THE THEORY of EVERYTHING
[God Particle Unraveled
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
JANUARY 19, 2015
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isa. 55:12, RSV)
Those of you who know me well will ask, “What do you know about Physics?” The rest of you may yawn and wonder, “What does this have to do with our lives?” You’d all be right. So to back track a bit, Lenny and I used to watch shows about the Universe on the Discovery Channel, and while it was thrilling to see the depictions of the constellations and their movements, the mathematical foundation upon which all physics rests, was and is beyond me. My brain sort of freezes up when these theoretical and astrophysicists write out their complex mathematical calculations expecting that will explain everything.
On July 4, 2012, scientists announced the discovery of the Higgs boson, which the media dubbed, the “God Particle.” That got my attention, but when I tried to understand what it is and why it’s so important (after all, God is rarely mentioned in explanations of how the Universe works), I was confronted once again by the endless, and I might add, unfathomable-to me, mathematical formulas. So, I put my questions on the shelf yet again.
Recently, NBC’s report that theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is working on a “Theory of everything” came across my computer screen. This time, instead of giving up before I’d even begun to try to understand, the thought came to me that I certainly don’t have the expertise to comprehend the math, but maybe the concepts behind the math might be easier to grasp.
Most people know that Albert Einstein (1879-1955), was a mathematical genius. His special theory of relativity, published in 1905 and his theory of general relativity, published in 1915, put him on the cutting edge of what the scientific world knew, or wanted to know, and his calculations helped them figure out how to know it. He was ahead of his time and also ahead of what the scientific world was able to deduce with the tools available to them. His formula E = mc2 rocked the scientific world and made him a “rock star” in the scientific community. Thank God for Google, which gave the meaning of the formula. I don’t understand it, but the article gave this explanation, which may be meaningful to you. His theory of special relativity showed that “the increased relativistic mass (m) of a body comes from the energy of motion of the body-that is, its kinetic energy (E) divided by the speed of light squared (c2). This equation expresses the fact that mass and energy are the same physical entity and can be changed into each other.”
Einstein believed that there was a unified theory that explained everything, and spent the last thirty years of his life on a fruitless quest for a way to combine gravity and electromagnetism into a single elegant theory. He felt strongly that all of nature must be described by a single theory. “The intellect seeking after an integrated theory cannot rest content with the assumption that there exist two distinct fields totally independent of each other by their nature,” Einstein said in his Nobel lecture in 1923.
What the Google articles showed was that gravity and electromagnetism are the study of large things in the Universe, like stars, planets, and black holes, which can be detected by telescopes and analyzed by computers. Quantum mechanics is the study of the subatomic particles which we can’t see like protons, quarks and neutrinos. They do not operate by the same set of rules, and Einstein was frustrated because the math to explain how all these factors fit together escaped him. The day before he died, he called for his last notes to be brought to him on his death bed.
“In addition, he believed there was a link between the need to resolve apparent paradoxes of quantum mechanics and the need to unify electromagnetism and gravity. Einstein always insisted that quantum mechanics could be derived from some more complete theory. For Einstein, who was never satisfied with the weirdness and randomness inherent in quantum theory, any acceptable unified field theory had to have quantum mechanics as a consequence.”
He never found it, and though theoretical physicists have studied string theory since Einstein passed in 1955, they have yet to discover these illusive strings which behave in such weird and quirky ways.
Regarding string theory, “Its ability to seamlessly meld general relativity and quantum mechanics remains a primary achievement, but the allure goes deeper still. Within its majestic mathematical structure, a diligent researcher would find all of the best ideas physicists have carefully developed over the past few hundred years. It’s hard to believe such depth of insight is accidental.”
I’ve been laid low by a virulent cold virus, and spent time in bed trying to sleep, which the incessant coughing has made difficult. When I felt like it, I Googled points of interest and read articles which explained conceptually the efforts to understand String Theory and how Quantum Mechanics fits into the grand formula for understanding the Universe. God blessed my search with articles which were written for non-scientific types like me. Thinking about the world we can see and the one we cannot see helped take my mind off my misery.
From the very first time I heard about the Higgs Boson, string theory, unified theory, and the “God Particle,” it came crashing into my spirit that the formula which unifies everything has been with us from the moment of the Big Bang (the term used to explain the creation of the Universe and everything in it). Whether we believe in the Big Bang or not, a moment happened long ago and far away, when “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” (Gen. 1:2-3) That’s good enough for me. It is well with my soul to know that God was and is the catalyst and substance of all creation. How He did it, is not clear to me, nor can it be explained by a mathematical formula, but doesn’t need to be. It’s written on my heart.
Fr. Richard Rohr has been focusing his meditations this month on the fact that Nature itself was the first Bible, the first indicator of God’s existence. He quotes the Catholic version of Dan. 3:74-81: “Let the earth bless the Lord, praise and exalt God above all forever! Mountains and hills, bless the Lord, Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord, You springs, bless the Lord, Seas and rivers, bless the Lord, You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord, All you birds of the air, bless the Lord, All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord, praise and exalt God above all forever” [These verses are omitted from Protestant bibles]. About this passage, He observed that all nature is, “doing God’s will and giving God glory quite well; they are “blessing” God, and have been for millions and billions of years before we even showed up and long before we wrote the Bible. Was God not glorified until humans came along? Was God not in love until we arrived? If so, God had nothing to do for at least 14 billion years. Love always needs an object, and God has been in love for quite a long time.” End Quote, (Richard Rohr’s Meditation for 1/20/2015).
Brother Rohr echoes Paul’s comment in Rom. 1:20: “For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and deity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, leaving these men without a rag of excuse.” (Romans 1:20, Phillips).
I respect scientists for trying to figure out what happened to get us where we are today. Interestingly, they have inadvertently proved the existence of God many times with their experiments, though they seemingly didn’t notice. Even though I couldn’t understand the math on the Universe TV shows, I did not miss the obvious conclusion that God was the author and master craftsman for all we see in the visible universe today, and for all we feel and taste and know in the invisible world of Spirit which fuels our lives and keeps us praising God and moving forward no matter the forces which try to lay us low and hold us back. Creation was the first reflection of the majesty of God, who has now, “shone in our hearts to give the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (II Cor. 4:6)
Father, we exalt Your holy name that is written in the cosmos, whispered by the wind, shouted triumphantly by waves crashing against the shore, and delivered to us with every breath we take. There is no voice or language where Your voice is not heard. Your voice goes out into all the earth, Your words to the ends of the Universe, until every eye shall see you and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Amen.