God and the “God particle”

July 10, 2012

I knew that some people—both believers and atheists—would make some extraordinary claims in the wake of last week’s possible discovery of an elusive subatomic particle called the Higgs boson. As for what it is, read the linked Times article. I’m no physicist. I’ve read that it’s the “glue” that holds everything else together. Suffice it to say that physicists predicted that such a thing existed and have been looking for it for a while.

The main reason I imagined that it would pose an apologetic challenge is because of its unfortunate nickname, “the God particle.” The physicist who first called it that in a book he wrote on the subject wanted to call it a profanity beginning with “god” but his publisher objected.

For the apologetic challenge, the gist of the argument on the atheist side is that somehow the existence of this particle means that the universe no longer needs a God to create or sustain it. (Haven’t they been arguing that all along? How does the Higgs boson either add or detract from their arguments?)

Regardless, I’ll point you to my go-to guy for apologetics, Dr. Glenn Peoples. His article is excellent, as always, but I especially like this paragraph.

As you’re reading this, you might be forgiven for asking what any of this has to do with an argument that God’s existence isn’t necessary. You’d be right to ask that question, because in reality there is no connection at all. How does this even speak to the question of why there is, right now, something rather than nothing? What does this tell us about the origin of the universe from nothing? The answer is just that – nothing! Discovering a particle that exists within the physical universe obviously can’t tell us why physical matter exists at all. The particle that gives mass to some matter, leaving other matter without mass, has nothing at all to tell us why there is matter or why the universe came into being.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I hope this now seems obvious.

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