When I was in sunday school in my youth I met a guy who has since been a great influence on me. I became re-aquainted with him in the early 80s with my then, fairly newish wife. I shall return to him later.
This article appeared in my Google Buzz feed and on page 5 item 12 reads “Not-so-constant constants. It refers to some research done in 1997 where an Astronomer deduced that some of the physical constants seemed to behave in a way that indicated that they may not be constant. To quote from the 2005 article “[The vale of Alpha] depends on, among other things, the charge on the electron, the speed of light and Planck’s constant. Could one of these really have changed?” Even more interesting is the idea that one of the proofs that we live in an old universe is dependant on the time taken for light to arrive from distant celestial objects. If the speed of light for instance was much faster in the past then this reduces the amount of time required for light to arrive and thus makes the universe younger. How much younger is still a subject of much speculation.
Of course many physicists (the open minded group that they are) completely reject this hypothesis and declare that the mere thought that any of our time honoured constants have varied could not possibly be true. But is this so silly? And is this the first time that this has been postulated?
Back to my old Sunday School teacher. He produced a paper about 30 years ago that used the observations of the speed of light starting with the Michelson-Morley experiment and continuing with the (then) latest observations. Doing an analysis of these observations produced the startling result that there was a statistically significant trend that indicated a reduction in the speed of light. There was a general ridicule of his results, most of which was based on the similar reaction to the 1997 study. Most of the comments were that even to contemplate a change in the speed of light was unthinkable rather than a sensible and objective analysis of the results. It seemed to me at the time that the results were rejected not based on a scientific analysis of the paper but more because the author, Barrie Setterfield, was a creationist. An extreme case of prejudice if ever there was one. Further proof (if one was needed) of the subjectivity of scientists. I recall a vigorous discussion with a friend who was studying Physics at university at the same time as me, and the whole basis of his rejection of the evidence was that the speed of light is a constant therefore has not changed.
I find this whole has it, hasn’t it discussion quite interesting. Not only for the science but also for what it tells us about the scientists. Many scientists reject theories on the basis of their own pre-conceived notions. When scientists see anything or anybody that uses the “C” word then their automatic reaction is to reject it regardless of the science behind the claim. Although it is true that many creationists use bad science it does not justify the rejection of all propositions merely because that person believes in God. I know many scientists that believe in God, but heaven forbid if they dare to mention such an un-scientific belief. There is nothing more un-scientific than a scientific atheist.