The God Particle

God-Talk in a "Big Bang" World

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R. Kirby Godsey
  • Macon, GA: 
    Mercer University Press
    , September
     2016.
     112 pages.
     $20.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780881465853.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Review

Raleigh Kirby Godsey provides us with philosophical arguments that attempt to eliminate the science and religion divide for those who are faithful to their tradition. Though philosophical, The God Particle does not indulge in jargon that only trained philosophers would be able to decipher. It is written in a very simple way for any reader to understand. Although the book attempts to speak to a person of any faith that sometimes finds themselves challenged by scientific theory and discovery, Godsey appears frustrated by those of the Christian faith who take their scripture literally. Godsey argues that it is the purpose of both scientists and theologians to unlock the mysteries of the unknown and thus, regards conflict between science and religion as peculiar. However, it is made clear that Godsey is not trying to harmonize science and religion; he wants to give each a distinct role in a person’s life.

Godsey takes a strong stance against creationism, especially young Earth creationism. He feels that such notions do not do justice to an omnipotent God and demonstrate an ignorance of history and facts. He states, “Holy ignorance is still ignorance” (13). He finds that when believers take so-called ignorance as a tenet of faith, it may cause them to lose their religion, because when they do apply reason, they will find it difficult to preserve their faith. However, at the same time, Godsey is cautious regarding the questions that science should answer. The aim of science, according to Godsey, is to push boundaries and investigate the unknown, but not necessarily to find God.

To speak of God, the use of symbols and metaphor are necessary, according to Godsey. He refers to this as myth, not with a negative connotation, but more in alignment with Joseph Campbell’s understanding of myth. Godsey resonates with the notion that biblical myths should transform human beings inwardly, but not be taken literally as fact. To Godsey, it is the message that is more important than the content. In the case of Christianity therefore, it is not as important to believe in the historical Jesus, but rather to embody Jesus and his message.

Godsey asserts that the most powerful myth of all is love, because human beings and the universe are interconnected. He gives the analogy that though the Torah has 613 laws, when Jesus was asked about the most important law he said, “Love God with all that is within you and love other people as you love yourself” (75). Godsey goes on to state, “I believe that love is the ultimate energy of the universe” (85). It is not the legal matters, traditions, or even believing in the historicity of the myths, but it is love that is at the heart of Christianity. This is very much in keeping with Pope Francis’ stance on the Catholic Church today whenever he finds himself debating with conservatives. Godsey’s message throughout the book is that this world is a mystery—and because it is a mystery—we should always have the humility of keeping an open mind.

The book is short, and an easy read. However, it lacks any real engagement with scholarly literature. This is not necessarily a shortcoming. It is clearly that the author’s intention is to reach out to lay people and provide them with his own insights. If you are a scholar seeking new contributions to the field of religion and science, this book will most likely not be very beneficial to you. However, if you are a soul (if that even exists) who sometimes finds themself in doubt about their faith in light of scientific or historical facts, then this book could give you the solace you may need from a Christian perspective. It does so neither by dismissing the facts nor by dismissing faith, but by allowing the reader to view their faith from a different vantage point: one that looks to the power of myth to changing human lives, and the power of love in energizing our universe.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Abdulla Galadari is an Assistant Professor at Masdar Institute, United Arab Emirates, and a Research Fellow at Al-Marktoum College, Scotland.

Date of Review: 
December 12, 2016
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

R. Kirby Godsey is the author of four books, including Is God a Christian? and When We Talk About God...Let's Be Honest. For twenty-seven years, he served as president of Mercer University, becoming chancellor in 2006. Godsey has earned doctorates in Theology (NOBTS) and Philosophy (Tulane).

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