George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, intentionally injected spiritual themes into the Star Wars narrative. One of the major ways he did this was through an element called “the Force,” a metaphysical ubiquitous power that underpins the universe and can be used by individuals for good or evil. With this in mind, one can’t help but wonder what light the Bible may bear on the Force.
Star Wars substituted God with the Force. Although the term was taken from Carlos Castaneda’s Tales of Power, it has clear parallels to Christian theology. For example, the blessing “May the Force be with you” echoes the old Christian saying, “May God be with you.” Furthermore, when Jedi Master Obi-Wan proclaims to young Luke Skywalker, “Remember, the Force will be with you always,” it mirrors Jesus comforting his disciples by proclaiming, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20).(1)
Despite these clear parallels, the language used to describe the Force as ‘an energy-field created by all living things’ is far more pantheistic than it is Christian. Nevertheless, the presence of a number of Christian themes in Star Wars should not go unnoticed. For instance, Darth Vader and Darth Sidious’ temptations are akin to Satan’s temptations of Eve in the Garden of Eden and Jesus in the desert.
May the Lord be with you
There are other similarities between Lucas’ Force and certain understandings of the Judea-Christian God. In regards to the ubiquity of the Force, Obi Wan teaches that it “surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together,” which evokes Pauline imagery of “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”(1)
Furthermore, it is important to note that the Holy Spirit is understood as an ongoing presence spread throughout the universe, which makes all things new. ‘Clearly,’ argues Bryan Stone, ‘the Holy Spirit does bear some resemblance to the Force of Star Wars.’
Unlike the Holy Trinity, which is described as three persons in one God, the Force is impersonal. Nevertheless, it’s paramount to remember that much of Christian tradition relies heavily on anthropomorphisizing God with metaphorical language.
When talking about the Holy Trinity as three persons in one God, it is important not to regard God as just another creature. God cannot fall into a class of a living member of a species, because God is the source of everything, including the personality of creatures and the lack of personality of non-living objects. As the late C.S. Lewis explained, “Christians are the only people who offer any idea of what a being that is beyond personality could be like.”(1)
On the dark side of the force
The same reasoning holds true with respect to the dark side of the force, which Christians are apt to interpret as the Devil. In this regard, Satan isn’t so much a person as a force that blinds society to do malicious deeds. Sin and evil are personified because the sum total of evil on Earth is somehow greater than its individual parts. A collective lynch mob, for instance, reaches a peak, which is greater than the individuals in the mob. The corporate nature of the mob is related to each individual, but it is still greater than the sum total of the members involved.(1)
N.T. Wright, a leading British New Testament scholar and retired Anglican bishop, makes the same point: “Evil is real and powerful. It is not only ‘out there’ in other people, but it is present and active within each of us. What is more, ‘evil’ is more than the sum total of all evil impulses and actions. When human beings worship that which is not God, they give authority to forces of destruction and malevolence; and those forces gain a power, collectively, that has, down the centuries of Christian experience, caused wise people to personify it, to give it the name of Satan, the adversary.”(2)
Basically, the Force, according to Lucas, was to illustrate that “there is a God and there is a good and bad side.” The entire point behind Star Wars was to get lay people, particularly teenagers, to talk about God. Therefore, in drawing parallels between God and the Force, we should take the former to heart and the latter with a grain of salt.