When I was about six years old I remember walking toward our home after church, or the movies or some event and I was struck by the question: what is light? For a long time I was committed to finding out what was the exact nature of light. I thought of becoming a scientist.
I was unaware at that age that there was a scientist named Albert Einstein who had asked the same question and spent the early part of his career trying to understand the nature of light. There were many other scientists working on the question. Some of the greatest scientific discoveries in human history resulted from this quest. Add to this my education, steeped in scripture and religious teachings where “light” played a central role and you can understand why the question may have occurred to one so young.
We live in a world bathed in light or as we understand now in a deeper scientific sense, electromagnetic radiation. We are also spiritual beings and according to scripture, spiritual light plays just as important a role in our lives as electromagnetic radiation. So another question presents itself, is there a meaningful juxtaposition between spiritual light and material light or electromagnetic radiation? Well, let’s explore the nature of the two “lights” and see what we can come up with.
In a strictly scientific sense, visible light, the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation that our eyes can process and hence facilitates sight is made up of photons. These photons are real individual units or particles. You may remember how in photosynthesis a photon carries energy that breaks apart a water molecule located in the chlorophyl (the green stuff in a plant) that begins the energy transfer process that leads to the creation of various kinds of sugars and starches in plants. It is a photon that strikes the iris in our eyes and begins the process we know as sight. It also heats the atmosphere and contributes to the weather on the entire planet. There is much, much more that a photon does depending on how much energy it has, but you get the idea.
Light is a very real entity without which life would not be possible. We would not be able to see the world or the sky, so in this sense physical light reveals the glory of God’s creation to each of us. One of the most fascinating things about light is that the electromagnetic spectrum is infinite. We see with our eyes only a portion of it. But, scientists have developed instruments that allow us to “see” things that are invisible to the eye. Instruments that detect radio waves and X-rays, which are a part of he electromagnetic spectrum, allow us to “see” galaxies and the fine structure of the universe that further reveal the glory of God.
Now what about spiritual light. We all can quote Genesis 1:3, And God Said Let There Be Light: and there was light. But how many of remember the most important scripture about light? It is found in I John 1:5, This is the message that we have heard and now declare to you, that God is Light, and in him is no darkness at all. How can we first reconcile these two scriptures: God created light and God is Light? When you think about it, what a profound and mind blowing concept. It is understood in its simplest context: The first thing God gave to His creation was the essence of His nature, which is light. The mind bending philosophy wrapped up in this is that God being spirit imparts to his creation a material manifestation of Himself so that material light and spiritual light are one in God. In the sciences, this manifestation of material light that we can either see with our eyes or detect with our instruments results from what is known as symmetry breaking. In God is wholeness or unity and perfect symmetry. That unity and wholeness, called symmetry, is broken when light manifest’s itself in a physical form.
In a deeper and more subtly beautiful sense, the Big Bang, which science points to as the point from which the universe began is measured in what is called Plank time after the scientist who developed the theories about the smallest units of spacetime. This time is 10-44 seconds. Even though this is an incomprehensibly small period of time, it occurred AFTER the Big Bang. You have experienced something similar when you hear a jet up in the sky, you look up to where you think the sound is coming from but there is nothing there. The jet is gone but the sound is just reaching your location. In a similar but much, much more spectacular way, the Big Bang occurred but measurable events are detected at a time afterwards. The first point at which you can measure anything is 10-44 seconds. It is also during this time that the universe “inflated” to almost its present size beginning 14 billion years of expansion.
Why is this important? Because I believe symmetry breaking and the Big Bang are evidence of the unity of spiritual and physical light. It is that our entire universe is the essence of God and when we stand in the sunshine and experience the changes in the seasons we are directly in the presence of God. When our hearts and minds are suddenly opened to the Spirit of God speaking to our spirit, it is the spiritual light of God, God as light imparting to us wisdom and understanding. If we would only choose to listen, what a wonderful world this would be.
To God Be The Glory