Saturday, September 24, 2011

Neutrinos and God

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
 The LORD is the everlasting God,
 the Creator of the ends of the earth.
 He does not faint or grow weary,
 his understanding is unsearchable.

  – Isaiah 40:28
St. Augustine of Hippo

Earlier this week I wrote two articles, "A strange thought" and "Another strange thought". And then some time around Wednesday or Thursday the world of physics came alive with the buzzing of a rumor that some neutrinos had traveled faster than the speed of light.

First of all let me say that we should never be surprised at the marvelous complexity of God's creation. There is so much that Man does not understand. The knowledge that we have acquired through all our science is like a grain of sand. The universe that God created is infinite and our knowledge will always remain finite.

In my articles earlier this week I suggested that perhaps God is continually creating each moment in space and time. And I also suggested that this would become ever more apparent in the exploration of subatomic particles.

So let me offer a simple and naïve explanation of the faster-than-light neutrino. Suppose the neutrino as it travels through space-time is occasionally destroyed and re-created. And when it is re-created it is sometimes ahead of where it would have been if it had simply continued along its path. Then at the end of its journey it could arrive ahead of schedule. Whether you can say under these circumstances that it is the same neutrino, I don't know. But I don't think that neutrinos have individual personalities so perhaps it doesn't matter.

This gets back to the idea that God is constantly creating the material universe out of nothing. Perhaps we are indirectly witnessing through this experiment an instance of that continual creation. This would be very different from the idea of the deists that say that God created the universe and then just let it go on its course by simply following the laws of physics. This idea began to crumble as soon as Man discovered quantum physics.

Einstein famously said that "God does not play dice" because he could not accept the probabilistic nature of quantum theory. What he really revealed through this comment is that he was a deist. He believed that the universe was like a very complex watch that God created. He wanted to reduce the universe to a mechanism.

One of his scientific colleagues, Neils Bohr, scolded him and told him to "stop telling God what to do". And there is the answer. God is infinitely superior to Man. In fact Einstein's comment reveals that he did not believe in God at all. He was using the name of  God in vain, when what he really meant was something like Nature. So his comment can be reworded as "Nature does not play dice".

Nature is not God. Nature or "Mother Nature" is the god of the pagans. Christians believe in the one true God who created the universe and sent His only Son to save mankind. Our God is a mighty God that can move heaven and earth. For God all things are possible.

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St. Augustine of Hippo, you taught us that the search for truth leads us to God, pray for us.

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I should have mentioned this much earlier, but the thing that got me thinking again about the relationship between modern physics and God is a book by Stephen M. Barr titled "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith". I saw the author on EWTN's Bookmark program. Here is the video of that program.

If you go to Amazon you can "look inside" the book. There's some very interesting material there. Appendix C about Gödel's Theorem is particularly interesting and well written. The whole book gets into the theme of the proof of the existence of God. And also how a materialistic philosophy is insufficient to fully explain the mysteries of the physical universe, let alone the spiritual world.

1 comment:

  1. UPDATE: I added a video of physicist Stephen M. Barr discussing his book "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith".