The Higgs Boson: A Blow to Christianity?


Scientists from Europe's CERN research center presented evidence last week for a particle that is likely the Higgs boson,1 the last remaining elementary particle predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics.

Although it has been nicknamed the "God particle," it is widely agreed that the name is more for publicity than accuracy, and many physicists do not like it.2

In order to understand the importance of the Higgs boson, it is necessary to review some modern physics.

Quantum mechanics is a very successful theory that describes the behavior of atoms and subatomic particles, and quantum field theory is an extension of quantum mechanics. A field is a quantity that fills space and has a value at each point in space. A temperature field, for instance, might describe how the temperature in a room varies from point to point (this would be an example of what is known as a scalar field). The familiar electric field surrounding a charged object is an example of a vector field.

There is a tendency to intuitively think of particles as being like little round marbles. In modern physics, however, the reality is more complicated. Quantum field theory views the fields as being fundamental; particles may be thought of (with some caveats) as "ripples" in the fields.3

One of these fields is a scalar field called the Higgs field. The Higgs field is thought to give particles mass via their interaction with this field. Particles that interact strongly with the Higgs field have more mass, and vice versa. A Higgs particle can be thought of as the smallest possible "ripple" in the Higgs field.4

The Standard Model is the theory that describes the relationships between elementary particles and three of the four fundamental forces (it does not include gravity). Physicists had confirmed the existence for all the elementary particles of the Standard Model except one—the Higgs boson. Its discovery, if confirmed, would be a triumph for the Standard Model.

Given the pro-evolution bias of much of the media, it is not surprising that this discovery is being hyped as a blow to Christianity. The Higgs boson is "another nail in the coffin of religion," said one University of Cambridge professor,5 although it is interesting that well-known professing atheist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking lost one hundred dollars betting that the Higgs boson would not be found.6

Theoretical physicist and popular author Michio Kaku wrote an ambiguously-worded Wall Street Journal editorial that seemed to suggest that the Higgs boson was the cause of the Big Bang.7 However, theoretical physicist and Big Bang evangelist Lawrence Krauss contradicted this, acknowledging that the discovery of the Higgs boson does not provide an explanation for the cause of the Big Bang. Krauss went so far as to say that determining the cause of the supposed Big Bang may actually be beyond our present technological capabilities!8

Reuters ran an article stating that the Higgs field "attracted the flying debris of the big bang and turned it into stars, planets and galaxies."9 This statement gives the erroneous impression that the Higgs field can explain star and galaxy formation within the evolutionary model.

In the Standard Model, particles have mass due to their interaction with the Higgs field, and evolutionists believe that gravitational interactions between massive particles ultimately led to star and galaxy formation. But their explanations as to how this could occur are unconvincing, and the (likely) discovery of the Higgs boson has in no way changed that.

References

  1. Wickham, C. 2012. "It's a boson:" Higgs quest bears new particle. Reuters, July 4, 2012. 
  2. Moskowitz, C. 2011. What should 'God Particle' Be Renamed? Physicists Weigh In. LiveScience. Posted on livescience.com December 14, 2011, accessed July 6, 2012.
  3. Strassler, M. Virtual Particles: What are they? Of Particular Significance Blog. Posted on profmattstrassler.com, accessed July 9, 2012. 
  4. Strassler, M. The Higgs FAQ 1.0. Of Particular Significance Blog. Posted on profmattstrassler.com, accessed July 9, 2012. 
  5. 'The Higgs boson is another nail in the coffin of religion'. BBC News Online Video. Posted on bbc.co.uk July 4, 2012, accessed July 6, 2012.
  6. Stephen Hawking loses Higgs boson particle bet - video. The Guardian Online Video. Posted on guardian.co.uk July 5, 2012, accessed July 6, 2012. 
  7. Kaku, M. 2012. The Spark That Caused the Big Bang. The Wall Street Journal. Posted on online.wsj.com July 5, 2012, accessed July 9, 2012.
  8. Krauss, L. 2011. What is the Higgs boson and why does it matter? NewScientist. Posted on newscientist.com December 13, 2011, accessed July 6, 2012. 
  9. Evans, R. 2012. British theorist Peter Higgs lives to see his boson. Reuters, July 4, 2012.

* Dr. Hebert is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on July 13, 2012.