Letters from TZ

Who was the man who called himself the son of God?

Jesus Christ is perhaps the most controversial figure of all time. You either love him or hate him. There are few who can claim total apathy when it comes to the man who said he was God. He inspires raging passions that humanity doesn’t seem to have the capacity to control. There are fundamentalists on both sides of the debate, and even the third estate – the so called atheists – find themselves denying his existence with a vigour that belies their indifference.

Historically, there are those who say they can prove that Jesus the man actually walked this earth. There is overwhelming scientific evidence to back up the widely held belief that he lived. But Jesus the man said that he was the Son of God and that is a claim that scientists are yet to prove.

It’s impossible to quantify faith because there is no measure for the invisible. A person’s beliefs can be as limited or expansive as their hearts would desire. Because of that, there is nothing on earth that could compare. Unfortunately, the easiest way to determine the measure of a thing is to compare it to another thing. Without room for comparison, a person’s faith will always be confined to the four corners of their mind – out of reach of any instrument that would compute the value of it. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist though, it just means that it cannot be defined.

In the 1960s, a university professor named Peter Higgs hypothesised about a sub-atomic particle that has since come to be known as the ‘God particle’. Professor Higgs suggested that in order for matter to have mass, it must be influenced by a hypothetical particle that creates a field, which spreads throughout the universe. The significance of this ‘God particle’ is that it allows matter to have mass. Matter without mass is nothing. And everything on earth is made of matter. No one, however, has been able to isolate the particle. Scientists believe that it is either extremely difficult to detect or that it does not exist. Interestingly enough, Higgs is an atheist who believes in science above all else. Physicists refer to the near-mythical particle as one of the building blocks of the universe and one of the cornerstones of modern physics.

It is not hard to see the ‘God particle’ as a metaphor for God himself – the cornerstone of the universe that no scientist has been able to detect. Interestingly, Leon Lederman, the man who coined the phrase the ‘God particle’ with reference to the Higgs particle, says that it had nothing to do with God, but was simply a snappy term to illustrate the ubiquitous effect of the Higgs field, and it’s importance in determining mass.

Any definition of God would include the words ubiquitous and important. So why is it so easy for science to accept the qualities of God while denying his personhood? Why is it more acceptable to define Jesus as a historical figure rather than a divine one? The ‘God particle’ by its very description is the particle that makes all others possible. It is a life-giving particle. A creative force. Much like what believers claim God to be. Yet scientists continue to search for proof of its existence, much as they continue to search for proof of the existence of God before they can believe in him.

At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself what is more important – defining God or believing in him. If Jesus is to be believed, he lived that we would have life and have it more abundantly. That means he came with life in hand. He didn’t come that we would deliberate about it or indeed question its source. He came that we would have it in abundance. That sounds like a done deal. And a pretty simple one.

The time we spend arguing about the existence of God is wasted because much like the ‘God particle’, we may never be able to ‘detect’ him, by scientific means or otherwise. Believing is the shortest route around the mountain. You lose nothing from believing in something. It is entirely up to you how limited or expansive you want your beliefs to be. And they will take you as far as you allow them to. Someone once said that, whatever God’s dream about man may be, it seems certain it can’t come true unless man cooperates. So really, when all is told, the buck stops with you. Choose ye, this Easter Sunday, whether you want to cooperate or debate.