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Whys and Wherefores

Posted By on August 17, 2012

by Teri Ong

My father was a physicist; actually, he was an old-fashioned rocket scientist. When he wrote his testimony of becoming a “Christian creationist rocket scientist” [see Confessions of a Rocket Scientist, Chambers College Press], I helped him edit his book. In the process, I read a lot of material on cosmology. Though I didn’t and still don’t understand the physics involved, I do understand and greatly appreciate the scope and majesty of a subject that verges on the eternal.
It was with great excitement and not a little amusement that I read the article in the Wall Street Journal on July 5, 2012, “Discovery May Help Tell Universe’s Secrets” by Gautam Nair.
The opening paragraph I quote, “Scientists said they found a subatomic particle resembling the long-elusive Higgs Boson, a landmark discovery that could explain why particles have mass and, by extension, why stars, planets and all other objects in the universe exist at all.” (emphasis mine) [p. A3, col. 1]
Though the “standard model” of electrons, neutrons, and protons, each in turn made up of various subatomic particles, i.e. quarks, fermions, bosons, etc., brings up a somewhat hazy picture in my mind, I don’t have any trouble with the concept that “the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Heb. 11:3) The whole material universe is made of invisible particles held together by nuclear binding forces that defy the credulity of physicists.
In the 400 years since Galileo and Kepler, scientists have been on a quest to describe and quantify how all of the various parts and pieces they have theorized and later have discovered interact to produce the material universe we see and experience. And why not? In a Harvard Lecture entitled “Science and the Modern World,” mathematician Alfred North Whitehead asserted that Christianity is the mother of science. He believed that“the medieval insistence on the rationality of God” and “the intelligible rationality of a personal being” were the basis of scientists having confidence that experimental science would yield predictable and consistent results that would open insights into the “hows” of the universe. Because of their

Chaotic groupings of random collections of subatomic particles near Steamboat, Colorado.

theological understanding, they had an “inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles. Without this belief the incredible labors of scientists would be without hope.” [quoted by Francis Schaeffer]
But since science and philosophy joined hands almost 200 years ago to pronounce God dead, the pursuit of scientific inquiry has been for many, to paraphrase C. S. Lewis, like reading the book of nature with the point left out. More than simple cognitive dissonance, contemporary scientific inquiry should be causing intellectual schizophrenia. On the one hand, we pursue a course of chaos and randomness, but on the other hand we need order, precision, and predictability to prove anything and even merely to get from point A to point B in any given line of scientific work.
Dr. Gordon Kane, professor of physics at the University of Michigan, declared, “A 400- year-old quest to describe the world that we can see has now been completed.” [WSJ, A3, col. 2] Actually, what has been proven is the truth of Hebrews 11:3!
One paragraph in the article I found particularly interesting – no pun intended! “The boson was proposed to fill a puzzling hole in the ‘standard model,’ one of the most successful theories in physics, which describes how matter is built and how particles interact. All particles ought to have zero mass– like photons, the constituents of light– and zip around space unhindered…”
The reason that naturalistic/materialistic scientists declared God dead was that He, as a spirit, that is to say, non-material, can’t be proven by the senses. He is invisible, has no physical form or mass. That sounds a lot like those sub-atomic particles to me.
I asked my physicist father how atomic physicists go about proving the existence of something that can’t be seen or weighed. His answer was simplistic enough for my unskilled mind. “You prove that it exists by the effect that it has on other particles.” If you can’t see it, or weigh it, or measure it because it has no form and no mass, you have to trust that it is there by what it does. Hmm!
The day after the “discovery” of the Higgs Boson was announced in the Wall Street Journal, Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at CUNY, wrote a commentary. He wrote,
“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… But the key question is left unanswered: why did it bang?” [WSJ, 7/6/12, A11] The answer probably, according to Kaku, is the Higgs Boson, which unlike photons does have some mass.
The currently popular theory is that just before the Big Bang, the universe was very tiny and very symmetrical. “All the masses of all the particles was the same, i.e. zero. But the presence of Higgs-like particles shattered this perfect symmetry. Once the symmetry was broken, the particles were free to assume the various masses we see today… In other words, everything we see around us, including galaxies, stars, planets, and us, owes its existence to the Higgs boson.” [WSJ, 7/6/12, A11] (As an aside– the universe did exist in perfection before creation in the mind of God, and indeed it did not weigh anything at all in that state.)
This still does not answer how the “Higgs-like particles” came to have any influence on the symmetrical cosmic egg just before it blew up. To me, it is a little proud and heady to state, “After half-century search, scientists pin down Higgs-like particle, closing in on explanation for why all objects exist.” (Emphasis mine) [WSJ 7/5/12 A3] Even supposing the ‘standard model’ is 100% descriptive of the way things in the material universe work, the model can only tell us how things exist in the physical realm, not why.
It is theoretically possible that a person born in some remote, isolated jungle on the earth could find a clock that had been left there by some long-gone passer-by. He could examine the clock, take it all apart, put it all back together again, and even get it in running order, but he still might not know that the purpose of the clock was to measure the passage of time. How do we come to know what the purpose of a clock is? We are taught its purpose by our elders. The clock was originally designed by the first clock maker specifically for the designer’s purpose, and by accepting the word of our elders and by our own subsequent experience with clocks we are able to fully appreciate the why, even if we do not understand the how.
Scientists who insist on being isolated in the material universe and who won’t accept the authority of their elders are like the man in the jungle analyzing how the clock works. When he puts in the last piece, he declares, “Oh, I see! This spring is why the clock is.” No, the spring is how the clock works– not why it is. The Higgs boson may be how the universe works, but it is not why it is.
Those of us who are not isolated in the material universe– who have frequent discourse with the spiritual realm– who can accept the instruction that came from our elders by way of the Inventor Himself, can appreciate that the answers to the how question and the why question are in Colossians 1:15-19.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure …

The “good pleasure” of the Father is good enough for me.

Does it seem that irrational or unscientific to you to say that we can prove the existence of a God that we cannot see or weigh or measure by the effects He has had on all of the other particles in the universe? That logic worked for the Higgs, why not for God?. Kaku states that 30 years and at least $10 billion have been expended to find “this almost mythical subatomic particle.” Scientists kept looking because they believed it had to be there somewhere.
Kaku concludes, “…the discovery of the Higgs is but the first step toward a much grander Theory of Everything.” May it be that some who have searched so long for the God-particle will end up finding the God-person. He is the Reality of Everything.

19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Col. 1:19-20)
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References:

Swinney, Stan. Confessions of a Rocket Scientist. Greeley, CO: Chambers College Press, 2005.

Nair, Gautam. “Discovery May Help Tell Universe’s Secrets,” Wall Street Journal, Thursday, July 5, 2012, A3, col. 1-6.

Kaku, Michio. “The Spark that Caused the Big Bang,” Wall Street Journal, Friday, July 6, 2012, A11, col. 1-4.

Whitehead quoted in Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1976, p. 133.

Photo Caption: Chaotic groupings of random collections of subatomic particles near Steamboat, Colorado.


Comments

2 Responses to “Whys and Wherefores”

  1. steve Ong says:

    This is a nice area

  2. steve Ong says:

    Very Good

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