The "God Particle"

Hi there,

I’ve just come across a report about the Higgs-Boson, saying that the physicists from the LHC in Geneva were announcing something on Wednesday concerning their research on the particle. I know it’s commonly called the “God Particle” as it gives matter its mass, at least that’s what the theory says. Due to this name, I have a question.

Does this pose any difficulties for Christianity, or does it rather provide some scientific “proof” of the existence of God? Some of you have probably guessed it: I’ve seen “Angels and Demons” and obviously it influenced my concern about the matter. Maybe some scientists here can explain. :slight_smile:

I find the Big Bang theory very compatible with the Judeo-Christian understanding of creation.

In other religions, gods created the universe from a pre-existing primordial matter. We are rather unique in saying that God created the universe from nothing.

The Big Bang says the universe was created from *nothing *(a zero-dimensional singularity, which is “nothing” as far as we are concerned). Mathematically, it works only if the matter of the universe began without mass. At some point that matter acquired mass. How that happened is not theologically relevant. The act of creation itself (the Bang) is what is really interesting.

“The God Particle” is a name that annoys many scientists no end. The existence or lack of existence has no bearing on religion whatsoever. It’s theorized to provide a mechanism by which stuff gets mass, but answers no metaphysical questions about the true origin of things (especially since mass is not really considered to be “stuffness,” but just another sort of charge).

I’m not entirely sure what the film Angels and Demons has to do with anything, but given that it’s based on a book by the same guy that wrote the DaVinci Code, I would not be terribly worried about anything it claims.

I think discoveries like the Higgs-Boson support the existence of God. It shows that there is an order and design to the universe that is so complex that it could only come from a higher intelligence.

As a little side note, Albert Einstein came to similar conclusions in his study of the sub-atomic world. The more he found that there were rules and laws that governed everything the more he came to believe there must be a god behind it all.

I don’t think it shows anything about the existence or non-existence of God; “God particle” is just a nickname.

It’s just a fascinating scientific discovery, and we should probably just accept it as such. I find it very interesting, but I don’t think it provides evidence for or against God.

It claims some of the common accusations: The Church is against science, she hunted down and killed scientists in history… You name it.

My goodness, I loathe whatever idiot coined the term “God Particle”. It has no relation to proving or disproving the existence of God. It’s actual name is the Higgs-Boson particle. News stories started referring to it as the God Particle to make it sound far more interesting than it is, and apparently to antagonize the public into arguing with each other.

Actually, according to a PBS report, it originated as an advertising ploy to replace Higgs Boson with something catchier for the cover of the book about it. A particle by any other name is still a particle, eh?

Yes, a complex universe necessarily justifies the jump to a belief in a deity. Why exactly? If the universe were composed of completely different physical laws, and completely different organizations of matter and energy (or even something completely different than either), and life existed, would they also be justified in the same unnecessary conclusion? Who is to say that life can’t exist in innumerable configurations of physical laws? Why does our existence necessitate the existence of a deity? Because it seems like an easy explanation? Appeal to ignorance anyone?

Einstein was more of a pantheist than a theist, and I think your representation of him is inaccurate. He marveled at the order and disorder of the universe, but he never adhered to a personal god, or even a god that could be viewed as a being. Not that the ideas about god, that one man had, are really all that important, but get your facts right.

No, I cannot see it providing any new material for proving the existence of God.

However, it does seem to provide possible material for re-affirming the principles of “classical Physics” (i.e. the First/Natural Philosophy of Aristotle as transformed by Aquinas and the Scholastic philosophers/theologians) which still strongly lies behind traditional Catholic theology.

This Church philosophy is no longer readily understandable to scientific “modern man” (that means all of us). Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself the engineering/scientific type your assumptions about the world are still seriously influenced by Descartes and Newton who basically invented “Science” and its principles. In doing so they expressly rejected and repudiated Church philosophy (as well as ancient “Natural Philosophy” which was factually wrong in many areas) of their day re the world, its structure and causative principles (e.g. “hylomorphism” which is still used in theology today to explain the relationship of soul and body).

It is strange (or maybe not) that Newtonian science has been so successful that the very phrase “classical Physics” refers to Newton rather than Aristotle (things “classical” normally refer to Greek thinking). What is “modern Physics” you ask? Its Quantum mechanics etc of course - it has clearly superceded Newton who was close (but only half a cigar).

Descarte and Newton poo-poo-ed scholastic understanding of “matter” and “substance.”
For scholastics “matter” did not exist in itself. Only “substances” existed in themselves.
And existing “substances” could be either corporeal (aether?, mineral, plant, animal, human) or immaterial (angel, God).

Descartes threw all this out and basically said that all corporeal substance is composed of self-existing matter which has extension (3 dimensions) and “mass” and various other qualities/properties (actually Newton invented “mass” but this is a minor point). He maintained there are no gaps between these material substances. Nature abhors such gaps (“vacuums”) and exherts a force to stop this happening. He was later shown to be not quite right on this point I believe (Torecelli). Light and the forces of gravity/magentism travelled through very fine matter and thus effectively “poked” distant things as if by means of an ethereal “stick” (true mechanism).

Scholastics were horrified. For them “matter” (or more correctly “prime matter”) was a component principle of corporeal substance (the other component was “form”). And these are not component parts, but component principles of existing things. (e.g. a statue of “David” … matter cannot exist without a shape (form) - and shape (form) cannot be instantiated or even imagined without shaping something (matter)). Modern scholastics even maintain that the simplist of corporeal substances (aether) can “exist” without mass or extension.

Simple but deep. And totally rejected by classic science…until now?
Actually this does not seem to be quite true.

Since the time of Newton there have been difficulties explaining the transmission/influence of light and static magnetic/gravitational forces through what, mechanists cannot now deny, is apparantly space devoid of continuous matter.

Actually that is, again, maybe not quite true.
Post Newtonian theory did seem to resurrect this old scholastic philosophy by positing the “ether” to explain these problems. It is poopoo-ed today because of pragmatic success with Einstein’s theories and calculations and his alternative model of curved-space time (which is probably just as hard to get ones head around as the nature of the ether). The ether’s demise was further inevitable because it proved very difficult to experimentally prove its “existence” (despite an ingenious attempt in 1887 by Michelson-Morley).

Now I do not pretend to understand the Higgs Boson particle. However its existence apparantly also validates the existence of the “Higgs Field” that permeates the whole unvierse. Such a field seems to imply the existence of a very simple corporeal substance (without the properties of either mass/momentum or extension) … which nevertheless enables other more complex mineral substances to possess mass and extension. Sounds like aether to me. Even “energy” has momentum (which is why I ignore “energy” in this discussion as it is is covered by the usual definition of “matter”). But aether is simpler still.

This sounds to me like Descarte’s separation of existence and non-existence on the basis of materiality (i.e. having mass/extension) has been breached. We now have a “material” without extension/mass/momentum that nevertheless exists.

This doesn’t seem to fit the mechanistic universe of Descarte/Netwon at all.
Even the matter/energy universe of “conventionally received Einstein” may be challenged by this a little also. (It is interesting that Einstein rejected the need for the “ether” when he first came up with his theory of relativity…yet later in life was convinced it (in a slightly different “form”) was still necessary. His followers didn’t take this path).

So the long and short of my long ramble is: because of the Higgs Field science may be coming back a little to a metaphysics of “matter” still held by Catholic Church philosophy but which was rejected by Science around the late 1600s.

Then again I may be completely mistaken in my science understanding above!

The following links may prove helpful (or not):

The anthropic principle would strongly state life cant exist outside of our physical laws. (e.g. the formation of any element heavier than hydrogen is only possible within our own cosmological constants). As far life purely based on something like pure hydrogen - I would think impossible and anyone who subscribed to that belief would be subscribing to blind faith. I would suggest the book “New proofs for the existence of God” which does a very good job analyzing the anthropic nature of our universe (if you truly want to know).

No matter how many discoveries we humans find or how many things we manipulate by applying measurements and temperature changes, pressure changes, etc. to, none of this ever explains what was there before we discovered it, or manipulated it. This is where God lies. Remember, we will n-e-v-e-r never reach God, because god is beyond us.

Ok. A joke someone told me:

So an higgs boson walks into church. The priest gets angry and says: “get out of here, we can’t have higgs bosons in church!”

“But…” says the higgs bosson “…without me you can’t have mass!”


So, the Higgs boson walks into church, and sits down. All the peeps turn and stare. Finally, Father comes down, and says “Higgsy, you really must leave”.

The Higgs says “Sorry, Father, without me, you cannot have mass”.


Gotta love that. LOL! :slight_smile:

My take is that the cosmological anthropic principle has “won” in the sense that everybody pretty much agrees that the laws and constants of nature are quite finely tuned to bring about a universe in which life can come into existence. So now the dodge has become that this universe is just one of countless universes, and since by chance we got the universe with the right laws and constants, naturally we came into existence so we could notice that fact.

How convenient that all those countless other universes, which we cannot detect, nonetheless exist. Otherwise one might be tempted to think God had something to do with our own perfect-in-every-way universe. :smiley:

I think that you may be misrepresenting the anthropic principle.

It doesn’t suggest that the laws and constants are finely tuned for life. Rather it says that if it were otherwise then we wouldn’t be here to suggest it in the first place. We are here, so therefore the constants cannot be other than what they are. It’s like saying: ‘Isn’t it amazing that the conditions in Iowa are just right for growing corn. It must have been designed that way’. Obviously, if the conditions were different, then you wouldn’t be growing corn there.

I don’t think that it’s a principle that would be possible to accept for a Christian as it in effect says we’re here as an accident of nature.

I didn’t misrepresent the principle at all. Did you read all of my post?

Either the only universe that exists is finely tuned to bring about life, or we are in one of a minute number of universes, out of some huge number (probably infinite), that by pure chance is finely tuned to bring about life, and thuse we came about and noticed that fact. So to replace God one needs to posit an infinite universe factory.

You’re wrong, a Catholic should have no problem accepting this if it were indeed true. But what you call an accident of nature we would call the Divine Plan. If God could create billions of galaxies with billions of stars and only place us on one planet around one star in one galaxy, why is it any harder to believe that he could create billions of universes? Of course the stars and galaxies have the advantage that we can actually detect them, unlike the alleged billions of universes.

"One question is that now that we know there is this all-permeating Higgs field … where did it come from?" asked Solomey, the director of physics at Wichita State University since 2007.

Read more here:

I realize the “God Particle” was poorly named and isn’t a referendum on God, but this is an interesting question. Whatever we discover, we always have to ask the next logical question, okay, where did THAT come from?

We look for the prior cause, the prior motion, until we ultimately can arrive at the uncaused cause, the prime mover.

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