A team of astronomers who jubilantly announced last year that they had found proof of the Big Bang have now retracted their statements, admitting that their evidence was faulty.
In March of last year, astronomers using the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole announced the discovery of “primordial gravitational waves” from the universe’s beginning. Proponents of the secular model of origins eagerly touted the discovery as “smoking gun” evidence for the universe’s rapid inflation during the Big Bang.
“This is a genuine breakthrough,” declared Andrew Pontzen, as reported by The Guardian. “It represents a whole new era in cosmology and physics as well.”
“To me, this looks really, really solid,” added cosmologist Marc Kamionkowski.
One well-known media outlet even predicted that the discovery would “almost certainly” earn a Nobel Prize.
However, less than a year after the triumphant announcement, astronomers have retracted their claims and admitted that the findings were not proof of the Big Bang after all. In a recent statement, the European Space Agency conceded that the astronomers’ conclusions were incorrect.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to confirm that the signal is an imprint of cosmic inflation,” researcher Jean-Loup Puget said in the statement.
Evidently, the BICEP2 telescope merely detected ordinary interstellar dust in space—not primordial gravitation waves.
The confession came as a major embarrassment to scientists who believed they had found incontrovertible proof for the Big Bang. According to a widely-circulated Associated Press story, BICEP2 researcher Brian Keating acknowledged the inaccuracy of his team’s original statements, saying, “We are effectively retracting the claim.”
“It’s disappointing,” Keating admitted. “It’s like finding out there’s no Santa Claus.”
Various media outlets have lamented or criticized the astronomers’ recanted assertions. BBC News described the “quashed claim” as “painful.”
“It is the announcement no one wanted to hear,” Space.com reported. “The most exciting astronomical discovery of 2014 has vanished. Two groups of scientists announced today that a tantalizing signal—which some scientists claimed was ‘smoking gun’ evidence of dramatic cosmic expansion just after the birth of the universe—was actually caused by something much more mundane: interstellar dust.”
Paul Steinhart, a professor of Physics at Princeton University, noted the “serious flaws” in the astronomers’ research. He further argued that the current inflationary model for the origin of the universe is fundamentally “unfalsifiable” and therefore “untestable.”
“No experiment can rule out a theory that allows for all possible outcomes,” he wrote in an article for Nature. “Hence, the paradigm of inflation is unfalsifiable. … [T]here exists a spectrum of other models which produce all manner of diverse cosmological outcomes. Taking this into account, it is clear that the inflationary paradigm is fundamentally untestable, and hence scientifically meaningless.
Cosmic inflation plays an integral role in the Big Bang model, so the current lack of testable evidence for it presents a challenge for secular scientists. Brian Thomas, science writer for the Institute for Creation Research, says now would be “a good time for secular scientists to take a hard look at their biases and presuppositions.”
“Why is it that they are willing to entertain bizarre explanations for our existence (other universes, the seeding of life on Earth by space aliens, etc.), but they are unwilling to consider biblical creation?” Thomas wrote in a recent online article. “Why do otherwise brilliant scientists embrace logically fallacious explanations for our existence?”
“The answer is quite simple,” Thomas continued. “Acknowledging creation requires that we acknowledge our Creator, and for many, that is simply unacceptable.”
“Creation remains the best scientific explanation for the reality in which we live, and science continues to point to our Creator,” he concluded.