Jul

06

2012

Joe Carter|4:30 AM CT

The FAQs: God and the "God Particle"

Note: The FAQs is an ongoing TGC series in which we answer your questions about the latest news and current events.

What exactly is this "God Particle"?

"God particle" is the nickname for the Higgs boson, a particle that was proposed in the 1960s by British physicist Peter Higgs as a way of explaining why other particles have mass. Theoretically, the Higgs particle is responsible for mass, without which there would be no gravity---and no universe.

For a simple but illuminating explanation of what the Higgs boson is and how it was confirmed to exist, watch the video at the end of this article.

 

Where did the term "God Particle" come from?

In his 1993 book The God Particle, Nobel-prize winning physicist Leon Lederman explains how he coined the name:

This boson is so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet to elusive, that I have given it a nickname: The God Particle. Why God Particle? Two reasons. One, the publisher wouldn't let us call it the [G--d---] Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing. And two, there is a connection, of sorts, to another book, a much older one . . .

Lederman goes on to discuss the Tower of Babel and "intellectual stress."

See also: Sarah Pulliam Bailey, "Why Scientists Don't Like the Term 'God Particle' for the Higgs boson"

 

How is the God Particle related to the Big Bang?

According to Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at CUNY,

The press has dubbed the Higgs boson the "God particle," a nickname that makes many physicists cringe. But there is some logic to it. According to the Bible, God set the universe into motion as he proclaimed "Let there be light!" In physics, the universe started off with a cosmic explosion, the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago, which sent the stars and galaxies hurtling in all directions. But the key question is left unanswered: Why did it bang? The big-bang theory says nothing about how and why it banged in the first place.

To put it another way, what was the match that set off the initial cosmic explosion? What put the "bang" in the Big Bang? In quantum physics, it was a Higgs-like particle that sparked the cosmic explosion. In other words, everything we see around us, including galaxies, stars, planets and us, owes its existence to the Higgs boson.

 

Is the discovery of the Higgs boson evidence that God did not create the universe?

Because of the misleading nickname and the connection to the Big Bang, some people might assume that the Higgs boson has theological---or atheological---implications. It does not. The confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson may illuminate physics but it doesn't shed any light on metaphysics.

Even if we were to find evidence that the universe has always existed and was uncaused (i.e., the view of steady-state cosmology), its existence would still require a causal agent to keep it from ceasing to exist, to prevent what philosopher Mortimer Adler called its exnihilation. An uncaused being that exists outside and apart from the universe (i.e., God) is required to prevent the universe from turning into nothingness.

God not only caused the universe to come into existence (Gen. 1:1), he continues to sustain its existence. Every particle in the universe would cease to exist if God were not actively, continuously, and sovereignly ensuring their continued existence. The existence of the universe is as dependent on a Sustainer now as it was dependent on the Creator at the time of the Big Bang. "And he is before all things," said Paul, "and in him all things hold together." The Higgs boson may be responsible for holding the universe together, but Jesus holds the "God particle" in its place.

 

 

The Higgs Boson Explained from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

 

Other Posts in this Series:

God and the God Particle

The Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare

Southern Baptists, Calvinism, and God's Plan of Salvation

Are Mormons Christian?

The Contraceptive-Abortifacient Mandate

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Current Events
  • Marsisme

    Very good intro to the Higgs Boson. Liked the video.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    An uncaused being that exists outside and apart from the universe (i.e., God) is required to prevent the universe from turning into nothingness.

    This simply is not true and I request you eliminate it if this is supposed to be factual.

    • Joe Carter

      Oh its quite true and can be established beyond a reasonable doubt.

      As Adler explained:

      1. Anything that exists does so because there is sufficient reason for it to do so.
      2. The cause that is the sufficient reason may reside either in the thing or in something else but the cause must exist.
      3. For a merely possible entity, the sufficient reason cannot reside in the entity but must reside in another.
      4. If the universe is merely possible, then the sufficient reason for its existence resides not in the universe but elsewhere.
      5. But the universe is all of the physical reality so the merely possible existence of the universe points "outside" the universe to the existence of a nonphysical reality.

      That conclusion is that for the universe to continue to exist, there must exist a necessary supreme being so that the universe stays in existence. God must be there to sustain the universe even if the universe is eternal.

      • http://LostCodex.com DRT

        Many cosmologists now believe that the universe must exist, not possible to exist. They believe that there is no such thing as nothing because at the most basic level we see particles popping into and out of existence all the time.

        Add to that and the fact that many of the most prominent physicists and cosmologists are atheists, then you have very little leg to stand on since if the proof you offered were as compelling as you think then these folks would believe it too.

        You marred what otherwise was a good article by interjecting some non-factual religious pseudo fact into the discussion when it is not only not necessary, but a distraction. There are plenty of places on this web site to talk about religion. Why can't you leave an article discussing the science to be free of that?

        • Joe Carter

          ***Many cosmologists now believe that the universe must exist, not possible to exist. They believe that there is no such thing as nothing because at the most basic level we see particles popping into and out of existence all the time.***

          Um, not they don't. There are no scientists who believe "there is not such thing as nothing." None.

          In fact, you contradict your own point. If we can observe something "popping into existence," it is because that particle is dependent on something that already exists—the universe. However, if something ceases to exist then it become nothingness. You seem to be making the error that "some things come into existence" and "some things go out of existence" with "something can come into and out of existence with dependency on anything other than the universe." That is neither scientifically plausible nor true.

          ***Add to that and the fact that many of the most prominent physicists and cosmologists are atheists, then you have very little leg to stand on since if the proof you offered were as compelling as you think then these folks would believe it too****

          I take it that you mean that facetiously, because that statement is one big logical fallacy. Also, the truth of a claim does not impel anyone to believe it. The fact that many scientists might reject the truth of my claim probably says more about their philosophical reasoning than it does about the veracity of my (Adler's) argument.

          ***There are plenty of places on this web site to talk about religion.***

          Yes, and TGC is one of them. ; )

          ***Why can't you leave an article discussing the science to be free of that?***

          Because: (a) the Higgs boson is often referred to as the "God particle" (a religious connection), (b) the particle has something to do with the Big Bang (which raises religious questions), and (c) some people mistakenly think that the discovery of such particles lends credence to the idea the universe could exist on its own apart from God.

          ***Add to that and the fact that many of the most prominent physicists and cosmologists are atheists, then you have very little leg to stand on since if the proof you offered were as compelling as you think then these folks would believe it too.

          You marred what otherwise was a good article by interjecting some non-factual religious pseudo fact into the discussion when it is not only not necessary, but a distraction. There are plenty of places on this web site to talk about religion. Why can't you leave an article discussing the science to be free of that?

          • http://LostCodex.com DRT

            Joe Carter,

            Really? I mean really?

            Um, not they don't. There are no scientists who believe "there is not such thing as nothing." None.

            The universe appears to be filled with particles, and many scientist know this. Here is an article that might be able to help you out.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_particle

            And here is a good article on an interesting experiment that proves the point quite well

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect

            I take it that you mean that facetiously, because that statement is one big logical fallacy. Also, the truth of a claim does not impel anyone to believe it. The fact that many scientists might reject the truth of my claim probably says more about their philosophical reasoning than it does about the veracity of my (Adler's) argument.

            No, I am serious. I gave and proved the fault in Adler's argument. It is easy to do because it is not true. The scientists who study this stuff are generally fairly smart and they could do the same. If you argument were in deed compelling, then people would listen to it. They don't because it is not compelling.

            Saying it another way, your argument is simply ridiculous that all of modern science does not understand reasoning as well as you do.

            If what you want to say is that this does not rule out the role of god in the universe then just say that. Don't confuse people with things that are not true.

            • Benjamin Ledford

              It would be easy to talk past each other on this question of "nothing," especially since those who use it an argument often mean something very different from those who refute them. Cosmologist Dr. William Lane Craig has some helpful discussion of this here: http://reasonablefaith.org/a-universe-from-nothing

            • Dan

              Is it possible that "all of modern science" is sinful and proud, and this clouds their reason?

          • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

            I can think if one prominent physicist off-hand that unequivocally states that 'nothing' is not a word that has any use in physics. There is only something. Don't let the title of Lawrence Krauss' video mislead you.

            http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CFwQtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D7ImvlS8PLIo&ei=dC73T-D9JsaW0QWLqfmXCw&usg=AFQjCNGMXDDhsTplt4TDx9KjtPtn5tc7uA&sig2=W_MkMSObSoHnYxUGzR-keg

            • Joe Carter

              Philospher Ed Feser has a good review of Krauss' book (http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/05/not-understanding-nothing):

              "[Krauss'] final proposal is that “there may be no fundamental theory at all” but just layer upon layer of laws of physics, which we can probe until we get bored. But this is no explanation of the universe at all. In particular, it is nowhere close to what Krauss promised his reader—an explanation of how the universe arose from nothing—since an endless series of “layers” of laws of physics is hardly “nothing.” His book is like a pamphlet titled How to Make a Million Dollars in One Week that turns out to be a counterfeiter’s manual."

            • http://LostCodex.com DRT

              Joe Carter, so you have gone from someone who denies that any single physicist does not believe in nothing to providing a review of a very famous physicists book with the title "Not Understanding Nothing"

              Joe, you are out of your league and should not be influencing people with your grandstanding approach given the obvious lack of knowledge you show.

            • http://LostCodex.com DRT

              Joe, Ed Feser does not know the first thing about science that I can see, much like I now think of you. Just because someone who does not know anything about science and has a vested interest in some minor branch of Christianity says something is no reason to doubt the wonderful work that is being done in the sciences. Krauss is reputable and unlike Feser, I think his conclusion that we will be "participating in the exciting voyage of discovery." is compelling and very exciting.

              Get out of your rampart that you stack up sandbags against science and embrace that god made things as they are, not as you wish they are. These people are trying to understand how they are.

    • David

      The best defense for Intelligent Design is the existence of the words "Intelligent" and "Design". It is the height of ignorance to create and design as intelligent beings and reject the obvious and infinitely superior macrocosm that is life.

      No science needed, just reason and logic. Based on the creation macrocosm, a Superior and Intelligent Being is not only more logical, it is the only logical conclusion as we observe the microcosms of human personality, design and intellect.

      We create. We use software and hardware and program using complex mathematics and then conclude that the infinitely superior hardware, software and programming are either uncreated or always existing. To accept the former means that you have abandoned logic and have, as the Bible says, willingly suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, revealing to the rest of us that all of this "science" really isn't about discovery for you, but about NOT being discovered yourself... found out in sin. The latter means that whatever is self-existing MUST be your god and so you either worship it or succumb to its wrath... and every case of worshiping any god but the True God IS succumbing to "its" wrath.

      Here are your choices: 1. An omniscient, omnipotent uncreated Being or 2. A weak, unintelligent nothingness that created all things from an explosion, this being the first reaction caused by NO action that "acted" upon something, which happened to contain all of the building blocks for life... building blocks that are determined and specific, or else evolution would have been able to "figure out" how to bring life about on Mars, or the Sun, equal to that on Earth. Put restrictions on the building blocks and you back yourself into a corner... at this point it's not a choice between "God" and "No God" but of "Logic" and "No Logic" and they are each categorically parellel conclusions.

    • http://nohappinesslikemine.blogspot.com Heather E. Carrillo

      LOL, @DRT: Your statement does not align with what I want to believe. Please remove this! Let me quote some wikipedia articles to show you why it's not true. In your words, "Really?"

  • http://biblefunfactory.com/ Margo, Bible Fun Factory

    I'm not going to lie—a lot of this blog post went right over my head. I'd heard of the "God particle" but had no idea what it was about. After reading this blog post, I'm very interested in learning more—even though I know I'll have to read and reread information on it to fully grasp it! Thank you for taking the time to share this information.

  • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ RN

    A lot of time an effort to locate a particle that still doesn't give an answer to the much older philogophical question of, "why is there not nothing?" Higg boson, hydrogen, quantum, gravity.... I've heard all of these nonsensically listed as reasons for the universe, but yet to hear the skeptical scientist explain where any of THESE things came from in order to create the universe.

    One of the things I've been realizing is that the skeptic scientist loves the idea of some element or law creating the universe, because then logically that would arrogantly make THEM the highest known intellect in the universe. Far smarter than anything else, and basically all matter and energy of the unverse culminates in the brilliance of some skeptic guy in a lab.
    Nutty.

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  • http://www.theretuned.com Matthew Linder

    The physicist Michio Kaku has already claimed that the discovery disproves God but on the other hand it proves that there is a parallel universe where Elvis is still alive Very odd. http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/07/04/nr-intv-michio-kaku-higgs-boson.cnn

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  • http://www.gospelgrace.net/ Luma

    A few things to think about:

    The evidence for the Higgs boson, like everything else in physics beautifully sheds light on metaphysics. And of course the Higgs boson has theological implications because everything in the universe is theological. Furthermore, just because certain atheistic physicists want to use the physical universe to substantiate their atheism doesn't mean there are not Christian physicists who see the beauty and wonder and awe of the living God in ALL of physics—macro and quantum.

  • TheSkepticalAgnostic

    I choose Peter over Paul. Peter Higgs, to be accurate.

    The Bible may hold verses that explain the universe, but in the scientific realm it does not constitute the gospel truth.

    Truth be told, the supposed discovery of 'The God Particle' proves at best the existence of the particle, not the existence of God (as Jesus or by any other name).

    In defence of God, though, the particle does not undermine His existence anymore or less than the discovery of Gravity did.

    It's another matter that the discovery of the so called 'Higgs Boson' lacks weight. 5 sigma and behaviour consistent with the Higgs Boson are barely enough to conclusively declare that is found. Decay paths and evidence of 'self-interaction' are an absolute essential for empirical certainty.

    If it does indeed prove to be the elusive 'Higgs boson', St. Paul may have beaten Peter Higgs to it in providing a near-perfect explanation of the universe's functioning.

    But, I'll bet, Peter Higgs will beat him to the Nobel.

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  • Steve

    Respectfully, Joe, you conceded far too much in the conclusion - a common pitfall in an "evidentialist" approach - perhaps even opening the door to some of the animosity in the comments: "...if we were to find evidence that the universe has always existed and was uncaused..."

    No such evidence exists nor will it ever exist, because the universe has not always existed (Heb 11:3, cf. Gen 1:1). All theories of a "static universe" are simply Romans 1:18-23 reaffirmed.

    • Joe Carter

      ***No such evidence exists nor will it ever exist, because the universe has not always existed***

      To say that the universe may have always existed simply means that the universe has existed as long as God has caused it to exist. When we say the universe "has always existed/has not always existed" we are saying more about its temporal aspect than about its existence.

      I don't think it would be a contradiction to say "the universe has always existed" and "God created the universe." As Christians, we believe that God created both time (temporal reality) and space (all other physical reality). Because of that we aren't making a concession if we agree that the universe exists co-extensively with time or whether time was created and then space. Either way, the universe was caused by God "in the beginning."

      Now I don't believe that the universe has always existed since that would require a "steady-state" rather than the expanding universe that we observe. But I don't think it would change anything if the evidence pointed to a steady-state universe since that too requires an initial causal act by God and his continuing action to keep it in existence.

      (Even if someone were to claim a non-Christian understanding that God and the universe always existed together, the universe—being radically contingent on a sustaining entity—would still rely on God as the cause and therefore would be seen as temporally latter than God.)

      • http://LostCodex.com DRT

        Now it gets down to your definition of Universe. If by universe you mean the visible universe that we believe was created by the big bang then it likely had a beginning 14 billion years ago.

        But there are other theories that postulate an infinite number of universes and multiple dimensions. I think of those as being part of The Universe, but not our universe. It gets confusing.

        Most certainly our universe is not steady state. It is not only expanding, it is accelerating in its expansion and that is quite strange, and exciting. It means that there are plenty of unanswered scientific questions out there that can provide fun and entertainment for a long time to come.

        I believe that god created everything, but he generally used the natural processes that science investigates. Because of that I believe that the research into the universe and the nature of our reality is a search for god as much as anything else.

  • Joey Elliott

    DRT,

    Just wanted to say hi. :) I actually rarely comment on this site.

    Also, as you might guess, I happen to find Joe Carter's argument compelling, contrary to what you indicated about how others would take it. I think I understand your difficulty with it, but at the end of the day, the point is that God exists and the God particle is indeed a monumental human scientific discovery, yet does not contradict anything in the first verse of the Bible. Is that fair? And overall, as you said, this article does provide a pretty informative overview of the science involved.

    Joey

    • http://LostCodex.com DRT

      I Joey, good to see you! I come to TGC occassionally.... When I do I tend to get into long conversations unless they ban me, like one of the bloggers here did. Kevin DeYoung has been a gracious host to my views, though they are quite different than his.

      As you know, and others here probably do not, I firmly believe in god and believe that god did indeed create the universe and that god sustains the universe.

      And yes, this discovery does not contradict my beliefs at all.

      Joe Carter is simply overstating his position. It could have been a good article without those statements.

      And as I said above, he should have just said that this in no way rules out god's involvement.

  • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

    "Because of the misleading nickname and the connection to the Big Bang, some people might assume that the Higgs boson has theological---or atheological---implications. It does not. "

    If this is so, then why go on to state;

    "Every particle in the universe would cease to exist if God were not actively, continuously, and sovereignly ensuring their continued existence."

    Is this not a theological implication? And what evidence (metaphysical or otherwise) do you have that this is actually the case? I am aware that you have already quoted scripture, but you have to admit that scripture is the claim, not the evidence.

    I feel there is a lot more work to be done on establishing the Christian God's interaction with reality if we are to take such a claim seriously.

    To suggest that the discovery of the Higgs boson has implications for Christianity, does nothing to negate the requirement of theistic claims about such an entity's existence have become more solid. In fact, it suggests more strongly that we - to quote Laplace - 'have no need for that hypothesis'.

    Reality is boldly and inexorably moving on without the requirement of a deity of any form, and to try to shove God into the gaps of knowledge is becoming increasing farcical. Seriously, just how much smaller must you make God before you actually present anything resembling evidence for His existence? By adopting physics as an argument for His existence, you tacitly infer His non-existence by refusing to engage in the very process you claim makes your argument so strong.

    It's absurd.

    • Benjamin Ledford

      "I feel there is a lot more work to be done on establishing the Christian God's interaction with reality if we are to take such a claim seriously."

      "We 'have no need for that hypothesis'."

      "It's absurd."

      I would see it quite the other way. Non-theistic science is the one that has a lot of explaining to do if it wants to escape absurdity. Contingent beings without causes? Predictability based on chance? Denying a Lawgiver because of the existence of laws?

      I don't think so.

      • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

        Facepalm.

        You may well say you see the abject lack of evidence for the existence of God as evidence for the existence of God. You may well think that the Catholic priest Laplace did have a need for that hypothesis, You may well event think that it is not all absurd.

        But you would be wrong. Here's why.

        There is not one single shred of evidence for the claim that the Christian God exists now or has done at any time in the past. I am aware that theists like to say that the bible is the evidence, but that would be the claim, now, wouldn't it?

        Laplace did say that he 'had no need of that hypothesis'. I couldn't care less whether you think he said anything to the contrary, your evidence to back up such a claim is hardly being obscured by the evidence for the existence of God. So where is it?

        You don't think it is absurd to 'infer His non-existence by refusing to engage in the very process you claim makes your argument so strong'? Really?

        What - in the name of all that is coherent and meaningful - is non-theistic science? It is tantamount to saying atheistic dentistry or ontological geography. What a train wreck of semantic nonsense you theists peddle. Utterly meaningless.

        But let's see if I can glean any sense from your mangled thoughts. I'll make the assumption that what you really mean to say is just science. Science is;

        1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
        2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
        3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
        4. systematized knowledge in general.
        5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
        6. a particular branch of knowledge.
        7. skill, especially reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency.

        Just what exactly do you find absurd about any of this?

        Does science have all the answers? Of course not. If we had all the answers, we would have no further need of that hypothesis; everything would be established as knowledge and truth. Conversely, religion - that claims all the knowledge and truth that is required - cannot demonstrate any of it. Not one iota. So remind me again what theistic science is as a juxtaposition to non-theistic science? Oh, and remember to elucidate for us all why non-theistic science has any need of any hypothesis whatsoever, and how this would constitute anything other than just... science.

        You don't think so? As Satre would have pointed out, if you don't think, you are not.

        • mel

          Please explain the fulfillment of prophecy with your science. Why do the people that worship the god scientific theory completely ignore the mathematical odds of prophecy being fulfilled in such a way? Why? How can you ignore something so obvious?

          • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

            I have no need to use science. So-called fulfilled prophesies are nothing more than post-hoc rationalisations.

            I trust you will find that I have not ignored your comment (which was not mentioned before in this thread) as you have ignored the entirety of my post (which is the thread).

            Perhaps you would like to answer the questions I raise in the comment you replied to. If you are having trouble elucidating them, allow me to clarify.

            1. If God had not given us His Word in the form of scripture, how would we even know of His existence?

            2. If the basis for our knowledge of God's Word is the bible, how do you explain that it is the evidence when no prior claim has been levelled?

            3. Where is the evidence or basis for the refutation of the Catholic priest Laplace's well known quote that he had no need of the God hypothesis?

            4. Do you think it absurd to use an argument that refutes your own position?

            5. What is the nature of theistic science that sets it apart from non-theistic science?

            6. What do you find absurd about the dictionary definitions of science, and why?

            Please, let's stick to the issues raised, rather than throwing random arguments from ignorance and incredulity around. Nothing will get answered that way... oh, wait! Maybe that is what you are trying to do. Well, you could easily disavow me of that idea by actually approaching the questions I raise, rather than trying to throw attention away from the issues at hand.

            I'll be waiting.

            • Jerry Schmidt

              Just a quick comment on fulfilled prophecies Tris' reply: post-hoc rationalizations claim can be used for basically anything, even science. A hypothesis isn't necessarily proven by a desired outcome, as other variables could have contributed to the outcome and are not a direct result of the original intent. For example, I could claim that if I go to bed early tonight, the sky will be blue tomorrow. Over the course of time, a correlation will develop between my going to bed early and the color of the sky, thus proving my hypothesis to be accurate or not. However, it's fairly obvious that the color of the sky does not depend on my going to bed early; it is controlled by several other variables.

              Not to say that science doesn't test for these variables as well, but to say that science is absent of post-hoc rationalization is unreasonable.

              Sorry, one more comment about the Bible being evidence: in terms of history, what more evidence can we gather? What evidence do we have that any figure in history existed besides text/art/etc. To deny God exists because He is only found in these mediums immediately requires you to consider that any other figure who only exists in these mediums might also not exist.

            • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

              @Jerry

              You are conflating contingency and correlation. They are not the same thing at all.

              As you have admitted, science does test for such things, which is the exact reason why the interpolation and historical revisionism of scripture renders any ascription to causality moot. It is the inferior correlation that prophesy is based upon. Science, on the other hand, may utilise correlation, but then goes on to test this against contingent factors.

              In summary, science deals in that which can be observed, and scripture has consistently dealt with that which is hoped to be observed. i.e. reality, and what is hoped for - in light of your comment - can be distinguished by contingency and correlation respectively.

              Thank you for helping me to see this in a different light.

              Apropos biblical evidence. What more evidence can you gather? Er... quite a bit.

              I am not saying that the bible does not contain any element of truth to it - it does - just that that which it does contain is heavily interpolated, contradicted in other artefacts, is blatantly plagiarised and is an unreliable source of anything approaching truth.

              In fact, unless you are a biblical literalist and believe everything in scripture to be an accurate representation of God's Word, you will agree with me on this.

              It is no more a history book than Marvel Comic's rendition of Spider-Man in 1960's New York; it contains factual and allegorical stories that have a basis in what we recognise to be real, but know because of reason and outside evidence that it is not the basis for our understanding of reality.

              Yesterday, I read an interesting comparison of Revelation's City of God and the Star Trek Universe's Borg Collective. The similarities make for fun reading, but I should imagine you would read it and think - quite rightly - that this is a post-hoc rationalisation.

              So why not the bible and its prophesy? You, yourself, have stated that a desired outcome through correlation has nothing to do with how we interpret reality directly, so why apply reason and critical thought to Spider-Man and The Borg Collective, but not scripture?

            • Jerry Schmidt

              @ Tris

              Thanks for the reply. A couple questions: first, correct, there is a difference between contingency and correlation. However, how does science prove anything involving past events and not rely on correlation; or, how does science prove anything in the past by using contingency. By definition, it can't, as contingent experiments and measurable results would have to be present and controlled, right? Take climate change for example: if global warming is contingent upon CO2 levels, we still can't prove that the historical temperature changes were a result of CO2 changes as there are other unknown variables that could have driven the result instead. So in terms of historical conclusions, science has to rely on correlation, right?

              Regarding historical evidence (artifacts, plagiarism, etc.), I'd be interested in seeing what you've found around that. As far as I am aware, non-theist groups disagree on several historical elements in the Old Testament era, including tribal movement, Egyptian rule during the Exodus, King David's rule, etc. So to me it seems unwise to pin inaccuracies on the theist when the non-theist observers can't come to a conclusion themselves. That's like me wearing a green shirt, but two other people say I'm wearing blue and orange. Because their (differing) opinions don't match my own doesn't mean my opinion (or belief) is false. And because of their disagreement, they have not proven a position one way or the other. Therefor, I believe, my position maintains its validity.

              The question still remains, though, regarding historical texts: how then, in the view of God not being a real figure, do we prove any historical figure as having existed? I understand what you stated around circular logic, etc., but that can be applied to anyone in the past. Non-theists seem to forget that this argument can be used for anyone, from Plato to George Washington. It's simply illogical to use the argument against God but not anyone else.

              The difference between Spider Man and God is the reality we live in now. There aren't 2+ billion (depending on the figure) people in the world professing their faith in Spider Man, nor are there documents supporting and encouraging the belief that Spider Man exists as a real human being. Careful study of Spider Man would lead you the original issues, which would then lead you to discover the author (Stan Lee), which would then lead you to the rest of his work and possibly an autobiography, where he describes his method for creating fictional characters. No where, in biblical manuscripts or not, do you find that trail of evidence leading toward a "creator" of a fictitious God. In fact, theologians and historians have studied God in this exact way, finding no evidence that God was a story created by man.

              Man, I love debating this stuff, but it is exhausting :) I really have to get back to work!

            • Anar

              "1. If God had not given us His Word in the form of scripture, how would we even know of His existence?"

              If God can insert his word into a written book, I think he could also insert it into human hearts.

              "2. If the basis for our knowledge of God's Word is the bible, how do you explain that it is the evidence when no prior claim has been leveled?"

              The prior claim is that God is trustworthy and powerful. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. What are other options: I think therefore I am? That puts ultimate trust in yourself.

              "3. Where is the evidence or basis for the refutation of the Catholic priest Laplace's well known quote that he had no need of the God hypothesis?"

              When compartmentalizing an activity into just methodological naturalism with the assumptions already in place, there is no need to hypothesize God. The whole system rests on Him. The whole concept of a hypothesis rests on Him.

              "4. Do you think it absurd to use an argument that refutes your own position?"

              You would need to clarify what you mean by "absurd" and "refute" here. If someone appeals to God as greater and more complete than man, and as something beyond our total comprehension, then there are many possible views that are not absurd or cannot be refuted. We would have to rely on trust in God over our ideas of absurdity and refutation.

              "5. What is the nature of theistic science that sets it apart from non-theistic science?'"

              I'm guessing it means that we are more justified in holding to the assumptions that are needed to do science because of trusting in a God that is powerful enough to uphold them. Non-theistic science still works as it is based on borrowed capital and there is God's common grace available.

        • Daniella Lollie

          Oh you mean the prophecy that you can't prove exists to begin with? I thought Tris just spent paragraphs arguing against the logic you are trying to display here. My mistake. Unlike you we are not starting off with a conclusion based on no evidence and then using the world around us to fit that narrative. Science does the opposite.

  • andrew price

    I think all particles belong to God

  • VLK

    For a satirical twist on this whole issue, check out Timothy Dalrymple's post, God Discovers the Elusive “Physicist Particle.”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2012/07/05/god-discovers-the-elusive-physicist-particle/

  • Dave Eden

    Very good post, Joe. You clearly summarize the ideas and separate what is accessibly by natural science vs. philosophy.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Tris Stock had a good link to a video above. Here is another similar one.

    Folks, the religion people have to get over the idea that physicists are on a vendetta. They may be, but they also speak to our shared problems.

    At about 45 minutes into this video is a good interchange discussing the implications of a creator or not. Note that they do not simply say there is none, they just say that they do seem to need one to manufacture what we have. That is not a bad finding and if it is true, which I bet it is, then we have to deal with it in a positive manner.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUe0_4rdj0U&feature=related

  • James S

    I think the higgs boson particle is dumb, but I do like the Barbara Boson particle. Hill Street Blues was a good show.

  • emilio

    I am sorry but where does Scripture teach a Big Bang (as defined by modern cosmology) was part of the creation process?

    "The existence of the universe is as dependent on a Sustainer now as it was dependent on the Creator at the time of the Big Bang."

    Does the TGC believe in the Big Bang?

    • Anar

      And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

      (That's basically a summery of all modern cosmology)

      • emilio

        Not sure how that answers my question, my question was exegetical.

      • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

        Seriously? This forms the basis of your understanding of cosmology?Let's put this theistic summary of cosmology to the test, shall we? Because science is all about testing to see if what we propose has any value.

        Notwithstanding the fact that we have no evidence to suggest that God actually exists, how does His saying 'Let there be light' explain the missing mass of the Universe?

        And, please, don't say 'Goddidit!'. That only means you have to account for the existence of God in terms that are objective, coherent and reflect reality, and I guess you don't want to be doing that.

        • Anar

          "Let's put this theistic summary of cosmology to the test, shall we? Because science is all about testing to see if what we propose has any value."

          The summary of cosmology offered at the beginning of Genesis is not only science. It is more grand than that; it encompasses the assumptions needed to do the science. You cannot test the prerequisites of science with science.

          Basically from t=10^-43, through inflation and until the first atoms formed (the entire first eras of the universe) it was all radiation (i.e., light).

          How does anything from modern cosmology contradict Moses' summary?

          • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

            So you can't answer the question. Thanks for bothering.

    • http://LostCodex.com DRT

      emilio, from an exegetical standpoint I think the scriptures do not make a statement as to how the universe was created. They do say YHWH did it, no other gods, he made it to be good and pronounced it good, it was not produced due to a falling or anything bad like that.

      And it does it in a very beautiful and compelling way! What power and beauty are in the genesis accounts.

      The problem with many here on TGC is that they are wed to what they think scripture must say instead of looking at the actual evidence.

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  • Anar

    "The confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson may illuminate physics but it doesn't shed any light on metaphysics."

    I would disagree. The Higgs boson was proposed because of a gap in the pattern that needed filling. Confirming its existence is again evidence that the universe is indeed orderly. Each new discover like this that is not a breaking down of the orderliness of physical laws does lend credence to the idea that there is a power beyond nature responsible for its order.

    • http://LostCodex.com DRT

      Anar, you have drawn the exactly wrong conclusion. If it is orderly, meaning that it has a basis for it happening that can be discovered and that it executes its process the same every time means that it is self sustaining. God is not intervening in the process is we know why it is happening.

      • Anar

        "If it is orderly, meaning that it has a basis for it happening that can be discovered and that it executes its process the same every time means that it is self sustaining."

        This does not follow at all. Something being orderly does not at all mean it has to be self-sustaining.
        In all human experience the complete opposite is always the case.

        In fact the assumptions that nature is comprehensible and consistent are necessary to do science and they only really make sense if there is a personal God: someone that could create us with an intellect and who is powerful enough to sustain the natural laws.

        The deeper we learn about nature the more symmetry we see. We posit symmetry where we are uncertain of its existence and then we discover the symmetry.

        "God is not intervening in the process if we know why it is happening."
        There is nothing that we know completely why it is happening. We just assume the more we learn about something the more order we'll see. Clearly God sustains all.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Anar, well, nice talking, but I can't relate to you at all.

    We see order, we see consistency, there is nothing that says that the consistency comes from the outside. As a matter of fact when we look at the way things happen we see why the consistency is there.

    You are simply assuming that it is god if it is consistent and are doing that without a scientific basis.

    BTW, I do believe god sustains all, and created all, but consistency is not a reason why I believe that.

    • emilio

      The only reason to believe anything about God is either based on Scripture or it is baseless. And Scripture does teach that uniformity in nature and everything else in nature is owing to God's sovereign power and will. If it were not for God there would be no such thing as "consistency" in anything. Thus in the same way that we know God created and sustains, we know everything else about God and creation, namely through Scripture.

      • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

        Have you ever heard of something called a 'circular argument'? It goes something like this;

        Bob: Scripture is the basis of all things.
        Alice: Why?
        Bob: Because there is uniformity in nature and everything in nature is owing to God's sovereign power and will.
        Alice: Why?
        Bob: Because [Return to top]

        I wish - just for once - I would encounter a theist that has the capacity for intellectual honesty, to actually admit that their beliefs AND their perceptions of reality do not explain anything, and that they are nothing but a sloppy and circular mess. I'll not be holding my breath, though.

        • http://chrisjulien.wordpress.com/ Chris Julien

          Tris Stock, thanks for checking out TGC. Please realize that you may not find the most compelling arguments or intellectual credibility in the comments of a blog site. It's as if you're reading the "religion for dummies" or "spanish for dummies" and expecting there to be doctoral work. And also remember that not all atheists can express their own beliefs so clearly, and many of them have not thought through all the implications of what they believe in every realm of life.

          What I'm saying is, just because a Christian seems to be incompetent in one area of life, that doesn't render the whole of Christianity to be meaningless. I bet you could find what you're looking for in Christian writers and intellectuals if you really searched for it somewhere other than in blog comments.

          Just my 2 cents. God bless.

          • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

            Thank you for alluding to my compelling arguments and intellectual credibility, but I feel I should point out that - whilst I hold two degrees in cosmology and marine biology - I am no more an expert in these fields than the next person.

            I am a blogger myself, and with a post-grad certificate in journalism under my belt, I suppose I can elucidate my thoughts better than most, but if I were to claim authority on any of the issues here, folk here would rightly write me off as a hack.

            You approach an interesting dilemma though. Not for myself, but for your fellow Christians. If one does not consider what one's Christian beliefs are (and they do appear to encompass every realm of life), why does this belief have any value?

            It seems to me that people should have good reasons for believing what they do, and if they do not consider these reasons, then they are not only doing themselves a disservice, but to society as a whole.

            Sure, one's Christian faith may make one feel comfortable and 'at one with the world', but what value does this have if these very same beliefs have no validity? Especially considering the effects it has on how other people's lives are affected through legislation.

            We are all incompetent in one way or another. The days when someone could have known all there was to know about the world as it was understood at the time, passed by millennia ago, but despite Christianity's long history, folk claim it is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. I find it incredible that I can read such opinions on websites all over the world. Don't you?

            Is Christianity meaningless? From a personal perspective, I would have to say it is, but I do recognise that others feel they have good reasons to think otherwise. The reason I engage in comments on sites like this is not because I am some sort of atheist troll, but because I want people to look openly and honestly at both what they claim to believe, and why they believe it. I don't think that is asking too much given the perilous state of politics today that affect us all.

            I have engaged professional theologians and philosophers, but I have to say that the level of intellectual honesty and understanding of scripture to be no better than the lay-persons in general. Besides, I get more feedback in this field, and I feel my comments are better directed at people that are genuinely curious about what I have to say, rather than blocking me to protect their tenure.

            I'll ignore your passive-aggressive politeness in directing me away from this site based only on the content of the rest of this comment. At least, I hope you now understand why I am here.

        • http://LostCodex.com DRT

          Tris,

          I second what Chris Julien said. If you want to interact with Christians who can come up with good arguments then you should not interact here. I am a Christian yet I share pretty much all the same arguments you have levied against the folks here.

          My mission in my Christianity is to help us make a Christianity that actually makes sense. One that is intellectually rigorous and defensible. When I say that I defacto exclude versions like reformed theology (which is what this site is) because they end up with a god that makes no sense at all. Their god ends up needing us to uphold his glory and he exists to make his glory known. Sounds like a child to me, not a god. Further, their god not only allows evil in the world, but designs it. That is not a god I can worship.

          If you like to have good debate about religion then please visit my blog and give a quick response to one of my posts, I will not publish your response but will use your email to tell you a better place to go read and interact with people who know what they are doing.

          As far as my faith is concerned, I believe because I made a conscious decision to believe. I feel that it is possible, quite possible, that Jesus did come and live and die and be raised. Not proven, but quite possible. And if that is possible then we need to rescue Christianity from the ridiculous claims of so many of its adherents. It no longer makes sense to believe the earth is young, that Adam and Eve were the first couple of people on the earth, that there was a global flood, that the bible is inerrant in every detail and many other things, that god meticulously manages every detail of the world, and even that punishment in hell with eternal conscious torment is not a given. Those simply need to be done away with so that we have a coherent Christianity that would actually be worthy of what Jesus taught.

          There are many other parts that are debatable but not clear one way or the other. Like the virgin birth. Frankly I don't know that it is required, and it may have happened or not, but it does not impact my faith.

          God bless.

          • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

            @DRT

            Thanks for your comment, but I trust I have approached the main premise of it in my response to Chris.

            With regard to your Christian mission, good luck with that. The more one looks at the facts of the phenomenon, the more likely one is to abandon it as worthless, but I appreciate your efforts and would like to help you with them, if you would like.

            I don't think I will be taking you up on your offer to have a comment turned down on your site - I can't say I am overly impressed with theistic censorship at the best of times - but if you genuinely want to engage in a conversation between the two of us, you can click through my name on this post and write a mail to me on the contact page. I am sure there is plenty for us to discuss!

            I can set up private conversations on the blog that only invited guests can interact with, should privacy be a concern to anyone.

            This offer is open to anyone, should they wish to take it up.

        • Anar

          "I wish - just for once - I would encounter a theist that has the capacity for intellectual honesty, to actually admit that their beliefs AND their perceptions of reality do not explain anything, and that they are nothing but a sloppy and circular mess. I'll not be holding my breath, though."

          Everyone has a circular argument:
          Bob: Autonomous reason of humans is the basis of all things.
          Alice: Why?
          Bob: Because we can use our reason to see that it works.
          Alice: Why?
          Bob: Because [Return to top]

          It's just who is more trustworthy, God or ourselves? From what I know about how limited I am I would put less trust in myself.

          • http://www.mygodlesslife.com Tris Stock (@mygodlesslife)

            Straw man much? Unless you are directly stating that this is an argument I have put forward, then your appraisal of the situation is entirely of your own making, and has no basis upon which to be considered any further.

            • Anar

              Are you saying you don't have a circular argument for your beliefs?

              What is the basis for your belief?
              Is it your human reason?
              If so, what is the basis for believing your human reason is trustworthy?

      • http://LostCodex.com DRT

        emilio,

        No, there are plenty of reasons to believe in god outside of scripture. And further, one does not need to believe in a literal interpretation of scripture to believe in god. There are plenty of things the bible says that we don't believe and don't follow. Your argument is, as Tris Stock says, circular. Worse, it is bad Christianity since it presumes a wooden literal view of scripture and that is quite unhealthy.

        • Anar

          @DRT,

          "There are plenty of things the bible says that we don't believe."

          Who decides what parts of the Bible you don't believe?
          Who decides a 'wooden' (do you mean faithful?) view of scripture is unhealthy?

          Isn't it you?
          Who decides if you are trustworthy?
          Again, isn't it you?
          How is this not circular?

          The only way to escape from a circular trap is to have something outside that is powerful enough and trustworthy.

          • http://LostCodex.com DRT

            Anar, simply wishing that the bible was true in every detail does not make it true. It is ridiculous to think it is.

            Do you believe that rain is in storehouses in the sky and god releases it from there?

            People MUST decide what to believe and what not to believe in the bible.

            Here is one for you. Read John Piper's statement on inerrancy and tell me that he is not deciding what to believe and what not to believe. We all have to do it.

            http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/how-are-the-synoptics-without-error/

            The shame, and crime in my view, is that the lay people actually believe that it must be all true literally.

            • Anar

              "simply wishing that the bible was true in every detail does not make it true. It is ridiculous to think it is."

              I don't need to wish or do anything to make the bible true. It is *God's* word. It depends on how trustworthy He is. It has nothing to do with me.

              "Do you believe that rain is in storehouses in the sky and god releases it from there?"
              Sure, but what do you think a "storehouse" is? That is a beautiful and artful way to describe nature. Do you believe some quarks are really "strange" and have a "charm"? We use artful language to describe complicated physical systems all the time.

              And what do you mean by "literally" true? When Jesus said he is a door, do you think some Christians believe he is physically a door? I think that it is inspired and inerrant as such a revealed work of God's could only be.

            • http://LostCodex.com DRT

              Anar, you seem to be totally missing the point. The point is that everyone has to pick and choose what to believe. My reference to Piper's view shows that he too believes that. That was my point because that was your accusation.

            • Anar

              "The point is that everyone has to pick and choose what to believe."

              Yes, but do you pick it with your human reason or out of the Spirit?

              -----
              The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
              (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

            • http://LostCodex.com DRT

              Anar, I am going to start a new reply at the root, so we can just go to the end to talk.

    • Anar

      "We see order, we see consistency, there is nothing that says that the consistency comes from the outside. As a matter of fact when we look at the way things happen we see why the consistency is there."

      No, we don't see order and consistency. It is impossible to see if natural laws are consistent everywhere, and it is impossible to know if we are actually comprehending laws accurately. We can only hold these as assumptions. Then from that science tends to work.

      "You are simply assuming that it is god if it is consistent and are doing that without a scientific basis."

      The consistency and comprehensibility of nature does not prove God, but it is a strong barrier to believing in other world-views without such intervention from the outside.

  • Anar

    @Tris,
    "It seems to me that people should have *good reasons* for believing what they do, and if they do not consider these reasons, then they are not only doing themselves a disservice, but to society as a whole."

    Who decides what a 'good reason' is? Is trusting fully in human reason a good enough reason? Aren't humans lacking in perfection?

    What if someones reason was that the God that created the universe and that sustains it has entered into the universe as a man, has entered into the hearts of his followers and has revealed a written word. This is completely consistent with what such a God could do and this doesn't ultimately rely on imperfect human reason. So isn't this a pretty good reason to believe in Jesus? Actually, isn't it much better than any reason that ultimately comes down to how trustworthy man is in and of himself?

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  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Anar says "Yes, but do you pick it with your human reason or out of the Spirit?"

    Anar, it is impossible to tell the difference. Of course I think the spirit is guiding me. And I bet you feel the spirit is guiding you. Just because someone feels the spirit is guiding them does not make it true.

    Per your quote from Corintians, I would say that your arguments fit the mold of someone who is thinking as a natural person and not a spirit led person quite well. You are looking at the surface, trying to find perfection in some book instead of looking to the spirit and the bigger view of Jesus.

    So what is your point? I am sure you think the same about me. We all can say that. The point is that we all pick and choose. All of us.

    • Anar

      "You are looking at the surface, trying to find perfection in some book instead of looking to the spirit and the bigger view of Jesus."

      How else do you find the bigger view of Jesus if not from Scripture?

      All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
      (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

      Aren't you the one that should take heed of this warning: Just because someone feels the spirit is guiding them does not make it true.

      What other than subjective feeling or personal preference lets you pick and choose the parts of the Bible you agree with or disagree with?

      I would say that just because someone doesn't feel the spirit is guiding them does not mean that it is not. It is not based on subjective feeling. It is based on God's trustworthiness.

      • http://LostCodex.com DRT

        Anur, nice talking but it is obvious that you do not realize that you are no more in a privileged position with what god is saying than I or anyone else is. You should be asking yourself the questions you are asking of others.

        Have a great life.

        • mel

          The difference would be in that root feeling of wanting to be "boss" of the world and demanding that people change their response based on that because they think that they have the only understanding. It comes from pride and without submission.

  • Alex

    Sort of a summary:
    If it is true that the Higgs boson would provide a mechanism for "the spark of the Big Bang", then the standard Kalam cosmological argument for God's existence would be void. The part about God being required to "sustain" the existence of the Universe if the Universe were infinite spatially and temporally is just bad philosophy. If the Universe were infinite in that way it could just exist eternally in contingent flux. Granted, that would not explain why we seem to have coherent sense experience. One of the main ancient arguments for atheism presupposed that the Universe was infinite in that way. On the other hand, if something like a steady-state Universe cannot be true then the "sustaining argument" is on much better ground. On a different note, nothing about the nature of physics itself can explain why particles act the way they do (i.e. 'obey' physical laws).
    This is important: physics can only describe never explain.

  • http://wfse-wfse.blogspot.com/2012/07/wfswfse.wfse anastazyaWFSE

    Act~u~all~y there is da theory that connects physics & metaphysics. Twitter @anastazyaWFSE

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  • scott

    You can't cite a non-fiction book (The Bible). That's not how citations work.

  • Amanda

    How about a more credible source. Maybe from the place the name was born. Lederman said he gave the Higgs boson the nickname "The God Particle" because the particle is "so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive,but added that a second reason was because "the publisher wouldn't let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing."

    Leon M. Lederman and Dick Teresi (1993, reprint in 2006). The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question?. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-61871-168-6. Pg-22

    Yes from wiki. But feel free to click those little citation boxes. It take you to google books.

    Astrophysics student