It sounds like something straight out of a science-fiction novel—a shockwave rips through space, obliterating all matter in its path and re-constituting it in new and bizarre ways. In fact, it is not a work of science-fiction, but the musings of famous physicist Stephen Hawking. Hawking recently suggested such a scenario is possible if the Higgs particle, also known as the “God particle”, became destabilized due to a change to a lower energy state. The prospect is ominous, but it also forces us to ask ourselves, why do we venerate God through so many extreme and elaborate forms of worship and devotion if he is only going to destroy everything?

Hawking’s Portent of Cosmic Obliteration

physics, religion, hawking, universe, god particleOf course, calling the Higgs particle the “God particle” is problematic, as astrophysicist Meg Urry explains: “the particle and the laws of physics tell us nothing whatsoever about God, and God, if she exists, has not opined about the Higgs particle”. The particle does, however, answer important questions such as what gives particles mass and provides insight into the “energy of the vacuum” and cosmic inflation. It is a means of understanding the general structure and behavior of the universe at the most fundamental level. It is for this reason the discovery of the particle using the Large Hadron Collider—the world’s largest particle accelerator—was celebrated by scientists.

But a brief summary of the Higg’s particle’s role in the state of the universe reveals why Hawking’s speculation is so troubling. Essentially, the Higg’s particle is a relatively massive particle which pervades the universe more or less uniformly. Because it is relatively massive, it is also relatively inert. As Urry puts it, “Just as gravity makes a ball roll downhill, to the lowest point, so the universe (or any system) tends toward its lowest energy state”. If the Higgs particle’s mass causes the energy state of the universe to drop, the universe will become unstable, and this instability would basically shatter all the existing mass in the universe, expanding out from a single point at the speed of light in one giant wave of destruction.

What Kind of God Is That?

Despite the fact that the Higgs particle does not actually say anything about God, people from various faith traditions have adopted the expression to denote the handprint of divine intelligence. And a cosmic wave of destruction would still have religious implications. What kind of deity would allow the Higgs particle to transition to a sufficiently inert state that it should obliterate everything in the universe, even if to leave a new system of particles at a lower energy state in its wake? It is much the same as asking, why does God allow children to die of hunger? It poses serious ethical questions for the faithful to ponder, and it is never easy to come up with an answer that satisfies everyone.

So, exactly what does Hawking’s speculation mean for religion and religious ritual? There are at least three ways to answer this question. The first answer is that God does not exist, because, if she did, she would never allow such an event to happen. This answer satisfies the sensibilities of many atheists. The second answer is that God is imperfect and not omnipotent or omnibenevolent. This is actually not a problem for some religions, which do feature gods of creation and destruction. Even the Judeo-Christian tradition features a god of divine wrath. Many fire-and-brimstone evangelical fundamentalists would be fine with this explanation. The third answer is that God works in mysterious way. According to this explanation, God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent, but we lack the capacity to understand her ultimate plan, which is perfect. In this sense, our religious devotion is not for nothing.

Whether or not the Higgs particle says anything about God, the Higgs particle destabilizing and ripping the universe apart does. It says God doesn’t exist, God is imperfect, or God is mysterious. It could say other things about God, too. Whatever the case, Hawking himself noted that it is very unlikely the “God particle” will ever transition to an energy state low enough to cause such a cosmic cataclysm, so, for the meantime, we can all rest easy.






  1. dnreligiousgoods says:

    You have chosen a perfect title ‘If God Destroyed the Universe’ as mentioned delivered as it is, but for now we should all cherish god yes he do exist….. Amen!!

  2. Chris Coulson says:

    The creator of this world or if u please God doesn’t give us a clue in His word (the bible) of how the world will be destroyed at some point in time. The one thing that we can count on is that we are promised a new heaven and earth by the Lord and this I take to heart. Scientists have been trying to figure out God and have even gone as far as to say that the human race came from monkeys which I don’t believe at all as the bible says that man was made in God’s image.

  3. David says:

    There’s a fourth option that you’ve not considered as well. What if through the hand of the Divine, the Higgs Boson is already at it’s lowest rest state. Ergo, the cosmic wave of Destruction is a moot point. That’s something that I’ve noticed not a lot of people have considered.

  4. Brian ham says:

    Black holes slowly absorb all the matter in the Universe. At this stage the hole is infinitely small and unstable, and Bang it explodes and hence the big bang starts all over again and so ad infinitum.

    1. bill speerage says:

      Science tells us that the physical world is a holographic illusion. we decode light patterns only. True reality is consciousness. It doesn’t matter worth a hill of beans if the universe is destroyed. we will just go back to being the one God and do something else with our infinite “time”.

      1. Brother John says:

        Excellent point Bill… Many people believe, as I do, that there are more than three dimensions to both time and space and that the world we perceive is, in fact, an illusion. I am currently re-reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which describes with beautiful simplicity the illusion of Time.

        Trapped in our three dimensional “reality”, man has come up with some bizarre explanations for the unexplainable, principally what we call religion. These explanations are simply ancient beliefs with no proof to back them up, but seem to give some people comfort. Unfortunately, these beliefs also create hatred, bigotry and violence.

  5. TallBelieverInAlbanyNY says:

    A key element oft Christian Faith is the responsibility that I have to help build the kingdom of God right here on earth, so that instead of the earth bring destroyed it will transition into a better place for us all. This is what I believe.

    1. Brother John says:

      It seems that mankind’s hubris has generated beliefs that are very weak, and often primitive, attempts to explain the unexplainable. Believing that our planet is of any significance in the infinite expanse of the Universe, and more particularly, that we humans are special beings, is man’s wishful thinking and nothing more. This is particularly true when the beliefs are based on the “knowledge” of people who thought the Earth was flat and Sun revolved around it. Most of the “gods” we’ve created were focused on we humans as if we were the pinnacle of creation. They often put the creators/interpreters of the gods in positions of power and wealth to boot. Looking around at the destruction and violence that humans continue to wreak upon the Earth and one another , it seems that we are not divine in any sense, but the most destructive and barbaric life form on the planet.

      1. Steve White says:

        Very well put and very honest. It’s refreshing to hear something besides the usual, “God, Bible, Jesus, Amen, yada, yada, yada… Humans have such need of myths, they always wind up telling them over and over, in different ways and finally wind up believing their own stories in defiance of all common sense and reason. And, along the way, create a “Priestly Class” whose sole purpose is feasting and enriching themselves off the gullibility of others…

  6. George Yeager says:

    If you believe in God maybe you should be worried, if not you have no worries, problem solved.

  7. Rev. Diane Baum says:

    To spend all of our waking hours dreading a theory posed by a scientist seems like such a waste of time to me. Perhaps better would be time spent not only pondering, but also helping the ones in our midst who are weaker than we are…doing good as we’d like to have done to us and leaving our earth better than it was when we arrived. It is NOT that hard….”pay it forward” comes to mind. Should the end of the earth arrive…oh well. Why worry about what cannot be controlled by humans? I trust in a God who has the details pretty much covered as to the how and why of existence. If anything Hollywood movies have shown us that to stop any cataclysmic event on our own is futile. Love God, love your neighbor as much as you love yourself…this is what Jesus taught us. Who can deny those words of wisdom? May peace be with all of you!!!

  8. Marlene says:

    Please stop calling them ISIS. ISIS is the Goddess of Healing. Fox news dubbed them ISIS but their name is ISIL. Thank you so very much.
    I do not believe that the Divine Creator is going to destroy anything or anyone, those are human qualities and we do enough of this on our own without help from any god!

  9. Bear says:

    Wonder if there is a god.To allow such atrocities to occur
    Around the world.Mass murders, Priests abusing
    This has all been going on for a long
    Time in the name of some God.

  10. Booty McGee says:

    Isn’t this what happened to Atlantis? Their technology was their demise.

  11. Jerry says:

    It also states, “Let us make man in our image”. Who is “Us” and “Our”?

    1. Rev. Tim Trimble says:

      The question in not who is God, but who are we? It is possible that God is a member of an entire race of Gods, but how does that make him any less Our God? A king on earth had great power to do many things, including ending your life but a king is just a human like you and me. Does that make them not a king? It shouldn’t matter where God came from or if he was a member of an entire civilization of Gods. He is our God and has commanded us to put no other God before him. That in it’s self should be enough. Don’t get so hung up on “Who he was” that you forget “Who he is”.

    2. Rev. Rik says:

      This was explained to me in this way a long time ago; When the King James version was made, in those times royalty was addressed as us or we. The King or Queen would refer to themselves as Us or We. The reason for this is somewhat nebulous, however, it has been suggested that they considered themselves divine and therefore an actual manifestation of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Whether this is actually true or not, I leave that for you to decide…

      1. Brother John says:

        Here’s are a few excerpts from the introduction to the King James bible, which confirms your premise, Rev. Rik. It could be used as a text for a course in Brown Nosing 101

        ” To the most high and mighty prince JAMES by the grace of God.”

        “….as that sanctified Person, who, under God, is the immediate Author of their true happiness.”

        “Great and manifold were the blessings, most dread Sovereign, which Almighty God , the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when first he sent Your Majesties Royal Person to rule and reign over us.”

        Although it was written in the language of the early 1600’s, it’s clear that the claim was that God provided this monarch to the people. All it takes is enough believers to make preposterous claims a reality.

  12. Roland says:

    I come to the conclusion, that we are living in the body of a deity. Call it God, Allah, Jah,Johovah what ever. Which means we too are gods. Just like our cells and DNA etc. are us. Everything in the expanding universe is a organism in this body of energy. If the universe came to a end. I don’t believe it would a conscience decision. But I do believe that will happen when and if this nucleus just dies or fails to exist any longer

  13. unadvisor says:

    First of all, it is the Higgs Boson particle. There are various kinds of boson particles. Secondly, your description of said particle as ‘ massive ‘ can be misunderstood. The ‘ Higgs Boson ‘ particle is sub atomic. It is so small that it still has not been viewed. It is the trail of this particle that we can see on a slide. Thirdly, to include this scientific discovery/concept in discussions about religion shows that you are mis interpreting it’s impact. The importance of this discovery is that we now have found the smallest particle in the known universe, or if you believe in the multiverse theory, all universes. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  14. Wendell says:

    Bear… God gave satan reign over the earth, cast out of Heaven. This is our test, are we faithful to the Father and not the world. People do things under the name of something else instead of their own name, these people are not true to anything and most certainly a belief system, because they are cowards. They are not true Christians or true anything else, they live for their own sake and the world not a greater end…………………………………………………….As far as the ” God Particle ” I believe man is going where we shouldn’t. If we try and manipulate God’s creations ( which we already have ) then we are trying to play God ourselves. Just what I believe, you have the right to believe what you want to. God bless

  15. unadvisor says:


    Intelligent design has been outlawed based on the ‘ Kitzmiller vs. Dover School District ‘ case. Look it up.

  16. Bernard Simak says:

    Destroying the world is not the act of God, But the work of the Devil and of those that choose to follow

    1. Brother John says:

      Humans, including many who consider themselves “religious”, are the most destructive species on our planet, have done irreparable damage to the Earth (and one another), and may very well be the creators of their own extinction. “The Devil made me do it” is something comedian Flip Wilson created as a catchphrase decades ago.

  17. Darlene Williams-Prades says:

    God does not answer to us we answer to him. Or whom ever you’d like to name a power whose greater than us. The plan is that we think it through, are we destroying what has been freely given to us or is it destroying itself? The honest answer is “we” destroy what we can’t control.However, I believe that God can and will do as he did with Noah..cleanse the earth and begin again.
    ISIS, and whoever else keeps destroying man everyday and the reasoning is not logical or reasonable. However, has their on belief and destruction, war, cruelty, anger, pain, suffering, seems to be the topic of the day, everyday. Men and women raping small children. Mother’s killing their own children for no reason at all. Sons and daughters’ murdering the family and themselves. God has every right to clear the canvas and tray again. We get millions of “do overs” and instead of singing His praises for the small victories we complain.

  18. Rev. Rik says:

    Perhaps that end that is being referenced is really just an ascension, a new beginning…

  19. Mihangel Cestovatel says:

    God is infinite, eternal, and a very convenient word for the wordless unitive truth. What we are looking at here is just another notion of events in time, and being overly concerned about events in time is one of the greatest possible ways to ignore the perennial truth. Seen from the point of view of the eternal, the universe has already come and gone many times with many forms and possibly a slight mutation after each cycle of death and rebirth (or big collapse and big bang). Meditate on the infinite, let the illusions of time fall away.

    1. Brother John says:

      Well said, Mihangel. Arguing about translated words like God, Yaweh, Allah, etc. continues to be at the root of much of the world’s conflicts and horror, and prevents us from knowing what’s reality and what isn’t. I agree that Time is an illusion. It’s nature’s way of keeping everything from happening all at once, as we humans are not equipped to handle this reality. NOW is all that is real and arguing about whose explanation and terms of the same truth is right is sheer human folly.

  20. Dr. Hugh says:

    Render unto Caesar what is Caesars,
    and Render unto God, What is Gods’.
    So therefore, the Lord giveth, and
    the Lord taketh away.

  21. howard says:

    hasnt anyone readed revelations ? in the book of revelation the apostle John was shown whats going to happen in the end of time.

    1. Brother John says:

      I have howard. The premise is that God told the story to Jesus, who sent an angel to tell John about it, presumably in a dream, as he apparently “saw” it all. Truly one of the most arcane and indecipherable stories every told. It is, however, simple to “interpret” to mean almost anything as long as the number 7 is involved.

  22. Rev.Mik3 says:

    God is not destroying the earth we are. We can never recover from the destruction of man. We have failed our grandchildren by our waste and greed. We shoot satellites into space without thinking about 7 simple words “What ever goes up must come down.” The world isn’t the same my brothers and sisters.
    We are so used to having everything at our fingertips. Will the future generations have the same luxury? I have to exercise my faith and pray to The One Most High that by some miracle we will wake-up and realize it’s up to us to leave our Earth in better shape than it is now.

    1. Brother John says:

      Wise words Rev. Mik3. It seems that if life on earth is to continue, the human species must be eliminated, barring an unlikely mass enlightenment. Amazingly we are well on the way to accomplishing this ourselves. The Age of Entitlement is coming to an end and future generations, if there are any, will be left with the rubble of what was once a beautiful planet.

      In the dream world many people inhabit, any negative reality is replaced with the happy unreality that we’ll continue to ride the gravy train on into the distant future. One vivid example is the on-going horror of Fukushima, which is probably an Extinction Level Event on it’s own and an excellent example of man’s hubris.

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