God’s Toe?

Those of you who follow the latest in particle physics have probably seen today’s news from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) detailing how scientists have made a significant discovery that might shed some light as to how the universe originated.

The discovery centers around the question of how — after the Big Bang — matter came into being. According to accepted relativistic and quantum theory, when the universe exploded into existence an equal amount of both matter and antimatter should have been created and, simultaneously, canceled each other out, leaving nothing left from which stars and planets could have been formed. As I understand it, the recent particle collisions at Fermilab have shown that when particles called B-mesons decay into muons they produce more matter than antimatter about 1% of the time. In other words, these tests appear to provide one possible explanation for how matter came into being. Theorists feverishly searching for science’s definitive answer to the universe’s true origins — otherwise known as “the face of God” — have referred to this discovery as possibly “the toe of God.” Exciting indeed.

I am fascinated by the promise of particle physics in helping us understand how the universe works. But I am equally certain that particle physics can never ultimately answer the question of how the universe came into being, or why. Amazingly, ten billion dollars and seven trillion electronvolts cannot produce the answers that a $15 purchase at your local bookstore can provide. While it’s not a scientific manual or collection of technical papers, the Bible is the definitive key to understanding both where the universe came from and why. These words speak for themselves:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

The simple truth of this single sentence is that God is the Almighty Creator of all that is. Furthermore, the New Testament reveals both how and why:

(Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)

Jesus, who is both the agent of creation and the one by whom the universe is sustained, is also the purpose of creation. All things have been made by and for him. He is both the means and the end.

I’m not trying to cultivate an anti-science attitude. I love science and embrace it. But I also recognize its inherent shortcomings. Through science we can observe, with incredible precision and complexity, how the universe operates on both the largest and smallest scales. But those who are truly intellectually honest must ultimately confess that, in the end, the best science can do is point beyond itself in its search for answers.

Fermilab’s physicists may have revealed God’s toe. But Jesus Christ — and he alone — reveals God’s face.

See in that infant’s face
The depths of Deity,
And labour while ye gaze,
To sound the mystery;
In vain: ye angels gaze no more,
But fall and silently adore.

-Charles Wesley, Hymns for the Nativity of Our Lord, 5:3.

One thought on “God’s Toe?

  1. Sean, thanks for making clear the place where science leaves off and Scripture begins… You say, "I love science and embrace it. But I also recognize its inherent shortcomings." I was just looking (in horror) at some homeschooling curriculum that fails to make this distinction. How tragic is it when Christians falsely understand there to be an absolute incompatibility between science and faith? This kind of thinking comes (on both sides) when folks ask scientists to explain the meaning of life, and correspondingly ask the Bible to become a scientific textbook. I think I'd like you to teach my kids' science. Thanks for this post.

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