'God particle' discovery triggers new faith, science debate

(Photo: Reuters / Denis Balibouse)British physicist Peter Higgs (R) talks with Belgium physicist Francois Englert before a news conference update in the search for the Higgs boson at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva July 4, 2012.

The confirmation by physicists that a particle discovered in 2012 is a Higgs boson, popularly known as the "God Particle" has important implications bolstering the concept of intelligent design, says a UCLA physicist.

Physicists made their confirmation March 14 adding to the knowledge of the Higgs particle, or "God Particle".

This has triggered more debate over the universe's origins and the relationship between faith and science.

Jeff Zweerink, a faculty member of the physics department at UCLA, notes that the Higgs Boson particle discovered by scientists at the Large Hadron collider from the European science laboratory at CERN in Switzerland supports the Standard Model of particle physics.

CERN described the findings of scientists at ATLAS and CMS (the two general purpose detectors at the Large Hadron Collider) as "preliminary new results."

CMS spokesperson Joe Incandela said in a CERN press release, "The full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson, though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is."

The Standard Model is the accepted theory of how particles in the universe interact.

In the 1960s, Peter Higgs, along with fellow scientists, Robert Brout and François Englert, realized that the force carrying particles needed to have a mass to exist.

The three physicists proposed a solution giving a mass for the interaction with an invisible field, now called the "Higgs filed" which permeates the universe. Higgs bosons make up this field.

Up until now it was the missing piece of the theory. Its confirmation explains how matter acquires mass.

Dr. Zweerink indicates the affirmation of the Standard Model makes the existence of a designer possible.

Also a research scholar at Reasons to Believe, a Christian apologetics ministry focused on science, Zweerink discussed his views on the organization's podcast after last week's announcement.

The findings are not "direct evidence of God", he said.

"But it certainly makes the idea that there is a God who has fashioned things for a specific purpose a reasonable and rational idea."

He expects that as the Higgs boson is studied further more evidence of "fine tuning and design" will be found.

While the discovery does not directly indicate the existence of God, Zweerink points out that the findings also mean that his role in the universe cannot be ruled out.

He said that those who negate intelligent design hold a faulty view that subscribes to the belief that God and physics cannot coexist.

"That's never been the Christian view of how God operates in the universe", said Zweerlink. He noted that while God does perform miracles, he more commonly works through the laws of physics.

"I don't see either of these extremes", said Zweerink. "That's not supported by what we have found here."

He is hopeful that there are other particles waiting to be discovered that would go beyond the Standard Model theory.

Zweerink is involved in researching dark matter, unseen material theorized to make up 83 percent of the universe.

He says that the best candidates for dark matter are particles that scientists have yet to detect.

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