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BYU Studies Quarterly

BYU Studies Quarterly

Authors

David A. Grandy

Abstract

Light is puzzling. For the last century, surprises have repeatedly upended older understandings of light. What is more, these surprises have, among scientists and nonscientists alike, triggered a great deal of philosophical and theological commentary. Physical light resonates metaphysical overtones, some of which may be considered theological or spiritual. Light travels at its characteristic speed only in a vacuum; when moving through air, its speed is reduced. Material bodies can slow, block, and even extinguish light, giving light a seemingly subordinate role in our material world. But special relativity's portrayal of light breaks the frame of mechanistic thought and thereby allows us to reconsider that in some ways physical light in indistinguishable from spiritual light, or the light of Christ.

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