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God and the god particle

By Hamish Johnston

“Can we see the reflection of God in the laws of physics?”

That was one of the questions put to three physicists and a comedian by Ernie Rea in his radio programme Beyond Belief, which aired earlier this week on BBC Radio 4.

Rea gathered Middlesex University physicist and imam Usama Hasan Durham University theologian, Methodist minister and former astrophysicist David Wilkinson and University of Manchester Higgs hunter Jeff Forshaw.

Representing atheists is the comedian Robin Ince, who has presented several programmes about science.

Rea himself is a Presbyterian minister from Belfast – but definitely not of the fire-and-brimstone variety. Indeed, his soothing brogue and gentle interviewing style are perfect for getting to the bottom of the subtle religious topics he covers every week.

“Does the Big Bang origin of the universe leave room for a religious view of creation?” asks Rea, who also wonders if physics has replaced God in some people’s lives?

Rea’s final question is “What is the one discovery that [the Large Hadron Collider] might make that would alter your perception of the universe?”.

You can listen to the programme here – the editing isn’t the greatest so you have to wait about a minute or so for the previous show to end.

In other religious news, Stephen Hawking has declared in his new book “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going”.

The book is called The Grand Design and is co-written by Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow.

The book will be published next week and you can read an excerpt in The Times – but you will have to pay.

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  1. John Duffield

    I’m not at all religious, but ah, spontaneous creation. That reminds me of the old recipe for the spontaneous generation of mice. A piece of soiled cloth plus wheat and 21 days, and voila! Creating a whole universe is rather similar, we are led to believe, but with fewer ingredients.
    Since the Hawking puff piece in The Times promotes M “theory”, the multiverse, and the anthropic principle as scientific consensus rather than hypotheses bereft of supporting evidence, in other religious news is most apt. There is no God, says Hawking, thus doubling his book sales, and I am his prophet.
    Is it any small wonder the public and the government are running out of patience with physics?

  2. Robert G. Wood-Smith

    An advanced understanding of Quantum Gravity (the formula, source and workings of gravity) which has been said to be the Holy Grail for physicists; provides numerous confirmations of ‘intelligent design’.
    A new book is to be prepared with the title “The Theory Of Everything”: wherein will be sufficient knowledge of realities, upon which scientists may choose to review their previous thoughts on the subject ~ Is there a Divine Creator?

  3. Dionysios G. Raftopoulos

    Soon after composing a hymn… to the so called God’s Particle
    (Higgs, Higgs glorious Higgs), the “High Priests” of modern Science
    are back again with the aforementioned statement from Stephen Hawking!
    I wonder: Quo Vadis Science?
    The majority of scientists today adhere to Sir Karl Popper’s dictum
    that all scientific propositions ought to be falsifiable either through logic,observation or experiment.
    Thus the statement “God exists” as well as its opposite “God doesn’t exist” do not constitute scientific propositions, because they are both non-falsifiable.
    They simply represent personal opinions or beliefs.
    So I wonder, why should the personal opinion or belief of a famous scientist enjoy such publicity whereas an equivalent of a famous …footballer should not?
    I am afraid what we are talking here is simply high-stakes business and, if so,
    I ask myself: Who pays for all of this?

  4. Some references which could lead to discovery. The concept of Relativity; Mark 41-44 & Luke 21:1-3.
    In the first chapter of the Book of Daniel one of Nebuchadnezzar’s administrators is given a lesson in how to conduct a basic scientific experiment. About this time Thales of Miletus (known as the first scientific thinker) was seeking a logical alternative to the popular belief that unusual natural phenomenom were the result of the whims of supernatural beings. He travelled to Babylon & Egypt in search of a new direction of knowledge and may well have heard of Daniel’s lesson to the administrator. Marketplace gossip was a very significant source of news at the time. Then, he went back to Greece and kickstarted the scientific part of their classical age.

  5. Kea

    I like short answers: Yes, but not a patriarchal one.

  6. Imre von Soos

    Before arguing about something if it exists or not, it would be advisable to specify exactly the object in question. Or are they seriously arguing over the existence of the biblical God, as specified by Moses, who created the universe, and whom each one of the human inhabitants of a sextillionth fraction of that universe can implore to give him a bigger car, send his uncomfortable neighbour to hell and who will punish the child who doesn’t eat his spinach; and, above all, who will forgive his trespasses in exchange of a few pater nosters? Certainly not!
    Judging from the general trends, the attack is directed against the idea of the Self and anything noumenal that would point to design, purpose, mindfulness, foresight, intention, knowledge, creativity intelligence and consciousness; that is, against anything non-behaviouristic.
    Why not, just for the hell (or heaven) of it, imagine an “underlying principle”, like the “implicate order” of David Bohm, as a living Being, that contains and is manifested in Becoming, in which space-time, energy and matter are co-emergent, co-existent, interdependent, interacting and co-evolving constituents of a dynamic universal process.
    By introducing into the Schroedinger equation a wavelike information field called the superquantum potential, Bohm established a theoretical instance within physics, demonstrating, that science can remain rational and coherent while involving the realms of the underlying principles, what he called the “implicate order”.

  7. Tom Sullivan

    Well I happen to agree with Dr. Hawkings statement that god was not needed for the creation of the universe. If in the beginning there may have been nothing. This nothingness could be considered true space, space with absolutely nothing in it. If this true space may also responsible for gravity, the potential energy of this extreme gravity could be the energy that was realized resulting in matter. In getting a little out there if one looks at the ancient text as people writing about science without the correct words to define this science, it could be interpreted that this true space is what they called god. This true space may reside within all particles within all things and is always trying to pull all things together. So is god a deity, or is god true space and the potential energy of it’s immense gravity? There is no plan, only explanations that form in retrospect. If things are put together and shaken, oscillated, they will find the best way fit together, this is fundamental. Are these fundamentals god? If god was a thinking feeling entity who created all, why was his “son” Jesus Christ not the first person he created on earth? Why would he let his son be tortured and crucified? Why would he not accept the failings of his creation, wipe the slate clean and start all over again? So there may be a god, this god may be true space.

  8. In rare instances, the church uses holy water as part of an exorcism, evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place. It is not uncommon for people, objects, or even homes to be sprinkled with holy water and blessed.


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