The recent discovery of the Higgs-boson (a.k.a., the “God particle”) has led some to declare that physics is closer to proving that the universe could have brought something out of nothing without God’s help. They forget that the Higgs-boson is a something, so even if it is what causes the existence of mass, they still have to say where it came from.
The discovery is a powerful reminder of the mystery of God’s creation, and how little we understand it. Physicists are hoping that the Higgs boson will enable them to explain how gravity works (we still don’t know this) and the existence of dark matter, which accounts for 80% of the known universe. Rather than fear what the physicists will discover next, we should rejoice at their findings and praise God for his glorious and impenetrable world. We are amazed at what we have learned, even while we realize we don’t know much, but are barely scraping the surface of what he has made.
Time magazine’s article on the discovery sparked an idea for an Our Daily Journey entry, in which I try to speak appreciatively of the discovery while also noting the tragic spiritual blindness of at least one of the discoverers. I’d be interested in any feedback you may have, especially if the last sentence works. I was aiming for a double meaning, but wonder if it may be too cute to clearly communicate.
read > Romans 1:18-32
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like (v. 21).
Fabiola Gianotti led one of two teams that discovered the Higgs boson, the most exciting feat of modern physics. Her team used a $10 billion particle accelerator to crash protons into each other at nearly the speed of light. When they sifted through the microscopic debris, they found evidence of an energy field which apparently permeates the universe. As other forms of energy pass through this “Higgs field,” much like an airplane pushes through a stiff headwind, the Higgs bosons attach themselves to these particles of energy and give them mass. And that is how every physical thing gets its body.
I wonder if targeting the Higgs bosons that attach to my energy might be an easy way to lose weight, but more importantly I marvel at what this discovery reveals about the mystery of God’s world. Who would have guessed that these infinitesimal and energetic bosons are responsible for giving mass to the universe? What will we discover next?
Physicists are plenty excited, at least for scientists. When Gianotti first saw the readouts proving the Higgs boson had been found, she jumped up in her chair and cried, “My God!” She regained her composure in time for the press conference, where she called out, “Thanks, nature!”
And that’s a tragedy. Paul declares that those who proudly refuse to thank God “become dark and confused” and replace “the glorious, ever-living God” with “idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles” (v. 21-23). If Paul were writing today, he might add “and microscopic bosons.”
Gianotti is brilliant, but her refusal to acknowledge God also empties herself, who is made in His image. We become what we worship, and so it’s sad, but fitting, that the physicist who ignores God concludes “We are nothing but quarks and electrons and a lot of empty space.” It doesn’t have to be this way, thank God.