Big Bang, Black Holes, and Common Sense
How big is the universe? How far does space extend? Common sense tells us that the universe must be infinite, for it is impossible to imagine an absolute boundary somewhere with no space beyond it. And since nothing can come from nothing, boundless space – which in theosophy means infinite consciousness-substance – must always have existed.
The standard big-bang theory – the most popular scientific theory of the origin of the universe – tells a very different story. It claims that in the beginning – just 8 to 15 billion years ago – there was absolutely nothing, no matter, no energy, no consciousness, not even any space. And out of this nothingness the universe suddenly popped into being as a result of a ‘random quantum fluctuation’. After originating as an infinitesimal point, of infinite density and temperature, space has supposedly been stretching like elastic ever since.
However, if there was no space and no matter or energy before the hypothetical big bang, there was obviously nothing to undergo a ‘fluctuation’ and nowhere for it to occur! But big bangers have long since abandoned ordinary rules of logic and have created a fantasy world of their own, based on advanced mathematical acrobatics. Some big bangers claim that space curves round upon itself so that it is finite and yet has no boundaries. They believe that the universe will at some point in the future start to contract, and end its life in a ‘big crunch’ in which it annihilates itself, leaving ‘literally nothing’.1 Other big bangers claim that although space popped into existence a finite period ago and expands at a finite pace, it somehow became infinite – and yet even though it is infinite it still manages to keep on expanding!2 It is amazing that such half-baked ideas have managed to be passed off as ‘science’. But as George Orwell once said, ‘There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe them.’
When confronted with any scientific theory, it is important to distinguish between facts on the one hand and assumptions and interpretations on the other. It is also necessary to examine opposing points of view. But scientists who challenge the reigning theories often encounter major obstacles in trying to make their voices heard, with the result that the public may be completely unaware that alternative ideas exist.
In a recent article listing the top 30 problems with the big bang, astronomer Tom Van Flandern points out that the theory is constantly undergoing ad hoc adjustments in order to accommodate new, unexpected discoveries.
Perhaps never in the history of science has so much quality evidence accumulated against a model so widely accepted within a field. Even the most basic elements of the theory – the expansion of the universe and the fireball remnant radiation – remain interpretations with credible alternative explanations.3
Plasma physicist Wal Thornhill puts it more bluntly: ‘Forget the glossy astronomy books and magazines – the Big Bang is pure fiction.’4
The main piece of evidence for the big bang and an expanding universe is the redshift. This refers to the fact that light from distant galaxies shows a shift towards longer (redder) wavelengths, which indicates that it is losing energy. Big bangers interpret this to mean that space is expanding and all galaxies are flying apart at immense speed. But not everybody agrees.
G. de Purucker rejected the theory of an expanding universe or expanding space as ‘little short of being a scientific pipe-dream or fairy-tale’, and suggested that the redshift might be caused by light losing energy during its long voyage through the ether of space.5 This is known as the tired-light theory, and it is supported by several scientists, including Tom Van Flandern and Paul LaViolette, who have shown that it fits the data far better than the expanding-universe hypothesis.6 Furthermore, if redshifts were caused mainly by velocity they ought to show a continuous range of values, but instead they show periodicities, being multiples of certain basic units.7 Most big bangers have studiously ignored this puzzle. The entire edifice of the big-bang theory is therefore built on a single unwarranted assumption – that galaxy redshifts are primarily caused by recession velocities.
Mainstream astronomers believe that because quasars normally have very high redshifts, they must be situated near the edge of the observable universe, and are rushing away from us at velocities approaching the speed of light. If they were really as far away as their redshifts imply, some quasars would be radiating a thousand times more energy than an entire galaxy, even though they are only as big as our solar system. This has led to the belief that they must be powered by monstrous ‘black holes’.
The reasoning behind these conclusions is flawed. Not only is the redshift not a reliable measure of velocity; it is not a reliable measure of distance either, for there is abundant evidence that galaxies at the same distance can have vastly different redshifts. A galaxy’s redshift appears to depend partly on its age, for active, low-redshift galaxies are sometimes surrounded by high-redshift galaxies (often quasars) that have apparently been ejected from them; pairs of these embryo-galaxies often line up on either side of the parent galaxy and are connected to it by luminous bridges or jets of matter. The redshifts of galaxies and stars appear to decrease as they get older.8
Orthodox cosmologists have systematically tried to ignore, dismiss, ridicule, and suppress this evidence. Astronomer Halton Arp has played a key role in bringing these findings to light. Like other opponents of the big bang, he has encountered great difficulties getting articles published in mainstream journals, and his requests for time on ground-based and space telescopes are frequently rejected. The big bang has clearly become an article of faith for a great many scientists. Interestingly, it was first proposed by a Belgian priest, Georges Lemaître, in 1927, and in 1951 it even received the blessing of Pope Pius XII!
In their book A Different Approach to Cosmology, Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge and Jayant Narlikar use the above photo to illustrate the conformist approach to standard big-bang cosmology. ‘We have resisted the temptation to name some of the leading geese,’ they say.
If space is infinite, then it obviously cannot expand, for common sense tells us that infinitude cannot get any bigger; ‘infinite extension admits of no enlargement,’ as H.P. Blavatsky puts it. Some writers have drawn superficial parallels between the ‘expansion’ of space and the ‘outbreathing’ of Brahmâ (the creative force behind the manifestation of a planet, star, etc.), as described in Hindu philosophy. But Blavatsky explains that ‘expansion from within without’ does not refer to an increase in size but to a change of condition – ‘the development of limitless subjectivity into as limitless objectivity’. In other words, outbreathing and inbreathing, or expansion or contraction, can refer to the unfoldment of the One (the spiritual summit of a world-system) into the many (the lower, material realms), and the subsequent reabsorption of the many into the One, in a never-ending cycle, or cosmic heartbeat, of evolution and involution.9
G. de Purucker says that a nebula may grow in size while it is forming, partly as a result of the energies pouring into it from inner realms and partly through the accretion of physical matter. But once a galaxy or group of galaxies, for example, has attained its full growth, its structure and form remain relatively stable for the rest of its active lifespan. He adds that all things, including stars and galaxies, undergo rhythmic expansions and contractions, analogous to the human heartbeat, but that this has nothing to do with the theory that the entire universe is expanding – which is ‘entirely unacceptable’, ‘purely imaginary’, and ‘all wrong’.10
To solve various problems with the big-bang model, theorists decided in the early 1980s that during the first ten-million-trillion-trillionth of a second after the initial explosion, ‘spacetime’ underwent a period of hyper-rapid ‘inflation’, in which it expanded a trillion trillion trillion trillion (1048) times faster than the speed of light, growing from a minuscule point to a volume several hundred million light-years in diameter. Then it somehow braked abruptly to a more leisurely rate of expansion. Clearly, no one can deny that big bangers have very fertile imaginations! All the different versions of inflation theory make one testable prediction – that protons should eventually decay. But all experiments to date have failed to detect any such decay. It doesn’t seem to matter – the big-bang bandwagon trundles on.
It is important to realize that no one has ever measured any expansion of space. There is no evidence whatsoever that atoms, galaxies, or galaxy clusters have got larger over time. Big bangers therefore claim that space must be expanding between galaxy clusters and superclusters – where it is conveniently beyond experimental investigation.
The front cover of the April 2002 issue of Discover magazine. Beneath the heading ‘Where Did Everything Come From?’ is a picture of a large red marble, with the caption: ‘The universe at about 10-34 seconds (ACTUAL SIZE)’. The marble measures 2 centimetres in diameter. The text beneath it reads: ‘The universe burst into something from absolutely nothing – zero, nada. And as it got bigger, it became filled with even more stuff that came from absolutely nowhere. How is that possible? Ask Alan Guth. His theory of inflation helps explain everything.’
Cosmologist John Barrow, on the other hand, believes that at the moment of the big bang, the universe was not of zero size but was an incredibly dense ball 6 millimetres in diameter. This is better than nothing – but still garbage!
According to a recent estimate, the big-bang universe is 13.7 billion years old. Yet other scientists say that the oldest stars in our galaxy are 16 to 20 billion years old! According to theosophy, the universe as a whole is eternal, without beginning and without end, and within it planets, stars, galaxies, etc. undergo recurring cycles of birth, evolution, and death. The current major evolutionary cycle involving our own solar system – the present ‘age of Brahmâ’ as the Hindus call it – has been in progress for over 155 trillion years, during which time there have been numerous planetary and solar reembodiments on many different planes.11
Black holes are all the rage in orthodox cosmology. Supermassive black holes are believed to dwell at the centre of many galaxies, and when sufficiently massive stars die, they supposedly undergo gravitational collapse and implode into black holes. Astronomer Fred Hoyle described the black-hole mania, along with big-bang cosmology in general, as ‘a form of religious fundamentalism’.
In recent years, what might be called a black-hole establishment has arisen, composed of individuals who talk to each other in positive language, as if black holes were as certain of existence as tomorrow’s sunrise. Yet there is not a scintilla of observational evidence to support their position. What there certainly is evidence of are highly condensed aggregates of matter producing very strong gravitational fields. There is a great volume of evidence of violent activity associated with such aggregates, but the evidence is all of outbursts, never of the continuous infalling motion that would lead to the formation of a black hole.12
By definition, no one has ever seen a black hole; they are theoretical entities. The basic idea behind a black hole – that gravity can become infinite and compress a large volume of matter to an infinitesimal point (or ‘singularity’) – is irrational and illogical; nothing finite can ever become infinitely large or small, for these are mathematical abstractions. The concept of black holes is derived from the mathematical manipulations of general relativity theory, which ‘explains’ gravity as a warping or distortion of space around material bodies – an idea that De Purucker, like many scientists, dismisses as a ‘mathematical pipe-dream’.13 Some scientists argue that electrostatic forces would prevent stars from undergoing any significant gravitational collapse. There is even good reason to question the fundamental assumption that gravity is proportional to inert mass.14
Theorists say that nothing that penetrates the outer boundary, or ‘event horizon’, of a black hole can ever escape – not even light. And they assign some curious properties to the event horizon: it is simultaneously stationary and yet flying outwards at the speed of light! And within the event horizon, ‘spacetime’ supposedly becomes so ‘distorted’ that space becomes time and time becomes space!15 Hoyle’s description of big-bang theorizing as a ‘fruitless churning of mathematical symbols’ seems very appropriate here, and it’s easy to see why some scientists dismiss black holes as pure science fiction.
A damaging blow was dealt to the black-hole theory by a study published in 1995, based on Hubble Space Telescope observations of 15 quasars. 11 of them were found to have no surrounding material that could fall into any hypothesized black holes, yet they were somehow producing intense radio emissions.16 More recent observations have continued to cause embarrassment to the black-hole establishment. Galaxies M87 and NGC 6605 are emitting jets of material and are supposed to have supermassive black holes at their centres. The jets were thought to be fed by a doughnut-shaped dust cloud around the M87 black hole and an accretion disc of attracted matter around the NGC 6605 black hole – but no trace of either can be found.17
Significantly, matter is nearly always seen moving away from galactic nuclei, instead of towards them as the black-hole theory requires. This is also true of our own galaxy, and the radiation coming from its centre does not match that expected to come from a black hole. Several scientists have concluded that the centres of active galaxies are regions of matter creation rather than matter destruction. In this connection, both Arp and Hoyle quote Sir James Jeans, who in the late 1920s suggested that ‘the centers of the nebulae [galaxies] are of the nature of “singular points,” at which matter is poured into our universe from some other, and entirely extraneous, spatial dimension’.
G. de Purucker, too, quotes this statement and says that it would be more accurate to speak of other ‘worlds’ or ‘planes’ rather than another ‘dimension’; after all, if this extra ‘dimension’ is more than just a blank abstraction it would itself have to have three dimensions. He compares the concept of ‘singular points’ to the theosophical concept of ‘laya centres’, or ‘dissolving centres’. These are ‘channels’ through which energy-substances pass from one plane to a higher or lower plane – a graphic way of referring to the processes of materialization and etherealization. A laya centre is sometimes described as the relatively homogeneous state of matter corresponding to the highest degree of one plane and the lowest degree of the plane above. Every point of space is in a sense a laya centre. Additionally, every entity – every atom, every seed, every human being, and every celestial body – has a laya centre at its core, for every physical form is animated from within outwards.18
The nucleus of our own galaxy is relatively quiescent at present compared with certain other spiral galaxies; about one in six are currently passing through an active, explosive phase. At the same time, galactic nuclei exert a strong attraction on surrounding matter. However, the idea that matter can disappear from our plane by being sucked into a ‘cosmic plughole’ and crushed to an infinitesimal point is not a serious proposition! It is worth noting that, according to theosophy, the originally ethereal globe of a newly-formed planet, for example, condenses and contracts during the first half of its life-cycle, and then re-etherealizes during the second half as its cohesive and attractive forces weaken.19 And when Brahmâ ‘contracts’ and withdraws its vitalizing energies, planets and stars die and disintegrate and their matter becomes scattered and dispersed; stars end their lives in an explosion, not an implosion.20
Other key ingredients of the big-bang universe are ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’. Big bangers used to claim that up to 99% of the mass of the universe was composed of dark matter. There are undoubtedly ‘dark’, nonluminous concentrations of ordinary physical matter in our universe, but the vast majority of dark matter is said to consist of exotic, never-detected physical particles which, unlike all other known physical matter, neither emit nor absorb light. This theory was partly based on the apparently excessive speed of certain galactic motions, but this observational evidence is founded on several questionable assumptions (including the redshift-equals-velocity myth). However, the main reason for postulating the existence of so much dark matter was purely theoretical – the big bang would not work without it, and most dark matter had to have unusual properties otherwise it would upset other aspects of the big-bang model. The existence of exotic dark matter therefore ‘rests on belief and not on any hard evidence’; it was literally invented.21
In 1998 it was found that remote supernovae, or exploding stars, were dimmer than expected. Big bangers interpreted this to mean that, contrary to all previous predictions, the expansion of the universe is accelerating, and that space will therefore expand for ever until all stars burn out and all life becomes extinct. To ‘explain’ the alleged accelerated expansion, big bangers created ‘dark energy’ or ‘quintessence’ – a repulsive force present everywhere in space. The latest guess is that about 73% of the mass of the universe consists of dark energy, 23% of dark matter, and the rest of ordinary matter.22 Since infinite space cannot expand in the first place, the alleged accelerating expansion of space is just another myth based on false assumptions and faulty reasoning.23 Given that dark matter and dark energy were conjured up to salvage the big bang, they obviously have nothing to do with the inner realms spoken of in the occult tradition.
It has been suggested that dark energy may be explained by the ‘extra dimensions’ postulated by some theoretical physicists. The theories in question are good examples of how grotesque pure mathematical speculation can become. For instance, superstring theory – for which there isn’t a shred of experimental or observational evidence – claims that all matter and force particles, and even space and time as well, arise from vibrating one-dimensional ‘strings’, a billion-trillion-trillionth of a centimetre long (which is claimed to be the smallest size possible in nature) but with zero thickness. And they are said to inhabit a ten-dimensional universe in which the six extra spatial dimensions have undergone ‘spontaneous compactification’ so that they are now curled up so small that they’re undetectable! And according to the latest craze – M-theory – the universe has eleven dimensions and is inhabited by objects with up to nine dimensions!
But just because equations can be written for wild ideas doesn’t mean that those ideas are correct. As Blavatsky once said, ‘popular common sense justly rebels against the idea that under any condition of things there can be more than three of such dimensions as length, breadth, and thickness’.24
In 2001 two astrophysicists proposed a new, more streamlined expanding-universe model, known as the cyclic universe, as they were dissatisfied with the constant efforts to patch over the serious flaws in the standard model. Although they rightly abandon the idea that the universe had an absolute beginning, they try to explain its supposed expansion in terms of string theory and M-theory. They argue that our universe consists of two infinitely large parallel sheets, or ‘branes’, which lie close together in an inaccessible, unobservable, and finite fifth dimension. One of the branes consists of ordinary matter, while the other may consist of dark matter. The branes are currently moving apart in the fifth dimension, causing infinite space to expand. After a few trillion years, the fifth dimension will begin to contract, and space will cease to expand, but will not contract. A ‘crunch’ will occur as the branes collide and the fifth dimension vanishes. But it will immediately reappear, and the branes will ‘rebounce’ in a new ‘bang’, causing infinite space to undergo a new cycle of expansion.25
That this arbitrary nonsense is being taken very seriously underlines the dire straits in which orthodox cosmology finds itself. (Predictably, the theory has even been claimed to show ‘convergence’ with theosophy!26) The new model is said to demonstrate the extent to which we need to ‘jettison common sense concepts’ in order to make progress in cosmology. Mainstream scientists simply have so much riding on the expanding-universe model – in terms of careers, funding, and prestige – that they are unwilling to seriously consider the redshift anomalies and other observational evidence that contradict the very idea of expanding space.
Leaving dark matter and dark energy aside, over 99% of the matter in the physical universe is believed to exist in the plasma state, including stars, the outer atmospheres of planets, and interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic media. Plasma – known as the fourth state of matter (after solids, liquids, and gases) – consists of dissociated atoms, i.e. electrons and ions (atomic nuclei). It’s interesting to note that whereas most scientists regard the sun as a ball of plasma, theosophy says that the sun’s interior consists largely of matter in its fifth, sixth, and seventh states – states unknown to scientists on earth.27 Finer grades of physical matter may therefore be hiding behind the word ‘plasma’.
Plasma cosmologists criticize big bangers for believing that the relatively weak force of gravity is the driving force of the cosmos, and show that the known behaviour of electric and magnetic forces and electrically-conducting plasmas can shed light on the formation and evolution of galaxies, including the ejection processes taking place in galactic nuclei.28 Some nonmainstream scientists go further and point to the need to invoke the generation of physical matter-energy from an underlying ether in order to explain the energy source that powers stars, supernova explosions, and galactic core explosions.29 The ether used to be regarded as the key to a unified understanding of physical matter and force, but orthodox science abolished it in the early 20th century and replaced it with mathematical abstractions. Nevertheless, many independent researchers are finding experimental evidence that supports its existence.30
The ether of physics is not of course the ‘bottom level’ of reality, but merely a bridge to deeper realms of spirit-substance that lie beyond. These imperceptible realms interpenetrate our physical world and are just as material to their own inhabitants as our own world is to us. They have nothing in common with the imaginary, inaccessible, shrivelled-up mathematical dimensions dreamed up by some scientists. It is a great irony that many scientists feel quite comfortable with speculative and untestable theories full of the weirdest mathematical fictions, but are fiercely opposed to the occult idea of inner worlds of energy-substance connected with a variety of paranormal and consciousness-related phenomena.
H.P. Blavatsky was once asked what was the most important thing necessary in the study of theosophy. Her answer was: ‘Common sense’ – something scientists could also make good use of. When asked what she would place second, she replied: ‘A sense of humour’ – which is also useful when studying the latest scientific theories. Asked what she would place third, Blavatsky replied: ‘Oh, just MORE common sense!’31
- Paul Davies and John Gribbin, The Matter Myth, New York: Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 1992, pp. 122, 175.
- Richard Morris, The Edges of Science, New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1990, pp. 48-52.
- ‘The top 30 problems with the big bang’, Infinite Energy, v. 8, issue 46, 2002, pp. 10-5 (www.infinite-energy.com). See ‘Cosmology and the big bang’, davidpratt.info; William C. Mitchell, Bye Bye Big Bang – Hello Reality, Carson City, NE: Cosmic Sense Books, 2002.
- ‘Science heading for a big bang’, www.holoscience.com/news/science_bang.htm.
- G. de Purucker, Esoteric Teachings, San Diego, CA: Point Loma Publications, 1987, 3:28-30; G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press (TUP), 1974, pp. 80-1; G. de Purucker, The Esoteric Tradition, TUP, 2nd ed., 1973, pp. 435-8fn.
- Paul LaViolette, Genesis of the Cosmos: The ancient science of continuous creation, Rochester, VE: Bear and Company, 2004, pp. 280-3, 288-95 (http://etheric.com); Tom Van Flandern, ‘Did the universe have a beginning?’, Meta Research Bulletin, 3:3, 1994 (www.metaresearch.org).
- Halton Arp, Seeing Red: Redshifts, cosmology and academic science, Montreal, Quebec: Apeiron, 1998, pp. 195-223 (www.haltonarp.com).
- ‘Exploding the big bang’, davidpratt.info; Arp, Seeing Red.
- H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, TUP, 1977 (1888), 1:62-3, also 4, 43, 83-5; G. de Purucker, Occult Glossary, TUP, 2nd ed., 1996, p. 21; G. de Purucker, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979, pp. 317, 573.
- Esoteric Teachings, 3:28-30; Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 80-1, 120, 127.
- See G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy, TUP, 1945, pp. 357-60; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 184, 468.
- Fred Hoyle, Home is Where the Wind Blows: Chapters from a cosmologist’s life, Mill Valley, CA: University Science Books, 1994, pp. 406, 413.
- The Esoteric Tradition, pp. 861-2fn; see ‘Space, time, and relativity’, davidpratt.info.
- See ‘Gravity and antigravity’, davidpratt.info.
- Genesis of the Cosmos, p. 329.
- www.gemini.edu/project/announcements/press/2001-3.html; http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0302349.
- The Esoteric Tradition, pp. 142-4, 455-7; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 403-4, 464-5.
- The Secret Doctrine, 1:159; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, p. 345; Dialogues of G. de Purucker, 2:65; A.T. Barker (comp.), The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, TUP, 2nd ed., 1975, pp. 98-9.
- The Secret Doctrine, 1:4, 41, 83-5; Dialogues of G. de Purucker, 1:24-8, 2:137, 145.
- Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge and Jayant V. Narlikar, A Different Approach to Cosmology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 293, 307; Eric J. Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened, New York: Vintage Books, 1992, pp. 32-5.
- www.sciencenews.org/20030215/fob1.asp, www.sciencenews.org/20010407/bob14.asp.
- ‘Do supernovas prove an expanding universe?’, Meta Research Bulletin, 13:2, 2004, pp. 28-30, http://metaresearch.org/msgboard/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=517 (also TOPIC_ID=526).
- The Secret Doctrine, 1:252; Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 79-80.
- http://feynman.princeton.edu/~steinh; www.brain-mind.com/SciNewsJanMay2002.html.
- Sunrise, April/May 2003, pp. 140-2.
- Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 293-8.
- The Big Bang Never Happened, chs. 5 and 6.
- Genesis of the Cosmos, pp. 318-29.
- See ‘Worlds within worlds’, davidpratt.info.
- Sylvia Cranston, with Carey Williams, HPB: The extraordinary life and influence of Helena Blavatsky, Santa Barbara, CA: Path Publishing House, 3rd ed., 1994, p. 337.
July 2003. Updated August 2004. Printed in Fohat, winter 2003.
Black holes/big bang: a debate
Trends in cosmology
Exploding the big bang
Worlds within worlds
Space, time, and relativity
Gravity and antigravity