A Particular Search for God

Tasmanian Anglican article (August 2012):

They’ve found it!  After many years of searching and billions of Euros, scientists in Europe have found with a fanfare, the so-called ‘God Particle’.

I have had a lot of questions about this. It has ‘God’ in the name, so what does the Bishop think? Have these scientists found what the Church has been looking for?

Is the Bishop concerned? Is this yet another step in the long-line of happenings where scientists have seemingly conquered the divine?

There have been many claims. From the first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, and the Soviet propaganda that invented the words ‘I went up to space and I didn’t encounter God’ (as if God were confined to Low Earth Orbit); to Stephen Hawking’s recent announcement that ‘We don’t need God for the universe to exist.’

And now we have the God Particle itself. Bishop, what think ye?

I confess that it is many years since I did physics at university. So with the help of a clever friend and Google I did some exploring.

The newly discovered particle is popularly called the God Particle because it is the fundamental cornerstone of modern physics. Just as God is the fundamental cornerstone of all that is, so this particle is the fundamental cornerstone of modern physics. Nice. I like it!

The particle’s scientific name is the ‘Higgs boson’. The Higgs boson is all about mass, heaviness, inertia, and things being weighty. Scientists have speculated that the universe exists within a ‘Higgs field’ like a big sloppy ocean of potential heaviness. The Higgs boson attaches itself to things that exist and, like blotting paper, soaks up mass from the Higgs field. The more bosons for a particle, the more weight – it adds the plump to neutrons, atoms, planets, stars and scientists!

It is not exactly the stuff of liturgy, theology, or episcopal devotional instruction!  But there is still something that the Bishop can say:

Firstly, we rejoice in new knowledge. The discovery of the Higgs boson, just as with Gagarin’s space travel, and Hawking’s theoretical physics, advances our understanding of God’s creation. God is not relegated to those areas which we have not explored yet. God is not only found in the places where we have no understanding. God is the God of the known as well as the unknown and he has made us to be inquisitive and to explore. We are after all, stewards of God’s creation.

Secondly, there is an illustration in the finding of the God Particle.

It reminds us that God himself can be found. And it doesn’t take billions of euros and superconducting magnetic fields to achieve. We can find God because he has found us, come to us, revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

When we search for God, we find him, when we knock, he answers, and as we study his inspired word, the Bible, and seek out Jesus in the power of his Holy Spirit we come to know him just as he knows us.

Now that’s a discovery, and joy forever more! Amen.


+ John Bishop of Tasmania

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