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four muons emerge from a proton-proton collision in ATLAS
Image via <a href="http://public.web.cern.ch/public/">CERN</a>

Genesis 1:1-5

It all began when God created the universe. Everything was shapeless, empty, and dark.

Then, as God swept across the void, God said, “Light!” And the universe lit up. God saw that the light was good, and to distinguish it from the dark called it day, and the dark remained night. And so began evening and morning. Day 1.

Scientists are on the verge, they say, of finding the “God particle” also known as the Higgs boson. It’s the particle that would provide particle physics theory with the missing link to explain why stuff is able to be stuff and not just formless energy. The popular press has been all over how if they can find this particle, it would replace God as the reason for why stuff exists. (“God didn’t do it, the boson does it.”) Scientists hate that.

Good scientists know that good science isn’t about proving or disproving the existence of God. Particles, yes. God, no. Good scientists, like good theologians, know that the existence of a particle, even an essential particle, doesn’t mean anything about whether God did or didn’t create it, or anything else. The particle’s existence doesn’t do anything to settle things with the fundamentalists, who aren’t listening anyway. Not the Christian fundamentalists. Not the atheist fundamentalists.

What Genesis 1 is about, for people of faith and people of no-faith, is the creative work we all must begin to bring shape and meaning and light to an otherwise shapeless, empty and dark universe. Even God is not exempt from this work. Genesis suggests that as God must do, so must we. There is no creatio ex nihilo in the Bible. It’s just that stuff needs to be made sense of.

We stand on the cusp of a new year, a time yet to be formed, a time to be filled with meaning, a time in which so much remains obscured. Not just today, of course, but every day. Go ahead and start. Do something creative in 2012. Do something to shape things for the good. Do something to light up our world. Say something meaningful.

Go ahead. Begin. Today is Day 1. Every day is Day 1.