Scientists all over the world are celebrating the CERN research center’s discovery of the elusive subatomic Higgs Boson particle.  For fifty years physicists have “believed in the particle without seeing it,” (NY Times, July 5) and “dedicated their lives and fortune” to the search.  They now have evidence for an invisible force field that imbues elementary particles with mass.  Fabiola Gianotti, one leader of the two research teams, is quoted as exclaiming, “thank you nature.” (And it’s a fabulous milestone for feminists to see a woman scientist in charge!)

Christians also can rejoice in another of the  wonderful achievements of science.  These give testimony to the God of Reason and Truth who creates human beings in the Divine image.  Decades ago the physicist Peter Higgs was able to reason and theorize that an invisible particle was waiting to be discovered.  Invariably the universe rewards curiosity, imagination, reason, patient testing and daring hope. 

True to form the cheering scientists are most excited by the prospect that this discovery points to “new, deeper, ideas beyond The Standard Model nature of reality.” On to more—and the compelling lure of the unknown.  

 Religious believers in an infinite God Who makes all things new, understand this magnetic attraction of novelty..  Awe and faith in reasoned reality inspire the search.   John Polkinghorne, a prominent physicist and Anglican theologian, points out in his latest book,  Science and Religion in Quest of Truth, the complementary characteristics that exist in religion and science.

I was also struck by Polkinghornes’s assertion that every scientist and theologian dedicated to truth, knows that things he now believes to be true will be found false as it is superseded by the advent of new knowledge and fuller understanding. Humility and openness are the requirements of these pilgrim professions.  

Mystics and  great Christian philosophers, such as Thomas Aquinas, have had similar intimations into Divine Mystery.  Is it too much to ask that our present church authorities display more understanding of the humble openness accompanying the Spirit of Truth?

 

Comments

6466379 | 7/5/2012 - 6:50pm
Very interesting the discovery as real, the  Higgs Boson subatomic particle, thought to be where “it” all  began, materiality, where it was first juiced-up, programmed to evolve with specificity and multiplicity of outcomes,  thankful to nature (Nature?) for doing  what comes so naturally and doing it so perfectly, so successfully, for multi billions of years since Divine intent (oops cant’s say  that) first lit the wick!
But is it really the end of the story, or just the beginning of the discovery of a new multiverse, with a seemingly infinite fling prepared by an  illusive  God? Or is it really the END  where  human ingenuity has finally, arrived at the plateau of “nothingness” where it all began and where for centuries theologians have been sitting, awaiting the arrival of other seekers and proclaimer of TRUTH, the physical scientists? Together, pleased with cooperative assistance one towards the other, may both now cry out in unison, “WE TOLD YOU SO!”  Yes, each within its individual competence .
Carlos Orozco | 7/5/2012 - 5:24pm
"Is it too much to ask that our present church authorities display more understanding of the humble openness accompanying the Spirit of Truth?"

What are you talking about? How is the Vatican attacking scientific knowledge? Pure cliché.
Stanley Kopacz | 7/6/2012 - 7:59pm
I'm an engineer with a physics background.  I use physics, a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  Validation of the Higgs boson will not affect what I do a bit or anything in the everyday world.  This is not a putdown.  I'm all for knowledge for the sake of knowledge and that is what these discoveries about the sub-subbasement of physical reality are, and will remain for the forseeable future.  In the meantime, I see some things in the press that don't ring true.  They say photons have no mass.  They do have momentum so they DO have mass.  What they don't have is rest mass.  When they aren't going the speed of light, they ain't.  Conversely, electrons and protons have rest mass, when they're sitting still, and accumulate mass the faster they go, such that they never get to the speed of light.  Life is tradeoffs, I guess.  Anyway, the question everyone should ask these guys now is "will we finally get warp drive?"  The guess of this third rate physicist (not a bad thing to be) is that it'll be "yes, but it'll vaporize the solar system on the first try" .
Bottom line is, would I rather have a full understanding of the Standard Theory and the Higgs boson or would I rather have all the money of Gates, Gog and Magog Koch and the Rombot?  I think what's in you is more important than what is attached to you.
David Pasinski | 7/6/2012 - 2:09pm
I'm sure many here rememvber the fascination with "The Tao of Physics" and "The Dancing Wu-Li Masters." Loved them... but then need "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" to once again contemplate the mystery of beauty on earth as well as the cosmos...

Leslie Rabbitt | 7/6/2012 - 12:46pm
Interesting to read Genesis 1 after this discovery.  God - the Ultimate Physicist!
Kang Dole | 7/6/2012 - 12:43pm
Next thing you know, they'll be naming planets after Roman gods.
WILLIAM ATKINSON | 7/6/2012 - 12:15pm
So lets keep this going,  "God Particle";  next   Satan's black hole,   Gabriel's Flare,  Urial's dust,  The Holy Spirits Wind,   yu get my jist;   Let the force be with you. 
Robert Dean | 7/6/2012 - 11:18am
To Mr. Rosenzweig:  Well-said!  ^5!  We've also been, by turns, obstetricians, theologians, mental health professionals, presidents, etc.
John Barbieri | 7/6/2012 - 8:30am
Thank you, Abe Rosenzweig!
All of us have one thing in common with the pope: we like to pontificate! 
Kang Dole | 7/5/2012 - 10:21pm
Last week, we were all constitutional law experts; this week, physicists.
Tim O'Leary | 7/5/2012 - 8:57pm
This does nothing to explain the pre-material foundation and origin of the universe, nothing to prove the existence of multiple universes (where Elvis is alive – CNN quote), and certainly nothing to disprove the existence of God - all this is sophomoric speculation. And it is very funny to see the quote Sidney uses from the NYT that physicists believed in something for 50 years without any evidence (is this a religion or a science – how many other things do they believe today without any physical evidence and still think it is science?). It contradicts some of Steven Hawking’s ideas. He bet against it ever being found. Will he be more humble now in his speculations into theological areas he knows so little about?

Here is what we know. A new subatomic particle, with a mass close to 130 protons, has been discovered that has some characteristics that fit with the theoretical idea known as a scalar boson. It may have been present before quarks, the smallest particles of matter currently known. It has no closer relationship to God than any other speck of matter, or you and I for that matter. It is still material and so does not explain the preceding and more fundamental immaterial (or supernatural, if you like).

Sidney does not seem to understand the difference between scientific and theological knowledge (see her penultimate paragraph). While it is the nature of new science to correct and replace old science, and the scientific story is inherently incomplete, this is not the way it is with Revelation. We will not come to disprove the Trinity or the Incarnation by performing a new study (a new opinion poll, especially of Episcopalians, doesn’t count as science or Truth).

Sidney also does not seem to understand that nature is not a person (or maybe this is just sloppy thinking). One cannot rationally thank matter, as if the matter made a choice to reveal something to us. Thank not matter, but the Creater of matter.
6466379 | 7/5/2012 - 7:10pm
Post #3 should read " elusive God" not "illusive God." Sorry! 
6466379 | 7/5/2012 - 7:10pm
Post #3 should read " elusive God" not "illusive God." Sorry! 
David Pasinski | 7/5/2012 - 2:01pm
Thank you for this fine reflection... I was trying to figure out how to inocrporate this "discovery" into the my remarks on Sunday and will take off from yours...

It is intersting to note as well, according to NPR interview, that Peter Higgs hated the term "God-particle" becasue he is an atheist and originally it was referred to as the "god-damn parfticle" but that was dropped because it was obscene. Not sure what all that means, but I think that the "discovery" of the trail is very exciting...even if I know I can't really completely understand it!