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(The following letter was sent to Mercury, the magazine of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The editor wrote back to say that he liked the letter and wanted to use it, but that the next issue is going to have some special features and he didn't think there would be any room to include it. The next issue was lacking any letters to the editor.)

May 16, 2002

To: editor@astro society.org

Dear Editor:

With as little space as Mercury  provides for feedback from the membership, I can see from the May-June issue that Geoffrey Burbidge's reply to the "A Universe from Nothing" article by Alex Filippenko, would have taken precedence over any reply I should have offered. He's the distinguished astronomer, I'm not.

Filippenko, Pasachoff and other Big Bang advocates must excuse us if some of us do not find their arguments very convincing. To many of us, we see a new religious cosmology in the Big Bang, always evolving, adding layer after layer of ad hoc speculative mathematical theories to buttress the many shortfalls that beset the cosmology. Although, I'm no fan of the steady state alternative as propounded by Hoyle, Burbidge, and Narlikar, there are other alternatives, alternatives that the observational data fit just as well with maybe only half as much speculation as that which is applied to the Big Bang.

In my opinion, these alternatives are not pursued, because they do not fit in with the predominant cultural/religious prejudices of our society. The myth is that scientists are supposed to have the training to be above this sort of influence. These prejudices have to do with our universe being "created," have a "beginning" in time and space, and that it is finite. Without a doubt, these are religious notions.

Last week the major astronomy story was about the new Advanced Camera for Surveys in the Hubble Space Telescope, ("Hubble images at the edge of time," S.F. Chronicle, May 1, 2002). In the "Tadpole" image is a "background that includes 6,000 discernible galaxies or fragments of galaxies caught in various stages of evolution across the past 13 billion years. Some of the galactic fragments presumably formed within a billion years or so of the birth of the universe. Astronomers do not yet know how galaxies managed to form so rapidly...."

While this is not the place to present arguments against the Big Bang, especially since I have a web site that does so (see: http://home.pacbell.net/skeptica*), I will make the prediction that fully formed galaxies at distances and ages when according to Big Bang/expanding universe models, they should not exist, will continue to be found. A real scientific model, even a complex one, should have the qualities that allow it to be falsified. It seems that there is never an observation that can show the Big Bang/expanding universe model to be false. No matter how poorly the latest Big Bang version fits with new observations there is always some aspect of the model that can be tweaked to supposedly make everything come out all right. For example, Inflation is a major tweak that is without any solid foundation. Alan Guth, the main originator of the theory of cosmic inflation, which is "widely considered an integral component of the new Big Bang cosmology," writes: "Although the basic idea still looks very attractive, we still don't know the real details of inflation or the mechanism that drives it." (Astronomy, April 2002, p. 30)

So again, please forgive us if we don't all buy the latest cosmythology. We still like astronomy.


Vincent Sauve 

* Old URL. New one is   http://sites.google.com/site/bigbangcosmythology/home


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