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The ‘God Particle’ and God (Without God, major scientific discoveries have no meaning)
National Review ^ | 07/10/2012 | Dennis Prager

Posted on 07/10/2012 7:06:30 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

They found the “God particle.”

That was the headline splashed all over America’s news media. It turns out that the name actually derives from substituting “God particle” for “goddamn particle,” the original name some scientists had given the elusive particle. But the media adopted the former nomenclature.

Why?

Because otherwise the bulk of humanity would not pay attention.

Physicists went nuts. And no one can blame them. For decades, they have searched for the particle that may explain why there is any mass in the universe. And 10 billion dollars was spent on the machine that probably proved its existence.

Without any disrespect to the enormous intellectual achievement of these scientists, let me state that I identify with the mass of humanity that doesn’t really care about the existence of the Higgs boson.

Those scientists and science writers who have likened this discovery to the discovery of DNA are wrong. If significance means relevance to the human condition, the discovery of DNA merited a ten out of ten and the Higgs boson might merit a two.

This does not mean that the search was either a waste of time or money. Both the time and money invested were necessary because satiating our curiosity about the natural world is one of the noblest ambitions of the human race.

But scientific discovery and meaning are not necessarily related. As one of the leading physicists of our time, Steven Weinberg, has written, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also it also seems pointless.”

And pointlessness is the point. The discovery of the Higgs boson brings us no closer to understanding why there is a universe, not to mention whether life has meaning. In fact, no scientific discovery ever made will ever explain why there is existence. Nor will it render good and evil anything more than subjective opinion, or explain why human beings have consciousness or anything else that truly matters.

The only thing that can explain existence and answer these other questions is God or some other similar metaphysical belief. This angers those scientists and others who are emotionally as well as intellectually committed to atheism. But many honest atheists recognize that a godless world means a meaningless one, and they admit that science can explain only what, not why.

In a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal, Woody Allen, an honest atheist, made this point in his inimitable way. Allen told the interviewer that, being a big sports fan, and especially a New York Knicks fan, he is often asked whether it’s important if the Knicks beat the Celtics. His answer is, “Well, it’s just as important as human existence.” If there is no God, Mr. Allen is right.

One must have a great deal of respect for the atheist who recognizes the consequences of atheism: no meaning, no purpose, no good and evil beyond subjective opinion, and no recognition of the limits of what science can explain.

But the atheist — scientist, philosophy professor, or your brother-in-law who sells insurance — who denies the consequences of atheism is as worthy of the same intellectual respect atheists have for those who believe in a 6,000-year-old universe.

Not only is science incapable of discovering why there is existence; scientists also confront the equally frustrating fact that the more they discover about the universe, the more they realize they do not know.

I happen to think that this was God’s built-in way of limiting man’s hubris and compelling humans to acknowledge His existence. Admittedly, this doesn’t always have these effects on scientists and especially on those who believe that science will explain everything.

So, sincere congratulations to the physicists and other scientists who discovered the Higgs boson. We now think we have uncovered the force or the matter that gives us the 4 percent of the universe that we can observe (96 percent of the universe consists of “dark matter,” about which scientists know almost nothing).

However, ironic as it may seem to many of these physicists, only if there is a God does their discovery matter. Otherwise, it is no more important than whether the Knicks beat the Celtics.

— Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated columnist and radio talk-show host, is author of Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph


TOPICS: Current Events; Religion & Culture; Religion & Science; Theology
KEYWORDS: god; godparticle; higgsboson

1 posted on 07/10/2012 7:06:36 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I love Dennis; great piece. I think he just summarized Ecclesiastes.


2 posted on 07/10/2012 7:23:06 AM PDT by throwback (The object of opening the mind, is as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I’ve been doing a little personal research on the implications of the Higgs Boson just for curiosity’s sake.

I found this site that gives a pretty decent explanation of the standard model of particle physics. It’s a pretty good presentation for non-physicists, although it takes awhile to get through:

http://www.particleadventure.org/eternal-questions.html

Not sure how significant the Higgs Boson will be in terms of practical use, but if they ever find evidence of the existance of a graviton, that might be interesting.


3 posted on 07/10/2012 7:28:53 AM PDT by chrisser (Starve the Monkeys!)
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To: SeekAndFind

There’s an episode of “The Universe” where they talk about God and the universe. Happily they included clergymen but what I liked most was one of the astrophysicists who says the universe is too mathematically perfect to be chance event.

She says that not one sub atomic particle could have been out of place for the creation of our universe to happen they way they believe it did. Add the fact that every other sub atomic particle also had to be exactly where they were and doing exactly what they were doing and the odds become so astronomically vast that it defies reason.


4 posted on 07/10/2012 7:31:23 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: SeekAndFind
The majority of American scientists are people of faith in God.

Sad to see Prager buy into the myth of the atheist scientist.

We NOW KNOW that the discovery of DNA rates a 10 on the impact on human lives scale, but for many decades after the discovery it was of little importance - while the Higgs boson may NOW rate a 2 (or less) - who knows what it might rate in a hundred years?

5 posted on 07/10/2012 7:44:54 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: cripplecreek

That’s because everything happens according to God’s plan.


6 posted on 07/10/2012 7:44:54 AM PDT by stuartcr ("When silence speaks, it speaks only to those that have already decided what they want to hear.")
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To: throwback

Ping


7 posted on 07/10/2012 7:54:46 AM PDT by dragonblustar (Allah Ain't So Akbar!)
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8 posted on 07/10/2012 8:04:51 AM PDT by Heartlander (You are either the doer, or the dude)
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To: Heartlander

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8916982/

About two-thirds of scientists believe in God.

http://religions.pewforum.org/reports/

Around 16% of the general public are atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular”.


9 posted on 07/10/2012 8:14:10 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: SeekAndFind
NONE of the physicists working on this call it the 'God particle', they call it what it is theorized to be, the Higgs Boson particle.

Is it the end of discovery? Hardly.

Determining how it functions and properties can tell us a lot. We could learn how certain cancers work, and how to attack them, or remake a severed limb, or new materials that are lighter, stronger than what we have now.

And here's the kicker. They have circumstantial evidence it exists, nothing definitive.

10 posted on 07/10/2012 8:16:23 AM PDT by Wizdum (My job is to get you to shoot soda out your nose)
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To: Wizdum
"And here's the kicker. They have circumstantial evidence it exists, nothing definitive."

No. The probability they've not discovered the particle is 1 in 3 million. See the combined curve in black. Particles that show up above the background are real particles, not "circumstantials".


11 posted on 07/10/2012 8:45:49 AM PDT by spunkets
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There is a great commentary about this by nuclear chemist Jay Wile at his blog site:

The “God Particle” Is A Stupid Name
http://blog.drwile.com/?p=7966

Posted by jlwile on July 5, 2012

The lines between these two charged particles represent the electric field that they produce. (Click for credit)
The media is abuzz with the announcement that two separate groups have discovered evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson, which has been called “the God particle.” That’s an unfortunate name, because the Higgs boson has nothing more to do with God than any other particle in His creation. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that the Higgs boson is unimportant. Indeed, it is very important, and if the results announced really do indicate the existence of the Higgs boson, it is a major victory for the Standard Model of physics. It just has nothing special to do with God.

To understand what the Higgs boson is, think of something that is probably a little more familiar to you: the electromagnetic force. When two particles are charged, they affect one another through the electromagnetic force. If they are oppositely charged, they will attract one another, and if they both carry the same charge, they will repel one another. We can represent this interaction with a series of field lines, such as those given in the illustration above. Those lines show you the electric field, which causes the charged particles to interact with one another.

But how do these particles interact? How does one charged particle “know” that there is another charged particle out there, and how does it “know” whether to be attracted to it or repelled by it? The answer is that the charged particles exchange photons (particles of light). This exchange allows the electromagnetic force to work. If it weren’t for the exchange of photons, the two charged particles could not affect one another, so without the exchange of photons, there would be no electromagnetic force. In “physics speak,” we say that photons mediate the electromagnetic field.

The Higgs boson is, like the photon, a mediator. It is supposed to mediate the Higgs field, which is what the Standard Model of physics says determines the mass of every particle in the universe.

Now wait a minute. Doesn’t the amount of “stuff” in a particle determine its mass? After all, consider two books. They are both made using the same kinds of cover and paper, but one book has 100 pages, while the other book has 1,000 pages. The latter book is the heavier one, right? It has more mass because it has more pages. Isn’t that how particle mass is determined as well? Not really. Consider the electron, for example. Modern physics calls it a point particle. That means it is infinitely small. In other words, it has no volume. How can something with no volume have any “stuff” in it at all?

In the Standard Model, the mass of a particle is not measured by how much “stuff” the particle has in it. Instead, mass is considered a property, like charge. A particle doesn’t have to hold any “stuff” to have charge, and in the Standard Model, it also doesn’t have to hold any “stuff” to have mass. So in the end, the Standard Model needs something to give particles (like electrons) their mass. That’s what the Higgs field is supposed to do. The Higgs field permeates the entire universe, and the way a particle interacts with the Higgs field determines its mass. Photons don’t interact with the Higgs field at all, for example, so they have no mass. Electrons have mass because they interact with the Higgs field, and the amount of mass they have depends on the strength of that interaction.

The Higgs boson, of course, is what mediates the Higgs field. In other words, it provides a way for particles to interact with the field. We can never see the field, but if the field is real, we should be able to see the particle that mediates it. That’s why scientists have been searching for the Higgs boson. If we find the particle that mediates the field, we know the field is real. If we know the field is real, we know the mechanism by which particles have mass.

Why has the Higgs boson been called the “God Particle?” Well, some physicists say that without it, particles would have no mass, therefore there would be no gravity, therefore there would be no stars, no planets, and no people. So the Higgs boson is the reason we all exist. However, that’s rather foolish. I could just as easily say that without electrical charge there would be no people, because the chemistry that runs our bodies depends on the existence of electrical charge. In that case, then, the photon is the “God Particle,” since it mediates the electromagnetic field. Others have suggested that because the Higgs field permeates all of space, it is like God, who is omnipresent. But space permeates all space as well. Is space like God? Of course not.

So the Higgs boson has nothing more to do with God than any other particle in His creation. It is a very important part of the Standard model of physics, and although I haven’t been able to look at their data yet, the scientists at CERN really think they have found it. If that turns out to be true, it’s great news for the Standard Model, but it really has nothing to do with God!


12 posted on 07/10/2012 8:47:45 AM PDT by Arkansas Toothpick
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To: allmendream

I did not make up the numbers - the results are from a Pew Survey - it is what it is...


13 posted on 07/10/2012 8:48:37 AM PDT by Heartlander (You are either the doer, or the dude)
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To: allmendream

“The majority of American scientists are people of faith in God.”

Source?

No ax to grind, just wondering.


14 posted on 07/10/2012 8:53:38 AM PDT by DPMD
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To: SeekAndFind
Dennis assumes that knowledge is limited by his own imagination. He has no factual basis for these supposed limits.

"And pointlessness is the point. The discovery of the Higgs boson brings us no closer to understanding why there is a universe, not to mention whether life has meaning. In fact, no scientific discovery ever made will ever explain why there is existence. Nor will it render good and evil anything more than subjective opinion, or explain why human beings have consciousness or anything else that truly matters."

It may very well be a step on the path to understanding why there is existence. Time will tell. Whether life has meaning is a subjective question, but scientific discoveries can enlighten certain ways people mean that term. And who says consciousness is unexplainable? Just because he can't explain it doesn't mean it can't be done. There are very good explanations of consciousness.

15 posted on 07/10/2012 9:01:19 AM PDT by mlo
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To: Wizdum

That kicker applies to a lot of things...that’s why we have leaps of faith.


16 posted on 07/10/2012 9:05:41 AM PDT by stuartcr ("When silence speaks, it speaks only to those that have already decided what they want to hear.")
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To: DPMD
The source is there. Here it is again.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8916982/

They relied on a study from Rice University. Here is some info Rice put out about that.

http://www.rice.edu/sallyport/2006/winter/sallyport/scientists.html

The majority of scientists in the USA are people of faith in God. Science is not a bastion of atheism, and science education doesn't turn people away from God. There does seem to be some selection bias of those who are not religious towards the biological sciences - but if you go in as a nonbeliever you will go away as a nonbeliever educated in biology, and if you go in as a believer you will go away as a believer educated in biology.

Believers think science will help them understand God's creation. Nonbelievers think science will help them understand atheism I guess.

The heavens DO proclaim the glory of God - to those that believe. To nonbelievers they proclaim nothing in particular I guess; I wouldn't know - I am a scientist AND a believer - as have been the majority of the scientists I have been mentored by.

17 posted on 07/10/2012 9:20:10 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: DPMD
FYI, according to this Pew Research Survey - it is not correct to say, “The majority of American scientists are people of faith in God”.
It would be correct to say 51% of scientists believe in God (33%) or some higher power (18%).
18 posted on 07/10/2012 9:34:37 AM PDT by Heartlander (You are either the doer, or the dude)
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To: Heartlander
It seems that the members of the Academy for the Advancement of Science, those who Pew questioned in the survey you cite - a politically involved group of scientists who wish to influence public policy - is not representative of scientists as a whole.

There is a selection bias among those who form groups to try to influence public policy that makes taking their views as representative of the entire group problematic.

The views of members of the NAACP are not representative of all Americans of African descent.

The views of Union leaders are not representative of the rank and file union members - let alone all American workers.

The views of members of the American Medical Association are not representative of all Physicians.

That may help to explain the wide discrepancy between the numbers you cite and the numbers I am citing - if you are actually interested in an explanation.

19 posted on 07/10/2012 9:59:26 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: Wizdum
Am I right bay stating that scientists consider "Dark Matter" to be the same thing as the "God Particle"?

If so, then most Christian Theologians I know believe that "Dark Matter", or "Cosmic Glue", is Jesus Christ as is explained in the book of Hebrews.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4
20 posted on 07/10/2012 11:46:52 AM PDT by Hedra (I Miss #40)
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To: allmendream
You made a statement, “The majority of American scientists are people of faith in God.” There is a difference between “faith in God” and; belief in God, a belief in a higher power, or being spiritual. The Rice article you cite discusses social scientists vs. natural scientists – and personally, I would try to avoid citing MSNBC or anecdotal ‘evidence’.

FYI, Templeton Report and Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think

21 posted on 07/10/2012 11:54:59 AM PDT by Heartlander (You are either the doer, or the dude)
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To: Heartlander
According to the Rice study that MSN cited less than 30% of the scientists they talked to said they did not believe in God. They reported that roughly two thirds (66%) did believe in God.

Thus according to the Rice study the majority of American scientists are people of faith in God - just as I said.

Just because MSN cited the Rice study doesn't make the Rice study circumspect - it was just the first citation I found when looking; blame Google.

Care to address the obvious selection bias in picking politically active scientists from a particular group and and claiming they speak for or are representative of all scientists?

22 posted on 07/10/2012 12:01:33 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: SeekAndFind

bflr


23 posted on 07/10/2012 12:03:30 PM PDT by Captain Beyond (The Hammer of the gods! (Just a cool line from a Led Zep song))
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To: allmendream

Again, there is a difference between “faith in God” and; belief in God, a belief in a higher power, or being spiritual.


24 posted on 07/10/2012 12:03:57 PM PDT by Heartlander (You are either the doer, or the dude)
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To: Heartlander
From the Templeton Report quoting the author of the study ABOUT the book she wrote “Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think”....

“She published her initial findings in a 2010 book: Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think,
which documented a surprising openness to religious faith and experience among an intellectual class wrongly thought to be implacably and uniformly hostile to religion.”

So according to the two sources you cited it is “wrongly thought” that science is hostile to religion.

A particular segment of the population likes to push that idea - but it is not supported by the evidence collected by Dr. Ecklund.

She found that the majority of American scientists she spoke to believed in God.

25 posted on 07/10/2012 12:08:20 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: allmendream
From the book:

She finds that most of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. Nearly 50 percent of them are religious.

26 posted on 07/10/2012 12:10:52 PM PDT by Heartlander (You are either the doer, or the dude)
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To: SeekAndFind
The potential discovery of the Higgs boson is nice, but relativity and quantum theory are still incompatible so there must yet be a deeper theory.

The mathematics of M-Theory are very beautiful and, I suspect its pursuers are on the right track. But the energy levels necessary to test it are probably unobtainable.

Though, God knows....

27 posted on 07/10/2012 2:15:56 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: SeekAndFind

May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you’re dead. Thanks for posting!


28 posted on 07/10/2012 7:08:47 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: Hedra
Not sure you are on the right track.

As it is the Higgs Bosun is a part of what makes up everything.

What we have seen and the data supports it to a degree is the possibility that we have seen the traces of a Higgs particle.

I don't apply any scripture into science, I know there are some that do.

What I believe will happen, not necessarily in our lifetime, is that science will root down to the basic construction of what the universe is made of and stand in awe of how it was created, and probably impossible to duplicate.

29 posted on 07/10/2012 7:19:46 PM PDT by Wizdum (My job is to get you to shoot soda out your nose)
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To: Hedra
Not sure you are on the right track.

As it is the Higgs Bosun is a part of what makes up everything.

What we have seen and the data supports it to a degree is the possibility that we have seen the traces of a Higgs particle.

I don't apply any scripture into science, I know there are some that do.

What I believe will happen, not necessarily in our lifetime, is that science will root down to the basic construction of what the universe is made of and stand in awe of how it was created, and probably impossible to duplicate.

30 posted on 07/10/2012 7:20:06 PM PDT by Wizdum (My job is to get you to shoot soda out your nose)
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To: allmendream

Thanks..


31 posted on 07/11/2012 8:27:38 AM PDT by DPMD
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To: allmendream

Excellent and thoughtful.


32 posted on 07/12/2012 5:55:43 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD

Thanks! :)


33 posted on 07/13/2012 8:06:49 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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