Those passages we read from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts show what remarkable fact about the resurrection toward which everybody had looked forward, which was to be the great climax of human history? When it actually happened, what was the reaction of most people to it, including members of the Church and apostles? Did they say, "Hooray, hooray, it has happened at last?" When somebody told them about it, what did they say? You'd expect them to be dancing in the streets.
In 1968 they discovered the original version of the First Vision, a text far older than any other. It goes back to 1831-32. I told the person who found it that there would be dancing in the streets when that thing got out, but there was no dancing in the streets. They shoved it under the rug; they didn't want to have anything to do with it. It was written in the handwriting of Frederick G. Williams at the dictation of the Prophet Joseph when he was twenty-six years old. It is by far the fullest and best account we have of the First Vision. We never even acknowledged that it existed—that's a strange thing. Well, the same thing happens here in the New Testament. How did the people first accept the news that the Lord had risen? With open arms? With joy?
"They didn't believe it."
They wouldn't believe it; even the apostles wouldn't believe it. When the Marys told the apostles, they said, "You're crazy." Nobody would believe it. Did Mary instantly recognize the Lord when she saw him? No, she thought he was the gardener and told him to get to work [laughter]. It was just that commonplace, that ordinary, not the sort of thing people would suggest.
Then we went on about the early Christians. The second century was the century of gnosticism, which spiritualized everything. Everything was spiritual in gnosticism. So they were absolutely against physical resurrection. Physical resurrection and physical creation were abominations in their book; they wanted nothing to do with them. And the gnostics were most of the church. But what about these other Christians? We talked about the Apostolic Fathers. Remember, they were the seven that [followed the apostles]. Now, we have a much richer literature of very early writings that talk about the resurrection, etc. But what is the main problem that these Apostolic Fathers had? There were seven of them—Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius, and 2 Clement [and others]. They all had the same [problem]. Not only was the church falling away, but the one thing the people would not believe was what? It's easy to guess by now, isn't it? Brother Hansen, how did the people take the resurrection? Remember, we just quoted from Clement and Ignatius of Antioch. He said, if there is no resurrection from the dead, why am I going to Rome to be put to death? None of you say there is a resurrection from the dead; you don't really believe it. You believe he came in spirit. Of course, this greatly strengthened the position of later church historians, excusing themselves for believing such a thing.
Then we get to the Doctors of the church. Brother Hart, who were called the Doctors of the church? That's a technical term; I'm going to have to tell you, I'm afraid. There were four Greek Doctors and four Latin Doctors, and they set the course of all Christian theology forever after. They all got it from Origen, but Origen wasn't accepted as a Doctor of the church because he preached too much of the old teachings. He came earlier in Alexandria. "This is what is taught today," he was fond of saying, "but in the early days the brethren taught something different." So he didn't get rated as a Doctor of the church. The four Doctors of the church would include Augustine and Jerome, whom I mentioned last time. Both of them said the idea of the resurrection was out of the question—that we would dissolve into the nothing from which we came, etc. Augustine said it is utterly inconceivable that there should be a physical resurrection; that would be an "abomination." Along with them were the other great ones, Gregory and Ambrose. They were the four great Roman Doctors. The Greek Doctors were Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa and his cousin, Gregory Thaumaturgus, and Basil. Those eight men set the tone. What did they teach about [resurrection]? Did we talk about them and what they taught about the doctrines of the church? Yes, we quoted just enough from Augustine, his close personal friend, Gregory (they were born just fifteen years apart), and Jerome. No resurrection, Jerome said, remember—we'll have to be resurrected because the gospel says so, and then we will melt and very promptly become the nothing from which we came.
Then who would come after them? We'll have to ask about the modern clergy; they come from them. The modern clergy don't like it at all either, but again they feel bound to say something about it. This is where the Book of Mormon becomes very important. Let's hear some things. I've quoted every one of the number one New Testament scholars of the time when this was written. It was printed in 1966 in Holland in the Vigiliae Christianae. The theme of the Forty Days is that he actually came and preached. That's a long time to be coming all the time. First he came the three days in the Book of Mormon. Then he preached off and on for forty days; he came and camped with them and had visits with them. That's plenty of time to teach. But did he really come [to the Jews]? [Many scholars] say, "No, he didn't."
John Gordon Davies is the foremost English scholar of the Old Testament. He edited this huge book on the subject, and everybody contributed to it. He has been here at Provo a couple of times. He has written me some letters about Mormonism, and we corresponded. But he is the grand old man. The title of this work is He Ascended to Heaven. He wrote, "We are bound to conclude that such an occurrence is not only improbable but impossible." That's his view of the resurrection, so he writes a book on the resurrection. "It should not even be discussed, for other such things are tolerable only as myths."
M. J. Suggs, who was a "big wheel," quotes the great Reinhold Niebuhr when he says, "It's to be taken seriously but not literally"—take it seriously as a spiritual thing, I suppose, but not literally. The great D. F. Strauss [wrote] Das Leben Jesu that caused an absolute sensation at the turn of the century. He said, "We just can't conceive of it. It's utterly inconceivable for us, but the evangelists could think of such a thing." The evangelists were able to believe such things, but we enlightened people today are not. That's a thing Jerome said a lot. A Christian writing of the fourth century called "The Octavius" has a lot to say about that, and Jerome especially. For those early primitive Christians that was fine. They were naive and believed such things, but today we are more educated and we don't accept that stuff [they said]. This became Christian doctrine.
Joachim Jeremias, who had lived in Palestine most of his life and was a great scholar, said, "We can only know Jesus clad in the garb of myth." The stories we read about Jesus are nothing but myths, wishful thinking after he had gone. This is the way the Christian world takes these things, so you see why the Book of Mormon is a very necessary curative to these things, to set back the balance.
Question: Are these men and the eight men you were talking about earlier the ones the Book of Mormon talks about who took the plain and precious things out of the Bible?
Answer: No, that comes way back earlier.
The Dead Sea Scrolls started coming out, and then they found the Nag Hammadi library. They are getting very much into the old, old documents—older than they've ever had before. And whenever you find one, it's almost bound to bear the title "The Secret Teachings Which the Lord Gave to the Apostles after the Resurrection." The point is we're told that he gave them the teaching, but we're not told a word of what it was in the New Testament. The Book of Mormon tells us what it is. It gives us the teaching, which is more than just what he gave them while he was still with them, as he says.
Well, some are frank to admit that they simply do not like the story. Paul Scherer says, "Half of it I like; half of it I don't." If you like the story, it's true. If you don't, you don't have to accept it [according to him]. Another one, M. E. Dahl, was foremost among the Danish scholars on this. His work is called The Resurrection of the Body. That's the name of the book, and he says about it, "The point is do we or do we not like the answers?" If we like the idea, he was resurrected. If we don't like it, then he wasn't resurrected. It's as if it were all up to us. This is the way they talk.
It's astonishing how many writers on the resurrection pass the forty-day interval in studied silence. It gives some good examples. Severus of Antioch in his exhaustive treatise on the resurrection never mentions the forty-day mission, and W. Bousset, who was the most eminent scholar to write on the apostasy in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century, [doesn't either], like M. E. Dahl; F. J. Foakes-Jackson, who wrote a commentary on the Acts; and Kirsopp Lake, who was foremost at the University of Chicago. In all their long surveys, they all write on the subject and never mention once the forty-day mission of Christ, the fact that he came back and preached. Indeed, churchmen since Clement and Origen have employed all the arts of rhetoric and logic to evade this crass literalism. Schmidt has talked about that; he can't stand it. They do everything to excuse themselves. They claim that the story is insufficiently attested (that's what J. G. Davies, S. M. Gilmour, and others do), or that the language or the thought forms of the ancients elude us. M. E. Dahl says here: "It is unlikely that the Apostle Paul's logic bore any resemblance to ours, whether deductive or inductive. When he talks it's a language we don't understand." His logic is completely out; we don't have his logic at all. When he calls it black, he could mean white as far as we're concerned [they claim]. So what good are the scriptures in that case, if they bear no resemblance to our type of thinking?
Or [they claim] that the writers themselves were confused in maintaining that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom while asserting the very opposite in the doctrine of the resurrection. Of course, the blood is the life, the mortality, the corruptible part. Of course flesh and blood can't, but the Lord didn't say, spirit doth not have flesh and blood, as you see me have. He said, "A spirit hath not flesh and bone, as you see me have," which is something very different. But that is none other than Kirsopp Lake saying that. He says, "Both John and Paul were hopelessly confused about the post-resurrectional reality." Well, the apostles were on the spot, but they were hopelessly confused. Then where are we going to be?
"Even those who accept the forty-day ministry are at a loss to explain what happened. Plainly the key is missing when serious commentators can describe the event as a mere example of condescension and friendship [he just came back to be friendly] by one who had more urgent business elsewhere."
Another said it was "a magnificent recompense for the forty hours of anguish occasioned by the Lord's absence. He made them suffer for forty hours when he was away, so to make up for it he stayed forty days with them. Well, that's pure, sentimental speculation. R. F. Hancock in the Hibbert Journal says, "It was forty odd days of frustration and inaction." The apostles didn't know what to do and the Lord didn't know. They just sat around and said, what do we do now? Or [it was] strategic and psychological holding back of forces for a more effective charge at the enemy—let's build up a while and then really overrun them. "It is often claimed that a full forty days were necessary to demonstrate the reality of the resurrection of flesh." They were so reluctant to believe that flesh could be resurrected that he had to come back for forty days and show them that he was in the flesh—and then ceased to be. After all, forty seconds was enough to convince Thomas.
We are told that the apostles had to overlearn their lessons in order to persuade an overskeptical world. They are described as a weaning process to draw the disciples gradually away from undue attachment to each other, or to the person of the Lord, lest they be too upset with his departure (they were upset). Or strangest of all, [the forty days were] "to wean their minds away from corporeal, physical concepts, to purer realms of disembodied intellect." This is why he came [and spent] forty days eating with them, talking with them, and saying, "A spirit hath not flesh and bone, as you see me have." He called for a fish and honeycomb and ate it before them so they would know, because feeling and seeing hadn't been enough. But the real reason was to prove to them that he was a spirit [according to the philosophers]; it took forty days to prove he was a spirit, after he said he wasn't, you see.
In short, if anything like the great forty days occurred, the enormous portent of it, which Luke puts at the very root of the Christian faith, quite escapes commentators who viewed it as an odd and rather interesting interlude, but admit that in the end we do not know what Christ did or said during the forty days—we can only suggest. That's interesting because then their eyes were opened and they were able to go forth on their missions, but we don't have a word of what he told them. Here Jacquier says, "Just what does a spiritual body do? We don't know. We can only reverently conjecture. It is nowhere set forth in the scriptures."
À Lapide, who was the foremost Catholic commentator on the whole shebang, said, "Nowhere in the scripture do we find out what the nature of Christ's body really was. It's impertinent to inquire and over-bold to specify what it is." And so it goes—everybody's "at sea."
We have only the opening words of the Lord's discourse. What does he say? "O fools and slow of heart [not] to believe all that the prophets have spoken,"—you can't understand—you're stupid. Then it says, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:25 and 27). Then their eyes were opened. Well, we're not given a word of the great sermon he gave to them, then or after. You see why we need the Book of Mormon, why we need a fifth Gospel. Nothing of this is preserved in the canon, we are told in verse 45. These writings take the position of conscious resistance to the rising tide of skepticism regarding the reality of the resurrection. So it goes on. The teaching was never designed to be popular. It never "went" and was junked by the church in a great hurry.
So the next question is where do we stand today? This is the point: where are the Christian churches today on the resurrection? Well, we have just been quoting from modern Doctors on that. We don't have to go very far there. But we can't decide unless we take contemporary science into account. When they rejected it, who did they take for their guide? Well, they took Aristotle for their guide; he became the scientific cornerstone of the church. You had to adapt the scriptures to Aristotle, not Aristotle to the scriptures. Aristotle was final in scholastic philosophy. There are those, like the Thomists, who try to deny it now. They realize that they've gone too far, but for a thousand years Aristotle was the master of those who know. He was the keynote in theology. We don't need to go into that now. We're going to talk about ours. They wanted to make it scientific. It was Alfred North Whitehead who said the whole course of the Christian church has been one long, humiliating retreat—they make one adaptation after another. They do the adapting; they don't adapt the scriptures to themselves. It is one long, humiliating retreat as they adapt and go along.
So how do we adapt here? This has become serious recently. What is the scientific mood today regarding these things? I'm sure we have some scientists here. Brother Havens, what is the scientific mood today? Is it positivist? You know what positivism is, don't you? There was a cult of positivism founded in France in the middle of the nineteenth century, and it spread very rapidly. Positivism was just what you could know—what you could see, feel, and be absolutely sure of. That was pure science, and everything else was nonsense. You see lots of science fiction books; people write about that still. Like all the others, it sort of faded on the vine. It was like scientism. It's an interesting thing that most of the old chapels of the positivists were bought by the [Mormon] Church. The Church got them very easily because it collapsed with the death of their leader. The Mormon Church was able to take over a lot of nice chapels from them. Positivism is just what you know and what is obviously true. Is that the thing today? Can you trust your senses at all? Well, that's the whole thing when we come into quantum physics and things like that. No, quantum physics seems to adapt itself to modern revelation. By the rules of science it is free to do so; they are much freer now. There are a lot of good books on this, but I think the most helpful one to get you into the picture easier came out in 1980. It's called The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics by Gary Zukav, a very good physical scientist. But the big seller today, as you may know, is Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time. They go right together. This brings us a little more up-to-date. This is very condensed; you might find it more difficult to understand, although both books are quite lucid. I'm going to suggest Zukav's book because it is in paperback and it's still at the [BYU] Bookstore. Wu Li is the Chinese word for science—the science masters.
These are some of the basic theses that have come out in the new quantum science. The modest confession used to be, "We don't know everything." The modest confession today is, "We don't know anything." This is a very important position to take. It's more now than just a rhetorical statement. We're talking about the great Heisenberg here, who gave us the uncertainty principle—"the dilemma of having to talk in classical terms [our usual positivistic language] about phenomena which cannot be described in classical concepts is the basic paradox of quantum mechanics. It pervades every part of it. It is like trying to explain an LSD experience. We try to use familiar concepts as points of departure [you say, 'a hat is a hat, and that's that—that's science'; no, that doesn't go anymore], but beyond that, the familiar concepts do not fit the phenomena. The alternative is to say nothing at all. 'Physicists who deal with quantum theory,' wrote Heisenberg, 'are also compelled to use a language taken from ordinary life. We act as if there really were such a thing as an electric current, [or a particle] because if we forbade all physicists to speak of electric current [or particles] they could no longer express their thoughts" (p. 202). They know there are not such things, but they have to call them something.
That [reminds me] of a thing St. Augustine said. He gave a picture of Jesus as having a body, etc. Then he said, "That's incorrect, but it's at least a picture." I'll give you a picture of this thing so you'll understand it. I show you a picture of a rake and say, "That's not a kangaroo, but you have to understand it that way." That's what they say when they talk about things in theology, "It's not what I'm talking about, but at least it's an image to think about." When they paint a picture of the Father with a dove over his head, Mary on one side and Christ on the other, and radiant lights coming out around them, etc., people are prone to think of those as being physical beings. They say, "Oh, no, no, they're not physical; they are just pictures to give you an idea." But if you want a person to get an idea of what a thing is not, you don't draw a picture of something else and say that's it. That's the best possible way to confuse if he is not that.
All over southern Germany they have these magnificent crucifixes that go back to the Middle Ages. On the bottom it says, "This is not an idol that we are praying to." It's just to remind you. It looks like one. If it looks like an elephant, call it an elephant. But we have to call it that because there is nothing else to call it. You can see that's going to lead to trouble, but that's the game that the theologians have always been playing. They are always talking about Father, Son, and Holy Ghost Christology—terms that are mysteries beyond understanding. We just have to use those terms [they say]. What could be plainer than the word Father or the word Son. They are the most elementary, primitive family words you could get. If you want to say that God is not our Father and Christ is not a literal Son, then why on earth can't you find better words to use than the very words that would lead people straight to the wrong conclusion?
He [Zukav] says, "Therefore, physicists talk about subatomic particles as if they were real little objects that leave tracks in bubble chambers and have an independent ('objective') existence [that's not true at all]. This convention has been extremely productive. Over the last forty years almost one hundred particles have been discovered. They constitute what Kenneth Ford calls the particle zoo." But none of those particles exist in reality; this is a strange thing. But then that is so in our normal relationships. A German philosopher in the late nineteenth century by the name of Hans Vaihinger wrote a famous work called The Philosophy of "As If," showing that we couldn't get along if we weren't just play acting. Well, Havelock Ellis wrote [a similar] book in English called The Dance of Life. We're all play acting and making believe, sort of skating around this way. We are certainly doing it today more than ever before. For example, Vaihinger tells us a person writes a letter [saying], "You rat, if you don't pay me the money you owe me, I'll have the law on you—signed, your obedient and humble servant." Well, that's the as if. In order to get along we make all these assumptions as if. Well, the stock market goes on the presumption as if certain things were so—as if the computer were giving us reality. We have as if to get along smoothly; it smooths the rails. You may act as if a person is your friend; you get along better that way.
But we really don't know what's there, is the point here. They always keep coming back to this. This is the fundamental thing, and, it says, not just in a philosophical, abstract, scientific way. We really don't know what the universe is like. "In the middle 1800s, Newtonian mechanics was at its zenith. There seemed to be no phenomenon which could not be explained in terms of mechanical models. All mechanical models were subject to long-established principles. The chairman of the physics department at Harvard discouraged graduate study because so few important matters remained unsolved. [Lord Kelvin in 1900 thought there were two little clouds in there, and those clouds grew.] By 1927, the foundations of the physics, quantum mechanics and relativity, were in place. [Finally] in contrast to Kelvin's time, the allegiance of physicists today is to a symbol of extreme openness" (p. 311). That's the model; you can believe almost anything. For a basis of experiment or speculation, nothing is too wild—it's extreme openness.
There's the famous saying of Heisenberg when somebody introduced a theory at a conference and they said, "That was pretty wild, wasn't it?"
He said, "No, the only trouble is, is it crazy enough?" This is the thing.
" 'Reality' is what we take to be true [quoting from Zukav]. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality," and we are stuck with that. Of course, we are just going around and around here. But that's not the reality; that's the world we live in here.
The critics of Mormonism have always proclaimed that they are cool, detached, impartial observers. A very basic theme today is there is no such thing as a detached observer observing detached things. This is the idea now. What we look at is something else—we don't analyze it. [According to] the famous Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, reality is not like it appears. "It says that what we perceive to be physical reality is actually our cognitive construction of it [you make it]. This cognitive construction may appear to be substantive and real, but the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics leads directly to the conclusion that the physical world itself is not" (p. 82(. A lot of top scientists met in Copenhagen and came to that conclusion. Einstein opposed it for a while. Here's another statement on this. These statements are rather important, I think. They've actually had an influence on me. "Von Neumann's discovery that our thought processes (the realm of symbols) project illusory restrictions onto the real world is essentially the same discovery that led Einstein to the general theory of relativity. Einstein disproved the universality of Euclidean geometry" (p. 280). That was the most obvious thing, the final proof.
I remember when I was a kid of thirteen or so, I was reading a book on geometry, and Vern Knudsen, who was the head of the Physics Department at UCLA at that time, came to the house for dinner. He was a member of the Church, and in the wards we got together. He saw the grammar, which was a very old-fashioned geometry. He said, "There you have reality. That is the final reality. When you have something proved there, you know it is true. You can't go farther than that." That's what it was in those days. It was an illusory restriction to the real world. It's essentially the same discovery that Einstein made. He disproved the universality of that Euclidean geometry I was doing there.
"Until the general theory of relativity, Euclidean geometry had been accepted without question as the underlying structure of the universe. Birkoff and von Neumann disproved the universality of classical logic." That's part of it, not only the logic on which it is based, but the classical logic itself, based on the excluded middle and basic terms. [According to] Aristotle a thing can't be A and B at the same time, but that's out now. You forget about your excluded middle. It can be A and B and a lot of other things. "Until now classical logic has been accepted without question as natural reflection of the nature of reality [and it's nothing of the sort]. A powerful awareness lies dormant in these discoveries: an awareness of the hitherto-unsuspected powers of the mind to mold 'reality' [we make it up], rather than the other way round. In this sense, the philosophy of physics is becoming indistinguishable from the philosophies of Buddhism, which is the philosophy of enlightenment" (p. 280). The only difference between Buddhism and Mormonism there is that Buddhism is complete annihilation—don't ask for anything and you won't be disappointed. They are so realistic to say "there really is nothing." Nyeti nyeti is where it all ends up, just exactly like Jerome—"into the nothing from which we came." But we, in the Egyptian, say, "No, you have to be yourself, and you will always be yourself."
Whatever sense we make of the scene, it would seem, is quite wrong today. Here's another one. I like these quotations. What this really comes down to is the idea: Did the Lord really come? Is that possible? Are we in a position to judge? "Bell's theorem shows that common sense ideas are inadequate even to describe the macroscopic events of the everyday world!" (p. 290). We're not just talking about particles here, little dinky things, but the things that happen all around us. [Henry Stapp wrote:] It "shows that our ordinary ideas about the world are somehow profoundly deficient even on the macroscopic level." Even on the level of books, papers, and things like that they are profoundly deficient; they won't work at all. "No matter how it is formulated, it projects 'irrational' aspects of subatomic phenomena squarely into macroscopic domain [it's not just the subatomic; it's the world we live in]. It says that not only do events in the realm of the very small behave in ways that are utterly different from our common sense view of the world, but also that events of the world at large, the world of freeways and sports cars, behave in ways which are utterly different from our common sense view of them [we've got a completely cockeyed view of the world]. This incredible statement cannot be dismissed as fantasy because it is based upon the awesome and proven accuracy of quantum theory itself" (pp. 290-91).
If we see something, what is it we see? We see the part that appeals to us. Then what do we do? We have to construct our own universe. This is a thing that has become very prominent on the biological side. "Quantum physicists ponder questions like . . . 'Did any particles exist at all before we thought about them and measured them?' 'Did we create the particles that we are experimenting with?' Incredible as it sounds, this is a possibility that many physicists recognize. John Wheeler, a well-known physicist at Princeton, wrote, 'May the universe in some strange sense be "brought into being" by the participation of those who participate?' " (pp. 28-29).
Did you bring it into being? It's not just your sensation, but there must be something out there that's giving it to you, and you influence that. "The vital act is the act of participation." You don't observe something out there anymore. You participate; you are part of it. Remember what the scriptures say about the Lord? He is in all things, and through all things, and about all things. Well, every participator is that, he says here. " 'Participator' is the incontrovertible new concept given by quantum mechanics. It strikes down the term observer of classical theory, the man who stands safely behind the thick glass wall and watches what goes on without taking part in it [no, that won't go]. It can't be done, quantum mechanics says."
When you observe you enter into it, and you are in it and through it and about it in the same way, too. We can't see at all, so we insist on filling out the picture, because we have to have a complete picture. We can't just leave it there. That's what I used to call "the gas law of learning." The gas law is that any amount of gas, no matter how small, will fill any vacuum, no matter how large. It will, even though there are only two atoms. Well, any amount of ignorance, no matter how great, can be satisfied and filled by any amount of knowledge, no matter how small. If I'm a complete ignoramus and I learn two facts, I'm happy now—I know. I'm a knower. You find that all the time, of course. No matter how great the ignorance just a few facts will fill it up all right.
This is an interesting statement here: "All that the mind can ponder is its ideas of reality. . . . Therefore, whether or not something is true is not a matter of how closely it corresponds to the absolute truth, but of how consistent it is with our experience [well, those people really saw the Savior]. The extraordinary importance of the Copenhagen Interpretation lies in the fact that for the first time scientists attempting to formulate a consistent physics were forced by their own findings to acknowledge that a complete understanding of reality lies beyond the capabilities of rational thought [we'll never have a complete understanding of reality; in other words, there will always be mysteries]. It was this that Einstein could not accept. 'The most incomprehensible thing about the world,' he wrote, 'is that it is comprehensible.' [Is it comprehensible? That thought is incomprehensible, he says.] But the deed was done. The new physics was based not upon 'absolute truth,' but upon us" (p. 38). It acknowledged that a complete understanding of reality lies beyond the capabilities of rational thought.
So we should be able to accept all sorts of things here. "Not one physicist, not even Planck himself, wanted to accept the implications of Planck's discovery, for to do so threatened a scientific structure (Newtonian physics) over three hundred years old. Heisenberg wrote about the quantum revolution [this is how we react to it]:
"When new groups of phenomena compel changes in the pattern of thought, . . . even the most eminent of physicists find immense difficulties [this happens especially in theology; a person says he's had a vision, and what's the reaction to it?]. For the demand for change in the thought pattern may engender the feelings that the ground is to be pulled from under one's feet. . . . I believe that the difficulties at this point can hardly be overestimated. Once one has experienced the desperation with which clever and conciliatory men of science react to the demand for a change in the thought pattern, one can only be amazed that such revolutions in science have actually been possible at all." (p. 192)
Whenever they take place nobody wants to tear out all the plumbing and redo it all again. That's what it amounts to—or be pulled out of a nice warm bed into a cold shower, or something like that. Nobody wants that; it's terrible. They fight, hang onto the furniture, and scream [so to speak], but it finally goes through. Well, you can imagine what their reaction would be to Joseph Smith trying to introduce them into another world, in a case like that. They acted accordingly; they were absolutely frantic [about] where that led. We insist on filling out the picture here and making one that we can see. Can this be achieved here?
We have these ideas that don't get along together. You end up with a Many Worlds concept—many worlds that are just alike. That's an important thing. "If the second assumption (definiteness) fails, then we are led to the Many Worlds theory in which the world continuously is splitting into separate and mutually inaccessible branches, each of which contains different editions of the same actors performing different acts at the same time." Like this world, there are other worlds of actors, not doing the same things we are, but they are contemporary with our particular world. This is the Many Worlds theory which has come out because it's necessary to fulfill certain things all at once. "Despite the tidal wave of 'knowledge' which has swept over us for forty years, the Fundamental Physics Group found it necessary, like the physicists at Copenhagen a half century before them, to acknowledge that it might not be possible to construct a model of reality [we'll never be able to know the real world]. This acknowledgment is more than a recognition of the limitations of this theory or that theory. It is a recognition emerging throughout the West that knowledge itself is limited" (p. 303).
We can only have so much knowledge in this world; there's a lot going on that we'll never [understand]. It's easy to say, "Well, I don't know everything—all sorts of things are possible." But when it talks about the things of the eternities and the possibilities [we become concerned]. What brings this on is this interruption—the Lord breaking in and appearing, or the Angel Moroni coming. If they are going to do things like that, then [people] say, well, men must be crazy. No, "it might not be possible for us to construct a model of reality. This acknowledgment is more than a recognition of the limitations of this theory or that theory. It is a recognition emerging throughout the West that knowledge itself is limited. Said in another way, it is a recognition of the difference between knowledge and wisdom." So we have the word of wisdom here.
So much for the common sense, cold-light-of-day theory. There's an important one here, too, on the "either or," the "excluded middle," and the like. "The wave particle duality marked the end of the 'Either-Or' way of looking at the world. Physicists no longer would accept the proposition that light is either a participle or a wave, because they had 'proved' to themselves that it was both, depending on how they looked at it." This opens the door to all sorts of things. This is what Heisenberg wrote: "It meant a tendency for something. It was a quantitative version of the old concept of 'potentia' in Aristotelian philosophy"—potentialities (pp. 65-66).
We have all these potentialities every day of our lives. Every second of your life you have to make a choice. That's why this is the time of judgment. That's why this is the time when we are being tested. Which will you choose? It's the doctrine of the Two Ways. It isn't the doctrine of the Two Ways that you once had a choice ten years ago. Every hour of your life you have a choice of which way to go, as the Book of Mormon says. So you are being judged. Which do you choose? You decide for yourself. So there you are. It's like a child who is loose in a candy store or a toy shop. Or we'll say you're let loose in a cavern of jewels. You can have any jewel you want in here; that's your potentialities. They are all available to you, but you can choose only one. When you have chosen one, then your other choices are all out. A lot is being said about that today by these physics people—you have these potentialities. This is the way Heisenberg puts it: "It introduced something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality [I think of the Savior standing there] just in the middle between possibility and reality." You must make your choice and decide. When the apostles decided they would believe, there he was. But they had to decide, and you have to decide. You make a thing cease to exist just because you don't believe in it; that's not what it says at all.
Here's another good one. "In a related context Nels Bohr wrote that quantum mechanics, by its essence, entails . . . 'the necessity of a final renunciation of the classical idea of causality and a radical revision of our attitude toward the problem of physical reality' " (p. 113). That's our fatalism. I had a brother who was a passionate fatalist. Of course, Aristotle was that. One thing causes another which causes another; therefore, you're not to blame for anything. What caused you to do this was something else. Something else caused him to do that, and something else caused that to happen. You are the helpless victim of a chain of causality. But he [Bohr] says we don't have that anymore: ". . . a final renunciation of the classical idea of causality [they gave that up] and a radical revision of our attitude toward the problem of physical reality." Well, what do you have in the place of that?
"The entire structure of classical mechanics was based on the fact that somewhere, somehow, there must be a frame of reference in which the laws of classical mechanics are valid. The inability of physicists to find it made classical mechanics appear exactly like a huge castle built on sand" (p. 126). That's the basic mechanics we have been working with ever since [Newton]. So our view is hopelessly limited. What we see we say is reality. Remember in Hamlet, he sees his father's ghost come to him. He is with his mother, Gertrude. He says, "Oh, don't you see it? What do you see?"
She says, "Nothing at all; yet all that is I see." Well, the nothing at all was true—she didn't see anything. But when she added, "yet all that is I see," there was the catch. Do you see all there is? So we have here (in Zukav's book, p. 160): "The general theory of relativity shows that our minds follow different rules than the real world does. A rational mind, based on the impressions it receives from its limited perspective [like Gertrude], forms structures which thereafter determine what it further will and will not accept freely [what you accept after that must fit into the structure you have built up]. From that point on, regardless of how the real world actually operates, this rational mind, following its self-imposed rules [very reasonable], tries to superimpose on the real world its own version of what must be." I've decided what I will see, and I will see that—that's it. He can't have seen that because such things don't exist [we say].
"The limited perspective is the perspective of our three-dimensional rationality and its view of one small part of the universe (the part into which we were born). The things that 'must be' are our ideas of geometry (the rules governing straight lines, circles, triangles, etc.). The beginner's mind was Albert Einstein's [who started very differently]. The long-held belief was that these rules govern, without exception, the entirety of the universe. What Einstein's beginner's mind realized was that this is so only in our minds. . . . However, as our experience expands, we encounter more and more difficulty in trying to superimpose these rules upon the entire expanse of the universe. Einstein was the first person to see that the geometrical rules which apply to one small part of the universe as seen from limited perspective (like ours) are not universal. This freed him to behold the universe in a way no person had seen it before" (pp.160-61). So that's called that wide-open thing, that anything goes today.
So these things are related how? Well, there are no local causes. We talk about the other world, how the Lord can get around, and all this sort of thing. This is one thing that Galileo already pointed out. He could have made Einstein's discovery because he had it already. Newton was the one who pointed out what Galileo had pointed out, namely this: Say you have two worlds and they are fifty light years apart. Light is C—it's the constant. Absolutely nothing can go faster than light. But you have Newton's Law. It completely baffled Newton; he said there was no explanation to it at all. But say these worlds move farther apart or closer together. Then the gravitational force between them changes. According to the rule, the gravity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance [the inverse square law of gravity]. Even if they move a little bit, the force between them changes. But they are fifty light years apart. Does it take fifty years for that rule to apply? No, it instantly applies. Well, how can it? They're fifty light years apart. Nothing can travel faster than light, yet it doesn't take five minutes. If they just move five feet apart, according to Newton's rule, they will change instantaneously. So throughout the [universe] we have this instantaneous communication everywhere—it goes everywhere. This is why gravity doesn't fit into the complete rule that is supposed to answer all. There are the three forces, but they can't get the fourth force, which is gravity. The other three forces (the strong, the weak, and the electromagnetic) all follow the basic rule of the Constant C, but gravity will have nothing to do with constant C. It works no matter what, no matter how far apart, instantaneous, etc. There are instantaneous connections in the universe that do things like that.
These infinite worlds and local causes they talk a lot about now. (I'm glad they explain these so clearly; it's all over my head.) "The principle of local causes must be false!" Something happens in this world and something happens in this [other] world, and they have nothing to do with each other. No, the [belief] today is that whatever happens in one is going to influence all the others. Sir James Jeans was right when he said (and this is absurd): "Every time a baby throws his bottle out of the perambulator, he disturbs the orbit of the remotest star." Well, not drastically, you understand, but the idea of that connection is there. But the principle of local causes, that a thing can happen anywhere without influencing something else, is out, [Zukav] says. "The principle of local causes must be false! However, if the principle of local causes fails and, hence, the world is not the way it appears to be, then what is the true nature of our world?" (p. 296).
He says there are no separate parts in the universe. We think of Christ coming and being there. He's going to see them tomorrow. How long will it take? "In this picture, what happens here is intimately and immediately connected to what happens elsewhere in the universe, which, in turn, is intimately and immediately connected to what happens elsewhere in the universe, and so on, simply because the separate parts of the universe are not separate parts" (pp. 296-97). This is very strong stuff. You hear in the temple or elsewhere that all truth can be circumscribed in one great whole—it's all one family. We say there are worlds without number; we read that from the Pearl of Great Price. How can they all act together, and how can the Lord get around to all of them at once? Well, this immediately raises problems which to us are quite baffling at present. But they sort of fall out when you start thinking in terms like this. [Quoting David Bohm]: "Thus, one is led to a new notion of unbroken wholeness which denies the classical idea of analyzability of the world into separately and independently existent parts" (p. 297).
We don't have separate existing parts; we are just one. It's one big whole thing, and we are all connected. So we're not going to get out of it. As the scriptures say, "until you have paid the last farthing," you are not going to be able to get out of the house because there is no way of getting out. We are all shut into it. We've all got to live together forever, ever so close and so intimate, according to all this.
I wanted to get into Stephen Hawking's book. He is really exciting, but there are two [problems]: It's more condensed, and it's over my head.