Thursday, 11 December 2014

Why do we so often use Physics metaphors in theology? Why not use biology, or psychology?

I do it myself! - examples are all over this blog: when I am trying to understand or explain God, I feel drawn into using physics-type or mathematical models and metaphors.

Of course it goes back to (what is known of) the earliest Greek philosophers - who regarded ultimate reality in physicsy ways - as elements such as fire and water, in terms of processes such as movement or stasis...

There isn't so much of this in the Bible - but it is there, for example in the use of Light and Dark as primary metaphors.


Yet, is this really helpful?

Does it not usually amount to explaining one difficult-to-understand thing, by employing some even-more-difficult-to-understand-thing?

I have myself, on this blog, have tried to explain the peculiarities of mortal life compared with Heavenly Life, and of the nature of dreams, in terms of the theory of General Relativity...


Yes, I know that physics and mathematics are capable of great precision of expression; but it is an immovable fact is that not many people really understand these matters - even/ especially the people who deploy physics professionally seldom have a true grasp.

It would surely be better to use biology or psychology as our main metaphors - since these are more comprehensible - but then there is 'physics envy' (analogous to Freud's - nonsensical- concept of 'penis envy'), to which thoughtful biological scientists allegedly tend to be prone...


And perhaps, especially among intellectuals, there is a yearning towards impersonal abstraction as being the bottom-line of life - as the final and secure escape from mortal, worldly suffering: this seems like the motivation behind the main 'Eastern religions' such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and behind the deisitic/ Platonic religion of physicists such as Einstein and Roger Penrose.

But Christianity is about a personal God, and His personal incarnate mortal life, and has at its centre the personal 'emotion' of Love.

So what is Christianity doing, dabbling in physics as its bottom line explanatory model?

Good question!