Category Archives: Science & Technology

Does the ‘God Particle’ Prove that God Does or Does Not Exist?

The scientific world is abuzz with news of the ratification of the existence of the subatomic particle called the Higgs boson – or more colloquially, the ‘God particle.’ This subatomic particle’s existence – which was verified recently (with virtually near certainty) by experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland – lends credence to several long-standing physical theories such as the so-called Standard Model and the Big Bang Theory.


The nickname God particle is ironic for two reasons. First, generally, the nuclear physicists who deal with these matters – postulating the fundamental physical laws of the universe and then setting about to either verify or refute them – tend not to be regular church-goers. While there are some highly prominent scientists who balance personal, religious beliefs with professional, scientific quests, most probably go along with the thoughts of the world-famous physicist, Stephen Hawking:

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark. [Interview in The Guardian, 7/9/12]

Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God… [from his book; The Grand Design, 2010]

So it is a bit ironic that physics’ most famous quest has resulted in the discovery of the ‘God particle.’ Most physicists are quite comfortable having their names associated with famous – even if dead – humans like Newton, Einstein or the afore-mentioned Hawking. One will find few, if any, attributions to deities in the objects that physicists discover and name or the theories they propose.

Second, and more importantly, the discovery that the God particle really exists does not – as the name suggests – imply that God played some role in the creation of the universe. In fact, quite the opposite. The matter is discussed at some length in the July 9 Daily Beast by Lawrence Kraus, a well-known physicist/cosmologist from Arizona State University:

This term [God particle] appeared first in the unfortunate title of a book written by physicist Leon Lederman two decades ago, and while to my knowledge it was never used by any scientist (including Lederman) before or since, it has captured the media’s imagination.

What makes this term particularly unfortunate is that nothing could be further from the truth. Assuming the particle in question is indeed the Higgs, it validates an unprecedented revolution in our understanding of fundamental physics and brings science closer to dispensing with the need for any supernatural shenanigans all the way back to the beginning of the universe…If these bold, some would say arrogant, notions derive support from the remarkable results at the Large Hadron Collider, they may reinforce two potentially uncomfortable possibilities: first, that many features of our universe, including our existence, may be accidental consequences of conditions associated with the universe’s birth; and second, that creating “stuff” from “no stuff” seems to be no problem at all—everything we see could have emerged as a purposeless quantum burp in space or perhaps a quantum burp of space itself. Humans, with their remarkable tools and their remarkable brains, may have just taken a giant step toward replacing metaphysical speculation with empirically verifiable knowledge. The Higgs particle is now arguably more relevant than God.

So the term God particle was first used by a scientist, but was picked up and popularized by the media. It’s catchy and enhances interest in the subject among the public. But like so much else that the media promotes, it is misleading and inappropriate.
This post also appeared in The American Thinker at:

Afloat in the Ether on my Smartphone


The impact of revolutionary technology advances on politics, culture, education, finance and other areas of modern life.


In order to bolster his argument that Western Civilization is dying, Mark Steyn in After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, makes the following comparison between 60-year intervals. He posits that a time traveler from 1890 who alighted from his machine in 1950 would find a world that he could barely believe or comprehend. The automobile and airplane have been invented and are in widespread use. Indoor plumbing is ubiquitous. Radio, TV and movies provide spectacular entertainment. Washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators transform the meaning of what it means to be a housewife. Miracle drugs like penicillin and insulin have been discovered and previously fatal diseases like diabetes, diphtheria and tuberculosis have been tamed. And the atom has been split.

The nature of human life was altered radically by these developments, and mostly for the better. By contrast, asserts Steyn, the time traveler from 1950 would be far less impressed. Oh the gadgets have been glitzed up a bit, but the American home, neighborhood and country did not look all that much different in 2010 than they appeared in 1950.

Steyn acknowledges two great exceptions to his assertion of an overall desultory advance in the last 60 years: space travel and information technology (IT). But he doubts that either has had a beneficially revolutionary effect – the first because we have lost interest (due to cost, boredom and a lack of vision and boldness); the second because much of the information technology revolution has resulted in vapidity (mind-numbing computer games, frivolous communication, pornography, cyber crime and too often, great wastes of time, energy and resources). I would like to take strong exception with him in the case of IT.

I believe the IT revolution has changed the way that we live as much as did any of the labor-saving, distance-shrinking machines invented in the first half of the twentieth century. The compute power that I hold in my hand (inside my smartphone) is truly astounding. It dwarfs what was available to me in gigantic machines that I programmed 45 years ago. And “dwarf” doesn’t do justice to a comparison between my smartphone and the guidance computer on the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Moreover, the depth and variety of the tasks that I can perform with my smartphone boggles the imagination. Here is a tiny sample:

  • I can produce in seconds an answer to virtually any question on any topic that is posed to me.
  • I can locate and obtain directions to literally any spot on Earth.
  • I can instantly access news stories about almost any event that occurred in the last decade with the flick of a finger.
  • I can obtain current financial information about any public company, stock or government agency in a flash.
  • I can pay my bills, complete my shopping, find out where my kids are, see the weather forecast for the out-of-town locale at which I’ll be next week, read a pending Congressional bill, peruse the menu of the restaurant in which I’ll be dining tonight, get the ball scores, consult my social club or place of worship’s newsletter, set the temperature in my bedroom (from my office), warm up my car, and oh so much more. The power at my fingertips would be just as inconceivable to 1950s man as were the mid-century gadgets to 1890s man.

These and numerous other capabilities have altered human life in myriad ways – among which are the following:

  1. Information. I have virtually instantaneous and almost unlimited access to all the knowledge in the world. There is barely a question, on any subject, to which I cannot get one or more answers with a few taps and swipes of my finger. Of course, it is incumbent on me to judge the reliability of the source of the information. But – perhaps unbeknownst to us – that was always the case. In the past we trusted unquestioningly the encyclopedia and Walter Cronkite. We should have known that the former made mistakes and the latter allowed his political biases to color the content of his reportage.

This item alone represents a revolutionary feature of human life that was beyond the imagination of any human that lived up until say 30-40 years ago. But the technology in my smartphone has also revolutionized many other aspects of human life.

  • Communication.Email, texting, video-conference and online chat all provide communication capabilities that would have been way beyond the ken of our grandparents. Moreover, we access them at a fraction of the cost of their clunky ancestors.
  • Business & Finance. From online and instantaneous stock trades to QuickBooks to internet banking to ATM machines to smartphone credit transactions, the world of the businessman, investor and consumer has been changed immeasurably.
  • Education. The educational tools available to today’s students and teachers are as many light years removed from yesterday’s slide rules, calculators and chalk boards as was the Ford Mustang from an 1890s nag. My 5-year old grandson’s classroom amazes me, as does the knowledge that is already accumulated in that boy’s head.
  • Entertainment. When I visit the park, I can take with me the music of the world’s greatest composers, the words of its greatest authors and the movies of the finest film directors.
  • Politics. In principle, the activities of our national and local governments are more transparent to the citizenry, as any of us can easily access government legislation, regulations and budgets. It doesn’t always work out as it should, but new IT capabilities have had profound effects on political fundraising, organization and campaigning.
  • Culture. Again, in principle, advanced IT makes the varied aspects of our multicultural society readily knowable to all citizens, which should have a homogenizing and salutary effect on society. Once again, it doesn’t always pan out as expected. But there is no denying that the USA is the most successful polyglot nation on Earth, and the technological improvements that have abetted matters in the previous six items have helped to make it so.


Now one may legitimately ask: are all these dramatic changes good or bad for the human condition? In fact, there is no shortage of arguments on both sides of the issue. On the plus side, the tech aficionado asserts: how can the availability of vast amounts of information, which was previously inaccessible to the individual, not be a good thing? Furthermore, the ability to communicate easily across vast distances helps to keep families close. Investors have more information about investment opportunities; consumers are more knowledgeable about the products they seek; children are exposed to more ideas and opinions in their education; and all of us learn more about other cultures, which leads to a more tolerant and peaceful world.

But not so fast: the unbridled freedom of the internet has led to licentiousness and a coarsening of the culture; the ubiquitous nature of political discourse has led to political polarization and government gridlock; computer trading allows insiders to control the market and enhance the gap between rich and poor; the brevity and unsupervised mode of information technology communication has eroded verbal and literary skills, and contributed to the dumbing down of American youth; the hypnotic nature of IT has turned citizens into automatons and rendered society more fragmented, disunited and incohesive. All the electrons flying around are frying our brains.

These are legitimate, if somewhat overdramatized complaints about the consequences of the IT revolution. But it is instructive to note that the same kind of of diametrically opposed evaluations of societal evolution could be – and were – made in 1950. The arguments for the positive effects of the labor-saving, distance-shrinking devices of the early twentieth century are evident and have already been made. Contrarians would counter: cars polluted cities, created lifeless suburbs and damaged the environment; all the labor-saving devices freed up women to be more like men with horrible consequences for marriage, the family and children; the advent of popular and cheap visual media crippled reading and literary capabilities, and contributed to the dumbing down of America; and splitting the atom led to the most barbarous act ever perpetrated by mankind (Hiroshima) and the constant threat of nuclear annihilation.

Nevertheless, on balance, I think most would agree that the positive consequences of the advances of the first half of the twentieth century outweighed the negatives. Although…acknowledging two world wars, one can argue that it was the bloodiest half-century in world history. But the root causes for those tragic conflicts lie at the feet of human beings – whose behavioral instincts have not advanced an iota in millennia. That doesn’t change the fact that the nature of human life improved dramatically over the course of the trip taken by our first time traveler.

With regard to the enormous advances in IT that occurred during the journey of the second time traveler, they must be judged to be generally of benefit to mankind. Human stupidity, greed, cruelty and jealousy may still plunge us into regular turmoil. That doesn’t alter the fact that because of pioneers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Sergei Brin, our physical and social lives have undergone marked improvement.

So, happily afloat in the ether, I will continue to enjoy the marvels of my smartphone. Just like my grandfather when he clicked on that air conditioner for the first time, I am pleased to be living at the present moment and not 100 years ago.
This article also appeared in The Intellectual Conservative at
as well as in The Land of the Free at

I Took a Look at a Book on my Nook

I love books, always have. For most of my life I was a frequent patron of the local library. But some years ago, I started buying the books that I read – mostly from Amazon, but other online sites as well, e.g., the Conservative Book Club. In the last year, however, I have experienced various difficulties in the process: books sent to the wrong address, wrong book sent to the right address, or no book sent at all. Now I am a fairly tech savvy guy: cut my computing teeth on Unix systems in the 80s and 90s, have a laptop, use an iPhone, set up a wireless home environment. So I figured that I would try an e-reader. I bought the Nook instead of the Kindle or iPad because of cost, size and the fact that the Nook is touch-screen (like my iPhone) and the Kindle is not. This week I downloaded my first Nook book, Mark Steyn’s After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.

In his blockbuster predecessor, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, Steyn warned that Western Civilization, as embodied in the ancient countries of Europe, was in its death throes. He speculated about the nature of the world, and especially of our country, when America remained the last outpost of that glorious tradition. In the new book, Steyn says that we needn’t worry about being the last man standing. He argues that in the last decade, and especially since the advent of the Prophet Obama, we have caught up to Europe on the death march and that, unless present trends are sharply and quickly reversed, the US, like the European countries, will soon cease to exist as a free society. Armageddon will be upon the world.

I’m only about a third of the way through the book. It is a fascinating, if exceedingly depressing, read. I recommend it highly. If only the Prophet would read it. But to return to the e-theme of this piece, I want to explore a claim that Steyn makes. To bolster his argument, in fact to demonstrate that the decay of Western Civilization has been going on for a lot longer than we realize, Steyn posits a time traveler from 1890 who makes two stops at 60-year intervals – in 1950 and today. Upon his first stop, the traveler finds that the world has changed far beyond anything he could have conceived in 1890. The automobile and airplane have been invented and are in widespread use. Indoor plumbing is ubiquitous. Radio, TV and movies provide spectacular entertainment. Washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators transform the meaning of what it means to be a housewife. Miracle drugs like penicillin and insulin have been discovered and previously fatal diseases like diabetes, diphtheria and tuberculosis have been tamed. People routinely communicate across great and small distances by telephone. Homes are both heated and cooled by central systems that seem to require no maintenance. By any measure, the advancements of the 60 year period are spectacular. But, Steyn continues, the traveler gets back in the time machine

And when he dismounts [in 2011] he wonders if he’s made a mistake. Because, aside from a few design adjustments, everything looks pretty much as it did in 1950: the layout of the kitchen, the washer, the telephone…Oh wait. It’s got buttons instead of a dial. And the station wagon in the front yard has dropped the woody look and seems boxier than it did. And the folks getting out seem … larger, and dressed like overgrown children. But other than that, and a few cosmetic changes, he might as well have stayed in 1950.

There is a great deal of truth in Steyn’s analysis. But I think that he underestimates two points and misses a third. The two points are computers and space travel. To be fair, Steyn does acknowledge computing as the one great leap forward in the last 60 years. But he downplays the advance by emphasizing the frivolous and wasteful use of the technology (primarily for individual entertainment) as its main consequence. I think that is unfair as the advent of ubiquitous, high-speed computing has also revolutionized society in countless ways: from manufacturing to sales to advertising, from design of vehicles to military hardware, from social networking to education, not to mention the personal work environment of virtually all Americans.

On the second point, Steyn also acknowledges the phenomenal achievement of sending men to the moon. But then he “proves his point” by remarking that in the last 40 years, we have not followed through on the achievement, much less matched it by any accomplishment in space that is remotely comparable to a moon shot. This illustrates the third point, which he misses – namely, the uneven march of human progress. Human advancement and achievement is not a linear process. Even during the Renaissance or the Enlightenment, the great achievements sometimes came in bunches with fallow periods in between. Are we in a fallow period or are we well along on the irreversible, slippery slope to death and decay? Steyn clearly thinks it is the latter. On the other hand, I have some hope that, even if Europe is doomed, the American people are resilient enough to right the ship.

I cannot deny that Steyn’s arguments are compelling. If he is indeed correct, the US of A is in for some very rough times ahead. Our freedoms will erode, our prosperity will wane and our time in the Sun will conclude after a mere two centuries. The prospect is devastating. But also fascinating – I expect to read all about it on my Nook.
This article also appeared in The American Thinker at:

Global Warming Fanatics are Like Islamic Fundamentalists: What the Rest of Us Should Do About It

‘Allah is God, Mohammed is His prophet and the Koran is the message.’ That commonly-used apothegm encapsulates the core belief of the Muslim religion. Well how about: ‘The Earth is God, Al Gore is its prophet and Global Warming is the message.’ I would say that this adage sums up the core belief of the climate change crowd.

The analogy goes further. The adherents of the two aphorisms are animated by a religious fervor that is highlighted by an absolute faith in the truth of their saying’s content. The followers in both instances are bent on world domination and conversion of all non-believers to their point of view. Their ultimate goal, in each case, is a totalitarian system in which those at the head of the system will determine all aspects of the lives of their followers. And finally, both systems deem their opponents—infidels in the former, skeptics in the latter—as unworthy, misguided, evil and deserving of no succor, mercy or salvation.

The main difference in the two movements is that the former has shown a deep propensity for violence whereas, thus far, the latter has not. But to those of us who doubt the truth of either, both movements treat us with disdain, condescension and disrespect.

What puzzles me is that no one outside the orb of these vicious, globally-oriented and mind-controlling movements has hit on the following seemingly obvious idea. We need to spark a confrontation between them, a situation in which each of the movements sees the other as their main opponent. If each could be convinced to devote their abundant energy toward attacking the other, perhaps both might deliver a fatal blow. How delicious that would be for the rest of us!
This piece also appeared in The American Thinker Blog on February 14, 2010 under the title, ‘Comparative Religion 101: Climate Change and Islam.’ See: