Oscillating Universe?

by Owen D. Olbricht

The Big Bang theory states that all matter in the universe at one time was collected in one place. Billions of years ago this great mass of material exploded with a big bang sending matter all directions. The result is a rapidly expanding universe with the galaxies that are closer to the point of the explosion moving more slowly and those that are farther out moving more rapidly.

The theory of the Oscillating Universe states that at some time in the distant future all matter will be pulled back together by gravitational force to explode and expand again, then be pulled back together to explode, expand, and return time and time again. The purpose of this theory is to explain how supposedly eternally ever existing matter has endlessly been recycled time and time again. This theory has been used to explain how matter exists without a beginning, without being created.

Even though this theory does not explain many difficulties, including the conservation of energy which is being expended, it has been suggested as a viable explanation for the existence and nature of our universe.

Recent scientific conclusions indicate that an oscillating universe may not be possible. This information is found in a article by Lee Bowman of the Scripps Howard News Serve entitled, "Universe older, lighter than thought," Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Friday, January 9, 1998.

"The universe is older and lighter weight than has previously been thought by many astronomers," a group of researchers are reporting to the American Astronomical Society today.

"That means that galaxies and their stars are unlikely to stop expanding out from their original Big Bang positions and collapse back upon themselves, though it will eventually turn dark and cold as nuclear furnaces and even massive black holes run out of fuel.

"Reporting on five independent efforts to measure the mass of all matter in the universe and the rate it's expanded by studying the light and radio signals from galaxy clusters and long-ago supernovas, the scientists expressed unusual consensus among astronomers that the universe has only about 20 percent to 30 percent of the critical density needed to stop its expansion...."

This conclusion has come from clusters of galaxies observed by a team of astronomers at Princeton University Observatory based on images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Neta Bahcall, leader of the team said, "There's simply not enough matter to close the universe and make it stop expanding."

"Yet another Princeton University team came to the same conclusion by measuring radio ‘hot spots' in distant galaxies to detect how distant they are from one another and thus how fast they're moving away from one another."

Saul Perlmutter from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the leader of an International Supernova Cosmology Project, said, "All indications from our observations of supernovae spanning a large range of distances are that we live in a universe that will expand forever. Apparently there isn't enough mass in the universe for its gravity to bring it to a halt."

"Yet another team from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics measuring the universe's deceleration since the Big Band with the same type of supernovas, said even with just a few exploding stars studied so far, they're 95 percent confident there's nothing to keep the universe from continuing to balloon out forever."

Five difficulties for the Oscillating Universe theory appear in the above quotations: (1) Not enough mass exists in the universe to create a gravitational force that can draw the galaxies back together. (2) The speed of the movement of the galaxies is too great for their gravity to reverse their movement. (3) The amount of deceleration indicates that galaxies will not slow down enough before they are too far apart to be brought back. (4) The decrease of mass because of the depletion of nuclear energy will greatly decrease gravitational pull making a reversal impossible. And (5) all nuclear energy will finally be used up which will mean an end of the universe as we know it.

These conclusions present insurmountable obstacles for the Oscillating Universe theory. If the matter in the universe cannot be brought together again but will continue to expand, then it cannot form a massive clump of matter that will explode and expand again. These discoveries must be a death blow to such a theory.

Also if our universe will "turn dark and cold as nuclear furnaces and even massive black holes run out of fuel," then at some time in the past the universe must have been given its nuclear fuel. It could not have been using its fuel forever in the past or it would already have used all its nuclear fuel.

The best explanation as to how everything came into being is still found in the first verse in the Bible, "In the beginning God created the heaven and earth" (Genesis 1:1). Such a statement shows sound scientific wisdom.

The best explanation concerning the future of the universe is found in a statement made by Jesus, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35).


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