Anyone seen the god particle?

If you’ve heard much about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva you will have been interested in some of the claims made about how it might help understand the origins of the universe. The LHC is a tunnel 17 miles long, 100 metres underground, and is a result of collaboration of over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries. It consists of a particle accelerator that fires protons at each other at nearly the speed of light. A particular focus is proving the existence of the Higgs-boson particle which will help us understand how anything weighs anything. It is this particle, (sometimes called the god-particle), that is supposed to tell us something about how the Big Bang happened.
There have been some interesting results, most recently a surprising suggestion that some particles might be travelling even faster than the speed of light. Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Surrey has offered to "eat his shorts" live on TV if this is proven correct!
Skepticism aside, Christians should be excited by this kind of research. Results, if correctly interpreted, can help us better understand the universe God has put us in. The huge scientific advancement over the past century has given us new insight into how amazing and complex creation is. The LHC might enable the next big leap forward in our understanding.
How we respond to comments through the media is more of a challenge. “We can now look forward,” said the LHC project director, “to a new era of understanding about the origins and evolution of the universe.” BBC Radio 4 designated Wednesday 10 September as ‘big bang day’ to coincide with a  major LHC experiment. As a result it has been criticised for expecting science to answer the why creation happened how it did, rather than just sticking with how the universe works.
So, how do we balance excitement in scientific advance, but not feel threatened by claims that seem to disprove a Biblical understanding of creation?  
The answer is to remember that it is not science that will change what we believe about religion, but that our (Christian) worldview affects how we interpret science. For example a scientist who is a Christian will interpret findings with respect to God, an atheist scientist will attribute it to chance and evolution. This is vitally important to remember when we respond to news of scientific advance. We can listen to scientific progress with delight and interest, appreciating both the insight into creation it gives us and the God-given minds of scientists that have provided the results. We should however be skeptical of scientists and media who interpret the results without reference to God; in attempting to answer the ‘why’ questions that scientific advance raises, they step outside their area of expertise and their authority is ripe for questioning.
So as we hear news report of scientific advance from Geneva, let’s use that as a prompt for prayer. Pray in worship to God for his creation. Pray that reports will be fair and won’t unhelpfully try to interpret results. And pray that many will be amazed at the wonder of creation, and as a result turn to the creator.

Guest post by Paul Simpson




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2 comments:

  1. it's great how complex and intricate creation is. I defineately agree that science is only able to explan how creation works, rather than the 'why' questions. However from my experience i've found science to be content with answering it's own questions without attempting to answer religion's. Maybe i don't read enough reports or am not sceptical enough, could you find an example of a 'dodgy' report online?

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  2. Science can have no belief itself, it is simply an activity or body of knowledge. However scientists can have beliefs, as can those who comment on scientific discovery, and those beliefs or comments might or might not be sceintific. It's easy to take pop-shots at Dawkins, but he provides many opportunities to demonstarte that a statement of a scientist isn't always a statement of science. So for example, Dawkins says: “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” Now what he states isn't scientific, and demonstrates huge errors in his understanding. The BBC might do the same thing if and when it comments on science. So we need to be discerning enough to distinguish comments on science that aren't scientific, from actual scientific discovery.

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