151: IS GOD THE FIFTH FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE?

“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the totally unique Christian/Atheist blog, where there are no boundaries. In this personal polemic I muse aloud about religion and the world. You are welcome to ‘listen in’ and I hope you get something out of it!” Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.

I picked up “The political aims of Jesus” by American theologian Douglas Oakman in the Church House bookshop in Westminster, a place that I highly recommend. This book is heavy but rewarding. The title was irresistible for me because the point of Zingcreed is to think aloud about Jesus and modern left wing approaches to politics. I was thinking Tolstoy, Gandhi and Martin Luther King (and Christian Anarchism) when I started last November, but it turns out I need to soak up “structures of Mediterranean peasant communities” and “first century apocalypticism”, and Oakwood is a good place to start (plus Sanders, Vermes, Crossan, Horsley, Malina, Brandon, Bammel, Aslan and his new best seller ‘Zealots’).

It was a real surprise to come across a section on electromagnetic forces in such a book; not only that but he presents a case for God that really stopped me in my tracks. No other writer has had that effect on me since I started this project. Maybe it’s because I’m a scientist by training.

He writes (page 135) “Modern science speaks of 4 elemental forces in the universe and seeks to understand everything by the interaction of these forces over time and distance. None of the 4 fundamental forces of the universe can be observed directly. Gravity is perceived through its effect on masses, trajectories, and even the deformation of space. the 2 nuclear forces are invisible to the eye of humans. And, electromagnetic forces, such as those perceptible in the reception of radio transmissions or digital computer operations, are equally mysterious.

It would seem then that the skeptics of the nonempirical accept some things “on faith” without sight.
Jesus’ proclamation endures beyond his time: the Kingdom of God is in your very midst. The Power is real, real enough to be understood as a “fifth force” in the universe. This invisible moral force is enormously  weak yet invincibly ever present. Unlike gravity it can be resisted, but it may act decisively over long distances of time and space. Like the nuclear forces, the Power holds enormous energy, far greater than E=MC², which can indeed be released under the right historical circumstances. Like electromagnetism, the Spirit of the Living God can propagate through space, can blow just as “the wind blows where it wills” (John 3:8) Inert chemical elements can become organic, assume systemic properties not predicted from the sum of the parts, like human brains or hearts, like radio receivers, and become receptive to promptings of the spirit.

Jesus himself shines like a beacon out of  the murky past. He points to the Power and to the Source of the brilliant refracted light…In these modern days, the tools of scholarship permit a critical optics to return backward through the refractions to where they intersect in a hologram of the historical figure.
Jesus’ political aims were a response to the Power, and the same Power still stands behind and energizes all things. Jesus’ total identification with the Power led to his absorption into it as God’s only begotten.”

I like this optimistic view of a ‘moral’ universe, but is it true? I see no evidence for this ‘Power’ whereas I do see plenty of evidence for the existence of gravity. I expect he’s quoting someone else who goes into greater detail than he does. I would like to read that . It would be something to act as though the hypothesis were true, though.

Related Zingcreed Post:
The 4 philosophical ‘proofs’ of God’s existence.

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