Posts Tagged ‘Higgs boson’

How do you know it’s an accident, “remarkable” or otherwise?

July 29, 2012

From my infrequent conversations with atheists over the years, I’ve noticed that they sometimes have (or pretend to have) an insufficient ability to experience wonder. They sometimes refuse to be impressed by how remarkable it is that we have life in a universe capable of sustaining life. Are they afraid, perhaps, that they would be yielding too much ground to us believers?

It all just seems so unlikely, doesn’t it? Maybe to an average person, yes. But these atheists shrug and say, “No. Of course it seems that way to your untrained eye, but that’s because you don’t understand that…” And what follows is an explanation that simply pushes the question back one generation. They evade the question, “Yes, but why are things like that?”

For all I know, Laurence Krauss, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University, is an atheist, but in this New York Times essay, he at least allows himself to marvel at the sheer improbability of the universe. Twice in this short essay, he refers to the physics behind the Higgs boson as both a “precarious accident” and a “remarkable accident.” He even calls it a miracle before conceding, rightly, that talking about miracles is the “stuff of religion, not science.”

Be that as it may, explaining existence by calling it an accident isn’t a scientific explanation—because, in doing so, you’re peaking behind a curtain to which you have no scientific access.

I prefer to call it a miracle.

God and the “God particle”

July 10, 2012

I knew that some people—both believers and atheists—would make some extraordinary claims in the wake of last week’s possible discovery of an elusive subatomic particle called the Higgs boson. As for what it is, read the linked Times article. I’m no physicist. I’ve read that it’s the “glue” that holds everything else together. Suffice it to say that physicists predicted that such a thing existed and have been looking for it for a while.

The main reason I imagined that it would pose an apologetic challenge is because of its unfortunate nickname, “the God particle.” The physicist who first called it that in a book he wrote on the subject wanted to call it a profanity beginning with “god” but his publisher objected.

For the apologetic challenge, the gist of the argument on the atheist side is that somehow the existence of this particle means that the universe no longer needs a God to create or sustain it. (Haven’t they been arguing that all along? How does the Higgs boson either add or detract from their arguments?)

Regardless, I’ll point you to my go-to guy for apologetics, Dr. Glenn Peoples. His article is excellent, as always, but I especially like this paragraph.

As you’re reading this, you might be forgiven for asking what any of this has to do with an argument that God’s existence isn’t necessary. You’d be right to ask that question, because in reality there is no connection at all. How does this even speak to the question of why there is, right now, something rather than nothing? What does this tell us about the origin of the universe from nothing? The answer is just that – nothing! Discovering a particle that exists within the physical universe obviously can’t tell us why physical matter exists at all. The particle that gives mass to some matter, leaving other matter without mass, has nothing at all to tell us why there is matter or why the universe came into being.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I hope this now seems obvious.