Wednesday, September 10, 2008

No Big Bang just yet... but give it a few days....

So despite many idiots out there on the Manchester roads I made it to work safely today. What a relief. And I also avoided being sucked into singularity at the speed of light. Yes, the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) deep below the Swiss Alps was revved up at 8.33 our time without creating a Black Hole. Phew. Although saying that they haven't actually collided any protons together with 'cataclysmic force' yet. So maybe the world will end next week instead.
One of the things I love about this story is that the journalists reporting on it clearly don't quite know what to do with the basic premise of the experiment. What I mean is, the media with its overwhelmingly secular worldview likes to report science as solid reassuring fact. But the reason £5 billion has been spent on this Scalextric track on steroids is that there is actually a heck of a lot that science still can't tell us about the universe we live in. Now don't get me wrong, I don't roll with the 'science explains all this and God explains the rest' crowd, all that achieves is a shrinking God as science advances filling in more of the gaps. No, all I'm really happy about is the welcome reminder of the essential mystery that remains at the heart of everything, 'Dark Matter' and all that invisible stuff that scientists believe in even though none of them have actually ever seen it or even detected with their clever gadgets. Sorry, I mustn't mock but hey, who knows, maybe in a few weeks the headlines will tell us that they've finally observed the wrly dubbed 'God Particle'. And hopefully we'll all still be here to scratch our chins and wonder if that will get us to work any quicker in future.

The universe around us is not what it appears to be. The stars make up less than 1 percent of its mass; all the loose gas and other forms of ordinary matter, less than 5 percent. The motions of this visible material reveal that it is mere flotsam on an unseen sea of unknown material. We know little about that sea. The terms we use to describe its components, "dark matter" and "dark energy," serve mainly as expressions of our ignorance.
David B. Cline, Scientific American, 2003

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2 comments:

spurious said...

Yet regardless of the openly ignorant state of the Scientific community about the vast majority of the Universe, what separates it from pre-deterministic beliefs like the Christian one, is that Science is open to what may be discovered. To me, that's an absolutely crucial element that completely invalidates Christian theology from being comparable to anything but the most superstitious and elementary belief systems. The self-evident truth is that Christian theology is not open, on any level whatsoever, to the possibility that truth lies outside of the bible. That's a monumental difference to the world of Science, which far from the popular religious misconception is out to prove it's theories of evolution and so forth, is actually very open and indeed delights in being proven wrong if it furthers our collective advance.

I appreciate that you avoided the typical religious smugness that's often on display as soon as the Scientific community is brave enough to admit to their lack of knowledge. But you must surely admit that your appreciation of what for all of us are great seminal mysteries lies within the framework of a structure of belief with little other than wishful thinking to back it up.

You can't seriously be comparing religious appreciation of the unknown with Scientific gaps in knowledge?

Matt Wilson said...

My opinion is that the scientific community and the religious community are actually quite similar in one respect: there is a whole strata of people belonging to each camp who have huge vested interests in defending pre-existing ideas. And then there are a small percentage of people on either side who are genuinely open to fresh insights.