Different issue entirely. What happened during the opening epoch of the Big Bang is definitely controversial in science;
***OK, sounds like a good place to start for someone like me who is saying that it sure looks like a scientific controversy.
there are ideas all over the map on this one. But 1-2 orders of magnitude younger? That's not really possible, given the constancy of light observed over the order of billions of years.
***I've really got a problem with this statement because we have not been around long enough to observe such constancy, we can only postulate that it has been constant. But now even that postulation is demonstrably untrue if we know that the fine structure constant has changed, so we are now in a position of trying to figure out how much it affects the origins hypotheses. That is another area where I see scientific controversy. Keep in mind that Feynman got his Nobel Prize in this kind of area, and a considerable measure of it was from NOT agreeing to what other scientists had to say when they were taking points from the far end of the curve (scientifically questionable to begin with), which is similar to where the controversy is today.
I've heard hypotheses that the speed of light may have been radically different at the opening instant of the universe, but in order for observations we see to hold true, it had to have "leveled off" fairly quickly.
***Yep, it looks like science is going to have to get some more data on this topic. In the meantime, does that mean that there is a scientific controversy or is there not one?
Why is this such a big deal? Einsteins Theory of Relativity would be wrong....."Wrong" is kind of a misnomer; ...
***I am afraid that I might not have made myself clear at this point in my post, but I was quoting from the various websites to show that there was a scientific controversy in progress. I don't necessarily agree with what those folks said (mostly I do, but perhaps not in such magnitude). If you would like me to comment on your comments, let me know. I see a lot that I agree with in what you said.
Keeping in mind that I am studying to become a physicist, but not specifically a cosmologist (though I have had some graduate course-level work on the subject), I can only tell you with certainty that there is no real controversy over the issue that the speed of light has been very close to constant over most of the age of the universe, but at the instant of the Big Bang (i.e. the inflationary epoch) it may have been (or may not have been) quite different. There is little controversy over whether or not the Big Bang actually happened; as we literally see the "afterglow" (i.e. cosmic background radiation); we see the kinetic expansion (i.e. cosmic expansion/galactic redshift); and the nuclear synthesis models of the Big Bang give the correct ratio of hydrogen<->helium observed in the universe; no other model explains these things correctly. As you point out, the model is not perfect; the debates are fierce as to what occurred during the opening moments of the Big Bang, and perhaps the further-reaching consequences of General Relativity (i.e. the dark energy problem you pointed out earlier).
As far as the total age of the universe goes, you point out, basically, that we can't know because we haven't been around long enough to know. I won't try to argue with that (you really can't!) However, what we do see is a universe with the appearance of great age; for the speed of light to have varied by "orders of magnitude", a lot of observations would have to have "conspired" to produce the difference. Could one produce a model that could explain a young universe? It may be possible, but such a model would be enormously more complicated than the one we work with. In science, the simplest model prevails, even though the "simplest" model may still be complex indeed.
What did God really do to make the universe? I don't know. No one really does. All we mere humans can do is create models to explain natural cause and effect - that is what science is all about. "Belief" in a scientific model is inconsequential, IMHO; it just has to work to empirically explain observations. If people could realize this, I think much of the debate between science and religion could be peacefully resolved.