Monday, May 29, 2006

Is the Speed of Light Changing?: Part 2

This is part two of my posts of what my systematic theology I professor [Dr.Douglas F. Kelly] wrote in a book called Creation and Change: Genesis 1:1-2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms.

These quotes are pretty interesting! Check it out...
Quote V: "The speed of light (c) is generally accepted as being 299, 792.458 kilometers per second. A 'light year' is the distance light travels in a year. Thus a star might come into being a million years away from earth but could not actually be observed until a million years later because it would take that long for the starlight to reach the earth from outer space. If this is the case, then the solar system would have to be immensely older than the few thousand years indicated by the Genesis chronologies. This fact would seem to remove the biblical chronology from serious consideration in constructing a scientifically valid world picture.

But there are weighty reasons - empirically based - not to be hasty in drawing such a conclusion. For a number of physicists who hold the chronological validity of the Genesis genealogies (and thus to a young earth) have proposed alternative models that maintain a recent creation and, at the same time, accept the correctness of Einstein's General and Special Theories of Relativity, which give central emphasis to the significance of the speed of light. Of several proposals that have been made, we shall mention only two [I'm only postin one] as meriting serious consideration in this chapter.

First, arguments that the speed of light has been slowing down (and thus traveled much more rapidly in the past), if correct, would indicate a very young universe, in terms of thousands rather than billions of years. This matter has been debated since the 1980s. Barry Setterfield, an Australian scientist, proposed the decay in the speed of light in The Veolocity of Light and the Age of the Universe. According to Setterfield, the first careful measurement of the speed of light was made by a Danish astronomer, Bradley, in 1728. It has been measured many times since then, and is said to have reached an equilibrium of 299,792.458 kilometers per second by 1960 (since which time atomic clocks have been used).

These date indicate that the speed of light in 1675 was around 2.6% higher than today, and that it continued to decline until 1960 (when atomic clocks began to be employed). Setterfield charted a rate of about 5.7 kilometers decrease in velocity per second between 1675 and 1728 and 2.5 kilometers per second decrease between 1880 and 1924, etc. He then worked out a curve (a log sine curve) tracing the decary of the velocity of light. He postulates that at the time of creation the speed of light was 5 x 10[to the eleventh power] faster than now, so that light once traveled about seven million times faster than it does at present. On this basis, Setterfield figures that the earth was created about 4040 B.C., plus or minus one hundred years.

If he is correct, then previous measurements of light speed (which assume that it has never changed its rate) would yield a date vastly too old for the solar system, rather like the difference in speed and time between a man sailing in a small craft to London to New York, and flying there in the Concorde. If one measured the time it took to cross the Atlantic to New York in a slow boat (comparable to the speed of light at present, according to Setterfield), it would require much longer than flying in the supersonic Concorde (comparable to the speed of light at the time of creation). Hence, to continue the illustration, previous measurements of the vast age of the universe are said to be immensely too long because they have been charted at 'boat speed' rather than 'jet speed' ([Kelly's] analogy; not Setterfield's). Therefore, to the point of this chapter, if the speed of light has indeed decayed in terms of Settefield's charts, , then the most basic empirical measurement of the age of the solar system would fit precisely into the genealogical chronologies of Genesis yielding a date not much more than six thousand years ago.

Moreover, this - assuming it is correct - might explain why the dates derived from various types of radioactive measurements on physical, geological elements (such as the half-life of Uranium 238 decaying into Lead over millions of years) suggest a time frame vastly older than the true creation. As Setterfield writes, '...the velocity of the electron in its orbit is proportional to the speed of light. This is an expected result because whatever mechanism causes the peed of light to decrease with time is going to act in a precisely similar way causing the decrease in speed of all other propagaionts of mass-energy.' Hence, '...radiometric ages in rocks, meteorites and other atronomical objects in conventionally allocated years can be predicted by the high initial value of c and accomodated within a 6,000 year framework.' That is why '...the 1/2-lives of the radioactive elements are proportional to l/c and so were much shorter in the past. The vast ages conventionally allocated to rocks dated by radioactive methods, are based on the assumption of virtually fixed decay rates and a contstant c. Ignoring this high initial value of c and its subsequent decay, inevitably results in these vast conventional ages.' (Pg. 144-146)"

This chapter is outright intriguing! Have a great memorial day!

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