On a warm, Spring evening in Colorado Springs, a group of Christians interested in scientific evidence for their faith met at New Life Church to hear Dr. R.C. Metcalf present a seminar on his latest book, Colliding with Christ: The Science of the Resurrection. The event lasted two hours, which included some excellent questions that stimulated thoughtful discussion. The local chapter of Reasons to Believe hosted Dr. Metcalf, who agreed to offer the seminar again in the future due to the tremendous interest expressed by those who were in attendance.
The following article is from PhysicsWorld.com, March 28, 2008. The original article can be viewed offsite by clicking on the title.
Jon Cartwright, PhysicsWorld.com Reporter — Engineers at CERN are making the final touches to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — the biggest experiment in particle physics — and expect to have it running in the first half of July. Although the start-up schedule of the European particle accelerator has slipped by over a month since the last official announcement, there appear to be only minor problems left to resolve.
“It has been some time since we’ve been in this kind of position with this kind of research facility,” says James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN. “There’s real confidence that we’ll be collecting new data this year. It’s a very big time for us.”
When all is done and dusted, the LHC will have cost around $6.3bn to build. Some 6000 superconducting magnets will whip proton beams in opposite directions around a 27 km-long ring and smash them together at energies bordering on 14 TeV. The impacts will generate a hoard of new particles, possibly including the highly anticipated Higgs particle and so-called supersymmetric particles. But regardless of what is or is not detected, it is almost certain that the LHC will provide a window onto new physics.
Until recently, the official line from CERN was that the first proton beams would be injected into the ring in May, despite status reports from the LHC website suggesting otherwise. According to Gillies, previous problems have now compelled CERN to set back the start up to the first half of July. An official date will be announced sometime after mid-June, the earliest time that all the magnets can be cooled to their operating temperature of below 2 K.
“There’s real confidence that we’ll be collecting new data this year. It’s a very big time for us.” –James Gillies, CERN spokesman
The main problem that has dogged the LHC start-up schedule of late erupted with a bang this time last year, when one of the “quadrupole” magnets used to focus and manipulate the proton beams failed during preliminary tests. Fermilab, the US laboratory who manufactured the magnets, was quick to accept responsibility, but it soon became apparent that all similar magnets would have to be redesigned and replaced. CERN is still reeling from this overhaul, having had to delay the cooling of magnets and skip the low-energy test runs that were due to take place before winter.
There have since been other, less serious problems. Towards the end of last year CERN found that certain “copper fingers” used to ensure electrical continuity between magnets had buckled when the magnets were warmed up. Presently, LHC engineers are having a few difficulties with leaky plumbing of liquid helium, which is used to cool the magnets. “Superfluid helium has no viscosity, so it can find any cracks,” explains Gillies.
Even though proton beams will not enter the LHC before July, by May 21 the beams will be running through two of CERN’s existing particle accelerators, which are serving as preliminary accelerator stages. The Proton Synchrotron, built in the late 1950s, will speed the protons up to 25 GeV and feed into the Super Proton Synchrotron, built in the 1970s, to get them up to 450 GeV.
Wide media coverage
On the day when the LHC is ready to have its proton beams injected, onlookers can expect wide media coverage. According to Gillies, they will inject the first beam in one direction at 9:30am (central-Europe time) to tie in with a live broadcast from BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. Visuals will show the beam’s progress while CERN scientists analyse it. Every 10 minutes, they will be able to send in another beam. “Hopefully we’ll get one circulating all the way round by the end of the day,” says Gillies. Once they have understood the circulation in one direction, the scientists will begin experimenting with counter-circulating beams. “Then we’ll ramp up the energies,” he adds.
In light of the huge public interest in the LHC, CERN is holding an open day for the accelerator on April 6. From April 2–7 the lab is also allowing US high-school students to visit and report back their experiences via blogs and videos.
It appears that the pangs of excitement are beginning to be felt at CERN. Still, few of those involved are counting their chickens just yet. “We have to cool the whole machine down first,” says LHC project leader Lyn Evans. “I hope that that can be achieved by mid-June so we can start taking data in July.”
Dinesh D’Souza will engage in a student led debate at Harvard University with Dan Barker on April 22, 2008. Their topic will be “Christianity vs. Atheism.”
Dinesh D’Souza is a leading conservative Christian intellectual and author of What’s So Great About Christianity. Mr. D’Souza’s bio is available here.
Dr. R.C. Metcalf is scheduled to debate Dan Barker at Tufts University on the topic of the Resurrection. The debate is being sponsored by the Tufts Freethought Society. Last year’s debate was between Dr. Daniel Dennett, author of Breaking the Spell, and Dinesh D’Souza, author of What’s So Great About Christianity, on the topic of the existence of God. This debate can be viewed here via YouTube clips organized on Richard Dawkins’ website.
Dan Barker is the president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the largest atheist organization in America devoted to separation of church and state issues. Mr. Barker was once an evangelical pastor and is an accomplished songwriter. He is the author of Losing Faith in Faith. Dan’s bio is available here.
Dr. R.C. Metcalf will present a 2 hour interactive seminar on the science of the resurrection of Jesus Christ at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. The event is scheduled for May 10, 2008 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the World Prayer Center on the New Life campus.
R.C. Metcalf & Dinesh D’Souza at NRB 2008
The following article is from The Christian Post, October 11, 2007.
Christians shouldn’t always turn the other cheek and ignore the attacks of secular thought, says one prominent conservative writer. They need to step out and meet the atheist critique.
Thu, Oct. 11, 2007 Posted: 13:55:15 PM EST
Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter — Christians shouldn’t always turn the other cheek and ignore the attacks of secular thought, says one prominent conservative writer. They need to step out and meet the atheist critique.
“We don’t want the public square to be dominated by the atheists,” said New York Times bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza.
D’Souza believes Christians have left the public square unoccupied, limiting their expression of religiosity to church on Sunday, their families, and the Christian subculture.
As a consequence, atheists have entered the public square – what Christians thought would have been “neutral space,” as D’Souza put it. And they want to drive the Christians out, remove Christian symbolism from coins, the pledge and public buildings.
“Ultimately, they want to discredit Christianity as something that is incompatible with modern life and modern thought,” said the noted author in an interview with The Christian Post.
D’Souza is calling Christians back to the public square.
“There is a time to turn the other cheek but there is also a time to drive the money changers out of the temple,” he said. “By that I mean there is nothing in Scripture that says Christians should ignore or embrace attacks on their face. But with the right tone, using not only Scripture but reason and science and experience, I think Christians should step out into the world and meet the atheist critique.”
D’Souza is due to release What’s So Great About Christianity next week. It’s his first book, among many, dealing with Christianity in America. He originally set out to approach the topic in a modest and more secular way, he said, but found himself in the midst of a number of atheist books hitting stores and greatly widening the attack on religion and, more specifically, Christianity.
The atheistic arguments – that Christianity goes against reason and science and is based on blind faith – are resonating with people, D’Souza noticed, and hitting bestseller lists.
“I do think that we are seeing a more self-confident and perhaps even militant atheism,” he noted. “Atheists are kind of on the war path, out to attack religion, demean it, drive it out of the public square, and remove all religious symbolism from American society. So something odd is going on here.”
One such atheist is Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, who is urging atheists to come out of the closet and declare themselves publicly with his Out Campaign. Like other “new atheists,” Dawkins publicly rejects the existence of God and wants to drive out religion.
Part of the reason society is seeing an emboldened atheism is that a lot of these outspoken atheists were hoping religion would disappear as society became more modern and developed, according to D’Souza.
“Religion was seen as more of an ancient form of belief that would go away as science progressed and as we all became more successful, educated and affluent,” said D’Souza.
“But this has not happened,” he continued. “And, in fact, religion is booming in countries around the world,” including the most modernized ones such as India and China.
“So the atheist in a way is getting a little more desperate,” D’Souza believes.
Living in a culture that is to a considerable degree secular, D’Souza would like to see in churches across the country apologetics come to center stage not to displace what the churches have been doing but to supplement it in a very important way, he said.
“[Christians] are going to meet arguments that cannot be settled simply by ‘the Bible says this, the Bible says that’ because the other person will promptly reply that they don’t accept the authority of the Bible,” D’Souza noted.
He suggests Christians become “bilingual” in which they are educated in both the biblical language and a secular language the world can recognize – a language anchored in history and reason and experience.
In his upcoming book release, due out Oct. 16, D’Souza dispels common myths about faith, many of which are argued by atheists.
Myth #1: Atheism is growing and more people are choosing it over church
Pews might be empty in some urban parts of America, but the world is witnessing a huge explosion of Christianity, says D’Souza who notes Christianity as the fastest-growing religion in the world and that the number of unbelievers is actually shrinking. In America, about half of the population goes to church and an overwhelming majority believes in God. But there are also “powerful currents of secularism” in this country that counter that, the author acknowledged.
Myth #2: Religion has caused history’s wars, murders, and violence
The number of people killed in religious wars such as the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition is infinitesimal compared to those killed during modern atheist regimes, the author notes. “We have to keep a sense of proportion,” he says.
Dawkins had argued in an earlier debate that atheists never commit atrocities in the name of atheism while religious people do so in the name of their faith.
D’Souza disagrees. “Somebody should send Dawkins a copy of ‘The Communist Manifesto’ [because] the truth of the matter is that these secular ideologies of the 20th century were explicitly opposed to religion.”
“Communism was explicitly atheistic. It committed attacks against the church, imprisoned priests, shut down prayer meetings … in the name of creating atheist utopia freed from the shackles of traditional religion and traditional morality,” said the conservative author.
Myth #3: There is no such thing as a human soul
Atheists use science to argue that there is no soul, as there is no physical evidence of one. “If the atheist universe were true, there would be no free will in it,” says D’Souza. The world of science, of atoms and molecules, is one in which there is no free choice because the actions of the atoms and molecules determine the outcome, he argues. Atheists believe the only things that exist are the material things that can be seen under the microscope and smelled and touched to which there is empirical evidence, he adds.
“There are dimensions of reality that cannot be captured in purely material terms. When has science ever located a thought or a feeling or a choice?”
Myth #4: Where is God when bad things happen?
D’Souza turns this question around and asks where is atheism when bad things happen? At the tragic event of the Virginia Tech shooting in April, there were nonstop memorial services and everyone began to speak a very religious language of healing and spirituality, he noted. “Atheism has absolutely nothing to offer us at moments of life that matter the most – birth, marriage, death, suffering.”
What’s So Great About Christianity is a defense of Christianity, D’Souza explained, “but it’s a defense that meets the critics of Christianity by taking them seriously.”