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Continued: The godless particle

  • Article by: JEFFREY WEISS
  • Last update: July 10, 2012 - 1:39 PM

What did Einstein mean by "God?" Certainly nothing that most theologians would accept. In the book The World As I See It, there's an essay he wrote about religion. Here's a key excerpt:

"You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a peculiar religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religion of the naive man. For the latter, God is a being from whose care one hopes to benefit and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands to some extent in personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged with awe.

"But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."

Which sounds a bit like Gianotti's comments Wednesday. She was presenting the results from one of those huge detectors inside the LHC, speaking for a massive team of researchers. She paused and told the audience that she would speak for a moment only on her own behalf. She reflected on the coincidence that the predicted mass of the Higgs fit so well into the design of her instrument:

"It is very nice for the Standard Model Higgs boson to be at that mass. Because that mass we can measure at the LHC in [a] huge number of final states. Thanks, nature!"

And everybody laughed.


Jeffrey Weiss, a veteran religion writer based in Dallas, wrote this column for Real Clear Religion. It's used here with permission.


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