The Discovery of God and His Particle
“Last week, physicists around the world were glued to computers at very odd hours (I was at a 1 a.m. physics “party” here with a large projection screen and dozens of colleagues) to watch live as scientists at the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva announced that they had apparently found one of the most important missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is nature.”
The ‘I’ speaking is Lawrence M. Krauss, the director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, and the author of “A Universe From Nothing.” The NY Times ran an editorial on the front page of their web-site days after the discovery from Krauss about the implications of observing the Higgs Boson.
Now I’m no particle physicist, but I’m pretty sure if the Higgs piece was ever missing, we all wouldn’t. Inside the ‘Standard Model,’ which is the most accurate and comprehensive theory of everything modern science has proposed, the Higgs Boson is the particle responsible for the property of mass within our universe. The best my publicly educated mind can tell, it has never been the case that the Higgs was gone, at least not recently. In fact Mother Nature, as I understand, has been together for four score and quite a many more, despite our best efforts as of late to disembowel her.
The Titanic-like hubris laced in Krauss’ article evinces why, as modern science advances, modern civilization comes closer to the brink of oblivion, though Krauss and company would certainly like us to feel differently.
He entreats us saying, “It is natural for those not deeply involved in the half-century quest for the Higgs to ask why they should care about this seemingly esoteric discovery. There are three reasons.”
For the purposes of this article, the second will come first… “Second, it makes even more remarkable the precarious accident that allowed our existence to form from nothing — further proof that the universe of our senses is just the tip of a vast, largely hidden cosmic iceberg.”
I’d like to ask Mr. Krauss that if one morning he walked down the stairs to his kitchen and found neatly set at his table a steaming bowl of oatmeal, a fresh fruit salad, buttered toast and coffee just the way he likes it in his favorite mug, how Mrs. Krauss would feel if he referred to this happenstance as a ‘precarious accident.’
It’s worth noting that the Higgs was not found, rather it wasn’t not found. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), an extremely expensive go-kart track for mathematicians with an imagination, is used by men like Krauss to discover and understand sub-atomic particles and their relationships with each other. The LHC generates enough data in 1 second to fill 1,000 1 tera-byte hard drives, according to Krauss. As it were, on the 4th of July, it was announced that overwhelming evidence had been recorded, which indicates the apparent existence of the Higgs.
The LHC whizzes particles around a magnetically guided track at near the speed of light and smashes them into each other. The Tim Allen-esque ingenuity and ambition of the CERN LHC in Europe compared to other particle accelerators like the one at FERMI Labs in Chicago was that with more power would come more stuff from these collisions, and hopefully the Higgs Boson. The incontrovertible evidence of the Higgs existence is actually the observation of a bunch of stuff we already knew existed right after atoms were smashed together. A certain combination of other previously known sub-atomic particles has been observed in an arrangement believed to be consistent with what would be the remnants of a Higgs Boson.
So, if we are walking in the woods, and we come across a pile of poop too big to call a human’s, but too human to call a bear’s, does that mean we’ve found Big Foot? Admittedly, this observation has passed the 5 Sigma standard of certainty. So, literally, there is a 1 in a million chance that the scientists are wrong. Krauss’ assertion that these findings make the accident of our existence more wonderful is at once a refutation of his own assertion that this all just happened to happen. If it’s all accidental and arbitrary, what difference does it make which boson goes where, when it goes, and how it goes? We don’t ask lottery winners, “How’d you do it?” Constantly asking Mother Nature how this all works implies we are observing a designed system, which should make sense if there is enough information about it.
Reason 3 for why you and yours ought to care about the Higgs: ”the effort to uncover this tiny particle represents the very best of what the process of science can offer to modern civilization.” Nine billion dollars, 50 years, the full engagement of thousands of brains like Krauss’, each capable of assimilating a library’s worth of knowledge, and the best we can hope for is trivia night fodder from Krauss and his cronies?
Understanding this statement needs some defending. He conjectures, “The apparent discovery of the Higgs may not result in a better toaster or a faster car. But it provides a remarkable celebration of the human mind’s capacity to uncover nature’s secrets, and of the technology we have built to control them.”
Forty-six people have died on US soil in the past month from Mother Nature’s hot flashes. Speaking of hot, let’s ask the folks living in Colorado how ‘control’ of nature is going? Their most destructive wild fire of the many that have already made this year the state’s most catastrophic in a decade burned through 29 square miles of forest in 3 weeks, incinerated 350 homes and took two human lives before finally being ‘contained.’ It is hard to use the word ‘controlled’ in relation to wild fires.
How about farmers across the country? When it was 80 degrees Fahrenheit in January their crops flowered. When it went back down to 20 in March those flowers died and 70% of those farmers’ expected yields were also lost. Is there a boson we can manipulate to help those farmers feed their families this year, or a sub-atomic price regulator that can prevent me from having to pay $8 for a bag of apples in a few months? Modern science is busy putting the cherry on top before the two scoops of vanilla have even made it into the bowl.
The Higgs Boson has been anointed by popular media as ‘The God Particle.’ Though this moniker is shunned by the scientific community like a man out on dinner with his wife would ignore his mistress if she happened by. Scientists live in a cloud of cognitive dissonance, where their work is objective, honest, and devoid of the politics that plague other human endeavors. Meanwhile, the entities who can bankroll $9 Billion Hot-Wheels sets and pay genius’ enough to use them, have their own ideas about why the Higgs Boson is wonderful. There is a reason the ‘God Particle’ name has stuck. Nietzsche said ‘God is Dead,’ but we can’t prove that scientifically for the same reasons we can’t use material science to prove He’s alive. So Stephen Hawking, the poster boy of theoretical science and cosmology has kindly said, “We don’t need God” in order to explain why we’re here.
This particle and the push for its discover isn’t so much a piece in a puzzle, but rather in a marketing campaign. God is a terribly inconvenient institution for modern civilization. In previous ages of our Western culture, those who were in charge did not have the channels of dissemination available to today’s social engineers. Western civilization has always been a negotiation of who gets what. There have always been those who have a lot, and the rest are the ‘nots.’ In order to ensure that the ‘nots’ of yore bore the yolk day to day, belief, and especially fear, in God was encouraged. But not just any God, a Judeo-Christian God who insists that you sit down, shut up and do what the feudal Lord says, lest your daily bread be no more. He doesn’t like you messing around with the hoochie or the coochie either, as such things hurt productivity.
Without wi-fi on every corner and an ‘enabled’ device in every pocket, the presence of an omnipotent being was essential for social order. Social order in the Western context means maintaining excessive levels of wealth for a few and the bare minimum required for submission and sustenance for the rest. Karl Marx famously characterized religion as the ‘Opiate of the Masses’ and certainly it has been used as such in the West. Who needs God when we’ve got the ‘News Feed’ or the ‘App Store’? These weapons of mass distraction keep the herd happy and hungry, while antiquated ideas of chastity, purity, and compassion based on a relationship with God increasingly stand in opposition to the feeding frenzy for more stuff.
Man’s relationship with God in the West has only existed to the degree that we weren’t able to explain the happenings of nature. The Greek pantheon gave way to a monotheistic understanding of life’s origins as science began to explain why the rain falls, the sun rises, and the crops grow without needing to pay homage to a celestial personality. The need for God has been explained away by modern science, with the Catholic Church now accepting that the ‘Big Bang’ and evolution are factual realities, pushing God to the margins as a ‘Something’ that ‘got the ball rolling.’
There is, however, a different understanding of God, one coming from the text of the Vedas. The Vedas, which means ‘knowledge’ in the world’s oldest language, Sanskrit, are the Earth’s original texts on spirituality and philosophy. They conclude that the purpose of a relationship with God is not for our daily bread. As the Vedas explain, bread only gets us so far. Eventually the true problems of life, old age, disease and death, will strike regardless if you’re eating whole-wheat or white.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the foremost Vedic scholar and exponent of the last 500 years, asked a simple question of scientists at MIT when he was invited to speak with them in Boston, 1968. Why is it that there is no department dedicated to the study of the difference between a dead body and a living one? Swami’s point, which was irrefutable even by these Ivy Leaguers, was that all the physio-chemical arrangements are there in a dead body, but something is missing. Like a car without a key.
The Vedas accurately accounted for the distance between the Earth and the Sun, the age of our universe and of life here on Earth, thousands of years before Western scientists understood that Earth was neither flat nor the center of everything. Despite these and many other advancements that seem ahead of their time in comparison to our knowledge in the West, the culmination of Vedic knowledge and the main focus of the texts is the distinction between matter and spirit.
To answer his question, the swami explained to the professors that it is the presence of the soul that differentiates a dead body from a living one. The soul is a permanently existing particle of spiritual energy that always has and always will exist. Furthermore, the soul’s constitutional position is to be happy, though that is not the general experience for the soul in this material reality. Why isn’t the soul happy here and how can it be happy? Why would the immortal soul be bound up in a very mortal body? These are the real questions worth asking and answering according to the Vedas and Bhaktivedanta Swami.
Krauss’ first assertion for the importance of the Higgs discovery is that its pursuit was “one of the most remarkable intellectual adventures in human history — one that anyone interested in the progress of knowledge should at least be aware of.”
A few months ago, some neutrinos (another sub-atomic obscurity) were found to travel faster than light. There isn’t a principle more fundamental to the understandings of Krauss and company than ‘nothing is faster than light.’ Now my mail has still come every day, the sun has still set, the breeze still blown. I’m sure some physicists have had sleepless nights. The rest of us, unaware of the implications such an ‘esoteric’ discovery carry, have been carrying on as usual. After 6 anxious months, the findings have been refuted. Maybe next time the physics folks can consult a copy of the Rig Veda before losing their metaphysical marbles – that’s the 7,000 year old book that accurately provides the speed of the cosmos’ fastest particle, light, among other things.
By the Vedic standard, discoveries such as the Higg’s have no relation to real knowledge and the ultimate goal of life. Any person interested in truly achieving something wonderful will begin to ask and seek the answers to questions posed by the likes of Swami Prabhupada and leave the children to play with their toys.