Chapter 7 – Science

Avatar again sat back and closed his eyes. This time he closed them for a bit longer. Again, the two missionaries considered getting up and walking out, thinking that the old man had gone into a deep sleep. Again, as they got up to leave, Avatar awoke and asked another question. “If God was once a man learning in an environment with choice, does he now have freedom to make choices?”

Elder Jäger replied, “I cannot understand how God thinks, therefore I cannot explain how he acts. “

Mr. Gottlieb, do you have a hypothesis? Does God have freedom of choice?

“God takes actions but I don’t think those actions are like the choices that we are presented with in this world. We live in a world under the influence of Newton’s  second law of thermodynamics or entropy. Everything is continually moving in the direction of disorder and greater complexity. I do not believe that there is entropy where God is, therefore his actions would be governed by something more constant like the laws that govern the speed of light.”

“Let’s talk a little more about science Mr. Gottlieb”

Elder Gottlieb was much more comfortable talking about topics of science than religion. He grew up in a home with two parents who were immersed in science. His father is a theoretical physicist and his mother a neuroscientist. Talks around the dinner table in their Brooklyn home were either about quantum physics or the capacity of the brain to understand quantum physics. Elder Gottlieb studied astrophysics at a young age. He was bullied as a kid because of his “nerdiness”. He learned how to defend himself growing up on the streets of Brooklyn.  

Pointing at Elder Gottlieb’s magnets, Avatar continued, “The field around your magnets and gravity that holds our moon in its orbit around the earth seem to have no physical form, and yet they have influence on things that do have physical form. How is that possible?”

“In physics we discuss forces that influence large physical objects like planets, stars, and galaxies and another type of forces that influence smaller objects like molecules, atoms, electrons, and quarks. My father is currently researching M-theory to explain these forces. Loop theory suggests that space and gravity do have physical form.” 

Scientists like your father are inventing words to represent things that they don’t understand. Words like fields, quarks, strings, loops, and matrix theory are nothing more than words created to label our reality that scientists are struggling to understand.1

I’m not sure I understand the point you are trying to make. All scientists do this. When a geologist discovers a new rock formation, she names it. Botanists name new species of plants. When something new is discovered, we name it so that we can talk about it and write about it. Early observers of the stars gave them names and organized them into familiar objects like bears and hunters. Now astronomers give stars and galaxies codes, like M110. What’s your point?

“Every generation of humans believed it had all the answers it needed, except for a few mysteries they assumed would be solved at any moment. And they all believed their ancestors were simplistic and deluded. What are the odds that you are the first generation of humans who will understand reality? All we can do is observe and record patterns.”

Adams, Scott. God’s Debris a Thought Experiment. Andrews McMeel, 2013. 

Elder Gottlieb looked a bit confused and concerned. He was digging deeply into his knowledge of science for a clever come-back answer. He had none. The question included the word “odds”. Avatar was pulling him back into the discussion of probability.

Elder Jäger did have an answer for Avatar. When you stated “every generation of humans,” you generalized that all humans believed that they had all the answers. That is a broad generalization that is highly unlikely. The odds are bad. 

Mr. Jäger, I am impressed. There is a probability that some people in history recognized that they did not have all the answers. I am not aware of such a person.

There have been a few. Moses was one of them. God showed Moses the Earth, the stars and planets as if he had been transported into space or as he were watching a 3D movie on a screen. The presentation of what he saw was so overwhelming that he collapsed and was unconscious for several hours. When he woke up  from his unconscious condition, he said, “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.”

Why is man nothing? Why are there so many worlds? There is no answer to these why questions.

Mose boldly asked a similar “why” question. After seeing all of Gods creations, he asked why and how they were made.

And how did God answer him?

“And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth. And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.”

The Pearl of Great Price, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, (2013)

Avatar again closed his eyes. This time was different. He was more than asleep. It looked like he was in a coma or worse. Maybe he had died right in front of them. Elder Gottlieb went closer to the old man to look at his chest and see if he was still breathing. As Elder Gottlieb looked closely at the old man’s nose, Avatars’ eyes opened wide. Elder Gottlieb was startled and jumped back. 

Where is your freedom to choose? “Is it part of your brain, or does is emanate from someplace outside your body and somehow control your actions?”

Adams, Scott. God’s Debris a Thought Experiment. Andrews McMeel, 2013. 

Freedom of choice is not what we have. We have agency, meaning that we are agents with the choice to either act upon choices or be acted upon. We are empowered with the ability to either have things from outside our bodies act upon us, or we can choose to act upon things external to our bodies. This agency was not free. It was bought with a price.

Does agency live in your brain?

Our brains are part of our physical or natural bodies. Our spirits are contained within our physical bodies. We are agents to choose whether the physical brain acts upon our spirit, or whether the spirit acts upon our brain which is part of the natural body.

So the soul or the spirit as you call it, is not physical like the brain. And you believe that the spirit which is not physical can influence the physical brain?

Yes, because spirits are made from a physical granular matter and need the same light to operate. The health of the physical body and brain has an affect on your spirit body.

If what you say is true, then someone who is very athletic and has a very high IQ should also have a very healthy spirit. 

Well, I know that’s not necessarily true. Both my mother and father have very healthy bodies and very high IQs, but they don’t believe in God. I don’t think their spirits are very healthy.

Elder Jäger didn’t want to go down this path in front of someone they were trying to teach but he had to respond to Elder Gottlieb’s concerns. Elder Gottlieb, are your parents good people? Are they people of integrity, do they love you, and do they show concern and kindness to other people?

Yes of course. They are both good honest people. They are always willing to help out their neighbors if they need something, and they generally care about protecting the environment.

Everyone is born with a little store of energy that allows them to be good people if they choose to. As people make good choices like helping out a neighbor or loving their family, their store of energy increases. Some people sense the change and say things like … “I did it out the goodness of my heart,” or “As I get older, I care less about differences in people.” People can learn how to act in positive ways, rather than allow the body and brain to act upon themselves. This is part of the reason for why we are here in this physical world.

Avatar continued, can a soul, or your spirit affect other physical things like your watch, or those logs by the fire?

Yes, the spirit has influence on the brain and the body which can interact with the physical things in this world. When an artist paints a painting or an engineer solves a complex problem in the physical world, their spirits are influencing their bodies and brains.

A neuroscientist, like Mr. Gottlieb’s mother, might suggest that what you are explaining is nothing more than how the brain operates. You cannot prove that a spirit exists because we cannot observe it using an MRI or a CAT scan.

Elder Gottlieb jumped into the conversation. If a doctor wants to see bone tissue, she’ll request an x-ray. If she wants data on soft tissue like a ligament, she requests an MRI. We need a special instrument to measure spirit matter. Do you know what neutrinos are? 

Yes. They are near massless objects, very difficult to detect.

Scientists once considered them to have no mass, yet they seem to have an affect on large cosmic objects. Recently, scientists were able to measure their mass with a new instrument. 

Avatar again closed his eyes for a few moments and reopened them. You are correct Mr. Gottlieb. Neutrinos, are extremely light objects, less than 1 electron-volt, and very abundant in the universe. They are physical because they have mass, appear to change, and have effects on other objects. The existence of a very light, near massless object in the universe does not suggest that spirits exist, have mass, and therefore an effect on physical objects.

Before physicists could measure the mass of a neutrino, we could not demonstrate that it existed. Isn’t it possible that what we refer to as spirit is a type of matter not yet detectable by current instruments?

That is a plausible hypothesis Mr. Gottlieb. A new type of matter may exist that we cannot currently measure or observe.

Can your spirit influence other people’s brains, or does it know which brain is yours?1

My spirit body is more me than my physical body which includes my brain. When my body and brain die, I will still exist. I existed before this physical body was formed and I will still exist after this physical body dies and decays.

You are speaking about an afterlife and it sounds like you are also referring to a prelife existence. That is an interesting concept. However, you have not answered my question.

I can influence another brain by using my physical body. I can use persuasive speech, express an act of kindness, or an act of aggression. These actions can have an influence on someone else’s brain. If my spirit influences my brain, and my brain works with my body to influence another; then indirectly my spirt is influencing others. 

Mr. Jäger, If your spirit is the source of freedom of choice, then it must be weighing alternatives and making decisions which is what brains do. Why do you need a spirit to do what a brain does?

If the brain had to function by itself, the body would follow only the brain. The natural tendency of the brain is to survive and seek pleasure. When people only use their brains, their body is alive but their soul is dead.

When people allow the light of their spirits to keep their brains in check, they are able to make decisions that are contrary to natural tendencies which makes them alive. 

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