The Church and Contemporary Society: God and Higgs boson

In the news this week are those who are all excited about the implications of the discovery of the Higgs “boson” particle.

Known more popularly as the “God Particle,” the Higgs boson particle was postulated as early as 1964 as an explanation of why elementary particles have mass—that is, mass in the sense of weight and substance as in physics, not Mass as we celebrate it at 8 and 10 AM Sunday Mornings.

At least three sources I’ve heard this past week have fulminated and spluttered about the theological implications of the discovery of the “God particle.” Some of the commentators are all excited because the announcement of the isolation of the Higgs boson particle has fueled their argument that God must not exist.

It would seem, as I have listened to their arguments, that the thinking is that if we can explain why elemental particles have mass, then credence must be given to the “big bang” theory of creation, and if that is true, does that not do away with our need of God?

At least that’s what I believe that I’m hearing . . . and, as that is the case, let me point out that there is a huge gulf of misunderstanding between what is popular in the press and what is the significance of this discovery in the scientific community. But it also demonstrates to me just how far we are from the truth of the Gospel as Jesus preached it:

  • We’re still arguing about the existence of God; Jesus would have us learn to pay attention to the power of living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
  • We’re still arguing about whether humans descended from apes, as suggested by Darwin; Jesus would have us pay attention to the higher nature of our being.
  • We preoccupy ourselves with what we consider immoral about the behavior of others, wondering what behavior might be so base as to exclude one from the kingdom of God; Jesus would have us shift our attention to what is noble and lofty as guiding principles of behavior in the light of God’s love.
  • We like to focus on what separates us; Jesus would have us focus on what binds us together.

Whether or not humans descended from apes (or donkeys, as I sometimes suspect), there is still plenty of evidence that we have a need for God and the Gospel of Jesus.

In the face of all the world’s problems, we still need to discover that the ways of God give more life than the ways of the world—and that has not changed with the discovery of a thing that some would call “the god particle.” Human beings still need the gift of forgiveness, the encouragement that comes from hope, and the courage to have a vision for a better world.

I remember a story being told about a cosmonaut during the 1960’s who, being the first citizen of the Soviet Union to orbit the earth, was said to have commented, “I didn’t see God up there, therefore he must not exist.” Well, all this hoopla over the Higgs boson particle betrays the same narrowness of thinking.

If your faith is so shallow that it is threatened by this bit of media hype, I should pray that you come to find a more solid foundation for the rock of comfort that arises through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.





About canongreg

I have been Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wellsboro, PA since 1994.
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