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Late night musings: Could faith be a literal physical force?

Mormon Insomniac: Could faith be a literal physical force?

When you can’t sleep and you’re a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, your mind drifts to interesting places…

A mustard seed of faith

When the Lord says, “if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove,” (Matt 17:20) it is often accepted as a metaphor meaning a small amount of faith has great power. Most Church members I know also believe that one could literally move a mountain using faith.

All things are made of matter

The Lord differentiates between “spiritual” and “physical” in some ways, saying that he “created all things … spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.”(Moses 3:5). The Lord has also indicated 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.”

So a mountain is composed of at least two kinds of matter—spiritual matter, and what we call physical matter. For a mountain to be moved, a force of some kind must act on both kinds of matter. God doesn’t enact miracles by magic; he applies natural laws that we don’t yet understand or have the ability to harness. And according to all of our understanding, for a physical object to move, it must have a physical force applied to it.

Our common understanding in religion of “faith” means we have confidence in the Lord, especially trusting in him concerning things we don’t fully understand. It would take a great deal of trust to hold a power so concentrated that an amount the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain.

How does faith interact with matter?

Faith, at some point, apparently has the ability to interact with physical and spiritual matter. So faith either includes the ability or knowledge of how to control forces that move physical matter, or faith includes a literal physical force that is stronger than gravity and/or the forces that hold molecules together.

Some scientists believe that some or all of the physical forces known to man might have, at some point in creation, been a unified force. This force could have been part of what the Lord refers to as faith. Faith may be more than just our thoughts and feelings. Faith could be a force that can act, with great strength, on both spiritual and physical matter.

When we consider how powerful the reaction is when we start messing with the forces that hold atoms together, it is not hard to appreciate that an amount of an unknown, but powerful, force the size of a mustard seed could move a mountain.

Our clumsy attempts at harassing nuclear forces can destroy a city in minutes. But faith, whether it is a physical force, or simply the ability to control all physical forces simultaneously, can move an intact mountain to another location. That is so cool.

“There is no conflict between science and religion. Conflict only arises from an incomplete knowledge of either science or religion, or both.”1—President Russell M. Nelson

Lead photo by CERN

  1. Marianne Holman Prescott, “Elder Nelson dedicates Life Sciences Building: ‘There is no conflict between science and religion'”  Church News, 14 April 2015.

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