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.)

Shroud of Turin: Easter Relic

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Spring slowly arriving brings Easter, a remembrance of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was slain for the sins of the world and came back to life so that all could be saved. Christians everywhere this time of year commemorate the occasion when sin and death were conquered by the love of God who watched His only Son suffer and die so that all may live. The witness of the Bible and other Scripture places these events not in some distant cosmic background, but Jerusalem in the 1st Century among a small group of Jews. Ever since that time people of faith have been searching for clues that once and for all establish the truth of the “good news” or Gospel. Some claim to have found proof.

The most famous and researched is the mysterious Shroud of Turin. It is a long cloth that seems to show the back and front of a faint figure with visible signs of pain and suffering. Hands are crossed at pelvic region to give the impression he was laid down in death. Stains that resemble blood can be found on his back, head, hands, feet, and side. Whatever the truth, it represents the body of a tortured and crucified man.

For centuries the Catholic Church has held it as an icon of faith, despite no official position as to its authenticity. Every so often it is put on display with millions flocking to see it for themselves. Other Christians have been equally drawn to its hideous charms. If real, the Shroud of Turn represents a moment in time with eternal consequences. As a fake, the method and meticulous construction still remain one of the greatest artistic achievements in history. Artifact or clever piece of art remains an open and fascinating debate. Continue reading

Human Evolution and the Children of God

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From the day that Darwin published The Origin of Species followed by The Descent of Man (his The Voyage of the Beagle making less waves), it seemed to clash with Judeo-Christian beliefs. The very names were sure to cause consternation for those having faith in the Bible creation narratives. It was clear that God made animals and man fully formed from the dust. There would be no “intermediary” or physically “primitive” ancestors. A war has waged ever since with few conciliatory moves.

The story as traditionally told, and interpreted by the Bible reading, is that God created the Earth as a Garden of Eden with fruit bearing plants and a wide variety of animals. Man was then created by the dust and sprang fully formed and intelligent. Seeing that the man named Adam was alone, God created woman from his rib as a help meet and named her Eve. They lived in total bliss and ignorance.

Satan in the form of a snake tempted Eve with an unnamed fruit, later symbolized as an apple, that would give her forbidden knowledge. She then gave it to Adam who knew she would be kicked out of the Garden and both be alone. Recognizing they were naked, the man and woman covered themselves with leaves. When God discovered they had mentally awakened to understand good and evil, the two were indeed kicked out with the tree of Eternal Life protected by a flaming sword. Death entered the world for all earthly creations. The man and woman were given coats of skins as clothing and banned from God’s presence with only the Word of God to remind them of who they were and where they came from. For Christians, Jesus Christ was the Savior who died so that Adam and Eve’s mortal children could repent and be resurrected.

According to the theory of Evolution, the formation of animals and humans was far more complicated even if easier to explain. No recognizable Adam and Eve existed as the progenitors of modern mankind, although genetic research has uncovered a man and a women who lived thousands of years apart who could be given those designations. Instead, a species of ape (not monkey) produced a group of bipedal primates that eventually evolved into the Homo family that modern humans remain as the only survivors. We didn’t reach up for fruit in the branches of trees, but came down from them.

At first glance there is nothing in common between these two versions of human formation and history. The Bible has a deliberate and focused viewpoint. Evolution twists and turns over millions of years with many dead ends and what would seem random forces at work with no inevitable conclusions. Desperate as they seem, it isn’t impossible to allow them to exist together if rigid interpretations of both are loosened with some charity. Continue reading

A Possible New Creation Narrative

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My personal blog Straight and Narrow Blog has a quote from Joseph Smith on the masthead that reads, “it is necessary for us to have an understanding of God himself in the beginning. If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong, it is a hard matter to get right.” Nothing demonstrates this more than the Creation and Evolution debate. How a person understands God can determine if these two concepts will conflict or mesh. I believe that Mormonism is especially prepared to confront long standing difficulties that traditional Christianity has developed. The Mormon rejection of ex nihilo and its teachings about the “pre-existance” hold huge potential.

Continuing where I last left off is to start at the beginning. Most orthodox narratives start at a point in time, even if they claim the eternal timelessness of God. The physical existence came from nowhere and there was nothing more than God that came before. This is the reason Creationism has such a huge religious hold on many. Mormonism, by contrast, looks at everything both physical and spiritual as having no start and no end. Its a liberating concept.

I want to first warn that none of what I am about to explain is official doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or any other member. These are my own ideas and speculations only, no matter if shared by others. Long and ponderous thinking and praying has produced a personal belief that can always be amended with more revealed truth and knowledge. With that said, lets move forward by going back. Continue reading

Random Thoughts on Evolution and Creation

When I was a child, like many my age I had a fascination with dinosaurs. The animals existing so many years in the past was hard for my young mind to comprehend. All I knew was that great monsters once roamed the land. What we knew of them came by digging the bones out of deep rock and dirt. Names for beasts were long and complicated, but flowed smoothly from child lips proudly pronouncing each syllable.

The idea these real myths came from a long natural process never crossed my mind until later in life. These creatures at first came fully formed in my imagination. My wonder came from the wide variety of large herbivorous animals forging for plants or carnivores hunting. Again, I loved learning about and pronouncing Saurischia Theropods and Sauropods to the Ornithiscia plated and horned. To date my favorites are not actually dinosaurs, but the more ancient mysterious Theropsida that are said to have given rise to mammals.

Evolution entered my thoughts and vocabulary only when extending interest to what came after the dinosaur extinction. If they lived, why are they no longer here and how do we have life now? This brought me to the study of what scientists call human ancestors. Books told the story of bones that looked like humans and yet were not, at least not completely. There was some discussion of the “missing link” that incidentally hasn’t been missing since the 1950s and 60s discoveries. Knowing the Adam and Eve story since before my interest in dinosaurs, it was all so confusing. I began asking religious questions relating to all these past lifeforms. The answers I got back from others were less than helpful, but I had faith in God from Scriptures and ancient life in fossil remains. Continue reading