Archive for February, 2016

Quotable Quotes

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“Darwin Speak” Casual Quote of the Day

“An evolutionary change like that can take millions of years.”  

(Matthew Fox, in the movie Extinction, describing a zombie mutant).

And On The Other Side

“In one graduate class, the professor told us we didn’t have to memorize the dates of the geologic systems since they were far too uncertain and conflicting. Then in geophysics we went over all of the assumptions that go into radiometric dating. Afterwards, the professor said, “If a fundamentalist ever got hold of this stuff, he would make havoc out of the radiometric dating system. So, keep the faith.” That’s what he told us, ‘keep the faith.’”

(Biologist Gary Parker, in From Evolution to Creation, quoted in James Perloff, Tornado in a Junkyard.)

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Particle Physics and God

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I recently watched a fascinating documentary called “Particle Fever” that chronicles the search for the Higgs boson, which is sometimes called the “God Particle.”  The nickname is a bit controversial, but it shouldn’t get in the way of the substance of the documentary and the interesting all-or-nothing scenario that it set up.

You see, right now scientists explain the universe mostly by using a theory called the “Standard Model” of theoretical particle physics, which has been very good at predicting much of what experiments in physics have actually found. As described by the various scientists in the documentary, formulation of the Standard Model is the result of roughly 400 years of work, in which scientists have gradually found that the universe is something enormous yet simple, seemingly complex yet incredibly elegant and symmetrical. Indeed, symmetry (in the sense of how parts might integrate into a whole, might remain consistent and or unchanged despite any kind of transformation, and can exist independent of specific dynamics) is the kind of elegant order that begins to hint most strongly toward intelligent design, or God.

In addition, the Standard Model relies on what are called “fundamental constants,” which are numbers that determine the entire structure of the universe. Now these constants get pretty complicated, but for now just realize that everyone – from God-believing scientists to complete and total atheists – understand that these numbers are far too precise to be based on chance in just this universe. In the documentary, one scientist explained that his knowledge of this incredibly precise fine tuning naturally led him to question whether he was wrong about everything he had learned and believed on some fundamental level. What he meant was that it’s hard, if not impossible, to square this incredible precision with a Godless universe. It’s that exact.

Now if you make enough scientists question their worldviews, you’ll end up getting a new scientific theory so that they don’t have to question those worldviews anymore. And the theory that some scientists ultimately came up with to help them explain this incredible fine tuning is called the “multiverse theory.” That theory speculates that our universe is actually only one of multiple possible universes – so many, like millions or billions (the kinds of numbers evolutionists like to use) that those really precise numbers that make up our fundamental constants might still only be random. If you have a billion universes, so the theory goes, one might randomly end up like our universe – which looks so precise that it must have been created by some intelligent being, but which is really created by chance. This can get a bit complex, too, so if you want to see a more detailed write- up about the multiverse theory versus intelligent design, go here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/multiverse-and-the-design-argument.

But for now, just realize that the Standard Model absolutely predicted something like the Higgs boson as one of its essential particles, and so the documentary that I watched showed scientists using the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva Switzerland to try to detect it. Everyone figured it was out there, but they had different theories about what it would mean to the universe and, indeed, to the future of physics. And all of that depended on not only finding the Higgs, but also learning its mass.

The reason scientists needed to know its mass was because a “light” Higgs boson is the kind of thing that would correspond to the symmetry of the Standard Model, and even helps lend credence to what’s called “supersymmetry,” in which additional particles might likely be discovered to build a complicated but even more elegant way of describing the universe. A “heavy” Higgs, on the other hand, would tend to point to various theories using the concepts of the multiverse. But here’s the rub: if, in fact, the multiverse theory were to be confirmed, it would mean that everything in our universe might be completely random, caused not by intelligence but chaos. And if that were true, then physicists could never be sure that they’d ever find answers to anything else because the answers to any number of questions in a multiverse theory might only be found in other universes, which means that we might never find them at all. In fact, most everybody in the documentary felt like a heavy Higgs might mean the end of physics altogether. Pretty dramatic, huh?

So the movie came down to this. If the Higgs mass was about 115 times the mass of a proton, it would point to supersymmetry. If it was about 140 times the mass of a proton, it would point to multiverse. Order and elegance versus chaos, or, as some people might speculate, God versus no God.

All of this is interesting, but sometimes I think that people miss the forest for the trees, or the universe for the particles in this case. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wrote: “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) We have been without excuse since creation, and now we have even less of an excuse to clearly see and know the existence and glory of God. Back in the day, scientists like Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Louis Pasteur, and countless others worked within their knowledge and belief of the existence of God and with the notion that their discoveries were guided by God. The famous astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, wrote, “I see how God is, by my endeavors, also glorified in astronomy, for ‘the heavens declare the glory of God.’” (quoting Psalm 19:1).

Why, then, do so many people miss what is so obvious to others? Why do they reject the notion of God so adamantly that they’ll create theory after theory to debunk any idea of intelligent design?  I think the reason is found in two separate scriptures. First, in 2 Peter 3:5, Peter writes that people will “deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” And through this deliberate forgetfulness, since they “d[o] not know the righteousness that comes from God [and they seek] to establish their own, they [do] not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:3) In short, people forget what is obvious to the rest of the world because they simply don’t want to serve anyone. They want to be their own god. But hey, as Bob Dylan once sang, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

Anyway, back to the Higgs and the documentary. Now I personally don’t need to know the mass of a particle to convince me that God exists. And I assume that if the Higgs came back light and the multiverse theory was somehow discredited, people who simply don’t want to believe in God would figure out some other theory to cast doubt. But leave it to God Himself to remind us who is in control here. Because when they ultimately found the Higgs – and they did – its mass was exactly dead center between 115 and 140, which left both sides scratching their heads. We thought we had it all figured out. We thought it was all or nothing. But God said it was neither. It was something else entirely. It’s not so much the “God Particle” as it is simply one of God’s particles. Like everything else, God created the Higgs, and its mass is what it is. Now deal with it.

And finally, why in the world would I write about this interesting natural world drama in a blog about the supernatural? Well, because in the middle of the documentary, during one of the trial runs for the Large Hadron Collider as they were counting down toward the test, something truly fascinating happened. During that countdown from five to one, at just around minute 27:51 of the documentary, the camera cut to a young scientist waiting for the test to begin. And as the countdown reached three, she closed her eyes and briefly bowed her head. I think she prayed.

Famous People Thanking God

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos

“I’m defintiely going to say a little prayer and thank the man upstairs for this great opporunity.” Peyton Manning

“God is so good. God is great.” Von Miller

Those who honor me, I will honor. 1 Samuel 2:30 

The Big Question

Why are sunsets orange and blue?

 

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Because God is a Broncos fan!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

 

Tim and Denise


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