On the Right Side
by George V. Caylor
“God’s Building Blocks”
(Warning: This column may not be an “easy read.” The subject matter is complicated, but if you’ll stay with me for the next few minutes, you’ll be rewarded.)
My favorite interviews are with scientists, specifically theoretical and subatomic physicists. These guys come closer to pure research than anyone else. Their research is for knowledge alone, but mankind has reaped huge benefits from their findings. All modern communications, computers and even medical machines, such as the MRI, have been made possible by subatomic particle research.
Exciting findings are being made on both ends of the size scale. X-ray telescopes and the Hubble are enabling cosmologists (sometimes called astrophysicists) to see what is happening in the farthest reaches of the universe. Nuclear microscopes and atom smashers are allowing physicists to see what is happening inside the atom.
Coincidentally, the findings of both cosmologists and physicists are related to – and in agreement with – the Bible.
Let’s first travel to the edge of our expanding universe. What is there? Nothing. There is nothing there. No matter, no energy, no time, no space.
Since there is no space into which the universe can expand, space must be created. Cosmologists are using NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe to see the “dark energy” that is on the edge of our universe, breaking open and creating new space into which the universe can expand.
Rather hard to understand. I recently asked a cosmologist to explain dark energy.
“What do you mean by ‘opening up new space’? Isn’t space already there?”
“No, there is nothing there. Space must be created.”
“But isn’t space ‘nothing’?”
“No, space is something, and must be created, because there is NOTHING into which the universe can expand!”
After this episode, I checked out Genesis in the Bible to see what it had to say about space. Hmm. It doesn’t say, “In the beginning, there was lots of space which needed time, energy and matter.” No, it says, “In the beginning, there was NOTHING.”
I’m still having a difficult time with the concept of “nothing.”
A few months ago, Dr. Peter Sheldon, the gifted young department head of Physics at Randolph College, hosted a visit by Dr. Leon Lederman. Lederman won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discoveries of new sub-atomic particles.
I already knew something of Lederman’s reputation. His best-selling book, THE GOD PARTICLE, was fascinating. He brought long-dead scientists back to life and made their work understandable.
However, he neglected the fact that nearly every scientist from Newton to Copernicus, from Galileo to Bacon, was a devout Christian. Each of these men is on record saying he studied science in order to “understand the Mind of God.” By understanding the creation, the scientist might better know the Creator. Dr. Lederman even referred to Sir Isaac Newton’s beliefs as “mysticism”, rather than the driving force behind the great discoveries he made.
Dr. Lederman is an explorer who discovers brand-new worlds. Very, very tiny worlds. A good example of his work could come from the movie “Men in Black”. The movie’s villain was trying to steal an entire galaxy. Sounds impossible, if not for the size of the galaxy. It was housed in a one-inch crystal sphere, and worn on a necklace!
The premise of a one-inch galaxy would seem strange to most folks, but Dr. Lederman, Dr. Sheldon, and other particle physicists are not “most folks.” They understand how truly small a galaxy is – if we look only at its matter.
Dr. Lederman and I sat together discussing the nature of energy and matter. We weren’t actually doing much “discussing”. I was mainly asking questions. “Discussing” could infer I lent some insights to Dr. Lederman’s science.
I asked, “What is everything really made of? I know you’ve discovered ‘pions, muons, neutrinos, gluons, lamdas, omegas, gravitons’ and a host of other little things that constitute the parts of an atom. It seems the more you break things apart, the more things there are to be broken apart! You’re running out of names for them. Where does it end? How will you know when you’ve come to the particle that just can’t be broken apart any more?”
Dr. Lederman answered, “When we get to the true ‘atom’. That is what Democritus named the thing that cannot be broken apart. It is what everything is made of.”
“Who was Democritus?”
“A Greek scientist, born about 460 BC.”
“Is his ‘atom’ your ‘God Particle’?”
“Yes. I believe everything is made of ‘quarks and leptons’ – the God Particle. The way the quarks and leptons are arranged and united by energy determines the function of the particle.”
“How big are quarks and leptons?”
“They have no size at all. They have no dimension, no mass. They are what we physicists call ‘points’. They exist, but have few material properties of existence. But everything is made of them!”
“If quarks and leptons have no dimension and no mass, why does matter weigh so much? Why does matter take up so much space?”
“Quarks and leptons are infinitely small, but the energy that ties them together is large! It takes billions of volts to break particles apart. The smaller we get, the greater the energy. The electricity used in Fermi Lab’s Particle Collider cost us $20 million last year! If it takes billions of volts to break particles apart, those particles have billions of volts of energy holding them together.”
“Is that why an atomic bomb is so powerful?”
“An atomic bomb uses less than 1% of its available energy. Maybe 1% of 1%.”
“Why does this table feel solid? Because the energy that holds it together is so powerful?”
“The actual matter in this table is smaller than a proton. The quarks and leptons of the entire earth occupy an area smaller than a molecule. The matter in the entire universe was once smaller than a baseball. Everything is held together by energy.”
I didn’t ask Dr. Lederman if he believed those billions of volts in each atom come from God. But the Bible says, “Christ came before all matter, created all matter, and by Him is all matter now being held together.” (Col. 1:16-17)
I don’t really know what Dr. Lederman thinks about God. He jokingly refers to God from time to time as “She.” Dr. Lederman obviously doesn’t want us to picture God as a white-haired over-developed weightlifter.
That’s all right by me. The more physicists help us to understand the ingenuity of matter and energy, the more we realize that God is infinitely more powerful and intelligent than we imagined.
© 2003 by George V. Caylor. All rights reserved.
The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. (Ecclesiastes 10:2) George Caylor is a wealth planner and writer in Lynchburg, VA. To read past columns or e-mail him, go to www.OnTheRightSide.com