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God as Spirit—and Natural Science

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The biblical sentence “God is Spirit” (John 4:24) occasioned the development of the Christian doctrine about God as Spirit. But since patristic times “spirit” was interpreted in the sense of Nus, which rather means “intellect.” The biblical concept of spirit (pneuma), however, has its root meaning in referring to “air in movement,” as in breath or storm. The similar concept of pneuma in Stoic philosophy has become the “immediate precursor” (Max Jammer) of the field concept in modern physics, so that the conclusion is suggested that God is spirit as something like a field of force rather than as intellect. This essay argues for such a conception by relating the divine eternity and immensity to the concepts of space and time, the basic requirements of any physical field. God's eternity and immensity are interpreted in terms of undivided infinite space (and time) which is presupposed in all concepts of parts of space or time (or space-time), therefore in all mathematical and physical measurement.

Keywords: God as spirit; eternity; field; field of force; immensity; modern physics; spirit

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0591-2385.00396

Affiliations: University of Leeds

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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