According to mainstream astronomers, 95% of the mass & energy of the Universe is undetectable! It seems that the theoretical need for dark matter was recognised in 1934 (see Wikipedia reference below), and the need for dark energy more recently. I am not a physicist, but as I understand it, the total observable mass in the universe to insufficient to account for the formation of galaxies through the action of gravity (even over the postulated 13 billion years of it’s existence). Nor is there an adequate explanation for how galaxies could be racing away from each other at increasing speeds, as measurements suggest they are.
For such reasons, mainstream astronomers have chosen to postulate an exotic new kind of mass and an exotic new kind of energy, which together account for 19 times more energy and mass than the regular, observable kind. They were called dark energy and dark matter precisely because they, by definition, are not observable by any means yet invented. Astronomers are looking for corroborating evidence of the hypothesised dark 95% of the Universe (and better ways to look for it), but so far they haven’t found any…
An alternative model of the galaxy formation (in which 95% of the Universe is not missing) is the Plasma Model. (see The Electric Sky ). This Plasma Model of galaxy formation might also account for much of what we see through our telescopes in ways that are much more consistent with a (very) young Universe, according to Barry Setterfield here. Setterfield’s work also suggests that the need to postulate dark energy really arises from assuming the cosmic redshift is caused by expansion of the universe – see here.
Of course, a billions-of-years scenario is much more consistent with the evolutionary schema of other sciences. I think this could be one reason why so many astronomers deduce that it is much better to look for a completely new form of energy and matter, than to divert their attention to the Plasma Model. Whilst, in my opinion, this is not necessarily good science, it is understandable – because astronomers, like all of us in every endeavor, must apply their knowledge through their faith in their rationally chosen model.
As I have argued here, a key difference between knowledge and faith is that knowledge applies to the past, whereas faith applies to the future. Astronomers have particular knowledge of the past in the form of observations which they interpret to indicate particular rates of movements of galaxies through space. Now they are proceeding with their knowledge into the future and exercising faith in their theories by going and looking for the missing 95% of the Universe.
And other considerations, not just objective logic, inevitably will colour the astronomers’ faith and decisions. For example, resistance to questioning long established theories may have some psychological, emotional and political motivations, including the scientists’ desires to be accepted by each other, and to receive funding via, mainstream academia. So here again, the astronomers with knowledge of how such (personal and political) factors have played out in the past in various ways with various people, then demonstrate their faith (their faith in their own understandings and in particular people and organisations) by the decisions they make about how to proceed into the future in their career. This is not cynicism, just realism. We live our lives not just by scientific and historico-legal knowledge but also by our own biases, examined and otherwise, which guide our present-day, future-oriented actions.
On Dark Energy and Dark Matter –
Links to Creationist websites