Tough Questions Answered

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Why Do Scientists Believe the Universe is Almost 14 Billion Years Old? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Some in the evangelical community dismiss the science that shows the universe is old (almost 14 billion years), and I think partly because they never considered the reasons why scientists make this claim.

I am not a physicist or an astronomer, but I am an electrical engineer, so I had to take physics classes in college and gain an understanding of physics in order to practice electrical engineering.  I am going to present some reasons the universe is old, but I cannot get into the details of it.  These reasons are taken from Hugh Ross’ book, A Matter of Days.  I am hoping that this post, and the next, will spur some of you to do more research on the topic.

The first method physicists use to calculate the age of the universe is to measure the expansion rate of the universe.  The universe is growing larger (like a balloon expanding by someone blowing into it), and if we can measure at what rate it is growing, we can calculate how long ago the universe came into existence.  We can mathematically reverse the expansion until the universe reverts back to a singularity, a point so small the human eye cannot detect it.  This is the beginning of the universe.

The way the expansion is calculated is by measuring the distance from other galaxies to us, and observing how fast these other galaxies are moving away from us.  If we know the distances and velocities of enough galaxies, we can calculate the expansion rate of the universe, and thus the age of the universe.

The second method physicists use to calculate the age of the universe is to measure the cosmic background radiation temperature.  When the universe came into existence, it generated a lot of heat!  Ever since that creation event, the universe has been cooling down as it ages.

When we measure the cosmic background radiation (“take the temperature” of the universe), the readings indicate that the temperatures all around us are about -455 deg F (only 2.725 deg C above absolute zero) and vary little – less than 1 part in 10,000.  Given the geometry of the universe and these temperature readings, physicists can calculate how long the universe has been cooling, and thus the age of the universe.

In the next post, we will look at two more methods for determining the age of the universe.  I hope you’ll stick around to learn about them.


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  • Ray

    I think a more important question is how long ago did the Fall happen. Adam and Eve could of been in the Garden for 13.99 billion years before they sinned. So, maybe the scientists are correct but so what?

  • http://bigbangno.wordpress.com Luis Biarge

    The age is infinite, but first objects seen from 13.7 billion light years how you say.

    I have a blog against the expansion of the universe, with arguments that show this is impossible.

    How the people consider there are evidences for the Big Bang I study these evidences.

    I have arguments and Hypotheses in: http://bigbangno.wordpress.com

    Thanks.

  • http://randyeverist.blogspot.com Randy Everist

    @Ray–The Bible says Adam was 130 when Seth was born, and Cain and Abel were both adults. This means there’s virtually no way they were in the garden for more than 100 years.

  • Ian Dole

    How do you know that the expansion rate was the same in the past as it is today? ISAIAH 45:12 says I- My hands STRETCHED out the heavens. The Bible says that God stretched out the heavens in a literal 24 hour day, GEN 1:14-19, that was the real big bang. Why would an all powerful and all knowing God need billions of years of trial and error to create his image barer? We need to stop compromising the inspired word of God for the falible theorys of sinful men.

  • Son of the King

    The fatal flaw in this generation’s theories is the same as in all the generations before them. They try to understand the universe around them while denying its creator. As Christians we know of the reliability of God’s Word and know that we can trust it. Let us recognize Colossians 2:20 and not submit to the elementary understandings of the finitely focused.

  • Nucc3 .

    I tend to young earth creation…Why would Creationists determine the age of the universe through the eyes of science rather then through the Holy Scriptures by way of the Holy Spirit? Did the author of Genesis see creation as day age or did he just pen what God told him?
    If God is able to mold a GROWN HUMAN from the dust of the earth, is He incapable of creating the universe in 6 24 hour days?

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Why would Creationists determine the age of the universe through the eyes of science”

    Science has proved successful in determining the age of things. If our ideas of nuclear decay were that out of kilter nuclear power simply wouldn’t work. We used the scientific method to create the computers that enabled us to have this exchange. Dismissing the findings of science because it conflicts with your own interpretation of scripture is just what the church did a few hundred years ago when it rejected the idea of the earth going round the sun.

    If the evidence clearly conflicts with your bible interpretation, then it’s pretty likely the latter is incorrect. To reject the former out of hand no matter what is to admit you’ve rejected reason for dogma. It’s your right to do so, but why expect anyone else to see it as a a reasonable position?

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