Yes, you read that correctly. There are a growing number of physicists who believe that the speed of light may be slowing down:
Modern physics is now considering a theory that could throw into confusion virtually all of the accepted temporal paradigms of 20th-century science, including the age of the universe and the billions of years necessary for evolution. Further, it raises the distinct possibility that scientific validation exists for a (gasp) literal interpretation of the seminal passages of Genesis. Goodbye Scopes trial.
Now, you might think – since I am Christian and this post is intended mainly for other Christians – that I want to focus on the implications this will have on the Genesis story if it is proven to be true, but you’d be wrong. I actually want to set that aspect of this story aside and talk a little philosophy. Sadly, this is something too many ‘scientists’ think they can do without, and that includes Stephen Hawking who, in his latest book, suggests philosophy has been made obsolete by science – mainly because he thinks it can’t keep up with technological changes. Sadly, those who think this way mist the point of philosophy entirely. It doesn’t need to ‘keep up’ because its foundational principles are eternal and unchanging. And it is one of these eternal and unchanging principles I’d like to discuss as it relates to this story.
So, because they do not consider anything past the dial on their instruments, scientists look at their measuring devices and conclude that the speed of light appears to be slowing over time. But consider this: how can they possibly know this when they cannot measure time? That’s correct: man cannot measure time; we can only measure the accuracy of the devices we make to mark time. Because time is an independent dimension, we can only mark it by our own, arbitrary measure.
Here’s the problem: so far as we know, Einstein’s theory of relativity accurately describes the way the universe works. It is the most tested, most affirmed theory in the history of man. What’s more, it has been wildly predictive, anticipating many of our most recent discoveries. However, if the speed of light had been slowing down all this time, how could the tests have affirmed the theory of relativity? And how can all the other cosmological constants be remaining the same? But there is another possibility that can account for the apparent decrease in the velocity of light and still allow everything else in the universe to remain as we think it to be. What if it is not the velocity of light that is changing but the period or interval of time?
Look at Einstein’s equation:
E = mc2
If we do a little substitution and then isolate for t – time, we get this:
t2 = md2/e
OK, before I lose you, let’s just look at the important part I am trying to illustrate. Velocity is nothing more than the distance traveled over a set period of time. But what happens if that period remains the same number of seconds, only the interval that makes up a second is actually shrinking? Then you still have the same amount of seconds, but you actually have less time, therefore, you can travel less distance. In effect, you would appear to be going slower, but nothing else in the universe would change in relation to anything else. So, why do I focus on this possibility rather than the possibility that light is actually slowing down?
Well, for one, as I just mentioned, there is too much evidence to suggest that light is not actually slowing down. It could be, but there is a simpler explanation that accounts for what the physicists are seeing and provides a possible explanation for one of the most puzzling piece of prophecy:
New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet. Then a third of the sun was struck. A third of the moon was struck. A third of the stars were struck. So a third of each of them turned dark. Then a third of the day had no light. The same thing happened to a third of the night.
Now, hear me clearly, I am not saying that what follows is what Scripture is predicting. I am well aware of the tricky nature of trying to nail down prophecy, as well as the likelihood that this prophecy is meant to be taken literally. At the same time, it is just as likely that this prophecy is like so many others: foretelling God’s use of natural processes to vent His wrath and judgment in such a way as to keep those who reject Him in the dark as to what is really happening – just like Israel missed all the warnings her prophets tried to give to her. So, with that said, consider this:
If time is getting shorter, it is possible that the sun could lose 1/3 of its light, as could the moon, the day and the night because 1/3 of the interval that used to mark time has been lost without us noticing it. And if this happens, then the events of the world would seem to accelerate, like labor pains…
Anyway, it is just a thought. Even I will admit to being skeptical. Still, it would make sense of a great deal without having to jump through any hoops…