You may have heard something in the news recently about the discovery of the God particle. Technically called the Higgs Boson, the term refers to the basic unit for the formation of mass. Particle physics is very complicated, but I think of it this way: picture sunlight streaming through a window. If you look closely, you can see dust floating through the air. If you were to walk by, some of that dust would cling to the hair on top of your head. Therefore, you would be just the tiniest bit taller.
The Higgs Boson behaves like dust in the universe. It is the smallest of all microscopic elements; yet slowly, when enough of it gathers in one place, a molecule is formed. These protons and neutrons and electrons create proteins, which eventually make stuff – trees, rocks, granddaddy long-legs, and Granddaddy.
I read an editorial in Nature, which candidly asked, what difference does it make now that we have discovered the fundamental building block of the universe? The answer in this prestigious and acclaimed scientific journal was…nothing. It makes no difference! The Higgs Boson will continue to do its thing, just like it always has, whether we are aware of its existence or not!
It struck me that one could easily say the same thing about theology. Thinking about God and God’s way with the world doesn’t have a “point.” It is not an item to create; you can’t eat it or build with it or even chart its growth on a spread sheet. God will continue to do God’s thing, whether we are aware of it or not…
And yet, theology does make a difference in a profound way. It matters the way that art matters. Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s David don’t have a point other than they are inspiring. Theology can never define God; but it can point to its beauty. And that is worth the effort!
Yeats once said that we must “labor to be beautiful.” The reward is in the work itself. Neither scientific discovery nor theological inquiry put food on the table; yet they form the basis of profound dinner conversations. Their point is not for us to make a living; but to make life worth living. There is a moment when art, science, and faith merge into profound acts that speak in unspeakable ways to our hearts. They pull our thoughts, out of our daily grind, and into contemplation of that in which we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). The intersection of science and theology is perhaps best understood as the cultivation of profound awe and wonder as an ends unto itself.