How The Discovery Of The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation Falsified Atheism

By Wintery Knight

Prior to certain scientific discoveries, most people thought that the universe had always been here, and no need to ask who or what may have caused it. But today, that’s all changed. Today, the standard model of the origin of the universe is that all the matter and energy in the universe came into being in an event scientists call “The Big Bang”. At the creation event, space and time themselves began to exist, and there is no material reality that preceded them.

So a couple of quotes to show that.

An initial cosmological singularity… forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity… On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself.

Source: P. C. W. Davies, “Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology,” in The Study of Time III, ed. J. T. Fraser (Berlin: Springer Verlag ).

And another quote:

[A]lmost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.

Source: Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time, The Isaac Newton Institute Series of Lectures (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 20.

So, there are several scientific discoveries that led scientists to accept the creation event, and one of the most interesting and famous is the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Here’s the history of how that discovery happened, from the American Physical Society web site:

Bell Labs radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were using a large horn antenna in 1964 and 1965 to map signals from the Milky Way, when they serendipitously discovered the CMB. As written in the citation, “This unexpected discovery, offering strong evidence that the universe began with the Big Bang, ushered in experimental cosmology.” Penzias and Wilson shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978 in honor of their findings.

The CMB is “noise” leftover from the creation of the Universe. The microwave radiation is only 3 degrees above Absolute Zero or -270 degrees C,1 and is uniformly perceptible from all directions. Its presence demonstrates that that our universe began in an extremely hot and violent explosion, called the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.

In 1960, Bell Labs built a 20-foot horn-shaped antenna in Holmdel, NJ to be used with an early satellite system called Echo. The intention was to collect and amplify radio signals to send them across long distances, but within a few years, another satellite was launched and Echo became obsolete.2

With the antenna no longer tied to commercial applications, it was now free for research. Penzias and Wilson jumped at the chance to use it to analyze radio signals from the spaces between galaxies.3 But when they began to employ it, they encountered a persistent “noise” of microwaves that came from every direction. If they were to conduct experiments with the antenna, they would have to find a way to remove the static.

Penzias and Wilson tested everything they could think of to rule out the source of the radiation racket. They knew it wasn’t radiation from the Milky Way or extraterrestrial radio sources. They pointed the antenna towards New York City to rule out “urban interference”, and did analysis to dismiss possible military testing from their list.4

Then they found droppings of pigeons nesting in the antenna. They cleaned out the mess and tried removing the birds and discouraging them from roosting, but they kept flying back. “To get rid of them, we finally found the most humane thing was to get a shot gun…and at very close range [we] just killed them instantly. It’s not something I’m happy about, but that seemed like the only way out of our dilemma,” said Penzias.5 “And so the pigeons left with a smaller bang, but the noise remained, coming from every direction.”6

At the same time, the two astronomers learned that Princeton University physicist Robert Dicke had predicted that if the Big Bang had occurred, there would be low level radiation found throughout the universe. Dicke was about to design an experiment to test this hypothesis when he was contacted by Penzias. Upon hearing of Penzias’ and Wilson’s discovery, Dicke turned to his laboratory colleagues and said “well boys, we’ve been scooped.”7

Although both groups published their results in Astrophysical Journal Letters, only Penzias and Wilson received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the CMB.

The horn antenna was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990. Its significance in fostering a new appreciation for the field of cosmology and a better understanding of our origins can be summed up by the following: “Scientists have labeled the discovery [of the CMB] the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century.”8

It’s the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century.

In the New York Times, Arno Penzias commented on his discovery – the greatest discovery of the 20th century – so:

The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.

Just one problem with the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century: atheists don’t accept it. Why not?

Here’s a statement from the Secular Humanist Manifesto, which explains what atheists believe about the universe:

Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.

For a couple of examples of how atheistic scientists respond to the evidence for a cosmic beginning, you can check out this post, where we get responses from cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, and physical chemist Peter Atkins.

You cannot have the creation of the universe be true AND a self-existing, eternal universe ALSO be true. Someone has to be wrong. Either the science is wrong, or the atheist manifesto [atheism] is wrong. I know where I stand.


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8 replies
  1. Andy Ryan says:

    “Just one problem with the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century: atheists don’t accept it”

    This article is somewhat contradictory! You cite Stephen Hawking – an atheist – as an expert on evidence for the Big Bang, and then claim atheists don’t accept it! Which is it?

    And what is the cite for ‘atheists don’t accept it’? A 1973 statement from a handful of ‘religious humanists’. How many atheists describe themselves as ‘religious’? And what does this statement actually reject? That the universe doesn’t have a creator, which isn’t required by the Big Bang anyway. They accept The Big Bang, which is in fact rejected by many theists, they just disagree with you on whether it required a God to set it off.

    “You cannot have the creation of the universe be true AND a self-existing, eternal universe ALSO be true. Someone has to be wrong. I know where I stand”

    So you’re saying that either Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss and Peter Atkins – renowned experts in cosmology – don’t understand the science, or Wintery Knight doesn’t understand it. I know where I stand too.

  2. TGM says:

    “It’s the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century.”

    Really? I don’t think it’s even the greatest discovery of the second half of the 20th century. Consider just a few discoveries: relativity (00s), quantum mechanics (20s), structure of DNA (50s), the polio vaccine (50s). And, oh yeah… penicillin (20s)! Each of these is tremendously more vital to our existence than the BBT. And that’s just a few. I’d go on, but you can read for yourself (

    Anyway… Andy already beat me to the good objections.

  3. Luke says:

    Stephen Hawking has his own model of the universe that is a rival to the standard big bang model.

    One wonders if our dear author is intentionally trying to mislead, or innocently confused. Does Dr. Hawking, according to the author deny the claims this article ascribes to Big Bang cosmology (i.e. time and space had a beginning)? If so, the author is confused. If not, the author is trying to mislead.

    Some quotes from Dr. Hawking:

    “The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago. The beginning of real time, would have been a singularity, at which the laws of physics would have broken down.” (from “The Beginning of Time” a lecture available on Dr. Hawking’s website)

    Here’s another, I won’t look far, just in the author’s own article (as already noted by a previous commenter).

    “[A]lmost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.” (op. cit.)

    Do these honestly sound like the words of a man who does not believe the Big Bang occurred? Wintery Knight is either confused enough to to think so, or thinks he can mislead you into thinking so. I’m not sure either option does much for the author’s credibility.

    If a different option I have failed to think of appears, I will be glad to apologize for my remarks.



    • Mark says:

      I think that at the very least, the Secular Humanist Manifesto needs to be rewritten, seeing as how virtually all scientists (atheist or not) now agree with the Standard Big Bang model: namely that the universe began to exist, in a flash of light and energy some 13.8 billion years ago, and is therefore NOT “eternal and self-exisitng.” The question is, what caused it? The multiverse (Many Worlds Theory) seems to be most in vogue among secular scientists these days.

  4. TlalocW says:

    So you have the prevailing theory of where our current universe comes from along with a quote from a religious scientist (of which there are plenty) that indicates he feels the discovery justifies his faith (proving is another matter), and you’re comparing it to a single statement from one group of atheists and declaring some sort of victory? Are you paid for writing stuff like this?

  5. Danny says:

    The article is referring to ” some ” Atheists not all of them. But even those who do believe in the creation event deny that it was created by a Creator which is what is contradictory. It could have said ” some atheists” instead of using atheists as a whole, I agree with that. I believe some of you know what the article was trying to say but just found it as an issue or loop- hole to call it out on something you know better than to assume. But yes all those other discoveries are big discoveries and to our care as human beings but they do not answer the question ” Where did we come from?”. Either we are just molecular moist robots dancing to the music of our DNA in an unguided direction with no cause for meaning or reason. Or we are created beings made in the image of a Higher Powerful, Intelegent, Moral and Personal Creator who is the author of life itself and the existence of the Universe? You can deny it all you want but it will never go away. Only more evidence will surface and the many other sources throuout history, archeology, philosophy etc. will be there to back it up. All the evidence points to Creation which calls for a Creator, a Personal Cause, GOD, not Evolution or any other means of origin. I’m following the evidence where it leads. And I’m not Christian because it works for me. I’m a Christian because it’s true.


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