Life from Death

For thousands of years mankind has been fascinated with the idea of regaining life once death has shown its grim face.  Greek mythology teaches of the majestic phoenix: a bird which, according to the myth, would die in flames and then host the birth of a new phoenix from the ashes of the first.  For some reason man does not want to believe that one’s existence ends when one passes on from this life.  Job of old wrote, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days… He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not… If a man die, shall he alive again?” (Job 14:1-2,14).  Many have shared this same question through the ages.  The creations of God testify that life does indeed come after death, and perhaps even that life will come through death.

Consider as an example the noble olive tree.  Some say that olive trees can live for more than 2000 years!  When an olive tree is chopped down, it has a strong predilection to spring forth young and tender branches from the severed trunk which can grow to form a new tree, or rather, to restore life to the tree which was removed.  Man’s futile attempt to chop down such a tree are foiled by the power of life returning to that which was removed.

This behavior is more colloquially observed in backyards across the world when weeds spring up.  Unless removed by the root, many weeds will grow back quickly after being cut down, much to the chagrin of many homeowners striving to maintain a weed-free yard.

Yes, life has a tendency to propagate and promulgate even after death or near death experiences.  Many life forms depend upon death to give life.  Many fruit-bearing trees depend upon the death of their fruit to provide life to young and fragile seeds in the form of energy and nutrients as they strive to germinate, develop juvenile roots, and grow up to become like their parent tree.  The death of the fruit is crucial to the survival of the child tree.

If you sit down and think about it, nearly all life supported by death.  Think of yourself.  What do you eat?  What sustains your life?  I reckon that your answers, unless you live on a diet of dirt, indicate that you eat life-sustaining food that was generated by something that was once alive and is now or will soon be dead, no matter how artificial a food may seem.  Even beyond the obvious examples of meats and fresh fruits and vegetables, other products such as flour, sugar, butter, oils, spices, and even petroleum-derived synthetic food products, all come from an organism that was once alive (petroleum comes from ancient algal blooms that were buried in the sea after the algae died or went into a protective life phase).  Even the grass of the field is supported by death.  The natural and artificial fertilizers which intentionally or unintentionally arrive at its roots came from sources that were at one time alive (remembering that fossil fuels come from once-living algae mass).

So why is this significant?  We should recognize the tremendous symbolism here that the death of our Savior Jesus Christ brings life!  Only through His great sacrifice, which included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross, are we enabled to overcome death.  Without his voluntary death and resurrection our life would end at death.  Fortunately for the world there will be life after death, or rather life from death.

Paul the apostle taught powerfully to the people at Corinth, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22).  The ancient American prophet Nephi taught that Jesus Christ “Layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.” (2 Ne 2:8).  Many other prophets, ancient and modern, testify that through Christ’s death all mankind will be restored to life.

Through the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ all mankind will live again.  This is known as the resurrection.  It is the reuniting of the spirit with the physical body in a perfected state.  It is the conquering of physical death.  It is a gift from Christ to all who are born to this earth and will be withheld from no one.  Naturally, this doctrine would be incomplete without its essential companion truth that spiritual death, which is man’s separation from God, is also overcome by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  However, the gift of overcoming spiritual death, which comes by the grace and mercy of Christ, is predicated upon the conditions of willing obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Through His infinite mercy, we can be forgiven of our sins and have the companionship of His Holy Spirit while on this earth and return to His presence again after the culmination of our mortal journey.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said, “There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.  Why is this?  Because we are made of the stuff of eternity.  We are eternal beings, children of the almighty God, whose name is endless and who promises eternal blessings without number.  Endings are not our destiny.”

The end of this mortal life is temporary.  As is the pattern in nature, the sacrifice and death of Christ will provide life to God’s children again through the glorious power of the resurrection!

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Unlocking the Mystery of Life

I recently watched a video entitled “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” and thought that it fits exactly with the nature of this blog.  It contains some of the most impressive and convincing scientific arguments for Intelligent Design that I have heard.  I highly recommend that you watch the entire video at the following link:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5585125669588896670

You can also search for “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” in Google and find links to purchase a hard copy if you’re interested.

Here is my brief commentary:

I think that this video was brilliantly done, because it does not rely on a belief in God to support the idea of Intelligent Design.  In fact, I don’t think the word “God” is even used a single time in the video.  They are completely objective and scientific in their approach.  The video focuses on intelligence, and it proposes intelligence as a legitimate, scientific option for the origin of life.  The way that these ideas and concepts are portrayed, I feel that the science stands for itself.

To me science is defined as making accurate and fundamental observations and then drawing logical conclusions from those observations.  The video does an excellent job at doing just that.  They explain the scientific principles simply so that anyone can understand them along with the observations and the conclusions.  It also uses a very scientific school of thought to demonstrate that while evolution and natural selection are real and currently active processes (meaning that Darwin was not completely wrong), they could not be considered as the sole mechanism for creating the incredible diversity of life that we have in our world today.

The video is thorough in objectively presenting and then firmly refuting all the counter-arguments to Intelligent Design.  It shows true science that they present the counter-theories in an unbiased fashion, as a proponent of those theories might explain them.

I love how they quote Darwin’s original words when he first proposed the theory of Evolution.  He is quoted to say that there were ways in which his theory would entirely break down.  I feel that these scientists have shown how the theory does break down, in confirmation of Darwin’s own words.

I believe God is the intelligent designer whom these scientists did not mention.  Biology is not the only realm of science which demonstrates God’s reality, but it is perhaps one of the most convincing due to its complexity and majesty.  As we learn about these scientific principles, they can strengthen our faith in God if we understand them correctly and learn to appreciate their intricacies.

Mothers are a symbol of Christ

A profound doctrine was taught in Institute this week, and I wanted to share it here and expound a little beyond what was shared in class.

The scriptures are replete with references to the Savior of mankind, both directly and indirectly.  Direct references teach meaningful and critical doctrines.  Indirect references, or symbols, can teach far beyond the words that are written.  Jesus taught with symbols, or parables, to allow those who were spiritually prepared to drink deeply from the waters of life while letting those who were unprepared go untaught so they would not be held accountable for the truths they would have otherwise learned and not lived.  Similarly, scriptural symbols and scientific principles can allow us to learn deeply through the Holy Spirit if we are prepared for what He will teach us and if we take the time to ponder these things.

Some symbols of Christ include the lambs and other animals that were sacrificed in the days of Moses to cleanse the people from their sins, Moses himself as he led the children of Israel from captivity to freedom, and the brazen (or brass) serpent which Moses raised up in the wilderness to heal the dying souls from the venomous bite of the serpents.  A less-known symbol of Christ is a mother.  But how?

Now for some brief Biology.  As we discuss this topic, be looking for the symbols of Christ, since we can’t possibly discuss them all in this format.  If you listen to the Spirit and ponder these principles, you will learn much more than the little that is written here.  Some concepts here are covered intentionally briefly to allow you the opportunity to learn on your own.

When a woman becomes pregnant, the fetus begins to grow in the womb of the woman.  It is a miraculous process wherein the DNA tells the stem cells what to become and where.  All the cells in the fetus begin as stem cells and are essentially the same to begin with, but the DNA codes for proteins which then trigger in the the stem cells different reactions which decide what they turn into, whether it’s one of many types of brain cells, muscle cells, skin cells, or any other cells in the body.  It’s amazing that everything gets into the right position at all!  Now, all of this happens in the womb, where the baby fetus is surrounded by water in an axenic atmosphere, meaning that there are no other microscopic organisms living in the womb with the fetus, no bacteria, no viruses, NOTHING except the mother and the baby.  The baby grows to completion and, when the time is right, the baby tells the mother’s body it is ready to be born.  The mother’s body does not send this signal, the baby does.  To be brief, the mother experiences extreme pain and anguish, the water breaks, water and blood are shed from the mother’s body, her flesh is often torn to allow the child to be born, and a new spirit child of Heavenly Father enters his or her mortal existence.  He or she begins a new life.  And, as a side note, he or she is a genetic combination of the mother and the father, with some mutations.  Or, in other words, the mother and the father become one in the son or daughter.

The science of the development of a child’s body is fascinating, and textbooks have been dedicated to this topic.  A lengthy discussion could, therefore, be had on the matter, but these are just a few very top-level basics.

So how is the mother a symbol of Christ?  First, we must understand the concept that Jesus Christ is our Father.

How is Christ our Father?  Is not God our Father?  Absolutely, yes!  But Jesus Christ is also our Father in a different way.  God is the Father of our spirits.  Our spirits would not exist without him.  To see how Jesus Christ is our Father, turn in the Book of Mormon to Mosiah chapter 5, verse 7.  To paraphrase (and you should read it verbatim from the scriptures), Jesus Christ becomes our Father when we make covenants with Him, our hearts are changed through faith in Him and His Atonement, and we are reborn, or born again.  If we are reborn, then there must be a father to whom we are born, right?  That Father is Christ.  He is the Father of our new, spiritual selves, the Father of our new lives as His servants and disciples.  As we are baptized, we enter the water, the blood of Christ cleanses us, our bodies “break the water”, and we come out from it a new person, born again in Christ through His sacrifice.

Understanding that Jesus Christ is the Father of our new spiritual self, consider the following scripture:  Moses chapter 6, verse 59 in the Pearl of Great Price.  Again, please read it in full.  For your convenience, following is the full text:

“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of the dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;” – (Moses 6:59)

The mother bears a child into this world with water, blood, and the spirit to enter mortal life, just as we must be born of Christ with water (through baptism), blood (through the Atonement of Christ), and the Spirit (being sanctified by the Holy Spirit) to enter into eternal life.  Let us remember also that Jesus is the Living Water and that upon his death, the centurions pierced His side and water and blood came out from His broken flesh.

How sacred is the mother’s task of bearing children.  It is the ultimate sacrifice she could give, risking her own life and suffering tremendous pain in the process, as did the Savior but in an infinitely greater degree.  How we ought to respect women, the final and crowning gem of God’s creations.  Her body is a symbol of Jesus Christ.  May we never forget that.

Men, may you treat women as what they are, being a symbol of Christ.  Never mistreat them.  Never take advantage of them.  Never belittle them.  Never look upon them lustfully.  Encourage them and help them to see themselves as the precious princesses they truly are – daughters of a King.

Women, may you never forget the sacred nature of your calling to be what God has made you.  Never be fooled by the world’s deception that women are less than men unless they do the same things that men do.  A mother’s most influential work is done in her own home.  Imagine a world where every child had a mother that cared for and loved him/her.  THAT would change the world! Certainly much more than a world full of women in politics or prominent positions in business or commerce (not that their contributions there are not appreciated, mind you!).  Do not be afraid or ashamed of being a woman and a mother in all its feminine glory.  Remember, God created in you the symbol of His holy Son.  It is part of your eternal identity and purpose (see The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

God makes good of bad

I think we all recognize bad things that happen in our lives.  Sometimes they come from our own mistakes or foolish actions.  Sometimes they come from sin, either our own or that of another.  But from wherever they come, one thing is for sure: God can make good of them.

Let’s take a brief look at an example from the ecology of God’s creations.

Forest fires are some of the most devastating incidents which nature can endure.  They destroy both plant life and animal habitats.  But what is amazing about forest fires is that they actually help a forest to grow better.  In fact, there are some trees the seeds of which will not sprout until there has been a forest fire.  So, in spite of the destructive and horrific nature of a forest fire, it can bring cleansing and renewal to a forest if the dynamics are correct.

However, there are more significant ways in which God turns bad to good.  Let’s look at a less-known example from the scriptures.  In Matthew chapter 1, it delineates the family tree of Jesus, if I can say it in that way.  Take a look at verse 6.  It says, “And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;”  It goes on through verse 16 to link this line to Joseph who was the husband of Mary, to whom Jesus was born.  Perhaps you remember the story of David the king and her that had been the wife of Urias.  Her name was Bath-Sheba.  It was she whom David sought through much sin.  The process through which David claimed Bath-Sheba as his wife was clearly evil in nature, but it is apparent from David’s later writings that he had a truly repentant heart.  It was through this very same woman that Jesus came, or at least Joseph, who was the earthly father of Jesus.  What was very clearly evil and wrong became very clearly good and righteous.

Some say that when a man sins and repents, he leaves a hole in his life which can never be repaired.  Although he is clean from the sin, the effects of the sin remain.  This is absolutely incorrect!  When a man or woman has repented of a sin, the sin is completely gone, and not only is he/she completely clean, but God makes good of the situation because of the righteousness of the person after repentance.  Were it not so, our lives would be full of irreparable holes, and the stain of sin would linger on our garments for the rest of eternity.  Instead, God takes the consequences of the sins of the repentant and turns them to good, meaning that these experiences will give us just that – experience.

So when you make mistakes and make the tremendous effort that it takes to repent, remember that you will be better because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Your opportunities from that point may be different due to your decisions, but such is the case with any decision, not only those which deal with good and evil, for every time we make a decision we alter the course of our life and consequently the opportunities which will be presented to us.  Naturally the Lord will bless us for being continually righteous, and we can avoid much pain and suffering thereby, but never think that you are less of a person for the sins which Jesus has washed away from you!  They are gone, and God will turn those things to your good and bless you in full measure!

Why aren’t plants black?

If you get right down to it, the vast majority of energy on Earth comes from our sun or another like it.  This is obviously true with solar power and plant-derived fuels such as corn ethanol or algae diesel, but what is less obvious is that other energy sources such as petroleum fuels, hydroelectric, wind, and even nuclear power also come from solar physics.

Hydroelectric power comes from water falling from a high location to a lower one.  Well, how did it get up there in the first place?  To put it simply, the sun beat down on the ocean, which caused evaporation of water, which then formed clouds in the sky which then precipitated back down to the Earth’s surface at a higher location than where it started.

Wind power comes from the motion of large air currents, caused by differences in temperature.  What causes those differences in temperature?  Predominantly the sun.

Nuclear energy arises from heavy elements such as Uranium which, when manipulated, become very unstable and release energy.  How did those elements get so heavy that they would become unstable when enriched and give off energy?  Heavy elements are created in stellar reactions such as supernovae where intense amounts of energy are released in incredibly short periods of time, which smashes atoms together so hard that they combine and form other heavier elements.

In short, the computer screen on which you are currently viewing this text is powered by the sun in some way or another.

Now, all this being the case, it would seem self-evident that nature would want to harness the tremendous power of the sun, and given millions of years, it could probably figure out a way to get all of it, right?

To understand the next point, it’s essential to understand light and color.  Our sun emits light that is roughly white to our eyes.  White as given of by our sun is our brain’s perception of all visible colors together, and when one range of color disappears from that spectrum, what we see changes.  If you are seeing an apple as red, that means that all visible light other than red has been absorbed.  If only the red light is being reflected off the apple’s surface, naturally that is all you will see.  If all colors are absorbed and nothing is reflected, you won’t see anything, and the object will appear black.

Plants are green because there is green light being reflected to your eyes.  So, why can’t the plants absorb all the green light?  If evolution happened as scientists say, wouldn’t plants have figured out how to soak up all the sun’s light?

At this point I feel it appropriate to state that I do not necessarily disbelieve the theory of evolution.  In fact, I think that scientists have discovered many valuable and convincing evidences that show that evolution may have been the means of creating many of the organisms we see around us.  I also feel it important to state that the scriptural accounts of the creation are vague as to the details of how the creation was performed.  In fact, they say only that God spoke and the worlds were created.  But how?  Consistent with the ideas of Henry Eyring (father of Henry B. Eyring), I feel that both science and religion provide an incomplete story of how the Earth was created.  Why is it so?  Because this is not vital to our salvation.  This being the case, I see no reason why the theory of a God-guided evolution could not be true, especially since observable modern-day adaptation is an evidence of evolution.  I do, however, assert that a godless, left-to-chance evolution is unlikely if not impossible.  In any case, it is important to recognize that men and women are children of God.  In any theory of creationism or evolution, we must not forget this essential doctrine.  So, to summarize, I think a God-guided evolution is possible but not the only possible explanation of the creation of life on Earth.  I also think it could be possible for all non-human life to have been created through one means and mankind to have been created by another means.  Remember that in the Genesis record, mankind was created on a completely separate day than were plants and animals.

Now, let’s consider what else evolution has done, according to theory.  Consider for a moment the human body, in particular the brain.  A complex network of trillions of microscopic cells forms within nine months of pregnancy.  These trillions of cells are then automatically weeded out over the next several years as they are not used.  The vital cells are retained and undergo intricate and highly-calculated electrical transmissions from one cell to another which produce thoughts, conscious actions, and unconscious corporal maintenance.  I love the human brain and feel that it is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind, especially being that it helps us to shape who we are.

If nature and/or God can evolve a human or animal brain, why can it not evolve a plant compound that absorbs all solar light? Plants have been around much longer than animals with brains, and developing a chlorophyll or other pigment that absorbs all the green light seems a pretty basic task considering the other accomplishments of the creation.

So why can’t plants absorb all the green light?  If they did, then they would be black.  If plants were black, what would that do to the beautiful world around us?  Remember that only in recent years, maybe the last 100-200, has man been appreciably separated from ubiquitous foliage by the urban sprawl of industrialism.  My belief is that plants are green because God wanted us to have vibrant color in the world around us.  Plant life plays a major role in the beauty of this world.  In fact, many of Earth’s most beautiful destinations are hailed for their greenery.  I fear it would be less so if all they had was blackery.

Would God really change the biology of plants just to give us color?  It has worked out hasn’t it?  Our world is not lacking in oxygen, which is graciously provided by green algae and plants, and the trees and foods the Earth produces have sustained man for millenia.  Don’t forget that this planet was created for man, for a place for us to come and live and learn and grow.  Would a loving God who wants His children to be happy and enjoy every second of life do anything less than provide a beautiful place to sweat out our mortal existence?  I believe that plants are green because they are more beautiful that way, and God wants to provide us with beauty to make our mortal existence more joyous.

So why aren’t plants black?  Because God loves His children.

Welcome to the Divine Scientist blog

This blog is dedicated to the discussion of the creations of God and the science thereof.  We will look into many branches of science and learn how the complexity and beauty of God’s creations testify of His reality, and we may even learn some lessons about Him through His handiwork.

This work has been years in the making, and this is the first attempt to combine these thoughts, which I consider to be inspired of God, into one place and make them available to others.  In reality, these thoughts will at some point be compiled, expounded upon, and written into book format.  This blog is just the beginning of a great work to come.

It is often the case that when people in our day learn more about science, they tend away from a belief and trust in God.  They feel that because they understand how the world around them works that it could not have been a God-like being that created them but feel that they came about by some other natural means.  This blog will endeavor to demonstrate that a thorough understanding of the world and how it works can, indeed, increase our belief, faith, and trust in God.  After all, does understanding the function of an automobile signify that there was no engineer who designed it?

I hope you will enjoy the thoughts presented in this blog and will check back periodically share with friends and family.  May God bless you to understand His works and gain a greater respect and sense of awe for what He has created for you on this Earth.