Friday, June 27, 2008

Ein Sof - A Matter Of Semantics?

There is a well developed understanding in LDS theology that:

“There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes...” (D&C 131:7)

I wonder if our firmness in this teaching can prevent us from understanding a fuller understanding of this teaching? What I mean is if we out-of-hand reject the apostate teaching of "creatio ex nihilo" without understand the possible origins, we may be missing something.

Some of the so called “church fathers” of the first few century A.D. propagated the idea of “creatio ex nihilo”, meaning "creation out of nothing."

This topic has been hotly debated over the centuries, and laid to rest by Joseph Smith in the minds of many fine LDS folks. But a mind at rest is not always the sharpest. Theophilus, Justin Martyr, and Origen believed matter was pre-existant with God, while Irenaeus, Tertullian, etc. believed otherwise.

I submit that only a highly inspired mind could have seen beyond “creatio ex nihilo.” But to swing from there to a fundamentalist view that the mud of the universe always existed in it’s physical form, is an unnecessary swing.

Joseph Smith taught that matter “can not be created nor destroyed” but that it only changes form. In short, the prophet taught matter is simply stored energy (long before Einstein came to the same conclusion). And that matter is only one of the forms energy can take. The LDS view is often, in my opinion, mistakenly reduced to thinking the physical matter is used and reused, but I believe it is the eternal underlying energy that always existed (and perhaps eventually recycled), not necessarily the mud.

The bones of dinosaurs are not left over from other worlds, this is a silly, childish, and pedestrian view.

I further submit that much of the centuries of debate stem from misunderstanding the intent of words like “creation,” “beginning,” “matter,” and so on.

In ancient Hebrew thought they had the same problem. And in-fact I suspect it was their problem that spilled over to the “church fathers.” The Hebrew term “ein sof” is often thought of on one level to mean “nothingness,” a shapeless, lawless, non-physical, immaterial existence that God resided in prior to creation. It is from here that Irenaeus and Tertullian believed creation began.

But on another level, a fuller understanding of Hebrew thought resembled the prophet Joseph’s teaching that in Celestial spheres a highly organized being, a material being of “fine or pure” matter created our physical world. He is a being of light, intelligence, or energy. Where He lives is “ein sof” or the “Endless,” the “Eternal,” the “Boundless.”

That when He extended His arm downward it created the lower kingdoms of existence. The Cabalists describe this with the idea of the “sephirah” which create the Tree of Life (which is the pattern of creation and the path of return. The pattern of temple architecture).

When God extended a portion of His light into our sphere it created the big bang, or creation. That light carried with it all the laws of physics we now observe and experience.

So, was the creation from something or nothing?


Anonymous said...

Matter exists always, and forever. God took matter and created the Earth, he did not create that matter however. I have a hard time believing that God - who has been forever - created a thing called matter and formed other things through that said matter.

Changing that matter, however, seems very possible and logical.

RWW said...


I assume that when you say "God," you aren't referring to one particular being..?

Doc said...

I don't pretend to know, but the idea of refined or pure matter being energy makes a certain kind of sense. I wouldn't say that energy is nothing. There are some very interesting and completely speculative roads toying with the idea of God being largely made up of light and energy can take you. What then happens then to the body of flesh and bone as tangible as man's I wonder?

David Littlefield said...

Doc asked”

“What then happens then to the body of flesh and bone as tangible as man's I wonder?"

Which is a great question, and is the only logical next step.

If my proposal is correct, all matter is light or energy. We often think of light and energy not having mass, weight, or a solid form. But just pick up a pile of rocks, they are heavy because the laws attached to the light that they are made of are real, they pull together, the light is attracted to itself.

Therefore we are beings of light, and we are physical. I would also say that those who are resurrected to a terrestrial glory receive a body of finer light, still physical, it is matter (light or energy), and different laws apply in that sphere.

And the same would hold true for those resurrected to celestial spheres, they have even finer light, or matter, and different laws apply to them:

 "29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
  30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence." (D&C 93:29-30)

I don’t think that being of finer matter equates to not be tangible, but clearly it is different. But also equally clear is the fact that God is different from us, at least from us in our current form.

I take notice in D&C 88 that there is this interplay that seems odd at first, between an explination of physical existence and spiritual things, and what ties them together is the light:

 “ 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 understandings;
  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.”


David Littlefield said...


I was actually referring to one God, our Father. But that does not limit me from understanding a plurality of Gods, etc.


molly said...

I was here. Thank you for writing :)

Anonymous said...

Regardless of "HIGH MINDED" thinking, ascribing Joseph Smiths "WORDS" were all inspired and not subject to science and discovery and was J.S. speaking as a Physicist, Prophet or person giving a thought?

Letting your brains slip out and sleeping with your eyes open is Not Science nor Discovery.

We know a lot less then we pretend, we are lazy or arrogant to "think" we know or can with such ease
expound on the pages of history or science lost in the sea of time.

What is true or inspired ?
Evolution Exaltation Exploration Experience Perception Creation ???
Our eyes and minds are hazy as to the History of the Universe, our solar system, creation and 6.000 B.C.
If were are not careful were may create our own
"Truth" and be Our own God of our Lies

David Littlefield said...

Anon asked:

"was J.S. speaking as a Physicist, Prophet or person giving a thought?"

in this case he was speaking as a prophet, they are revelations from God.

So I feel secure they are truth. It is not creating our own new god, it is following the true God.


David Littlefield said...

Hey Molly!

Thanks for stopping by. I have been a little busy lately, and the posts have been spread out a bit. More to come soon.


David Littlefield said...

I think we sometimes interpret "fine or pure" to me lighter, semi transparent, a kind of whipped up to be fluffy personage. But I don't think that is the case. I think the word "pure" is the key word.

I believe this is pointing to different glories, or dimensions. What makes it more pure is the law of that glory or dimension. Here is a LINK with some of my thoughts on glories and dimensions.


David Littlefield said...


If we dumb ourselves down, to what level do you think would be appropriate?


Anonymous said...

Thinking and speaking are different. Going back in time and saying things we know not, is not learning or be educated, but is jumping to conclusions that are belittling to our selves and others.

Wonderment and discovery is fulfilling but all the facts are not in on creation, time, matter, energy, time and timelessness .

"This topic has been hotly debated over the centuries, and laid to rest by Joseph Smith in the minds of many fine LDS folks. But a mind at rest ....

"The bones of dinosaurs are not left over from other worlds, this is a silly, childish, and pedestrian view."

"BIg Bang" ???

If You are accepting the Words of Joseph Smith as Science - Joseph Fielding Smith said we would never leave earth our Planet, Maybe we Didn't???

RWW said...

I was actually referring to one God, our Father.

Now I'm confused... Did you write the first comment in this thread?

David Littlefield said...


I did not write the first comment. I think I mistook your question, as a question to me, but I think your question was being directed to Anon. Sorry.


RWW said...

Ah, okay.