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‘The God Particle’ – What does it mean for people of faith?

‘The God Particle’ – What does it mean for people of faith?

Big news in the world of physics this week. The long sought “God particle” has been discovered! Associated Press reports:

To cheers and standing ovations from scientists, the world’s biggest atom smasher claimed the discovery of a new subatomic particle Wednesday, calling it “consistent” with the long-sought Higgs boson — popularly known as the “God particle” — that helps explain what gives all matter in the universe size and shape.

Here’s the Guardian’s guide for how to explain this, depending on who you’re talking to.

And here’s perspective from cartoonist and commentator David Horsey:

Things so small and things so big boggle the human mind. Immediately, they conjure the ultimate unanswered questions: If all matter is given mass by the Higgs boson, where did the Higgs boson come from? It has been nicknamed the “God particle” because it makes everything else possible; did God make it? If so, where did God come from? Did this all start with a Big Bang and without a creator? What set off the Big Bang? And what came before it? And before that?

The news about the “God particle” is one of those challenging bits of information that can make everything else feel terrifyingly insignificant. It is a reminder that each of us is merely a tiny, carbon-based organism existing for a brief moment on a small planet that, by the scale of the universe, is no more singular than a grain of sand on a beach. We are dust in the wind, utterly inconsequential in the dark expanse of time and space.

At least that’s one way to look at it. Another way to see it is that, in all that vastness, only we are aware of the awesome complexity. Only we strive to know and understand. All the rest is mere physical phenomena. What we do in our brief lives on this small planet may be the only thing that matters.

BBC World’s “Have Your Say” program features debate on whether this scientific discovery signals the nail in the coffin of religion. Your thoughts?

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Nicole Porter

Whatever people want it to mean, like everything else.

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Maplewood

What does it mean for people of faith?

Well, just one question: if I vaccum dog hairs up from the hallway rug and I inadvertantly vaccum up some God particles, have I committed desecration or blasphemy????

😀

Kevin McGrane

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Maria L. Evans

Love the comments. But triple word score for Torey! LOL

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tgflux

God's in God's Heaven, and Higgs in Higg's Boson. ;-/

JC Fisher

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Paul Martin

After extensive research (consisting of a chat with a co-worker who is a Ph.D. physicist, as well as at least ten minutes on Google) I have formed the following conclusions:

1. This is big. Really big. Probably the biggest physics discovery in my lifetime.

2. It is going to take a long time for me to figure out what this is all about. Assuming, of course, that I can find the time to read all those books.

3. Nick Knisely tweeted about it, but hasn't written any blog posts yet. Darn. I guess he's busy. Our loss, Rhode Island's gain.

4. There isn't a single book in my house that is going to help.

So, tomorrow, I'll search Reviews of Modern Physics and hope against hope that there is something in there that I can understand. Wish me luck.

Paul Martin

a newly humbled electrical engineer

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