Questions are being bandied about concerning the discovery of the “God Particle” and its potential relation to theistic faith. I would like to state that this doesn’t affect my God-definition, because I am a panentheist (not to be confused with pantheist), and the God-image which I conceive is neither a creator nor an intervener. “God” in my view is a transcendent being utterly unconnected to the creation and/or existence of the material universe – and therefore cannot be praised for the world’s goodness, nor blamed for its evils.
Following Fred Hoyle’s idea, stated in his sci-fi novel, The Black Cloud, I speculate that the notion of a divine creator may be derived from the making of artifacts by human beings, that is: since we are born into a world of pre-made “stuff”; and since we ourselves make or “create” artifacts; therefore our surrounding world of pre-made stuff must, by implication, be the artifact of a divine maker. At least that’s how I think the creator idea may have evolved in ancient times.
While I am glad whenever science discovers new data like the “God Particle” about the world and/or about the universe’s origins, this has no real impact on my God-conception, for the following reasons.
The issue as a religious proposition really only affects those who think of God as a creator. As already mentioned, I believe that God is real, but is not now, never was, and never will be, a creator or an intervener, so the issue does not impact my god-beliefs. If a particle or some other physical thing or process, for example, is proven to be the “glue” that binds all things together, this only means that those who formerly assigned this “binding function” to a creator are further marginalized, forced to watch as their “creator” is edged out of the cosmic big picture by one more increment of scientific knowledge. If memory serves, it was Julian Huxley who said, “operationally, God is becoming more and more to resemble the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire Cat”.
Those who insist that a deity created the universe are risking the God of the Gaps gambit. More and more it looks as if the universe is, or is the result of, eternally extant quantum fluctuations. If that is the case, then we have met the creator, and “He” turns out to be a kind of eternally extant quantum field behavior, not some kind of sentient entity.
The picture gets much worse, however, if we ever actually do discover a creator, and that creator turns out to be a sentient deity. In view of the utter indifference of the universe to sentient life and to human needs, the creator – if such a deity exists – must be by turns indifferent, hostile, capricious, insane, cruel, and/or incompetent – Tennessee Williams’ “senile delinquent”.
I would much rather believe that the creator – if one exists – is quantum fluctuation than that it is a deity. Human suffering is far more explicable by invocation of mindless, indifferent quantum forces, than it is by invocation of a compassionate but apparently impotent creator-deity. The naturalistic creation story, though spiritually comfortless, is far more theologically sensible, and it accounts for much more, than the supernaturalist creation story.
That is, we would expect that the universe would be indifferent to, and unaware of, the fate of all the sentient beings who live within it. In that case, we would simply accept, and expect, the fact that we must suffer and die, with no hint of concern from the material universe.
But, if we posit a compassionate creator-intervener, then we would expect that “His” universe would be sensitively responsive to our physical and emotional welfare, our plans, our dreams. However, since this is so obviously not the case, the “Creator-Faithful” must jump through hoops and perform intellectual acrobatics, in order to somehow justifiy “God’s universe’s” non-friendly treatment of sentient beings.
Hence, for me, it is much easier and less frought with intellectual difficulty, to conceive of God as a non-creating, non-intervening transcendent entity, rather than as a “compassionate Creator” who has made such a botch of “His” creation that “He” can only repair it by all-too-infrequent, wildly inconsistent, and logically problematic interventions.