Bible Got It Right: Immutable Physical Laws

In the twenty-first century, sometimes referred to as the “post-truth” era, people in growing numbers have begun to distrust science, scientists, and centuries’ worth of scientific research findings. Cases in which scientific data have been manipulated or misrepresented for political or ideological purposes have led people around the world to question even the most firmly established facts. Today, a shocking number of people stand behind the claim that the world and all our solar system planets are flat bodies. Many claim that NASA astronauts never set foot on the Moon or that the glorious images captured through space telescopes are fake.  

A fundamental principle undergirding all scientific disciplines and endeavors is under attack. Various individuals, for reasons other than scientific ones, are suggesting that the laws and constants of physics may not be invariable at all times and places throughout the universe. They question the very foundation of the scientific method and, thus, the basis for all scientific knowledge. 

My purpose in writing today is to counter this alarming antiscience trend by providing a thorough review of the latest, most firmly established measurements and observations upholding and solidly affirming the case for unchanging physical laws. At the same time, these findings attest to what the Bible declared thousands of years ago, a declaration that became a major stepping stone in my journey toward trust in God and his Word.

The Bible, in fact, gave and still gives impetus to investigating the natural world and trusting what our investigation reveals. It seems no accident of history that the Scientific Revolution exploded out of Reformation Europe. That’s when and where, for the first time, the message of the Bible became more widely known to the world.

Recent Experimental Affirmations of Unchanging Physical Laws  
The fine-structure constant quantifies the strength of the electromagnetic force interactions among elementary charged particles. Laboratory experiments using single-ion optical clocks conducted over a span of 1 year showed that possible variations in the fine-structure constant could be no greater than 3.9 x 10-17/year.1 This determination represents the most stringent laboratory confirmation to date on the unchanging nature of the fine-structure constant.

Further evidence comes from a natural nuclear fission reactor that operated two billion years ago in what is now Oklo, Gabon. Calculations performed on fresh cores in the reactor, each with different uranium content, combined with measurements of the samarium-149 cross section and the ratios of samarium-147 to samarium-149, established that changes in the fine-structure constant2 and the strange quark mass3 over the past 2 billion years must be no greater than 1.0 x 10-17/year and 1.0 x 10-18/year respectively.

Three Japanese physicists conducted experiments on ultracold (140 microkelvin or 0.00014 °C above absolute zero) photoassociated 41K87Rb molecules. Their experiments, performed over a four-year period, showed that variation in the electron-to-proton mass ratio must be no more than 1.3 x 10-14/year.4 Experiments based on comparisons of Ytterbium+and Cesium atomic clocks established that the electron-to-proton mass ratio varied by less than 2.1 x 10-16/year.5 A team of ten British physicists using single-ion atomic optical clocks determined that variation of the electron-to-proton magnetic moment ratio must be less than 1.3 x 10-16/year.6

Just to be clear, each of these numbers from each of these tests comes as close to zero as technology allows or total confidence requires.

The Apollo Confirmations
On July 21, 1969, many of us who are old enough had the privilege of watching live, on television, as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set up a laser reflector on the Moon’s surface. Its purpose: to test gravitational theories (see figure 1). In 1971, the Apollo 14 crew placed a similar laser reflector at a different site on the Moon, and the Apollo 15 crew set up another. Theirs was a higher quality reflector, three times the size of the one installed by Armstrong and Aldrin (see figure 2). Figure 3 shows the locations on the Moon of the three laser reflectors.

Figure 1: Apollo 11 Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument
Credit: NASA

Figure 2: Apollo 15 Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument
Credit: NASA, Dave Scott

Figure 3: Lunar Laser Ranging Reflector Sites Set Up by Three Apollo Crews
Image credit: NASA; diagram credit: Hugh Ross

Six observatories on Earth are capable of performing precise timing experiments by bouncing laser reflections off these Apollo lunar instruments: the McDonald Observatory in Texas, the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur in France, the Matera Observatory in Italy, and the Wettzell Observatory in Germany.

In a previous article, I explained how lunar laser ranging (LLR) experiments have demonstrated the veracity of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, a theory that is a cornerstone of cosmic origin models.7 These same experiments are useful for testing the variability of the gravitational force constant and the electron-to-proton mass ratio. The LLR experiments conducted over a 51-year period have yielded tight constraints on these two constants. They show that the gravitational force constant varies by no more than 1.5 x 10-14/year,8 and the electron-to-proton mass ratio, by no more than 4.5 x 10-14/year.9 Again, numbers so small as to be considered zero.

New Observational Tests of Physical Laws
Due to the finite, identical (to within fifteen decimal places),10 and accurately known velocities of light, neutrinos, and gravity waves, astronomers are able to test the constancy of the laws of physics throughout deep time. Astronomical observations provide direct measures of the characteristics and operation of the physical laws at any time during the history of the universe simply by focusing on astronomical objects at different distances from Earth. (The greater the distance of an astronomical object, the farther back in time astronomers observe the light, gravity waves, or neutrinos emitted by the object.)

Astronomers can measure the wavelength positions of certain spectral lines emitted by stars, galaxies, and quasars, observing where the spectral lines are shifted by interactions with electric and magnetic fields. Such measurements yield the value of the fine-structure constant at the moment when light was emitted from the star, galaxy, or quasar.

Thousands of measurements made by astronomers show that the fine-structure constant in stars, galaxies, and quasars from 4 light-years to 12.9 billion light-years away differs by no more than 1 part in a million from its measured value on Earth today.11 These measurements imply that any variations in the value of the fine-structure constant would be no greater than 7.8 x 10-17/year over the past 12.9 billion years.

Similarly, astronomical observation of spectral lines in stars, galaxies, and quasars shows that variations in the electron-to-proton mass ratio must be no greater than 1.36 x 10-17/year over the past 7.34 billion years12 and no greater than 1.6 x 10-17/year throughout the past 12.9 billion years.13 The same kinds of observations establish that the gravitational force constant has varied by no more than 7.9 x 10-12/year over the past 11.0 billion years.14

Helioseismology observations of the Sun conducted over a 24-year period demonstrate that the gravitational force constant varies by no more than 5.2 x 10-14/year.15 Meanwhile, pulsar timing observations conducted over a 26-year period confirm that any changes in the gravitational force constant can be no more than 1.0 x 10-12/year.16  

Unchanging Physical Laws in the Earliest Moments of the Universe
Several papers published in theoretical journals suggest the possibility of small changes in a few of the constants undergirding the laws of physics. Such speculations point only to the extremely early history of the universe—the time before the first stars and galaxies formed, even before the occurrence of nucleosynthesis.

However, the observed effects of big bang nucleosynthesis imply that the fundamental constants undergirding the laws of physics possessed the same values then as physicists measure today in their experiments and that astronomers see in their observations of stars, galaxies, and quasars.17 These effects indicate that the laws of physics have remained unchanged since the universe was just one second old.

A recent article in Astronomy & Astrophysics18 indicates that a tiny change in the fine-structure constant at that very early moment would be conceivable IF there were no viable solution to what’s considered the “lithium problem.” It seems the amount of lithium astronomers have observed in stars falls short of the amount predicted to arise from big bang nucleosynthesis. Yet, as demonstrated in The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th edition, several possible solutions to the lithium problem do exist, and they require no variation in the value of any of the constants undergirding the laws of physics.19 The most likely of these solutions is the presence, in the early universe, of a small population of stars more massive (on average) and, consequently, much brighter than stars that exist today.

The bottom line is that everything we know and can measure about the physics of the universe and Earth, sometimes to the seventeenth and eighteenth places of the decimal, confirms—even shouts—that the laws of physics have not changed. Speculation about small changes in the laws of physics is strictly hypothetical, not based on knowledge and understanding. The epoch that remains, as yet, inaccessible to scientific observation and testing is the initial 0.00000000000000002 portion of cosmic history!  

Philosophical/Theological Implications
Thanks to their unwavering dedication and persistence and to the amazing technological tools in their hands, astronomers and physicists have affirmed the clear and repeated biblical claim that throughout the whole history of the universe and Earth, the laws of physics have remained fixed, that is, unchanged. Countless experiments and observations provide consistent affirmations of the Bible’s unique predictive power, a potent testimony to its divine inspiration and inerrancy.

No other holy book accurately describes multiple facts of nature centuries, even millennia, before they could be observed and tested by thorough and detailed scientific investigation. This biblical claim of unchanging physical laws and constants is one of the assertions, or “predictions,” that made a potent impression on me, as a curious science student beginning to investigate Christianity.

In Jeremiah 33, I read that God rebuked the Jews for doubting his promises. In Jeremiah 33:25, the prophet compares the certainty of God’s promises to “the fixed laws of heaven and earth.” The clear implication, here, is that just as the laws of physics, from thermodynamics to gravity to electromagnetism and more can be counted on to remain unchanging, so, too, can God’s promises be counted on.

Romans 8:20 says that the creation has been subjected to “frustration” or “futility.” Verses 21–22 declare that all of creation, the entire universe, was, and is, in a state of “slavery to decay” or “bondage to corruption.” What clearer depiction could be offered for the second law of thermodynamics? Ecclesiastes 1 and 3 and Revelation 21 support the claim that the whole of nature has been subjected to and continually experiences ongoing decay. 

Given the design features God built into the universe, this progression to disorder (entropy) is essential for physical life and physical work to be possible, but that’s another story, which I have told elsewhere.20 Romans 8:23 tells us that the laws of physics will remain pervasively in effect until God’s redemptive work is complete. The completion of this work will occur when the full number of humans God intends to redeem have embraced his offer of rescue in Christ.

In other words, the more we learn about the created realm, both the cosmos and ourselves, the stronger the basis for confidence that the biblical writers were supernaturally and accurately inspired21 by the One who brought the cosmos—and all of us—into existence. 


  1. T. Rosenband et al., “Frequency Ratio of Al+ and Hg+ Single-Ion Optical Clocks; Metrology at the 17th Decimal Place,” Science 319, no. 5871 (March 28, 2008): 1808–1812, doi:10.1126/science.1154622.
  2. Yasunori Fujii et al., “The Nuclear Interaction at Oklo 2 Billion Years Ago,” Nuclear Physics B 573, nos. 1–2 (May 2000): 377–401, doi:10.1016/S0550-3213(00)00038-9.
  3. Yu V. Petrov et al., “Natural Nuclear Reactor at Oklo and Variation of Fundamental Constants: Computation and Neutronics of a Fresh Core,” Physical Review C 74, no. 6 (December 14, 2006): id. 064610, doi:10.1103/PhysRevC.74.064610; V. V. Flambaum and E. V. Shuryak, “Limits on Cosmological Variation of Strong Interaction and Quark Masses from Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, Cosmic, Laboratory, and Oklo Data,” Physical Review D 65, no. 10 (April 22, 2002): id. 103503, doi:10.1103/PhysRev/D.65.103503; V. F. Dmitriev and V. V. Flambaum, “Limits on Cosmological Variation of Quark Masses and Strong Interaction,” Physical Review D 67, no. 6 (March 26, 2003): id. 063513, doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.67.063513.
  4. J. Kobayashi, A. Ogino, and S. Inouye, “Measurement of the Variation of Electron-to-Proton Mass Ratio Using Ultracold Molecules Produced from Laser-Cooled Atoms,” Nature Communications 10 (August 21, 2019): id. 3771, doi:10.1038/s41467-019-11761-1.
  5. N. Huntemann et al., “Improved Limit on a Temporal Variation of mp/me from Comparisons of Yb+ and Cs Atomic Clocks,” Physical Review Letters 113, no. 21 (November 17, 2014): id. 210802, doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.210802.
  6. R. M. Godun et al., “Frequency Ratio of Two Optical Clock Transitions in 171Yb+ and Constraints on the Time Variation of Fundamental Constants,” Physical Review Letters 113, no, 21 (November 17, 2014): id. 210801, doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.210801.
  7. Hugh Ross, “General Relativity and Its Christian Implications Pass Yet More Tests,” Today’s New Reason to Believe(blog), Reasons to Believe, December 18, 2017.
  8. Liliane Biskupek, Jürgen Müller, and Jean-Marie Torre, “Benefit of New High-Precision LLR Data for the Determination of Relativistic Parameters,” Universe 7, no. 2 (February 3, 2021): id. 34, doi:10.3390/universe7020034.
  9. Biskupek, Müller, and Torre, “Benefit of New High-Precision LLR Data.”
  10. B. P. Abbott et al., LIGO Scientific “Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, “GW170817: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Neutron Star Inspiral,” Physical Review Letters 119, no. 16 (October 16, 2017): id. 161101, doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.161101; B. P. Abbott et al., LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor, and INTEGRAL, “Gravitational Waves and Gamma-Rays from a Binary Neutron Star Merger: GW170817 and GRB 170817A,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 848, no. 2 (October 20, 2017): id. L13, doi:10.3847/2041-8213/aa920c; Jun-Jie Wei et al., “Limits on the Neutrino Velocity, Lorentz Invariance, and the Weak Equivalence Principle with TeV Neutrinos from Gamma Ray Bursts,” Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics 2016, no. 8 (August 16, 2016): id. 031, doi:10.1088/1475-7516/2016/08/031.
  11. Michael T. Murphy et al., “Fundamental Physics with ESPRESSO: Precise Limit on Variations in the Fine-Structure Constant Towards the Bright Quasar HE 0515-4414,” Astronomy & Astrophysics 658 (February 2022): id. A123, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202142257; T. D. Le, “Stringent Limit on Space-Time Variation of Fine-Structure Constant Using High-Resolution of Quasar Spectra,” Heliyon 6, no. 9 (September 2020): id. e05011, doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e05011; Haoran Liang and Zhe Wu, “Measuring the Fine-Structure Constant on Quasar Spectra: High Spectral Resolution Gains More Than a Large Size of Moderate Spectral Resolution Spectra,” Proceedings of the SPIE 12644, International Workshop on Frontiers of Graphics and Image Processing (FGIP 2022)(May 3, 2023): id. 1264408, doi:10.1117/12.2670012; Michael T. Murphy, Adrian L. Malec, and J. Xavier Prochaska, “Precise Limits on Cosmological Variability of the Fine-Structure Constant with Zinc and Chromium Quasar Absorption Lines,” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 461, no. 3 (September 21, 2016): 2461–2479, doi:10.1093/mnras/stw1482; S. A. Levshakov et al., “An Upper Limit to the Variation in the Fundamental Constants at Redshift z = 5.2,” Astronomy & Astrophysics: Letters 540 (April 2012): id. L9, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201219042;Franco D. Albareti et al., “Constraint on the Time Variation of the Fine-Structure Constant with the SDSS-III/BOSS DR12 Quasar Sample,” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 452, no. 4 (October 1, 2015): 4153–4168, doi:10.1093/mnras/atv1406; S. M. Kotuš, M. T. Murphy, and R. F. Carswell, “High-Precision Limit on Variation in the Fine-Structure Constant from a Single Quasar Absorption System,” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society464, no. 3 (January 2017): 3679–3703, doi:10.1093/mnras/stw2543; Raghunathan Srianand et al., “Limits on the Time Variation of the Electromagnetic Fine-Structure Constant in the Low Energy Limit from Absorption Lines in the Spectra of Distant Quasars,” Physical Review Letters 92, no. 12 (March 26, 2004): id. 121302, doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.92.121302.
  12. Julija Bagdonaite et al., “A Stringent Limit on a Drifting Proton-to-Electron Mass Ratio from Alcohol in the Early Universe,” Science 339, no. 6115 (December 13, 2012): 46–48, doi:10.1126/science.1224898.
  13. Levshakov et al., “An Upper Limit to the Variation in the Fundamental Constants at Redshift z = 5.2.”
  14. Earl Patrick Bellinger and Jørgen Christensen-Dalsgaard, “Asteroseismic Constraints on the Cosmic-Time Variation of the Gravitational Constant from an Ancient Main-sequence Star,” The Astrophysical Journal Letters 887, no. 1 (December 3, 2019): id. L1, doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ab43e7.
  15. Alfio Bonanno and Hans-Erich Fröhlich, “A New Helioseismic Constraint on a Cosmic-Time Variation of G,” The Astrophysical Journal Letters 893, no. 2 (April 21, 2020): id. L35, doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ab86b9.
  16. W. W. Zhu et al., “Tests of Gravitational Symmetries with Pulsar Binary J1713+0747,” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 482, no. 3 (January 2019): 3249–3260, doi:10.1093/mnras/sty2905.
  17. Kazuhide Ichikawa and M. Kawasaki, “Constraining the Variation of the Coupling Constants with Big Bang Nucleosynthesis,” Physical Review D 65, no. 12 (June 6, 2002): id. 123511, doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.65.123511; Bruce A. Campbell and Keith A. Olive, “Nucleosynthesis and the Time Dependence of Fundamental Couplings,” Physics Letters B 345, no. 4 (February 23, 1995): 429–434, doi:10.1016/0370-2693(94)01652-S.  
  18. M. T. Clara and C. J. A. P. Martins, “Primordial Nucleosynthesis with Varying Fundamental Constants: Improved Constraints and a Possible Solution to the Lithium Problem,” Astronomy & Astrophysics 633 (January 2020): id. L11, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201937211.
  19. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018), 62–64.
  20. Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2008), 95–181.
  21.  Hebrews 6:18.