The Light of Christ: Are We Human or Are We Energy?

In the above TED talk by MIT-trained artist, scientist and engineer, Jeff Lieberman, shares his ideas on the origin and nature of human beings. He talks about how we are not simply a single physical entity, but are made up of a community of trillions of cells which are, in turn, composed of trillions of atoms. Taking it down to the sub-atomic level, Lieberman suggests that the atoms that make up our body are composed of energy. That energy, he posits, came from a single source — the single, undifferentiated energy that led to the Big Bang. Everything in the Universe, including us, came from this one source and shares this energy in common. He goes into a lot more than this, but this is what I wanted to focus on in this post.

Watch the video and let me know how much you think it has in common with what I am going to say now.

I recently led a discussion on Doctrine and Covenants, section 88 in which we talked about the Light of Christ as described in that section. When I later saw this TED video, I was amazed by how many parallels between the two philosophies jumped out at me. For your convenience, I’ll quote D&C 88:6–13 here.

6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;

7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.

8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;

9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;

10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.

11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;

12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—

13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.

Notice how Lieberman’s ideas approximate what is said here. The light (or “energy”) of Christ originates at one source and then goes forth to fill the immensity of space. Everything in the universe is made from and composed of this light, including the Earth — I think we can assume that the inference is that we, ourselves, are also made up of this light. The scripture explicitly states that this light enlightens our eyes and quickens our understanding and it is this light that is in all things and gives life to all things. The light is equated with the governing law of the Universe and with God’s own power.

I don’t agree with everything that Lieberman says in the video, but a lot of it makes perfect sense. I know that there is some discrepancy still among scientists regarding the exact nature of the particles (electrons, photons, neutrinos, quarks, etc.) that make up atoms, but some studies that I have read indicate that the smallest particles at the most fundamental level may be made up of what is, essentially, light. If we accept that notion, then although our body seems to us to be very physical and solid, we are actually just a big bundle of light moving around very quickly. I am no scientist, but this makes a lot of sense to me.

If we are made up of light/energy that all comes from a single source at the beginning of the Universe, then, as Lieberman argues, we have reason to feel a sense of commonality between our selves and every living being — everything in the Universe. There is something that we share that binds us all together. We should treat our neighbor as ourself!

This also gives us some insight into the type of intuition or communal consciousness and understanding that we should be able to tap into. If this light is in all of us — in all of our cells and our very molecules and atoms — then we share in this same light that created us and of which we are composed. As the scriptures says, this light illumines our eyes and “quickens” our understanding. This illumination is, by the way the scriptures defines it, available to all of us — to every living thing.

This could lead us into many other interesting discussions — but for now, what do you think of these ideas? What did you think of the video? Are Lieberman’s ideas really compatible with what I’ve quoted from D&C 88? Does he take too much from the idea of our eternal individual identity? If you have thoughts on this, please leave them in the comments below!

(This article is cross-posted from the blog Planting Mind Seeds. If you would like to see more like this, check out www.plantingmindseeds.com.)

Insights from N.T. Wright’s Inaugural Lecture: Left-Brain Epicurean Thinking Dominates Biblical Studies

Last night I had the opportunity to listen to Professor Tom Wright (a.k.a. N.T. Wright) give his Inaugural Lecture as Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity here at the University of St Andrews. Professor Wright has actually been at the university a year now and has previously given major public addresses here, but I guess this one is more official.

I share here my notes from the lecture. Please be aware that the following is based on rather skimpy hand-written notes, and so does not do justice to Wright’s elegant and precise handling of the English language, but I hope I have preserved the thrust of his arguments.  The speech was entitled:  ”Imagining the Kingdom: Mission and Theology in early Christianity.”

Wright begins by outlining how the four Gospels are remarkable documents that are still largely unknown to us. We are failing to understand the thrust of the Gospels. We need to apply our imagination and look beyond the boundaries of the various philosophies that guide our views.

Scottish MPs Complain about BYU President’s “Homophobic” Institution After Speech to Parliament

Picture: The Scotsman. Ian Rutherford.

BYU President Elder Cecil O. Samuelson has managed to create quite a stir here in bonnie Scotland after giving a speech before the Scottish Parliament last month.  Samuelson was invited to speak at the assembly for their regular Time for Reflection address, which has previously hosted such illustrious speakers as the Dalai Lama. However, Elder Samuelson’s presence was rejected by a number of MPs (Members of Parliament) due to his leadership over a university that labels homosexual behavior as “innapropriate.”

The headlines and commentaries that have been erupting around the UK express outrage at the Samuelson invitation, calling him “homophobe” and “anti-gay.” They refer to Brigham Young University as a “homophobic” institution.

Elder Samuelson, in his very brief remarks, said nothing about the university’s (or the Church’s) stance on homosexuality or homosexual behavior, but presented a very harmless (in my view) introduction to the university/Church’s view on seeing all mankind as brothers and sisters and loving and serving others (citing Mosiah 2:17).

You can read his full remarks here: http://newsroom.lds.org/article/church-leader-scottish-parliament-i-bless-you
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“Thy Mind, O Man, Must Stretch”: John Welch’s Maeser Distinguished Faculty Lecture

Cross-posted from www.heavenlyascents.com. This post is especially relevant in light of recent discussions on this blog regarding believing scholars and holding on to convictions in the face of intellectual challenges.

On May 17, 2011 (the day after I left Provo for my recent visit), Professor John W. Welch, Robert K. Thomas Professor of Law and editor-in-chief of BYU Studies, gave the 2011 Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty Lecture at a Brigham Young University forum after having been awarded the 2011 Maeser Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award, the university’s highest faculty honor.  Jack Welch is one of the most recognizable and admired LDS scholars of our day, a prime example of a believing disciple-scholar, and I really wanted to hear what he had to say on this memorable occasion.  Fortunately, I have since had the opportunity to see and read his comments and would like to share with you some of his inspiring remarks.

Professor Welch’s speech was inspired by Joseph Smith’s words penned at Liberty Jail, “Thy mind, o man, must stretch,” and structured around the principles of BYU’s Mission Statement (which you can read here).  The speech gave some very poignant examples of how BYU,  and, more broadly, how Mormonism itself, encourages and facilitates this vision of ever-expanding our mind — our knowledge, experiences, and capacities.

Before I begin, I share links to his speech so that you can see it for yourself here: http://www.byutv.org/watch/158-173, or listen to it in .mp3 format here: http://speeches.byu.edu/download.php/Welch_John_2011_05_17.mp3.

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Expound Symposium: Notes on Matthew Brown’s “Cube, Gate and Measuring Tools: A Biblical Pattern”

(cross-posted from www.HeavenlyAscents.com)

The following are my notes on Matthew B. Brown’s presentation at the recently held Expound Symposium that I participated in on May 14th. Matthew’s paper was intriguing — a very insightful treatment of temple-related topics that readers of this blog would surely find extremely interesting.  My notes do not do it justice by any means, especially because my computer battery is so bad that I had to take notes by hand (gasp)!! So, keeping in mind that what few notes I am providing don’t nearly represent the breadth and depth of Matthew Brown’s wonderful paper, nor his own words verbatim, here goes (after the notes, I provide links to my and  to Jeffrey Bradshaw’s papers, for those who haven’t seen them, as they both touch on some of the same temple themes as Matthew’s paper):

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