Scientists all over the world are celebrating the CERN research center’s discovery of the elusive subatomic Higgs Boson particle. For fifty years physicists have “believed in the particle without seeing it,” (NY Times, July 5) and “dedicated their lives and fortune” to the search. They now have evidence for an invisible force field that imbues elementary particles with mass. Fabiola Gianotti, one leader of the two research teams, is quoted as exclaiming, “thank you nature.” (And it’s a fabulous milestone for feminists to see a woman scientist in charge!)
Christians also can rejoice in another of the wonderful achievements of science. These give testimony to the God of Reason and Truth who creates human beings in the Divine image. Decades ago the physicist Peter Higgs was able to reason and theorize that an invisible particle was waiting to be discovered. Invariably the universe rewards curiosity, imagination, reason, patient testing and daring hope.
True to form the cheering scientists are most excited by the prospect that this discovery points to “new, deeper, ideas beyond The Standard Model nature of reality.” On to more—and the compelling lure of the unknown.
Religious believers in an infinite God Who makes all things new, understand this magnetic attraction of novelty.. Awe and faith in reasoned reality inspire the search. John Polkinghorne, a prominent physicist and Anglican theologian, points out in his latest book, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth, the complementary characteristics that exist in religion and science.
I was also struck by Polkinghornes’s assertion that every scientist and theologian dedicated to truth, knows that things he now believes to be true will be found false as it is superseded by the advent of new knowledge and fuller understanding. Humility and openness are the requirements of these pilgrim professions.
Mystics and great Christian philosophers, such as Thomas Aquinas, have had similar intimations into Divine Mystery. Is it too much to ask that our present church authorities display more understanding of the humble openness accompanying the Spirit of Truth?