One of the most definitive tests of the biblically predicted big bang creation model1 is the primordial abundance of deuterium. (Deuterium, or heavy hydrogen, is an atomic nucleus consisting of one proton and one neutron. Ordinary hydrogen has just one proton.) I wrote several pages on this test in the fourth edition of my book, The Creator and the Cosmos.2 Now, a team of 50 physicists and astronomers have published findings that make this test even more definitive.3

A foundational component of the big bang model is that at the cosmic creation event the universe is infinitesimally small and infinitely, or near infinitely, hot with the property of ongoing expansion. As the universe expands, it cools down. Between 3 and 4 minutes after the cosmic creation event the universe passes through the temperature range where nuclear fusion occurs. The cosmic sea of unattached protons, neutrons, and electrons transforms into a mix of hydrogen, deuterium, helium, and a trace amount of lithium. The amount of deuterium, helium, and lithium produced is determined by the cosmic density of baryons (the sum of protons and neutrons).

The nuclear fusion furnaces of stars do not manufacture deuterium. According to the big bang model, all the deuterium that exists in the universe is produced during the first four minutes of the universe's existence. Stars, however, destroy some of the primordial deuterium.

Deuterium Tests
Astronomers used these facts to develop a definitive test of the big bang creation model. They compared precise measurements of the amount of deuterium in gas clouds so distant, and hence so far back in time, that stellar burning has little or no opportunity to destroy any of the predicted amount of deuterium produced by the big bang based on measurements of the cosmic baryon density.

Astronomical observations of the primordial deuterium abundance in distance clouds have reached 1.2% accuracy (margin of error).4 The measured primordial deuterium abundance compared to the abundance of ordinary or light hydrogen = 2.527 ± 0.030 x 10-5. The Planck map of the cosmic microwave background radiation—in big bang cosmology the radiation left over from the cosmic creation event—yields the best measure of the cosmic baryon density and the primordial deuterium abundance implied by the big bang. The primordial deuterium abundance compared to the abundance of light hydrogen derived from the Planck 2018 map = 2.494 ± 0.082 x 10-5.5

The accuracy of the primordial deuterium abundance based on big bang cosmology is 3.3 percent. What hampers this accuracy is not the quality of the Planck map of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Rather it is the “large uncertainties on the cross-section of the deuterium burning D(p,γ)3He reaction.”6

The team of 50 physicists achieved much improved cross-section measurements of the D(p,γ)3He reaction. They did so by bombarding a high-purity deuterium gas target with an intense proton beam at the Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics located thousands of feet below Mount Gran Sasso in Italy where contamination from cosmic rays is negligible. They reduced the uncertainty of the primordial deuterium abundance based on big bang cosmology down to 1.6 percent. The value they determined for the ratio of deuterium-to-light hydrogen abundance based on big bang cosmology = 2.52 ±0.04 x 10-5.7 This value is in excellent agreement with astronomical observations (above) of the primordial deuterium abundance in distant gas clouds.

Creation Implications
The big bang creation model has passed yet another test with flying colors. The results achieved by the 50 physicists provide more evidence demonstrating that the more we observe and learn about the universe the stronger becomes the evidence that a Causal Agent beyond space and time created the universe and designed it to make possible the existence of life and human beings in particular. The results also provide more evidence for the Bible’s predictive power, specifically to accurately predict the fundamental features of the big bang universe thousands of years before astronomers even had a hint of these cosmic features.

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

Endnotes

  1. Hugh Ross and John Rea, “Big Bang—The Bible Taught It First!” Facts for Faith (July 1, 2000): 26–32, https://reasons.org/explore/publications/facts-for-faith/read/facts-for-faith/2000/07/01/big-bang-the-bible-taught-it-first!; Hugh Ross, “Does the Bible Teach Big Bang Cosmology?” Today’s New Reason to Believe (August 26, 2019), https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2019/08/26/does-the-bible-teach-big-bang-cosmology.
  2. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018): 59–61, https://shop.reasons.org/category/format/books/the-creator-and-the-cosmos-fourth-edition.
  3. V. Mossa et al., “The Baryon Density of the Universe from an Improved Rate of Deuterium Burning,” Nature 587 (November 11, 2020): 210–13, doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2878-4.
  4. Ryan J. Cooke, Max Pettini, and Charles C. Steidel, “One Percent Determination of the Primordial Deuterium Abundance,” Astrophysical Journal 855, no. 2 (March 10, 2018): id. 102, doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aaab53.
  5. Planck Collaboration: N. Aghanim et al., “Planck 2018 Results VBI. Cosmological Parameters,” Astronomy and Astrophysics 641 (September 2020): id. A6, p. 50, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201833910.
  6. Mossa et al., “The Baryon Density,” 210.
  7. Mossa et al., 211.

About The Author

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. I also am eager to equip Christians to engage, rather than withdraw from or attack, educated non-Christians. One of the approaches I’ve developed, with the help of my RTB colleagues, is a biblical creation model that is testable, falsifiable, and predictive. I enjoy constructively integrating all 66 books of the Bible with all the science disciplines as a way to discover and apply deeper truths. 1 Peter 3:15–16 sets my ministry goal, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience." Hugh Ross launched his career at age seven when he went to the library to find out why stars are hot. Physics and astronomy captured his curiosity and never let go. At age seventeen he became the youngest person ever to serve as director of observations for Vancouver's Royal Astronomical Society. With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, he completed his undergraduate degree in physics (University of British Columbia) and graduate degrees in astronomy (University of Toronto). The NRC also sent him to the United States for postdoctoral studies. At Caltech he researched quasi-stellar objects, or "quasars," some of the most distant and ancient objects in the universe. Not all of Hugh's discoveries involved astrophysics. Prompted by curiosity, he studied the world’s religions and "holy books" and found only one book that proved scientifically and historically accurate: the Bible. Hugh started at religious "ground zero" and through scientific and historical reality-testing became convinced that the Bible is truly the Word of God! When he went on to describe for others his journey to faith in Jesus Christ, he was surprised to discover how many people believed or disbelieved without checking the evidence. Hugh's unshakable confidence that God's revelations in Scripture and nature do not, will not, and cannot contradict became his unique message. Wholeheartedly encouraged by family and friends, communicating that message as broadly and clearly as possible became his mission. Thus, in 1986, he founded science-faith think tank Reasons to Believe (RTB). He and his colleagues at RTB keep tabs on the frontiers of research to share with scientists and nonscientists alike the thrilling news of what's being discovered and how it connects with biblical theology. In this realm, he has written many books, including: The Fingerprint of God, The Creator and the Cosmos, Beyond the Cosmos, A Matter of Days, Creation as Science, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, and More Than a Theory. Between writing books and articles, recording podcasts, and taking interviews, Hugh travels the world challenging students and faculty, churches and professional groups, to consider what they believe and why. He presents a persuasive case for Christianity without applying pressure. Because he treats people's questions and comments with respect, he is in great demand as a speaker and as a talk-radio and television guest. Having grown up amid the splendor of Canada's mountains, wildlife, and waterways, Hugh loves the outdoors. Hiking, trail running, and photography are among his favorite recreational pursuits - in addition to stargazing. Hugh lives in Southern California with his wife, Kathy, and two sons.



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