‘The Big Bang Never Happened’


I began reading The Big Bang Never Happened (1st Vintage Books ed., 1992) by Eric Lerner this weekend. Actually, I haven’t read past the preface yet, but it certainly set a tone for the rest of the book. I couldn’t help but feel somewhat offended after reading the preface; it came off as sour and condescending, hardly an effective method for keeping a reader for the rest of the book (I would think). Perhaps, instead, Lerner’s many pointed accusations keep the reader’s attention.

Lerner claims that the “overwhelming mass of scientific evidence still contradicts the Big Bang”. His digs, at least in the preface, are mainly aimed at observations disproving the predicted age of the Universe—13-16 million years at that stage (we’re now looking at 13.7 million). These observations include: the age of globular clusters in the Milky Way being 15-18 billion years old “at least”; the predicted matter density in the Universe being a hundred times greater than the density observed through counting galaxies, which introduces dark matter and shortens the age of the Universe as this much matter would slow Universe expansion; and superclusters being “too big to have formed in the time since the Big Bang”. Lerner writes that cosmologists’s responses to such observations were akin to a fundamentalist religious type saying, “Yes, it appears that mountains are millions of years old, but this is a mere detail that doesn’t affect the idea that the earth [sic] is six thousand years old”.  Ouch. His other issues are with the observed abundance of light elements—deuterium (‘heavy’ hydrogen), helium, and lithium—being less than predicted and the (at the time) recently released Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) results of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) spectrum being, for want of a better word, a farce.

Basically, Lerner’s preface claims that cosmology is, as in Galileo’s time, “entangled in religion”, and that the Big Bang theory is based on faith rather than being a “hypothesis to be disproved by evidence”. Now, I know this was written almost twenty years ago, back when precision cosmology was only just beginning as a field, but Lerner’s still kicking around, and is still wildly against the whole idea—see here.


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