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Pandeism and the world of Star Wars

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A long, long time ago.... in a galaxy far, far away....

The Star Wars Universe is characterized by the central role of the Jedi, an essentially religious order which corresponds to a metaphysical characteristic of that world -- The Force. And what is The Force? Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker of it being "an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together." But in practice it appears that The Force is not restricted to living things even, at least insofar as Force-user seem undiminished in their application of its power in deep space and on planets lifeless but for their own presence (such as the volcanic world of Mustafar where a younger Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker duel amidst torrents of lava).

And what is it that The Force enables for those able to access it? Well, a series of relatively minor miracles, to be sure. Most prominently shown are the levitation of objects of varying size (up to an entire spacecraft as done by the venerable Yoda), and comparable telekinetic acts including choking from a distance, especially enjoyed by Darth Vader; feats of augmented strength,endurance, and dexterity; the emission (by those on 'the dark side' of 'Force lightning' -- bolts of energy that electrify their target; controlling the minds of others, if those minds are weak and impressionable; and sensing distant events both distant and nearby but hidden. Possibly the most remarkable application of The Force is in the ability of certain of its users to reportedly eitherraise the dead, or defeat death itself, continuing to exist after death as conscious and communicative beings (if incorporeal ones) -- visible at least to other wielders of this power.

Now, one interesting thing about The Force is that, much like the magical talent on display in the Harry Potter series, access to it (formally called being 'Force-sensitive') seems limited to those with a genetic predisposition, an accident of birth perhaps, but one which is clearly inheritable. Parents who are 'strong in The Force' will be likely to have children with the same propensity. One who had not inherited this knack would not be able to use the Force for levitation and mind control and such, no matter how strongly they believed in it; just as the few regular humans in Harry Potter's world who actually know about the magic are not themselves able to wield wands and cast spells.

Interestingly as well, although the Jedi are unquestionably shown to exist and to exercise remarkable abilities, they are not infrequently dismissed as quasi-mythic -- even to their faces!! This is best illustrated in the earliest film, where we see Obi-Wan training Luke as they travel in the Millennium Falcon; Luke is attempting to block blasts from a hovering training robot: Obi-Wan: Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. Luke: You mean it controls your actions? Obi-Wan: Partially, but it also obeys your commands. Han Solo: (laughing as Luke is blasted by the training robot) Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid. Luke: You don't believe in the Force, do you? Han Solo: Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. Anyway, it's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.Obi-Wan then places a blast helmet on Luke, covering Luke's eyes. Despite misgivings, Luke follows Obi-Wan's instructions to 'stretch out with his feelings', and then succeeds in blocking several blasts from the training robot. Han Solo's response, when confronted by the reality before him, is to call it luck -- to which Obi-Wan insists, "there is no such thing as luck."

Han Solo presents perhaps the most interesting theological perspective, for he begins this journey as a true atheist, with no faith in 'hokey religions' or a 'mystical energy field.' And yet, we are shown throughout the course of the series that such an energy field -- the Force -- does indeed exist!! At the same time, despite the actual presence of one spiritual truth, it is shown that some adhere to religiosity reflecting false superstition, as with the Ewoks worshiping C3PO as a deity (notably even before Luke Skywalker supplies the physics-defying display which cements this impression).

But for all of the wonders accessible through The Force, the Universe of Star Wars offers no explanation as to why this phenomenon exists. The extended universe of novels and other materials includes some reference to an ancient 'discovery' of The Force, but offer no explication of its origin. This has been left in a sense to critics who have attacked the stories as supplanting theistic religions with a form of Pantheism, the idea that 'God' is the Universe itself. And, despite the occasional condemnation of this notion from theists, a fairly significant number of people have responded to census requests by identifying themselves as 'Jedi.'

But here we find the world of Star Wars to operate consistently with a pandeistic Universe. Look at the things going on here. First, despite the fuzziness of the technology in use, there is unquestionably a consistently governing physics. Comparable to Star Trek once the metaphysical element is put aside, the distribution of life forms observed on various planets is consistent with each such planet's life developing through a process of evolution by natural selection. This process has led to intelligent life arising on numerous worlds, such that interactions betweencivilizations generate a rich array of experiences, as predicted by the presumption in the most popular formulation of Pandeism, wherein our Universe is designed to provide such experiences to the Creator which has become it.

And, the governing dynamics of the Star Wars Universe are sufficiently decipherable that people therein have been able to develop technology and move towards transhumanism, with lost and damaged body parts being replaceable with mechanical substitutes. At the same time, true artificial intelligence exists. And, on top of all of this, there is the recognition of an underlying energy suffusing the Universe, one which certain people by happenstance can tap into to perform seemingly miraculous physical feats, divine prophecies, and so influence others towards belief in the quasitheological import of these abilities. Despite the leveling of the accusation of Pantheism against the authors of Star Wars, there is no element in that fictional Universe suggesting it to be an temporally static (or even an uncreated) Universe. In having a present pantheistic aspect, it is thusly entirely consistent with a pandeistic Universe wherein the Creator has becomes the Creation so that it might experience things like the breathtaking adventures of Jedi Knights swashbuckling their way around the galaxy and defeating the forces of evil.

Lastly, given the possibility that physics may vary by slight degrees in different parts of our Universe, and given that the story related in the Star Wars saga is claimed to have happened "a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," it is impossible to declare absolutely that the events thus depicted are indeed fictional at all. Indeed, their putative author, George Lucas might well have been unconsciously capturing and relating historical facts preserved and transmitted to his thoughts through some unknown mechanism of the fabric of a pandeistic Universe. Not that this is proposed as a likely explanation of anything, and certainly not as an aspect of the theory of Pandeism itself -- but simply as a diversion of thought, and one of the myriad fascinating possibilities our Universe presents to us.

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