Two teams of physicists announced at a press conference July 4 in the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) auditorium they have found a new subatomic particle. Nicknamed the “God particle,” scientists believe the particle, called the Higgs boson, is the basic building block of the universe. If the finding is confirmed, physicists believe the “God particle” helps complete their model of how the universe formed.
“It’s hard not to get excited by these results,” said CERN research director Sergio Bertolucci. “We stated last year that in 2012 we would either find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs. With all the necessary caution, it looks to me that we are at a branching point: the observation of this new particle indicates the path for the future towards a mgodp ore detailed understanding of what we’re seeing in the data.”
For half a century, the subatomic particle has only been a notion. University of Edinburgh professor Peter Higgs, for which the particle is named, first speculated of its existence in 1964 as a way to explain how the universe formed into stars and planets after the “Big Bang” theory, in what evolutionists estimate, was about 13.7 billion years ago.
The "God particle" was found in a $10 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile-long underground proton-smashing machine on the Swiss-French border near Geneva, Switzerland. As scientists celebrate, reaction from both the Christian community and world religious leaders around the world is mixed.
Christians Dissect the Discovery
Dr. Jay L. Wile, a noted speaker on topics like nuclear chemistry, Christian apologetics and creation vs. evolution, cautions Christians as they interpret the discovery.
“'The God particle' is an unfortunate name, because the Higgs boson has nothing more to do with God than any other particle in His creation,” said Wile. “Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that the Higgs boson is unimportant. Indeed, it is very important, and if the results announced really do indicate the existence of the Higgs boson, it is a major victory for the Standard Model of physics. It just has nothing special to do with God.”
Wile, who holds an earned PhD from the University of Rochester in nuclear chemistry, is best known for the Exploring Creation with... series of textbooks written for junior high and high school students who are being educated at home.
“To the scientists, the Higgs boson is the reason we all exist. However, that’s rather foolish,” said Wile. “I could just as easily say that without electrical charge there would be no people, because the chemistry that runs our bodies depends on the existence of electrical charge.”
Many in the scientific community believe the collision of the proton beams in the LHC re-creates the necessary conditions of the Big Bang and therefore claim the Higgs discovery will unlock the secret of how the universe came into existence without God.
While he believes the discovery is a significant scientific event, Dr. Ken Ham, president/CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis-US and the highly acclaimed Creation Museum, said it does no such thing. Ham denounces the notion that scientists can create a situation in a present-day well designed and enormously expensive laboratory to prove creation came about naturally or that such an event produced the universe in which we live.
“They are using this to try to say somehow it supports the Big Bang, which it does not,” Ham told ReligionToday.com. “How do they explain how these particles came about in the first place? They can’t do that, so they are only finding out more about the structure of matter.”
Pakistan Rejects Scientist
Abdus Salam, an early member of the “God particle” discovery team and devout Muslim, has been scorned by his homeland, even after his death in 1996. Pakistan's only Nobel laureate, Salam’s name has been removed from school textbooks.
Along with 4 million others, Salam was victimized for being a member of the Ahmadi sect, who believe in Islam but are viewed by the rest of the country as heretics, an irony since many scientists maintain to either be atheist or agnostic at best.
Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims but believe there is one more additional prophet of God, their late-19th-century founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The Ahmadis are the most persecuted group in the nation, as Pakistani Muslims regard Muhammad as Islam’s final prophet.
In 1974 the government amended its constitution determining Ahmadis as “non-Muslims.” In protest, Salam resigned from his government post working in the nation’s nuclear program and moved to Europe to pursue other scientific endeavors.
“The government denied him the honour of a state funeral,” Sana Saleem wrote in her blog on Dawn.com. “The restyled epitaph at his grave near his native Jhang awkwardly reads: 'First —— Nobel Laureate,' from which the word “Muslim” has been deleted under court orders; the court, even in its narrow mindedness could have ordered the replacement of 'Muslim' with 'Pakistani' but that was not to be. We have failed you.”
Parting Particle Thoughts
Some within the Christian community believe the “God particle” finding provides an opportunity for the growth of personal faith. Christopher Cate writes on his blog, the Unapologetic Apologist, “Christians shouldn’t be afraid of anything that seems to prove God out of the picture.”
Cate has a B.S. in cross-cultural ministry and working on a M.A. in Christian leadership. He contends Christians should actually “applaud” the discovery.
“We shouldn’t have such a narrow mind in our theology or understanding of His creations, that we are frozen when anything arrives to demolish our framework of interpretation. Our view of God should grow, in fact, with this amazing news, as should the position that the universe requires design by the Creator.”
Larry Vardiman, PhD, recently retired astro/geophysics senior research scientist at the Institute of Creation Research, has a different perspective on the discovery.
“Sadly, scientists who have the best seat in the house to observe God’s handiwork through a microscope or a telescope often seem to be the first to deny that He is the Creator,” said Vardiman. “Because they deny He is Creator, they fail to grasp the ultimate explanation for the world around us. Scripture says it best: ‘For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse’” (Romans 1:20).
Russ Jones is a 25-year award winning journalist and correspondent. He is co-publisher of various Christian news sites such as ChristianPress.com and OxfordFamily.com, and a media consultant to a number of political and cause-oriented campaigns. He is also a freelance correspondent for the American Family Radio Network, Crosswalk.com and various Christian TV networks. Jones holds degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and St. Paul School of Theology. Russ is married to Jackie and together they have four children. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook.com/russjones.
Publication date: July 9, 2012