Ever since the 1960s, particle physicists have been searching for this tiny particle they called the Higgs. It’s named after Peter Higgs, one of a handful of scientists who proposed the theory to complete the standard model of particle physics. The discovery had been rumored for months. Then, on July 4, scientists at Large Hadron Collider (LHC) announced the evidence of a particle that walked, talked and quacked like a Higgs boson. It was a big day for Peter Higgs. 

The problem for Higgs and his groupies was that the standard model was missing its mass. In my mind, it’s missing a lot more than that. I didn’t want the Higgs boson to be found. Then they’d have to scrap the entire thing and come up with something better. The problem for me is the way the model describes forces. Let’s use gravity as an example. Since particles that carry forces are called bosons, you’re supposed to be held to that chair by bosons called gravitons that bounce back and forth between you and the ground. Now that’s goofy. Do you really think there are little graviton particles bouncing all over the place? There aren’t, but that’s just the way the standard model describes a gravitational field. So what’s a field, then? The standard model can’t tell us. Einstein spent most of his life trying to answer that question. He didn’t get much further than gravity, and his theory doesn’t even work with the standard model. 

So the Higgs, like the gravitons, bounce against you and me to give us our mass. In reality it’s some kind of field. But because we can’t describe fields any better, we call it a boson. Yes, this was a big announcement. But what does it really mean? To me it means that in the grand scheme of God and things, we still don’t understand very much.

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  1. I agree that there is mystery in both science and religion, but I am not convinced that they are of the same nature. Nor do science and religion respond to mystery in the same way. Science thrives on mystery, but is not content with it. It seeks to unveil the unknown and many of the mysteries in science are able to be unveiled, at least in principle.

    By contrast, religion seems to thrive on mystery for its own sake. It is content with mystery (even confusion) and many of the mysteries in religion are not capable of elucidation even in principle.

    Suffice it to say, even though science and religion share a minimal notion of mystery in common, I don’t believe that puts the two on equal footing.

  2. Well for starters, science owes its existence to religion. I’m sure you’ll try to counter that science would have developed anyway, but that’s only hypothetical. That’s not what happened. Science is a child of religion.

    I suggest you put that into a post and ask the wider SpokaneFAVS community what makes religion important to them. I could give my answer, but I think you would be better served hearing it from everyone who is willing to answer.

  3. Bruce –

    I’m not sure I’d agree that science was born out of religion per se. It was born out of curiosity and the inherent human desire to understand. I’d say that religion and science were both born out of this inherent human desire. Certainly, religion came first and in some cases provided motivation for scientific endeavors, but I think it is misleading to say that religion gave birth to science.

    What is more, one could argue that science and philosophical reasoning emerged in opposition to religion and superstition. These disciplines are widely thought to have originated with the Greeks (especially Thales), many of which began opposing superstitious, supernatural explanations.

    As for a post, it seems I have anticipated your suggestion as I have already submitted something like this to Tracy :) However, I have cast it in terms of faith and not religion.

  4. One more thing, Bruce. Even if it is granted, for the sake of argument, that science owes its existence to religion, why does that “fact” make religion inherently or directly important to society?

  5. Nice try! But however you try to spin the facts, science still came out of religion. Rewriting history won’t help you here.

    (one could argue that science and philosophical reasoning emerged in opposition to religion and superstition.)

    Not true. Newton and those considered “the first scientists” considered themselves as theologians, not scientists. They are called scientists retroactively by later generations. You’re going to have a difficult time trying to prove they were somehow in opposition to religion when their writings are filled with proclamations to the glory of God.

  6. It isn’t spinning facts or rewriting history, it’s being accurate.

    Newton wasn’t the first scientist. Scientific thought and processes began all the way back with Aristotle. Again, philosophical thought arose with the Greeks and many of them attempted explanations that did not give recourse to the supernatural or to superstitions.

    Perhaps you can be more specific by what you mean when you say that science came out of religion? The fact that religious people often pursued scientific endeavors and were even motivated by religious convictions does not mean that science came from religion in the proper sense. Religious thought does not itself lead to scientific thought. Science is independent of religion.

    Finally, I’m still wondering why religion is directly important to society.

  7. I find your “accuracy” to be rather one sided.

    Greek philosophy isn’t the same thing as Newton’s science.

    Science was first called “Natural Theology” and came out of religion in the same manner as the “Faith Seeking Knowledge” movement within philosophy. Natural theology was composed of people of religion working to better understand their faith. Those considered today as the fathers of modern science, such as Newton and Boyle, were such people. Their primary motivation was their faith, and their writings demonstrate this aspect of their work clearly.

    Hospitals, Universities, and many institutions you take for granted today were all first started by religion. Millions of people around the world look to their faith to get them through the day.

  8. I’m not sure why it’s one sided… I realize that Greek philosophy isn’t the same thing as Newton’s science. But it could be said that Newton’s science isn’t the same thing as today’s science. It partly depends on what you mean by that. The precursors to science were developed long before Newton. Also, Christians weren’t the only ones engaging in science.

    Nevertheless, I have already agreed that religion often motivated many scientists. But providing a motivation for scientific investigation in some instances (not all religions led to this) doesn’t seem anywhere close to the same thing as religion (as religion) giving birth to science or its methods.

    As for hospitals, et al., it is true that many were started by religious groups. So, is the value of religion only in that it often leads to charity and helpful institutions? Now that other groups establish such organizations as well, is religion obsolete?

  9. You asked (is religion obsolete?)

    Why would religion be obsolete just because charity institutions have been established? Is science obsolete now that the Higgs boson has been found? Of course not! Just as science will go on to do bigger and better things, religion will go on to do bigger and better things also.

  10. What I mean is, if religion is not the only institution that provides these things, is it really necessary? What makes it currently valuable to society? Is it only because it provides charity and such or is there something more that makes it valuable?

  11. I’m sorry, but the question doesn’t make any sense to me. I can go out and buy a chemistry set and perform science. Does that mean we don’t need scientists anymore? What makes science currently valuable to society? Discovery of the Higgs boson doesn’t change or enrich my life at all, but the work of the Union Gospel Mission, for example, a Christian mission organization both in Spokane and CdA, certainly does.

  12. So, are you saying that the work of other types of groups in producing universities and charities is akin to you doing science with a chemistry set?

    I’d say science does enrich our lives. It grants us greater understanding and is what allows for all the technology we enjoy, especially the medical technology.

    I’m asking you what value religion possesses. Is it only in the charity it produces?

  13. Bruce –

    I should also ask, how do you define “religion”? In most of our conversations you seem to use the term “religion” as a synonym for Christianity. Are you intending to do this or do you mean that religion in general is valuable to society?

  14. I would agree that it’s important to establish definitions. Much deception and confusion is perpetrated on society by unclear even hidden meanings if communication. Ever since I committed my life to Jesus Christ over 28 years ago, I have never liked the casual, undefined use of the word religion. For centuries that term could mean a hundred different things. So my reply to this post is that, if you’re talking about biblical Christianity that would hold the Bible to be inerrent, and the gospel as faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, then it has tremendous importance in society.

    Science by itself, when practiced without any moral direction always leads to misery and death. Abortion and euthanasis of the elderly would be two examples. Also the degrading of humanity from creatures made by a Holy and Transcedental God into chance blobs that crawled out of the slime only to return to the dirt and be extinguished forever.

    The trtuth is the former, and the Bible has revealed the mystery of where we came from and where we are all going, that being one of two places, one fantastically good beyond our wildest dreams and the other more horrible that can be imagined. The importance of this faith based thinking to society is to give them the message of reconciliation to our Creator through the death and resurrection of the Lord of the Universe, in order that they can experience for eternity that better place.

  15. Sorry for the undisciplined spelling. Also having re-read my post, this thought places more importance on a place and time not yet known, and rightly so according to Scripture. We count the things we can see and experience with our senses now to be the most “real”. God says the things to come are eternal, while the things we can see now are only temporary. This, of course, implies faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God. Not blind hope in something we know nothing about, but a settled conviction that the things God has said in His Word are true. I’ve been asking Him lately to help me to be all in for His message. It’s narrow, but true and full of blessing for anyone who will humbly receive it.

  16. Dennis –

    Thank you for your input. It seems, however, that if you are trying to avoid a debate, it would be wise to avoid making the declaration that Christianity is true over and above naturalism. I don’t grant this and will challenge it. I also have some things to say about some of your other points. Are you open to hearing my critique?

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