Spirit in the Material World: The Physics of Truth
Physics seems the least insecure of the sciences. Chemistry runs a close second, but skins get thinner with Biology. Once organisms become the object of study, condescension and defensiveness arise. The “soft” sciences like Psychology, Sociology, Economics, and Anthropology are little more than kindergartens filled with academics whimpering about the Masters-level cretin who high-jacked their hypothesis.
Perhaps physicists exude more confidence because their discipline requires a bit of dissociation from emotion. The concepts are abstract and the methods often tedious. Scientific results tend to be concrete measurements of physical phenomena. Physicists also seem more open to mystery than other scientists. Though they believe in laws governing the physical world, they work with the infinite more than rest of us. Astrophysics, quantum physics, and relativistic physics deal with numbers that defy imagination. They acknowledge that some things can't be explained, and seem almost to relish findings that challenge traditional constructs. Physicists love a good paradigm shift. Maybe that’s why Physics seems more open to God than other scientific disciplines.
Beginning in the 1970’s, physics started talking about the Anthropic Principle, also referred to as “anthropic coincidences.” These theories acknowledge that the universe seems inclined to produce the conditions for life. Some even said that the physical laws of the universe implied intentional design as the governing force instead of chance and chaos. String theory raised the possibility of different dimensions where God might reside. And physicists working with the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland are trying to smash atoms at a high enough speed to find the smallest building block of matter. They call it “The God Particle.” While many scientists balk at the notion of an intelligent designer, a surprising number of agnostic physicists remain open to interpretations of the data that include God. They're willing to follow the data wherever it leads.
Christians should take notes. For a people claiming to have an intimate relationship with the One who is the source of all truth, we can come across as anxious, reactionary, and defensive about our beliefs. In a line from a new U2 song called “Stand Up Comedy,” Bono sings, “Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady.” It’s as if we don’t trust God enough to pursue truth without an agenda. We treat our faith like a game of Jenga. If the results of our exploration don't line up with the rest of our theology, we fear that all of our beliefs will tumble. Physicists trust the data to lead them to greater knowledge. Why can’t we trust God to lead us to truth?
P.S. Physicists recently discovered Satan in a jar of sun butter.