The Large Hadron Collider
So it’s broken and won’t be working until next spring at the earliest. First there was ‘a glitch with one of the 30-tonne transformers which caused an initial delay of a few days’, then ‘a quench leaked a tonne of helium coolant into one of the tunnels, forcing a further shutdown while repairs could be made’. This damage was due to a due to ‘faulty wiring between two supercooled electromagnets when scientists carried out electrical tests at the facility Friday morning, resulting in a helium leak between sections 3-4 of the 27 km (17 mile) accelerator ring.’ So reports Universe Today.
What’s all this about? Is this a giant washing machine or refrigerator which has been switched onto the wrong cycle? No, this is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the circular tunnel underneath the French-Swiss border, where beams of protons are collided at very high energy levels. The aim of some of the world’s finest physicists is to detect the Higgs boson, a much sought-after elementary particle that has not yet been observed. If success is achieved, then there will be confidence that the Standard Model of particle physics will be some way to being confirmed.
What are Christians to make of all this? Surely it is right to support scientific endeavours if they play a part in subduing the earth, for this is our creation mandate (Gen. 1:28). Indeed there is nothing wrong in principle with spending 8 billion US dollars if it can be proved that the outcomes will be commensurate with the cost. Similar sums of money are spent by governments in other areas of research that could be shown to be of real benefit to the human race. It seems significant, however, that the Higgs boson has been nicknamed the ‘God particle’; it has become the holy grail of the naturalistic, materialistic, atheistic philosophy of our day. Let’s suppose it reveals itself in a few months. Will it confirm many scientists in their confidence that the universe really did begin with an authorless, creator-less Big Bang? This may be a mouth-watering prospect for them.
Of one thing we can be sure. When God spoke – just pause and reflect; he spoke – the universe into being and said ‘Let there be light’, there were no hitches in the execution of his command, no unforeseen delays while technical problems were investigated and helium leaks mopped up. He spoke and it was done, and everything he made was good.
Science is a noble pursuit when it is carried out in due humility and subjection to the Creator. To the pure, all things are pure, including the Higgs boson, if it exists!
Paul Yeulett is Pastor of Shrewsbury Evangelical Church.
Living in the World 6 November 2020
This article is the contents of an address first given in February 2020 at the Westminster Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Newcastle, UK. * * * LIVING in the world. How are Christians to live in the world? The question can be answered in many ways. The topic is potentially vast in scope — that becomes more […]
When coming to consider plagues throughout history and some Christian responses, it is appropriate to begin with this extract from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: O Almighty God, who in thy wrath did send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in […]