Questioning Cosmological Superstition:
Separating science from myth in our theory of the universe
by Rich Halvorson
Abstract—For decades the two aspects of the cosmological principle, isotropy and homogeneity, have been held as inseparable and invaluable foundations for cosmology. As observational evidence has improved, however, it offers empirical support only for the claim of isotropy, and continues to disprove homogeneity even at large multi-galactic scales. In examining the origins of the two principles, we note that isotropy was an ingenious insight that managed to connect a few disparate data points into a helpful and accurate theory. Homogeneity, on the other hand, was considered a necessary correlate to isotropy not for any scientific reason, but because it seemed necessary to make isotropy compatible with a secular view of the universe. As such, homogeneity became a founding principle of cosmology not for scientific merit but as a philosophical perspective preferred by some scientists. This essay argues that this has proven to be unhelpful—and even an outright hindrance—to the advance of cosmological theory. As Stephen Hawking admits, a similar secular bias kept scientists from accepting the big bang theory in spite of much evidence. And, as this paper argues, cosmology may be suffering from yet another case of myth hindering science.
Back to PCID Volume 4.1, July 2005