Spirituality and the Higgs Boson

Many believe that physics provides conclusive evidence that consciousness is the foundation of the universe. Max Planck, the German physicist credited as the father of quantum physics, said this:

As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.

Does the discovery of the Higgs boson (or Higgs particle) provide support for Planck’s view of consciousness and the omnipotence of intelligent mind? Let’s explore this question.

Professor Peter Higgs postulated the existence of the Higgs boson in 1964 in an attempt to prove his theory about how particles get mass. Most particles have mass but where it comes from has been a mystery. For example, a lead ball has more mass than a Styrofoam ball. Similarly, a proton or a neutron has more mass than an electron. A photon, on the other hand, has no mass at all. What accounts for the difference? A number of hypothetical theories have been put forward to explain the origin of mass. Peter Higgs’ theory works this way: A kind of field (the Higgs field) exists throughout the universe and as elementary particles move through it, they pick up mass from the field. If the Higgs field exists, he said, there should be a particle associated with it (in the same way photons are associated with the electromagnetic field) and when it is found, it will prove his theory. The search has been underway ever since. On July 4, 2012, it was announced that a particle similar to what the Higgs boson is thought to be like was found at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. Therefore, along with the discovery of the Higgs boson comes proof that the Higgs field is the mechanism that gives elementary particles their mass. That’s why this is such a big deal.

As already noted above, photons do not get mass from the Higgs field. Why not? The Higgs mechanism describes a complicated process in which photons are able to remain massless while the other elementary particles do pick up mass. However, there might be a more simple explanation. Perhaps photons are not part of the physical universe in the first place and thus cannot travel through the Higgs field.

Photons are described as particles of light. They move through space at (of course) the speed of light, which is a constant 186,000 miles per second. Einstein’s special theory of relativity explained that only massless particles move that fast and that anything moving that fast does not experience either distance or time. This means that, from the photon’s perspective, when it leaves its source it has already arrived at its destination. That’s equivalent to saying it is at two places at the same moment. More than that, it is at all places at the same moment. This applies even when the distances involved are large. For example, from the perspective of an observer, it takes light 100,000 years to traverse our Milky Way galaxy. For the photon itself, the time it takes is exactly zero. It’s already there because there is zero distance between its source and its destination. Indeed, from the photon’s perspective, the entire galaxy is squeezed into zero space. How can this be?

How can it be that a photon, which is a particle, is at all places at the same time? Relativity explains the effect as a bending of the fabric of the universe caused by the speed of an object through it. Yet the bending applies only to the object itself, not for someone watching. This is curious to say the least. It seems to me the other possibility is the true one: photons are not part of the physical universe and that is why they don’t experience space and time. Speed is not the cause, it’s the effect. Is there a place outside space and time? Yes, the field of consciousness. As Max Planck said, “…mind is the matrix of all matter.” Consciousness is the reality; everything else is created by thought.

No one has ever seen a photon. What we see is an effect of photons, not the photon itself. It’s an effect that leaks from the realm of consciousness (the world of ideas) into the physical universe. The leakage is energy that enters the physical realm and slows down as it picks up mass from the Higgs field while it transforms into matter – electrons, protons and neutrons. Without the Higgs field, those elementary particles would also be screaming around without mass still as ideas, traveling at the same speed as light. There would be no physical universe as we know it, only Light. The Higgs field thus appears to be the mechanism that Mind uses to cause the physical universe to show up and to cause our unique physical expressions to appear as part of it, as actors on the stage of life. The Higgs field binds ideas to the physical realm by slowing them down.

Charles Fillmore, cofounder of the Unity new thought movement, was a scientifically oriented spiritual leader. He described spiritual love as, “…the power that joins and binds in divine harmony the universe and everything in it.” He said that long before anything was known about the Higgs field or the Higgs boson but physicists then were already wondering where mass came from. It sounds as though he was describing the source as the force of love.

The Higgs boson is nicknamed, “The God Particle,” apparently for good reason. Most physicists reject that name but I think Max Planck would embrace it.