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Gravitational waves - what they mean

Diagram tracing the 13.7 billion year (plus a trillionth of a second) history of the Universe from the quantum scale to the formation of stars, galaxies, planets, according to conventioal theory, as measured by the Wilkinson MIcrowave Anisotropy Probe
Diagram tracing the 13.7 billion year (plus a trillionth of a second) history of the Universe from the quantum scale to the formation of stars, galaxies, planets, according to conventioal theory, as measured by the Wilkinson MIcrowave Anisotropy Probe
WMAP Science Team/NASA

Two days ago, John Kovacs, of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, claimed a momentous discovery. He said he had seen "direct evidence of cosmic inflation," according to Mike Wall at Space.com. The New York Times picked up the story almost at once. So did Nature, to whom Kovacs has already submitted several papers. (See their announcement here.) Specifically, Kovacs says he and his team saw gravitational waves left over from the first moments of time after the Big Bang.

One excited observer, Avi Loeb, also of Harvard, said "if...confirmed, it [is] the most important discovery" since universal acceleration. That's a big "if," warns the author of Creation-Evolution Headlines. But today, Nathan Aviezer of Bar-Ilian University told David Shamah of The Times of Israel those gravitational waves prove one thing above all:

the universe had a definite starting point — a creation — as described in the Book of [Beginnings]. To deny this now is to deny scientific fact.

Can Dr. Aviezer say that with justice? Do gravitational waves establish a specific creation event, or only the idea of creation? Do they show anything at all?

Gravitational waves - what Dr. Kovacs saw

The CEH piece best describes what Kovacs and his team saw and reported:

a team with a sensitive detector dubbed BICEP2 in Antarctica found (they claim) some signals of B-mode polarization in the cosmic microwave background (CMB)

BICEP stands for Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization. BICEP 2 is the second-generation instrument used in the study. (BICEP 3 is under construction.)

Are those gravitational waves? CEH warns these are mere "swirls on a chart." That they truly are gravitational waves is only an inference from an assumption of what gravitational waves would do. Worse, interpreting these "swirls" as gravitational waves might violate causality and break the theory Kovacs and his team are trying to confirm:

This signal...would have had to be imprinted on spacetime almost half a billion years before the CMB became visible.

The Cosmic Microwave Background is the ambient "light" of the universe. It is remarkably uniform throughout space. So whatever made it, happened everywhere in space at once.

Gravitational waves - what they would mean

Philosophical naturalists and uniformitarians are quick to cite gravitational waves as evidence for their own concept: if the universe began, it began without Divine help. But can they say that? CEH reminds us: finding gravitational waves says nothing about what made them. It does not say what caused the Big Bang, or what came before it.

Moreover, it was a one-time event, with no explanation, that occurred under no known laws of nature – ruling out the principle of uniformity, the basis of science. Conclusion: inflation is tantamount to a miracle. Q.E.D. So: everyone believes in miracles.

So Dr. Aviezer at Bar Ilian certainly can claim this much: the universe began. Grasping that statement alone demands an answer to the questions of why and how.

The creation model

Genesis (literally, "In-the-beginning" in Hebrew) says God made light on Day One, and made the sun, the moon, and the stars on Day 4. The Bible also describes, not a Big Bang, but a Big Stretch. That can account both for the gravitational waves and for universal acceleration.

The creation model, like the uniformitarian/naturalist model, does not answer the question of how and why the universe came to be, or what existed before it. Creation science has no problem with this. God is the First Cause. He made the universe for His own reasons.

But the naturalists and uniformitarians have a problem. Their world view is incomplete without a trigger for the Big Bang, and an antecedent "universe." Without that, most have given up looking for it. They set aside causality for the beginning of the universe. That's why their model will always be weak.