It’s official! Two separate experiments run by CERN’s Large Hadron Collider have found a particle widely believed to be the Higgs boson, also known in popular culture as the “God particle”. First theorised a quarter of a century ago by the Edinburgh University physicist Peter Higgs, previous experiments have been unable to confirm its existence.
Lending support to the ‘Standard Model’ of particle physics, which explains what the universe is made of and how subatomic particles interact with one another, the discovery of the Higgs boson is of crucial importance.
What then of the theological importance of the so-called ‘God particle’? The first thing to say is that this moniker is widely disliked in the scientific community. Notwithstanding the fact that the Higgs bosun essentially generates the masses of all the other fundamental particles that we know of in the universe, there are still many unanswered questions that require both explanation and experimentation. Take the relationship between quantum chromodynamics and quantum gravity as one such example, and also of course the vexed question of the ultimate origin of the universe.
Physics can explain much of what we observe in the physical universe, but that does not rule out the existence of God. There are some questions that science can never answer and that is where theology comes in to the picture. Faith and reason can, and do exist in perfect harmony; the combination of science and faith is a powerful combination that offers much in the way of an holistic worldview.