Faith in God; faith in god particle

PHYSICS is the "hardest of the hard sciences," according to a physicist who works for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which operates the legendary Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

As such, physics has been the guiding light of 20th and 21st century knowledge and belief, much like Christian theology was in the Western world of the 13th and 14th centuries. As Thomas Aquinas might have argued, theology is the hardest of the hard philosophies.

Curiously, both modern physics and medieval theology share at least one common feature -- both are based on acts of faith, the theologians believing in a god whose existence cannot be proven, the physicists believing in a "god particle," the existence of which has yet to be proven. Its so tiny and so shy, they are not even sure it exists at all, but it underpins the whole credo of modern particle physics.

Scientists at CERN believe they are on the verge of discovering the god particle, or the Higgs Boson, as it is more formally and funnily known. The collider in Switzerland is smashing the basic bits of matter into smaller and smaller pieces. The Higgs Boson is believed to be the smallest and most elusive bit of all, and, although it has not yet been identified or even located, physicists have faith that it will be discovered within a year.

That would be a good thing. Theology is not much in vogue intellectually these days, but physics has become quite sexy and we all have a great deal of faith invested in it, because if the Higgs Boson does not exist, then matter doesnt matter, because nothing exists in the way we understand existing, according to science. Were all living in a fantasy until that Large Hadron Collider gets its collisions correct.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 31, 2011 i12

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/fyi/faith-in-god-faith-in-...

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Replies to This Discussion

Phil - fair enough - they want to call it the God particle - good luck with that......  if they do accept it as the god particle - it might bring into question quite a lot of the bible - and the rest.....  if they take it to it's logical conclusion.

Interesting article, Alice. thank you for sharing.

There is a misconception in this and many other writings on Higgs-Boson. Scientists did not give it the monogram of "the god particle." That came from a PR person with Mariner Books, which printed The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? by Leon Lederman. Lederman's book talked to Quantum Mechanics and mentions Higgs-Boson.

The search for the "Answer to everything" is, as the article suggests, the true universal question. The sexiness of the field of Physics is really quite silly.

I believe that religion and mythology, and science converge at the same point - What happened before the Big Bang or before God. In the world of philosophy, I do not think any answer will be more than speculation or creating new myths.

David - interesting observations - it does seem that we will never really know - although perhaps science can offer us a more realistic story - and one that is more surprising than the religious ones....

Alice - Who knows. Some time in the future (there are those silly words again) there will be an instrument that can see far enough back in time that we will discover what happened before. A somewhat scary thought, though.

or exciting - I love looking around corners....

 

I like what Sam Harris has to say on the matter of things we don't know ....

 

''There is a liability to pretending to know things we don't know'' - Sam Harris


 

Some time in the future (there are those silly words again) there will be an instrument that can see far enough back in time that we will discover what happened before.

No time machine or instrument can look back in time. Einstein did it with mathematics.

LOL - he means when you look anywhere the light particles take some time to reach your eyes, and therefore you are seeing something that has happened in the past - if it is in front of you - as light travels at such a fast speed it is a fraction of a moment - but if it is billions of light years away - then it is billions of years ago that you are seeing, because it took billions of years for the light to reach your eyes.  The light from our sun takes about 8 minutes to reach us.

And of course, we can't travel back in time.... :)

David Rosman

I believe that religion and mythology, and science converge at the same point - What happened before the Big Bang or before God. In the world of philosophy, I do not think any answer will be more than speculation or creating new myths.

You are quite correct when you say that phylosophy will create mre myths, but the truth about religion is that no faithfuls think beyond god as they believe that he was always there and will also be always there.

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