Sunday, September 17, 2017

Are Virtual Particles Real?

One of the strangest features of our universe may be entities that scientists call "virtual particles," fundamental particles that apparently come into existence from nothing for a brief period of time, then disappear. When I talk about virtual particles I usually get questions like: "Do these virtual particles really come into existence from nothing? How do you know they exist if they can never be seen? Do they do anything?" Because these virtual particles are a huge part of my scientific life, and because they invoke so many questions, I'm going to discuss what they are, their importance in our understanding of nature, and even some remarkable fine-tuning noticeable in their behavior.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Facts vs Faith

There is a common indictment made by skeptics and critics of religion, that Christianity is based on faith while science is based on facts. These skeptics view faith as a vice because, in their opinion, faith is not based on evidence and blindly accepts religious dogma. The biologist Richard Dawkins has said, "Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence," and "Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion." The biologist Jerry Coyne writes, "Indeed, by relying on faith rather than evidence, religion renders itself incapable of finding truth."

These statements which supposedly define faith reflect the most inaccurate understanding possible of what Christian faith actually is. As a physicist and a thinking rational person, if faith were actually believing something without evidence, I would definitely not be a Christian. I simply cannot consider something to be true unless there is sufficient evidence to render that belief as the most probable conclusion that explains the evidence.