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Theological reflections on the Higgs boson

18 October 2013


From Mr Andrew McLuskey

Sir, - The award of the Nobel Prize for Science to Professor Peter Higgs should be an occasion for serious reflection on what his amazing discovery means for theology or the philosophy of religion.

For those of us who take an interest in these matters, it has been clear for some time that the "Higgs" boson can be related to the traditional design argument for the existence of God. In fact, the particle in question fits remarkably well with this through one of its central claims. This is that, shortly after the Big Bang, the whole Higgs "field" switched on, turning the vacuum of space - with the particles of the newborn universe hurtling round aimlessly - into a kind of cosmic glue.

We can, I think, go further. In a recent article, the science writer Jeff Forshaw has pointed out that the Professor's discovery "is a worthy testament to nature's beauty". This comment for its part will remind many of the so-called aesthetic principle, which argues that our capacity to appreciate beauty must be evidence of a divine creator.

Looking to the future, commentators are telling us that further investigation of the Higgs phenomenon may well lead to a deeper understanding of gravity and - in particular - dark matter. Such exploration is very relevant to the increasingly held view that reducing everything to electrons and protons does not do full justice to the mystery of matter.

So, without wishing to force the learned Professor into a theological mould, we must be grateful to him for suggesting ways forward in the lively religion-and-science debate.

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