Orson F. Whitney was an early 20th century apostle, poet, academician, writer, and Millennial Star editor who had some very strong things to say concerning the proper order of things. According to Whitney, God gives secular blessings to achieve His purpose of bringing to pass the eternal life and immortality of man. Because the Restoration is directly connected to bringing to pass the immortality of man, Whitney claims that all secular blessings serve the interests of the Restoration or Mormonism.
Here are Whitney’s bold claims:
Mormonism is not only Scriptural, but natural, reasonable, and philosophical. The laws of nature, known or unknown, are its laws. The truths of philosophy are its truths. The arts and sciences are its handmaids and co-laborers in the great cause of human redemption.
God sends His philosophers into the world; His scientists, His artists; His poets, painters, and musicians; His warriors, patriots, reformers; inventors and discoverers—just as He sends His prophets and apostles; for the benefit of mankind, and for His name's honor and glory. All have lived and labored and died for Mormonism, whether they knew it or not.
These claims may seem arrogant, presumptuous; but they are the claims of Mormonism, the claims of truth, which always appear arrogant and absurd to mankind. They are susceptible of proof, however; God, Himself, vouches for their authenticity. It is because I have learned that they are valid claims, that I am a Mormon. (Source: Orson F. Whitney, Contributor, Vol. Viii. January, 1887. No. 3. 84.)
So the next time you witness great art, literature, science, and technology, try thinking about those things in the context of the purpose they serve in bringing to pass the great plan of redemption. Is it possible to do so?
I tend to see such things as being separate from the restored gospel. There are two exceptions, however. Many latter-day secular blessings were inspired by the Light of Christ which has been poured out in greater abundance upon the earth because of the Restoration. And many scientific and technological advances (e.g., computer, travel, television etc.) have been given to fulfill the 3-fold mission of the Church which is to perfect the saints, redeem the dead, and proclaim the gospel.
Beyond that, I have a difficult time seeing how the Sound of Music, Mona Lisa, vampire love stories, Josh Groban, and Ferraris are handmaidens to the restored gospel. With the exception of the vampire love stories, these are examples of wonderful artistic achievements that may have been inspired, but are they necessarily handmaidens to the Restoration?
Perhaps "potential" is the key issue here. These wonderful achievements have the potential to be handmaidens of the Restoration. Ferrari could give cars to the missionaries. The Mona Lisa may be sold and the revenues sent to the general missionary fund. And Josh Groban may one day be baptized and sing for "MoTab" (although I must say his powerful rendention of "Oh Holy Night" has helped to bring to past the purposes of God by inspiring countless people at Christmastime).
I think I'll go listen to some Josh Groban.
According to the prophet Joseph Smith, the spirit world is not on some distant planet or star, nor is it millions of miles from earth. The world of spirits is right here, around us. He also taught that many of the righteous spirits in the spirit world are able to observe our actions and hear our thoughts. Sometimes they are saddened by the things they see us do and think.
The best scientific explanation for two entities being in the same location where only one is able to view the other is dimensionality. Dimensionality is a Euclidian concept that refers to the number of specific points needed to define any location within space.
We live in a 3 dimensional world where we are able to define any point in our space with 3 spatial dimensions (up or down the y-axis, left of right on the x-axis, and in or out on the z-axis). In our 3rd dimension world we are able to view 1 and 2 dimensional space because they are lower than our 3rd dimension. Yet, an entity restricted to 1 or 2 dimensional space would not be able to experience our higher 3rd dimension world.
Know where this is going?
Could it be that the spirit world is in a higher 4th dimension of space? If this is true and we apply the same logic, then spirits in the 4th dimension would be able to see our 3rd dimension world, but we would not be able to see their world. All the while our two worlds could be in the same location because the 3rd dimension exists within the 4th dimension.
Here are a couple of short video clips that describe this process in greater detail. The videos describe a fictional 2 dimension world called Flat Land and its relationship to a 3 dimension world. The denizens of 2-D Flat Land are unable to “see” our 3-D world but we are able to see them because we are in a higher dimension. The first video is a comic description of Flat Land by Dr. Quantum (may be skipped). The second video is a more sophisticated but easy to follow presentation of Flat Land by Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan also gives some insight into the mind boggling essence of the 4th dimension, the possible location of the spirit world.
Are we like the Flat Landers, living in a lower dimension than the 4-D world of spirits, unable to see their world, yet being visible to them? Or is the world of spirits in a dimension higher than the 4th, possibly the 5th or 6th? These are interesting questions to ponder.
Time is wasting
Time is walking
You ain't no friend of mine
I don't know where i'm goin'
I think I'm out of my mind
Thinking about time
- Hootie and the Blowfish
These lyrics from the 1996 hit song Time sums up the influence of time in our modern world - we are obsessed with time! There are pros and cons to this obsession with time. Modernity’s productivity and efficiency is largely a product of our ability to agree on deadlines and start and stop times. Yet when we view time as an unavoidable objective entity that influences every aspect of our lives, then, as Hootie points out, obsession with time can result in a sort of mild neurosis, created no less, by something that is not real.
Time is not an objective reality, it is a human construction. Humans “create” time to make sense of change in the world. For our ancient ancestors, time was attached to changing seasons because an understanding of the seasons was important to their survival. Seasons dictated when to plant, hunt, harvest, and prepare for drought and cold weather. For example, in ancient Egypt time was tied to the rising of the Nile River, which, the Egyptians noted, occurred when the star Sirius arose above the horizon just before sunrise.
Because the ancients used time to represent reoccurring events, their understanding of time was cyclical. For them the planting and harvest seasons were not events that came and went; they were events that continually repeated themselves. A classic example is the way in which Egyptians returned to “year 1” every time a new pharaoh came to power, a practice that has created angst among more than a few modern Egyptologists trying to figure out when one kingdom ended and another began. By using time to prepare for important cyclical events, the ancients made time conform to natural events.
Things are much different today. Rather than viewing time as change, time is now viewed as a linear sequence that drives change. Linear time, as it is sometimes called, is the modern belief that time is a causal force that flows in a linear fashion, like an arrow. There is the past extending behind us and the future extending in front of us. In between lay the present, the knife point representing the here and now. We are locked into the present, never able to move forward into the future and never able to retreat back into our past.
Linear time is so commonplace in our society that we have reified it, which is to say that we have characterized it as a real entity. With reified time, we make our lives conform to time rather than making time conform to our lives. This modern view of time has us locked into the present, determined by an unchangeable objective past, and ever moving forward into an unknowable future! Is it any wonder that this state of affairs creates anxiety for Hootie and others!? To make matters worse, because time comes and goes in a linear fashion and is real, when it is gone, it is gone for good, so we should not waste it.
If this modern concept of time has created some angst in your life, here are some thoughts to consider.
Time is not real. It is a human construct built to make sense of change. It is not the final arbiter of when events should and should not occur. You do not have to eat lunch at noon; you can eat when you are hungry. There is no such thing as an objective past determining your present circumstances, and there is no such thing as an objective unknowable future. The past is merely a conscious perception of what was, and the future is merely a conscious perception of what may become. In a manner of speaking, the past, present, and future simultaneously exist in the here and now, in your conscious experience.
When we de-reify and de-linearize time in our minds, time becomes less of a disinterested task master and more of a way of representing change. De-reifying and de-linearizing time may also help us more fully appreciate our agency and the importance of living and delighting in the here and now. It may also help us gain somewhat of a godly perspective on things. God’s work is not driven by time schedules; it is driven by His infinite goodness and wisdom. And God does not have an objective past and future. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “The past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal now” (Joseph Smith and Modern Mormonism).
Theistic evolution is the belief that God uses evolution to create life.
I accept this proposition, to a certain extent. I believe that one of the joys of being a creator of worlds without number is seeing how life evolves on worlds without divine intervention. The Creator placed life on His worlds and subjected it to the vicissitudes of chance and time (Ecclesiastes 9:11). So, in a manner of speaking, the effects of time and chance are part of the grand master plan.
Thus we see that there is harmony between randomness and divine purpose. Contrary to Einstein’s assertion that the Creator does not leave anything to chance (i.e., all events, including falling dice, are law governed), God allows randomness and apparently “uses” it to accomplish His creative objectives (more on these objectives in the next paragraph). Divine purpose and randomness are compatible. They can co-exist peacefully!
It is important for us to recognize the compatibility between divine creation and randomness because, as science has shown, random events occur at the genomic level. Random mutation is a fundamental tenet of neo-Darwinism. According to the reputable Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science, “The theory of neo-Darwinism asserts that much of the evolutionary change observed at the molecular level occurs via random genetic drift.”
Because God and randomness are compatible under certain circumstances, there are no theoretical problems with asserting that He relies on evolutionary, random, genetic drift to achieve His objectives (by ‘objectives’, I am referring to the creation of new and interesting variations without direct divine intervention). So if God sometimes relies on evolutionary randomness, what is wrong with believing in theistic evolution?
The problem lies with the creation of man (and woman). You see, most theistic evolutionists believe that Adam and Eve’s bodies evolved from lower life forms, just like every other mammal. This claim is entirely inconsistent with gospel doctrine.
The gospel teaches that the creation of mankind was purposeful and directed – it could be no less because mankind had to be created in the image of God (Moses 6:8-9). The creation of mankind was not left up to the vicissitudes of chance over time. The Creator was not looking for new and interesting variations when He created mankind. It had to be done a certain way, in a manner that did not involve randomness inherent in evolution. The creation of mankind was not a processes to be left to evolutionary creativity. Prominent Latter-day Saint scholars support this view.
Joseph Fielding McConkie wrote:
Some have argued for a form of theistic evolution—that is, a God-inspired evolution—in which lower forms of life progressed over great periods of time to the point that God could take the spirit of the man Adam and place it in an animal and declare it to be the first man. The argument is at odds both with scripture and with an official declaration of the First Presidency on the origin of man.
Robert J. Mathews similarly wrote:
The theistic evolutionist often speaks of a guided evolution, in which God intervenes in the process. There are those in and out of the Church who, because they believe in a divine being, sincerely attempt to hold to both the theory of evolution and their faith in God as creator. It is my opinion that in the eternal plan of God these two positions are incompatible.
I have heard rationalizations from Latter-day Saints desperately wanting to reconcile gospel doctrine and their belief in common descent. I cannot fault them for trying, however, their efforts have largely proved ineffectual. Their explanations lack theoretical and theological rigor. For instance, a common explanation is that God-directed evolution only appears random to us lowly mortals. This explanation falls short because the real issue is not one of appearances; it is one of what is ontologically real about the creation of mankind. In other words, at its foundation, was the creation of mankind driven by chance processes as evolution asserts, or was it guided by deity? If God created mankind with guided “evolutionary” processes, then it really wasn’t evolution, was it, regardless of appearances?
Parallel evolution is another perfunctory attempt at reconciling the theory of evolutionary descent with gospel doctrine on the creation of man. In a manner of speaking, parallel evolution refers to the independent evolution of similar traits in life forms that shared similar ancestral conditions. Put differently, two organisms with similar traits may evolve in a similar manner in different settings. I suppose that this is supposed to show that there is an underlying law or metaphysical principle guiding the evolution of similar traits in separate environmental contexts, and that this principle has something to do with God’s influence.
Atheistic evolutionists will readily concede that parallel evolution reflects the underlying laws of nature governing evolutionary processes, but they will also add that those laws are purposeless and are not devised by higher intelligence. Theistic evolutionists, on the other hand, will say that parallel evolution evidences a purposeful creator, that he set the laws of evolution in motion and dictated how those laws were to work from the beginning.
How do the atheists feel about divine guided evolution? They do not like it, and rightfully so. For atheists, parallel evolution just shows that there are underlying laws of nature resulting in uniform progression. Atheists believe in law governed evolution, however, they reject that those laws were created for a divine purpose. The laws are just laws, nothing more and nothing less. Atheists reject divine, purpose-driven evolution because, as they correctly point out, at its core evolution is purposeless.
Notwithstanding their anti-religious stance, Richard Dawkins and Will Provine are two evolution atheists who tend to think more clearly about this issue than most theistic evolutionists. Here is what they had to say about believing that God provided the laws of evolution for the purpose of creating mankind.
If I were God, I wouldn’t do it by evolution! I would do it directly. By invoking the idea of evolution by natural selection as God’s way of doing it, you are in effect invoking the one way which makes it look as though God isn’t there. So if God chose that way of doing it, then he deliberately chose a way which totally covered his tracks.
I think creation scientists are very intellectually honest in their beliefs. If evolution is true, then none of the things that deeply religious people want to be true are in fact true. No God. No life after death. No free will. No ultimate meaning in life and no ultimate foundation for ethics. All these things are taken away.
So what are we to conclude about Latter-day Saints who embrace theistic evolution, notwithstanding its inconsistencies with true gospel doctrine and evolution orthodoxy? Perhaps LDS scholar Robert J. Mathews put it best when he wrote:
It may be that the believer who accepts [theistic evolution] has simply never thought it out to its logical, moral conclusions.
The Word of Wisdom (WofW) is a unique revelation in the sense that we are able to confirm it’s legitimacy with science. I dare say that 176 years ago when the WofW was given, people had a difficult time seeing the wisdom in it. To some pioneers living back then, the WofW must have seemed like a rule from heaven without justification (kind of like polygamy). I imagine some early Latter-day Saints said things like: “Why can’t we smoke?” or “What could possibly be wrong with drinking hot drinks like coffee and tea?”
But as the faithful know, when God commands, we should not ask “why”; we should go and do. Today no one is asking “why” questions about the Word of Wisdom. The answers have been provided in abundance by science.
The WofW says that drinking wine and strong drink is not good. Nothing drives this point home more than the fact that alcohol consumption causes about 24,000 deaths per year from alcohol-related car crashes in the US alone, and leaves another 500,000 seriously injured. Some people get all upset about 4000 US soldiers killed in Iraq – where is the outrage over the approximately 24,000 alcohol-related car crash deaths last year!? Alcohol consumption also costs about $90 billion in lost production and health care costs in the US. In short, alcohol consumption has had devastating effects on our modern society. It has affected us in ways that could not have been predicted 176 years ago.
The WofW says that tobacco is not for the body and is not good for man. The nicotine in tobacco is very addictive, so many people get hooked on smoking and are unable (or unwilling) to quit. The CDC’s national center for chronic disease reports that in the 1990s, smoking killed an average of 440,000 people per year in the US. More-freakin-over, smoking cost the nation about $92,000,000,000 in lost productivity between 1997 and 2001! Back in the day when the WofW was given, smokers who died of lung cancer just died - nobody knew why (there are few if any references to lung cancer in 19th century medical texts). However, today we fully understand the devastating cost of tobacco.
The WofW highly recommends herbs (vegetables), fruits, and grains. It should come as no surprise that vegetables, fruits and grains make up the bottom portions of our food pyramid. They are at the bottom of the pyramid because science has shown that they are the foods that we should consume the most to ensure good health. I am certain that early 1800’s science did not have extensive information on healthy eating habits. I don’t think that people living back then would have claimed that an apple was healthier than salted pork. In fact, the salted pork would have been more appealing to them because of its greater potential to satisfy hunger. However, nowadays we understand the importance of healthy eating.
And finally, the WofW counsels us to eat meat sparingly. The results of a recent research project funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that “Americans who ate the most red meat boosted their overall risk of death by 30% during a 10-year period compared to those who ate the least.” The researchers claimed that “if the heaviest red meat eaters ate as little as the people who consumed the least, they could prevent 11% of deaths among men and 16% of deaths among women.” Now more than ever before we see the wisdom in the divine counsel to eat meat sparingly. (Note, neither this study nor the WofW tells us that we should become vegetarians. Red meat is a good source of iron and fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, and antioxidants such as glutathione or carnosine.)
Indeed, as science progresses we are more fully realizing the wisdom in the WofW. God said that he was warning and forewarning us by giving the WofW – Now we know some of the reasons why.
My recently published book “Truth & Science” was supposed to be titled “Light, Truth & Science.” I wanted “light” in the title to recognize the role the Light of Christ plays in inspiring scientific discoveries. But my publisher said that books with “light” in the title don’t sell well, so “light” was taken out. (I guess too many LDS authors thought it would sound warm and fuzzy to put “light” in their titles, and many of those books did not sell well.)
Anyway, should my publisher decide to publish an upcoming book of mine, he will have to put “light” in the title, not because I want it to sound warm and fuzzy, but because the book will be about the Light of Christ. Perhaps he will want to change the title to the “Spirit of the Lord”, a poor choice given that this name is also used to describe the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost is not the Light of Christ.
I am fascinated by the Light of Christ. It is a divine medium that emanates from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space. It is what allows God his omniscience, which is to know everything that is happening everywhere throughout all His creations. It is also the source of God’s omnipresence – it enables His influence to be felt everywhere throughout all His creations.
The scientific community has nothing that comes close to matching the awe-inspiring nature of the Light of Christ. Take, for example, Einstein’s Relativity. Relativity is a great theory, but since it limits the fastest speed that anything can travel to the speed of light, it cannot explain how God knows in an instant what is happening on earth. Consider that if God’s throne were at the North Star, Polaris (now that’s relatively close), it would take about 430 earth-years for our prayers to reach Him, and another 430 earth-years for His reply to return. That is 860 earth years to get an answer to our prayers! If His throne were further away, as it most surely is, it would take much longer, even millions of years for our prayers to be heard and answered.
Then there is quantum physics. The quantum principle known as non-locality does a pretty good job, but still misses the mark. According to quantum non-locality, two events at opposite ends of the universe can occur simultaneously. We are not talking about coincidental occurrences here; we are talking about two events that are part of the same system or are “entangled” as it is sometimes called. In other words, when one event occurs, another event occurs at the same time at the opposite side of the universe. This principle has been demonstrated with sub-atomic particles.
Quantum non-locality (entanglement) seems to satisfy the instantaneous travel requirements of the Light of Christ, right? Unfortunately the answer is no. According to prominent physicists, quantum non-locality (entanglement) does not include the transfer of information and physical substance. So it cannot account for the instantaneous communication of thoughts in prayer, nor can it account for how an angel can transport him or herself from heaven to earth in an instant. If visiting angels were restricted to the speed of light, I am afraid that Laman and Lemuel would have beaten Nephi to death several times over before the angel arrived.
My book will explore the communicating, life sustaining, world creating, law-governing, truth providing, righteous enticing, and conscience generating roles of the Light of the Lord. It should be an interesting and challenging journey, but not nearly as challenging as getting my publisher to put “light” in the title.
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) was an evolutionist who believed in the inheritance of acquired traits. Inheritance of acquired traits is the notion that changes in an organism’s characteristics that are caused by life events or exposure to environmental stimuli may be passed onto offspring. For instance, if a man takes up body building and develops muscle mass, he will pass muscle mass characteristics onto his offspring. Or if a mother becomes a prolific reader, her children may become good readers.
Here is what Lamarck said:
"All the acquisitions or losses wrought by nature on individuals, through the influence of the environment in which their race has long been placed, and hence through the influence of the predominant use or permanent disuse of any organ; all these are preserved by reproduction to the new individuals which arise, provided that the acquired modifications are common to both sexes, or at least to the individuals which produce the young."
Lamarck deserves credit for being among the first to provide a comprehensive theory of evolution. He also deserves credit for stressing the important role that environment plays in giving rise to changes in organisms. However, because he advanced the idea of inheritable acquired traits, and idea that has been rejected by the scientific community, he has been relegated to the bottom of the evolution contribution totem pole. At the top of the pole is Darwin’s face, under it is Wallace’s face, and somewhere near the bottom is Lamarck’s face, positioned where people have been able to kick his teeth once and a while for proposing inheritable acquired traits. Well, that may be changing.
Recent discoveries in genetics have uncovered an exciting field called epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of the mechanisms that drive gene expression without altering the basic structure of DNA. Put simply, certain genes may be turned on and off, thus leading to changes in human phenotype (visible characteristics) without altering the genotype itself. The effects of epigenetics may be far reaching. It may lead to a better understanding of aging, life changes, and the causes and potential cures of diseases, to name a few.
What I find interesting about epigenetics is that the mechanisms driving gene expression can be influenced by environmental stimuli. What is even more intriguing is that epigenetic changes can be passed onto offspring. That’s right, the sort of things you expose yourself too (good and bad) can influence your offspring. I am not just talking about pregnant mothers here. Environmental influences we were exposed to as young children may have epigenetic consequences for our offspring.
Epigenetics is not a vindication of Lamarck’s principle of inherited acquired traits; they are not the same thing. But if I had to pick a scholar who came the closest to presaging epigenetic phenomena, it would have to be Lamarck. Well done, Jean-Baptiste.
Epigenetics is a recent discovery, yet God has always known about it. He knows everything about how the environment affects our epigenetics. I am certain that He took epigenetic phenomena into consideration when he gave us the Word of Wisdom. The Word of Wisdom was given to us as a form of godly admonition or divine advice about what we should take into our bodies. He did not tell us why He gave us the Word of Wisdom, He just did. Yet as science’s understanding of the importance of consumptive habits grows (e.g., balanced diet, moderation, avoiding harmful substances, type II diabetes, epigenetics), we are increasingly uncovering the godly wisdom in the Word of Wisdom.
So those of us who want to pass on favorable epigenetic characteristics to our children and grand children should heed the counsel of the Word of Wisdom. It now appears that the things we were exposed to as children can influence our children’s epigenetics, and the things that we expose our young children to can influence our grandchildren’s epigenetics.
When I consider the myriad of stars in the heavens, I can’t help but marvel at the power of God. The starry sky is physical evidence that He created worlds without number. When we view the night sky we are literally witnessing the power and majesty of God.
What makes the cosmos even more fascinating is that God wants to share the cosmos with us. He has already done so with Abraham. The scriptures declare that Abraham has received his exaltation, ascended to a throne, and has become a god. What sort of work is Abraham doing in the cosmos? If I had to guess I would say that he is assisting Heavenly Father with the creation and organization of worlds.
If we live righteously and qualify for the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ, we too will enjoy the same opportunities as Abraham. We will become involved in the celestial effort to create and populate worlds without number. When that day comes, alas we will finally know what is going on with those mysterious globular clusters!
A globular cluster (as shown in the above photo) is an ancient, tightly packed, cluster of stars. Long before dinosaurs and ancient life roamed the earth, even before our sun was formed, large groups of stars coalesced and started orbiting our galaxy. Most globular clusters exist in the halo of our galaxy, the bright bulging region extending out from the galactic center.
Surprisingly there are relatively few globular clusters in our galaxy, only about 200 known to date; yet these clusters contain innumerable stars. Each contains millions of stars so densely packed that the “night” sky would always be bright if our earth was placed within one. Interestingly, however, they contain very few planetary systems because they have low metallic concentrations, and extreme gravitational forces from passing stars would rip planetary systems apart.
So what in the world is going on in these clusters? What purpose do they serve? The scriptures tell us that every space in the cosmos contains a kingdom. What kingdom(s) exists in these mysterious regions of our galaxy, then? Are they mortal-telestial, immortal-telestial, terrestrial, or celestial kingdoms? They hardly seem like ideal zones for mortal-telestial planets. If they are inhabited regions, it would seem that only exalted beings could exist in them, likely on worlds that look to us like stars because they have been celestialized into “seas of glass”.
I bet you already knew that the earth has a spirit, but I don’t think that many of us have explored the implications of this fact. The implications include intriguing possibilities regarding the future of our earth and other planets within the solar system.
The story of Enoch in the Book of Moses is central to understanding the earth's spirit. Enoch is among the privileged few who got a first-hand look at God’s creations. God showed him the earth, all its inhabitants, and gave Enoch a glimpse of the future of mankind. Perhaps most touching, God shared with Enoch how He felt about the wickedness that prevailed upon the earth at that time, before the Flood.
As Enoch talked face-to-face with God, the Lord turned and looked down at the earth and all its wicked inhabitants and wept. Enoch said, “How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?” Put differently, Enoch queried, “How can you weep? You are God!” The Lord then shared His godly perspective with Enoch. He told Enoch that those wicked people down there were his children, and it pained Him to see them hating each other and rejecting their God. It also pained Him to know of the suffering that would soon come upon them as a result of their wickedness.
All of a sudden Enoch began to see and understand God’s perspective. As this divine perspective came upon him, he too glanced down at the inhabitants of the earth, “looked upon their wickedness and their misery, and wept.” Heartbroken over what was happening on earth, Enoch “stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.” For a moment he was privileged to see and feel as the Lord saw and felt.
Enoch’s godly sorrow intensified as his attention was turned toward the earth. God allowed him to hear the cries of our mother earth.
“Enoch looked upon the earth [and] heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face? . . . [W]hen Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth?"
God continued to show Enoch events that would transpire on the earth. When Enoch saw the crucifixion of the Savior and continued wickedness, he once again felt concern for the earth. He wept again “and cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the earth rest?”
Why was Enoch so concerned about the earth? I believe that his concern stemmed from his realizing that our mother earth is a sentient being. It has a spirit that is of a higher order than that found in the animal kingdom. The earth has an alert, attentive, and responsive spirit that understands the difference between good and evil. Because of its desire for righteousness and apparent willingness to follow the commandments of the Lord, it will be celestialized after dying. In D&C 88 we read:
“[T]he earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law - Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.”
Reading this scripture, I can’t help but wonder if the earth has moral agency - the power to choose between good and evil which is necessary for exaltation.
Given that the earth has a spirit, that it will die, and that it may have moral agency, what may we conclude about other planets?
It may be that planets like Mars and Venus are so inhospitable because they are dead. In other words, their spirits have left and now they just exist as empty shells. Mars shows evidence of having once been a vibrant planet with flowing rivers etc.; perhaps it had a spirit at one time, but this is no longer the case. Astronomers are baffled by the hostile features of Venus. If our sister planet had developed the same as earth, it would be very similar to our planet. Well, perhaps Venus was vibrant when it was alive with a living spirit, but became hostile when it died and its spirit left.
Finally if our earth has moral agency, then might the same be said for other living planets? If this be the case then it is conceivable that other planets have chosen to not follow all the commandments of God. What would happen to these less than faithful planets? Well, under this scenario, I think that some of these would be resurrected to either a telestial or terrestrial state. This kind of makes sense given that telestialized and terrestrialized human beings will need to have worlds to dwell upon, while exalted people dwell upon the celestialized earth.
Think about it this way. Perhaps Mars was not fully faithful when it was living, and so when it is resurrected, it will be resurrected as a terrestrial sphere, a home for terrestrial beings. What about Pluto? Given how cold and dark it is out there, I am thinking definitely telestial ;)
I enjoy a little bit of speculation now and then. My latest speculative endeavor is on finding the dwelling place of God. I believe that I may have found it.
The Pearl of Great Price mentions the following 4 things about the dwelling place of Heavenly Father.
A. “And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it” (Abraham 3:2).
-- His throne is in a star cluster containing large stars.
B. “These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me” (Abr. 3:3)
-- Kolob is a very large cluster of stars (It is not an individual star – see “Kokaubeam” below, point D).
C. “I have set this one [Kolob] to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.”
--- The star cluster known as Kolob influences all the other stars and planets that circle around in the spiral arms of our galaxy, including our sun. This influence includes gravitational force. Scientists speculate that many galaxies have an immense gravity well in their center (their best guess is to call them black holes because those are the only entities known to man that are capable of creating the gravitational pull needed to keep a galaxy together). The immense source of gravity could very well be a globular (“tightly packed”) cluster of super giant stars.
D. “Kokaubeam, which signifies stars, or all the great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven . . . [and] Kolob is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam that thou hast seen, because it is nearest unto me” (Abraham 3: 13, 16).
--- There are multiple star clusters near His throne, but the greatest cluster of them all is the location of His throne (called Kolob).
Points A, B, C, and D seem to suggest that His dwelling place is the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The center of our galaxy is obstructed from our view by dust, and rightfully so. Were it not for this dust, we might be inundated with light and other unwanted rays on a continual basis. But thanks to imaging technology on board the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, we are able to view the center of the galaxy with infrared sensors.
The picture below is a composite of over 2000 infrared images taken by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. It shows what the center of our galaxy looks like. Here is how one astronomer described the features in the picture:
“Clouds of glowing gas and dark dust as well as three large star clusters are visible. Magnetic fields may be channeling plasma along the upper left near the Arches Cluster, while energetic stellar winds are carving pillars near the Quintuplet Cluster on the lower left. The massive Central Cluster of stars surrounding Sagittarius A is visible on the lower right” (Source: APOD).
Here is my interpretation:
Clouds of glowing gas and dark dust as well as three large Kokaubeam are visible. The most massive Kokaubeam (star cluster) visible on the lower right is a probable location for the dwelling place of God (Kolob).