Responding to questions regarding a CMI article of January, 2009

Response to a question regarding an article in Creation Ministries International publication of January, 2009. It needs to be noted that the person emailing this question is quite correct in stating that this organization (which used to be Answers in Genesis until they had a falling out with the American branch run by Ken Ham) as well as most other creation organizations have totally ignored 15-20 years of Barry's work and relied instead on criticisms of some of his earliest papers. The one Setterfield paper mentioned by them is the one published in 1987, over 20 years ago. We would encourage any of these folks to get a little more up to date on the Setterfield research before criticizing it in the way done in the linked articles.

Request: In  CMI infobytes "Episode 11 of Creation Magazine Live!"  They had an article -  "Feedback to the question of distant starlight in a young universe  So how can we see distant starlight supposedly millions of light years away  if God created the universe only 6,000 years ago? See our response to a question posed to one of our speakers recently."
The "response" was a link to -
On the bottom was "Related Topics - How can we see distant stars in a young
universe?" This linked to -
The passage is under "Did light always travel at the same speed?" – nearly half way down.  I presume it is in "Creation Answers book" and is probably old hat by now.
The problem is that they have committed themselves in ink and they CANNOT now backtrack. They would have to admit that they were wrong AND EVEN CREATIONISTS FIND THAT IMPOSSIBLE TO DO!!!  Can you link me to a paper that deals with the cosmological evidence  (starlight etc.) that confirms c was VERY high 6,000 yrs ago?

When we requested more information on this, we received the following:

This is what was said-
"Did light always travel at the same speed?
An obvious solution would be a higher speed of light in the past, allowing the light to cover the same distance more quickly. This seemed at first glance a too-convenient ad hoc explanation. Then some years ago, Australian Barry Setterfield raised the possibility to a high profile by showing that there seemed to be a decreasing trend in the historical
observations of the speed of light (c) over the past 300 years or so.  Setterfield (and his later co-author, Trevor Norman) produced much evidence in favour of the theory. [Norman, T.G. and Setterfield, B., 1990. The Atomic Constants, Light and Time, Privately published, 88 pp.  (note:  this was not privately published, but published by Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia)] They believed that it would have affected radiometric dating results, and even have caused the red-shifting of light from distant galaxies, although this idea was later overturned, and other modifications were made also.  Much debate has raged to and fro among equally capable people within creationist circles about whether the statistical evidence really supports c decay ('cdk') or not.  The biggest difficulty, however, is with certain physical consequences of the theory. If c has declined the way Setterfield proposed, these consequences should still be discernible in the light from distant galaxies but they are apparently not. In short, none of the theory's defenders has been able to answer all the problems raised.

Setterfield:  I have just looked through the links that you gave, and thank you for them. There are several matters which Hartnett has raised that seem to be what they are basing their comments on. The first is the fine structure constant, alpha. This has been measured to the limits of the universe and no change has been found in it over time. In many secular publications this has been taken as showing no change in the speed of light over astronomical time. But that approach is flawed. The reason is that they are looking at just the speed of light changing with no change in the other three constants. That is called the "minimalist"position. This ignores the effects of both the conservation of energy and the action of the Zero Point Energy (ZPE). Dr. Andreas Albrecht co-authored an important article with Jao Magueijo on variation of lightspeed with this approach in 1999. I saw him at Davis a few years ago and suggested that he might like to examine the situation with energy being conserved. His response was that they had looked at that option,but if that approach was adopted "We couldn't do all that we wanted to do with the model". On the ZPE approach, all four individual constants that go to make up the fine structure constant are changing in such a way that alpha remains invariant. I am only aware of one possible exception to this, namely that some small variation may occur in strong gravitational fields. In other words, the ZPE approach overcomes any problems encountered with the fine structure constant. I had a paper published in 2002 in the Journal of Theoretics "Exploring the Vacuum" where all this was laid out in clarity. It was re-emphasized in my 2007 article "Reviewing the Zero Point Energy."

Therefore there can be no valid criticism on the ZPE model from that source.

Associated with the fine structure constant has been the comment by Hartnett and Humphreys about Occam's Razor, namely that the fewer varying constants are favored over a suite of such constants varying. This would be true if there was only an ad hoc approach to the variation of these quantities. However, the situation is vastly different with the ZPE approach. There we have an underlying cause, namely the physical properties of the vacuum, which is bringing about changes in for well-established reasons in a number of constants, which, themselves, have been measured as varying.Occam's Razor is therefore operating on an entirely different basis here with ONE underlying cause for a number of varying physical quantities. This, surely, is a situation where Occam's Razor is working in the favor of the ZPE explanation, not against it.

The other criticism that was offered was that any variation in lightspeed would result in observable effects in the light from distant galaxies. Although these effects were unspecified, it may be assumed that changes in observed radiation intensity would be one of the effects expected. This is shown to be an invalid argument on our website in Appendix 2 of Behavior of the Zero Point Energy and Atomic Constants.

In that Appendix, it is shown that there will be no apparent change in radiation intensities from distant objects when compared with similar objects nearby. Among the examples discussed there are the Cepheid variables seen in distant galaxies compared with those in our own galaxy. There will be no apparent difference between the two in their observed periods of pulsation for a given luminosity. That is discussed in this section of that appendix. 

The situation with regard to pulsars is also discussed and a conclusion is reached which also overcomes the problems that standard astronomy has with those objects in appendix 8 of that same paper.

There is, however, one major piece of evidence that the ZPE was lower back in the past and so the speed of light was consequently higher. It is called the redshift. As John Gribbin pointed out in New Scientist for the 20th June 1985, the only alternative to redshifts being caused by universal expansion was that they were caused by a change in the energy of atomic emitters within the galaxies. Since the ZPE was lower back in the past, this meant that all atoms emitted light with a systematically lower intrinsic energy which shifted their spectral lines towards the red end of the spectrum. The reasoning behind this and the physics and math of the situation are discussed in detail in the paper "Quantized Redshifts and the Zero Point Energy".

Note that in this paper a streamlined approach to the treatment of the redshift is given. It may be helpful if I give you a summary of the situation from a related question that I had to answer recently. Here is what I wrote in answer to that question:

"If you are concerned about the mathematical function that the ZPE is following in its increase, or its inverse (which gives the behavior of the speed of light and the rate of ticking of the various atomic clocks), then the reasoning goes along the following lines. As the mass of subatomic particles increases with increasing ZPE, the radius of any given atomic orbit will change. This happens because, as shown by Bohr's first equation for the orbiting electron, each orbit has a given amount of angular momentum which is proportional to Planck's constant, h. As the strength of the ZPE increases, so, too, does h, which is a measure of the strength of the ZPE. But angular momentum must be conserved in this process. In order for this to occur, the orbit radius must change. This change causes the light emitted from each atom to be more energetic or bluer. Thus as we look back in time to progressively more distant objects (that is objects whose light was emitted progressively earlier and earlier in the history of the cosmos), their light will be progressively redder. To astronomers, this is known as the redshift. This ZPE process has two possibilities; either it happened smoothly (in which case we would get a smoothly changing redshift), or it happened in jumps (so the redshift would be quantized). Observation indicates that the second option is probably the one which is occurring. The evidence is all there that the redshift is quantized, but astronomers have been ignoring this for some considerable time because it knocks out one of the two legs which support the Big Bang proposition. The only viable alternative, that was mentioned by John Gribbin, was that the redshift must be due to the behavior of atomic emitters within the various galaxies. This is the option which our research has validated."

As a consequence, we can say that the evidence that the speed of light, and hence the ZPE, has changed in strength over astronomical time is the redshift. Other effects which have been proposed as evidence that these vatiations have not occurred have, on closer examination, been shown to be invalid. 

The final question that you ask is a link to the cosmological evidence that lightspeed was very high 6000 years ago. The answer is 
 in the ZPE Review paper and the Quantized redshift paper. Basically, the redshift of light stems from the ZPE changes over time, and both the speed of light and the rate of ticking of atomic clocks tracks with the redshift as shown in those papers. The equation for the redshift/distance relationship is therefore the same equation for lightspeed/time or the rate of ticking of the atomic clock against orbital time. Since looking our into space is looking back in time, it follows that distance and orbital time can be interchanged. Note that in these equations, distance, x, or orbital time, T, is expressed in terms of total distance or the total time the redshift function was being followed. Thus the origin of the cosmos appears as x = 1 and T = 1 in the equation. 

The actual equation is equation (32) in the ZPE Review paper with its integral in equation (33). The integral equation allows us to convert atomic time to orbital time and vice versa, or to determine the distance that light has traveled in a given time. The same equations appear in the Quantized Redshift paper as equations (51) and (52).In the ZPE Review paper we follow the redshift data to obtain the equation. In the Quantized Redshift paper we discuss the data, but we also derive the same redshift equation from  first principles based on the factors causing the ZPE and its build-up over time. As a result, we have the same equation both from data and from theory. Therefore we have the equation for the behavior of the speed of light right back to the origin of the cosmos. All that needs to be inserted is a constant of proportionality. This constant is able to be determined by data from the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) in a way that will be discussed in a forthcoming paper. However, even without the proportionality constant, it can be seen from those equations that as orbital time gets close to T = 1 or, equivalently, distance gets close to x = 1, then the function tends to infinity. So it can be seen that lightspeed will be very large close to the origin of the cosmos. Note, too that the exact length of the time-base for the equation can also be determined from the CMBR in a way that will be shown in the same forthcoming paper.