Testing theories

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Martin Blackshaw (Letters, 15 December) does not seem to understand the difference between the Big Bang and nuclear explosions.

The latter create energy from matter. The Big Bang did the 
opposite about 13.8 thousand million years ago, thus no humans have direct experience of it.

To which “established scientific principles” does Mr Blackshaw consider the Big Bang contrary? These “principles” are subject to constant change in the light of new evidence.

The Big Bang theory itself 
illustrates this. In 1927 the Belgian priest Georges Lemaître put forward a hypothesis that the universe had expanded from what he called the “Primeval Atom”.

It was confirmed in 1929 by astronomer Edwin Hubble, who measured the Doppler shift in the light from distant galaxies, and concluded they were all receding from us.

Extrapolating backwards suggests that at some past time the entire cosmos occupied an infinitesimally small volume of space. The Big Bang eventually ousted the Steady State theory championed, amongst others, by British cosmologist Fred Hoyle.

Further support emerged in the 1960s from the accidental discovery by American radio astronomers Arnio Penzias Robert Wilson of the Cosmic Microwave Background, which had been predicted theoretically by the Big Bang.

This is how science works – as new theories and evidence emerge, they are tested, and revised or discarded. Big Bang has been fairly successful, but has recently come under challenge from some scientists.

Mr Blackshaw may derive comfort from ancient texts written by humans before they had evolved any tools capable of observing the universe. That is his prerogative.

To accuse those who disregard such texts of “troubled consciences” is just bizarre. There is no evidence that a “creator” exists. I’m a devout atheist.

CHILTON INGLIS

Wilton Street

Glasgow

I would fight for the right of Christians to practice most of their beliefs, but even the most staunchly religious among them must know deep down that it would be perfectly acceptable to regard certain aspects of the Bible as helpful moral guidlines rather than hard-and-fast rules.

Angela Innes

Dundas Street

Edinburgh