A Christian friend of mine and I were recently discussing the testing of the Large Hidron Collider (LHC) that happened earlier this week (actually, “discussing” meant she called and screamed “We’re all going to die!!!!!” into the phone). Nevertheless, something she said really has kept me pondering, a process that has turned into a particularly fearful realization.
In case you are unfamiliar with the Large Hidron Collider and are too lazy to go read the Wikipedia entry, it basically consists of a huge circumferential tube (huge meaning diameter = 17 miles) lying under the Franco-Swiss border. Subatomic particles, specifically protons, are accelerated to just under the speed of light (99.999999%) and sent spinning around this track. Sometime at the end of October, two protons will shoot off in opposite directions and very soon after that will collide with each other. The point?
Possibly Answering Questions such as:
- What is mass?
- What is 96% of the universe made of?
- Why is there no more antimatter?
- Do extra dimensions of space really exist?
- What was matter like within the first second of the Universe’s life? †
† Taken from the official LHC website maintained by CERN
I want to focus on the last question, as this was the primary topic of the impromptu conversation with my friend. I, of course, am referring to the hopes these scientists have that the successful colliding of two subatomic particles will provide unsurpassed evidence for The Big Bang Theory. Oooo!! All Christians cringe and cover their ears!!
I’m sorry, I will try to refrain from additional unnecessary commentary for the duration of this post.
This is the concern I have. What happens when if the collider successfully recreates the conditions of the early universe, thus affirming the Big Bang Theory? For most Christians this theory is as foreign to their belief system as the possibility of the earth being flat. To claim anything even close to this “heresy” is considered “pandering to the atheists” or “compromising with the devil”. In fact, it has been my experience that the number one complaint many nonbelievers have against converting to the Christian faith is that Christians are anti-science. This is a gross misrepresentation of the Christian faith, but I fear that most of the time Christians themselves are responsible for nonbelievers thinking this. If one were to look back on our Christian heritage, one would be surprised to find how many of the “milestone discoveries” in our scientific past are credited to believers. Not to mention the Biblical support we find to “come, let us reason” and “always [be] ready to make a defense (or argument, or explanation) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you“.
So, I see three possible outcomes in the Christian community if the LHC succeeds at creating the first second of the Big Bang.
1. Various Christian leaders and pastors go nuclear, claiming that the LHC results had to be construed or erroneous. The science community’s response is filled with criticisms and ridicule, thus influencing even more of the general public to discredit the beliefs and claims of their Christian neighbor.
2. Many baby Christians in the faith feel like a sledgehammer has shattered their newfound hope, as their church has always taught that the Big Bang couldn’t possibly have happened. They fall away, yet another victim to the anti-scientific sentiments of the average evangelical.
3. Those Christians who see science as an integral part of their faith sit down together and decide how this discovery will help mold their worldviews ever closer to the truth of reality.
I am not writing this to try and pick a fight with some Christians who may disagree with me about the mechanisms God used to create the universe. I am, however, on a mission to actively condemn anyone, be they believer or not, who takes up arms and raises the protest flag simply because they have been raised in one way of thinking and believe nothing exists outside of that. We as Christians have been called to be the light of the earth, meaning we lay bare the truth. We expose reality, and sometimes this means confronting assumptions that we have been trained to believe all our lives (i.e. the age of the universe).
My admonition is, don’t be afraid to follow the evidence where it leads. If you’re a true follower in Christ, there can never be any danger for us in that. We know that He is the truth, and if we strive to find the truth, we will find Him.