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About The “God Particle”

October 23rd, 2013 Comments off
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This simulated image of a Higgs boson particle (popularly called the “God particle”) is based on data from the Large Hadron Collider of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. Photo credit: CERN, http://cds.cern.ch/record/628469.

Great article from Baptist Press.

NASHVILLE (BP) — Discovery of the so-called “God particle” not only helped two physicists win this year’s Nobel Prize, it also unwittingly bolstered the arguments of the Intelligent Design movement, according to Southern Baptist scientists.

The particle, whose scientific name is the Higgs boson, derives its popular name from the title of the 1993 book, “God Particle,” by atheist physicist Leon Lederman. However, “a closer consideration of the function and properties of the Higgs boson is very enlightening from a theistic perspective,” Bruce Gordon, associate professor of the history and philosophy of science at Houston Baptist University, told Baptist Press in an email interview.

“In direct opposition to Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg’s remark that ‘the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless,’ we can only recommend the more obvious and rational view that the greater our comprehension of the universe, the more we should be given to doxology: The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork (Psalm 19:1),” said Gordon, who also is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that plays a leading role in the Intelligent Design movement, which argues that the universe is the product of intelligence rather than blind chance.

Most physicists dislike the term “God particle” and do not use it even in popular scientific literature. They say the term was a marketing ploy for Lederman’s book rather than a helpful scientific descriptor of the Higgs boson.

Theoretical physicists Peter Higgs, 84, and Francois Englert, 80, were announced as this year’s Nobel Prize winners in physics Oct. 8 for proposing the existence of the Higgs boson nearly 50 years ago. When the particle was finally discovered last year at the world’s most powerful particle accelerator in Switzerland, it vindicated their theory. The two scientists will split a prize of $1.2 million to be awarded in Stockholm Dec. 10.

(A boson is one of the two classes of known particles. Bosons are distinguished from fermions based on the type of spin they have. Generally fermions make up matter while bosons transmit forces that hold matter together.)

Higgs, of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and Englert, of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, were among a handful of physicists in the early 1960s seeking to explain the origin of mass by positing a force field that fills all space and produces resistance to objects moving through it. The field, they said, acts like a cosmic molasses, sticking to particles as they move and giving them mass. The Higgs boson is the interacting mechanism of the Higgs field. The more interactions a moving particle has with Higgs bosons, the more massive it is.

The Higgs boson was the last missing ingredient in a set of equations known as the Standard Model that explains how particles interact. It took half a century to discover the Higgs boson because it exists as matter for less than a billionth of a billionth of a second and disappears in ways that make it look like other types of particles.

If the Higgs field did not exist, particles would be massless and move at the speed of light. Atoms would not exist either, and the universe would be lifeless.

“Along with a handful of other fundamental forces and laws” like gravity and electromagnetism, “the Higgs mechanism is necessary for the existence of life,” Gordon said. “Without it, we wouldn’t be here.”

The Higgs boson is significant for the Intelligent Design movement because its mass and interaction strength are fine-tuned to accommodate the existence of life, which points to the particle’s being the product of a rational creator rather than an undirected natural process. If the subatomic Higgs boson had even five times its measured mass, it would render life impossible, Gordon said.

“The amount of fine-tuning present in the forms taken by the laws of nature, the conditions governing the beginning of the universe and the values associated with various universal constants (force-field strengths, particle masses, etc.) is beyond the reach of any undirected process,” Gordon said. “The specified nature of these forms, conditions and values, combined with their staggering and (mostly) multiplicative improbabilities, leads inexorably to the conclusion that the universe has these properties as the result of an intelligent cause, not an undirected process.”

William Nettles, professor of physics at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., agreed that discovery of the Higgs boson suggests the universe is orderly and designed, but he urged Christians not to blow the new scientific insight out of proportion.

The discovery “does not detract from the faith-held fact that God created the universe, and all things hold together in the Son,” Nettles told BP. “We just have a better picture of God’s details … Our mission is still to bring glory to God through telling His Gospel to all. Just as gunpowder, the electric light bulb or the automobile didn’t change the Gospel message of forgiveness of sin, neither does the Higgs boson.”

Believers should take comfort in the fact that God allows humans to understand how the physical world is structured, Nettles said. If not for scientists who understood quantum mechanics — the field of study in which the Higgs boson was discovered — “there would be no lasers, no transistors, no cell phones, no personal computers and no large jet airplanes,” he said.

“We never know when knowledge or even the process of increasing knowledge can grow into something practical,” Nettles said. Christians “can appreciate the insight and effort of the human mind in searching for and developing a model for our physical structures, because we know that God has enabled us to do that.”

Don Walton, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Zephyrhills, Fla., said in an Internet commentary that the popular name “God particle” is misleading. Though the Higgs boson helps explain how particles massed together to form the universe, it does not replace God as the ultimate explanation for all that exists, he said.

Despite its “fantastic” discovery of “an elementary particle that serves as a cosmic molasses, modern-day science is completely void of answers to the following questions,” Walton wrote. “(1) What power caused the Big Bang at the universe’s inception? (2) How did flying particles blown through space at the speed of light mass together to form orderly matter with its intricately designed details? (3) How do lifeless particles mass together to form living organisms? (4) And, if the universe is totally dependent upon and completely explainable by the laws of nature, then, where did the laws of nature come from?”

Walton continued, “Far from disproving the existence of God, the discoveries of modern-day science, as the above questions clearly show, inevitably lead us back to the Creator as the only viable explanation for creation.”

Discovery of the Higgs boson, Gordon noted, should spur scientists to pursue additional insights that demonstrate the universe’s intricate design.

“Where the fine-tuning of the universe for the existence of life is concerned, these observations about the Higgs boson are just the tip of the iceberg,” he wrote.
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David Roach is a writer in Shelbyville, Ky. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

© Copyright 2013 Baptist PressOriginal copy of this story can be found at http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=41325
Categories: Science

Looking Even More Deeply into Space

September 27th, 2012 7 comments

Seems the more deeply we are able to look into the created universe the more amazing it becomes! Here’s the latest image released by the Hubble Telescope team, showing an amazing variety of galaxies and “other things” in the deepest reaches of the universe that we have been able to look. I suspect there’s even more amazing things to be found. God must chuckle at our puny little efforts fully to grasp the reality of his creative power. Click on the image to get the largest version of it I could download from HubbleSite.org

Everytime I see an image like this and read about it, Psalm 8 pops into my head:

8 O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

you have established strength because of your foes,

to still the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,

and the son of man that you care for him?

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

you have put all things under his feet,

7 all sheep and oxen,

and also the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

 

Categories: Science, Secularism

What’s Wrong with “Theistic Evolution”?

April 20th, 2012 5 comments

Thanks to Rev. DeYoung for this interesting blog post.

Theistic evolution, generally defined, is the belief that natural processes sustained by God’s ordinary providence were the means by which he brought about life and humanity. It often entails a common ancestry for all living things, macro-evolution, and some version of polygenesis.

William Dembski explains:

For young-earth and old-earth creationists, humans bearing the divine image were created from scratch. In other words, God did something radically new when he created us–we didn’t emerge from pre-existing organisms. On this view, fully functioning hominids having fully human bodies but lacking the divine image never existed. For most theistic evolutions, by contrast, primate ancestors evolved over several million years into hominids with fully human bodies. (God and Evolution, 91)

According to some proponents of theistic evolution Genesis 2:7 is a reference to God’s work in history whereby he made Adam into a spiritual being in the image of God, instead of the lesser sort of being he was before. This approach still insists on the historicity of Adam and Eve and their real fall in the Garden. But, on this view, Adam may not have been the first human:

According to [Denis] Alexander’s preferred model, anatomically modern humans emerged some 200,000 years ago, with language in place by 50,000 years ago. Then, around 6,000-8,000 years ago, God chose a couple of Neolithic farmers, and then he revealed himself for the first time, so constituting them as Homo divinus, the first humans to know God and be spiritually alive. (Should Christians Embrace Evolution?, 47)

And what’s wrong with this approach? Why can’t we say Adam was a real person and the first person to know God, but not the only human on the planet? Aren’t we still in the realm of historic orthodoxy even if Adam evolved from other beings and may not have been the physical father of all living persons? I am raising these questions not to suggest a single blog post and a few quotations obliterates evolution. The point rather is to examine whether full-blown evolution can be reconciled with complete allegiance to biblical authority.

Listed below are eight problems Wayne Grudem finds with theistic evolution. I realize he may not be an authority on these matters, but in typical fashion he distills the main points nicely and explain succinctly what unbiblical conclusions we must reach for theistic evolution to be true.

(1) Adam and Eve were not the first human beings, but they were just two Neolithic farmers among about ten million other human beings on earth at that time, and God just chose to reveal himself to them in a personal way.

(2) Those other human beings had already been seeking to worship and serve God or gods in their own ways.

(3) Adam was not specially formed by God of ‘dust from the ground’ (Gen. 2:7) but had two human parents.

(4) Eve was not directly made by God of a ‘rib that the Lord God had taken from the man’ (Gen. 2:22), but she also had two human parents.

(5) Many human beings both then and now are not descended from Adam and Eve.

(6) Adam and Eve’s sin was not the first sin.

(7) Human physical death had occurred for thousands of years before Adam and Eve’s sin–it was part of the way living things had always existed.

(8) God did not impose any alteration in the natural world when he cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin. (Should Christians Embrace Evolution?, 9)

These are other questions theistic evolution raises for the Bible believing Christian. How can we uphold the special dignity and majesty the Bible accords human beings when we are only qualitatively different from other life forms and continuous with the rest of the animal world? How can God impute sin and guilt to all humans along the lines of federal headship when some of us have no physical connection with Adam? Likewise, if we are not all descended literally from one pair, how can we all have an ontological connection with Christ who only assumed the flesh of Adam’s race?

Of course, these problems are no problems at all (conceptually) without the Bible to account for. But theistic evolution purports to bring together the evolutionary consensus and a faithful doctrine of creation. That’s the whole appeal. And yet, I don’t see how the two are compatible, whether Adam really existed or not.

Source.

Categories: Science

What We Don’t Know is Far Greater Than What We Know about the Universe

October 10th, 2010 2 comments

Did you know that:

  • 96% of the universe consists of unknown components. 23% is thought to consist of so-called “dark matter” which nobody understands. 73% is “dark energy” that is thought to have something to do with the universe expanding. So-called “ordinary matter” accounts for just 4% of the cosmos.
  • There are 12,500 genes in the human genome, whose function remains completely unknown. Genes make up only 2% of the human genome. The rest of the material in the human gene remains a mystery.
  • There are 85 billion cells in the human brain that are not neurons. Neurons make up less than half of all brain cells. The remaining cells, known as “glia” are now just beginning to be cataloged and researched.

Source: Discover, October 2010, pg. 15.

Categories: Science

Evolution is Miraculous! Oh, wait a minute…

December 26th, 2009 2 comments

I have enjoyed following the Intelligence Design movement, which has secularist/atheistic evolutionary theory on the run, to say the least. I bumped into this video and thought you would enjoy it. When you see how irreducibly complex even something as “simple” as a human cell is, it boggles the mind to try to imagine this being a massive “accident” of nature. What do you think? I recommend Signature in the Cell for further reading.

The Missing Missing Link

May 23rd, 2009 1 comment

fossilman1As per the usual, the mass media picked up and ran with a story recently declaring that “the missing link has been found!” thus “proving” Darwin’s theories that man descended from the apes. And, as per the usual, the mass media is wrong. Answers in Genesis has a nice page of quotations from prominent scientists worldwide poo-pooing the media hype. For example, and this is typical of the reaction of reputable scientists:

“On the whole I think the evidence is less than convincing,” said Chris Gilbert, a paleoanthropologist at Yale University. “They make an intriguing argument but I would definitely say that the consensus is not in favor of the hypothesis they’re proposing.” . . .

“The PR campaign on this fossil is I think more of a story than the fossil itself,” said anthropologist Matt Cartmill of Duke University in North Carolina. “It’s a very beautiful fossil, but I didn’t see anything in this paper that told me anything decisive that was new.”

Most experts agree that the find is significant, if only for its impressive degree of completeness, but some were put off by the bells and whistles that went along with the publicity campaign around Ida. . . .

“It’s not a missing link, it’s not even a terribly close relative to monkeys, apes and humans, which is the point they’re trying to make,” [Carnegie Museum of Natural History curator of vertebrate paleontology Chris] Beard said.

And then I stumbled across this bit of fun today. HT: Sacred Sandwich

Categories: Humor, Science

Noah’s Ark?

June 30th, 2006 5 comments

You are going to be hearing in the media reports about a team of Christian explorers and archeologists who have travelled to Iran and have ascended a mountain to try to identify what has been known about for years: a long boat-like structure on the mountain. Here is the official news and information site on the expedition, with photos. I do not know what to think about it at this point. It clearly looks like wood and apparently tests have confirmed it is petrified wood, with marine creatures attached to it in places that could only have come from the ocean. Interesting?

Link: Noah’s Ark? For Real – CWN.

Categories: Science

Hundreds of New Species Discovered

February 6th, 2006 Comments off

Link: Independent Online Edition > Environment.

An astonishing mist-shrouded "lost world" of previously unknown and rare animals and plants high in the mountain rainforests of New Guinea has been uncovered by an international team of scientists.

Among the new species of birds, frogs, butterflies and palms discovered in the expedition through this pristine environment, untouched by man, was the spectacular Berlepsch’s six-wired bird of paradise. The scientists are the first outsiders to see it. They could only reach the remote mountainous area by helicopter, which they described it as akin to finding a "Garden of Eden".

Categories: Science