Personal Update
January 1999

The Controversy Continues:

Speed of Light Slowing Down?

by Chuck Missler

The field of physics worships at the altar of c, the velocity of light. It is widely regarded as the inviolate constant which affects all things: from our knowledge of astronomy to the very behavior of subatomic particles. Even the basic relationship between mass and energy is known by every schoolboy as E = mc2.

For many years, and in many of our previously published materials, we have made allusions to the very controversial view, held by some, that the speed of light (usually designated mathematically by "c") has been slowing down. (1) We have, naturally, received a number of adverse reactions from those who have difficulties dealing with this possibility.

Evidence suggesting that the velocity of light, c, has been slowing down throughout history was first reported by Barry Setterfield and Trevor Norman for some years. (2) Now two physicists-Dr. Joao Magueijo, a Royal Society research fellow at Imperial College, London, and Dr. Andreas Albrecht, of the University of California at Davis-are proposing that, immediately after the universe was born, the speed of light may have been far faster than its present-day value of 186,000 miles per second. (3 )They now believe that it has been slowing down ever since. The effects predicted by their theory are to be published in the prestigious scientific journal, Physical Review. "If it's true, it would be a very big leap forward that will affect our perception of the universe and much of theoretical physics," said Dr. Magueijo.

One mystery that it seems to be able to explain is why the universe is so uniform-why opposite extremes of the cosmos that are too far apart to have ever been in contact with each other appear to obey the same rules of physics and are even at about the same temperature. It would only be possible for light to cross from one side to the other if it traveled much faster than today moments after the universe was created, between 10 billion and 15 billion years ago. Their hypothesis suggests it was so fast that it could have been traveling at 186,000 miles a second multiplied by a figure with 70 zeroes after it!

Calculations based on the theory also give the most elegant explanation for the speed at which the universe appears to be expanding, which is thought to be just fast enough to avoid an eventual collapse to a big crunch. Instead, the universe would simply grow forever-though at a decreasing rate-and its ultimate fate, it is suggested, would be a slow, lingering death as all the stars burn out and every particle of matter within it separates.

"It is remarkable when you can find one simple idea that has so many appealing consequences," said John Barrow, professor of astronomy and director of the Astronomy Centre at the University of Sussex, who has collaborated with Magueijo and Albrecht.

It is disturbing that with this view continuing to gain credibility in some quarters, acknowledgment of the contributions of Setterfield, Norman, and others is conspicuous by its absence.

Historical Background

Greek philosophers generally followed Aristotle's belief that the speed of light was infinite. (4) Even Kepler (1600 a.d.) maintained the majority view that light was instantaneous. (5) Descartes (who died in 1650) strongly held to a belief in the instantaneous propagation of light. He strongly influenced the scientists of the period and following.

It wasn't until 1677 that a Danish astronomer named Olaf Roemer announced that the anomalous behavior of the eclipse times of Jupiter's inner moon, Io, could be accounted for by a finite speed of light. It took another half century for that notion to be accepted. It wasn't until 1729 that James Bradley's independent confirmation finally ended the opposition to a finite value for the speed of light. Roemer's work, which had split the scientific community for 53 years, was finally vindicated. This emotional inertia concerning the velocity of light seems to continue to haunt the dogmas of physics.

The speed of light has been measured 163 times by 16 different methods over the past 300 years. However, Australian physicist Barry Setterfield and mathematician Trevor Norman, reexamining the known experimental measurements to date, have suggested a highly controversial discovery: the speed of light appears to have been slowing down!

1657: Roemer 307,600. +/- 5400 km/sec
1875: Harvard 299,921. +/- 13 km/sec
1983: NBS (laser method): 299,792.4358 +/- 0.0003 km/sec

The speed of light is now measured as 299,792.4358 kilometers per second. (6) (This is approximately 186,000 miles/second; or one foot per nanosecond.)

The Canadian mathematician, Alan Montgomery, has reported a computer analysis supporting the Setterfield/Norman results. His model indicates that the decay of velocity of light closely follows a cosecant-squared curve, and has been asymptotic since 1958. If he is correct, the speed of light was 10-30% faster in the time of Christ; twice as fast in the days of Solomon; four times as fast in the days of Abraham, and perhaps more than 10 million times faster prior to 3000 b.c.

Needless to say, this view is highly controversial and the majority of physicists intensely reject this hypothesis. Some confirmatory trends have been reported in 475 measurements of 11 other atomic quantities by 25 methods in dynamical time. But it could again, as it did in the days of Roemer, take fifty years before it is resolved. But there is another most disturbing discovery that strangely may prove to support the Setterfield view.

The Shift of Tifft

Ever since Edwin Hubble formulated his theory that the "red shift" observed in the spectra of stars was a form of the "Doppler Effect," astronomers have built upon the assumption of an "expanding universe." The universe itself-the space between the galaxies-may be expanding. Matter is now viewed as a distortion in space-time. Gravity is the influence of gravitational forces from curvature of space-time: "space tells matter how to move; matter tells space how to curve." As light travels through expanding space, it is "stretched" to longer wavelengths, that is, to the red. There are a number of Biblical passages that also seem to suggest this possibility. (7)

Some scientists worry that there may be yet other explanations for the red shift and that too much reliance may have been placed on Hubble's Law. Halton Arp, an American astronomer based in Germany, has collected "discrepant" red shifts which appear to be in conflict with traditional views. Some galaxies are even moving towards us, such as the Andromeda Galaxy.

Furthermore, William Tifft, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, has been collecting data on red shifts for about 20 years, and it now appears that the universe might not be expanding. Tifft has discovered that galaxies exhibit only certain discrete values, rather than the more random distribution one would expect if the shifts were distance related. The red shifts appear to be quantized.

Strangely, this may prove to vindicate the Setterfield hypothesis concerning the decay of c. These red shifts appear in discrete quantum levels, similar to the energy states of subatomic particles in quantum physics. Specific values of c govern the quantization of the emitted wavelengths, and quantized red shifts would result. (8)

It will take some time for the Setterfield Hypothesis to be proven acceptable, but it is extremely provocative and would dramatically alter our concepts concerning the physical universe.

Fracture of Reality in Genesis 3?

There appears to be some Scriptural basis for assuming an original close coupling between the spiritual and physical world. The highly venerated Onkelos translation of Genesis 1:31 emphasizes that originally " was a unified order." The suggestion has been advanced that current physics, including the entropy laws ("the bondage of decay" [9] ), were a result of the fall of man recorded in Genesis Chapter 3. (10)

The entropy laws reveal a universe which is "winding down." It had to have been initially "wound-up." This windup-the reduction of entropy, or the infusion of order (information)-is described in Genesis 1 in a series of six stages. The terms used in this progressive reduction of entropy (disorder) are erev and boker, which have led to their being translated "evening" and "morning." (11) Evening-and-mornings constituted the principal stages of creation. Six "evenings" and "mornings" became the "days" constituting the creation "week." However, what we presently know about the physical universe is derived only from observing the universe after the upheavals of Genesis 3.

Some of us suspect that the ostensible decay of c, the slowing velocity of light, was one of the results of the upheavals of Genesis Chapter 3.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


See also Lambert Dolphin's excellent website,

Missler, Chuck, Beyond Time and Space, See page 27.

Missler, Chuck, Cosmic Codes: Hidden Messages From the Edge of Eternity, Koinonia House. See page 22.


1. Personal UPDATE, March 1993, p.12-26; March 1995, p.10-14; Beyond Time and Space, p.11-12; Genesis and the Big Bang, p. 8-13.

2. Setterfield, B., and Norman, T., The Atomic Constants, Light, and Time, Invited Research Paper, SRI, August 1987. (Available from Lambert Dolphin).

3. Steve Farrar, Science Correspondent. "Speed of light 'slowing down'", London Sunday Times, November 15 1998.

4. There were exceptions: Empedocles of Acragas (c. 450 B.C.); also Moslem scientists Aviecenna and Alhazen (1000 A.D.) both believed in a finite speed for light.

5. Again there were exceptions: Roger Bacon and Francis Bacon (1600 A.D.) both believed in a finite speed of light.

6. A dynamical second is defined as 1/31,556,925.9747 of the earth's orbital period and was standard until 1967. Atomic time is defined in terms of one revolution of an electron in the ground state orbit of the hydrogen atom.

7. "The stretching of the heavens": Isa 40:22; 42:5; 44:27; 45:12; 51:13; Jer 10:12; 51:15; Zech 12:1; the heavens as a scroll: Isa 34:4; Rev. 6:14.

8. Setterfield, Barry, Atomic Quantum State, Light, and the Red Shift, in publication (received by private correspondence).

9. Romans 8:21.

10.Heb 11:3; Rom 8:19-23; Psa 102:25-27; Prov 16:33; Eph 1:11; Heb 1:2-3; Col 1:16,17.

11. Erev initially referred to darkness, obscurity, randomness; maximum entropy. As darkness envelopes our horizon, we lose the ability to discern order or patterns. The darkness was originally "without form and void." From this term we derive the current sememe for "evening," when the encroaching darkness begins to deny us the ability to discern forms, shapes, and identities. Boker refers to the advent of light, where things begin to become discernible, visible; order begins to appear. This relief of obscurity, and the attendant ability to begin to discern forms, shapes, and identities has become associated with dawn or "morning," as the early twilight begins to reveal order and design.

Personal Update
is the monthly Newsletter of Koinonia House Ministries
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January 14, 1999.

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