Advanced particle physics may not seem the vehicle for popular fiction to address the conflict between science and religion. Yet Richard Cox uses the subject successfully in
On the surface, The God Particle tells the stories of two men. Steve Keely is a California businessman who suffers a severe head injury when he falls three stories from a window while on a business trip in Switzerland. Mike McNair is a physicist who heads up the world's largest super conducting super collider in Texas and the search for the Higgs boson. This hypothesized subatomic particle is known as "the God particle" because it is believed to be the component of a field through which all other particles move and responsible for giving those particles mass. If you don't quite grasp the last sentence, that is one of the attributes of the work. Cox explains and uses such advanced concepts in a fashion that prevents them from being stumbling blocks. (In a concluding note, Cox gives credit to a similarly titled work by Leon Lederman, the 1988 Nobel laureate in physics, as the inspiration for this book).
Yet The God Particle is much more than a fiction-based exploration of theoretical physics. Whether we go back to Galileo's conflict with the Catholic Church or today's debate over teaching evolution or "intelligent design," it seems we perpetually face certain core questions. Do we look to science or religion to try to understand the essence of life? Is there a point at which scientific objectivism and spiritual faith both are essential to any such understanding?
Keely must deal with these issues firsthand. McNair examines them more abstractly. In the end, though, the paths of both men converge and require them to confront the same metaphysical questions.