astronomy Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

Comment on “Issachar Insight – Chuck Missler and Barry Setterfield”

I rarely comment on other’s videos. But in this case I felt compelled to do so. About 1 year ago I saw this Issachar Insight video of a discussion between Chuck Missler and Barry Setterfield regarding Setterfield’s physics. Please don’t interpret the following as being critical of a Christian brother, but of his theory only.

Barry Setterfield on Chuck Missler show

I know Mr Setterfield is a biblical creationist and he has developed his own ideas on various aspects of alternative physics to promote, in his mind, that the speed of light (c) was much faster back at Creation than it is now. The speed of light, c, allegedly slowed down to its current value, from the Creation to the present time, by a factor of something like 10 million times. This is referred to as c-decay or cdk.

His idea I once found very exciting as a potential solution to the biblical creationist starlight travel-time problem.  That was about 1980 and since then we have learned that basic experimental physics in the cosmos undermines it. The new detection of gravitational radiation from the merger of a black hole binary further strengthens the case against it.

Comments made after watching the video

As a biblical creationist I find these ideas quite flawed in many ways. Also as a university physics professor I find many statements here without foundation and in many cases wrong. To Mr Missler I say that you should be very cautious of great claims not supported by other creationists, especially the physicists among us.

Chuck Missler interviewed Barry Setterfield
Chuck Missler interviewed Barry Setterfield

Regarding the quantum theory that Mr Setterfield uses, Stochastic Electrodynamics (SED), it would not be correct to say that it is a field gaining attention. It might be followed by a few but it is largely a failed field of physics.

In regards to the idea of the fabric of space being stretched. From the Hebrew Scriptures, a close examination of those verses, like Isaiah 40:22 etc, will show that the original meanings, the only meanings intended, of words like ‘stretched’ and ‘spread’ were like putting up a tent or a canopy, or spread out like with beaten brass. But never was the intended meaning to be stretched like a rubber balloon as in the oft quoted analogy in big bang cosmology. A careful re-examination of those Scriptures is needed by those who make these claims.

If Planck’s constant (h) increased with time we should see evidence in astronomical observations! Such a change would affect the positions of atomic spectral lines. Energy levels in atoms would be different, particularly telling would be the doublets and the multiplets. Thus it would be easily observable in the universe.

If atomic processes slowed down over time with an enormous change in the speed of light c we should see evidence, for example, in the spin down of the Hulse-Taylor pulsar/neutron star binary for which Hulse and Taylor received the Nobel Prize in 1993. The spin down has followed Einstein’s general relativity (GR) accurately for 40 or more years and the speed of light used in the analysis over all those years has been the same constant value we use today. Yet the binary system is about 24,000 light-years away so the speed c should have been much faster when the light left. This indicates that no change in c is evident back in the past.

Then the new observation of a gravity wave from a coalescing stellar-mass black-hole binary improves on this untold. The event is placed at a distance of about 1.3 billion light-years and thus puts it back near the dawn of Creation (notwithstanding the details of any assumed biblical creationist cosmology). Thus the speed of light of that local system, in its own rest frame, seems to be the same speed of light we measure today. And no violation of general relativity was detected by assuming the same value of c.

Setterfield claims that the product of Planck’s constant (h) with the canonical speed of light h.c = constant. This is amazingly contrived. It must involve a lot of gymnastics with fundamental constants if they change by a factor of 10,000,000 over the lifetime of the universe.

An atomic clock simplistically might be considered as an orbiting electron. But how does Setterfield know that electrons orbit a nucleus? Has he ever observed that? No, that is a simplistic model. According to the very successful model of quantum physics electrons reside in a cloud around the nucleus of the atom. They do not orbit at all. So arguing what that means physically is like first declaring that your orbiting model is God’s true description and then using that to judge all other models. But the fact is even Setterfield’s model is a model, a mathematical model. That is what physics employs. Physicists describe what we observe through application of models. We can’t see electrons after all.

Fine structure constant involves both Planck’s constant h and the speed of light c. It is an atomic coupling constant that affects the electronic energy levels in atoms.

An atomic clock that we use to measure time is not based on a stable energy level but on the transition between two energy levels in an atom. Currently that is a hyperfine transition in the cesium atom. But it may change. So Setterfield needs the fine structure constant (α) to be fundamentally constant because it affects not only atoms but also all subatomic physics. Hence this adds to the contrivance he explains. Setterfield claims h.c remains constant through all time. That’s his solution, because, assuming normal physics, any increase in c as a function of look-back time in the universe would mean the transition energy between two states in an atom would equally increase, i.e. the clock state would change with time. But that is a tautology because time is defined by the clock transition frequency (at 9.2 GHz currently) because we define the speed of light c, which is perfectly legitimate.

But based on the hypothetical increase of c by 10,000,000 times back into the creation of the Universe, one would expect an increase in atomic clock rates, hence a massive blueshift in galaxy light from everywhere in the cosmos, not a redshift. But I am sure Setterfield has a manipulation to turn this into a redshift somehow. But fundamentally it is the wrong sign. It trends in the wrong direction.

I know of no creationist, physicist or otherwise, who is knowledgable on the subject of the slowing down of the speed of light c, who takes cdk seriously any more. To state it so on your show is not correct.

On quantisation of galaxy redshifts, there is an area of research that has still gone unanswered but that involves very small redshift intervals of 0.00024. That is from the work of Napier and Tifft. Then there is the much larger scale redshift quantisation with intervals of 0.01, 0.025, which is my own work, Hartnett & Hirano (2008). See link for details. That was a redshift space effect, which is not necessarily a real space effect. We have not shown that it is as yet. It may be only due to a change in the expansion rate of the Universe (if it is indeed expanding at all, which I really doubt) or the famous bulls-eye effect, which results from enhancement of local structure giving the appearance of a bulls-eye. That bulls-eye effect could be due the combination of two effects. One is that we only sample the relative motion towards the observer when the redshift is due to local Doppler motion. The second results from bulk flows of galaxies in clusters.

So who knows what Setterfield meant when he said that the redshift changed across a galaxy? He might have been talking about the work of Halton Arp and others and quasar redshift quantisation, which still seems to be holding up. I am working on that now myself with a paper co-authored by Halton Arp (deceased) and Chris Fulton. See here. But if Mr Setterfield was not talking about a high redshift quasar embedded in a low redshift galaxy (which Arp first pointed out) I don’t know what he was talking about.

The Doppler interpretation for galaxy redshifts implying an expanding universe is only one interpretation. Doppler motion is laboratory proven physics. Doppler radar is used for weather forecasting and catching speeding cars on the highways. Hubble was skeptical the Doppler interpretation, but what he really was skeptical about was an expanding universe per se, i.e. regardless of the terminology. Today cosmologist believe space has expanded and it seems Setterfield also believes that. That is called cosmological expansion, it is not a Doppler effect. But cosmological expansion is not supported by a shred of laboratory physics. It is pure conjecture. Is the universe really expanding? I don’t know and Einstein’s relativity, when properly understood, would tell you that you can’t do a local experiment to detect the expansion of space even if it is expanding.

The points he made about the size of large dinosaurs and the impulse reaction times in their bodies is total conjecture. Besides there is not a shred of evidence that the ZPE energy (zero point energy) density has changed over time. Physicists still debate how to correctly calculate its energy density, let alone how measure it as a function of time.

Mr Missler, I recommend that you build your worldview on testable experimental science, not fiction. And where you cannot because it involves cosmology and the unobserved past, use that which conforms precisely to the narrative history in the Genesis account without adding what is not there. Don’t do what Hugh Ross does, with his big bang creation story. The Universe does not demonstrably conform to the SED/plasma physics description of Mr Setterfield.  To use the word ‘demonstrable’ means can be demonstrated by experimental physics in a lab environment. We need much more truth in science, and Bible believing Christians should be the first to promote it.

I believe in a 6-day (24-hour earth rotation days) creation by God about 6000 years ago as written. I believe the Scriptures. I don’t need some fanciful theory to convince me, yet what I do see I find no contradiction with a biblical creationist (YEC) worldview. Just looking at what is on offer from the atheistic big bang community, or from the atheistic steady state (eternal universe) community, I see a lot of story telling and many fudge factors. Surprisingly there is less of that from the competitors to the big bang. But to promote a massive decrease in the speed of light that apparently was so obvious (because it was so large since first measured in 1670), and remain oblivious to all the contrary evidence for which there are mountains, is plain wrong.

All the glory to our Lord and Saviour

By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.

14 replies on “Comment on “Issachar Insight – Chuck Missler and Barry Setterfield””

I follow your work on this site and on YouTube and very closely, and I’m much blessed in my own understanding of the first week of creation. In most of your recent writings, you eventually end by referring to, or making some references to YEC or its equivalent terminology especially as it relates to Lisle’s ASC, and that “It is language of appearance, and then there is no light travel time problem”.

Yet as others have pointed out (or implied at least), YEC is not the real issue. It seems to me we need to consider YUC. The Lord did indeed create “real” light emanating from the objects He created. And that light emitted there but on the fourth day here, got here on the fourth day, and our grandparents saw it here on the sixth night.


I appreciate your comments. BTW, the first time I wrote on the ASC was 12 years ago. It is not a recent occurrence. But it was Jason Lisle who developed a model around it, though I remember studying that back in the late 1990s. That is when I first started to think it had merit in solving the problem of starlight travel time.

I agree absolutely with when you write: “The Lord did indeed create “real” light emanating from the objects He created. And that light emitted there but on the fourth day here, got here on the fourth day, and our grandparents saw it here on the sixth night.” As I have said the true test of this, is really Exodus 20:11. It was 6 x 24 days. The ASC model absolutely agrees with that. It is in fact the simplest explanation. But if you say: Oh, but light really travels from the galaxies to Earth at 300,000 km/s and it could not get here on the fourth day, since the universe is larger than 1 light-day in radius, then you have a problem. And that is why time dilation models were brought in. But all our models are also YUC models. Time is not an absolute in the universe. So we need to decide by which clocks the events of Genesis are timed. I believe they were timed by Earth clocks; those are the clocks implied in the Creation account sequence. I think Adam and Eve would agree. I suggest MODERN BIBLICAL CREATIONIST THINKING.


Right on again! However, you’ll have a gut sense that we all are intuitively “struggling” to address a more fundamental question. I agree that ASC helps us remove the travel “problem”. I am also willing to recognize, as almost any YE/UC Christian does, that in the first six 24 hour days on earth (which earth our Lord had his focus on in Gen 1:1) , our Lord was not bound to His own laws, as he had not yet “rested from his work which God created and made”. Therefore there was no physical-law-based “need” for the speed of light to be what its “slow” speed was on the seventh day and after. This implicitly leads to cdk right IN the fourth day, as perceived on earth. In a word, the Lord’s creative and infinite power.

Strictly, He need not “tell” us what laws he was using because he was in the process of making them 🙂 ! My concern with Barry’s cdk video you posted is that he seems to think that it happened even AFTER the seventh day and is going on even now. I don’t know enough deep-end Quantum Physics to counter all he said though many things he did say does have a ring of truth/reality to it. But that the speed of light and other laws of Physics were MADE to be stabilized on the seventh day and after is clear based upon, and what you also point out, Ex 20:11.
Any thoughts on cdk on the fourth day itself?


Don’t worry neither Barry Setterfield nor anyone else can ‘pull the wool over the eyes‘ of a person reading their Bible. It does not take a degree in quantum physics (which he doesn’t have either) to discern whether there is viability in what he says. It has to make sense, but an appeal that something must be simple to be correct also does not necessarily follow.

It is true we may not know exactly how God made things. His ways are higher than our ways. With explanations though that rely on miracles or ‘light created in transit’ we need to be cautious, because the idea could make God to be deceptive. I believe everything we see in the cosmos is real and represents real objects with real properties that the created laws of physics (if we knew them well enough) would describe perfectly. But even if God did something miraculously, you are correct, that it must have become normal, non-miraculous, by the seventh day when God “rested” or ceased from His creative activity. See FAULKNER’S MIRACULOUS TRANSLATION OF LIGHT MODEL WOULD LEAVE EVIDENCE.

Due to the enormous size of the universe if the speed of light was 10 million times faster on the 4th day and then God suddenly slowed it to the current value by the 7th day we would see the effects in the cosmos, because light, travelling at speed c, would still take billions of years to get to Earth. It would be like switching off billions of lights for all stars/galaxies except the closest stars in our local neighbourhood (within 6000 light-years). If the Lord slowed the speed continuously over the past 6000 years since day 4, we would see that in the light, where the more distant sources would be enormously blue-shifted, but of course, that is not observed.


Hello again, Dr Hartnett!

Just to remind you, in your post about the LHC, I mentioned another one of our not so well informed Christian brothers, Malcolm Bowden, who apart from endorsing Setterfield’s c-decay also opposes relativity and supports geocentrism. Is there any time soon when you could make a post about that? You could talk about stuff like the Sagnac, Michelson-Morley, Michelson-Gale experiments and Sir George Airy’s famous failure with the water filled telescope.

Very kind regards!


I have specifically addressed geocentrism, and discussed c-decay several times, but I have not addresses denial of relativity theory per se. Those are all good experiments you mention. Others would include Kennedy-Thorndike and Ives-Stillwell experiments. Though they are all in relation to special relativity. I’ll put it on my list.


John, In your post you state the following:

“In regards to the idea of the fabric of space being stretched. From the Hebrew Scriptures, a close examination of those verses, like Isaiah 40:22 etc, will show that the original meanings, the only meanings intended, of words like ‘stretched’ and ‘spread’ were like putting up a tent or a canopy, or spread out like with beaten brass. But never was the intended meaning to be stretched like a rubber balloon as in the oft quoted analogy in big bang cosmology. A careful re-examination of those Scriptures is needed by those who make these claims.”

I have to say that this re-evaluation you’ve done is a bit of hand waving and misdirection, but fails to miss an important point. First, one can believe the heavens were stretched out as scripture says and not be advocating for a rubber balloon big bang cosmology. Second, and most important, is that even if you use the original Hebrew meanings as in putting up a tent or canopy, it equates to fundamentally the same thing. That is, that space was in some compressed form and was expanded. When I take a tent out of its bad, it’s all folded down and compressed to a small size, and when I open it up, it is greatly expanded. The implication is the same. You take something small and compressed and unfold it (i.e. expand it). To me, that means that if the universe was created in this compact form and then “stretched” (i.e. unfolded) out then the light would also be “stretched” out. Hence, I see no problem with light travel and a young universe.


When discussing the ideas that the Hebrew people understood from their words ‘stretch’ and ‘spread’ please read: Does the Bible really describe expansion of the universe?. There is a massive difference between the imagery of putting up a tent and the rubber balloon analogy of big bang cosmology. Tent material linearly expands by a few percent. But cosmological expansion is at least by a linear factor of 1000 and if you include inflation by 10^39 times. If you consider the unfolding of the tent then its volume may increase by a factor of 10, but cosmological expansion requires at least a volume expansion of at least 1 million times. See Tension not extension in creation cosmology and New view of gravity explains cosmic microwave background radiation (PDF). These discuss specifically what the Hebrews would have understood from those verses like Isaiah 40:22. Please read Is the universe expanding? and the linked articles.

Finally, if you consider the idea of an expanding universe in a creationist cosmology as Humphreys has done, there is a problem with the starlight-travel time. It is not so simple. He used a gravitational potential well to achieve time dilation of Earth clocks compared to cosmic clocks. The problem though is that the shape of the gravitational potential well, due to the matter density in the universe around Earth, means a very flat potential, which means almost no time dilation between Earth and nearby galaxies. That is a problem so bad that it caused Humphreys to abandon his first cosmology. See Look-back timein our galactic neighbourhood leads to a new cosmogony (PDF).


I didn’t say I believed the universe is expanding. I simply said that the original Hebrew text would still mean that the universe, in the beginning at creation, was unfolded or expanded from a compressed state. That doesn’t mean it’s still happening now.


Ok but you still need to explain how we see starlight from distant galaxies in that universe. It is not as simple as you might think.

I think those Hebrew Scriptures just mean that God made the heavens and the expanse as we see it without any intention of explaining a mechanism. God could have created all stars and galaxies essentially in place as we observe them.


Actually, no I don’t. I believe that not everything can be understood. It’s actually a bit arrogant on our part to say that we can know everything. For example, Hawking says that the universe created itself from nothing, but we know that he doesn’t really mean nothing. He actually means some quantum fluctuation or whatever. Yet even if that were true, he would have to admit that he cannot ever explain where the material came from or where the very quantum physics came from. Indeed it is impossible for our minds to conceive how anything exists at all. And as much as I believe in God, the creator, I can never comprehend how such a powerful being always existed and had no beginning. That is simply beyond our understanding. So, to say we “need” to explain how this or that is what it is is simply not valid reasoning. There are things that God almighty can do that are beyond our comprehension. They have to be taken on faith. And without faith it is impossible to please God. You are more than welcome to continue to believe that you’ll find some scientific explanation for how God did it or a scientific evidence to prove He did it, but I believe you never will. God is so far beyond our comprehension that such things are only things He knows.


Of course. How can I, a simple man ever understand the awesome power of the living God.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

When you can answer the question “Why does anything exist at all?” from a scientific perspective then you will approach the mind of God. Until then, be humbled by His awesome power and majesty and know that He is God.

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