Does Darkness Exist?

It is purported that a young Albert Einstein once challenged a teacher, saying that darkness does not exist, in and of itself. Darkness is in fact the absence of light.

candle in the darknessI once took a cave tour. I don’t recall if this tour was Merrimack Caverns, Carlsbad Cavern or Mammoth Cave: I’ve toured them all. At one point in the tour the group entered a large chamber. We were taken to the very center of the chamber and warned not to wander off. And they turned out the lights.

We were forewarned, of course so those who felt uncomfortable with this could be kept elsewhere, for the experience was … disturbing. I thought I knew darkness. I was wrong. The darkness in that cave was so complete that it became palpable. We were encouraged to hold hands before the lights went out, I knew why once it was done. The sense of isolation was overwhelming. I could hear the gasps and whispers of others in the group, and I was holding hands with other tourists, otherwise the sense of utter aloneness was breathtaking. I could not imagine wandering around alone in such darkness trying to find an exit. We were told to let go with one hand and bring it, slowly, up to our faces: can we see that hand? No, I could not. Even when it bumped into my nose, I could not see that hand. The darkness was so complete. I also noticed that once we were no longer holding hands, and I had no visual cues, my sense of balance was suspect: I could not be certain that I wasn’t toppling over.

They brought the lights back on slowly. One bulb in the distance: a small orange spark, but clearly visible even from where we were. Then a few where we stood. We could again see our fellow spelunkers and the floor we stood upon in a bubble of dim light amidst a crushing blackness. And a few more, farther out. And slowly they drove back the inky darkness until light was glinting off stalactites and walls and we were again inside a cavern. It was indeed a dramatic demonstration.

While that darkness felt palpable, crushing, almost alive when the lights were off, it was easily driven off – dissipated — by a few dim light bulbs. Can we reverse that? We can create light amid the darkness, can we create darkness amid the light?

When a single source of light is blocked by a solid object, it creates a shadow: a patch of less-light, but not absolute darkness. We could build a box, sealed tightly and having thick walls so that even sitting in the bright sunshine it would be dark inside. But the dark is not amidst the light: it has been separated, created by excluding light. Can we create a bubble of darkness amid the light as we created light amid the darkness in the cave?

A black hole? A black hole is a celestial object, probably a collapsed star, so dense that its intense gravity field prevents even light from escaping it. If we created a microscopic black hole above a sunny field, would we not see a sphere of absolute darkness where the very light of the air was being sucked in? Possibly. But in addition to sucking in the light beams around it, it would also be sucking in atmosphere, grass, dirt, rock … indeed the planet itself as it added these to its mass and grew in size and strength. A dangerous experiment to be sure!

And would it have accomplished our stated goal? No. Once again we are creating darkness by controlling, excluding light. Can we create darkness without manipulating light? I don’t think so. Darkness does not exist as a property or construct of its own: darkness is an absence of light. Similarly, cold is an absence of heat. Vacuum is an absence of atmosphere. That’s quite a theory for a boy to throw at his school master!

But he wasn’t done. He used this example to state that just as darkness is not an element in itself, neither is evil. Evil is an absence of goodness.

The Bible tells us that all good things come from God. Where people exclude God from a society, goodness diminishes and “evil” grows.

Of course, what is “evil” and what is “good” depends on one’s mind-set. In my view, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler, and radical Islam all represent evil because of their hatred and murderous ways. Islamists consider me evil because I worship Jesus, not Allah. Their Qur’an dictates that they kill all non-believers so all the world will become Muslim. Jesus instructed his followers that we are to go into all the world and make disciples. It does not say we are to kill those who refuse, but the goal is similar: spreading our image of “good”.

From my viewpoint, there is much evil in the world and most of it comes from greed and a lust for power that resolutely denies the existence of God and the promises of Jesus. It works at all levels, not just in governments and religious leadership. When greed and lust push love out, evil moves in like snuffing candles in a cave. The darkness becomes pervasive not because it’s more powerful, but because there is less light to push it back.

One day, all the remaining candles of love will be removed from this world. On that day, and for 7 years afterward, moral darkness will become pervasive. The planet itself will be racked. I would not want to be living here then!

But afterward, the light will return with a vengeance and moral darkness will be dispelled. Then there will be no doubt as to what was true and what was the fiction of man.

Some say, “What if you’re wrong? What if you are subjugating yourself to a fantasy?” Well, then I may have missed out on a few worldly pleasures. But what if I’m right and you’re wrong?

About Doug

Jesus follower, writer, gardener, Sci-Fi fan, Beagle herder, occasional author, mountain man. My dogs think I'm a super-hero.

7 thoughts on “Does Darkness Exist?

  1. I have heard this same story many time so you have copied it fro other sources. That makes you a plagiarist and a liar. That is not unusual for a christian because I have never met one who was not a liar, fool, or hypocrite. Often they are all three at the same time.

    How arrogant and insulting to expect that other people are as determinedly ignorant as you are.

    Your god does not exist. The jebus character is a myth and lies. Show me even one contemporary account of this character.

    How pathetic that you are not content to wallow in your own self-imposed delusions but demand that others obey the same absurd restrictions you place on yourself.

    What’s the harm in religion? None if you think that genocide, slavery, allowing children to die for lack of medical treatment, and denying others the same civil rights you enjoy for yourself because you do not like their beliefs, sexuality, or lifestyle.

    Christians are the worst people on earth. You are smug, intolerant, unforgiving, and dishonest.

    1. I have also never met a Christian who is not a liar, fool, or hypocrite! Matter of fact, at one time or another, I myself have been a liar, fool, and hypocrite. That does not make me a Christian, it makes me a human being.

      No assertion was made in the article of anyone’s ignorance. Rather a strange reaction, imo.

      This link (to the relatively progressive Wikipedia) will provide you numerous links to secular accounts of Jesus life- a topic known as the historicity of Christ. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

      “An overwhelming majority of New Testament scholars and Near East historians, applying the standard criteria of historical investigation, find that the historicity of Jesus is more probable than not,[4][5][6][7][nb 1][nb 2][nb 3][nb 4] although they differ about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus as well as the accuracy of the details of his life that have been described in the gospels.[nb 5][13][nb 6][15]:168–173 While scholars have criticized Jesus scholarship for religious bias and lack of methodological soundness,[nb 7] with very few exceptions, such critics generally do support the historicity of Jesus, and reject the Christ myth theory that Jesus never existed.[17][nb 8][19][20][21]”

      No demand was placed that you obey any of Doug’s teachings. I know Doug and he’s one of the least imposing people out there, content to live amongst the mountains a quiet life of worship and honor to God, as he see’s right and true.

      Simply blaming all maladies of human history on Christianity is remarkably immature. In fact, Christianity is largely responsible for the solution to many of things you just blames it for. William Wilberforce, the biggest name in the abolition of slavery, was a former slave-trader who was convicted by Christ that slavery was in fact a sin. Modern Medicine was largely funded and standardized by the Church, and many of today’s best medical schools and hospitals still maintain Church affiliations. Taking care of the sick, innocent, and needy are basic tenants of Christianity. The very civil rights you accuse the author of “denying” were literally created by a group of Christians who attributed the rights to being “endowed by our creator.”

      The statement that “Christians are the worst people on Earth” concerns me that something at one time or another was done to you by a Christian. Your hatred for something that isn’t real, in your opinion, is very strong. Christianity is about realizing that all evil begins with sin in oneself and we seek to better ourselves primarily.

      James, some of us do want honest discussion. We love you, in a sincere way, with the love we are granted by God for all people- alike and different from ourselves.

    2. Well brother you are wrong.. Coz God does exist…. What do u think Brought you to this earth… Who gave the light in the universe u live in?… Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the universe…. Genesis 1:3 God commanded let there be light. Genesis 1:27 So God created human beings mkng them to be like himself.

      So God does exist….

      If u thnk he doesn’t… Then wat u saying is u developed from particles of this universe which tht is not possible…. Coz particles never formed a human being…. The universe doesn’t give u dreams at nyt… It doesn’t wake u up in th mrng…. God does….

      And well again darkness doesn’t exist coz God only said Let there be Light.. Nd let light separate from darkness…. Nd you can never put darkness in th light.. Coz Light always dominates over darkness….

      1. You are a goddamned arrogant fool. Your babble quotations, as always show that there will be no rational content in your post. Thanks for confirming that.

        As far as religion being the cause of most of the problems of humanity, it is a fact! Learn some history. Observe what is happening in the world right now.

        You do not want honest discussion. All you theists ever want to do is preach.

        Sin? As defined by your evil religion. As written by Robert Heinlein, “There is only one true sin., hurting someone else unnecessarily. YOU are a liar, a fool, and a coward. Prove any god has ever existed. Prove anything I have posted is not true. Prove you are a decent human being and not a theological bully. Otherwise, go away and don’t engage with rational people.

      2. More religious BS. Prove any god has ever existed. Using babble verses to prove the babble is true is deceitful and ignorant.

        I can prove everything I post. You have to prove the existence of a god. Not spew nonsensical babble quotations.

        Prove anything I have posted is not true.

        Show proof of your god. If you cannot, at least have the ethics to admit you cannot but believe not from intelligence but because you want to believe because it make you feel smugly superior. Oops, my bad, I expect ethics from a theist. Please excuse that hopeful error.

  2. I expect you to delete my first comment because religious people do not want honest discussion but only to preach. For yourself, think about what I have said and prove any of it is not true. Accept my challenge to find a contemporary account of any jesus. But no, religion discourages questions and despises the truth and those that tell it. This is because truth never supports any religion.

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