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Innovation Blog

Allan Sandage and a Proof of God’s Existence

By Shlomo Maital

   Allan Sandage, perhaps the world’s greatest living astronomer, passed away 10 days ago in California. He was 84.  Sandage was the right-hand man of Edwin Hubbell, the astronomer who discovered galaxies other than our own (“Milky Way”), and whose Doppler effect discovery led astonishingly to the conclusion that the universe was expanding outward rapidly.  Here, briefly, is what the Global New York Times wrote about how Sandage ‘corrected’ Hubble’s estimates:

     Mr. Hubble’s original estimate was that for every million parsecs ( 3.26 million light years) a galaxy was farther away from us, it was retreating 530 kilometers per second            (around 300 miles per second) faster.  Mr. Hubble’s original estimate, however, corresponded to an age for the universe of only 1.8 billion years, at odds with both geological calculations of the Earth’s age and Mr. Sandage’s later estimate of the ages of star clusters.   But Mr. Hubble had made mistakes, and as Mr. Sandage  … delved into the subject, the problematic constant came down and the imputed age of the universe rose.  In 1956, Mr. Sandage suggested that the Hubble constant could be as low as 75 kilometers per second per megaparsec. By 1975 the value, they said, was all the way down to 50, corresponding to an age of as much as 20 billion years, comfortably larger than the ages of galaxies and globular clusters. This allowed them to conclude that the universe was not slowing down enough for gravity to reverse the expansion into a Big Crunch. That was in happy agreement with astronomers who had found that there was not enough matter in the universe to generate the necessary gravity.   As Mr. Sandage wrote in The Astrophysical Journal in March 1975, ‘‘.. the Universe has happened only once, and … the expansion will never stop.’’

  Where is the proof of God?  

  Work proceeds apace at the Hadron Accelerator in Switzerland, to simulate the Big Bang – the creation of the universe, when matter imploded intensely, then exploded intensely, expanding outward,  and it still is.  Hubble’s measurements originally showed that the rate of expansion would slow, and the Universe would again implode inward, explode… etc.  This perpetual Creation, perhaps, contradicted abstractly the Biblical account.  Then came Sandage, showing that the Universe would expand outward forever.  That meant that there was only one Big Bang and one act of Creation.  It is thus possible to interpret the Genesis account of Creation, as:   Big Bang,  “…God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day…”  and that Day lasted several billion years (remember the sun had not yet been created). 

    We know this wasn’t your intention, Allan.  You simply sought the truth.  But thanks anyway.  Rest in Peace.


Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
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