CERN’s Pursuit of the “God-particle”

Mr. Minderhoud is a teacher in Covenant Christian High School and a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Walker, Michigan.

geneva, Switzerland, once home of the reformational work of John Calvin, is now home for the European Organization for NuclearResearch, also known as CERN. Geneva, however, seems to be their only commonality; for as far as labor and goals are concerned they couldn’t be more different. Calvin labored tirelessly for the meat that endures, in order to extol the glory of God. CERN relentlessly labors for corruptible treasures in order to extol the glory of man. One dedicated to setting the truth over against the lie, the other intent on suppressing the truth in favor of the lie.

Established in 1954, CERN attempted to create a top-notch physics research center in Europe. Although much of the work at that time involved researching the inner workings of the nucleus of atoms, the work today involves looking at the tiny particles that we now know make up the nucleus and at the forces that hold them together. In fact, the behemoth particle accelerator that CERN has built and has begun running tests on this past summer is intended to produce data that will demonstrate what the conditions were like moments after the “Big Bang.” Other experiments are part of an attempt to find a sub-atomic particle they believe exists, but have not yet found. This particle, termed the Higgs Boson, has been referred to as the “God-particle” by Noble Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman, since many physicists believe it could be the missing piece that would help explain all of physical reality.¹

CERN is a global organization served by over 8,000 scientists and by half of the world’s particle physicists representing some 580 universities and 85 nationalities.² It has the backing and resources of many nations. Twenty European countries are the key decision-making members, while more than 40 other countries are either Observers (next to decision-making members—the USA and Russia are two of a half-dozen members in this class) or Non-Members (including countries such as Canada, China, Iran, Pakistan, and Vietnam).

CERN is a powerful organization. It produces fabulous engineering marvels. It utilizes computers like none other. For example (and contrary to other claims) CERN’s scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World-Wide-Web in 1990 for improving communication and the sharing of information among CERN scientists at laboratories in other countries. CERN is influential, global, technologically advanced, and intent on finding the mysteries of the creation for mankind alone. It is an organization that makes unmistakably clear that the wound of Babel is being healed. We ought to be made aware of this organization and see in its activities another indication of the imminent rise of the anti-Christian world-power.

The Projects

From 1989 to 2000, CERN’s particle accelerator, LEP (Large Electron Positron), was used extensively to test the Standard Model of particle physics. According to the Standard Model, all matter is composed of tiny particles called atoms (see SB October 1, 2001—”Consider the Atom”). Invisible to the human eye, the atom can be viewed only under the most sophisticated and powerful of microscopes. In the early part of the twentieth century it was discovered that these atoms actually consisted of tinier particles called protons and neutrons. Since then, it has been found that these sub-atomic particles themselves are made up of other particles. The Standard Model has identified many of them, but has not reduced matter to all of its most basic pieces. In the hopes of gaining a more complete picture, CERN switched off the LEP in 2000 and dismantled it in order to build a better and more powerful particle accelerator, namely, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

As the name (LHC) suggests, CERN’s scientists plan to use the new particle accelerator to produce a head-on collision between sub-atomic particles, which will “split” them into tinier particles. “The particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is akin to firing needles from two positions 10 km apart with such precision that they meet halfway!”³ The Large Hadron Collider is a 17-mile circular tunnel some 100 yards below the earth’s surface, in which the sub-atomic particles are accelerated at nearly the speed of light. Protons, for example, will travel around LHC’s 17-mile ring about 11,000 times in one second. The sub-atomic particles are accelerated through the ring by special acceleration equipment. Extremely powerful superconducting magnets surround the ring in order to redirect or bend the beam of sub-atomic particles around the curves of the circular accelerator. In order to accomplish this, the superconducting magnets must be kept very cold. Therefore, the magnets are constantly cooled by 106 tons of liquid helium to -2710C (-4560F). Over a thousand of these 45-foot long magnets are used to bend the beam of sub-atomic particles. The whole process is highly complex, and thus requires such an intricate and massive instrument.

Clearly, the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider is an engineering marvel—it could perhaps be a nominee for the 8th modern wonder of the world. It certainly demonstrates what man is capable of doing with science and technology—especially when the entire world becomes involved as it has in this project. Such achievements make us pause and consider their great significance—surely a precursor of the “great wonders” that will be performed by the anti-Christian world-power, with the healing of the “deadly wound” (Rev. 13:12-14)!

CERN plans on conducting numerous tests with LHC. Probably the two of most interest to us are the ATLAS and ALICE projects. The goal of the ATLAS project is to try to find the God-particle, or the Higgs Boson. It is believed that this “missing-piece,” left unidentified by the Standard Model, would help solidify man’s understanding of all matter and the forces that hold matter together. The goal of ALICE, on the other hand, is to study some of the products of the collisions of sub-atomic particles in the LHC—conditions that scientists believe existed a few millionths of a second after the so-called Big Bang. Scientists hope, in fact, that the materials produced in the collision will confirm their theories of the Big Bang. At the heart of it, the ALICE project’s goal is to promote evolutionary theory.

The Goals

For all its amazing science and technology, the ATLAS and ALICE project goals are troublesome. Many scientists hope that both ATLAS and ALICE will produce the kind of results that will strengthen evolutionary theory and become a “naturalistic” explanation for all of reality—thereby eliminating any creative work of God. At bottom, the projects represent the height of humanistic thought—that man is god. Although this is not necessarily true for all involved in the projects, and although not every scientist would give such expression to his motive, the truth is that the aim of CERN is to demonstrate that man is no longer in need of God. Consider the following quote taken from an interview with Nobel prize-winner and contributor to the Standard Model, Steven Weinberg.

As science explains more and more, there is less and less need for religious explanations. Originally, in the history of human beings, everything was mysterious. Fire, rain, birth, death, all seemed to require the action of some kind of divine being. As time has passed, we have explained more and more in a purely naturalistic way. This doesn’t contradict religion, but it does take away one of the original motivations for religion.4

For Steven Weinberg, religion and God are merely a crutch for feeble minds, to be used only when needed and discarded when deemed no longer useful. These projects are an attack on the name and work of our Creator.

CERN is a concrete example of the teaching of Romans 1:18-25. Man knows that there is a Creator—all of nuclear physics attests to this. Those who dabble in the deep things of the creation will be held all the more accountable on the day of judgment for their great knowledge of the physical world and their refusal, nevertheless, to acknowledge the Creator God. In the efforts of man in CERN we see man worshiping and serving the creature more than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).

What shall we say?

When such amazing accomplishments occur in our lifetime, what shall we say? What did the saints say when the nuclear bomb became center stage in World War II? What did the saints say when Americans landed on the moon? What shall we say when man is searching the inner depths of matter? Although we may bebe inclined to fear the implications of such news or to be discouraged by the world’s bold attack on the glory of God, nevertheless, we must remember that our sovereign God controls all things—including the developments at CERN—for the salvation of His elect and the glory of His name. With this in mind, we form our response, which should include the following:

1. A recognition of the development of the anti-Christian kingdom. The wound of Babel is healing. Man is doing amazing things. Science and technology are the tools being used by the world to promote and pave the way for the anti-Christian kingdom. As God’s people we must be on guard and aware. These events and activities are a clear indication that the end of all things is imminent (cf. II Thess. 2 and Rev. 13). As sobering a thought as it is to consider the darkness of the anti-Christian kingdom that is to come, yet we do not fear as we confess that the same sovereign and almighty God that created all things by the word of His power also continues to govern all things by His word for the sake of the elect and for the glory of His name.

2. A sober realization that the world uses the creation for its own glory and suppresses the truth of God even when it strikes them square between the eyes. The more that scientists uncover about the creation, whether that be depths of matter or the intricacies of human DNA, the more the power and divinity of God are revealed (cf. Rom. 1). And the more that scientists discover about God’s creation, the more the power and divinity of God are shown to all mankind. All the ungodly will, therefore, be guilty before the judgment seat of God, but the ungodly of the world who have actually themselves delved into the most intricate matters of the creation are much more guilty. Scientists have understood and seen more of the power and wisdom of God than anyone else, but have suppressed that truth in unrighteousness. For this they will receive the greater condemnation. We see God’s judgment upon the ungodly scientists already in this life in that they are turned over to these lies. They are bolder and bolder in their denial of God and in their worship of creation rather than the Creator.

3. A reminder of our duty, as citizens of the kingdom of God, to examine and contemplate “the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book” (Belgic Confession, Article 2). Even though CERN promotes humanistic ideals with their discoveries, we must not be ignorant of or discredit the developments of science and technology. Rather, as citizens of the kingdom of heaven, we are called to use, care for, and develop the creation—it is a gift from God (Gen. 1:28-30; Ps. 8; B.C. Art. 12). Whenever man discovers something new, regardless of his motives and intentions, we must wisely seek to discern how these discoveries can be used in the service of the kingdom of heaven. Ultimately all inventions and discoveries serve the church in some capacity—that we might stand in awe of His wonders and that we might better serve our God. It grieves us, to be sure, that man uses God’s creation in such vile ways and for such humanistic purposes. Nevertheless, the discoveries of man open to us more of the elegant book of creation. Thus, it is our duty as His children to take up and read that most elegant book; for in so doing, we learn more of our heavenly Father. If CERN finds the so-called Higgs particle, then God be praised! Our knowledge of the creation leads us, who by the grace of God have the awesome privilege of looking at that elegant book with the spectacles of Scripture, to contemplate the greatness of our God. Let CERN increase man’s understanding of the creation. And let us learn thereby more of our glorious Creator!

4. A bold apologetic confession that creation is God’s work. Though CERN and other institutions will seek to bring praise to man, we must defend the truth of God as Creator. The work of God as Creator is attacked from every angle. We must not fail to sound the trumpet that this is our Father’s world, made and governed by Him for the express purpose of being the theater of His glory.5 CERN and other similar institutions will discover many more amazing things about God’s creation. When they use those discoveries to rob God of His glory and exalt the kingdom of man, let us not fail to defend the glorious honor of our God. This is God’s creation! This world is the theater of His glory! Let us be bold to proclaim it!



² This and other information and statistics for this article have been taken from CERN’s website:


4, interview with Newsweek’s Ana Elena Azpurua.

5 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. J.T. McNeill, (Westminster Press: Philadelphia, 1975), I,v,8, p. 61.