The science of desperation?

By Laura Twomey

This new year brought a small revelation of sorts from the head of the Catholic Church. To mark the day of the epiphany, Pope Benedict XVI made a speech, stating that God’s mind was behind complex scientific theories such as the Big Bang theory. He also proclaimed that Christians should reject the idea that the universe came into being by accident. No doubt, it’s an interesting stance taken by the nerve center of the Catholic Church. Does this statement signal that the Church has finally reached a point where they can no longer deny the occurrence of the Big Bang? Or is this an inevitable admittance, long taken for granted by those who are not of the more old-school Catholic audience?
To put my cynical hat on for a moment (please allow me), if anything, it’s probably a smart move in terms of PR to cite God’s involvement in the event. albeit an event of which its occurrence is still to be proven. The Big Bang theory has become widely accepted as being the most probable explanation; it’s something tangible, an explanation that many rational thinkers on the planet cling to. This statement comes as the Church, rapidly losing congregation numbers, tries to lose its anti-scientific image, to atone for now outdated past beliefs and to shake the harmful legacy of Galileo. Much to their credit, the Church has made progress. As a scientific theory, evolution is now accepted, although understandably with objections to its use as an atheistic philosophy that denies God’s existence. Of course when it comes to religion, there’s always a caveat. Many of the scientists, rationalists, atheists, Darwinists and heathens alike may see the Pope’s statement as perhaps putting a dusting of icing on the issue, and their opinions toward the Church’s views have not been duly sweetened. To those of a certain viewpoint, the statement could be seen as a muted, forced compromise as the Church faces the harsh realities of scientific exploration.
Science lies where information is factual and tangible. At the moment, scientists at CERN are searching for the “God particle” by simulating conditions they believe fostered the birth of the universe. The Pope’s definition of God’s involvement in the creation of life, the universe and everything can be seen as circular. Where will this explanation fit in if this God particle is ever found? Will this ironically-named particle manage to disprove the existence of God? The God particle could be just that, according to Benedict’s XVI’s interpretation, of God’s method of creation: a divine meeting of physics with something else as yet unrevealed. And while these answers are being sought at CERN and by scientists and theologians around the world, the circular nature of this equation continued in an intriguing journal article published last year. CERN still hasn’t managed to succeed in its endeavours, encountering many unexplainable problems.The Pope’s speech immediately reminded me of an age-old dichotomy: “man of science, man of faith”. Even Stephen Hawking has famously said that, once we discover a theory of everything, “… then we would truly know the mind of God”. It seems that, although often polarised in their outlooks, science and religion have a lot more in common than at first glance. Perhaps these big questions are just too big to be treated with justice by either religion or science alone. Whether you are a believer, a doubter, or a decrier, it looks like no one has the right answer to life, the universe and everything … just yet.