Evidence of Things Unseen: Faith, Investigation, and “The God Particle”

Photo: CERN

Photo: CERN

They had an idea about the way the universe worked. 

Everything they observed pointed to the existence and activity of something they had never seen before. For years, they waited and watched, believing in faith that it would appear, and confirm what they knew in their hearts to be true.

As the New York Times put it, “Confirmation of the Higgs boson or something very much like it would constitute a rendezvous with destiny for a generation of physicists who have believed in the boson for half a century without ever seeing it.”

Because of its controversial name, there are some who believe the likely existence of the so-called “God Particle,” or Higgs boson, a particle which reportedly imparts mass to all matter, is another attempt by science to eradicate the idea of God from the scientific understanding of how the universe was created. In fact, there is some fear that it is another step toward declaring the definitive non-existence of God.

From what I have read, it does not appear that the Higgs boson tells us anything positive or negative about the existence, non-existence, or activity of God. In truth, many of the researchers involved likely don’t concern themselves with religion much at all. According to physicist and author Leon Lederman, who coined the term, he chose “God Particle” because it was “so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive.” 

Peter Higgs himself, one of several scientists who proposed the mechanism, has been quoted as saying he dislikes the term because it might offend some religious people. 

However, I believe that the process by which the Higgs boson came to be tells us something more about faith, the existence of God, and our approach to these issues than any of the authors of this non-controversy ever intended.