Apologies to Star Wars. I think George Lucas might have gotten it wrong. But if there is a good scientific term to appropriate, The Force sounds a whole lot cooler than The Energy. When we think about energy we think about 3 year olds and that feeling we wish we had before starting the day. We can also think about aura, crystals and new age. Technically however, energy is defined as the ability to do work. It isn’t the work itself, rather it is the movement of energy that does the work. Whether it is potential energy to kinetic energy, electrical energy in your phone battery into radio waves, or the warmth transfer you feel when you hug your kids, it is the exchange of energy that does things we really care about.
I really enjoy thinking about science. It is a way for me to comprehend and honor creation. I also feel a great sense of responsibility when writing or discussing science, because it is so often misunderstood and misused. Bad mixing of science with theology is a dangerous thing. Misusing scientific terms for artistic effect is one thing, but willfully misrepresenting science to deny climate change or fraudulently link vaccines to autism maims and kills people. It leads to the distortion of truth and the spreading of lies.
We are all scientists whether we know it or not. We all create hypotheses, we experiment, we test hypotheses and draw conclusions everyday. When we do this in a disciplined, objective way, we can discern truth. It is sometimes said for things like human evolution, it is “just a theory.” That is true, but I would remove the word “just,” because gravity is a theory and so is your need for oxygen to stay alive. I don’t recommend ignoring these theories. But aren’t these just facts? We call something a fact when the evidence is so great that chance for it to be wrong is vanishingly small. Gravity and oxygen crossed that threshold centuries ago, human evolution decades ago and human-caused climate change in the last several years.
Where science meets theology is where evidence meets belief. We’ve all tried to convince a person with facts when they were too entrenched to be persuaded. Those who think that evidence and scientific thought alone are good enough are simply naive. Just like we are all scientists, we are all theologians. It is innate and it is what gives us our worldview. In both cases, our choice is whether to do it well, with an open mind that is willing to change, or not.
I will end where I started, what is The Force? I think Lucas was making loose references to the Spirit of God. Personally, I think he got it wrong. I think the Spirit is more like energy, because it is the movement of the Spirit that causes things we care about to happen. The Spirit is like a field (like an electromagnetic field, gravitational field or better yet, a Higg’s field). The Spirit permeates everything and is always available to do useful work.