Cogitation XV: Stranger Than Fiction

Jesus liked to provoke the politicians of his day, especially those pesky Pharisees and Sadducees. They were insufferable! They controlled the levers of power in Jewish society, but they were caught in contradictions. They were vicious with power and yet claimed religious piety. There was all that hypocrisy as well. Pharisees specialised in religious showmanship – finding the best camera angle to display piety on TV… Well, they didn’t have TV in those days but you get the point. They prayed on street corners to get extra view. They staged prayers!

The Pharisees had no moral compunction whatsoever. They preyed on the people. Jesus just couldn’t stand the flamboyant greed. They would go to any extent to get rid of a political opponent. They eventually assassinated Jesus. It was judicial murder. There was the frame up, then the cover up. The scandal entailed bribery and corruption. There was use of intimidation and harassment as well. It was inevitable Jesus would have run-ins with them. If you genuinely cared about the poor you were bound to have issues with those folks. They were fiendish. Jesus rained invectives on them. The words Jesus employed are the strongest for any group in scriptures: “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds!… You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” Matthew 23:27-28 MSG. “Snakes! Reptilian sneaks!… It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.” Matthew 23:33-34 MSG.

In order to set Jesus up the conservative right, meaning Pharisees, ganged up with the liberal left, the party of the Sadducees. Both took turns trying to trip Jesus up, hoping to catch him say something seditious: “When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault.” Matthew 22:34-36 MSG. They had hoped to get him on the politically and emotionally charged subject of payment of tax to the Roman colonial authority but Jesus outsmarted them. Was it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, they asked. If Jesus said yes the people will stone him. They HATED the Romans and the tax collection agents. And if Jesus said no the Romans will hang him. He was on the horns of dilemma. The Jesus comeback was just brilliant, absolutely brilliant: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” Matthew 22:21 NLT. That left his opponents stunned. Jesus often paid them back in kind: “As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with his own test question: “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They replied, “He is the son of David…” Jesus responded, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’?… Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?” Matthew 22:41-45 MSG, NLT.

Predictably the Pharisees had no answer for Jesus – no one could. Not in 30 AD. To be honest you’d have to be a 21st century physicist to answer that question. The Pharisees could not answer because Jesus was interrogating the principle of causality in physics. (Don’t forget he’s creator). They didn’t study physics in school in those days. It’s the chicken and egg paradox – which comes first, the chicken or the egg? The Jesus/David paradox is even more complex. How can you be ancestor and descendant at the same time? The law of cause and effect rules nature. In classical physics an effect cannot occur without its cause. But what Jesus put on the table is an effect that is a cause at the same time – Jesus is both ancestor and descendant of David. How can that be?

In classical physics and in everyday life, events are ordered in time. A father gives birth to a son. It can’t be the other way round. The physicists will say a cause can only influence an event in its future not its past. It’s another way of saying father gives birth to son. The cause always comes before the effect. If Event A is the cause of Event B, Event B cannot be the cause of Event A. That’s classical physics and the natural order of our everyday life. But Jesus convoluted this with his Jesus/David paradox. He’s David’s ancestor and descendant.

For us to solve the equation of how Jesus can be the ancestor of David and yet be his descendant at the same time we have to abandon the laws of classical physics and delve into the world of quantum mechanics. (Don’t let that intimidate you). Broadly speaking there are two branches of physics – the physics of the world of large objects – generally referred to as classical physics; and the physics of the world of very small objects we can’t see – what physicists call subatomic matter. It’s known as quantum mechanics. The strange thing is that the laws governing these two worlds collide. Subatomic particles (very small objects) don’t follow same rules as objects we can see, hold or feel, and this despite the fact small objects constitute large objects. They rebelliously follow their own rules. We’re familiar with the world of large objects. The earth is a large object for instance. Cause and effect governs the world of large objects. But the world of subatomic particles is a very weird world. Strange things happen in that world. The physics is radical.

In the subatomic world two particles of light – what scientists call photons, that are 1,200km apart can be linked without anything in between. Scientists call this strange phenomenon “entanglement.” And those two particles will “read each other’s thoughts.” What happens to one particle will affect the other though they’re a thousand kilometres apart with no physical connection! There’s synchronicity even though there’s no wire, no force, and no communication. Small particles have magical powers. There are weirder stuff in the world of tiny objects. For instance something can be in two different locations at the same time! This is called superposition in physics. But how’s that even possible! That’s like saying a man can be in Lagos and London at the same time. Subatomic particles have strange abilities.

But as you think about these weird stuff in the subatomic world a certain realisation dawns on you concerning stuff in the Bible. It would seem that many of God’s attributes are governed by the rules of the world of very small objects – quantum mechanics, even though God is not a subatomic particle. As you study physics and come across the weird realities of the subatomic world you come to realise some of the stuff in the Bible are not crazy after all. We just don’t understand the physics. For instance the principle of superposition makes it possible for a particle to be in two places at the same time. But that’s just like God. God is everywhere at the same time. Which means God somehow operates by the PRINCIPLE of superposition. God can be in two places at once. When you think of the ubiquity attribute of God, being in two places at the same time sounds like magic; but then as you read about superposition in quantum physics and you realise there are particles with same attribute the concept of “God” is not unbelievable. In fact according to the Bible Christians are in two places at the same time – we’re on earth and in heaven at once. We’re seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus though on earth. Ephesians 2:6. That’s kind of like the principle of superposition in physics. Can Jesus therefore be both ancestor and descendant of David at the same time? The answer is theoretically yes – if the weird PRINCIPLE of superposition in quantum physics is in operation.

There are a number of these paradoxes all over scriptures – things that are only resolvable with quantum mechanics thinking. Every time Jesus sought to prove his divinity he resorted to expression of quantum mechanics principles. We can therefore argue that any time Jesus said weird stuff that seem more aligned with laws of quantum physics than our reality he’s donning his scientist cap. The Bible says he created all that science in Genesis. It’s why he’s called the Logos. Colossians 1:16. The easy pointer to when Jesus is in scientist mode is when he speaks “bad English”, deliberately mixing up his tenses. (He spoke Aramaic). He wasn’t being cheeky, he was expressing his divinity. Jesus would say stuff that imply he’d been around before he was born. That confounded his opponents. He would say seemingly outlandish things. In one particular argument he told the Jews anyone who obeyed his teachings will never die. John 8:51. He was pointing to his divinity but the Jews(understandably) thought he was possessed: “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” John 8:52-53 NLT. The Jews were proud of their heritage. Still are. You don’t mess around with the subject of Abraham. He’s the Ghandi of the Jewish nation, though in fact the founding father was Jacob. The nation is named after him. Jesus responded, “Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” To which the people countered, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” John 8:56-57 NLT. Good question. It was at this point Jesus made one of those quantum physics statements – statements that defy principle of causality: “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” John 8:58 NLT. Meaning he was both in Abraham’s past and present at the same time.  Not understanding the principle of superposition in physics the people picked up stones to finish him off! John 8:59 NLT. He was of course talking above their heads and they were in no mood to listen to physics.

All these raise critical questions. Are what we call “miracles” things that obey a different set of physical laws? They won’t be “miracles” to God of course, just stuff he accomplishes through application of certain laws of physics, things we know nothing about, yet. This line of thinking does not detract from God’s power contrary to what the religious mind might think. He only thinks it does because he does not realise one of God’s powers is intellectual power. He can’t be “God” without it.

The thing about scriptures is the richness. There are several layers of meaning according to different disciplines. Different categories of people will thus have varied understanding of scriptures. And so while a scientist may see the principle of superposition in the statement made by Jesus about being “I am” before Abraham, the philosopher will see something different. Yet it’s the same scripture. The philosopher will see in “I am” the principle of existentialism. But the theologian will quickly make the connection between the statement, “Before Abraham was I am” and God’s introduction to Moses as “I am!” “I am” is thus made up of layers of understanding according to different disciplines of knowledge. There’s meaning in physics, there’s meaning in philosophy, there’s meaning in theology. “I am” signifies the difficulty in defining God even by God; but it’s also the picture of a God who is self-sustaining. He is his own energy system. The scientist may thus choose to define God as a self-sustaining nuclear entity with deterministic capacities. That’s how a scientific mind will view the statement, “I am.” But the philosopher will explore the notion of existentialism. “I am” also implies God is the primary energy source of all of creation. Creation is sustained by energy. As sustainer the Creator’s energy has to be eternal, or he himself will expire before creation does. A scientist will enjoy spending company with God. Imagine being able to discuss the concept of time with God. It’s a big subject in physics. You should read it up.

Clearly there’s more to Jesus than all that baby in the manger stuff. If the Bible is true he must be a scientific mind. A brilliant mind should want to meet such a personage. Do you?

If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”

© Leke Alder | talk2me@lekealder.com.

Clearly there’s more to Jesus than all that baby in the manger stuff. If the Bible is true he must be… Click To Tweet