Thursday, November 12, 2015

The God Particle

Can physics explain how we got here?

Studying science is an important step in penning a science fiction story. So in my quest to write believable sci-fi, I read a lot of non-fiction. But I don’t read the science stuff just for research. I enjoy it. I used to say I liked to study physics. Among other books, I read Einstein’s Out of My Later Years and became aware of his perceptiveness not only in matters of physics, but regarding social issues. Then I tried to get through a little book called The Principle of Relativity, and I realized what I really liked to study was not physics, but physicists. While their gray matter understands the equations, mine barely catches on to the theories. The possibilities. The seeking. The great thinkers search for truth and I find their exploration fascinating.

So I keep reading. As a believer I can’t help but discern the validity of science in light of Scripture, and I’ve found some of the theories of physics may be supported by the Bible. For example, if there was such a thing as the Big Bang, it will be brought to completion by what is referred to as the Big Crunch. The universe begins, the universe ends. The in-between is filled with expansion. The understanding of space and time at the beginning is different than it will be at the end.
Is that contrary to the Bible? A godless physicist might say it is. But they aren’t all godless. Even before I discovered a few who study the universe from a Biblical worldview, I found two verses seeming to support the theory of the beginning and the end. I’m careful not to read my own agenda into Scripture, but there’s no denying the Bible teaches us that God created the universe. These verses might give us a glimpse of His creative plan.

Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain. Psalm 104: 1-2
Physics supports an expanding universe. Is God stretching out the heavens?

"You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.” Hebrews 1:10-12

Theoretically, the expanding universe will eventually collapse. Will God fold up and put away what He stretched out?

Of course, an even greater truth and deeper understanding is expressed in these verses. The physicist may take a Biblical view but miss the point. The Psalmist worships, and it’s personal. The God who stretches out the heavens is his God. In the book of Hebrews, recognition for the entire work of creation is given solely to God, as is His ownership and authority of the temporal and the eternal. He can expand the universe, and He can fold it up.

 Science might try to explain the universe, and may even get it half right. Physicists smashed protons into each other and proved the existence of what some refer to as the God Particle. I listened to a reporter interview Peter Higgs, the physicist who formulated the equation in the 1960s theorizing the existence of the elusive particle. He seemed like a simple man, though he certainly isn’t, and claimed the only tools he needed to change our understanding of the universe were pencil and paper. But it took an eight-billion-dollar underground particle accelerator to turn what was written in pencil into an experiment few can understand. In the invisible world of particles, a micro-second of effect was witnessed and analyzed, and the theorists claimed they’d found something important about the beginning of mass. The beginning of us.

Such news makes me smile. Not because of my fascination with physicists. Not because we might soon understand how we got here. Not even because of my relief those geniuses didn’t accidentally form a black hole and suck us all into oblivion. (I hear that’s not an actual possibility.)

I smile because I know the One who made the particles. And the heavens and the earth. And the black holes, if they exist. And the Big Bang, if that’s how He chose to start it all. And the Big Crunch, if He’s so inclined to end it all. And me. I smile because I already know how I got here. And where I’m going when I leave.

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God. You are very great!

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