Yesterday morning on my way into church I was listening to NPR when a story caught my ear. The story was about the team of scientists at CERN–the European Organization for Nuclear Research (the largest physics lab in the world)–with their Large Hadron Collider who have just about nailed down the so-called “God particle” known more officially as the Higgs boson. I have been reading and researching about this topic since it sparked my imagination over a decade ago so my ears naturally perked up when I heard the reporter, rather dejectedly announce that the scientists think that they are almost positive they have finally found the elusive Higgs boson.
Without going into a whole raft of physics and why this is so amazing I’ll let you read more about all of that here. However, what I will say is that what caught my ear was the very tail end of the story on NPR. The reporter said that the experiment showed that the Higgs boson showed up and behaved exactly how the scientists had theorized. And, that many of the scientists were sincerely disappointed in that result. They were hoping for more mystery or other unpredicted behavior from this nano-particle. Having the Higgs boson act and appear exactly how they thought it would was a let down in a way. The disappointment came from the fact that in the end, the Higgs boson, the thing they’ve found is rather run of the mill in how and where it showed up…exactly how they had predicted.
Perhaps they were hoping that the “God particle” would act more God-like, being more mysterious and not so readily comprehended and predictable.
That got me thinking: one of the things I love about God is that God is not easily understood. A great deal of the time God does not show up or behave how we would predict. I would argue that God, and God’s actions are NEVER fully understood by us humans…and for that I am glad.
Why worship a God that is predictable and fully know-able? The fact that we cannot often (sometimes EVER) know, predict, or intuit God fully, or know God’s “plan” completely keeps us coming back for more. There is something wonderful in the pursuit of the elusive–that quest keeps our minds wondering and our hearts searching as we seek understanding of God at work in our lives, in our world.
I agree with the scientists who are disappointed that the object over which they have spent so many thousands of hours theorizing, and so many billions of dollars researching with the largest machine ever created is, in the end, rather predictable. And I give thanks that unlike the “God particle,” the real God is so mysterious and so very NOT run of the mill.
In God’s Holy Name,