black_holeBreaking News: After a 16-year study of the center of the Milky Way (galaxy, not candy bar) scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) have determined that there is a massive black-hole around which several other stars are orbiting. With careful measurement and meticulous tracking, these astronomers have been able to measure the movements of 28 stars over the 16-year period. Based on their measurements, they have identified a black hole that is influencing the movements of the other stars. Even though the black hole, called Sagittarius A* (A-star), cannot actually be seen, its existence can be proven based on the evidence of those surrounding stars.

Reinhard Genzel of MPE states:

Undoubtedly the most spectacular aspect of our long term study is that it has delivered what is now considered to be the best empirical evidence that supermassive black holes do really exist. The stellar orbits in the galactic centre show that the central mass concentration of four million solar masses must be a black hole, beyond any reasonable doubt.

Really? I am not a scientist, and don’t pretend to know everything about how they’ve come to their conclusions. I am also not here to dispute their findings in any way.

This really sounds like a statement of faith to me. So they cannot actually see the thing, right? So the only way that they know it is there is by the effect that it has on its surroundings, right? They can measure other things, and say with a certainty that something that they’ve never been actually able to prove the existence of is there, right? Doesn’t this sound an awful lot like faith? Atheists will try to back believers into a corner by looking for ’empirical evidence’ and then ridicule them (us) for not being able to provide it. But isn’t that what is happening here?

Like I said, I am not trying to say that the black hole doesn’t exist. I am simply asking for a consistency in standards. Does evidence count even if it is only the evidence of the presence (or lack thereof) of God? If not, then can we please apply the same standards across all of science? Because according to the “lack of evidence” atheists label Christians as needy people who believe in fairy tales. But if we apply the same standard to this study of black holes, then wouldn’t we have to label scientists as psychos that believe that there are giant, invisible space blobs out there that suck everything into them?

I certainly could be off on my thinking here, so if you have any opinions or thoughts either way, then please feel free to share them…

the science of black holes

by Dan King time to read: 2 min