Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Higgs Boson Parable

On Sunday I preached a sermon about parables, expanding the idea beyond just the stories that Jesus told and saying that the Bible, and really all of life, are parables in that they point to a reality that is much greater than themselves. They're things that assist us in trying to wrap our minds around a Truth that is greater than anything we can possibly comprehend.

You can listen to the message here

An illustration I wanted to use, but had to cut for time and to keep the message from dragging was about the recent discovery of the until-now-theoretical Higgs-boson particle.

I don't pretend to understand physics on any level, so forgive me if any of the implications I draw here are in any way incorrect.

The particle in question was suggested to exist in 1964. The hard evidence of its existence seems to have come now, in 2012. That's 48 years between theory and proof.

Jesus talked about the coming reign of God, or baselia tou Theou, but the full realization thereof has not yet come to be. This is 2000ish years of history bet on this theory. Kind of a big gamble.

So Jesus is either wrong, crazy, or some sort of semi-dangerous guy who is more than deserving of public humiliation and execution on a Roman cross (a standard that was quite liberally applied)...

or what he was talking about was a "theory" awaiting "proof".

I use those terms loosely, because Truth and fact are two distinct, if interrelated, things. Indiana Jones says so, after all.

The inadequacies of the analogy aside, the physicists who thought the theory of the Higgs-boson to be of merit invested the time, energy, and finances to build the Large Hadron Collider to achieve proof of the particle's existence.

Likewise, the church has thought Jesus' assertion of the coming reign of God to be of such merit as to invest substantial time, energy, and finances to live out said reality in microcosm in anticipation of its full realization in the entire cosmos.

Yes, the church universal has also spent a lot of time and energy engaged in less-than-worthy pursuits, too. Granted. But...

Those that believed the Higgs-boson existed kept at it until its existence was proven. Those who believe in the reality of the baselia tou Thou keep at it until its truth is not proven by empirical evidence in the way science is able to provide, but the full indwelling of said Truth where the rules that we always thought applied are shown to be false, and the rules of the Kingdom of God are shown to be the ultimate Truth.

This is what Jesus is suggesting in the parable of the farmer sowing seeds. He does is part, but he "knows not how" the ultimate result comes to be. The harvest he reaps is the product of his effort combined with elements and forces far beyond his control.

This discovery of the existence of the Higgs-boson particle does not somehow empower its effect on particle physics. Likewise, the full realization of the reign of God does not somehow empower its effect on the cosmos. It's been there the whole time, we just finally came to realize it.

Sub-atomic particle or meta-Truth, it's not-yet-really-yet-kinda-sorta the same.

May we all stand in awe of that which we are learning and that which we can't possibly comprehend.

No comments: