The Common Good

Humans, Humility, and the Higgs Boson Particle

Imagine trying to figure out the earth, while living on a grain of sand on a small island in the middle of the Pacific. What could be known of snow, of plants, of wolves? Not much. We humans are attempting from an even smaller perspective than that to decipher the entire universe.

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Such a perspective should breed humility once we realize the smallness of our place. Our grand pronouncements would be tempered by fear and trembling. Humility would lead to awe. Instead we are arrogant. Humans and humility are distant cousins -- related, but somehow unable to hang out. Arrogance, on the other hand, is our bud.

These thoughts made me laugh when reading "The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate" about how a couple of respected physicists speculate that the Large Hadron Collider will fail because its future will sabotage its present. For those unfamiliar with the Large Hadron Collider, it is a multibillion dollar project in Europe to smash protons into each other. They are hoping to find the hypothesized Higgs boson particle, and with it find the key to understanding origins of the universe. Holger Bech Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan proposed a theory that states the search for Higgs boson will be like looking for the Holy Grail, a task fated for failure. Quoting Dr. Nielsen from the article:

"It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck," Dr. Nielsen said in an e-mail message. In an unpublished essay, Dr. Nielson said of the theory, "Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God." It is their guess, he went on, "that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them."

Dr. Nielsen's thoughts invoke the story of the fall in Genesis 3 with the Higgs boson playing the part of the forbidden fruit. One wonders who plays the part of the serpent? God is hiding the boson because...? The most humorous part is how we think that we could find the answers to the puzzle of the universe from our small planet, when we are still babes. Can we contain the mystery through our arrogance?

portrait-ernesto-tinajero1Ernesto Tinajero is a freelance writer in Spokane, Washington, who earned his master's degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. Visit his blog at beingandfaith.blogspot.com.

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