I’m with Dennis Prager on this one: the “God particle” does not negate the possibility that there is a God

A lot of people have been crowing that the “God particle” proves that there is no God, because it explains the “something from nothing” aspect of the Big Bang.  These people forget one thing:  Where did the so-called God particle originate?

Dennis Prager is more erudite than I am, so he makes a more sophisticated fallacy-spotting argument:

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 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.

[snip]

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 continue to be agnostic on the subject of God:  Believers haven’t proven to me that God exists but the non-believers certainly haven’t proven to me that God doesn’t exist.  Moreover, the one argument that believers make, and that Prager reiterates here, is that a belief in God gives meaning to life.  That means that whether proven or unproven, God is a very important concept in elevating us above the cow that chews cud in the field or the ant that scurries back and forth.

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  1. says

    The old debate: faith versus reason!  And it is usually assumed that the two are mutually exclusive, but I guess that stands to reason given that modern science had to distance itself from theology to break the stranglehold that religious dogma had on freedom of thought.

    I see no such requirement because in my view God is about faith, not proof.  If I believe that God is, then my faith sustains me in believing that God created all things, even the Higgs boson, and ordered everything in the universe to His liking.  By the study of the universe we are simply learning ever more about the great and subtle beauty of God’s creation.

    Reason and faith can coexist very nicely, thank you.
     

  2. Simplemind says

    If they had called it the “bologna” particle would that have proved Oscar Mayer created the universe? Not!

    Ha. The label isn’t determinative.   The idea of this so called ”particle” isn’t God like at all, nor was it ever intended to explain creation.  At best it may explain why/how objects have “mass”.   The “God” label is a journalist’s idea of how to explain a science story and make it interesting/fit a narrative they want to sell anyway.

    (I would not have thought you agnostic on God — NTTAWWT– each according to his own taste –is my family motto after all. )

    Basically, my logical yet still ultimately faith based (non)proof of God is this:

    Every damn day is a test.  From Day One, Year One. Everyday.  And it gradually gets harder. 

    If this is just a completely random arrangement of things, which is mathematically possible in theory I suppose, then why, may I ask, you bloody  mad scientist men, is the whole of existence designed, every G.D. day to force you to make  choices? 

    Can you really not imagine a world where we don’t have to work for resources to live? How hard do trees work?  Say that you can’t image a way trees could be sentient – try harder. 

    Did random chance create a system where our lives get progressively harder? If you think about your life, its has harder stages like a school: kindergarten, grade school Jr high, etc etc.  It gets gradually harder and harder.  Those are the facts. I didn’t make that up. Take a minute and think about it. Even if you are only 15 years old you will agree that your life at 15 is harder and more anxiety producing that your life at age 8.  And If you are 70 you will say that same in comparision to age 40.  (Go ahead ask a 70 year old – I’ll wait.)

    Okay, so this begs the question why? Random chance or design? I think it is logical, albeit not necessarily provable, to say design. (not talking intelligent design per se, but I am per schema (?) big picture rather than detail) 

    We are in this situation for a reason – to choose.  Its not hard to imagine a world where circumstances dont force value choices on us. Again, does a tree have to chose to be faithful, not kill or steal?  We dont have it that easy. Our condition forces us to choose.  

    It is not only because I can choose, that I believe there is a God. I also believe in God because I cannot, avoid choosing.  And no one else, outside of a coma, can avoid it either.   (Think about it.)  
    I not only have free will, the design of life is that choice is  thrust upon me every day. I. Can. Not. Avoid. It. 
    Even if I try to stay in bed all Day!! (Yes which color shirt to wear, but also moral choices – every day.)

    It. Does. Not. Have. To. Be. That. Way.  Yet. It. Is.  Why?  Random chance I may grant you could create a universe with matter, light, time etc.  But it simply makes me want to put on a clown nose and make funny noises to think that random chance created an existence  that is a perfect analog to the parable of the boiling frog.  

    (Digression:  Frog in pot of boiling water hops right out. Frog in cold water, with slowly rising temp, stays put and eventually boils to death without struggle.)  

    Life teaches us progressively harder lessons the longer we live.  WHY? Random chance made it so?

    Really? (Clown nose on Phhhhhffffbbbbtttzz!!!) 
    Does not work for me.  
    Is the point of life to  Learn - Improve?  Is life kind of like boot camp, weeding out those who can, from those how can’t?  Seems pretty easy to make that case doesn’t it.    

    Or is life’s meaning to do nothing, to mean nothing, and end in nothing?  Random Chance certainly went through a lot of interesting gyrations to organize this physical system, that has no point and ends in nothing. ( As a lawyer, I rather be representing the God argument. I can’t argue effectively making funny noises and wearing a clown nose.)

    If life means something to you, then you believe. You may not be ready to put a label on it yet, but you do have faith, in something. (Labels Phhhhffffbbbtzzzz!!!)

    I respect other opinions. Although I will  politely disagree with those who tell me a contrary opinion isn’t based on faith, but on science alone.

      

  3. jj says

    As one of the leading physicists of our time, Steven Weinberg, has written, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”  To whom, Steven – to whom?


    Not only is science incapable of discovering why there is existence…  but faith is?  Never heard the faith explanation of why there is existence, must have missed that week.  Is the why of existence important?  As intellectual curiosity I can see it, sure – but does it matter?  Existence is: deal with it.  Why it is – who cares?  What the point may be – does there have to be one?  (Chlorophyll could just as readily make the leaves and grass orange, could it not?  Nature decreed that it would be green, but there’s no particular “why,” is there?)
     
    Where did the so-called God particle originate?  You can do that with anything.  Too facile.  Push it back and back and back and back and back – you’ll never get to a beginning where somebody can’t say: “God did that, gave it the push, lit the match, had the thought” – whatever.  (And even when you get all the way back to where somebody argues that – well, hell: who created Him?)  Take something, cut it in half, do it again, do it again, half, half, half, half – do you ever get to zero?  No – and you never get to God, either.  Or – you always get to Him.  Either is correct.
     
    I’ll buy that there was an initial push.  Much more than that is hard.  Difficult to generate and maintain faith in things that are as self-contradictory and as little sensible as most of the mythologies – and as far as what eventuated here on this planet it’s all mythology.  But no: the “God particle” proves not a damn thing, for all the usual reasons.
     
       

  4. PaulScott says

    You said, “Moreover, the one argument that believers make, and that Prager reiterates here, is that a belief in God gives meaning to life.”

    Maybe, but not necessarily. I have no belief in a god but my life has meaning. 

    I think JJ nailed it perfectly with this, “Is the why of existence important?  As intellectual curiosity I can see it, sure – but does it matter?  Existence is: deal with it.”

    It’s understandable why ancient humans felt the need to invent stories to explain reality since they had curiosity, but lacked knowledge of how the universe worked. It wasn’t long, however, before some discovered that they could “lord it over” others who lacked the knowledge of this new religious order, and thus was born religion as a means of controlling large populations.

    I am surprised at those on this list who require detailed proof of things like anthropogenic climate change, but will take on faith that there is some controlling entity that not only created the universe, but controls everything in it and actually cares whether people pray to it. Funny how that works.

  5. Simplemind says

    Ancient humans inventing stories to explain reality.   

    Fiction is a defense mechanism that thrives to this day.   As I said, life is hard. 

    Life, being hard,  is that way either by chance or not by chance.

    Is all that toil and effort completely pointless – much like 7th grade algebra?

    Life seems more likely to have a reason than no reason.

    I’m open to debating the merits of the design, in the same why I’m open to debating the design of the public school system.  Both are absurd, inefficient, and painful.   Yet, they do seem to be designed toward an enpoint or goal. And I’m guessing about the same number of successful graduates in either system. 

    This ridiculously screwed up existence simply cannot be random and pointless. Its simply sucks too much to be an accident. It is too effectual in creating moral dilemma’s to be merely random and pointless.  If it has a point, someone/something put it there.

    Pray or don’t. But I think there is an logical imperitive to develop, improve and do good.

  6. PaulScott says

    Simplemind said, “… “I think there is an logical imperitive (sic) to develop, improve and do good.”

    Sort of. I’d call it an evolutionary imperative. From that viewpoint, those who developed efficient methods of acquiring food survived and flourished. Those who created technology that improved their ability to use energy and build things did well. Those who banded together in communities and worked together for the benefit of all did very well.

    None of this involved a belief in a made up entity.  

  7. Charles Martel says

    Regarding the origin of the universe, I suspect that if there was some intelligent agency involved in that event, it may be that its nature does not bow to our speculations about what it should or should not be thinking or aiming at. I would find believers’ desire to address such an entity in awe-ful and respectful terms to be a little bit more understandable than people who dismiss the idea of an adorable creator simply because their 1400 cc of brain matter don’t feel comfortable with the idea. 
     
    I’m with Book on the question of the “God particle.” How did it originate? (or are we going to submit to some modern physicists’ ludicrous contention that something can emerge from nothing? Perhaps “emanations and penumbras” preceded the Big Bang?)
     
    Some get around that question by saying the universe has always existed. The problem with that contention is that time extends infinitely in both directions in such a universe, past and future, therefore this moment cannot possibly exist because the infinite number of moments that precede it have yet to pass. 
     
    The Hindus cleverly get around this by saying that while the universe has always existed, it goes through repeating lebenty-zillion-year cycles. This allows us to point at this moment and say that we’re on such-and-such point of the current cycle, which is exactly like all the cycles that came before and all the cycles to come. Nifty!

  8. roylofquist says

    How was the Universe created? That’s not a very interesting question. The Universe as a whole is not very complex. We have all the tools – mathematics and physics – to explain what is. The problems extant are those of fitting the observations to the equations.

    How was life created? Nobody knows. Science offers no plausible, nor even far fetched,  explanations.

    What is life? DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid. The very simplest DNA like molecule is carsonella ruddii, an endosymbiotic bacteria that lives in plant lice, which has a genome of only 159,662 base pairs. There are 4 base pairs – A,C,T and G. The possible combinations of base pairs is 4 raised to the 159,662 power or 4 ^ 159,662 (4^2=16, 4^3=64, 4^4 = 256, etc.). That number is impossibly large. No calculator available can handle it. It requires calculations that I haven’t done in more than 40 years. As a taste, 4^100 = 1.6 x 10^60 – that is, 16 followed by 59 zeros. For perspective, the number of seconds since the big bang (20 billion years) is 6.3 x 10^17.

    Random combination of base pairs can not  produce viable DNA, yet it is all around us. It was created by an unknown intelligence. Might as well call it, or them, God.

  9. says

    I’m going to give a few comments on these. There’s probably not a whole lot of coherence going on here.
     
    First of all, the discovery of the Higgs boson is great. Scientists made a theory (long ago), they have experimented and tested a lot, and they have now proven that theory was probably correct. Well done. As someone who likes science, I like and appreciate that, and definitely applaud it. 
     
    Science, although, has, in my opinion at least, nothing to say about whether God exists or not. That is one of my beefs with the militant atheists… I have no problem with people not believing in God, but I don’t like science being used for something it really can’t or shouldn’t be used for.
     
    When it comes to this name “the God particle”… that sounds like something a lousy journalist would come up with. It doesn’t really sound much like a term a scientist would come up with. I prefer using the term Higgs boson.
     
    As for faith and reason, I think they can coexist well. I also think there is a place for both. There is no inherent conflict, I believe.
     
    Regarding the origin of the universe… as a theist, I believe a ‘supreme being’ has played a role in the origin, evolution and development of the universe and of life on earth. This is not to discredit the scientific theories and explanations. As to life on earth, I am a theistic evolutionist – and I believe nearly all of the scientific explanations (evolutionary theory, Darwinism, Big Bang et cetera) are valid, but I also believe these are part of how the supreme being works, and that the supreme being may have intervened at some points. As for the origin and evolution of the universe and of life, I believe pretty strongly that science and the supreme being can and should coexist, and that they both are a part of the explanation. Also, the current scientific theories, and I recognize that, have their flaws and gaps.
     
    Last but not least, I want to say this. As I said, I really like science. I also think that science is a great way to discover, try to understand and marvel at what the supreme being and nature have created. But still, however much we have already discovered as humans, and however much we may still discover, we still know very little. There is no reason for arrogance and know-it-all pride.

  10. Simplemind says

    “None of this required a belief in a made up entity.”  No. 6

    Of course not. That’s not the assertion.

    I believe evolution supports the argument that this universe is designed rather than random.

    My assertion is — does an absurdly random series of events that results in this physical universe, also just happen to result in a type of universe that is ultimately a decision engine where the subjects are not only free to choose but required to choose in order to survive/evolve?

    One says evolution is the answer to why things are the way they are.  But I find it not at all difficult to imagine a universe where we don’t have to fend for survival utilizing limited resources, and in such a universe evolution per se isn’t necessary.  

    For example if you drew your food an water from the air and light. (Imagine the physics so there is a greater density of water in the atmosphere, or perhaps you are a fish for example.  And your shelter you carried around with you like a turtle. )  Really no motive to steal or rob is there? (Asexual reproduction and no need for lust.)  As such those choices are denied to you by the design of “nature” if you will.   Read some good science fiction. These types of universes are imaginable.  

    Why is this universe the way it is? It  just coincidentally happens to be a great decision laboratory for humans, who by design, are forced to act in order to survive.

    So I agree that evolution plays a role in the way society and beliefs develop.  I simply say, evolution didn’t have to be a factor at all if this universe were designed differently.  Evolution occurs because the environment forces it – scarcity, competition, etc.

    Would you feel tempted to steal if you had no need of material possessions, or no shortage?

    When was the last time you were tempted to steal someone’s oxygen? That is a resource that is freely available and abundant to all, even the poorest.  

    Can you imagine a universe in which you had to work for your oxygen in order to breath it. 

    The point is not that evolution doesn’t exist, it does. Evolution exists because this system forces you to choose, and in choosing we change according to our choices. Evolutionists of a certain stripe believe that the change evolution brings is largely physcially, and somewhat social.  I am arguing that it is also ethical/spiritual, and that this is not a mere coincidence. Its simply asking too much to say that it is. At least for me, I accept that your mileage my vary.   I believe some people think evolution and creation are not compatible. I totally disagree that evolution is incompatible with a created/designed universe as I hope you can glean from the mutterings above.  Evolution would be consistent with a designer who wanted subjects with the free will to choose, who were also required to choose, and incentivized to choose wisely, and for the good.  (I am also asserting that evil, as compared to good, is a poor long term survival strategy, individually, socially, politically).

    The conditions of a given universe are variable. I do not think this one had be the way it is. 

    You would not have to look far to find a  scientist who would say that there are many  other universes, and conditions  aren’t the same in those universes as they are here.

    I do not however, represent my opinion as revealed truth, or representative of any religion. There is a chance I could be completely wrong. I just happen to think that if you start from first principles and question everything, there are too many improbabilities to account for, especially when the system we are left with appears to so obviously require moral decision making every freaking day. Especially if you concede that the physics in a given universe can be variable.  If so, it is a ripe irony indeed that this universe, improbable as it is physically, also just happens to be wonderfully designed to require development — evolution  (again not just physical but also ethical/spiritual.)  

  11. Mark says

    Hi Bookworm,

    It’s not a matter of ‘believing’ in God, it’s a matter of ‘knowing’. You can know that God exists, just as you can know that a company called Apple exists. How? Well, by using facts and logic.
    - An iPhone has a maker. It’s this company called Apple.
    - We/the world have a maker too. It’s this entity called God (this is the old ‘watchmaker argument’ by the way) 

    You cannot ‘prove’ that Apple exists by scientifically examining an iPhone. 
    And you cannot ‘prove’ that God exists by scientifically examining the World. Still, they both exist. 

    It just facts and logic, nothing more, nothing less. And we know who hates facts and logic – those crazy people on the left :-)

  12. Mark says

    If you examine the ‘natural selection’ theory that supposedly drives evolution with facts and logic, it’s the most hilarious thing you’ve ever heard. Rolling over the floor laughing hilarious. Kind of makes you embarrased about the human race, that so many educated people actuallie believe in it.

    One example. Life supposedly starts ad random in pools filled with ooze, right? And then cells multiply, and turn into dinosaurs, and into birds etc. But: all those lifeforms are based on DNA. And what is DNA? It’s just an information carrier, just like a floppy disk, or a USB drive, or a CD, or a DVD, or a BlueRay etc. Now, if life starts at random, why is all life based on DNA? Why isn’t some life based on ENA, or FNA, or GNA? DNA is just the information carrier, there is no reason why all life would be based on it. But it is. Which leads to the logical conclusion, that there was someone who decided to use DNA. And this decider guy (or girl) we call him God.

    Just facts and logic, nothing more, nothing less :)  

  13. Mark says

    It’s actually pretty funny that the left thinks of itself as smart and using facts and logic, when they are the most ignorant, stupid people you’ll ever meet.

    If the left holds position A, you can almost automatically assume that position B is the more common sense, reasonable and logical one. Works like a charm!

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