Debate with CERN Seeks Common Ground

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CERN summit seeks a “common ground” conclusion about the origin of everything.

A conference bringing together scientists, philosophers, and theologians gathered in Geneva this week to explore the implications of the Higgs boson (aka “the god particle”) on beliefs about the origin of all things. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, last July finally observed the elusive “missing cornerstone of particle physics.”1 This three-day event—“The Big Bang and the interfaces of knowledge: towards a common language?”—was organized to enable “scientists from a range of disciplines to dialogue with philosophers and theologians from the world religions about the nature of the Big Bang Theory.”2 According to CERN director Rolf Heuer, CERN intended it as a forum to discuss the “deeper insight and understanding of the moments after the Big Bang” provided by the Higgs discovery.

“We might find new ways of talking to each other about the beginning of the world,” explained the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Brussels representative Gary Wilton, adding that the Higgs particle “raised lots of questions [about the origins of the universe] that scientists alone can’t answer. They need to explore them with theologians and philosophers.” He hopes that “scientists, theologians and philosophers alike might gain fresh insights from each other's disciplines.”

We might find new ways of talking to each other about the beginning of the world.

In particular, the presence of Oxford apologist John Lennox, an outspoken critic of atheism, was expected to inject a voice for God into the mix. In response to atheistic physicist Lawrence Krauss’s assertion that “the Higgs particle is now arguably more relevant than God,” Lennox recently published an essay “Not the God of the Gaps, But of the Whole Show”3 Lennox indicated that discovery of a scientific or natural explanation does not write God out of the picture—He’s the one that created the picture in the first place. God created all things—including the laws of physics. Lennox’s analysis mentioned the truly great physicists who honored the God whose creation they studied. Lennox is a committed Christian, and his writings have encouraged Christians to defend their faith. Unfortunately, Lennox’s own position on the historicity of the book of Genesis (e.g., age of the earth) compromises Scripture to fit mainstream scientific interpretations of origins that spring from an atheistic worldview. (See “Review of John Lennox’s Book Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science” for a thorough discussion.)

Many seem to believe that the Higgs discovery explains origins, proves the big bang happened, and eliminates the need for a Creator. However, the ability to produce, in a laboratory, conditions that supposedly existed after a theoretical big bang does not prove those conditions ever came about naturally or that the big bang produced the universe. The Higgs boson discovery deepens our understanding of the nature of matter and energy, but does not rule out a supernaturally created origin for that matter and energy.

So could this meeting of the minds arrive at genuine answers? No. While Wilton is correct that science cannot provide all the answers about origins—such as those raised by Lennox—the starting point for discussion at the CERN conference was the presumption that the big bang was an actual historical event, established unquestionably in the delegates’ minds. The corollary of this starting point is that the Word of God—with God’s eyewitness account of origins—cannot be trusted.

The delegates’ conclusions may satisfy some, but with the unverifiable “truth” of the big bang as their starting point and their predetermination to deny Scriptural truth, they must inevitably draw untrue conclusions. “Common ground” with those who maintain the big bang occurred can only be reached through Scriptural compromise. Indeed, why would any secular scientist give heed to the claims that a divine Creator exists when those who represent Him distort His own eyewitness account of creation?

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