Reality conspired to shoot down the atheists. What happened? There was a fantastic interplay between theory and observation [data collection]. Let me give you my summary of the critical events. I do so in two fonts with a common time scale. The bold font sets forth the theoretical advances; the italic font sets forth the observations that confirmed/advanced the theoretical concepts. Together, this will give us the data to prove the existence of God. Here it is:
1905 Einstein publishes the Special theory: e=mc^2 is born.
1908 Ms. N. S. Leavitt discovers the relationship of period:luminosity for Cepheid stars and begins to study it.
1912 She publishes her results and the ‘standard candle’ is born.
1912 V. Slipher observes a “Milky Way nebula’s” ‘red shift’.
1915 Einstein publishes the General Theory of Relativity.
1919 Eddington, during a solar eclipse, confirms the GTR’s prediction of the amount of gravitational bending of light by the sun and publishes it. [This also acquaints the world with the GTR which, since it was published during WWI, was mostly unknown.]
1927 Lemaitre solves the GTR equations showing an expanding universe and realizes it means the universe had a beginning which he labels ‘the primary atom’ and promotes his findings.
1928 Hubble uses the Cepheid data to prove that the so-called Andromeda ‘nebula’ is in fact a galaxy beyond the Milky Way [UP TO THAT TIME, science believed the Milky Way galaxy was the whole universe]. He then uses de Slipher’s discovery of the red shift to confirm that the universe is expanding and defines the Hubble constant [the rate of expansion] and the world recognizes [Hubble never does] that the inverse of the Hubble constant is the age of the universe. This confirms Lemaitre’s prediction. The impact is lessened, however, because Hubble’s first estimate of the Hubble constant is 500 [6 to 7 times too large, right?] so it predicts an age of the universe of only 2 billion years; at that time the earth is known to be over 3 billion years old.
1935 Hubble’s proof that the Andromeda ‘nebula’ is in fact a galaxy is accepted by mainstream science, and, by that time, Hubble has found many more galaxies so that the universe is 1,000 [a million? a billion?] times bigger than ever imagined.
1937 through 1947: World War II virtually shuts down this area of scientific inquiry.
1948 Gamow improves Lemaitre’s criticized model; he predicts the CMB and the fusion of H:He nuclei.
1948 Hoyle advocates the ‘steady state’ model.
1948 On radio, Hoyle sarcastically dubs the Lemaitre/Gamow model the ‘Big Bang’.
1949 Hoyle again uses ‘big bang’; this radio station publishes transcripts.
1950 The phrase ‘big bang’ first appears in print.
1951 Pope Pius XII accepts the Big Bang theory on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.
1965 Penzias & Wilson accidentally discover the CMB; mainstream science joins Pope Pius XII and accepts the Big Bang. [Today, of course, P&W’s work has been confirmed a billion fold, each, by COBE and WMAP.]
TODAY: The Big Bang is no longer a theory; it’s the truth.
That’s the data. Next time we’ll talk about how the bet came to be and how the data resolves the bet against atheists [and agnostics, naturalists, etc.].