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A Scientific Nincompoop’s Musings on the “God Particle”

So we have a new pope one day, and the next day, an updated and near certain confirmation of the Higgs boson, known in the popular press as the “God particle,” the tinier-than-tiny sub-atomic thingamajig that physicists have concluded gives matter its mass. (“What gives matter its mass?” perfectly exemplifies the kinds of questions a scientist would ask, no? The “social” science equivalent: “Why are people the way they are?” Physicists know better than to go anywhere near that question…)

As a long-lapsed Catholic, who, like most exes, maintains a complicated relationship with the Mother Church, I have watched with no small dismay as the last two popes have been industriously rolling back the radical—and ever-so-necessary—reforms of the 1950s Vatican II conclave that attempted to hoist the church and its many unfilled tasks into the 20th century, not to mention the 21st...

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