Last week scientists announced that they had detected the Higgs boson—or the “God particle”—or at least a Higgs-like particle. While the nickname is more tongue-in-cheek, some assumed the breakthrough was equivalent to scientific detection of God’s existence. Some even “celebrated” the occasion by tweeting and posting unsavory remarks about atheists.
Sadly this gloating (aside from its lack of civility) is misplaced. Astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink explains in a recent Science News Flash episode.
The Higgs boson field imparts mass to particles; so it kind of has this godlike quality. But to say by detecting this, we’re detecting God—not really.
On the other hand, this discovery is a major breakthrough in the physics world because it “completes the zoo of fundamental particles in the standard model of particle physics.” That standard model helps physicists understand the fundamental forces that govern the universe.
Prior to its detection, the Higgs boson may have represented an area that showed gaps in human knowledge and some Christians used that gap to make a case for God. Yet, as Jeff explains, “If we use God to explain the gaps in our knowledge then God will increasingly be relegated to the dustbin as we learn more about the cosmos.” Instead, Jeff says what we can use are the areas that we do understand well to show that fine-tuning argues for God as the Designer.
As for the Higgs boson, overall the discovery has minimal impact on our faith, Jeff says.
Despite its moniker, the “God particle” doesn’t prove or disprove God’s existence. It doesn’t explain our understanding of who God is or what He’s done. But it contributes to our understanding of why the universe behaves the way it does, and that’s a good thing.
RTB scholars have plenty more to say on the Higgs boson discovery. Here is a small sampling:
Subjects: Particle Physics