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The God Particle and the Bread of Life

Earlier this month, physicists at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that they’ve almost certainly discovered evidence for the long-sought Higgs boson, a subatomic entity that has been dubbed “the God particle.” Theoretically, the Higgs boson provides the “glue,” as it were, that allows matter to clump together so that we can have stars, galaxies — and people.

This understanding of the “God particle” reminds me of the New Testament’s description of Christ, which says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Yet few of these particle physicists seem willing to give God the credit for the apparent discovery of the “God particle.” As one of the researchers joked at the meeting announcing the discovery, “Thanks, nature!”

Thanks, nature? Apparently too many have conveniently forgotten that modern science was born in the fertile soil of the Judeo-Christian worldview. As Rodney Stark said in his book The Victory of Reason, “The success of the West, including the rise of science, rested entirely on religious foundations, and the people who brought it about were devout Christians.”

So belief in God and belief in science go together.

As a matter of fact, on this very day, July 20, back in 1969, America sent the first men to the moon, one of the West’s greatest feats of science. And God was right in the middle of it. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was actually an elder at the time at his Presbyterian church in Texas, and he wanted to mark this human milestone appropriately.

So Aldrin, the lunar module pilot, brought a communion wafer and a small vial of consecrated communion wine with him to the lunar surface.

To the public, Aldrin said, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

But when the radio communication ended, he read a verse from the Gospel of John and took communion.

Here’s what Aldrin said about it. “In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.’”

Then Aldrin added: “I ate the tiny host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the sea of tranquility. It was interesting for me to think the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

Friends, I am as excited as anyone to hear about the advances in scientific discovery and the amazing beauty and complexity of our incredible universe. Let’s keep learning all we can. But remember that though science can often tell us how, it can very rarely tell us why. The universe ultimately is held together not by a particle, but by a Person.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Publication date: July 20, 2012

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