Mikayla was asked to give a talk a few weeks ago in Sacrament Meeting. It was an awesome talk, so I’ve decided to share it with y’all:
My topic today is “Change of Heart.” But I will also be speaking about alchemy.
Alchemy is the “medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the supposed transformation of matter. It was concerned particularly with attempts to convert base metals into gold or to find a universal elixir.” (From Google Dictionary.) Alchemist thought that all metals were compounds, made deep within the Earth out of different amounts of sulfur and mercury. Before I go any further, I need everyone to know that they were wrong about this principle. The metal that they thought were compounds are actually elements. The alchemists wanted to artificially create these elements.
The term “chrysopoeia” means to change something into gold. A chrysopoeian, someone who turns stuff into gold, would add all of the right elements to an alembic, an egg-shaped vessel that distills and refines the materials, then melt the mixture, and then keep the mixture at the proper temperature for a very long time. That is the recipe for the philosopher’s stone. But what were the proper ingredients for the philosopher’s stone? No one knows.
Alchemy eventually went out of style in the 16th century, though a few people were practicing underground. It eventually died out in the 18th century. Fast forward to 1980. A chemist by the name of Glenn Seaborg turned a small amount of bismuth into gold with the help of a particle accelerator. Seaborg removed protons and neutrons and managed to change several thousand atoms into gold. Several thousand atoms isn’t all that much, not enough to see with the naked eye, but it was enough to prove that alchemists were pursuing a realistic goal. Seaborg had an element named after him, seaborgium, while he was alive, which is not a very common practice, though he had a nobel prize.
You may be wondering, why aren’t we using these techniques to make lots of gold and also, what on this good planet does this have to do with the gospel? Well, you see, the process of making the gold costs more than the actual gold, so you’re losing money making the gold, and that is why we don’t just make gold. Alchemy does relate to the gospel. At first, and for a long, long time, alchemists tried to change the elements into gold. They weren’t successful. Seaborg looked to a higher power, nuclear power to help him change an element into gold. He was successful. Do you see where I’m going with this? We aren’t able to change our hearts on our own. We need a higher power, God, to help us. In Alma 5:6-12 it says:
6 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?
7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.
“8 And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.
10 And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?
11 Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? And was he not a holy prophet? Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them?
12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.”
This means that through a change of heart, we can be saved.