I still believed in God (I am now an atheist) when I heard the following question at a seminar, first posed by Einstein, and was stunned by its elegance and depth: “If there is a God who created the entire universe and ALL of its laws of physics, does God follow God’s own laws? Or can God supersede his own laws, such as travelling faster than the speed of light and thus being able to be in two different places at the same time?” Could the answer help us prove whether or not God exists or is this where scientific empiricism and religious faith intersect, with NO true answer? David Frost, 67, Los Angeles.
I was in lockdown when I received this question and was instantly intrigued. It’s no wonder about the timing – tragic events, such as pandemics, often cause us to question the existence of God: if there is a merciful God, why is a catastrophe like this happening? The idea that God might be “bound” by the laws of physics – which also govern chemistry and biology and thus the limits of medical science – was an interesting one to explore.
If God wasn’t able to break the laws of physics, she arguably wouldn’t be as powerful as you’d expect a supreme being to be. But if she could, why haven’t we seen any evidence of the laws of physics ever being broken in the Universe?
To tackle the question, let’s break it down a bit. First, can God travel faster than light? Let’s just take the question at face value. Light travels at an approximate speed of 3 x 10 to the power of 5 kilometres every second, or 186,000 miles per second (299,500km/s). We learn at school that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light – not even the USS Enterprise in Star Trek when its dilithium crystals are set to max.
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But is it true? A few years ago, a group of physicists posited that particles called tachyons travelled above light speed. Fortunately, their existence as real particles is deemed highly unlikely. If they did exist, they would have an imaginary mass and the fabric of space and time would become distorted – leading to violations of causality (and possibly a headache for God).
It seems, so far, that no object has been observed that can travel faster than the speed of light. This in itself does not say anything at all about God. It merely reinforces the knowledge that light travels very fast indeed.