Introducing a Budding Apologist: The Religious Implications of the Large Hadron Collider
|September 24, 2008||Posted by Anthony under Blog, General|
What follows is submitted by an up and coming apologist named W. E. Messamore. His webpage is linked at the bottom and to the right. I invite readers to take a look at it. I like what I see and note that he and I have similar trains of thought and areas of emphasis. For example, in a recent post on his blog he listed Lewis’s The Great Divorce as one of his top books to recommend. That is my number two favorite book- number one being Lewis’s Perelandra (Space Trilogy, Book 2). Without further ado, here is Mr. Messamore’s submission:
The Large Hadron Collider on the Franco-Swiss border is presently causing quite a stir. The hope is that the LHC will replicate physical conditions in the universe’s primordial past- during the earliest stages of the Big Bang. If this occurs, scientists will have a window of discovery unlike any other. They might discern secrets and solve problems about the physical universe that have haunted physicists and mathematicians for most of the last century. Such cosmic questions and their respective answers naturally carry religious implications. Will the operation of the LHC be the final nail in the coffin of theism, a triumph of science in explaining the physical universe only in terms of itself and without resort to the divine? Not hardly.
Actually, if the LHC does what most physicists are expecting it to do, it will lend even more credence to the already widely accepted Big Bang theory- and this will help theism, not hurt it. In my conversations on the street, in university classrooms, in coffee shops (etc.), I am puzzled by what seems to me like the division of many theists and atheists into two camps: those who doubt the Big Bang theory and see it as an affront to their belief in God and those who believe in the Big Bang theory, respectively. I find this puzzling because there was a time when each party took the opposite position.
Before the scientific community came to a consensus on the Big Bang theory following the discovery of the cosmic radiation echo predicted by Big Bang theorists, many scientists believed in the Steady State theory. In short, they believed that the universe had no definite beginning and that hydrogen atoms were randomly popping into existence somewhere in the universe, supplying the material for all the physical phenomena like stars and planets. Atheists were generally rooting for this theory, understanding that a definite beginning for the physical universe implies its contingency- that it has a cause which is outside itself. As it turned out, the Big Bang has been confirmed in great measure by scientific findings, and the LHC’s possible production of the Higgs boson would just be frosting on the cake.
How the atheists managed to adopt the Big Bang theory as evidence for their position confounds me. If there is any interesting history behind this, I’d be curious to know it.
To elaborate further on why this is a philosophical defeat for atheism: The contemporary atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen is frequently quoted by Christian apologists as saying about causation: “Suppose you suddenly hear a loud bang and you ask me, ‘What made that bang?’ and I reply ‘Nothing, it just happened.’ You would not accept that – in fact you would find my reply quite unintelligible.” Nielsen is quite right on this account. Bangs must have causes because they are finite, contingent events that have a definite beginning. So what of the largest Bang of all? Little bangs have causes, so must big bangs, …so must the Big Bang. Now this is hardly to say “…and therefore Christianity is right!” But it’s a start. As an atheist, it would present a problem to me. What do you think?
W. E. Messamore is finishing his last year of undergraduate studies in Nashville, TN and hoping to make a positive impact on the world, he writes on his own blog at http://www.slaying-dragons.com