A Message from the Music Minister

A Message From the Music Minister

 

When I was around 12 years old, I watched the movie “Contact”. This was a film starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. In the film Jodie Foster’s character is a scientist, and her romantic interest, Matthew McConaughey, is a famous Christian religious leader. This was an incredibly moving film about science, religion, and the meaning of the word “faith”.

The movie “Contact” was the first time I had seriously thought about what “faith” was, and whether science and Christianity are as mutually exclusive as people believe. I find the interplay between science and religion to be incredibly fascinating, and it’s because of the influence this one movie had on me as a child. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it!

I bring up the movie “Contact” because I recently heard on the radio a real life story of faith and science that I wanted to share with all of you in this month’s newsletter. This has to do with something called the “Higgs boson” particle. You may have heard it called the “God Particle”.

Essentially scientists have believed for decades that there is something called a “Higgs Field” that surrounds everything. Every single particle of matter is contained in this field, and passes through this field…but it is essentially invisible and impossible to detect. The scientist on the radio had a good analogy for the Higgs Field. He said it was similar to a fish swimming in the ocean. We humans know that fish swim in water, but how would a fish ever be able to understand that they were surrounded by water? To the fish the water would seem like an invisible force all around it, because by being in it all the time, it essentially disappears. The water is the world of the fish, and ,for the fish, imaging a world without water would be as impossible as it is for us humans to imagine colors that our eyes are not able to detect

The wild thing about this story is that for decades physicists have been basing their beliefs about the behaviors of molecules and the world around us on something that they were not able to prove. Essentially, these scientists were creating all of these complicated theories based on FAITH that the Higgs field existed. They lived their lives and built their careers on something that they could not prove was real.

Does the idea of having faith in the existence of something not “provable” by today’s standards sound familiar? It does to me! Having faith in God feels similar to the kind of faith physicists have in the Higgs field. We live our lives with faith in God and feel his invisible presence in our daily lives…much like the physicists could see the invisible force of the Higgs field on the world and had faith in its existence.

From my understanding the Higgs field is no longer considered a theory, because the largest particle collider in the world was able to prove its existence by breaking of a single particle of the field called the “Higgs boson” particle.

I like this story because it shows faith as a universal human value…and in a world where our differences continually push us apart, focusing on something we all have in common can help us bring us together.