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Editorial: The 'God particle'? Really?

Apparently some preachers have taken offense that popular science has dubbed the Higgs boson the "God particle." For the scientifically challenged, the Higgs boson is an elemental particle that has eluded researchers for years, although they have theorized for a long time that it does exist. A few days ago, researchers using extraordinary accelerator/collider technology concluded with assuredness of 99.999 percent that they had detected the Higgs boson. Detecting the Higgs should confirm that the Standard Model of particle physics is fundamentally correct.

You might react: So what?

Well, it really is a very big deal.

In the realm of the most advanced particle physics on the planet, the confirmation of the Higgs particle opens wider the window on the early picoseconds of the formation of the universe. It not only gets inside the Big Bang, it also points the way to showing the universe is far older than previously believed and that the cosmos is made up of mysterious matters that might not be so mysterious after the Higgs boson discovery.

But the "God particle"? Really?

If some clergy and laypeople of faith are offended by the term, they are missing the point. Indeed, when scientists and the popular scientific press associate the Higgs boson with God, they just might be acknowledging yet another revelation of God's creation. For common-sense believers, that's what science does. History tells us misrepresentations and distortions of the basics of Earth and the heavens have been stock in trade for religionists for eons. Superstition and fear sell until science gets it right and true. Certainly truth should be the component of faith.

The Higgs boson confirmation is right up there with the discovery that microbes cause disease; the shocker that the Earth is not flat; that Galileo was right about the Earth's place in the solar system; that living organisms evolve; and that the speed of light is a constant that can tell us how old stars are.

Whether applauded by an atheist or condemned as blasphemy by a Scriptural literalist, the Higgs boson as a phenomenon of a grand and incredibly complex universe cares not. It just is. It exists. Maybe God made it. Maybe it is one of "God's particles." Maybe not. How one comes down on that question is more a matter of faith than science.

Forum of Fargo-Moorhead editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board.