The strange things done to God - Daniel Silliman

It's odd what happens when we attempt to defend God. As conservatives used to say, "ideas have consequences," and the unintended consequences of our defenses for the Divine are often vicious and strange.

I saw this last week, when some Christian Creationists defended God against physicists. They opposed the Large Hadron Collider, the gigantic physics experiment machine unveiled last Wednesday. The physicists will use the collider to smash particles together in a vacuum at insane rates of speed, watching what happens.

The collider will test their theories about the subatomic particles and pieces of particles making up the physical world. The physicists know what should happen, but will now see what actually happens. Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said he hopes the experiment is a total bust and nothing happens, because then a lot of what we think we know will have to be rethought.

The 2,000 scientists at the Large Hadron Collider hope to find symmetrical and transdimensional particles (consistent with Albert Einstein's theories) and they hope they'll find the Higgs particle, sometimes called the "God Particle," which was thought up to explain how particles acquire mass.

Some commentators I read, possibly reacting to the mention of a "God particle," objected that the physicists were "messing around" with creation. The commentators said the scientists' work, attemptiong to explain the "Big Bang," was opposing the biblical account of creation, trying to eliminate faith and the need for God. It's weird, though, because the goodwill attempt to oppose materialism and rationalism also implies the Most High has a sort of proprietary interest in answers to questions about the universe's origins. Particle physics is a threat to God, according to this line of thought, and how particles acquire mass is a question that was, and should be, reserved for God.

Probably accidentally, probably focused on opposing those who disrespect the Almighty, the anti-collider arguments make God out to be like Coca Cola or KFC, always worried about secret recipes. In this calculus, the Creator of the Universe meant to keep the thing secret, preferring the worship of uneducated men.

This is a very strange thing to say about God. When we try to protect the Omniscient One from those who are uncertain, we often end up contorting God worse than atheists' attempts ever could. I think reverent people have blasphemed more often than irreverent people, with unintended consequences.

I read, a few weeks ago, about a man who was trying to desecrate a consecrated communion wafer, trying to make a point about his disbelief in the idea that Jesus comes to us through bread. He was taking suggestions for other unbelievers, but then decided he didn't want to desecrate the wafer, because he was being hostile to something he, as an atheist, didn't believe was real. He ended up throwing it away.

He accidentally demonstrated belief, while trying to blaspheme. Often, the Christian faithful do the opposite.

When I read about the guy, I thought that I and many other Christians have done worse things to the ceremonial supper than this non-believer could ever imagine. I have called Christ a liar, in church, by claiming to accept grace while not offering it to others. I have called Christianity a fraud, as a Christian, by looking for my salvation in politics. I have said Jesus' death is meaningless, by my actions, and I've characterized God as a monster, while thinking I was defending the Omnipotent.

A couple of weeks ago, my pastor read that Gospel passage where Christ's followers recognize he's the Christ, and Jesus says, "Don't tell anyone." My pastor asked, do you think maybe Jesus just didn't want to be associated with his followers, like maybe they really weren't ready to defend him?

Daniel Silliman covers crime for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at dsilliman@news-daily.com.