Though the Christian community is still largely divided when it comes to their belief in how God created the universe and over how much time, scholars from the two most popular streams of thought agreed that this past week’s landmark experiment by the informally dubbed “Genesis machine” may lead to notable insights into the handiwork of God.
“This experiment is one of the most significant of this third millennium,” commented Dr. Karl W. Giberson of the BioLogos Foundation following last Tuesday’s highly touted experiment in Geneva.
“It may … give us some interesting insight into how God upholds His universe today,” added Dr. Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis, which – unlike BioLogos – believes that God created the universe and everything in it in six literal days.
On Tuesday, after two postponements, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) directed two proton beams into each other to bring scientists one step closer to seeing how the universe may have looked like after its creation.
Tuesday’s experiment also moved CERN further ahead in the search for the Higgs boson, a hypothetical particle - often called the God particle - that scientists theorize gives mass to other particles and thus to other objects and creatures in the universe.
“We’ll address soon some of the major puzzles of modern physics like the origin of mass, the grand unification of forces and the presence of abundant dark matter in the universe,” commented Guido Tonelli, spokesperson for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment, one the LHC’s four major experiments. “I expect very exciting times in front of us.”
Notably, however, while scientists around the world hailed Tuesday’s record-shattering collision, Lisle from Answers in Genesis attempted to quell the media hype, insisting that the Large Hadron Collider cannot confirm the Big Bang nor can it prove that the conditions it creates ever existed.
“Just because something can be done today doesn’t mean it has ever happened in nature in the past,” he pointed out.
Lisle, who AiG describes as a creationist astrophysicist, referred to the Big Bang as the secular explanation of the origin of the universe.
Giberson, on the other hand, called the LHC experiment an “extraordinary event for Christian to contemplate” and said it might lead to further experiments that will one day answer some of man’s deep questions regarding the universe.
“What is most exciting in this experiment is that it lets us push back a bit closer to that mysterious moment almost 14 billion years ago, when our universe emerged in the Big Bang,” he shared with The Christian Post in an e-mail Thursday.
“What the LHC might demonstrate is a piece of the grand puzzle: where does mass come from?” he added. “If Christians can embrace the Big Bang theory, instead of inventing odd and implausible reasons to reject it, they will be drawn into a most wonderful world of grandeur that will greatly enlarge their concept of God."
Giberson, who teaches at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Mass., is a theistic evolutionist - someone who asserts that classical religious teachings about God are compatible with the modern scientific understanding about biological evolution.
BioLogos, which was founded in 2007 by renowned geneticist Francis Collins, emphasizes the compatibility of Christian faith with scientific discoveries about the origins of the universe and life.
While Lisle would likely disagree with Giberson’s view of the Big Bang, he agreed Tuesday that whatever scientists discover about the universe from the LHC “will show that the universe is upheld by God in a consistent way.”
“God has promised in Genesis 8:22 to uphold the universe in a consistent way such that the basic cycles of nature are uniform. So, we have God’s Word that the laws of physics will be the same tomorrow as they were yesterday. Such consistency is what makes science possible,” he wrote in AiG's official blog Tuesday. “God upholds the universe in a consistent way. Without such a promise, experiments like the LHC (or any other scientific experiment) would be completely useless.”
Giberson similarly noted how “wondrously rational” man’s theories and experiments turn out to be.
“[Albert] Einstein liked to say ‘The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is its comprehensibility,’” he said, citing the arguably agnostic physicist.
Over the next 18 to 24 months, CERN plans to run the LHC with the objective of delivering enough data to the experiments to make significant advances across a wide range of physics channels.
As soon as they have "re-discovered" the known Standard Model particles, a necessary precursor to looking for new physics, the LHC experiments will start the systematic search for the Higgs boson with the hope of gaining insights into the nature of the strong interaction and the evolution of matter in the early Universe.
“The LHC has a real chance over the next two years of discovering supersymmetric particles,” explained CERN director Rolf Heuer, “and possibly giving insights into the composition of about a quarter of the Universe.”
Headquartered in Geneva, CERN is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. At present, its member states are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have observer status.