As we all already know, physicists at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) recently made the amazing discovery (as I understand it, they are not yet 100% certain; but one thing they are sure of is that it is indeed a new sub-atomic particle and it fits the description of the Higgs Boson) of the Higgs Boson, or the so-called “God Particle”.
Now, there are some questions floating around about whether or not this discovery has any theological implications. Even more dramatically, does it somehow disprove God’s existence?
Well, here’s a very interesting interview I heard recently by Christian philosopher William Lane Craig:
He also responded to the same topic here:
Question: I have read an article claiming the the scientists at the CERN supercollider have actually found the Higgs Boson (“God Particle”). All my atheist friends are now ranting, raving, and, more or less, partying over the fact that now “God has been disproved!” So my question is: assuming that CERN has found this boson, what theological implications does the Higgs boson have?
The reaction of your atheist friends to this discovery, T.C., is eloquent testimony to the deplorable state of science education in our country which has been frequently lamented by professional scientists.
Without wanting to spoil the party, I have to say that this impressive achievement just has no theological implications of any direct sort, so far as I can see. The Higgs boson is the final particle postulated by the standard model of particle physics to be empirically confirmed. The standard model postulates various fundamental sub-atomic particles like quarks, electrons, photons, and the like in order to explain three of the fundamental forces of nature, namely, the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces. The fourth fundamental force, gravity, is left out of the standard model.
One of the theoretical particles in the standard model is a type of particle, called a boson, which is responsible for a field permeating space which determines the mass of various other particles moving through space. For example, the photon has zero mass, whereas the electron has a small mass. This particle has been called the Higgs boson after Peter Higgs, the physicist who predicted its existence, and the corresponding field the Higgs field.
Because the Higgs boson decays so quickly and requires such extraordinarily high energies to create, it took considerable time, effort, and money to finally provide empirical confirmation that the standard model was correct in postulating such a particle. It is one of those wonderful instances in science where theoretical predictions were shown to be correct by experimental scientists.
I think you can see that this confirmation just has no theological significance, except in an indirect sense (e.g., testimony to the mathematical order and beauty of nature). In particular, it changes nothing for cosmological arguments for the universe’s beginning or teleological arguments concerning the fine-tuning of the universe, since those arguments have proceeded on the assumption that the standard model of particle physics is correct (–at least so far as it goes! We still need a Grand Unified Theory in order to explain the physics of the universe prior to the emergence of the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces as distinct forces. And prior to that we need a quantum theory of gravity or so-called Theory of Everything to incorporate the gravitational force. We have neither of these yet.) All that was wanting was empirical confirmation of the standard model with respect to the Higgs boson. Now we apparently have that; so much the better! Nothing has changed.
The contrary impression, evidently shared by your friends, is undoubtedly due to the appellation “the God particle” given to the Higgs boson by Leon Lederman in his 1993 book The God Particle. Some people seem to think that the Higgs boson takes the place of God. In fact, however, Lederman called it “the God particle” for two reasons: (1) like God, the particle underlies every physical object that exists; and (2) like God, the particle is very difficult to detect!
Read the rest here.