The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Happy Big Bang Day

with 2 comments

1.  It is very exciting that scientists have managed today to begin a challenging and long-awaited experiment into the nature of matter.  Here are a few random thoughts generated in my mind by this morning’s launch of the protons.

2.  First, it is worth saying again that there is no conflict between religious belief and scientific experiment.  Indeed, the reverse is the case.  The psalmist urges us to consider the magnitude and wonder of God’s work of creation, something that we can do more and more effectively the more science reveals to us about it.  The Chofetz Chayim explains that the more we appreciate the nature of the creation, the more we can perceive the magnitude of its intended purpose.  The founder of our religion, Abraham, came to his revolutionary belief in a single God by examining the nature of the universe, albeit that he had only his own senses to use to conduct the examination.

3.  Secondly, there appears to be a possibility that when this morning’s experiment is continued to the collision phase the resultant explosion will destroy the world.  Mildly troubling, but much less so to a religious person than to a secular scientist.  The rabbis advise us to live each day and each moment as if it were our last – because it always may be.  Easier said than done, of course: but at any rate the addition of one more possible reason why my life may end at any moment adds little or nothing to the importance of aiming to be ready at all times to give an account of my life.

4.  Thirdly,  the experiment demonstrates both the futility and the value of science.  Scientists hoping to be given the meaning of life by colliding a couple of protons are likely to be disappointed: nothing that science has yet achieved (evolutionary theories included) has been successful in discovering, nor is there reason to expect that it will be successful about discovering, anything about the “why” of the world as distinct from the “how”.  A search for the “why” by flailing about in the universe perpetrating random acts of molecular violence is likely to be futile.  But application of increased knowledge of the “how” (evolutionary theories included) to advance our understanding of how we can develop and improve the world, in a partnership with God, to the welfare and benefit of everyone in it, is always of the utmost value from a religious perspective.


Written by Daniel Greenberg

September 10, 2008 at 9:16 am

2 Responses

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  1. nice new format

    avi greenberg

    September 25, 2008 at 3:19 pm

  2. Rabbi Natan Slifkin writes in “The Challenge of Creation” (it should be mentioned that parts of it are considered heretical by some, but the following is one of the cleverer things he says) as follows:
    “It is like the question ‘why is the kettle boiling?’ One might truthfully answer, because the combustion of hyrdocarbons has heated the water so that its vapour pressure is greater than atmospheric pressure. But the more useful answer is that the kettle is boiling because someone wants a cup of tea.”
    Science may – possibly – answer some of the “hows” of creation. Religion doesn’t care about them: it goes for the “why”s.

    Yisroel Greenberg

    October 9, 2008 at 7:07 pm

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