Tuesday, March 19, 2013
LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE DOG PARTICLE!
There’s been much sturm und drang about CERN’s report of finding a Higgs-like boson, the so-called “God-particle”. I’m currently writing up an abbreviated history of the scientific route to this experimental result, as an attempt to place all this in a context of how science works and what it can and cannot tell us about our universe. In the meantime, here are three links that do give a balanced perspective:
“All Things Visible and Invisible” (note the phrase taken from the Credo)
The last article has a particularly relevant sub-title: “Without God scientific discoveries have no meaning”. Those who have proclaimed that creation is explained by the “discovery” of the Higgs Boson (i.e. finding the spoor of a Higgs-like boson), are not familiar with the philosophic Principle of Sufficient Reason–you need to know the answers to questions about things, to explain where and how they came to be, in order to understand them–that’s how the human mind works. And a theory or a particle (i.e what one infers from observed phenomena, is a particle) or a field (i.e. what we propose as a mechanism for observed natural phenomena) does not explain itself. The only entity that does explain itself, that is the uncaused cause, is, by definition, God.
An addendum to this post, or perhaps a separate post, will summarize the relevant history of particle physics leading to evidence for the Higgs boson, and how this history embodies a development of symmetry considerations that do themselves “Declare the Glory of God”. (That is to say, I will do the best I can as such a guide–somewhat like Gollum leading Frodo and Sam through the Swamps of the Dead).
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
"Let Our Lives Be Good
I've been procrastinating on getting out posts for this blog, trying to get a coherent, booklike narration for belief, knowledge, and faith and, in doing so, have been seduced into all sorts of philosophic bordellos. That's not the way a blog should go, but more as a journal (a la Pensees), so that is how we'll do it from now on. In that mode, I was doing my daily bedtime reading of "Augustine Day by Day" (John E. Rotelle, O.S.A.) and found one particularly apt for the current times: The picture is of St. Augustine of Hippo. The Quote is from his Sermon 30.
"Bad times! Troublesome times! This is what people are saying. Let our lives be good and the times will be good. For we make our own times. Such as we are, such are the times. What can we do? Maybe we cannot convert masses of people to a good life. But let the few who hear live well. Let the few who live well endure the many who live badly."
Sermon 30, 8
The next blog will explore the scientific history of the Higgs field/boson and its relevance and irrelevance to our faith. Until then there's a fine piece by the Jesuit Vatican Astronomer, Br. Guy Consolmagno on the non-godness of the so-called God particle
- Retired, cranky, old physicist. Convert to Catholicism in 1995. Trying to show that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith. Intermittent blogs and adult education classes to achieve this end (see http://rationalcatholic.
blogspot.com/and http://home.ptd.net/~rkurland)Extraordinary Minister of Communion volunteer to federal prison and hospital; lector, EOMC.Sometime player of bass clarinet, alto clarinet, clarinet, bass, tenor bowed psaltery for parish instrumental group and local folk group.And, finally, my motivation:“It is also necessary—may God grant it!—that in providing others with books to read I myself should make progress, and that in trying to answer their questions I myself should find what I am seeking.
Therefore at the command of God our Lord and with his help, I have undertaken not so much to discourse with authority on matters known to me as to know them better by discoursing devoutly of them.”
St. Augustine of Hippo, The Trinity I,8.