Laws of Physics Still Constant
People value reliability. Businesses put a lot of effort into assuring customers of the reliability of their products. Consumers associate the question “Can you hear me now?” with the reliability of the Verizon network. “Still going” brings to mind long-lasting Energizer batteries. Even God communicates His reliability. He guarantees the validity of His promise to the nation of Israel for “as long as day and night stand and the fixed patterns of the heavens operate”. In other words, the reliability of the laws of physics provides a picture of God’s constancy.
Scientists can test the laws of physics for reliability. There are three different ways the laws of physics might vary, namely either in space, in time, or motion. Past TNRTBs have addressed the former two. Recent research addresses any variation due to motion.
In essence, such tests also validate the general theory of relativity (GR). Einstein’s philosophical motivation for developing GR is that every observer should see the same laws of physics regardless of their motion. The term physicists use for this principle is Lorentz invariance. However, testing Lorentz invariance as it applies to gravity has been difficult. Nevertheless, an international team of physicists have used an atom interferometer to search for violations of Lorentz invariance resulting from gravitational effects. Rather than getting bogged down in the technical details of the experiment, let’s focus on the apologetic implications of the research results. (Those interested in the details can find them here).
The standard model of gravity embodies local Lorentz invariance (LLI). Two different models, which go beyond the standard, contain nine terms that are non-zero only if LLI does not hold. Using the results from the atom interferometer, researchers determined that five of the nine terms measure zero and cannot deviate from zero by more than a few parts per billion. Another three terms measure zero at the parts-per-million level. The experiment provides no constraints on the ninth term. The fact that all the terms beyond the standard model of gravity measure zero means that the laws of physics do not change based on an observer’s motion.
These results further validate the biblical idea that we live in a universe governed by constant laws of physics. One related point bears mentioning.
Scientists know that current models (quantum mechanics and general relativity) are not the complete picture of the universe. First, these two models are fundamentally incompatible as currently formulated. Second, given scientists’ understanding of the models, there is no explanation for why matter dominates over antimatter in the universe. It may turn out that violations of Lorentz invariance in the early universe might solve this second issue. However, such a violation in the earliest moments in the universe would not violate the biblical description. Without any matter, there would be no Sun, Earth, or Moon to evaluate whether the laws of physics were constant or not.