astronomers. The thrust of their exchanges was this: theories in astronomy are changing so rapidly that it is difficult to keep up with them

One of the scientists candidly admitted that the material he taught to his astronomy classes only a decade ago is now largely obsolete.

The starry hosts themselves are surprisingly stable. This is evidenced by the fact that astronomers can predict eclipses years in advance. Several decades ago, scientists asserted that on March 9, 1997, a total solar eclipse would occur that could be viewed over a territory of 221 miles in Mongolia and Siberia, and that it would last a total of 2 minutes and 50 seconds. The event happened with precision.

In 1887, an astronomer by the name of Oppolzer published a book explaining the movements of 13,200 eclipses – 8,000 solar and 5,200 lunar – which had occurred between 1207 B.C. and A.D. 2162. The book even contains maps showing the paths of all the total or annular solar eclipses!

By way of contrast, the theories of the astronomers as to the origin, causes, and age of the universe are about as enduring as the morning dew. And yet, so many people virtually “swear by” the propaganda that is peddled by evolutionary astronomers (e.g., that of the late Dr. Carl Sagan – renowned for his “Cosmos” series – soon to be re-released).

Consider two examples of the fluctuations of modern astronomical theory.

(1) In the early months of 1950, a young British cosmologist, now known as Sir Fred Hoyle, was doing a series of radio broadcasts over the BBC. In one of his presentations he coined the phrase, “big bang.” His intent was not to give credibility to the concept that the universe commenced with a “big bang.” Rather, it was an expression of ridicule.

According to a “recent article” published on the Scientific American web site (February, 2001), Hoyle’s aim was to "bury [the “big bang” concept] under an ironic name." At the time, Hoyle subscribed to the “steady state” theory of the origin of the universe (which he later abandoned).

In spite of Hoyle’s intended “put down,” the concept to which he alluded survived and thrived. The “experts” adopted it, and the gullible public lustily embraced it. Even religionists jumped on the “bang” wagon (see our “Feature”, ""The Big Bang Theory vs. God’s Word"" – December, 1999).

Now, however, things are changing. Note the following comment from Philip and Phylis Morrison’s article, ""The Big Bang: Wit or Wisdom?"" appearing on the Scientific American website:

“We simply do not know our cosmic origins; intriguing alternatives abound, but none yet compel[s] . . . . The book of the cosmos is still open. Note carefully: we no longer see a big bang as a direct solution. Inflation erases evidence of past space, time and matter. The beginning – if any – is still unread. It is deceptive to maintain so long the very term that stood for a beginning out of nothing” (emp. added).

(2) Then there is this. All my life I have heard that Pluto is the most distant “planet” from the sun in our solar system. Pluto was discovered March 13, 1930 by Clyde W. Tombaugh, of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Now, we are being told we may have been wrong about Pluto – low these past 70 years. Pluto may not be a planet at all!

Scientists at the Rose Center for Earth and Space (American Museum of Natural History, New York) are disputing Pluto’s “planet” status. Neil de Grasse Tyson, an astronomer at the Rose Center, contends that Pluto is simply a chunk of drifting “ice.”

Other scientists contest Tyson’s assertion. David Levy, author of the book, Clyde Tombaugh, Discoverer of Pluto, says: “Tyson is so far off base with Pluto, it’s like he’s in a different universe” (“Museum Suggests Pluto Not a Planet” Associated Press, January 26, 2001).

The point about all of this is simple. Scientists are great speculators. With minimal information they manufacture maximum conclusions. Do not swallow everything they allege – particularly when allegations contradict clear, biblical revelation.

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever” (Isa. 40:8).

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.