Don’t get it? Call it “God”!
The Standard Model of the subatomic world consists of six quarks, six leptons, five known bosons and a postulated sixth, the Higgs boson, plus three of the four physical forces: the strong and weak nuclear forces and electromagnetism.1
Many great minds – Democritus, Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Albert Einstein – took giant steps toward bringing the universe’s lost unity out of hiding. In 1964, Peter Higgs, a shy scientist in Edinburgh, added his name to that list by coming up with an ingenious theory that gave scientists the tools to explain how two classes of particles, which now appear to be different, were once one and the same. His theory proposes the existence of a single particle responsible for imparting mass to all things — a speck so precious it has come to be known as the “God particle.”2
Scientists at CERN, as well as at Fermilab in Illinois, are now hoping to find the “Higgs boson.” 3 Higgs expects that the boson will be found within a year.4
Great for science!
But yet again, something we do not yet understand at least adequately, is referred to in terms of “God”. It’s embarrassing, really.
The explorer spirit is conspicuously absent in the theist approach. Theists invoke a cosmic legislator/regulator, a magician, to fill any present void and to explain the mysteries about nature that may have scientists stumped at any particular time. The good doctor Hippocrates warned against this mindset, “Men think epilepsy divine, merely because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.”
There is enormous danger in a meandering into metaphysics, in covering the challenge of evolving understanding with the theist tarpaulin of faith, for as science advances, so the magician retreats, eventually to be pushed off the edge of space and time altogether, and into redundancy.5
Religion’s “God” has been reduced from the “God of the Gaps” to a “Dumpster God” – the dump where everything believers are too lazy, too scared and to dumb to try to understand better, is dumped. It’s pathetic.
Says Wendy Kaminer, “Religion is about as intellectually challenging as the average self-help book. Like personal development literature, mass market books about spirituality and religion celebrate emotionalism and denigrate reason. They elevate the “truths” of myths and parables over empiricism. In its more authoritarian forms, religion punishes questioning and rewards gullibility. Faith is not a function of stupidity but a frequent cause of it.”6
The efforts of giants such as Edwin Hubble, Édouard Lemaïtre, Arno Penzias, Robert Wilson, Werner Heisenberg, Brian Greene and Michio Kaku, with enormous dreams about the Cosmos and the quantum world, indicate without fail that the material universe lies open to the explorer; that no idea is unthinkable, no statement sacrosanct, no belief inviolate. The human appetite for wonder is beyond question. And science is singularly equipped to nourish it.
1. Bryson, Bill. 2003. A Short History of Nearly Eveything. Doubleday.London. 147.
2. Harrell, Eben. April 9, 2008. Higgs Boson: A Ghost in the Machine. Time.
3. Origins. The Higgs Boson.
4. ‘God-deeltjie’ is in sig, glo fisikus. April 11, 2008. Beeld.
5. Davies, Paul C. Physics and the Mind of God. 1995. The Templeton Prize Address.
6. Kaminer, Wendy. 1996. The Last Taboo.