“To me this is fascinating,
That there is something in the room right now
Something we can’t quite see…
That is just doing its thing.”
I developed an interest in science, perhaps rather strangely while studying divinity at a university in Belfast. I’m particularly fascinated by the strange mysteries that are quantum physics – the study of the smallest things – and cosmology – the study of the universe at large.
Here’s the definition of mystery according to the Oxford English Dictionary: something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain e.g. the mysteries of outer space.
I use the word mystery very specifically. It made me smile when I looked it up and found it relating to outer space.
The quote at the beginning of this article is an interesting one. It could easily be from a Christian trying to describe the unseen but deeply felt spiritual world around us. In reality, it is taken from a short and interesting piece in The Times recently. The article was called: “CERN collider set to settle biggest dispute in physics”, and the quote refers to the idea that there may be extra, as yet unobserved dimensions in space and time.
The world’s largest machine has been out of action for nearly two years, as scientists and engineers worked on upgrades to enable it to run at close to full power. Once it’s fired up again it’ll send particles around its 27 kilometres of tunnels at close to the speed of light, and then smash them into each other. They will be hoping to solve the ‘big dispute’ by finding evidence for what is called supersymmetry. The problem they are trying to fix is that something called the ‘Standard Model’ – the generally accepted best description of what happens at a sub-atomic level – does not hold true where really high-energy states occur.
If supersymmetry is true, there should be a whole host of currently undiscovered ‘partner-particles’ with similar properties to the ones we currently can observe, but with a different spin.
My intention here is not to give a science lesson – not least because I am genuinely only an interested amateur. Rather, I want to highlight this fact: what we currently know through scientific investigation pales into insignificance in comparison to what we don’t know or understand.
A lack of knowledge of all things is not to be feared. It seems to be simply part of the human condition. We know so much and yet truly understand so little.
CS Lewis said: “Space is like Him in its hugeness: not that the greatness of space is the same kind of greatness as God’s, but it is a sort of symbol of it, or a translation of it into non-spiritual terms.”
I’m not saying that science is the weaker sibling in our quest for knowledge and understanding. I strongly believe that God created us with a thirst and desire to understand the world around us. We should use our brains for this task and the more I learn about the world around me through the scientific approach, the more I stand in awe at the mystery and majesty of God’s created universe.