Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The non-Godness of the “God-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).
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About Me

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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.