Light and Christ

Light and Christ March 23, 2023

For a long time, it was thought that science banishes the mystery from life, giving rational explanations that dismiss the wonder that people used to feel from their physical existence.  Whole theories of secularism have been built around what sociologist Max Weber called the “Disenchantment” of nature.

But, as I show in my book Post-Christian, contemporary science–especially quantum physics–increases the mystery of physical existence!  The more we learn, the more mind-blowing the universe becomes!  Now we know that a particle can be in two states or locations at once; that with two entangled particles, what you do to one will happen to the other no matter how far apart they areobserving or measuring (even by machine) particles changes their reality; among many others.

So I love such weird science.

I am especially intrigued by light and its properties, the subject of many of those baffling experiments and calculations.  Nothing can exceed the speed of light.  So how can it go so fast?  What propels a photon?  And how is it that the speed of light is the mathematical constant for both energy and mass  (energy=mass times the speed of light squared)? And, of course, how can a photon be both a particle and a wave at the same time?

I came across another article that relates light and the speed of light to time and space.  It’s by Don Lincoln at Big Think and is entitled At light speed, Einstein’s equations break down and nothing makes sense, with the deck alluding to the Oscar-winning movie “Everything everywhere all at once.”

Lincoln goes over the phenomenon predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity and confirmed experimentally that time slows down for an object as it approaches the speed of light.  He then crunches the numbers and scrutinizes the experimental results of sub-atomic accelerated to close to the speed of light and arrives at the following conclusion:

From a photon’s perspective, it can pass through the entire Universe without experiencing time at all. Billions and billions of light-years can fly by, in far less than the blink of an eye.

There’s more. While the subject of this article is the passage of time experienced by a photon of light, the theory of relativity also tells us how space is experienced. As objects go faster, the Universe shrinks in the direction they are traveling. Using the same techniques described here, we can also see that for a photon, the Universe is shrunk to zero size. Billions of light-years disappear, meaning that, from the photon’s point of view, it simultaneously exists everywhere along its path of travel.

Relativity is certainly a nonintuitive theory, and it makes some very bizarre predictions. However, perhaps the most bizarre of all is that light experiences neither time nor space, existing in all places and all times at once.

Existing simultaneously everywhere.  Timeless.  Sounds like God and eternity.

How do the mysteries of light as disclosed by science speak to us of Christ, who is “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9).  And who tells us, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). and, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).

Might Christ as “the light of the world” be more than a metaphor?

To be sure, light is a created entity, the very first of God’s creations (Genesis 1:3).  No wonder light is foundational to the rest of the universe.

Christ is “the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15).  However, He is born, not created as light was, “begotten, not made,” in the words of the Nicene Creed, “being of one substance with the Father.”  So we can’t say that Christ is light in any kind of pantheistic sense.  And yet, light must be a sort of reflection (sorry!) of Christ’s nature.

We might say that light is not just a metaphor but a symbol of Christ, not an arbitrary symbol but what Dorothy L. Sayers calls a “natural symbol,” which is “an instance of what it symbolizes: and therefore, by simply being what it is, it tells us something about the true nature of that greater thing for which it stands” (Introductory Papers on Dante, p. 8).

How might what we know about quantum physics today, “shed light on” (sorry!) on what that symbol discloses about Christ?

Might what we now know about light suggest how God can be omnipresent and outside of time?

Might this also give us a way to grasp how the human soul can be immortal?



Photo:  Bright Light by SoccerDudeYT22, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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