There was much excitement this week over the reported discovery of a ‘Higgs Boson’ like particle, popularly known as the ‘God Particle’, by scientists at the European Centre for Nuclear Research who smashed atoms to unravel what constitutes their building blocks. Atoms and sub-atomic particles that form the standard model of mass and matter have long held few secrets; what creates the ‘sticky field’ for them to coalesce into mass and matter has remained a mystery.
If there is any substance to the claim of scientists having spotted the missing link and identified it as the particle which till now existed in theory as ‘Higgs Boson’, then one of the eternal riddles of the world would cease to be an enigma. With this discovery, once it’s established as infallible, we would know how Earth came into being, and how living beings that have populated this planet took form and shape. Once there was nothingness, then there was Earth and, lo and behold, life was born. Higgs Boson did it.
For the faithful, the creation of our planet and life on Earth, past and present, is the work of god — a divine intervention that wrought order out of chaos. If faith were to be supplanted by science, then chaos was followed by creation due to the extraordinary powers of the Higgs Boson, or the ‘God Particle’. Only fools would rush in to debate the merits of faith over science, or vice versa; the wise would look at the larger picture which validates the primal belief that there exists a certain ‘power’ to which human beings, and all that is not created by them, owe their existence.
To that extent, those who have wasted no time to declare “god is dead” stand looking utterly foolish if not downright stupid. If they thought it was the smart thing to say, they are obviously clueless about what smart intelligence means. This is not to question the right to be a theist, agnostic or atheist; to believe in the existence of god, or to doubt it, or even to reject the very idea of god. That’s a matter of personal conviction and choice, and, contrary to what pretentious Marxists claim, ideological predilections have nothing to do with it.
That freedom also exists for those who see god as a superman and attribute to ‘him’ all that is good, virtuous and righteous. Monotheism, especially of the Book, whether it is the Torah, the Bible or the Quran, excludes the possibility of god being a superwoman, from which is born a pernicious inequality that we now refer to as gender discrimination. If ‘he’ alone is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent, then where does ‘she’ fit in?
Much as those who spurn the very idea of god, or are repelled by the concept of faith, as well as believers who subscribe to the fundamentals of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as contained in their respective Books, would mock at polytheists, there’s something endearingly elevating about polytheism. Popular Hinduism embraces both gods and goddesses; divinity is neither all male nor all female, but a generous mix of both. No less inspirational is the spontaneity with which nature and its innumerable children are treated as manifestations of god. What was once denigrated as the evil practices of heathens — that is, Hindus — who worship trees and rivers, reptiles and serpents, birds and animals, is now considered chic environmentalism.
Today’s fashion is Hinduism’s ancient wisdom. Cassandras who tirelessly warn us of the disastrous impact of global warming on earth, water, fuel/energy, air and sky, are discovering today what the rishis eloquently spoke about millennia ago. The Vedas tell us to worship Prithvi, Jal, Agni, Vayu and Akaash — the five elements that combined to give us our world and remain integral to our lives. The first word of the first hymn of the Rig Veda is ‘Agni’ — it also tells us “Agni is one though ignited in various forms, the one Sun rises in all the worlds, the one dawn lights up all this; the One alone has become all this.” If you are truly looking for the ‘God Particle’, here it is. No Higgs Boson can serve as a substitute, no matter how tantalising the scientific proposition.
At one level, the idea of god is something that pervades the public space and public debate. At another level, the concept of god is deeply personal, shaped by an individual’s faith. As someone who lives by the precepts of Brahmoism, for me there is one supreme god — “a god endowed with a distinct personality, moral attributes and intelligence befitting the governor of the universe”. I worship and adore the Eternal Unsearchable and Immutable Being who is the author and preserver of the universe — the ‘One’ alone that becomes many, yet remains indivisible. Snigger if you must, but for me Higgs Boson is but a passing minor distraction.
The writer is a journalist, political analyst and activist