Religion and Science, God and the Scientist. From a Mormon Perspective
It all started with serious personal inquiry and introspection. Inquiry and introspection that had come to my mind differently than it had inprevious times. Of course I have always been a curious person. I like to ask questions. Sometimes, though, I found people would answer with ridicule. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there came a time when asking questions would stop all together in order for me to run from this ridicule. The true source of knowledge does not answer with condescending tones. The real source of knowledge comes from the One who authored truth.
I was always told that people should trust their feelings; that revelation came from a certain way people felt. Why, then, were uneasy feelings interfering with my intuition? Why, when conviction was once regarded by myself as 'unshakable,' suddenly shaken? I was becoming uneasy in what I 'knew.' Questions I had asked before became more serious. My religion, as a label, is Latter-day Saint or 'Mormon'. But what was my own personal religion, or what is 'true' religion? Well, the religion that made the most sense to me was: 'Believe only that which is true.' It just so happened that the LDS faith fell into the category based on my own personal study and conviction.
Then, recently, some awkward feelings and thoughts entered my heart that made me question, rather, it made me ask: Were all my efforts were really worth it? I wondered if the promises I made to God, and the promises he made with me were real, or if I was just going through a physiological reaction that rendered my conscience to pursue fruitless efforts in order to obtain some lesser eternity. Did I want something so badly that I convinced my brain that it was real? As a science-minded person, I began to wonder if science really was trumping what I always understood to be God.
While attending church one day, the question was asked of the class: "What is it about baptism that allows a person to enter the celestial kingdom, or heaven?" People gave their answers: Usually something to do with the symbolism of baptism; the outward expression of an inward promise allows you to enter heaven. Nothing seemed to make sense. I then had the thought and shared with the class: 'There is something about God's power, given to man, that changes the body that allows it to enter into the kingdom of God. Baptism, when performed only by the authority given from God (as opposed to the authority of man) changes the physiology of the soul so that it might withstand the presence of God.'" We remember in the scriptures many citations where a person undergoes a change before he is able to be in the presence of God (Ex:3:4; Moses 1:2). God is matter, although refined to be perfect (D&C131:7,8). We know he has substance otherwise no one could be in the 'presence of God' nor could God have 'presence' if he had not substance.
Physiological change of the soul to be able to withstand the presence of God? Sounds scientific. But isn't science out to disprove that God exists? In the early (and even ancient) days, people wanted to improve, discover, experiment, in order that they might get 'in the mind of God' (Some even thought that they could get this knowledge or reach heavenby building a tower) (Gen 11:4; Hel 6:28). Even the science of Linguistics, which I studied, began as a way to learn the language of God.
Science today, as some would believe, is trumping God. However, God is a scientist. The source of the laws of physics, thermodynamics, mathematics, language, medicine, etc. So are the scientific discoveries denouncing that there is a God, or are they proving that he exists?
There are exciting things happening in physics today that we are only beginning to understand -- that I think help shed understanding on the mind and nature of God. How can He be omnipotent, omniscient? Can he really be in more than one place at the same time? Physics is just now beginning to show that yes... He indeed can.
Some churches in the past have been afraid of science... 'You cannot play God!, they say. That is blasphemous!' Some churches have discredited science altogether and its advances as heresy because it has gone against their long-standing traditions. But what about true religion – Or, what about believing only that which is true? Why can't there be evolution— If God were in charge of it? Why can't there be a big bang—If God was the one that initiated it? Or why can't there be genetic engineering— If God were in charge of the revelation to understand it?
Someone once told me 'If God wanted us to fly, he'd have given us wings!' To which I replied: 'He did. It's called the desire to fly, anda brain to figure it out.'
I would propose that any scientific advancement—any advancement of truth of the laws of nature is given by God when a person is prepared and ready to receive this knowledge (revelation). Advancement, whether in science or in spirituality, —or evolution of the human race through applied knowledge —is given through that being who has already advanced in knowledge and capacity to set the standard of perfection. (Abraham 3:21-26).
Playing God? Or practicing to be a God? Some would argue that man will always be an imperfect being. But why then was there an atonement for sin? Why was there a resurrection of Jesus the Christ that perfected the human condition—never to be separated (as spirit and body or from His presence?) again? (Romans 8:17) He died and He resurrected that we may be joint heirs with him and have the same capacities that he has: being perfect because we are perfected by and through his atonement. (Moses 1:39) Do not all scientific advances help prepare us for that next estate? This is knowledge gained. Knowledge God already has and wishes us to obtain. He gives it to us when we are ready to receive it. Meaning that we have to do our part—read from the best books, figure out only that which is true, and then receive 'ah ha' moments when new knowledge is revealed.
I recently began to take a serious interest in physics—especially in what is happening in today's circles. First take the early advancements of electromagnetism and its relationship to light. Light is the visible manifestation of wave particles that are similar to the 'invisible force' of magnetism. Light has an interesting property in that it acts as a particle and it acts as a wave, at the same time. It also travels very fast. In fact, Einstein's theory of relativity (relating energy to mass and light) states that when an object travels the speed of light its mass increases infinitely. An interesting property of matter (with matter (mass) as we know it).
Take the quest to find absolute zero. and what happens to matter once it reaches this state . When a substance reaches absolute zero it changes property ... Instead of atoms, or particles, the substance changes into something that reacts more like a wave particle. It's called the Bose-Einstein condensate. When a substance like Helium is cooled to near this this state , it looks like a liquid, but it falls directly through the glass molecules in the container. You'd think that the container of glass, even being thick would be able to contain this Bose-Einstein liquid, but it penetrates right through it. Particles at this state follow a new set of laws of Quantum physics which confuses most scientists today. A particle at this new state can be in two places at once. – In that it can be a wave, and a particle, that it can be here, and it can be there. Quantum physics tries to treat it with the familiar concept that all matter and energy have wave- and particle-like properties. It is no wonder then, that when Christ's body was perfected by his resurrection, that he was able to walk through walls, and appear anywhere he wanted to. It is also no wonder, that when light is passed through a substance at near absolute zero, the speed of light decreases as well. In an experiment done to show this, a light beam 2 miles in length was shot into the super-cooled (near absolute zero) substance and compressed to only a few microns across.The light in this section was observed to travel at about the speed of a bicycle. When the light beam emerged through to the other side, the light expanded to its normal wave length again of 2 miles and resumed its normal speed. One can not help but reflect on what happens to those beings cast into outer darkness, where the temperature, without light, would be at absolute Zero (Alma 40:13; D&C 88:49).
Joseph Smith wrote that a thousand years to us is as one day in heaven and elsewhere that time (space) exists for man in his probationary state, so that he has the opportunity to work out his salvation (D&C88:44; Alma 12:24; Alma 42:4; Alma 34:32). How could Joseph Smith —an unschooled farm boy, know of the theory of relativity 70 years before Einstein? When light travels, and if we were to ride on that beam of light— we would experience a slowdown in the realm, or dimension of time. Imagine staring at a clock, then traveling backwards at near the speed of light. The light coming off the clock and then hitting your eyes would travel relative to your speed. The second hand would just go incredible slowly. If you reached the speed of light, then the time it took for the light from the clock to hit your eye would never happen—so therefore time would stop. So—if God is light (John 8:12; 3 Ne 9:18; D&C 11:28) then his reckoning of time has to be slower — or perhaps not even exist at all because to light—time does not exist. Is it so hard then, to imagine eternity? It is so hard to imagine that God existed before the world was? Before time? After time will have its end? It's not so hard when you understand that to 'light' time is no barrier, and therefore is a reckoning only encountered by (granted to) men. See also D&C 88:11, 12, 13, 50.
How hard is it, then for God to be everywhere? (Bose-Einstein condensate particles are in multiple places at once because they follow the laws of Quantum physics) Or how hard is it then to understand that God can be eternal (When time is only relative to people (mortals) observing 'light or particles, or matter' at speeds other than the speed of light')
How hard is it to understand that God can still have a body and follow these laws? (Because substance when 'refined' in this new state acts on these principles) He did resurrect, remember, only to have his body never be separated with his spirit again. (D&C 131:7,8) Humans (mortals) are ever learning (and never attaining the status or knowledgeof God). God is a scientist. The greatest scientist, and he is teaching us as we grow and progress in the things we know already. He follows laws—laws he created (or understands or have always existed) to bring about his purposes. Laws which allow him to be all knowing—all powerful—everywhere—and perfect. The science is only just now being elevated to new levels . Unfortunately, many will continue to think that Science trumps God. Science proves God. We are 'playing God' everytime we are given the further 'light' and 'knowledge' he has always promised us.
I believe that when the second coming of Christ comes, many will say the signs of the times can 'easily be explained by science' (Hel.16:16) I'm not bothered by this. 'The moon turns to blood' for example, however the prophets saw it, will happen and will be explained with such simple phrases like 'It's just the reaction of the atmosphere with smog' Or something similar. And? God is a scientist. His signs will be explained by science. But he will come. And all things that have not been purified and prepared to withstand his presence will be destroyed. (Malachi 3:2).
There are interesting properties, then, of 'priesthood'. This power to act in the name of God does something to the physical body when a saving ordinance is performed. A baptism, when done by the authority of the priesthood, and the gift of the Holy Ghost changes the body so that it can withstand the heavens (abide the presence of God). Priesthood blessings over sickness purify the body of impurities. Marriages are sealed to withstand the phenomenon of death of the body. Spirits are sealed so that death cannot separate them. There is a lot to the phrase– there is POWER in the priesthood. There is a sacred- and not-well-understood reaction of the soul that happens with an ordinance. It is transferred to a person by hands. (think laying on of hands, and tokens during ordinances)
So why all these scientific advances? I have to believe that it is to prepare us for the Millennium. All things performed in the Millennium will be for the perfecting of the Being. Physical, and Spiritual-matter, whatever matter those two realms consist of Saints, (Ephesians 4:2). Resurrection is supposed to perfect the body. A perfect body has no disease, no sickness, no sadness, no scars, every hair on the head, a perfect functioning brain with full capacities, etc. All of this is already contained in DNA. Unlocking its code-- modifying DNA itself doesn't change the person-- it just changes the body. It perfects the body—ridding it of disease, scars, amputations, nerve damage, brain power, hair growth, etc. Why be scared of 'the wings' God gave us? A brain to help us figure out perfection! (D&C 84:33)
An understanding the properties of electromagnetic light and quantum substances? These too are showing us the possibility of perfectly efficient ways of travel without vehicle, to anywhere, anytime— The nature of perfect laws, and the way to perfect life itself—physical at least is only now being partially understood. A sign of the times? Of course. It can be explained by science.
Faith and Priesthood power must never be taken out of the equations of perfection. Before we can have knowledge, we need to have faith in Jesus Christ and what he did for us. Faith that it will 'work'—even though we cannot explain or understand it. When we get on an airplane, we have faith that engineers have designed the plane to withstand aerodynamic forces, and that the pilots will get us from one place to the other, even though we have no idea of their credentials! We just assume they have acquired the correct and sufficient knowledge and skill to get us to our destination. So too must we have a faith in the Atonement. We might not understand it, but we must be willing to accept that we can be made perfect through it; no "matter" the procedure. Faith is what we have before knowledge. We are beginning to know. Now we must repent so that our baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost (revelation) may not be blocked by imperfection. The priesthood ordinances cannot 'work' unless the body has undergone a change–metanoia— (D&C 84:33) in mindset, being, and nature. The holy communion renews that state so that we may, if called upon to do so, may stand in the presence of God.
Just as we must have faith in the engineers and the pilots, we must have faith in the priesthood bearer that he too has undergone the process of preparation, and obtaining correct knowledge and skill to get us to our destination. (D&C 136:37; D&C 88:67; D&C84:33, 38)
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