Musings on the discovery of the 'God-particle'
Faith & Culture:
“Scientists working at the word’s biggest atom smasher in Switzerland say they have discovered what could be the long-sought Higgs boson, a subatomic particle dubbed the ‘God particle’ because it is believed to have originated during the Big Bang and helped shape the subatomic particles that make up all matter in the universe.”
Okay, I will declare my bias on this topic at the outset. I never excelled at science. In fact, a perusal of my high school academic record readily indicates that most of my research at secondary school involved an eager pursuit of female classmates inside the science labs, outside the science labs, nowhere near the science labs, and so forth.
Back when I was in high school - shortly after the polar ice-caps were receding north from Edmonton – high school curriculums had this curious creature called Science 11 which served as a kind-of catch-all for students such as myself who were told that we’d be well advised not to be hopeful of finding a career in anything remotely related to chemistry, physics, biology or Bunsen burners.
All this to say that every Friday afternoon when I get together with a rag-tag group of wanna-bes, never-weres and never-will-bes and the science-lovers among us start talking about stuff like “subatomic particles” and “Higgs boson,” my eyes essentially glaze over and I merely murmur “Bunsen burner” every now and then.
Not that it’s of any relevance to the discussion, mind you, it’s just that I’ve always enjoyed saying it ever since I was rudely ushered out of a 10th grade chemistry experiment that went haywire under orders never to return.
Thus a couple of weeks ago when science-types declared “we have observed a new particle that is consistent with a Higgs boson,” I thought they meant they’d discovered a new, lean, mean brewski just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede.
Not surprisingly, the discovery evoked a conversation among the elite at my Friday-afternoon therapy session, and again, not surprisingly, I was lost before the conversation began.
From what I’ve heard and read since scientists announced this significant breakthrough in early July, this is a matter about matter that truly matters. Accordingly, I applaud the implications of this discovery regarding the questions of origins that have been kicked around for centuries.
Like many of you, however, it didn’t require a successful tenure in science classes at either the high school or university level for me to suspect that some form of spectacular cognition was/is at work in the universe as we know it and continue to discover it.
Call that “Form of spectacular cognition” God, god, Unmoved Mover, First Cause, or some variation of subatomic particle Maker – call it whatever you like - I still say it requires more faith to believe that this spectacular world we’re privileged to call “home” is the random product of a “Big Bang” than it does to believe it’s the product of a Grand Designer.
For a simpleton like me, I can’t help remembering that any “big bang” I’ve ever witnessed – including the one that got me permanently punted from a career in chemistry - has always produced far more chaos than order.
Tim Callaway is pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church in Airdrie. He can be reached at