The Harmony of Deep Light

The Privileged Position of Light

The Bible begins with the words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light” Gen. 1:1-3). In the Gospel of John, Jesus is described as the “the true light that gives light to everyone” John 1:9). Throughout history, light has been connected with the divine, and in particular with the divine reason that permeates the universe. The great theologian Thomas Torrance observed that the status of light as orderly, invariable, constant, and unsurpassable, a status confirmed by relativity theory, points to the ultimate light, the uncreated light of God, which serves as the ground of the rationality and order of creation itself. [1]

The Nature of Created Light

Visible created light consists of photons, massless packets of energy, each traveling with wavelike properties at the speed of light.  The light that we can see with our eyes is simply that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that human eyes can see.[2] A photon carries energy proportional to the radiation frequency but has zero rest mass. In other words, photons are not physical but wavelike. Photons are the smallest unit (quantum) of energy, and the realization that light traveled in discrete quanta was the origin of Quantum Theory.

Christian Huygens proposed that light was composed of waves traveling through the “ether,” an invisible substance thought to permeate space. This view contradicted the views of Newton, who felt that light was made up of particles, a view that a majority of physicists originally accepted Newton’s theory that is materialistic and corpuscular. Light is a thing.

In 1801, Thomas Young conducted what is known as a double-slit experiment. In the experiment, a side-by-side beam of light was sent through two small holes. When this was done, the light passing through them formed a pattern. At regular intervals, the intersecting ripples emanating from the two holes interfered constructively—combining to make brighter light—or destructively—canceling one another out. This behavior indicated that light was a wave-like phenomenon. The work of James Clerk Maxwell gave this theory much support. Maxwell developed the theory of light as a disturbance or wave in a continuous electromagnetic field. This was a strong confirmation of Young’s ideas.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Max Planck developed quantum theory, theorizing that the mysterious behavior of light could be understood by considering light to be electromagnetic waves divided into individual packets or “quanta.” This is the beginning of what we call “quantum theory.”  In 1905, Albert Einstein theorized that light behaves as both a particle and a wave, with the energy of each particle of light corresponding to the wave’s frequency. His theorizing won him the Nobel Prize in 1921 (the year my parents were born). This was the beginning of the strange duality of light in orthodox quantum theory.

            Currently, light is considered an excitation in an electromagnetic field capable of exhibiting paradoxical features consistent with wave-like and particle-like behavior. So-called quantum fields, such as the electromagnetic field, are a kind of energy-generating potential spread throughout space. Today, physicists think of every particle, including photons, as an excitation of a quantum field.  [3]  String theory holds that reality, including photons, is composed of infinitesimally small vibrating strings, smaller than atoms, electrons, or quarks. According to this theory, as the strings vibrate, twist, and fold, they produce effects that explain phenomena from particle physics to large-scale phenomena like gravity. [4] String theory sees photons as rotational vibrations (an oscillation in an electromagnetic field) in a one-dimensional string.

An Illumined Universe Made of Light

Nikola Tesla, for whom the car is named, is famously, if possibly erroneously, reported to have said, “Everything is light.”  There is some truth to the statement. Most people are familiar with Einstein’s general theory of relativity and the famous equation E=MC2. This theory implies that mass and energy are potentially convertible into one another. This is the foundation of the atomic bomb,

The “Big Bang” theory combines Einstein’s general theory of relativity with the discoveries astronomy has made concerning the universe’s evolution to reach conclusions concerning the beginning of the universe.  Thus, what is called the “Big Bang Theory” is an attempt to explain the universe’s origin based on the current status of physics and the information we have about the universe’s evolution. The theory supposes that the universe begins at a point of infinite density. At the initial moment (creation), there was nothing but a very hot and rapidly expanding cosmic soup of protons, neutrons, and electrons. This is the bang.

 About 300,000 years after the Big Bang, referred to as the “Era of Recombination,” photons began attaching as electrons to atoms, and the universe went from being opaque to transparent. This is the point of the earliest light astronomers can observe, what we call cosmic background radiation. Over the next nearly 14 billion years, the universe as we know it evolved. 5 The universe consists mostly of photons, which means that in some special sense, light is a primary attribute of the created order.

A Universe Illumined by Uncreated Light

While involved in a difficult leadership situation some years ago, I wrote Centered Living/Centered Leading: The Way of Light and Love. [5] It was a Christian adaptation of the Chinese classic, the Tao te Ching. The book was a guide, so to speak, as to spiritual leadership, even in times of crisis and conflict. As the Preface indicates, it was born of my feeling that I was losing my center in Chris while trying to serve God in a highly conflicted situation.

One of the chapters of the paraphrase begins like this:

There was a beginning when the One Who Is created all things. All things were created and are yet being created by the Word and its Deep Light, as Deep Love seeks orderly peace ( Chapter 22).

Deep Light

What is this “Deep Light” of which I was speaking? It is not a physical light. It is a spiritual reality that underlies the created order and the physical light that illuminates our lives. It is the wisdom of God. It is the rationality that pervades our universe.  I go on to define the term in the book:

Deep Light: The Apostle John teaches that “God is light” when he says, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him, there is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5). This Divine Light is the divine ground of reason, which existed before the created order. The “Logos,” or Divine Reason, is immanent in the cosmos. In God, Divine Love and Divine Wisdom exist in harmony so that love is not separated from wisdom. God’s rationality never fails to act in love.  [6]

Deep Love

In addition to Deep Light, the universe also embodies a deep love. In these blogs, I have had the opportunity in the past to talk about the phenomenon of “Entanglement” and the deep relationality that seems to be present in the created universe. This created relationality points toward an uncreated relationality. Christians believe created relationality reflects the relationship within the God-Head, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God in Three Persons, exhibiting eternal, endless, self-giving love.

I defined this Deep Love as follows in Centered Living/Centered Leading:

Deep Love: In First John, the Apostle also teaches that “God is love.” John says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). John goes on to define the nature of this Deep Love when he says, “This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The Deep Love of God is a sacrificial, suffering love. This kind of love works for the restoration, redemption, and renewal of the world. It was revealed most clearly by Jesus Christ on the cross. [7]

Our Harmonious Universe

Notice that the end of the passage, quoted from Centered Living/Centered Leading, reads, “All things were created and are yet being created by the Word and its Deep Light by the Word and its Deep Light, as Deep Love seeks orderly peace.” In other words, divine, uncreated Deep Light and Deep Love aims to promote harmonious peace. This notion of peace drawn from the Christian tradition goes beyond the absence of conflict. It involves wholeness, completeness, perfection, well-being, harmony, prosperity and tranquility. The peace comes when all things are in their proper place.

The notion of harmony as fundamental to the universe is deeply rooted in human history. The rational symmetries of the universe and its fundamental relatedness point to the conclusion that harmony lies at the root of our ideas of justice, wholeness, morality, peace, or shalom. This deeper harmony is a transcendent harmony that sits at the foundation of the created universe.

Our Lost Harmony

Faced with the deep rationality and relationality of the universe, why, then, do we see so little harmony in nature, in families, in society, and in political institutions? This is a question that is well worth asking, even though we can never have a complete answer. What we know for sure is that there are a lot of destructive disharmonies in nature, human beings, and human society. Something is not quite right. Christians believe Christ is the answer to restoring the harmonies of nature.

Here is the way the writer of Colossians puts it:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.  He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).

When we call Jesus “The Way,” we are indicating that following Christ is how humans can restore the lost harmony of our universe and our lives. The very image of the invisible God, his divine beauty, rationality, and love, was embodied in the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is behind the Apostle Paul’s idea that creation itself yearns for its lost Shalom:

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time (Romans 8:19-22).

In some way, the disharmony of the entire universe reflects an incompletion, a defect that creation itself desires to be undone. Christians believe that, on the Cross, Christ took the first step in effectuating a remedy for that disharmony by an act of complete self-giving love. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God continues to work for harmony, peace, and shalom in and through those willing to open their lives to God, the Word, and the divine desire for peace. This is not easy. It is painful. The question is, “Do we want to participate?”


Is this all just wishful thinking? All I can say is that the destructive conflict that gave birth to Centered Living/Centered Leading continued for some time. Led by the idea of a divine reason and love at work in creation, the organization I led avoided litigation, extensive damage, many broken relationships, and other consequences of disharmony that others experienced. In at least one subsequent conflict, I saw signs that the insight was correct. I believe that our current social disharmony would be much alleviated by leadership willing to seek and suffer to discover the Deep Light and work for renewal in the power of Deep Love.

Copyright 2023, G. Christopher Scruggs, All Rights Reserved

[1] Thomas F. Torrance, “The Theology of Light” in Christian Theology and Scientific Culture (Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock, 1980, 1998), 80-81).

[2] Oxford Instruments, “What is Light?-An Overview of the properties of Light” at October 4, 2023).

[3] Amanda Soliday and Kathrin Jepsen, “What is a Photon?” in Symmetry, (June 28, 2021) at (downloaded October 4, 2023).

[4] Clarles Woods & Vicky Stien “What is String Theory?” in (May 18, 2023) at (DownloadedOctober 4, 2023).

[5] G. Christopher Scruggs, Centered Living/Centered Leading: The Tao Te Ching Adapted for Christ-Followers Rev. Ed. (Permisio Por Favor/BookSurge, 2016), 104.

[6] Id, at 165.

[7] Id, at 165.