This I Believe

Robert - Sugar Land, Texas
Entered on April 28, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: Christianity

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

As a kid, the next few lines of the Creed were always lost. Instead my mind would ponder, “What is unseen? Air? Ghosts? Vacuum? Thoughts?”

My first theology course challenged the entire Creed. Our text blasted the classic proofs of God’s existence by saying, “At its core the proof relies on, ‘because it feels right’.” The text concluded with proofs that God does not exist, challenging: “If God exists, why is there evil?” Ironically the text accepted disproof based upon, “because it feels wrong.” I concluded, you can’t prove or disprove that God exists. He is unseen.

I also studied physics. Along with protons and neutrons there are scores of “fundamental” particles. As the periodic table implies the existence of particles smaller than atoms, a theory arranging the fundamental particles implies the existence of six still smaller constituents called ‘quarks’. Enthused, physicists searched, but never found a quark.

A new theory, Quantum Chromo Dynamics or QCD, offered an explanation. “Quarks are never seen because they can’t exist alone. Quarks exist, but they are always unseen.” It’s a great trick, to invent a theory about something you can never see. But the theory does offer a way to infer that quarks exist.

To study quarks you smash them together and look at the pieces flying apart. QCD says that in one out of ten million of collisions, instead of pieces, you see two groups of particles flying in opposite directions. It’s like smashing together watches to figure out what makes them tick and occasionally observing dozens of tiny watches spraying out in opposite directions. These blasts of particles are called jets.

I spent the next eight years searching for jets. For my Ph.D., we used various nuclei as miniature laboratories to explore the properties of the quarks and the jets produced by their collision. We proved the existence of the unseen.

But what about God? If he is unseen how do I know he exists?

Maybe miracles provide the laboratory to offer evidence of God. My father once asked for and received a sign from God. Today he is both a physicists and a priest. I decided that if I were to witness a miracle it would prove, at least to me, that God exists.

I prayed. My first child was stillborn. My sister died after fighting MS for 15 years. My wife died of cancer. No miracles.

My father developed bladder cancer and was given 6 months to live. His oncologist offered a new drug that might help, but his liver was too weak to tolerate the drug. My father took a mild version of the drug. A miracle occurred. The cancer vanished. Five years later he is alive and cancer free.

Like the one in ten million chance of observing a jet from the collision of unseen quarks, I observed a miracle.

I believe in the unseen.