By Timothy Arden
In the past century there has been a revolution in science with the discovery and exploration of the subatomic world. Quantum physics—that branch of science that explains the nature and behavior of matter and energy at the subatomic level—may deal with the infinitesimally small, but at the same time it has done nothing less than shape our understanding of the entire universe.
While, historically, there has always been a tension between the spheres of science and religion, writer and author Ann Shakespeare believes that knowledge of quantum physics could also help bring added depth and greater comprehension to the Christian faith. Her new book, God’s Gift of Tremendous Power, is the first non-academic text to make this connection between the quantum realm and spiritual truth, drawing on the latest scientific discoveries to support the timeless biblical truth that God is omnipresent.
As a practicing Christian herself, Ann thinks that there is much to gain from contemplating these discoveries. In her book she sets out the idea of the ‘quantum field’, as she describes it, which can be understood as the underlying fabric of the universe; a field of energy which pervades all the subatomic particles and everything that exists. This field, she says, is the medium through which God created the universe and through which He manifests his works. Importantly, while this quantum field is neutral, it can, she believes, be positively influenced through prayer and meditation.
In writing the guide, which has just been published through Deep River Books, Ann hopes to help Christians look beyond a dualistic view of God’s creation to see the “truth of oneness and omnipresence that is conveyed powerfully in the letters of the New Testament”. This vision is underlined beautifully by the discoveries of quantum physics which shed light on the scriptures that describe the dynamic spiritual life that is “available to us in Christ, in our daily lives”.
God’s Gift of Tremendous Power contains the fruit of a lifetime’s enquiry into the fundamental existential questions such as ‘Why are we here?’ and ‘What is our purpose?’ Now aged 67 and based in Lincolnshire, Ann first became drawn to Christianity as an answer to these profound questions during her 20s, as she explains:
“A friend gave me a book outlining the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus and I was drawn to look deeply into Jesus’ life and teachings. The more I searched and questioned, the more convinced I became of the truth of Jesus—of his claims, words and actions –until one day I asked him to come into my life, although in no way did I feel worthy of it.
“It was a simple prayer before going to bed; no complicated words or special phrases. The next morning, however, was an utterly amazing and life-transforming experience. Words could never truly convey the depths and heights of that experience but I can say that it was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes, mind and heart. An irrepressible fountain of joy replaced months of depression, and an extraordinary quality of peace and unconditional love pervaded my entire being.
“This all happened 36 years ago, but it remains as vivid as though it were yesterday. Since that morning, there have been plenty of sorrows as well as tragedy in my life, but the supernatural peace, joy and love of Jesus Christ that poured into my life has never left me, and I have continued to experience it working powerfully in my life – and in the lives of others – in increasing measure to this day.”
After that deep spiritual experience, Ann says that scripture—in both the Old and New Testaments—came “alive” to her in very real and practical way. She calls upon this familiarity with scripture throughout God’s Gift of Tremendous Power, using it judiciously to illustrate her observations on the link between Christianity and quantum physics and, more generally, in providing practical advice to readers on daily prayer and mindfulness that is inspired by scripture.
“Scripture, or the Word of God, is powerful and dynamic when mixed with faith, prayer and meditation,” she says. “I have seen its effects working in my life and in the lives of others, bringing healing and transformation in a way that cannot be explained humanly.
“This experience of new life is available to anyone who would allow the Spirit of Christ to pervade their life and live through them. It is not about being a ‘good’ person or earning it in any way. Rather, it is totally about believing what is revealed in scripture: that we have been reconciled (made one with) God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and that now we have His power and His Spirit coursing through our own minds, bodies and lives. But God does not force it upon us, for Love does not force its way. It is a day by day choice to live by faith in Him.”
While it is her first book, Ann is a seasoned writer who cut her teeth in journalism as a reporter, feature writer and then assistant editor for The Daily Journal, a now defunct English-language national newspaper in Venezuela, during the 1970s. During this time she also worked as a freelancer writer, providing editorial for national and international titles such as Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and BBC World Service.
Bolstered by her faith, Ann pursued a new career path that would enable her to combine her writing skills and proficiency in foreign languages with sharing the Christian message. Relocating from the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, back to the UK, she took up a position with the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), an international NGO promoting social justice. Here she served as an information co-ordinator and the editor of the association’s monthly journal, Action, for nearly a decade.
Having witnessed first-hand the huge social discrepancies between the rich and poor in Latin American countries such as Venezuela, this role allowed Ann to work alongside human rights activists from different parts of the world including South Africa, which at the time was still under apartheid, Burma, Mexico and Nicaragua.
“It was inspiring to meet these brave human rights activists,” she reflects. “They often risked their lives trying to improve conditions in very challenging areas. Burma, for instance, was extremely closed and my colleagues would risk entering the country with donations of money and resources strapped around their waists under their clothes.
“Another time I was fortunate to accompany human rights workers on a visit to Nicaragua. The terrible conditions in the slums of capital, Managua, were harrowing, and I was both humbled and amazed by the resilience of the people who lived there. At the time corruption was deeply entrenched in the bureaucratic system. So much so that I had to pay officials to be allowed to leave the country, which was quite an alarming experience.”
Another highlight of her time with the organization was running a press office, with a daily paper, in Manila, Philippines, during an international WACC conference, but her most abiding memory is of first meeting Neville Jayaweera, whom Ann credits as her “spiritual teacher and guide”.
Neville was, at the time, WACC’s director of research and planning, and someone with a “rare grasp of spiritual disciplines and of the doctrines of different faiths and philosophies”. They have remained in contact for over 30 years, and Ann says that Neville, who has provided a forward for God’s Gift of Tremendous Power, is to thank for first opening her eyes to teachings that would later help inform her concept of the quantum field.
She said: “Neville is a very special man of God who has patiently encouraged me to deepen my knowledge of, and relationship with, God the Father, Jesus Christ our Saviour, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. He has also opened my eyes to aspects of Buddhism and Hinduism that enrich my understanding of the Christian faith.
“One of his most powerful—and practical—revelations came through his teaching on the discoveries of modern physics that deals with the invisible forces of energy, out of which everything in the universe has been created. These discoveries have led many scientists to conclude that the universe is infinite, and because there cannot be more than one infinity, Neville logically concluded that the infinite Christ and the universe must be one.
“It is Neville who encouraged me to write ‘God’s Gift of Tremendous Power’. I kept dragging my feet until, finally, he actually instructed me to start writing, setting a non-negotiable deadline! The stern instruction was just what I needed to overcome my self-imposed blockages, and Neville knew that. The manuscript duly appeared and the rest is history. I cannot overstate the great debt of gratitude I owe to Neville for his wise, deeply caring and godly teaching over the decades.”
After leaving WACC, Ann moved to Tearfund, an international Christian relief and development agency, where she worked for several years as a translator and interpreter.
Ann continues to work as a freelancer editor and, amongst other things, maintains a website for Neville, www.from-the-unreal-to-the-real.com, editing and uploading his wealth of writings about Christian spirituality as well as international affairs.
For some 30 years, she has also been involved in prayer ministry in different churches and church-related organisations. Currently, she ministers in an ecumenical centre which offers prayer and pastoral support to people in the local community in south Lincolnshire.
As for the future, she says that there is a second book “in the pipeline” but for now she has been enjoying positive feedback from fellow Christians for God’s Gift of Tremendous Power.
“My hope with my book is that Christians gain a greater awareness of the quantum field and its relationship to its creator, God,” she adds. “Above all, I hope that the book will help us to gain a greater vision of the tremendous inheritance we have in Christ – to be lived out in our Christian lives, here and now.
“Both modern physics and ancient Eastern religions already comprehend the concept of oneness throughout the universe. This can also be found in Christian scripture but for various reasons the significance has not been properly considered in the Western Christian tradition.
“The discoveries of modern quantum physics, however, are vitally important for Christian faith and practice. By taking it on board, I believe that that each of us can gain a greater vision of the power and the majesty of God, leading to higher levels of worship and trust, and a deeper understanding of the power of prayer and meditation to bring healing and transformation in our own lives and in the lives of others.”