I have a question, but I strongly suspect that the answer to my question

is going to be that my understanding is not correct. So I will pre-empt this

objection by first making sure that my understanding is correct.

My Understanding Is:

In mathematics, a guess is called a conjecture or a hypothesis depending

on how likely we feel the guess is to be true; so we have the Taniyama-

Shimura Conjecture, and the Riemann Hypothesis. When a guess is

proven to be true it is called a theory or a theorem; so we have Tunnell's

Theorem, Fermat's Little Theorem, etc. which are things that maths has

proven to be true.

In Science, a guess is called a theory, and if we can prove it is true it is

elevated to the level of a Law; so we have Newton's Laws of motion, but

Einstein's Theory of Relativity. I do not say this in a derogatory way, and

am not implying that in science a theory is necessarily any less valid, I

simply point out the essential difference between those things we know

are true, and those things we think are true.

So in science a theory can be thought of as a model that helps us to

explain our observations of the real world. We might in time alter the

model to allow for new observations, or we might throw it away all

together and replace it with a new theory. But, and this is important, a

theory is not necessarily supposed to be an exact representation of the

observation it is modelling; I can't believe that anyone thinks that

molecules actually look like those multi-coloured mobiles that hang from

science classrooms all over the world, they are just models to aid our

understanding.

My Understanding Is:

There is a fundamental question about the Universe concerning the fact

that it is observed to be homogeneous, at an electro-magnetic level,

despite the fact that parts of it are so far apart that they cannot possibly

have been in contact with each other at any time in the past. Stephen

Hawking has called this the electro-magnetic horizon paradox. Then in

1981 Alan Guth came up with a theory to explain this paradox. The theory

of inflation says that shortly after the big bang the universe went into a

phase of hyper-inflation that allowed parts of the universe to be further

apart than time and the speed of light would indicate they could be. Wind

the clock forward a quarter of a century and inflation is now widely

believed to be the answer to this fundamental question.

However, there is little if any direct evidence that inflation actually

happened; observations of the CMB are consistent with the idea of

inflation, but that doesn't mean it actually happened. There is also no

known mechanism that could have caused inflation to occur, no

conceivable experiment that can demonstrate that it occurred and not a

shred of evidence that it actually happened. Oh yes, the universe is flat, I

concede that much, and inflation would have turned a wrinkled universe

into a flat one, but that doesn't prove that inflation is the reason the

universe is flat.

If we can agree that what I have said above is fundamentally correct, I

will proceed to ask my question.