July 7, 2024 spike

James Webb Space Telescope: new discoveries create more problems for secular origin theories

The JWST is the most powerful and most technologically innovative optical instrument ever created by mankind. And for more than two years, scientists have used it to observe and gather astronomical data with unprecedented detail, clarity, and precision.

Its observational targets have ranged from planets within our Solar System, all the way out into deep extragalactic (“outside our galaxy”) space. It has enabled scientists to look farther out into the Universe than was ever possible before.

And as it has continued to gather more data, it has revealed more problems for secular (i.e., non-Creationary) origin theories for our Universe.

The most recent issue is a galaxy named JADES-GS-z14-0. It is the latest addition to a long list of galaxies that the Big Bang model says shouldn’t exist, but that do exist nevertheless.

Before discussing this specific discovery, we need some context.

Galaxies that shouldn’t exist

The problems actually began a couple of decades before the JWST was even launched.

Back in the early 2000s, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was being used to probe deep extragalactic space, out to the limits of its capabilities. Its observations revealed massive, mature galaxies that shouldn’t exist, according to the Big Bang model.

If you use a Big Bang worldview to interpret astronomical data, there is a quantifiable relationship between distance and age. As we look further into the cosmos, we would be seeing light that was emitted farther back in the past. Using this interpretation, looking deeper into the Universe is the equivalent of looking back in time.

This becomes important when considering the question of origins. The most popular secular cosmological model says that there was a Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago. But this Bang was not capable of producing the contents of today’s Universe. Instead, it produced only energy. Later, this energy condensed into matter. Later still, this matter gathered together into stars and galaxies.

In the early 2000s, secular astronomers had created models for how all of this supposedly happened. Their calculations showed that galaxies would need at least three (and possibly up to six) billion years to form.

This had an exciting implication. If we could observe the distant cosmos—out beyond 11 billion light years or so (because 14-3=11)—the secular model said we could see the earliest stages of galaxy formation. We could see the very beginnings of the Universe we know today, as galaxies were just beginning to form.

Problem: the Hubble was indeed capable of seeing out to these distances. But as scientists used it to observe farther and farther distances, the observations didn’t match secular expectations.

Instead, the HST showed that the deep cosmos, even as far out as 13 billion light years, is populated with lots and lots of galaxies. And many of them are quite mature.

This became known as the “early mature galaxy” problem. Some secular scientists even called it the “impossible early galaxy” problem. Hubble was showing lots of distant mature galaxies, which the Big Bang model said shouldn’t exist.

This was the situation when JWST launched. And the new telescope didn’t make the situation any better.

Instead, it has contradicted Big Bang expectations even more than Hubble did.

JWST: Making the problem worse

The James Webb has compounded the problems for the secular model in several ways. (I wrote about these extensively in a previous article about the JWST.)

One of them is the continual observational push into greater distances. As the telescope has looked deeper and deeper into the cosmos, we continue to discover galaxies in these previously unexplored regions.

One recent discovery has set a new record: the farthest object ever observed.

JADES-GS-z14-0: Setting a new record for the farthest galaxy

The photo at the beginning of this article shows JADES-GS-z14-0, which was recently confirmed as being the most distant galaxy ever seen. (Its unusual name is derived from the JADE Survey: JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey.)

This galaxy has a redshift of 14.32, which (from a Big Bang perspective) means we’re seeing the galaxy as it was a mere 290 million years after the Big Bang.

Remember, galaxies supposedly needed at least three billion years to form. But here is a fully mature galaxy, only 290 million (i.e., 0.29 billion) years after the alleged Big Bang.

So, JWST is showing us a galaxy that existed 2.7 billion years before galaxies were supposed to be possible.

But wait, it gets better. Given its distance, this galaxy is unexpectedly luminous (bright). This implies that it is remarkably massive—apparently its combined mass of stars is hundreds of millions of times the mass of our Sun!

But massive galaxies take a long time to form. As one secular scientist asked: “How can nature make such a bright, massive, and large galaxy in less than 300 million years?”1

Further, the galaxy’s light is redder than expected, apparently because of dust (small particles made of heavier elements). But dust cannot be the direct product of a Big Bang. It can only be manufactured inside of stars, which then need to explode and “seed” the surrounding medium, from which new stars form, grow, and explode, in a cyclical process where the amount of dust gradually builds up.

In other words, the dust implies that multiple generations of stars have already come and gone by this time.

Along with the dust, scientists detected evidence for oxygen in this galaxy’s emissions. And oxygen too, according to the Big Bang model, requires many previous generations of stars in order for us to observe it here.

We see then that this galaxy’s existence, supposedly a mere 290 million years after the Big Bang, isn’t even the worst problem that it creates. It’s fully mature, so clearly it had formed even earlier than that.

And the other observations imply that countless numbers of very massive stars were born, existed, and died, generation after generation, before this time as well—at a time when the Big Bang model says none of this could be happening.

Nor is this an isolated example. JADES-GS-z14-0 is only the latest of numerous discoveries like this, and it just pushes back the boundary a bit further than before. We can expect more examples like this one, as the JWST is used to peer even deeper into the cosmos.

The secular model has long since run out of time in which to manufacture anything.2 A few hundred million years is grossly inadequate to explain multiple generations of stars, never mind fully mature and massive galaxies.

(Personally, I’m expecting secular scientists to start “re-calibrating” the Big Bang model, to push it back farther in time. Today they claim that 13.8 billion years is a very precise and very accurate age for the Universe, but I expect that it will get thrown under the bus anyway. I don’t see any other way for them to escape the growing weight of new discoveries that contradict their model.)

The JWST is a great example of why creationists enjoy, and heartily endorse, the pursuit of science. When science is correctly performed, it will lead to truth and thus will discredit incorrect hypotheses, including secular origin models like the Big Bang.

Truly, the heavens declare the glory of God. Personally, I’m thankful to live in an era when instruments such as JWST allow us to appreciate the Lord’s glory in ways no human could do before.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, B. Robertson (UC Santa Cruz), B. Johnson (CfA), S. Tacchella (Cambridge), P. Cargile (CfA)


  1. https://webbtelescope.org/contents/early-highlights/nasas-james-webb-space-telescope-finds-most-distant-known-galaxy ↩︎
  2. This is not to say that secular star formation and galaxy formation theories work well—they don’t—but that’s a different subject. ↩︎