Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Physics, Biology and Chemistry of Angels

A while back, I posted a Friday Feature that included an interview with British botanist and author, Rupert Sheldrake, who wrote several books, one of which he co-wrote with Matthew Fox called The Physics of Angels. In my interview with him, Sheldrake suggested that, “Einstein’s photons of light have remarkable parallels to [St. Thomas] Aquinas’s discussions of the movements of angels [being without mass or body].

So, what ARE angels? And do you believe in them?

According to Wikipedia, an angel (from Greek: άγγελος, angelos, "messenger", pl. άγγελοι) is a supernatural being found in many religions. In Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism, angels, as attendants or guardians to man, typically act as messengers from God. In the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) the Biblical name for angel, מלאך ("mal'ach"), obtained the further signification of "angel" only through the addition of God's name, as "angel of the Lord," or "angel of God" (Zechariah 12:8). Other appellations are "sons of God", (Genesis 6:4; Job 1:6 [R. V. v. 1]) and "the holy ones" (Psalm 89:6-8). Mal'ach can mean any sort of messenger, even a king's emissaries. (Genesis 32:4). Angels are referred to as "holy ones" Zechariah 14:5 and "watchers" Daniel 4:13. They are spoken of as the "host of heaven" Deuteronomy 17:3 or of "Adonai" Joshua 5:14. In some places, it is implied that angels existed before the physical creation (Genesis 1:26; Job 38:7). The earlier Biblical writings did not speculate about them; simply regarding them, in their relations to man, as God's agents. The archangels named in post-exile Judaism are Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jerahmeel. Gabriel and Michael are mentioned in the book of Daniel, Raphael in the Book of Tobit (from the Protestant Apocrypha or Catholic and Orthodox Deuterocanon) and the remaining four in the book of Enoch from the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (considered canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox).

My husband recently gave me this list of insightful remarks by children about what angels are and do...Thought you might like to read them too:

"I only know the names of two angels, Hark and Harold." ~~~Gregory, 5

"Everybody's got it all wrong. Angels don't wear halos anymore. I forget why, but scientists are working on it." ~~~Olive, 9

"It's not easy to become an angel! First, you die. Then you go to Heaven.And then there's still the flight training to go through. And then you got to agree to wear those angel clothes." ~~~Matthew, 9

"Angels work for God and watch over kids when God has to go do something else." ~~~Mitchell, 7

"My guardian angel helps me with math, but he's not much good for science." ~~~Henry, 8

"Angels don't eat, but they drink milk from Holy Cows!!!" ~~~Jack, 6

"Angels talk all the way while they're flying you up to heaven. The main subject is where you went wrong before you got dead." ~~~Daniel, 9

"When an angel gets mad, he takes a deep breath and counts to ten. And when he lets out his breath, somewhere there's a tornado." ~~~Reagan, 10

"Angels have a lot to do and they keep very busy. If you lose a tooth, an angel comes in through your window and leaves money under your pillow. Then when it gets cold, angels go south for the winter." ~~~Sara, 6

"Angels live in cloud houses made by God and his son, who's a very good carpenter. ~~~Jared, 8

"All angels are girls because they gotta wear dresses and boys didn't go for it." ~~~Antonio, 9

"My angel is my grandma who died last year. She got a big head start on helping me while she was still down here on earth." ~~~~~Lynn, 9

"Some of the angels are in charge of helping heal sick animals and pets. And if they don't make the animals get better, they help the child get over it." ~~~Vicki, 8

"What I don't get about angels is why, when someone is in love, they shoot arrows at them." ~~~ Sarah, 7

Sweet, huh?...I just love the last one... Thanks, Sarah. I've been wondering the same thing myself!

Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit Visit for more about her writing.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

A very literate and studied definition of angels. Well done, Nina. A fine choice of classical paintings.

The Red Stone by Craig Smith said...

That book about the physics of Angels sounds interesting. And the quotes by the children are really thought provoking. It's amazing the way they look on the world. I liked this one: "It's not easy to become an angel! First, you die. Then you go to Heaven.And then there's still the flight training to go through. And then you got to agree to wear those angel clothes."

sfgirl said...

Thanks, Jean-Luc. And Craig, yes, they are delightful, aren't they? I like the one about shooting arrows when you're in love. :)