Last year ongoing experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, produced what may prove to be the elusive Higgs boson particle. The subatomic particle got its name from Peter Higgs who was but one of six physicists who had proposed a mechanism in 1964 that might explain the particle’s existence. According to the Standard Model, the Higgs particle is a basic part of the theoretical puzzle of particle physics, and these subatomic particles are the building blocks of all matter in the universe.
The search for the Higgs boson began around 1960. The Higgs particle is caused by the collision of two protons, a mini explosion, and because its mass is very unstable a Higgs boson decays or disintegrates immediately making observation of the phenomena difficult. The Higgs boson’s elusive nature is why physicist Leon M. Lederman, a Nobel Prize winner, wrote a book in 1993 entitled “The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?” The “God Particle” was actually a euphemism required by the publisher who refused to use Lederman’s more profane term expressing his frustration in the search for the Higgs particle.
It was the search for the Higgs boson that prompted the construction of the Large Hadron Collider to begin in 1998 and be completed in 2008. It cost 9 billion dollars to build and was built underground at varying depths of 160 (16 stories) to 574 (over 57 stories) feet in a circular tunnel with a circumference of 17 miles. It is literally the most expensive and largest scientific instrument ever built, and is a modern marvel of technological engineering. It was built to look for a theoretical particle.
So the tentative discovery last year in 2012 of the Higgs particle is momentous, possibly culminating more than fifty years of research. Continuing experiments probe the properties of this small snapshot of the universal picture to determine if the Higgs particle has been discovered. Some are saying the instability of the Higgs boson’s makeup revealed by ongoing research indicate a coming catastrophe.
Theoretical physicist Joseph Lykken has suggested, “It may be the universe we live in is inherently unstable, and at some point billions of years from now it’s all going to get wiped out.” Lykken is not the only theoretical physicist that believes the cosmos will eventually collapse. There are others.
But the end of the universe is only a part of the universe’s macro narrative. I am going to give you a glimpse of the big picture and ask if you can tell whether or not this is a biblical or scientific perspective of the universe.
A long time ago there was nothing, then there was a tremendous burst of energy that formed all the matter in the universe in a very short period of time. Inorganic or non-living matter existed first and from which organic or living matter was formed. The universe will eventually cease to exist in its present form. This macro narrative of the universe is both a biblical and scientific view of the universe.
Science says they do not know what if anything existed before the Big Bang. The Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago. Scientists go on to say all the matter that exists today in the universe was created in the first three minutes after the Big Bang, though not necessarily in its different current forms. Living matter came from non-living matter, and the universe had a beginning and like a big machine it will eventually wind down and come to an end.
The Bible teaches that in the beginning, an indeterminate time in the past, God said “let there be light.” Light is one of the byproducts of expended energy. At this time, He then created everything that exists from nothing. Over a period of six days He formed the inorganic matter of the universe, and then created every living thing. The universe as it exists now will come to a cataclysmic end.
It seems to me that biblical revelation regarding the flow of events in the universe is compatible with current scientific theory. So when Lykken suggests “that many tens of billions of years from now there’ll be a catastrophe,” I do not see this as inconsistent with the apostle Peter’s prediction that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
Maybe the Higgs boson particle is “the God particle.” Maybe God is using science to corroborate what the Scriptures teach. And though the end of the universe may be distant, our end, death, is much nearer. Are you ready?