Jun 3, 2012

Scientism at CERN

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

I've long been a little chary about the Large Hadron Collider. I don't know if it really could open up a black hole and "swallow the earth" as some critics fear. But I also don't know that it couldn't -- law of unintended consequences and all that. It just takes on a whole new level of seriousness when you're tinkering around with the building blocks of the universe. There's more than a whiff of hubris that comes from CERN.

On the one hand, I'm sort of relieved that they're winding this grand experiment down. On the other, I kind of can't believe the arrogance of their stated position in doing so. According to CERN director Ralph Heuer:

We will know by the end of this year whether it exists or whether it is non-existent.

Except you can't prove a negative unless the positive is already known. I can prove there's no milk in my cereal bowl because I know what milk is and where my bowl is. But if I've never seen milk, I really can't. In point of fact, all they can know at the end of the year is whether or not they've proved the existence of the Higgs Boson or whether it will remain a mystery for the time being. You can't prove the non-existence of the God Particle any more than you can prove the non-existence of God -- a concept that continues to confuse dogmatic atheists. Not everything can be measured empirically. To say otherwise is the very definition of scientism. And to assume that because you haven't proved something when you've reached the limits of existing knowledge and technology is to damn the future. If science isn't self-revising it isn't science anymore.

I don't know why I'm a little stunned at the arrogance coming out of CERN considering the nature of this experiment... but I am.

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