The Higgs boson & our Faith

Yesterday scientists announced that the Higgs boson has finally been discovered. Over the next several months some scientists will declare that this is further evidence that God is dead.

But don’t believe it.

And over the next several months some in the religious community will trash talk science because scientists are obviously arrogant and hate God and so try to explain things without needing God to do it.

For goodness sakes, don’t believe them either.

It seems both sides speak of a God that Nietzsche wrote the eulogy for over a hundred years ago. The God who exists like a scientific antibiotic, the answer to anything we don’t yet understand. It is the God who answers all of life’s difficult questions and who gives us stable systems and foundations in the midst of an unstable universe. The God of the atheistic scientist and the God of the conservative Evangelical seem to be the same God. The conservative Evangelical has invented him and scientists have subsequently rejected him. But I would argue that God needs to die . . . has already died.

The God I have discovered in my Bible and experience is one who exposes far more questions than answers them. The God I read about does not provide proof but always asks for trust. After all, that famous passage on faith defines faith as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” But that is far too risky for most of us. We want to make sure we can see where Christianity is going before we put our faith in it. That’s why we like to “get back” to the way things were. It’s safer to return where you’ve been than to trust a God you cannot see, as the Israelites said Moses in the desert.

But that’s not faith. I do not trust my wife when I have evidence for believing her. That is just trusting the evidence. I do not have faith in my friend when I can prove what he says. That’s just having faith in the proof. To trust is to accept the reality that you might have made a mistake to trust. Too often our Christianity is a journey toward replacing a dynamic faith with static facts. That’s why we hate science, they disrupt that journey, it thrusts us back to faith, and that makes us supremely uncomfortable.

But if the God of Abraham is the God we find in Christ we must be willing to hear, “Go. Go to an unknown land that I will show you.” That is, we must be willing to be a people of faith.

“For the movement of faith must be made continually on the strength of the absurd, though in such a way, be it noted, that one does not lose this world in search of the hereafter, but gains it all of a piece. The person of faith resigns everything infinitely, and then takes everything back on the strength of the absurd…he does not lack the courage to attempt and risk everything.”

-Kierkegaard, Fear & Trembling

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4 responses to “The Higgs boson & our Faith

  1. It’s worth noting that the famous passage you cite comes after the writer of Hebrews has spent a good deal of ink demonstrating God’s faithfulness in the past, so it is calling for a trust based on the evidence of what God has don, not a blind faith. 😉

    But I do tend to agree that many of the so-called ‘new’ atheists tend to make the same basic mistakes that many conservative and fundamentalist believers do (after all, that’s what many of them were!) – same faulty hermeneutic, same cegory errors, same wrong ‘God of the Gaps’ thinking which pits mechanics against agency etc.

  2. I wouldn’t say that science answers all the questions and it doesn’t attempt to. (not saying that you were saying that either) What makes science beautiful to me is that it is founded on questions and the constant retesting of theories. When we make a new discovery it goes under serious scrutiny and it is retested by other independent scientists. Its wonderful. And the thing I love most about science is that new discoveries always amount to new questions like; What can we split the higgs-boson into? Or how come the higgs boson has zero electric and color charge? Sure, science thrusts people that believe in God into uncertainty but at the same time new discoveries also thrust scientists into uncertainty as well. The only difference is that true scientists and people that understand faith aren’t bothered by the uncertainty.

    It opens doors to possibilities.

  3. Pingback: Handling your Faith | Wayfarer of the Universe

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