According to a recent news item flashed around the world,1 scientists at CERN, using the Large Hadron Collider, say they have confirmed the existence of a previously hypothesized particle officially called the Higgs boson but colloquially referred to as the ‘God particle’. If confirmed subsequently by repeated experimentation, this would be a major accomplishment for science. Some might claim that confirmation of the existence of the ‘God particle’ is also confirmation of the non-existence of God, but a careful examination of the situation reveals that just the opposite is true.
What is the ‘God particle’?
The ‘God particle’, officially the Higgs boson, is one of the elementary particles in the Standard Model of elementary particle physics—see box.
The one force not heretofore theoretically explained by the Standard Model is the force of gravity. This is, perhaps, partly due to the fact that the Standard Model did not have a theoretical explanation for the mass—or lack thereof—of its particles and mass is, of course, fundamental to the force of gravity. The best theoretical explanation of the force of gravity is still Einstein’s General Relativity in which gravity is considered to be the distortion of the fabric of space by the mass of an object—like a bowling ball distorting a trampoline. However, this too does not explain the occurrence of mass.
Enter the Higgs boson
It was originally proposed in 1964 as part of a mechanism to explain something else (specifically the spontaneous breaking of electroweak symmetry), but, almost as a by-product, it also provides a theoretical framework for explaining why the other elementary particles have mass. It was independently proposed by three different groups of physicists in 1964. One of these groups was a group of one, who was Peter Higgs, after whom the particle has been named.
Since it was proposed, the Higgs boson has remained very elusive despite numerous experiments looking for it. This is because it is alleged to have a very high mass and it therefore takes a lot of energy to create one. Hence the use of the Large Hadron Collider to accelerate particles travelling in opposite directions to very high energies, then bash them together and hope a Higgs pops out. One doesn’t actually see a Higgs boson since they decay extremely quickly. What is observed, it is hoped, are the products of that decay.
These experiments that seem to confirm the existence of the Higgs boson are a remarkable example of operational science at work. That is, the experimental, repeatable, observational science that tells us how things work in the present. (As opposed to historical or forensic science, which tries to work out what happened in the unrepeatable, unobservable past. This is the sort of science necessarily used to study origins. It is quite different in its methodology and in the role played by bias and personal philosophy in the interpretation applied to the data. See Naturalism, Origins and Operational Science.)
The Standard Model of particle physics
The Standard Model is a framework for understanding/explaining matter and the particulars of its interactions using only a small number of fundamental or elementary particles. Depending on just how you count these particles, there are either as few as 2 or as many as 36 of them.
At the 2 level, we have fermions (named after Enrico Fermi) and bosons (named after Satyandra Nath Bose), or, more specifically, gauge bosons. The difference between fermions and bosons is that fermions are like automobiles—only one can occupy a given quantum state at a given time—whereas bosons do not have this constraint.2
In the Standard Model, there are two types of fermions: quarks and leptons. Quarks are heavy (relatively speaking) and there are 6 of them called ‘up’, ‘down, ‘charm’, ‘strange’, ‘top’, and ‘bottom’. Odd names, perhaps, but, as a result, no one can accuse particle physicists of not having a sense of humour. Leptons, by comparison to quarks, are very light and there are also 6 of them. These have much more mundane names. They are called: ‘electron’, ‘muon’, ‘tau’, ‘electron neutrino’, ‘muon neutrino’, and ‘tau neutrino’. Each of these particles has a corresponding anti-particle, e.g. the electron corresponds to an anti-electron aka positron.
There are 4 types of gauge bosons, namely ‘photon’, ‘gluon’, ‘W’ and ‘Z’. So, if we do our count to here, there are 16 elementary particles as illustrated in the figure.
However, the fermions all have corresponding anti-matter particles, the gluon comes in 8 variants and the W boson in two (+,−), so including all these gets us to 35 particles. The Higgs boson is number 36. Interestingly, when the Z boson was named, it was called ‘Z’ because it was considered to be the last elementary particle needed by the Standard Model. Apparently not! Perhaps this illustrates just how dangerous it is to consider that anything is ‘settled science’.
These particles make up all the matter (and anti-matter) that we can see in the universe as well as being responsible for the forces through which matter interacts. Up and down quarks combine to make neutrons and protons, which form the basis of all atomic nuclei. Protons and neutrons combine with electrons to make all the atoms of the different elements. The elements combine in myriad different ways to form almost innumerable compounds. The gluons are responsible for the strong (or nuclear) force that binds the quarks together to form neutrons and protons and binds the neutrons and protons together in the nucleus. The W and Z bosons are responsible for the weak interaction which causes radioactive decay of sub-atomic particles. The photon is responsible for the electromagnetic interaction that makes like charges repel each other but opposite charges attract each other.
Since this is the first very-high-confidence assertion of the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson, it will need to be confirmed itself, including the values obtained for the parameters of the Higgs boson, by future experiments. If that happens, then the existence of the Higgs boson can be accepted with increasing confidence.
However, knowing that the Higgs boson exists and what it does—and, indeed, knowing this for the other elementary particles as well—tells us nothing about how they came into existence initially or why. Answers to these questions depend on one’s worldview or presuppositions in much the same way that the interpretation of the observations of this recent experiment was based on the presupposition that the Higgs boson existed.
The Standard Model does, however, provide an amazing example of super-intelligent design. There are only 3 fundamental particles, each of which comes in a few variants for a total of only 24 elementary (matter) particles—6 quarks, 6 leptons and 12 gauge bosons. Everything in the entire universe is made up of these 3 fundamental particles in 24 variants. Think about it! There are 118 chemical elements in the periodic table which can be combined to create almost innumerable compounds like iron oxide or calcium carbonate or hydrogen hydroxide (aka water) and these can be combined to create almost innumerable substances like bubble gum and chocolate cake and amino acids and concrete and these can be combined to create even grander structures like buildings and airplanes and computers and … the human body. Yet all these things are made using just 24 different components! That sure looks like design at its best.
By comparison, there are 3,900 different LEGO® elements and 58 different colours which are combined into some 7,500 unique pieces—and LEGO has around 120 designers working full time every day to create these pieces and figure out how to use them to build things. Now there have been some pretty amazing things built out of LEGO, but every one of them needed a designer/creator. Not a single one of these structures created itself from a pile of LEGO pieces, and despite 400 million people spending 5 billion hours a year building things from 485 million LEGO elements, none of them have been living, self-replicating organisms.3 But God made the entire universe, including all of life, with just 24 unique particles and in just 6 days!
Furthermore, the 12 bosons provide 3 of the 4 forces that hold everything in the universe together. Eight of them (gluons) provide the strong nuclear force that holds quarks together to form neutrons and protons and also holds the protons and neutrons together to form nuclei for atoms. Three of them provide the weak force which is involved in radioactive decay processes. One of the bosons, the photon, provides the electromagnetic force which is stronger than the weak force but weaker than the strong force—maybe should have been called the middling force. It binds electrons to nuclei in the atom and is responsible for pretty much all the phenomena we experience in daily life apart from gravity, which is the fourth and weakest force. These forces cover an incredible range of strengths. For example, the strong force is 1038 times as strong as gravity—that’s 100 million million million million million million times as strong. The forces all behave differently: gravity only attracts; the electromagnetic force both attracts and repels; both act over infinitely long distances whereas the strong force only acts within the nucleus and the weak force only in close proximity to the nucleus. Gravity accounts for the motion of the stars and planets, the electromagnetic force accounts for light travelling from the stars to earth, and the strong force keeps all the nuclei in atoms from flying apart due to the electromagnetic repulsion between the protons. Yet all this is accomplished with only 12 particles. Again, design at its best.
But that is not all. The relationship between these forces is so finely tuned that even a slight change in just one of these relationships would render the universe as we know it impossible. More excellent design.
A theory of everything?
It’s perfectly within the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:28 to try to find a unifying concept—a simpler theory that explains many apparently disparate observations. Creationist physicist James Clerk Maxwell unified electricity and magnetism, people like J.J. Thompson and Ernest Rutherford unified atomic theory by discovering electrons and nuclei, Murray Gell-Mann and Yuval Ne’eman unified particle physics by discovering quarks, and now the Higgs may unify even further.
But this is not like the arrogance of some atheists like Stephen Hawking, who for years wanted to find a ‘theory of everything’. However, he belatedly realized that this was a pipe dream because of Gödel’s incompleteness proof:4 that in any theoretical system as complex as arithmetic or above, there would always be true statements that cannot be proven within the system. Such limits to human knowledge bring to mind Ecclesiastes 3:11 which indicates that God “has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
The Higgs boson was capriciously nicknamed ‘the God particle’ by American physics Nobellist Leon Lederman at the insistence of his publisher5. It seemed appropriate because, as he said, the particle is “so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive”. (The name was certainly more marketable than what Lederman apparently originally intended to call it, the ‘godd..mn particle’ on account of its elusivity.) I think that the nickname is quite apt for other reasons. Like with God, one cannot actually see the Higgs boson but only sees the effects of its presence and deduces its reality from the observations. Also, the Higgs boson, by providing an explanation for the masses of the elementary particles, provides the explanation for all the forces that hold the universe together. And Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians that “ … by Him [Christ, who is God] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth … and in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:16–17).
It seems that the more science discovers, including this seeming confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson, the more it confirms what Paul said in Romans: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse”. (Rom 1:20)
E.g. Than, K., ‘God Particle’ Found? ‘Historic Milestone’ from Higgs Boson hunters: Newfound particle may be at the core of existence, news.nationalgeographic.com, 4 July 2012. Return to text.
Technically, the difference is in the intrinsic angular momentum or “spin”: fermions have half-integral spin (e.g. ±½), while bosons have integral spin (e.g. 0, ±1). The constraint is known as the Pauli Exclusion Principle.Return to text.
By pure coincidence, “legō” (λέγω) is the New Testament Greek word for “I say”. Return to text.
Sample, I., Ultimate equation is pie in the sky, says Hawking, Guardian, 23 February 2004, 22 June 2006. Return to text.
His co-authored book was named The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What is the Question?Return to text.
E.g. Than, K., ‘God Particle’ Found? ‘Historic Milestone’ from Higgs Boson hunters: Newfound particle may be at the core of existence, news.nationalgeographic.com, 4 July 2012.
Technically, the difference is in the intrinsic angular momentum or “spin”: fermions have half-integral spin (e.g. ±½), while bosons have integral spin (e.g. 0, ±1). The constraint is known as the Pauli Exclusion Principle.
By pure coincidence, “legō” (λέγω) is the New Testament Greek word for “I say”.
Sample, I., Ultimate equation is pie in the sky, says Hawking, Guardian, 23 February 2004, 22 June 2006.
His co-authored book was named The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What is the Question?
“But God made the entire universe, including all of life, with just 24 unique particles and in just 6 day!”
No one doubts the majesty of His creation but don’t you think it a little odd that the Higgs Boson and others didn’t warrant a mention in Genesis?
Jim Mason responds
Thank you for your response. Glad to hear we agree there is no doubt about God’s majesty.
No, I do not think it at all odd that the Higgs boson does not get a specific mention in Genesis. Genesis is, after all, first and foremost an historical narrative. It is not a science textbook. That being said, there are, of course, sections of the historical narrative that have significant implications for the study of science. The lengthy and comparatively detailed description of the global flood has significant implications for the study of geology but without going into the details of the different types of sedimentary rock. The recounting, as part of the history, that God created everything after its own kind has significant implications for the study of biology but without going into the details of DNA, codons, amino acids and nucleotides.
Some areas get less mention as part of the history. The creation of stars gets just three words without describing the details of the nuclear fusion that maintains their light and the existence of radioactivity seems to get no mention at all, never mind an explanation of alpha, beta and gamma rays. In fact, the brevity of the mention seems deliberate—although we know that some are millions of times brighter or billions of times more voluminous than our sun, God created them effortlessly.
Another important point is that the Scriptures are God’s word for all people at all times (2 Timothy 3:15–17). If God had mentioned something that we would not discover for 6,000 years, it would give skeptics a reason to scoff at the Bible for talking fantasy. More on this theme from Tekton (outside source) at “Why is the brain not mentioned in the Bible?” http://www.tektonics.org/lp/nobrain.html
The creation of matter is covered in the very first verse: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1) and all we know beyond that is that the earth was initially water. The fact that water is composed of two hydrogen atoms coupled with one oxygen atom as a result of particular forces and that these, in turn, are composed of neutrons, protons and electrons held together by various other forces and that these, in turn, all originate from 36 elementary particles, one of which is the Higgs boson, (at least in today’s perspective) is not included since it is not germane to the history.
All the specific details were left for us to discover and they incrementally reveal His majesty.
Andrew B., United Kingdom, 6 July 2012
Billions of pounds spent in a futile effort to try to explain the creation of life and Universe without God.
“He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” [Psalm 2:4]
John C., United States, 7 July 2012
How can you say they don’t give God credit when they call it THE GOD PARTICLE?
Jim Mason responds
Thank you for your comment. While I suppose that could be an inference, given the way the name came about, I really don’t think that was the intent. If they had really intended to credit God with the creation of the particle a more suitable moniker would have been “God’s particle”. While it may not have been the original intent, it seems to me that given the way they have chosen to express it, a more fitting interpretation would be that they view this particle as God. Certainly the hype, verging on worship, would seem to support this. This is also in line with what Paul wrote in Romans 1:25.
We have discussed such things in more detail in the 1995 Creation magazine article Physicists’ God-talk, which includes mention of this particle among other loose uses of ‘god’.
Philip M., Australia, 7 July 2012
I wish to comment on your statement in this excellent article “(As opposed to historical or forensic science, which tries to work out what happened in the unrepeatable, unobservable past. This is the sort of science necessarily used to study origins …)”.
It is obviously true that “origins” is the unrepeatable, unobservable past. It is also true that, like us with origins, the forensic scientist comes onto the scene after the event, not having witnessed it. But that is where the similarity ends. It is not possible for forensic science to work out what happened in the unrepeatable, unobservable past. The forensic method cannot be applied to origins.
Firstly, the forensic scientist’s reconstructed scenario is repeatable. Otherwise it would not stand up in a court of law. But that aside, what is important is the fact that, in attempting to reconstruct a likely scenario, the forensic scientist will only ever draw on historical precedent. That is, he will only draw on the repeatable, observed past to obtain his best-fit-scenario. He must have repeatable, observed events from the past from which to construct his scenario. Either that, or he introduces a novel scenario. However, constructing novel scenarios is not the stuff of forensic science. And darwinism and creation are novel. For forensic science to be forensic science, the forensic scientist must have a repeatable, observed past.
When it comes to origins, the darwinist and the creationist each begins with his historical framework (one that has no precedent), and within that historical framework, assembles the scientific data. The forensic scientist operates in the reverse. He begins with the scientific data and constructs an historical framework for the (crime) scene. And his historical framework is constructed from historical precedent.
Logically, forensics can never be applied to a situation where there has been no human eye-witness to the type of event being proposed for that situation, putting both darwinists and creationists out-of-court as far as a forensic approach towards origins goes. I can’t say I agree with dividing science into operational and historical/forensic. I look forward to hearing from you.
Jim Mason responds
Thank you for your thoughtful—and thought-provoking—comment.
I think, perhaps, that my use of the term ‘forensic’ has introduced some confusion since this term is closely coupled to the legal system and this was not the intent. Rather, the intent was to point out that the type of science that tells us how things operate in the world today (what I called operational science) does not tell us how the things in the world today came about. Trying to understand how things came about or came to be (when there were no eyewitnesses) is, as you say, all about constructing a scenario based on what can be measured and observed today and frequently the science explaining how they operate tells us nothing about how they came to be. Thus, for example, the science that tells us how an airplane flies (basically Newton’s laws—see Flying Creatures: Created or Evolved?) tells us nothing about how the airplane came to be and the science that tells us how the human cell operates tells us nothing about how the cell came to be. See further discussion in Naturalism, Origins and Operational Science.
Having (hopefully) cleared some possible confusion, I would also like to respond to a couple of specific things in your comment.
When you say that “the forensic scientist’s reconstructed scenario is repeatable,” I am not sure what you are intending. If it is that given the same set of observations (made in the present) it is possible to reconstruct over and over again the same scenario (that happened in the past) as a possible explanation of these facts, then I guess this is correct. However, this does not imply that the repeatedly reconstructed scenario is correct. This is not the same as an experiment being conducted over and over again in different places by different people using different apparatus and getting the same result (within experimental error).
When you say that a forensic scientist “must have repeatable, observed events from the past from which to construct his scenario”, since it is not possible really to repeat events from the past, I assume that what you mean is that there were numerous events in the past, where there were actually eyewitnesses, that were similar enough to the present event that they can be used as a “type” of event to help explain the present event. That would run something like this: “Every time I saw a car driving this erratically and pulled the driver over, the driver was intoxicated. Since this car was driving in a similar manner, I conclude that the driver was also intoxicated.” Unfortunately this driver swerved into an oncoming gasoline truck and in the resulting collision a raging fire ensued that eliminated any possibility of measuring alcohol levels. It also meant that it was not possible to ascertain that the driver had really suffered a heart attack.
Or to use another fictional example from a novel I have just read. DNA analysis of a blood trace on a strangled murder victim’s neck established unequivocally (or at least as unequivocally as these analyses can) that it came from a particular individual which seemed to pretty clearly indicate that that person was the murderer. However, as it turned out, the trace got there by transference from a belt that the real murder had used for the strangulation and also used to beat the other individual badly enough that his blood got on the belt. I suspect that precedents would have firmly supported the former conclusion since the usual way for blood to appear on a victim is directly from the perpetrator. However, the detective worked out that such was not the case in this instance, without the existence of any repeatable, observable events from the past.
In any event, I think we agree about the main point, which is that the matter of origins is not about science as properly understood but about the construction of an historical story that tries to explain the current observations and that the construction of this story will be strongly influenced by the presuppositions underpinning one’s worldview. In this context, it is not unlike a courtroom where (without eyewitnesses), while there is one set of data (the evidence), there are two interpretations—i.e. stories—about how that evidence came to be—one based on the presupposition that the defendant is guilty and another based on the presupposition that the defendant is innocent. And, I suspect, it is not unreasonable to expect that there would be two forensic scientists who could testify as expert witness to explain both interpretations.
Your comment on the “out-of-court” nature of origins issues is interesting and it is too bad that the judge in the case about teaching intelligent design/creation alongside Darwinism/evolution didn’t agree with you. He sided quite clearly, in his courtroom, with the Darwinists/evolutionists, claiming that intelligent design/creation was not scientific but that Darwinism/evolution was. He said: “Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. … While supernatural explanations may be important and have merit, they are not part of science.” Methodological naturalism is thus “a self-imposed convention of science.” It is a ‘ground rule’ that "requires scientists to seek explanations in the world around us based upon what we can observe, test, replicate, and verify” (copied from Wikipedia). See also The rules of the game: As the ‘rules’ of science are now defined, creation is forbidden as a conclusion—even if true.
There are a number of interesting aspects to this comment. Firstly, the judge clearly notes that this is a “self-imposed convention” and means that “science has been limited” and that it “requires scientists” to think in a particular way (see also more analysis of the judge’s ruling). It would be interesting to see how scientists would explain the existence of the 747 if they were precluded on philosophical grounds from allowing the involvement of intelligent agents but had to explain it solely on the basis of natural causes. Further, the judge also says that scientists must “seek explanations … based on what we can observe, test, replicate and verify”, only one of which (observe—and even that is debatable since Richard Dawkins has said “we have just not observed it happening”) is possible with Darwinism/evolution.
The division of science into Operational and Historic/Forensic is, perhaps, not perfect. It is intended to highlight the difference between experimental/repeatable science that tells us how things work and the “science” that tells us how things came to be. If you could suggest an alternative nomenclature for highlighting this difference, I would be interested in hearing it.
Curtis C., United States, 7 July 2012
What this really shows is the importance of faith. For so long scientists have had faith that the Higgs Boson exists. They spent vast amounts of dollars making arguably the biggest machine in history, all for one little moment that confirmed their faith. All for one little confirmation of increasing knowledge, that has no practical value that anyone has yet suggested (as far as I’ve seen). It's really an amazing show of faith!
Like them, we have faith; but they got far less bang for their buck, as it were. A particle popped into existence and then fell apart. That’s it. But Jesus promises us eternal, wonderful life in heaven if we put our faith in him.
Still confused about exactly how what they found sheds any light on how things work, though. It’s said this particle gives other particles mass, yet is far more massive than other particles, so the math doesn’t seem to work. I presume it has a more indirect significance that is difficult to put in laymen’s terms. Sounds more like it’s just another thing that can be made from other ingredients and something smaller than any of them must be what determines mass, so it would fit inside them, but that confirming that those more basic things can make this backs up the math of what can be made.
Anyways, no matter what it shows about how the creation works, it’s still created by God; like figuring out how a confusing piece of a car engine works does not prove it evolved.
Jim Mason responds
A good observation about faith. It is also noteworthy that they didn’t actually see the Higgs boson but only the effects of it, so it is like God in that way. But, of course, they considered us daft for having faith in something we can’t see but of which we can clearly see the effects.
Concerning the question of what this has to do with mass, the best explanation I have read is as follows. First, it is not directly the boson that gives the other particles their mass but the Higgs Field for which the Higgs boson in the enabling particle (like the photon is the enabling particle for the electromagnetic field). So, now consider a foyer full of people at a celebrity event. If an unknown person off the street comes in, they will be able to move through the people quite easily. However, if a big “heavyweight” star comes in, they will have great difficult moving through the room as people will want to talk to them and get their autograph. So the room full of people is the field and the individual people are the particles enabling the field. The “lightweight’ person moves easily through the field whereas the “heavyweight” celebrity moves slowly because the particles “stick” to him/her. In effect, the “weight” (mass) of the celebrity is determined by the field or alternately by the particles (people) comprising the field.
Al M., United States, 7 July 2012
Do you think that this particular discovery will result in an increase in worldwide athiesm due to its supposed link to the big bang? Is it really just being overhyped as more useful than it actually is?
Jim Mason responds
Thank you for your questions.
Yes, I think it is being overhyped since the sensational helps sell newspapers and garner research grants. It is also pretty nice for the egos involved. As for usefulness, it is hard to imagine to what practical use this discovery may be put but perhaps there will be one. Notwithstanding this, the discovery, if confirmed by future experiments, is certainly noteworthy.
It is hard to predict what sort of effect any discovery will have but it is for certain that atheism doesn’t need any help to spread. It seems to be mankind’s preferred persuasion. However, if individual Christians would become equipped with the information that would enable them to counter the prevailing atheistic commentary in conversations they might have with neighbors, co-workers and friends, whether it is about the Big Bang or biological evolution or uniformitarian geology or whatever, then this would certainly slow the spread. Equipping Christians to do just is, of course, what this Ministry is all about and part of the reason for this article. And, of course, ‘the mission’ is not specifically to slow or stop the spread of atheism but rather to ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matt 28:19) for God is ‘not wishing for any to perish’ (2 Peter 3:9).
Jeff M., United Kingdom, 7 July 2012
“All the details were left for us to discover.” …
Genesis and the rest of the bible say nothing more than people in the middle east 2,000 plus years ago would have known. That’s why the Bible rings true—as a contemporary narrative but not something to be taken literally.
God has been revealing himself to us since Bible days and what the Bible tells us is supplemented by what we know now.
As you've probably guessed, I'm a theistic evolutionist. To my mind (and I really do not mean this in a perjorative way) God is the universal Turing machine. Every quantum event is not random to Him - but planned that way. How is that for Majesty?
Very best wishes and I do hope I don't offend you.
Jim Mason responds
No offence taken by me and, I hope, by you for my response following.
Nice twist. However, there is a simple logical difference between something simply not mentioned and something that overtly contradicts Scripture (evolution, as amply shown in our Theistic Evolution page).
However, I would make the following observations. You say “That’s why the Bible rings true—as a contemporary narrative but not something to be taken literally.” So how, then, do we determine which parts of the Bible to believe and which to re-interpret in light of today’s science? Should we disregard the virgin birth and the resurrection and all the miracles Jesus did—especially the long range return-to-life ones—since science ‘tells’ us all such things are impossible? But then why stop there? Perhaps we should also disregard the claim that “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6), and “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). And as shown recently in Gay ‘marriage’ and the consistent outcome of Genesis compromise, should we also discard biblical teachings on marriage?
It seems to me that as soon as we argue that some of the Bible is open to re-interpretation (that is the parts we, each individually, would like to re-interpret from the meaning that the original readers would have understood) we have to accept that the entire Bible is open to re-interpretation in whatever manner anyone cares to, up to and including that it is all rubbish. And we have no rationale for arguing that they are wrong. And, it also seems to me, that there is no scientific necessary for any re-interpretation.
You also say: “what the Bible tells us is supplemented by what we now know.” Supplemented, yes, but replaced, no. Thus, it seems to me, when the Bible tells us in language that Hebrew language scholars, whether believers or not, seem to overwhelmingly agree is intended to mean what it clearly means when plainly read and understood, i.e. that God created the universe and its contents in 6 24 hour days about 6,000 years ago, then we should not replace this with whatever secular belief contemporary science is used to support.
The correct approach is that science should be used ministerially, to elaborate, elucidate, and explain the teachings of Scripture; but never magisterially, where science overrides the biblical teaching. For more, see Biblical history and the role of science and our book Refuting Compromise.
My previous response to you explained why the Bible didn’t mention the Higgs Boson (or quantum mechanics which we accept). However, we have pointed out that there were simple Hebrew words to teach very long ages and even evolution, if that is what God had intended to teach. Indeed, evolution, unlike QM and the Higgs boson, is taught to young children. Therefore, it would not have been too hard to teach to ancient Hebrews and the other early readers of Scripture.
Cody T., United States, 7 July 2012
If, indeed, the Higgs Boson has been found, one would think this ‘proves’ the existence of God rather than the non-existence of. The ‘intelligent’ fools, spoken of in First Romans, will convince themselves of anything. This whole evolution, Big Bang business never made much sense to me. It is the greatest deception ever thrust upon Mankind. As if all the wonders of Creation were just some huge accident. That’s analogous to one dumping a wheelbarrow load of scrap metal over the side of a hill. Then, when it gets to the bottom, it’s a car. I like to watch [certain television science programs, but] all they speak of is random accidents, evolution, and Big Bangs. It is very disconcerting to hear this repeated as truth over over again. What is even more disconcerting is that many are so weak-minded that they believe all of this, yet call Believers unenlightened and superstitious. This is arrogance to the nth degree.
Danika T., United Kingdom, 7 July 2012
3 fundamental particles! Amazing! It’s a great time to be alive. We are fortunate that God has determined to allow us to know more of his majesty.
I also couldn’t help but be reminded that the Creator God is an entity comprised also of 3 parts!
Jonathan Sarfati responds
Thank you for your comments. Just a word of caution.
It is not really correct to say that the three Persons of the Trinity are ‘parts’ of God. We see in Colossians 2:9:
For in him [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
However, Jesus is not the Father or the Holy Spirit.
In my view, a recent article that might help is Infinity through dark glasses. This points out, among other things, that infinite subsets can be as ‘numerous’ as the superset (and there are degrees of “infinity”), as Cantor showed.
It’s complicated, but Cantor showed that although the set of rational numbers contain many members that the set of natural (counting) numbers does not contain, they can be matched in a one-to-one correspondence. Similarly, the set of even numbers, a subset of the set of natural numbers, can also be matched one-to-one. So all these sets, although one is a subset and the other a superset of natural numbers, are classed as “countable infinity”. This is sometimes assigned the cardinality “aleph-null” (ℵ0; aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet). (Also, the set of real numbers cannot be matched into a one-to-one correspondence with the natural numbers, as he showed with his “diagonalization proof”. Thus this has a higher degree of infinity, “uncountable infinity”, which has the higher cardinality 2ℵ0 or “beth-one” (beth ב is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet), identical to “aleph-one” (ℵ1) only if the continuum hypothesis is true).
Analogies are always to be used with caution. But I think that Cantor’s analysis of the concept of infinity can be useful understanding that Jesus could be an infinite ‘subset’ of God without losing any of His infinite attributes.
Also, I would be cautious about using triads in nature, such as solid-liquid-gas, three dimensions, past/present/future as any proof of the Trinity (not that you were doing that). After all, if God were a ‘Binity’ there would be plenty of duals in nature to ‘point’ to Binitarianism (space/time, matter/energy, wave-particle duality, positive/negative charge, and particle-antiparticle pair production). Also, if God were a Quadrunity, the Four Gospels are one parallel that would come to mind, as would the four dimensions of Relativistic spacetime, the four fundamental forces of nature, and the four gauge bosons as per the article.
Finally, I can suggest another analogy with the Trinity. Christ was not created but is coeternal with God the Father, but the Father is nonetheless the ‘source’ of the Son. Thus one ancient analogy compares Father and Son to the sun and its light: the light’s source is the sun, but the sun’s very nature is to emit light (as per Gen. 1:14 ff. God made the sun precisely as a lightgiver to earth), so they are co-eternal. Similarly, God the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, while the Father’s nature is to beget the Son eternally. This is reflected in the classic Nicene Creed of AD 325:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.
LaKeva C., United States, 8 July 2012
The say the GOD Particle has been found but needs to be verified. What are the names of the 11 particles that need the GOD Particle to complete the MODEL. The model here has 12 so lost.
Jim Mason responds
The number of particles in the Standard Model depends a bit on how they are counted. Thus, there are three types of particle: quarks, leptons and bosons. The are 6 differently named quarks, 6 differently named leptons and 4 differently named bosons (5 now counting the Higgs boson). So counting to here we have 16 particles, which is what the illustration in the article shows)—or 17 counting the Higgs. However, each quark and lepton also has an associated antiparticle with the same name but with all the quantum states reversed, so now we have 28 (29 including the Higgs). Further, the gluon (one of the bosons) comes in 8 “colors” and the W boson has two charge states, so this gets us to 36 (37 counting the Higgs). Finally, each of the 6 quarks and 6 anti-quarks come in 3 colors. So all told, there are 60 separately identifiable particles (61 counting the Higgs).
Hope this helps.
Eugene Y., Malaysia, 8 July 2012
Thanks for taking notice of such a wonderful experiment. I have some questions to ask. When you say that this experiment confirms the existence of the Higgs boson does it mean that what they are seeing is a Higgs boson particle or something similar to a Higgs boson because according to the local newspaper
Rolf Heuer,director of CERN is shy of claiming outright that it is the Higgs boson. He called it “most probably a Higgs boson, but we have to find out what kind of Higgs boson it is.”
After all, the scientist are cheering for the discovery of a new subatomic particle, calling it “consistent” with the long-sought Higgs boson. Perhaps what they are looking at is not really the “Higgs boson”. Please consider any misinformation that I’ve written and help in correcting it. At the same time what do you mean by “very high confidence assertion of the existence of the Higgs boson” in the article. Thank you. God bless you.
Jim Mason responds
Physicists in general (with the exception perhaps of some climate change physicists) and particle physicist in particular, tend to be cautious with their claims. Particle physicists, after all, have seen their world change quickly from atoms to neutrons, protons, and electrons; to neutrons, protons, electrons, and the almost invisible neutrinos; to quarks, muons, taus, and so on. Couple this with the fact that analyzing the reams and reams of data that they have collected, looking for the evidence of the Higgs boson is a bit like looking for a particularly shaped piece of hay in a haystack. It is a good idea to be cautious. However, the more supporting evidence that is collected, the more confidence one can have in the conclusion, which is what I meant when I wrote that the evidence that they have collected provides a very high degree of confidence in the bosons existence.
What Dr. Heuer meant, I believe, is that while they believe they have confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson, they have yet to determine its properties, other than some limits on its mass.
Andrew N., United Kingdom, 8 July 2012
Thank you for this wonderful article. Although an Honours Science graduate I am not a Physicist and you have made a complex area very accessible to me. I think I now know a little of what that amazing Creationist Astronomer Johann Kepler (1571–1630) meant when he said he was “thinking God’s thoughts after Him1.” [Ed. note: see our Creation magazine article Johannes Kepler: Outstanding scientist and committed Christian.]
What a Creator God. Yet more important and amazing than that, what a Wonderful Saviour is Jesus our LORD! John 1:3, Romans 1:20, Colossians 1:16.
J. M., United States, 8 July 2012
Sorry to be a skeptic but the way science has operated in the area of evolution, I would not take these claims too seriously. When one looks at the amount of speculation and theory that is held as truth about the larger part of creation (astronomy), one is skeptical that they really understand in any great detail the smaller aspects of creation (the standard model). Are they claiming to find what the want to find rather than what they are actually observing? I understand, at least, that there are some problems even with the standard model.
Jim Mason responds
It is certainly true that data do not speak for themselves but need to be interpreted within some sort of framework or paradigm. Even the high school science lab reflects this—the conclusions are an interpretation of the observations within the framework set out in the hypothesis. Furthermore, the interpretative framework will be strongly influenced by one’s presuppositions. Thus, in this case, the presupposition is that the Higgs boson exists and the interpretive framework for analyzing the data is the Standard Model. In that sense, yes, they are claiming to find what they want to find, but, I suggest, that that is a reasonable interpretation of the data in this case.
However, I also suggest that any claims that this discovery in any way validates the veracity of the Big Bang as the origin of the universe, are completely misplaced. The idea that by bashing hadrons together at high energies and momentarily producing high temperature plasma proves that the Big Bang is true because the Big Bang is alleged to have had a point at which it was high energy plasma is a logical fallacy.
The technical term for this is affirming the consequent—i.e. the Big Bang would have produced a condition like this, we have produced a condition like this in the LHC/RHIC, therefore the Big Bang is proven.
I would also suggest that transferring the characteristics of one branch of science to another is unwarranted. There has been some very excellent and quite useful work done in the areas of cellular biology and genetics that are quite distinct from the speculation and unsupported theories of evolutionary biology.
Finally, yes, there are some problems with the Standard Model. Among others, it does not explain gravity, general relativity, cold dark matter (which may not exist anyway), or the dominance of matter over antimatter. However, generally speaking, all models have had problems at one point or other of their existence. The “plum pudding” model of the atom had some problems and was eventually replaced by the Bohr model. Even Newton’s model of space as three dimensional, which had sufficient validity to be called a law, had a problem although we didn’t realize it until Einstein pointed it out. And Newton’s model is still an excellent one for thinking about space under most circumstances. So for now, it seems to me, the Standard Model is a reasonable way of thinking about reality recognizing that, like all models, it may need refinement and/or replacement as we understand more about God’s creation.
Nels N., United States, 8 July 2012
So many fallacies. What a waste. It makes me sad for a moment, and then I have to simply move on, knowing there is no use in even trying to communicate with people who convince themselves of something through the mystical reality-shaping of belief.
Such obvious thirst for knowledge here, never to be quenched because your mind is sealed tight by your beliefs.
I wish nothing but the best for you in life.
I doubt this will be published, because I am not contributing to your discussion. I apologize for that. I sincerely hope this does not attract discussion or reaction. I simply wished to express the sadness that I experienced reading this article. Good bye.
Jim Mason responds
Thank you for taking the time to read the article and also for taking the time to send us a comment. I am sorry that it apparently made you sad. That was certainly not the intent. Unfortunately, your comment is a bit lacking in specifics so it is hard to provide a response and, perhaps thereby, alleviate your sadness.
For example, you allude to “many fallacies” but do not identify even one. Maybe our article on logic might help you identify any (or show why what you thought was a fallacy really was not).
You refer to “a waste”, which might be interpreted to mean the huge sums of money spent on the LHC and this experiment with no apparent application to the relief of human suffering. You talk of people convincing “themselves of something through the mystical reality-shaping of belief”, although you are committing a fallacy of your own which C.S. Lewis termed ‘Bulverism’:
Assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly.
Instead of the correct procedure:
You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong.
And while I doubt that this was your intent, this could be referring to the scientists involved in this experiment since they have a “reality-shaping belief” in the Higgs boson despite never having seen it and being able to see only the effects of its alleged presence.
I do find it interesting when folk like yourself adopt the position that Christianity is in conflict with science. This is what I infer that you mean by your comment that my “mind is sealed tight by [my] belief”. But as G.K. Chesterton said:
Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.
Just had to smirk a little when reading that they believe this particle exists because of its effects even though they can’t physically see it—yet most of them deny God.
Annabelle W., Australia, 9 July 2012
Thank you, Jim Mason, for such a wonderful article. You have made some fantastic points that I intend to use at some point. You, as does the rest of creation.com, remind me of the joys and credits of creation science. Thank you.
Chris M., United Kingdom, 9 July 2012
I was eagerly waiting for this response to the ‘Higgs’ from you (very helpful).
When it was announced over here (U.K.) the BBC commentator confidently announced that if confirmed, it would confirm the Big Bang, the existence of dark matter and of course dark energy! If you could comment on this assertion, I would be grateful. Many thanks for the helpfully concise overview of particle physics too.
Jim Mason responds
Thank you for your comment.
From what I have read and understand, the Higgs boson does not in any way confirm any of these things. In particular, since it is part of the Standard Model, it deals only with the other particles in the SM which themselves, according to the SM, are the foundation of observable matter in the universe. Consequently, it does not confirm the existence of Dark Matter or Dark Energy, which, as their names imply, are not observable.
With respect to confirming the Big Bang, I assume that you are referring to statements that claim that the LHC has produced a situation like the one assumed to have existed immediately after the Big Bang. However, this reasoning assumes that the Big Bang is correct and that a situation such as the one produced by the LHC would exist, so producing such a situation with the LHC hardly proves the Big Bang, only that the LHC can produce the situation that it was predicted that it could.
Concerning Dark Matter, Dr. John Harnett, a physicist at University of Western Australia in his book Starlight, Time and the New Physics shows that Dark Matter is not required for the purpose for which it was originally invented, which was to account for the abnormally high rotational velocities of stars in the outer arms of spiral galaxies. Solving the equations of cosmological general relativity proposed by Dr. Moshe Carmeli, Dr. Hartnett shows that these high rotational velocities are very well explained by Carmeli’s equations.
These equations extend Einstein’s description of spacetime to include the expansion velocity of the fabric of space (making it space-time-velocity) in much the same manner as Einstein extended Newton’s description of space by adding time. And just as Einstein’s ‘new physics’ provided an explanation for the heretofore unexplained precession of the orbit of Mercury (for which forms of “dark matter” had been invented), Carmeli’s equations seem to provide a straightforward explanation of the high rotational velocities of these stars with a ‘new physics’. See summary, Has ‘dark matter’ really been proven?
Interestingly, Carmeli’s model of the universe is different from that of the Big Bang but closely resembles that which would be inferred from the Bible and Hartnett’s solution, which takes into consideration changes to the velocity of expansion of space (accelerations) that the Bible seems to imply have happened, in addition to explaining the rotational velocities of stars in spiral galaxies, also explains how we can see starlight from stars that are millions of light-years distant, even though the earth is only about 6,000 years old as indicated in the Bible.
Dr. Harnett has also co-authored (with Alex Williams) a book called Dismantling the Big Bang, which discusses a large number of problems with the Big Bang. That the Big Bang has problems is confirmed by an open letter to the scientific community published in New Scientist in May 2004 which called for the Big Bang to be abandoned. This was initially signed by 30 scientists from 10 counties. (See also our analysis, Secular scientists blast the big bang: What now for naïve apologetics?)
Since being posted on-line, the number of signatories has increased considerably. Also, in the April 2011 issue of Scientific American, Dr. Paul Steinhardt, Director of the Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University, authored a paper, Quantum Gaps in the Big Bang Theory. Steinhardt was the winner of the 2002 Dirac Medal for his contributions to the Inflation Theory of faster-than-light expansion of space-time, an ad hoc attempt to try to solve the Horizon Problem, the big-bangers’ own light-travel–time problem. But Steinhardt’s recent paper elaborated several problems with inflation and called for its abandonment.
Anton D., Namibia, 9 July 2012
Thank God for the Higgs boson particle! We are finally entering the phase of the struggle where scientists will have to face and deal with a painful fact … it clearly points to some ‘strange’ divine particle that answers a number of complex questions,only to be confronted with the next unavoidable question: what is behind this particle …?
The deeper they dig, the closer they get (to the God of the particle), and the harder they try to explain it away, the clearer it becomes that there really IS design … with an incredible Designer behind and in it. Wonderful!
Timothy C., United States, 10 July 2012
I think it’s interesting on how they want to disprove the existence of God so much, but the more they try, the more they end up proving it. Even down to the atomic level that keeps getting more complex the more it’s studied.
Rose R., United Kingdom, 10 July 2012
Thank you once again for answering my questions before I’ve even asked them! A brilliant article.
To Nels: I was an athiest until was 31.I thought that Jesus probably did exist but was just a good guy who lived a long time ago, but definitely not God. That was until He arranged a meet and everything changed. No one could have been more surprised than me to discover that He is real, He is alive, He loves me and has forgiven me for all the bad stuff I’ve done; including not believing in Him.
I was taught evolution at school and the Big Bang theory latter, as if they are absolute facts. Even as an athiest though I found that I could not believe evolution. It just didn't make sense to me that one type of animal could change into a totally different type, however many years you gave it. And as for the Big Bang how did nothing explode and become our amazing universe? Even after I became a Christian I didn’t instantly become a YEC (Young Earth Creationist). Gradually as I got to know and trust Jesus better, plus reading the Bible and asking lots and lots of questions I came to where I am now; believing that God did what He said He did.
Also as facts about the immense complexity of life become known I cannot believe that life came about by chance. I don’t accept things I’m told without question, which is why I visit this site. I know what evolutionists say—it’s rammed down our throats at every opportunity it seems. It’s their belief. There is no proof. It's a man made religion. You say you are sad for us. Why? The majority of us have listened to both sides and from the evidence believe God. One more point, when I was an athiest I would never have bothered to visit a site like this. If you are convinced that you know the truth why should it bother you what creationist believe?
Jim Mason responds
Thank you for your comment and your testimony. It will no doubt give encouragement to many others.
I particularly like where you note that evolution is rammed down out throats at every opportunity, that it is a belief and a man-made religion. This is confirmed by the following quotes from noted evolutionists.
“I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism … .” J. Dunphy, A Religion for a New Age, The Humanist, Jan.–Feb. 1983, 23, 26 (emphases added), cited by Wendell R. Bird, Origin of the Species Revisited, vol. 2, p. 257.
“In my opinion, using creation and evolution as topics for critical-thinking exercises in primary and secondary schools is virtually guaranteed to confuse students about evolution and may lead them to reject one of the major themes in science.” Atheist Eugenie Scott, leader of the National Center for Science Education, as quoted by Larry Witham, Where Darwin Meets the Bible, p. 23, Oxford University Press, 2002.
Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint—and Mr [sic] Gish is but one of many to make it—the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today. … Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.” Dr. Michael Ruse was professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph, Canada (recently moved to Florida), 13 May 2000.
“The belief that life on earth arose spontaneously from non-living matter, is simply a matter of faith in strict reductionism and is based entirely on ideology.” Hubert P. Yockey, (a non-creationist), Information Theory and Molecular Biology, Cambridge University Press, UK, p. 284, 1992.
Big bang cosmology is probably as widely believed as has been any theory of the universe in the history of Western civilization. It rests, however, on many untested, and in some cases untestable, assumptions. Indeed, big bang cosmology has become a bandwagon of thought that reflects faith as much as objective truth. Burbidge, G., Why only one big bang? Scientific American266(2):96, 1992.
Peter W., Ireland, 10 July 2012
Thanks Jim for this timely and readable article—almost makes quantum mechanics comprehensible! One question though—perhaps you can clarify—the main article mentions 24 elementary particles whereas the box describes 36 —can you explain the seeming discrepancy? Thanks
Jim Mason responds
Thank you for your comment. There is also an excellent article on QM written by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, which makes it quite comprehensible.
The number of particles depends on just how you count them. The particles are divided into 3 groups: quarks, leptons and bosons. There are six differently-named quarks but each also has an anti-particle. So, if you count both particles and anti-particles, there are 12 quarks. The same is true of the leptons, i.e. there are 6 differently-named ones, each with an anti-particle. There are 4 differently-named bosons: the photon and Z bosons both come in only one variant but the gluon comes in 8 and the W comes in 2. So while there are 4 bosons with different names there are a total of 12 different particles. So, if you count names there are 16 (as illustrated in the figure), if you count matter particles only there 24 (6 quarks, 6 leptons and 12 bosons) and if you count matter and antimatter particles there are 36. And, of course, now we have the Higgs boson which increases each of these numbers by one.
Hope this helps.
Faan M., South Africa, 11 July 2012
Your lucid arguments/answers/explanations must be inspired by Someone bigger than yourself.
Well done and keep going on.
Just one question: Can those brilliant CERN scientists and Big Bang theorists also tell us what happened before the Big Bang?
Jonathan Sarfati responds
Thank you for your generous comments on my colleague’s article.
Actually, many big-bangers say that time itself began with the big bang, so the notion of ‘before’ the big bang would be meaningless.
Biblical creationists would say that God created time, likewise an answer to those who ask, “What was God doing before He created the universe?” See the brief feedback How God can be outside time?
Jesse M., United States, 23 August 2012
To add onto Jim Mason’s response to Philip M., when a forensic scientist finds a fingerprint at a crime scene, they take for granted that the person whose fingerprint it is was there. However, it is wrong to assume this, as it is possible for a fingerprint to have been made elsewhere, lifted by a second person, and planted at the scene.
A fictional example of this occurred in the movie The Bourne Supremacy. In the beginning of the film, two people go into a building in Berlin, Germany to recover records. In the process, an assassin walks in, plants Jason Bourne’s fingerprint on a fuse box, cuts the power (to put the two people in the dark) and shoots them both dead. When the CIA arrives at the scene and find Bourne’s print, they wrongly assume he was the killer. However, he was really in Goa, India at the time and knew nothing about the incident.
The only way that a forensic scientist can determine what happened with 100% certainty is if 1) he done testing and ruled out all other possibilities or 2) he knows certain eyewitness details that force a certain explanation to be true. (For example, if the CIA investigators in the Bourne Supremacy had known that Borune was not in Berlin, then they would have been forced to conclude that farming was the explanation for the print.)
When it comes to origins, neither 1) nor 2) apply, so it is not enough to say that an experiment proves that the universe came about a certain way. It could be that an alternate experiment would produce the exact same results, and we just don’t know it.