Monday, August 11, 2008

A Knowledge of the Stars

What Joseph Smith Taught the Early Saints

I advised all to search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of
(Joseph Smith, History of the Church 6:363.)

I also gave some instructions in the mysteries of the kingdom of God; such as the history of the planets, Abraham’s writings upon the planetary systems, etc. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 118.)

The heavens and the earth that we see now are not those seen by our ancestors. As the reader will see herein, this is the lesson that Joseph Smith and all the prophets taught. This is a lesson that every modern Saint who seeks to better understand the scriptures, the words of the prophets and the temple experience would do well to study carefully.

If we are to believe the scriptures and modern prophets, those who lived before Noah’s flood experienced a wholly different environment than that which we see today—something modern science flatly denies. This transformation of the sky above us and the earth beneath our feet is one of the primary themes of revelation, ancient and modern, reflected in the oft-repeated scriptural phrase, “new heavens and new earth.” (See the monograph by this author entitled “New Heaven, New Earth” for a more complete explanation.)

Because this concept is so well established in the scriptures, it should come as no surprise to any Mormon. Yet, when the implications and ramifications behind this bit of poetic prose are explained, church members almost universally react with surprise and incredulity, followed by skepticism and suspicion, even though this concept is fundamental to understanding the scriptures and the prophets and puts an entirely different light on many other concepts or principles within the restored gospel. (See “A Gospel Litmus Test,” “Modern Signs,” and “Stars, Planets, Moons and Temples.)

This state of affairs points out a conceptual weakness unique to today’s Saints. They are universally astounded to learn that early church leaders espoused cosmological views that are at variance with those we hold today. What may be needed is a perspective shift that would return today’s members to the views of the early church as they relate to ancient history and related astral events, a reorienting of our modern cosmological viewpoint to bring us into harmony with the founder of this church and early church leaders. To do that, we must examine some long neglected statements, from Joseph Smith and others, down to the present day. (See “The Golden Question” and “Signs of the Times.”)

In order to establish a corrected view of ancient planetary history in the minds of modern Saints, it is useful to consider statements from several church leaders and other members who report learning their views from the Prophet himself.

Brigham Young

Let’s begin with a view of the very earliest history of this Earth given us by the second prophet of this dispensation. In a conference address, President Brigham Young said, "When the earth was framed and brought into existence and man was placed upon it, it was near the throne of our Father in heaven. And when man fell … the earth fell into space and took up its abode in this planetary system and the sun became our light. This is the glory the earth came from, and when it is glorified it will return again unto the presence of the Father …." (Journal of Discourses, 17:143.)

When taken as a factual account as it was likely intended, rather than simply an allegorical statement, this observation is fraught with greater meaning.

First and foremost, it tells us that our Earth has not always orbited our Sun. It implies that this planet was located somewhere outside this solar system, only to later find its way into its present orbit.

Of course, such a notion flies in the face of modern astrophysical theory, which asserts that our Earth, along with the rest of the planets in the present solar system, coalesced from a nebular cloud that once surrounded our sun and that it has always been approximately where it is now.

This immediately puts the Saints on the horns of a dilemma, one that we will confront time and again in this narrative: Do we believe the concepts of modern science when they contradict the teachings of modern prophets? Or, do we place our faith in revealed truth rather than mainstream science? Where do our allegiances truly lie? Though most of us will give lip service to the belief that the words of the prophets prevail, in practice we act upon and view the world with the precepts of science. All Saints live with this dichotomy. (See “Children of the Light,” Eschatus, Vol 1, No. 1.)

It is to revelation, given through modern prophets, that we must turn for the final answer rather than science and its dependence upon the “precepts of men.”

Getting back to the statement itself, some will surely dismiss President Young’s declaration as purely allegorical rather than literal. They will say that this avoids the problem of dismissing the views of modern science in order to accept the words of a prophet, immediately settling the question without looking further.

Naturally, this is a valid observation, but it leaves us where we began our discussion, with a number of unanswered questions and the dissatisfaction of knowing that we may have overlooked some vital truths or misinterpreted the prophet’s meaning. Whereas, if we set this objection aside, temporarily suspending judgment until we can explore all the implications of Brigham’s statement and those of other leaders, we may find there is a much better explanation. We may actually come across something vital and enlightening if we but allow ourselves to explore the alternatives.

Notice, too, that President Young implies that the creation of the Earth and the placement of all creatures upon this world, up to and including Man, took place before our world found its present place, orbiting this Sun. Brigham stated, “This is the glory the earth came from ….” That would mean that the early descendents of Adam first bathed in a different light, that they did not see our Sun as we see it now. And if that was the case, the other planets in our solar system may not have been where we see them today at all.

Although President Young didn’t mention it, it is a natural assumption, supported by voluminous eyewitness accounts from ancient cultures the world over, that the relocation process experienced by this Earth, as referenced by Brigham, provided its human inhabitants with a spectacular series of celestial dramas that dramatically altered both their skies and the planet on which they stood, which drama played out over many generations and included numerous catastrophic events. (See “The New Saturn Myth,” Eschatus, Vol. 1, No. 2; “The Saturn Epic: In the Beginning, Eschatus, Vol.1, No.3; “The Saturn Epic: Mythmaking,” Eschatus, Vol 2, No. 1.)

President Young spoke of Earth’s prior position as being “near the throne of our Father in heaven.” This has far more sweeping implications than those that immediately meet the eye. For example, the explanations Joseph Smith gave for the hypocephalus hieroglyphs on the papyri that came into his hands are all about planets and stars, their relative locations to one another, their hierarchy and their proximity to the “residence” or “throne of God.” (See The Pearl of Great Price, pp. 36, 37.) The implications are that the Egyptian traditions and the icons used to rehearse, recall or memorialize them actually retain the knowledge of the heavens as they appeared in the earliest epoch of Earth’s history. Both Brigham and the Egyptians used the same terminology to describe this first estate of our planet as a place near God’s throne. The Egyptian tradition is filled with this sort of affirmation, but we mistakenly take it to be largely metaphorical because we base our beliefs on the current scientific model of Earth’s history, not the words of our prophets.

It should be noted that part of the evidence supporting these conjectures about Brigham’s statements comes from no less an authority than Joseph Smith in his explanations of the facsimiles, as we shall see.

Another stunning assumption can be inferred from President Young’s observation, “… and when it [the Earth] is glorified it will return again unto the presence of the Father ….” This parallels the doctrine of the restoration of all things. This concept is also embodied in the revelation that says, “Truth is the knowledge of things as they are, as they were and as they are to come.” Put yet another way, by knowing information about past celestial events, we can draw inferences about future events and vice versa—each is a reflection of the other, like two conceptual bookends. (See “A Tale of Two Books.”)

This is a notion that we will run into time and time again in this journey of discovery and wonder. The reader would do well to keep it in mind as we move forward.

Before moving on, it should be noted that this evidence and the weight it carries, coming from the credible sources it does, should force us to drastically rethink our allegiance to mainstream thought and our current perspective on these matters. As stated at the outset of this monograph, this evidence requires a radical shift in our own perspective.

Granted, this thesis extrapolates much from a very brief statement, and if taken alone, hardly constitutes proof of these assumptions. But there is much more that serves to corroborate Brigham’s views, so let’s move on.

Orson Hyde

Elder Orson Hyde, an early Apostle and the man who dedicated the Holy Land to the gathering of Israel, substantiated President Young’s statement about the Earth’s restoration to its former place and glory when he remarked, "God says he will gather all things into one; then he will gather the earth likewise …. The gathering will be upon a larger scale in time to come; for by and by the stars of heaven will fall. Which way will they go? They will rally to a grand center, and there will be one grand constellation of worlds. (Journal of Discourses, 1:130.)

This statement amplifies on Brigham’s views by including other worlds in this gathering or restoration to its former location. Based on the restoration doctrine, we can also infer that this “constellation of worlds” was the arrangement that dominated the heavens anciently, in the beginning, when Earth was situated near the orb referred to as the “throne of God” by Brigham.

Elder Hyde’s reference to the “larger scale” of this gathering is a reflection on the idea that many planets, not just the Earth, were involved in the “fall” from its location near the orb referenced as “the throne of God, “ and that a group of planets and other orbs or “stars” will once again be gathered or returned to their former location. This statement has profound implications for our understanding and interpretation of the events prophesied to occur prior to the Savior’s second coming, providing a unifying theme for all such prophecy that makes it plain and easy to understand. (See “Keys to Prophecy, Joseph Smith’s Marvelous Key” and “Keys to Prophecy, What Joseph Taught.”)

In the journal of an early Latter-day Saint, Samuel Hollister Rogers, we find corroboration of this gathering of planets and stars. Rogers attributes this concept to Joseph Smith.

When these stars return to the place where they were taken from, it will cause the earth to reel to and fro. Not that the planets will come squarely against each other. In such case both planets would be broken to pieces. But, in their rolling motion, they will come together where they were taken from, which will cause the earth to reel to and fro. (Journal of Samuel Hollister Rogers, 1840, B.Y.U Special Collections.)

Orson Pratt

Another clue to the ancient appearance of other orbs in Earth’s heavens is found in a statement made by Elder Orson Pratt. "About the time of Abraham, the Tower of Babel was built. … They thought that the City of Enoch was caught up a little ways from the earth, and that the city [planet] was within the first sphere above the earth; and that if they could get a tower high enough they might get to heaven where the City of Enoch and the inhabitants thereof were located. (Journal of Discourses, 16:50.)

The reference to “the first sphere above the earth” is an allusion to the geocentric, Aristotelian view that the sun, moon, planets and stars were imbedded in nested, crystalline spheres, with the Earth at the center. Elder Pratt, an astronomer and mathematician, meant to infer that the planet was located as close to the Earth as our Moon, which was thought in ancient times to be in the “first sphere” above the Earth.

Since space is more typically the locus for planets rather than cities, it seems appropriate to infer that Elder Pratt meant that Enoch’s city was located on a planet.

Orson F. Whitney

Elder Orson F. Whitney, called to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1906, was born in Salt Lake City in 1855. Therefore, he could not have learned these things from Joseph Smith personally. But, as can be seen in his statement below, he directly and specifically attributed this concept to the Prophet. In all probability, this indicates that he obtained this knowledge secondhand, though it may also have been confirmed to him through revelation. Of utmost significance to our study is the fact that it confirms that this type of perspective could still be found among the church membership in Whitney’s day and that it corroborates the cosmology of earlier church leaders. "… the object of the people who built the Tower of Babel (was) to reach heaven, to attain one of the starry planets, one of the heavenly bodies. … I cannot conceive how … a race of people … could cherish the idea that they could actually reach the sun, moon, or one of the stars simply by piling brick upon brick and stone upon stone.

"But the Prophet Joseph Smith, whose job it was to shed light upon the darkness of this generation, is said to have declared that it was not their intention to reach heaven, but to reach Zion, which was then suspended in mid-air between heaven and earth, or at such a height as to render the project feasible. This certainly is more reasonable." (Collected Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 359.)

Reasonable or not, these two statements emphatically propose a wholly untenable concept in today’s astronomy: Earth was once at close quarters with another planet in the days of Babel’s tower. Additionally surprising is the fact that both Elders Hyde and Whitney unabashedly attribute this teaching to the Prophet, making it certain that Joseph was, in fact, the source of this concept.

Moreover, both statements infer that this planet was close enough to give the impression that it could be reached if one simply built a tall enough building. This mystery planet, referred to as a “city” by Elder Hyde, must have been an impressive sight if it seemed close enough to be within human grasp.

Perhaps most interesting of all is Elder Whitney’s reference to this planet as being “suspended in mid-air,” implying that it may not have orbited in the manner so familiar to us today. Rather, it suggests that the planet moved in tandem with the Earth. This notion seemingly borders on the preposterous, yet it is substantiated by another statement, this one from Elder Orson Pratt. "The Prophet Joseph once in my hearing advanced his opinion that the Ten Tribes were separated from the Earth or a portion of the Earth was, by a miracle, broken off and that the Ten Tribes were taken away with it, and that in the latter days it would be restored to the Earth or be let down in the polar regions." (The Letter Box, as quoted in The Lost Tribes, p. 50.)

If this “portion of the Earth” were actually another planet that had once appeared to hover or be “suspended in mid-air,” as Elder Whitney stated, then its location above the North Pole would explain how it could appear to remain in a fixed position with relation to the Earth. The one star in our present heavens that does not appear to move around the night sky is Polaris, the North Star. Any planet fixed in that same position at some distance from the Earth would appear to hang motionless in the sky, remaining stationary there day and night. (See “Keys to Prophecy, Planets and Stars” and “Keys to Prophecy, A Great Star.”)

Not coincidentally, the constellation Ursa Major or the Big Bear is located on the west wall of the Salt Lake Temple, where it points directly at Polaris. A reasonable conclusion, drawn from this discussion, is that Orson Pratt, who was responsible for the iconography of that temple and articulated the polar idea in the above statement as well, understood the importance of the Axis Mundi concept (World Axis at the North Pole) and the role it played in the position of a planet or planets in Earth’s ancient skies. Hence, he set in stone on a latter-day temple the very concepts articulated in the above statements: a great planet once hovered above the Earth’s north pole.

Startling documentary evidence of Joseph’s cosmological beliefs

As extreme as that position may seem, it is substantiated by evidence produced by another of Joseph Smith’s closest associates, Philo Dibble, who served as a bodyguard to the Prophet. After relocating to Utah with the pioneer Saints, Dibble settled in Springville. He was well known to church leaders, who treated him with deference and respect because of his diligence and service to Joseph and the church. Neither did they challenge the concepts behind the next bit of evidence we will examine.

In 1884, Dibble produced an illustration he claimed had been personally drawn for him by Joseph Smith in 1842 as the Prophet explained to Dibble how the Earth had once been part of a group of planets in the distant past—assumably the same idea as Elder Hyde’s “constellation of worlds.” (See “Saturn Symbolism in the Salt Lake Temple,” Eschatus, Vol. 3, No. 3 and Vol. 3, No. 4; “The Polar Configuration, Saturn, the Crescent and Joseph Smith,” Eschatus, Vol. 4, No. 3; “What Joseph Knew,” Eschatus, Vol.5, No. 2, “Keys to Prophecy, Prophecy and the Restored Gospel.”)

The conclusions that one can draw from looking at this Dibble illustration can be summarized thus: Not one but three planets once stood above the Earth’s north pole, sharing a common axis of rotation with one another and the Earth in a “shish kabob” configuration, as seen in the Dibble drawing. This unique positioning allowed them to appear stationary in Earth’s heavens such that the Babylonians considered it possible to build a tower to reach them. This “constellation of worlds” remained intact, contrary to all the tenets of our gravity-based, scientific notions, and orbited the sun in the same ecliptic plane as all the planets do today. Also, a tenuous column of lighted gases and dust seemed to interconnect these planets, as seen in the Dibble illustration.

Parley Pratt

Not only is that exceedingly strange, so is the final conclusion: A similar arrangement will be restored in the catastrophic events seen to occur prior to the Savior’s coming, as predicted in all prophecy. Elder Parley Pratt, Orson Pratt’s brother and an Apostle, said, "The stars [planets] which will fall to earth are fragments, which have been broken off from the earth from time to time in the mighty convulsions of nature …. These all must be restored again at the ‘times of restitution of all things.’ … When these fragments (some of which are vastly larger than the present earth) are brought back and joined to this earth, it will cause a convulsion of all nature …. The mountains will flow down, the valley rise, the sea retire to its own place, the islands and continents will be removed, and the earth be rolled together as a scroll." (The Millennial Star, 1:258.)

This restoration of polarly aligned planets is echoed in the journal of Brother Rogers, who was quoted previously as saying, “… they will come together where they were taken from ….” And again, from another early church member’s journal, that of Wandle Mace, we read: "Some of you brethren have been coming up the river on a steamboat, and while seated at the table the steamboat (ran) against a snag, which upset the table and scattered the dishes; so it will be when these portions of the earth return. It will make the earth reel to and fro like a drunken man." (The journal of Wandle Mace, p.47.)

Finally, from an extended discussion with the Prophet about the mechanisms behind such planetary encounters by an early church member, Homer M. Brown, great grandfather of Elder Hugh B. Brown, recalled these details of Joseph’s explanation. "Scientists will tell you … that two planets coming together would be disastrous to both. But, when two planets … are traveling in the same direction and one of them with a little greater velocity than the other, it would not be disastrous because the one traveling faster would overtake the other.

"Now, what would cause the mountains of ice to melt quicker than the heat caused by the friction of the two planets coming together?

"Now, Brother Brown, at the present time this earth is rotating very rapidly. When this planet returns it will make the earth much heavier, and it will then revolve slower, and that will account for the waters receding from the earth …." (The Last Days, pp. 90, 91.)

These are not the only evidentiary documents that could be cited. There are literally dozens of such references strewn about in the records left behind by the early Saints. While admittedly anecdotal in nature and therefore subject to doubt, taken together they form a compelling and coherent body of information that bears further study and compels us to examine our presently held beliefs regarding Earth’s true history.

Not only do these statements offer considerable evidence from a variety of sources that Joseph Smith was, indeed, teaching these concepts to the early Saints, apparently, this was our founding prophet’s view of Earth’s early history. If so, we would do well to abandon our present views, steeped in an apparently flawed scientific paradigm, in favor of the more enlightened views on these subjects held by the prophets.

Also, since virtually all these men referenced Joseph Smith as the author or originator of these ideas, it seems likely that even at that early date, when the scholarly doctrines of Uniformitarianism or Gradualism had just begun to take root in the minds of church members, these brethren felt obliged to recur to the authoritative intellect of the Prophet to give their statements validity or gravitas in the minds of the Saints. They should have an identical effect upon us.

More important still is the marvelous discovery we make by adopting this viewpoint and informing ourselves in all its facets. A multitude of questions in the restored gospel are thereby immediately resolved—such issues as the exterior and interior symbolism of modern temples, Joseph’s explanations of his Egyptian papyri and other scriptural accounts such as Abraham’s story about planets, moons, suns and stars in the Pearl of Great Price, John’s enigmatic vision recorded in his Apocalypse or Revelation and all the cryptic visions of the prophets.

Moreover, the paradigm shift this information provides allows a profound and enlarged understanding of nearly every facet of the restored gospel for the Saints. Indeed, this is the central purpose of this study: to make plain the symbolism of the scriptures and the temple experience in order to allow the Saints to better interpret the words of the prophets and grasp the core concepts of the restored gospel.

If, indeed, this is what Joseph Smith learned through revelation about the early history of the Earth, then it is incumbent upon all Latter-day Saints to understand it and make it their own. These precepts were part of what made Mormonism truly unique and Mormons a peculiar people. Without this remarkable and noteworthy perspective, our views would differ little from those of every other Christian denomination, making us as salt with no savor. (See “Keys To Prophecy, An Introduction.”)

A scientific counterpart to the prophets’ concepts

Happily for those who are made uncomfortable with notions that fly in the face of mainstream orthodox science, there is a group of modern scholars and scientists that agree with these concepts. Their explanation of Earth’s earliest history, while unorthodox and disputed by many in the mainstream, concurs with the Brethren’s observations and fills in many otherwise missing details. This should also come as very welcome news to those current Saints who perceive the ongoing conflict between mainstream science and religion—most especially the restored gospel.

Saying “a costly misunderstanding of planetary history must now be corrected,” these maverick scientists and scholars have set about correcting the fundamental misconceptions of a planetary science and cosmology conceived in the gaslight era when electricity was poorly understood and a mere novelty, when plasmas in space were not even imagined and the very best telescopes would not allow a good view of our neighboring planets let alone the multitude of galaxies, stellar clusters and planetary nebulae abundant in our heavens.

A comparative mythologist, Dave Talbott, who has written extensively on the cosmological implications of the sacred traditions of all ancient cultures, and his coauthor, Wallace Thornhill, a physicist who is the primary proponent of the novel idea that it is electrical energy in plasma that lights and governs our universe, have teamed up to explain that Earth, along with other planets, was once a satellite of a brown dwarf star, which was subsequently captured by our Sun, a similar affirmation to that made by Brigham Young.

Together, Talbott and Thornhill question the fundamental pillar of today’s theoretical cosmology—the concept of the “uneventful solar system.” They are adamant that the Sun’s acquisition of that brown dwarf star, now known as the planet Saturn, and its entourage took place within historic times, as evidenced by the records, traditions and religions of all ancient cultures. These ancient civilizations, which unanimously declare that Earth was once lighted by Saturn, now classified as a “dark star” or “failed star” by astronomers due to its energetic output, is the same orb that many cultural traditions designate as the “first sun,” or “best sun,” as well as “god’s throne.” The Babylonians, for example, made the most unequivocal statement of all ancient civilizations when they wrote, “The sun is Saturn.”

Talbott wrote of his and Thornhill’s studies, “Following quite different research paths, we arrived at the same conclusion: the ancient sky was alive with activity. The evidence suggests that only a few thousand years ago planets moved close to Earth, producing electrical phenomena of intense beauty and terror. Ancient sky worshippers witnessed these celestial wonders, and far-flung cultures recorded the events in the great myths, symbols, and ritual practices of antiquity.” (Thunderbolts of the Gods, p. 6.)

They additionally declare that the appearance and movements of planets that once hovered near the Earth, together with the life-like movements seen in electrified plasma displays of light and sound that erupted between those neighboring planets, are the source of all ancient astral symbolism, hyperbole and metaphor.

Ultimately, Elder Hyde’s “constellation of worlds”—called the “Polar Configuration” by Talbott et al and dramatically illustrated in the Dibble diagram—was dismembered, and each of its component orbs settled quickly into the orbits around the Sun where we see them today. But, that settling process entailed a number of close encounters between planets over several centuries that wreaked havoc on each of them, including our Earth, as the Elders Pratt asserted.

Once again, these are key concepts found in the statements by church leaders that we have explored herein. Ancient accounts from cultures the world over, including our Old Testament, report those catastrophic encounters in cryptic, enigmatic, arcane and obscure terms that are nevertheless easy to decipher from the point of view apparently offered by Joseph Smith and the proponents of the Neo-Catastrophist movement. (The evidence validating this view is voluminous and thus not practicable for citation here. However, reading this author’s body of work citing, examining and explaining that evidence and its relevance to the restored gospel will substantiate the validity of this view and expand the reader’s gospel knowledge exponentially.)

For the purposes of this essay, it is sufficient to say that there exists a thoroughly scientific, albeit unorthodox, premise for these seemingly extravagant and unsupported statements by prophets and apostles, as well as numerous other church members. In fact, the study of comparative mythology from a catastrophist point of view, initiated by Immanuel Velikovsky in the mid-20th Century and more recently elaborated by Dave Talbott and Wallace Thornhill, among many others, has provided the foundation for a fast-growing movement within scientific circles called neo-catastrophism. (See “The Great and Abominable Church.”)

For example, Talbott wrote, "We’ve paid far too little attention to the motives driving the ancient world: their desperate yearning to recover the semblance of a lost cosmic order, their collective efforts to replicate, in architecture, the towering forms claimed to have existed in primeval times, their festive recreations, through mystery plays and symbolic rites, of cosmic violence and disorder, their repetition, through ritual sacrifice, of the deaths or ordeals of the god and their brutal and ritualistic wars of expansion, repeating on the battlefield the cosmic devastation wrought in the wars of the gods.

"Such motives as these constitute the most readily verifiable underpinnings of the ancient cultures. How strange that in their incessant glance backwards, the builders of the first civilizations never remembered anything resembling the natural world in which we live!

"For centuries we've lived under the illusion that our ancestors simply made up explanations of natural phenomena they didn't understand. But that's not the problem. What the myth-makers interpreted or explained through stories and symbols and ritual re-enactments is an unrecognizable world, a world of alien sights and sounds, of celestial forms, of cosmic spectacles, and earth-shaking events that do not occur in our world.

"We have hypothesized a world order never imagined by mainstream theory--a world in which certain planets moved on much different courses than today, appearing as immense forms in the heavens.

1. Major changes in the planetary order, some involving Earth-threatening catastrophes, have occurred within human memory.

2. In myths, symbols, and ritual practices our ancestors preserved a global record of these tumultuous events.

3. The first civilizations arose from ritual practices honoring, imitating and memorializing these events and the planetary powers involved.

4. The dominant form at the onset of these events was a large sphere towering over ancient witnesses; the first astronomers identified this sphere as the planet Saturn.

"The theory holds that, just prior to the birth of the first civilizations, a gathering of planets close to Earth presented a spectacular visual display in the heavens, the obsessive focus of human attention around the world."

Ironically, all this could be said about the world described by the brethren cited in this monograph. This is certainly due to the fact that they were describing the same ancient celestial order as Talbott and other comparative mythologists have described. In fact, seen from this perspective, instead of being extravagant, odd observations, their observations become meaningful and revelatory. Thus, once again, it is the words of modern prophets that lead the way to a more meaningful understanding of the world we live in.

Adding further scientific weight to this movement is the burgeoning field of plasma physics, which disputes the very foundations of Newtonian physics. Thornhill and others propose that the weak force of gravity is vastly overwhelmed by the actions of electromotive forces generated in ionized plasmas in space, which comprise over 99% of the mass in the universe. Having dubbed their theory “the Electric Universe,”—a cosmos where electricity and the magnetic fields that electric currents generate are the primary governing forces that organize galaxies and solar systems, as well as supplying the energy that causes suns and galaxies to shine brilliantly—they cite laboratory experiments that confirm their thesis, duplicating the phenomena and structures we see through our telescopes and space probes sent to other planets. (See “The Electric Universe,” Eschatus, Vol, 7, No. 2.)

This new pioneering field has been built upon the shoulders of giants such as Kristian Birkeland, Irving Langmuir, Noble Laureate Hannes Alfven and his colleague Anthony Peratt of the prestigious Los Alamos Laboratories. This novel view even includes the controversial work of noted astronomer Halton Arp, the author of Seeing Red.

Plasma physics explains the mechanisms and energy source needed to create the sorts of ancient, astral phenomena and events spoken of by the early Brethren. Noting that the electromagnetic force is a thousand, billion, billion, billion, billion times greater than the force of gravity, these scientists and scholars have constructed a series of scenarios that parallel the seemingly extravagant declarations of early Mormon theologians. (See “Prophets and Plasmas,” Eschatus, Vol. 7, No. 3.) When has that ever before happened?

Mainstream science is historically antagonistic where religion is concerned and downright hostile to Mormonism in particular. So, it is quite refreshing and enlightening to find a scientific paradigm that is in harmony with the restored gospel and unique throughout recent history, since the beginning of the Renaissance.

It is fortuitous that this information should come to light when it can augment and amplify our gospel comprehension many fold, to say nothing of immeasurably strengthening our testimonies. This is not an intellectual exercise, providing little of value; it is a journey of marvelous discovery, wonder and revelation into the very core of the restored gospel.

If revelation is the heart and soul of the gospel of Jesus Christ, this information may constitute its bone and sinew—the very framework of our restored religion, acquired through the work of Joseph Smith.

Copyright, Anthony E. Larson, 2007


Greg said...

Anthony, I absolutely love this post. Thank you for being patient with me and leaving a comment or two on our blog Believe All Things. I'll send you an email since I have a few things I want to ask you about this post, but thought you may be interested in my post on The Eternal City and your thoughts about it in relation to Hebrews 11:10 & 16.

Also, although I haven't posted it yet, I plan a couple follow up posts on the name title Boanerges that you may be interested in since they are directly related to the concepts you present above by Talbott and Thornhill.

Thanks again Anthony. I see that we have much more in common than I at first thought.

NEPT said...

Mr. Larson,

I am thoroughly enjoying this essay so far, and I appreciate your efforts in bringing to light such things that have been forgotten.

But I do have a few questions that stem from my ignorance of the topic:

Is the imagery of the "mountain of the Lord's house" symbolic of a time when the earth was proximal to God's throne, before it was cast down among the "constellation of worlds" including Saturn, Mars, and Venus?

Or does it represent earth's "connection" to the planets within this "constellation" that was subsequently broken up?

Because if it is the latter, then that would seem to argue that God's throne is on one of these associated planets, namely Mars or Venus. I guess I'm just a little confused about the chronology of events from the fall of the earth(as BY explained it) to the current planetary order. Are you describing a scenario in which the earth fell from God's residence along with Saturn, Mars, and Venus, as a group, until the entire group was enveloped and dismantled by our current sun's forces?

Would you kindly address these questions?

Anthony E. Larson said...


By reading others of my monographs, you will probably find the answers to your questions. But let me try here by saying that the imagery of God's throne began with these planets that once stood above the Earth. All revealtion, ancient and modern, refers to that imagery, not to any reality. That is, if God has a throne and if it has a specific location, that truth has never been revealed. But there are a multitude of references in ancient texts to a "throne," which was nothing more or less than this congregation, constellation or configuration of planets. Again, the referent "throne" was nothing more or less than those planets hovering over Earth's polar regions. It is a construct, not meant to be taken literally. I hope this helps.

NEPT said...

That helps tremendously, thank you.

Marcy said...

So what your saying is that the symbolism found in scripture is ONLY telling us about the ancient sky? I guess I'm not understandin as well as I though!!! I surmised that it went further, in that the prophets used the anceint sky symbols (known to those who lived in their time) to teach a truth about the real meaning of such. ie: The Mountain of the Lord. This was what people called the light that spanned between earth and a nearby planet (or "God" to those who falsely worshipped the planet). Then, didn't the prophets use the symbol to teach a truth: The mountain of the lord is the means with which we reach the real God. (By entering the mountain of the lord (temple), or climbing that staircase (taking the steps of baptism, etc,) or walking the path (obeying the commandments)
Thats where my understanding of this concept is - I'm still new, but I thought I was getting it. If I'm not even close, please be kind!

Anthony E. Larson said...


It sounds to me as though you have it right. What made you question your understanding? I wish most Saints had as good a grasp of the imagery as you do. Good on you.

Anonymous said...

I have loved and have been an avid follower of science, astronomy, space exploration, and cosmology since the days of the Mercury 7 astronauts. Currently, for instance, check out PSRD at the University of Hawai‘i.

Nonetheless, for myself, I think the best route is to be patient, and wait/seek for additional light and knowledge.

I greatly like this:

"First: instruction vital to our salvation is not hidden in an obscure verse or phrase in the scriptures. To the contrary, essential truths are repeated over and over again."

"Second: every verse, whether oft-quoted or obscure, must be measured against other verses. There are complementary and tempering teachings in the scriptures which bring a balanced knowledge of truth."

Boyd K. Packer, "The Pattern of Our Parentage," Ensign, Nov. 1984

Anonymous said...

The author of this article wrote:
If so, we would do well to abandon our present views, steeped in an apparently flawed scientific paradigm, in favor of the more enlightened views on these subjects held by the prophets.

The fact that a prophet held/holds a certain view, doesnt necessarily mean that view was correct (although the likelihood is rather high). A prophet's view is not Church doctrine, because a prophet is a prophet only when he is acting as such. Thus it would be rash to abandon our scientific paradigm in favor of that of a prophet. But rather one should carefully analyze and weigh the evidences, perchance the prophet's opinion proves to make more sense.

I really liked the article, though. It is the strong language of that quote that I don't agree with.

Anonymous said...

This information is quite truly amazing. I am drunk with it.

Steven G. O'Dell said...

If, as we have been told, celestial beings live in 'eternal burnings,' then might it not be that God's throne is on a sun, whether ours or another more distant? I have thought in the past that perhaps the sun is a Urim and Thummim in nature and in contact with other suns throughout the universe. We are taught that there is a hierarchy of planets and suns (stars). And if celestial beings can indeed live upon these suns, then would we not 'burn up in their presence' unless protected, as was Joseph?