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The Plasma Universe

by Donald B. DeYoung, Ph.D. *


Evidence for Creation Evidence for God The Triune Universe
Introduction
Recent reports of "wrinkles" in space have been promoted as a major victory for the Big Bang. This
may or may not help explain the large-scale structure of the universe. Meanwhile, other fundamental
problems remain, such as the origin of galaxies. The plasma model for the origin of the universe has
arrived just in time to compete with the troubled Big Bang. 1
A popular book with the title, The Big Bang Never Happened, has summarized some of the
weaknesses. Unfortunately, the writer is just as naive about origins as those he attacks: "Since
nowhere do we see something emerge from nothing, we have no reason to think that this occurred in
the distant past." 2 So much for an honest consideration of ex nihilo creation! The possible replacement
for the Big Bang, plasma cosmology, is not really new; physicists like Hannes Alfven and Tony Perratt
have been quietly promoting it for years. We will surely hear much more about the possible demise of
the Big Bang and the rise of the plasma universe during the 1990's. 3
What is Plasma?
The name "plasma" is applied to a high temperature gas when the outer electrons become separated
from their atoms. It is a plasma which glows inside a fluorescent tube or an advertising sign. It also
comprises such phenomena as lightning and the Northern Lights. The sun and most other stars are
themselves giant spheres of plasma gas. The astronomy word plasma was actually borrowed from
medicine, where it identifies the colorless fluid component of the blood in which corpuscles are
suspended. The term is well chosen, since ionized matter often appears to swirl and change in a lifelike
manner.

Figure 1. The tubes represent vast electrical currents of plasma in space;


the circles show magnetic fields which surround the currents. In the plasma
universe, galaxies are gradually formed by plasma interactions.

In the proposed plasma universe, deep space is permeated with giant filaments of electrons and ions.
These are not the hypothetical cosmic strings which supposedly involve higher dimensions of space.
Instead, the plasma strands are thought to be real, physical entities. It is further proposed that these
filaments twist together in space due to electromagnetic forces. Some of their vast energy is then
converted into matter, and new galaxies are the eventual result (Figure 1). This plasma "theory of
everything" seeks to explain almost every cosmic detail. Thus the intricate spiral arms of galaxies are
said to reveal further interactions of the plasma filaments. Since galaxies contain 100 billion stars each
and are 100 thousand light years across, the proposed plasma strands are clearly of immense energy
and size. Cosmologists are not known for restraint in their speculation! Halton Arp concludes:
"Cosmology is unique in science in that it is a very large intellectual edifice based on very few facts.
Certainty in science cannot be forthcoming from minimal positions such as those which currently exist
in cosmology." 4
A workable mechanism for star and galaxy formation from interacting plasma gases is not known. But,
of course, such details were never understood for the Big Bang either!
An Evaluation
At first hearing, the plasma theory is attractive in that it nicely avoids some of the Big Bang
problems. First,galaxy formation by tangled plasma strands might explain the large scale structure or
"lumpiness" of the universe. If the initial plasma is not uniformly distributed, neither will be the
resulting galaxies. Second, an overall radiation "fog" produced by cosmic plasma energy might result in
the well-known smooth background radiation, usually attributed to initial heat from the Big
Bang. Third, new mechanisms for a non-velocity red shift of starlight may be important; thus the
plasma theory challenges even the basic assumption of an expanding universe.
For the creationist, there is also a serious "downside" to the plasma universe. Four problems will be
given:First, plasma adherents assume that the ionized universe is infinite in both age and size. That is,
the universe is countless trillions of years old, and it will never end. This is really just a crafty way of
saying that origin anddestiny questions are meaningless! These important questions are ruled off
limits by definition. With an infinite time scale, the plasma approach is much like the Steady State
Theory of the 1950's (Table 1). Both of these theories, in turn, echo the anti-creation view of geologist
James Hutton. In his Theory of the Earth(1785), he wrote about endless processes on the earth with
"No vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end."

Theory
Steady State
Big Bang
Plasma

Era of Popularity
1950's - 60's
1960's - 80's
1990's

Table 1. A summary of modern, naturalistic cosmological theories for the


origin and order of the universe.
Second, the plasma universe fully accepts all aspects of slow stellar evolution, without reservation. In
fact,hundreds of billions of years are assumed to be available for stellar processes.
Third, the plasma universe is built on a wholesale extrapolation of size, over a scale of at least 1028.
That is, the observed behavior of plasma in a small laboratory chamber is assumed to be duplicated on

the vastly larger scale of galaxy clusters. Obviously, such unlimited extrapolation is unjustified. It is like
studying a grain of dust and then equating its properties to a boulder that is a billion light years in
diameter. As another comparison, consider that the divergent time views of evolutionists and recent
creationists differ by "only" a factor of 106, 10 thousand years versus 10 billion. The unwarranted
extrapolation of plasma properties throughout deep space is all too common in astronomy. It is similar
to the modeling of galaxy formation on a computer, and then declaring that the computer simulation is
reality. Must creationists be the only ones to blow the whistle on this poor logic?
Fourth, the plasma universe assumes that electric and magnetic forces are dominant in space instead
of gravity. However, it has not been shown that electromagnetism is capable of forming and shaping
galaxies, even with unlimited time.
Conclusion
The plasma universe is currently enjoying success as a "Big-Bang basher." In due course, its own
weaknesses will begin receiving more attention. The lesson is clear: Creationists should be especially
cautious about accommodating new science ideas, even if they oppose evolutionary models like the
Big Bang. The replacement may be even worse than the original problem! Steady State, Big Bang,
Plasma naturalistic theories of origins will continue to rise and fall.
Further, the current crisis of theistic evolution in defending the Big Bang shows the embarrassing
result of compromise. Those who have wrongly inserted the Big Bang into Genesis may someday be
the only ones left to defend the idea of an initial explosion! The creation of the universe was
supernatural, by definition, and will always remain beyond the understanding of skeptical
cosmologists. This is not to say that the creation view closes the door to inquiry. Instead, it accepts the
refreshing and truthful fact that there are limits to the domain of natural science.
As matters stand at present, there is no better astronomic theory for the origin of the universe than
the inspired explanation of Scripture. "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the
host of them by the breath of His mouth. . . . For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it
stood fast" (Psalm 33:6,9). ". . . for He commanded, and they were created" (Psalm 148:5).
References

[1] Duane Gish, "Big Bang Theory Collapses," Impact No. 216 (June 1991):
pp. i-iv.
[2] Eric Lerner, "The Big Bang Never Happened," (New York: Random
House, 1991), p. 41.
[3] Eric Lerner, "The Cosmologists' New Clothes," Sky and Telescope, 83
(February 1992):124. Geoffrey Burbidge, "Why Only One Big
Bang?" Scientific American, 266 (February 1992): 120.
[4] H. C. Arp, et al., "The Extra-Galactic Universe: An Alternative
View," Nature346 (August 30, 1990): pp. 807-812.
* Dr. Don DeYoung (Ph.D., Iowa State University) is Professor of Physics at
Grace College, Winona Lake, Indiana, as well as Adjunct