New Light on an Old Problem
=========================== by Alan Montgomery
The majority of scientists and most Christian scholars have become
convinced that the universe is a great age because of the time
necessary for light to travel from the furthest galaxies. Starlight
travels at 186,000 miles a second, or 299,792 km./sec. for those who
think metric. In one year it travels 6 trillion miles, that is, one
light-year; in 6000 years it travels 36 thousand trillion miles.
This is a drop in the bucket compared to the diameter of our own Milky
Way Galaxy which is 600 thousand trillion miles, or, distant galaxies
which are thought to be billions of trillions of miles away. Are
Biblical chronologies out by a million times? If not, how could light
have travelled such vast distances in only 6000 years?
Liberal theologians long ago surrendered Genesis as a naive
intrepretation of our scientifically primitive forefathers. They
relagated Genesis to myth and allegory, denying its historicity. Some
conservative Evangelicals have suggested that light was created at the
same time as the stars. This is, the light received from the stars
more than 6000 light-years away was created in-situ rather than
emitted from the star itself.
Anyone having a scientific training would have difficulty
accepting either point of view. Firstly, science is not in the
business of reinterpreting history. Its competence to remold Genesis
or any other historical document is virtually nil. History cannot be
reconstructed from scientific enquiry because the events are not
repeatable or testable. Secondly, the created-light idea has a
problem. An astronomer peers through his telescope at an exploding
star hundreds of thousands of light years away. Did the explosion
actually happen or was the explosion created "in transit" when God
created light? Can God author lightwaves with information about an
event which never occurred? This is not the problem of appearance of
age that comes from creating mature trees, animals and people. These
may appear old but God has corrected this false appearance by
revealing their creation. Rather, it is suggested that God created
the appearance of an exploding star about which he has left us
ingorant.
Many conservative Biblical scholars have shunned the "created
light" and yielded to an older universe by inserting a major time gap
between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 (usually known as the Gap theory). The
Gap theory seems attractive at first sight but from a textual point of
view it receives no support from any prominent Hebrew scholar.
Further, Dr. Chalmers, the Scottish theologian who promoted the Gap
theory in the nineteenth century, was responding to intellectual
pressure from the geologists who claimed that the Earth was far older
than implied by the Bible. It will be seen that there is little
difference between Chalmer's approach and the modernist liberal
response in respect to scientific enroachment on the interpretation of
Scripture. Since the alteration of the orthodox Biblical
interpretation has obvious flaws, why not examine the possibility that
conventional science is causing the difficulty?
An examination of the data on the speed of light reveals
information which not only solves Biblical problems but also many
astronomical difficulties. Let's look at an analogy:
Suppose we see a car travelling the expressway on Friday afternoon
of a holiday weekend - speed 5 m.p.h.! Next day, we find the same car
in a city 500 miles away. According to our observations, that car
should have taken 100 hours to get to that city. Why has it arrived
so early? The mistake was to assume a speed of 5 m.p.h. for the
entire 500 miles. Clearly, once beyond the crowded city limits, the
traffic picks up speed; our assumption, based upon a limited
observation, was incorrect. Likewise astronomers assume that the
speed of light has been constant throughout the entire time. Is it
possible that 'c' (the usual notation for the speed of light) was
faster during the past? - Yes, indeed!
Over 300 years ago, a Dutch astronomer named Romer employed an
elegantly simple method to measure 'c'. This depended upon knowing
the distance from Earth to Jupiter and timing the appearance of
Jupiter's moons. He concluded that light travelled at a finite speed,
which was a controversial notion in his day. Since that time more
sophisticated methods for measuring 'c' have been developed and we now
have published values from Romer's time to the present day. Using
today's more accurate data, we can redo Romer's calculation and obtain
a good value from his time. Including these recalculated values there
are a total of 52 reasonable accurate results obtained over the past
300 years.
Simple statistical tests can tell us if these 52 values represent
the measurement of a constant value. If 'c' is constant, the
statistical expectation for 52 measurements is that 26 should have
random errors giving higher values than the true value while the
remaining 26 should have lower values. That is, random errors should
divide the results equally between those higher and those lower than
the accepted value. Further, for any two consecutively determined
values there will be either an increase (the second value being higher
than the first), or, a decrease (the second value being lower than the
first). That is, there is a 50/50 chance of an increase or a
decrease. Let us see what the actual results show:
Between 1650 and 1960 there are 42 values or 41 consecutive pairs
of determinations. Instead of the expected 20 or 21 decreases and a
corresponding number of increases, we actually find 29 decreases. But
this is a chance occurence of only 1 in a 100. Between 1650 and 1940
there are 17 consecutive pairs of determinations; instead of the
expected 8 or 9 decreases there are actually 16 - a chance occurrence
of 1 in a 1000.
For all 52 values (1), we find not 26 but 40 values higher than the
textbook value. This occurs by chance 1 time in 20,000. Plainly,
these results do not fit the asssumption that 'c' is a constant.
Statistically, we would say the hypothesis "c is a constant" fails at
the 99.99% confidence level. In addition, the average of the 52 value
is 299,874 km./sec. this is over 80 km./sec. above the accepted value
of 299,792 km./sec. This is hightly improbable. The statistical
evidence is plain, 'c' has not been constant throught time but has
been decreasing at least until the late 1950's.
This phenomenon was first noticed by astronomers in the late
1920's and early 1930's, led by Gheury de Bray (2-6). Checks for
equipment problems and systematic errors discovered nothing which
could account for the overall trend (7). But the confirming results
of the 1930's were offset by equipment changes following World War II
and an apparent stabilizing of the values of 'c'. Combined with the
failure to produce a theoretical basis for decreasing 'c' and,
opposition by certain authorities in the scientific community, further
interest in the relationship between 'c' and time ceased.
In 1981, Barry Setterfield, a young Australian astronomer, gathered
and analyzed all the available data on 'c'. To his amazement he
discovered not only the systematic decrease of 'c' with time, but also
that the best mathematical relationship to fit the data was a
trigonometric formula:
2
c(t)=299.792 cosec (0.015)t
where t=time in years since creation
This trigonometric formula spanned a mere 6000 years! The speed
of light has evidently decreased from a value over 500 billion times
the present speed to its value today in just 6000 years. The total
distance travelled is in the billions of light years. The discovery
of this formula has reduced the transit time of light travelling
across the universe to 6000 years like the car in rush hour in our
analogy.
Using Setterfield's formula to calculate the speed of light over
the unobserved past reduces the overall time so that the origin of the
Universe is close to 4175 B.C. Since then, a derivation of this
formula has been found using conventional physics, thus establishing a
theoretical basis for Setterfield's discovery. The theoretical values
for Setterfield's curve are within 1% of those produced by his
empirical analysis! The theoretical origin of the curve is at 4008
B.C. But there is more.
Plank's number 'h', inertial mass 'm', gyromagnetic ratio 'G' and
the radioactive decay constants are all related to 'c' i.e. all these
'constants' must change with time as 'c' changes. A statistical
analysis of the historically published data (8) confirms that the
first three are indeed changing with respect to time and in the
appropriate direction. The published values for the decay constants
are unfortunately too inaccurate to be analyzed. This type of
confirmation of the theory is most convincing since these measurements
are independant of any equipment of systematic errors involved in the
measurement of 'c'.
Setterfield's theory also provides a solution to the apparent
problem creationists have with radiometric dating. Dating techniques
involving potassuim/argon, uranium/lead and strontium/rubidium have
been used to calculate the age of rock samples assuming that the rate
of radioactive decay has been constant. Accepted theoretical physics
state the 'c' and the radioactive decay rates are directly
proportional. Thus, when 'c' had twice its present value in the past,
the radioactive decay rates were also at twice their present value.
Further, the relationship of the decay rates to time also follows the
same trigonometric function as 'c' and with the same time-shortening
result. Radioactive decay calculations under Setterfield's theory
reduce billions of years to a mear 6000 years This is because the
decay rates were greater during the unobserved early period. This
revolutionary new insight has immediately solved at one stroke two
major problems for the Creationist.
One more point about this theory. A key characteristic of any
good scientific theory is that it solves dilemmas and problems that
its forerunners failed to explain. Setterfield's theory helps to
explain the lack of solar neutrinos and the large red-shift between
closely related members of the same galactic cluster. Once the dogma
of the millions of years is abandoned, other mysteries begin to be
resolved: the fact that no Supernova Remnants older than 7000 years
can be found, or the fact that spiral galaxy arms exist when they
should have completely unwound long ago and not now appear as a
spiral, is no longer surprising.
Altogether, the statistical denial of the constantcy of 'c', the
close correlation of empirical and theoretical data, the corresponding
correlation of other physical quantities and the resolution of
problems not solved by the current theory, form a formidible
combination not easily undone. This would seem to be an impressive
set of accomplishments for any scientist. Can one simple scientific
assumption radically alter the dimensions of the age of the universe,
eradicate the 'Big Bang', sink the Nebular hypothesis, undermine
geological Uniformitarianism, and destroy Darwinism all at the same
time? Such a radical scientific revolution from such a simple change
ought to open wide the eyes of Christians and particularly those of
our own theological scholars.
Too often the assertions of scientists have impinged on Biblical
jurisdiction without appropriate challenge. Entire theologies have
been devised to accomodate their ideas, generations of Christians
with no rational defense have been mocked and ridiculed for failing to
conform and progress toward Christian unity has disintegrated.
Measured in these terms, the body of Christ has suffered severely at
their hands and we are all too aware of the denominational divisions.
The Church could have avoided many of these splits had they not
tried to compromise over the issue of the age of the cosmos. Now with
Setterfield's theory available, would it be too simplistic to suggest
that the Church has within its grasp a tool to reunite?
Realistically, it should be easier for theologians to accept a
decreasing value of 'c' value than for the scientist who would be
faced with a major revolution in thinking. Predictably the scientific
community will only slowly and partially accept Setterfield's theory.
Perhaps the theologians, particularly the modernists, should take the
lead in this instance and who knows, maybe scientists would follow?
REFERENCES
1. Taylor,I. 1984. In the Minds of Men. Toronto: TFE Pub.p.434
(189 left) More: (Enter) or (Y)es, (N)o, (F)lag, (NS)non-stop?
2. Gheury, de Bray. 1927. Nature. Vol 120.p.603
3. Gheury, de Bray. 1934. Nature. Vol 133.p.464
4. Birge, R.T. 1934. Nature. Vol.134.p.771
5. Edmonson, S.K. 1934. Nature. Vol.133.p.759
6. Editor's column 1927. Science. Vol.66.p.x (Supplement)
7. Setterfield, B. 1983. The Velocity of Light & the Age of the
Universe. Australia: CSA Inc. Monograph.
8. Taylor. Ibid.p.435-6
CREATION SCIENCE No. 4 Summer 1987
Association of Ontario
P.O. Box 821, Station A,
Scarborough, Ontario M1K 5C8