Easterbrook, Dark Matter, and the Olive Leaf

June 1, 2004 | 4 comments
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A year ago, Gregg Easterbrook articulated the interesting idea that “dark matter” (a substance most scientists now believe exists, and is a major component of the universe) may be a manifestation of the spiritual world. He wrote:

Suppose it turns out to be correct that the preponderance of matter and energy in the universe occurs in a form that’s around us everywhere, and yet we cannot sense or see it; that there is a pervasive physical reality that passes through ours with hardly any direct interaction. This is practically a definition of the spiritual plane.

Easterbrook’s position has been criticized by others, but has always sounded like a nice theory to me. In particular, I was just thinking how we can understand this as church members, because of certain verses in the section of the Doctrine and Covenants we call the Olive Leaf.

The scripture reads (emphasis added):

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 aunderstandings;

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.

What does this tell us? The light proceeds forth from God and fills the immensity of space. I suspect that most church members have thought of this light as God’s power or truth, not as a form of measurable energy. On the other hand, this light may fit the description of the “dark energy” which scientists now report fills the universe (see, e.g., here and here).

This could give an entirely different meaning to much of the Olive Leaf. Consider the verse which reads:

49 The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.

The light shines in darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend. We can compare that to this statement about dark energy:

While theorists conjecture as to possible candidates for dark energy, its exact nature continues to elude us. It bears no resemblance to ordinary matter or light, the two components of our universe that we can most easily observe. It is completely invisible and its effects can only be detected on the largest scales of the universe.

There are a host of other scriptures that could be read in harmony with statements about dark energy. Scriptures about celestial versus telestial bodies, for instance. And could Kolob be a star made of dark energy?

It’s a fun topic, and perhaps one that Mormons should be discussing more, given our rich scriptural trove. After all, it would be nice to find out that dark energy has already been explained for us . . . in the Doctrine and Covenants.

UPDATE: See also a few similar discussions, here and here.

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4 Responses to Easterbrook, Dark Matter, and the Olive Leaf

  1. Daniel B. on June 1, 2004 at 3:59 pm

    I appreciate the thoughts written and also the links to other discussions about the significance of these ideas about the existence of “dark matter.” This certainly is humbling, as it seems to show that scientists are finding (even more) that there is a lot more going on in the universe than can be discerned readily with the senses. Some of the discussions of what Doctrine and Covenants have to say about light and matter are pretty interesting as well. I wish I knew more about science and physics so that I could comment on this but I’m looking forward to what others will have to say.

  2. clarkgoble on June 1, 2004 at 4:05 pm

    I’d be very, very, very cautious speaking about dark matter until more physics is done. Right now we don’t know what it is. It may well be that dark matter appears simply because GR isn’t accurate and this is the error in the theory. Adding to this possibility is that absolute failure of attempts to discover dark matter. A lot of people are suggesting that perhaps the problem is that the models of the big bang, despite their popularity, are wrong. In large measure dark matter is a postulated entity to deal with big bang.

  3. clarkgoble on June 1, 2004 at 4:18 pm

    Just to expand upon that last comment, the topic of dark matter is a big one at the moment in the scientific community due to the failure of recent experiments to detect its expected properties as well (and perhaps more significantly) funding issues.

    The following open letter on the state of funding might be of interest.

    http://www.cosmologystatement.org/

  4. Ron Martin on August 28, 2005 at 7:54 pm

    The big bang never happened. I know what the so called super massive black hole is and what it really consists of at the center of the galaxy. Intelligence or light and truth has been discovered by science as well and the glorified worlds. Joseph Smith gave all the keys.