Stephen Irvine, 18 October 2012
With the Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner freefalling from 120,000ft live on TV last weekend, viewers were treated to an event offering a fascinating hint of what lies beyond our world in the infinite wastelands of space, the shots of our hero preparing to jump particularly awe-inspiring. Crucially, the impact of this superb spectacle was heightened even further by the appropriateness of its timing.
Felix’s feat coincided with the start of a conference called by Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in the wake of its Higgs boson discovery – a meeting of minds between scientists and theologians, focusing on the origins of everything. Prof Rolf Heuer, director of Cern, explained that the Higgs results provided a “deeper insight and understanding of the moments after the Big Bang,” and, when you look at it, entertaining these religious zealots at all is an admirable and very patient stance to take.
A couple of years ago Stephen Hawking famously stated in his book The Grand Design that God didn’t create the universe, with the inevitable backlash led by The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and several other leading figures representing various religions. This is exactly why it’s so admirable of Prof Heuer and Cern to entertain these cretins – it’s always the stubborn child act with these lot, the refusing to let go of fanciful ideas in the face of overwhelming evidence, and clinging on to science’s ability to only unlock small parts of the mystery at a time as proof that their God must exist.
Ibrahim Mogra, an imam and committee chairman at the Muslim Council of Britain, waded into the Hawking row with these wise words: “If we look at the universe and all that has been created, it indicates that somebody has been here to bring it into existence. That somebody is the almighty conqueror.” Almost identical sentiments came from Prof John Lennox of Oxford University, a speaker at the Cern conference, who told the Daily Mail: “When Hawking argues, in support of his theory of spontaneous creation, that it was only necessary for ‘the blue touch paper’ to be lit to ‘set the universe going’, the question must be: where did this blue touch paper come from? And who lit it, if not God?” As if Mail readers don’t have enough shit to get through in the rest of that rag…
I have some questions of my own here John: IF that somebody did create the universe, then who created Him? As Prof Hawking’s spontaneous creation theory is so wide of the mark, then how is it possible that a being as powerful as the almighty conqueror just suddenly appeared one day with a totally blank canvas in front of him? And how would you have days, or even an ether to appear into without something being in existence prior to that God, who must then live in some sort of separate vacuum? It’s all very confusing…
I am a long way from being a scientific thinker, as you can probably tell, but all this seems even more ridiculous than believing everything you see on Star Trek, taking the Captain’s Log as your holy book and creating Kirkianity – a religion based around a life-affirming belief in the yellow pullover-clad intergalactic loverman as the God that made us all. You could definitely call James T Kirk an almighty conqueror, and the fact that He and his disciples travel the universe spreading the word of good means the general plot is pretty similar to the bible, only with much better equipment and weaponry, far cooler enemies and sexy treacles from all corners of the galaxy ready to praise the Lord whenever he comes calling.
Just imagine being stuck in a room for three days with people who insist that Captain Kirk is the omnipotent force to whom we owe not just our own existences, but the very existence of the universe, and the fact that you don’t have a concrete way of showing them that this isn’t true means that it categorically must be, because people have been saying it for ages. All while a group from a different part of the world argue pretty much the same thing, but their deity is Mr Spoon from Button Moon, and so vehemently do the opposing sides disagree on this small point, they’ve been slaughtering each other over it for centuries.
Once again, Prof Heuer, I salute you and all your scientific friends for your breath-taking patience and humility.