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Editorial notes
  • In urgent need of expansion.
  • Specific refutations of Barry Setterfield's BS is welcome


"This means that when creationists say that the speed of light has changed they are arguing that in the past accelerating an object to a certain speed took less energy then it would today. According to them, the speed of light went over a million times faster in creation week then it does today. This is obviously absurd. To put it in perspective, if the speed necessary to accelerate an object were only 1/1,000,000 of what it is today, then a normal man could have thrown a rock many dozens of times faster than the speed of sound."

I don't see how this follows. At low relative velocities, the c^2-v^2 term in the denominator essentially zeroes out, whether c is what it is now or ten or a million times bigger. If I am wrong, I'd at least like to see the math presented here, rather than the claim that "This is obviously absurd." humanbe in 20:40, 23 September 2007 (EDT)

I agree, it's not a very good example. I'll make a note to come back and add a better one after I've taken my relativity class. OneForLogic 23:33, 20 August 2008 (EDT)
It is complete rot at low speeds. If anything a higher c would make Newtonian approximations more accurate, so what we expect would hold for higher v. - π 03:20, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Creationists also don't seem to realise the knock-on effects that changing c will have across the whole of physics. It's not *just* the speed of light but appears in so many other contexts. Most troubling of these is that if c isn't a constant then E=mc^2 implies that either the conservation of energy or conservation of mass doesn't hold, and physics falls apart. 23:55, 15 February 2009 (EST)

That is indeed the huge knock on "variable c". Change the value of c and everything else falls apart. But those are scientific equations, and they aren't in the Bible, so obviously, fizzicks is wrong. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:12, 16 February 2009 (EST)
I'll go through my stat mechanic books and find an example, radiation absorption by an object would have the effect that with a variable c the first and second laws of thermodynamics are violated. - π 03:20, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Edit war[edit]

Pi, I looked at the history, I see no such: "On the talkpage two years ago when you point out it was wrong. With this example we undermine our whole point by making a farcially incorrect statement." Also, you are wrong. c is a direct result of Einysteinyian fizicks. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:02, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Ah, I see, not on the article, up above. Naw, I was probably wrong there. Me wrong then, your point now unsubstantiated by arguing my words against me. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:04, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
"If I am wrong, I'd at least like to see the math presented here..." ħumanUser talk:Human 04:05, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
What Einstein physics? All relativity does is correct things of large mass and high speed. If the speed of light was 1,000,000 times higher your day to day life would look the same. - π 04:10, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Thers is just more wrong stuff now, there are at least three massless particles. Can we just get a better example? - π 05:29, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Here are three good examples. 1) Gravity (which is already a pretty weak force to begin with) would be negligible (which I suppose would make your rock throwing example truer if humans were the same strength although not for the reasoning presented) and the Earth would fall apart. 2) The Sun would have vaporised all that dust that was the Earth up anyway so no go there. 3) There would be no red shift which is what they were trying to explain away in the first place. - π 06:20, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Fixing This[edit]

Yeah, I don't quite get what was going on here, but the rock example is completely bonkers wrong. The reason it's hard to throw a rock is because of its inertial mass, not because of relativistic effects. If you take the c -> infinity limit in special relativity (which is the same as taking a low-speed limit), you "recover" Newtonian mechanics, which worked quite well for hundreds of years.

Where changing the value of c really fucks things up is in almost every other area. For example, c handles mass-energy equivalence, so it is of great importance in stellar fusion and determining the relative masses of nuclei. For another, c is the constant which governs the strength of the electromagnetic force, which is a key factor in, say, the stability of nuclei and atoms, all chemical reactions, and almost all macroscopic phenomena other than gravity.

Changing the value of c really implies that almost every object in the universe would violently explode or implode, because they have reached a somewhat "stable" state based on the current value; if c had started out different and changed to its current value, then pretty much the same thing would happen. This is why physicists generally assume that these values have not changed much since the universe was young (although it is quite plausible that they were different during the Big Bang). And certainly not by several orders of magnitude in a few thousand years. --Quantheory (talk) 09:27, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

One basic problem with the "changing speed of light" is that we don't get the full-fledged physical theory which is necessary to make sense of it. It doesn't do to take a couple of formulas and plug in a different value of c. TomS TDotO (talk) 11:58, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Of course we get the full physical theory! Scarlet A.pngpostate 12:21, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I disagree. Since there is no full-fledged physical theory, our only recourse in evaluating c-decay is to do precisely that and figure out what the implications are. Such an inquiry requires them to either create a full-fledged theory to counter this "naive" plugging in of values, or, in this case it seems, to wisely abandon the idea.
It drives home a certain point, which is that fundamental physics is hard to formulate, so a simple rationalization of one's pre-existing beliefs is so unlikely to work that it's basically worthless. Of course, if the Bible was literally and straightforwardly true, maybe coming up with simple, obvious, on-the-spot defenses of it would be easy. Clearly that's not the world we live in. --Quantheory (talk) 03:12, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Given that the rock example was extremely deceptive AND "Notes on c" covers the real issues here AND the "massless particles" thing was a digression AND the acceleration issue is not the primary objection that anyone has to the theory, I removed the whole acceleration section. If anyone wants to resuscitate it, please give it a rewrite that underlines the actual relevance of this objection to real world phenomena, and does not rely on a "punchline" that implies something false about Newtonian mechanics. --Quantheory (talk) 03:42, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Does c-decay only worsen the problem it wants to solve?[edit]

This video suggests a problem with c-decay I'd never heard before. It considers a particular nebula (one that's about 168,000 lightyears away) as an arbitrary example and uses the assumption of exponential c-decay to re-calculate the nebula as being much more massive than astronomers believe it is, which in turn requires it to be much more distant (on the order of 4 million lightyears), which in turn requires even more time.

In other words, taking an observed stellar object's width into account essentially means that we cannot invent a new average value of c to make a young universe work. Does this argument hold up? (talk) 01:45, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

The guesswork that is c-decay has many, many problems; The video does indeed outline one of them. Another massive problem is that the fine structure constant is dependent on the value of c. If c-decay were true, then the very building blocks of our universe would have changed dramatically between its creation and now. That supernova could never have formed in the first place because the very basic building blocks of matter necessary for it to exist would also not have existed (at least not in the form we see today).
It's also worth noting that while it's common in physics to go around renormalizing certain constants to make certain equations more pleasant, the fine structure constant is a bit of a pain that way, since it's dimensionless. One cannot posit that c-decay is true and then renormalize the fine structure constant to be time-independent without also forcing some other physical constant to be time-dependent (the other constants at play are the magnetic permeability of the vacuum, the electric permittivity of the vacuum, Planck's constant, and the charge of the electron). All of these constants play extremely fundamental roles in the universe as we know it. Maxwell's equations for electrodynamics are dependent on the electric permittivity and the magnetic permeability, for example; and much of chemistry depends quite strongly on the charge of the electron. - Grant (Talk) 02:09, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Some criticisms of c-decay (from ASK, which I keep meaning to incorporate):
Setterfield claims also that if c, h and me change in the way he proposes, then radioactive decay rates would change as well ... which would solve the creationists’ problems with radioactive dating.... However, with the near-infinite speed of light postulated shortly after creation, the decay rate would be high enough so that any reasonably high-grade body of uranium ore would blow up like an atomic bomb. It is not obvious what would happen to the sun, but it would certainly be destabilized, and might well go nova.

Setterfield’s published works are scientifically invalid for a number of reasons:

  1. Setterfield repeatedly depicts minority or even eccentric scientific viewpoints as well-established or proven. On issues such as the quantized redshift, the effect of ZPE on atomic structure, and calibration of Carbon-14 dating, he rarely acknowledges any evidence in favor of mainstream interpretations.92 His publications present a distorted view of science, ….
  2. After a quarter-century of work on c-decay, Setterfield has not presented a coherent functional form for the change in c over the full range of time. This makes it difficult for outsiders to critique his theory, or even to understand exactly what it consists of.
  3. Setterfield claims fundamental physical constants to be varying without acknowledging known systematic errors and reinterpretations of data that explain these variations. He generally ignores the error ranges of the measurements. He interprets the leveling-off of the recommended values as a physical effect, rather than acknowledging the correlation between the increasing stability of the values and the improving accuracy of the measurements. He claims to have found variations in m and h that track each other temporally in agreement with his theory, but the data do not support this claim. He ignores the fact that the measurements of these quantities are not independent. Errors in measurement of one quantity affect the others in a way that partially mimics his predictions, but this is a mathematical artifact rather than a physical reality.
  4. There are numerous non sequiturs, misstatements, and errors in his mathematical work.
  5. Astronomical observations of binary stars, pulsars, distant supernovae, and gamma ray bursts fail to show the slowing-down effect one would expect if his theory were correct. He claims that c-decay effects are not observable for objects within our galaxy, but this is inconsistent with his position that the Universe is 8,000 years old.
  6. His theory cannot explain the Earth’s ability to keep an atmosphere in the past, when atomic masses would have been much less.


[D]eeper problems confront Setterfield's proposal. The fundamental constants of nature seem finely tuned to one another so that even small changes in their values would fundamentally disrupt the universe (for example, by preventing the formation or stars, planets, or life).5 Perhaps the most famous scientific formula of all time is Einstein's E = mc2. The "c" here is the speed of light in a vacuum. This formula shows that energy is proportional to the speed of light. Thus, given a vastly increased speed of light in times past, chemical and physical reactions would have been much more energetic. It follows that increasing the speed of light would upset the fine-tuning of the universe.
For instance, the production of carbon depends on a specific nuclear resonance.6 Accordingly, only a narrow range of energies would allow for the formation of carbon. Yet this resonance would be crippled it c were drastically altered. In consequence. carbon production would vastly diminished, and life as we know it would be impossible. Thus, in addition to c, many other constants would need to change as well to preserve the stability and life-permitting structure or the cosmos (for example, Setterfield concedes that Planck's constant h would also need to change). So suddenly we're no longer talking just about c-decay but about changing all of physics simply to circumvent an old universe suggested by a constant speed of light.
Sterilesig.svgtalk 03:47, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it might appear to the average YEC layman that adjusting the speed of light has trivial consequences; however, that is not so. Not only does this make many deep time problems worse, but as noted above, the corrections one would have to make to the other physical constants would be catastrophic. Consider that almost all molecular structures are governed primarily by the electromagnetic force, and think about what might happen if Maxwell's equations were to change over time. The structure of molecules themselves wouldn't even be preserved! - Grant (Talk) 05:48, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Copied from WP[edit]

I think a large portion of this article is directly copied from See the Wikipedia article on the corresponding Wikipedia article..--JorisEnter (talk) 10:06, 4 January 2016 (UTC)