Light and Darkness

yin-yang.jpg For the Christian one of the most dramatic symbols or images of truth is light. To my knowledge darkness has never been used as a symbol for truth. At best some have tried to see darkness as equal to light. This is illustrated by the Chinese concept of the yen and yang. According to that idea darkness and light are two mutually complementary entities that need and will continue to need each other to exist eternally. Apply that to truth and and error and it’s like saying that truth and lies will always coexist and in fact need each other to exist.

One reason I can’t accept that philosophical idea is because that isn’t how light and darkness really are in the natural world. In nature light always has the predominance. In fact darkness is nothing but the absence of light. Darkness doesn’t come from anywhere to dispel light. There is no such thing as a dark bulb. There are no beams of darkness coming from some “dark” source “shining” into the light. You might block light waves with a solid object but the darkness is still only caused by a diminishing of or the absence of light.

Secondly darkness is not equally powerful in it’s balance of push against light but is helplessly subject to light’s invasion. You could put it this way, light is not the least bit intimidated by darkness but is complete master of it whenever it sees fit.

Like light, for the Christian, truth is not dependent on lies for it’s existence. Truth is truth and error will just have to get used to it. Just like the dark will have to get used to it when the light decides to shine. Jesus said “But he who does the truth comes to the light.” (John 3:21)

6 Responses to “Light and Darkness”

  1. Van Says:

    Good subject and right on! A couple of other things about light: 1 In order for light to be useful, it must have something to reflect off of; 2 Light is a very narrow band of the electomagnetic spectrum. Therefore, I propose that truth means nothing if there is nothing to absorb it, or more importantly reflect it. And, the truth we know is only a small fraction of the truth that is out there.

    Another thing. Have you ever seen the pictures of the space shuttle in orbit? The surrounding space is black (dark). The only things with light are either the source or something reflecting the light. The same is true if you remember pictures from the landings on the moon. The “sky” is black (dark). Only the sun (light source), moon, earth, and things on the moon (light reflectors) are evidence of light.

    One last thing. The absence of truth is not always error. Sometimes it simply means “without truth” or perhaps, ignorance.

    One more “one last thing” (sorry). The same is true of sound and silence. The absence of sound is silence. Silence only exists when there is no sound.

    Thanks, Owen for these stimulating subjects.

  2. Owen Says:

    So true. The interesting thing is that as you say light has to be reflected. When light comes from the source it’s not noticed until it hits something. While the light waves are traveling through the blackness of space we cannot see them. It’s only when they hit something and illuminates it that we know that light waves are there. Truth is the same. It is traveling through the darkness of ignorance but until it actually hits a receptor as in a receptive mind and received it is not “seen”. Could it be that there are “truth waves” that we can tune into?

    Your comment on sound and silence reminds me of the old question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear, does it make a sound?” Well obviously it makes sound waves but if there is no receptor to pick it up you wouldn’t hear those waves. Just as in light and truth. It’s amazing how much the natural world can teach us about reality and truth.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I found your posting quite simply ignorant of many truths that have been circulating in science journals for years. Black holes are black due to the absence of light, but there is no known way that light can penetrate past the event horizon. In addition, it is obvious that the average luminosity level in the universe would be considered “dark” by human standards. What most appalled me, though, was the grossly symbolic and fantastic way in which you described light and dark as sentient beings. Do not lose your reason to your religion, as some truths may contradict it.

  4. Owen Says:

    Thank you for your comment Anonymous. I think of what you have said, the important thing is that “there is no known way that light can penetrate past the event horizon”. The fact is that scientists know very little about these things.

    With respect to your other comment, for those of us who see the writings of the prophets in the Bible as our Creator’s communication to us, it is clear that the images of light and darkness have been used there as illustrations of the victory that truth is having, and will ultimately have over error.

  5. C. Custer Says:

    FYI, this isn’t a particularly accurate explanation of the concept of yin and yang. First of all, while yin is traditionally associated with dark and yang with light, it’s not really correct to suggest that they (light and dark) are mutually complementary. Rather, Yin is associated with the moon (night) and Yang with the sun (day). And while we can certainly create artificial light at night, the “default” state of night on earth will always be dark. Moreover, light/dark is only a small part of the yin-yang’s symbolic meaning. It’s a symbol of the cyclical nature of the universe and of time itself (from the Daoist perspective).

    Additionally, it’s a bit unfair to conflate Christian symbols with Chinese ones and use that to argue against the Chinese. I don’t think that any Daoist in ancient times or even today would suggest that the truth and lies must coexist, need each other to exist. Light is not a symbol of truth, and darkness is not a symbol of lies in Daoist terms. They are equally prevalent natural phenomena. “Truth” and “Lies,” on the other hand, are a decidedly unnatural human construction. A tree, for example, does not — cannot — lie, nor is it inherently “true” per se. These (truth, falsehood) are categorizations that we place on objects, on statements, etc., but they are man-made, at least from a Daoist perspective. Zhuangzi, for example, would argue that calling anything “true” or “false” is missing the point entirely; instead, see what it is in its context, in that moment in time, and refrain from categorizing it with labels that can’t possibly accurately describe it*.

    *Because labels, even truth/lies, are dependent on context and time, they are not universally reliable. A lie today may become true tomorrow, and a truth in one culture or context can be equally false elsewhere. From the Daoist point of view, then, such labeling is useful only when we remember that it is temporary and dependent on our point of view. “Labels” like this are a crutch humans use to categorize the world; the world we see through these labels is not, in fact, the real world.

    That’s a very simple overview of one concept, but still a very roundabout way of getting to my point, which is: The yin-yang isn’t an indication that the Chinese believe truth and lies to be mutually necessary.

  6. Chis Says:

    Dear Owen, you’ve made errors and your article as misleading to truth-seekers.

    1. It’s spelt ‘Yin’, not ‘Yen’.

    2. Yin-yang are not exclusively a representation of ‘darkness & light’, as you have incorrectly stated; darkness and light are but symbolism of yin-yang. The yin-yang symbol is but representing two poles of the same thing.

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