The intention of this document is to provide, scripturally, a sound explanation of the various planets we observe in our solar system and what clues they may provide toward understanding the processes of planetary creation, fall, and exaltation. Not intending to be exhaustive, this document is furthermore a foundational resource meant to be built upon or modified by further light and knowledge.
Some degree of prologue may be necessary to fully comprehend the ideas here presented. Theoretically speaking, the creation of worlds, let alone the known universe (cosmology), is a topic much pursued by modern science but highly misunderstood. In times past, religion and science seemed to be at odds, leading to eventual compromises between the two parties and an eventual acceptance as science as the only true religion in modern times. But other theorists, inspired by the spirit of truth, have resisted such concessions. This has led to significant differences in cosmological reasoning among modern day scholars, but these latter, inspired scientists have produced a body of cosmological knowledge strikingly parallel to that found within the doctrines and revelations claimed by the Latter-day Saints. Here are but a few examples concerning notable points that diverge from mainstream scientific teaching:
- There is no “big bang” that marks the beginning of a material-less creation;
- Instead, the universe is composed of materials that go from chaos to order and back again throughout the whole of it;
- The worlds are intimately linked and connected to one another by several forces, connecting us to the earth, and the earth to the sun, and the sun to greater galactic sources;
- An order or hierarchy exists among the stars in the structure of the galaxy and beyond;
- Stars (or planets) do not form from impossible gravitational collapse in nebular dust; stars do not consume themselves as fuel, destined to some day extinguish;
- The study of lightning can teach us much about the operations of the universe/God.
Fundamental to this way of looking at the cosmos is the understanding that gravity is not a force of its own, but actually a phenomena related to electrical forces. Planetary and stellar evolution then are explained better by epochal moments of intense brevity rather than momentous epochs of eternity. Under this notion, planets are electrically expelled, or born, sculpted into spheroids by the natural processes of electricity. Stars too are not things that randomly occur and eventually die off, but integral transformers of “light” from a higher source along a current woven from galactic center to galactic edge, and beyond. The powerful forces of electricity and “light” then keep in bounds and expel those worlds unfit for glory, strewn in the kingdom of darkness between the galaxies.
Though not intending to involve any outright association with a religious view of cosmology (in fact, this new science is often exalted by Atheist minds), the principles obtained through simple observation of the universe around us always lead to the truth. This is in opposition to the orthodoxy of sciencedom that would explain all phenomena through a string of increasingly incomprehensible formulae and the vain teachings of men mingled with true observations—whose adherents preach that comprehension of our existence is only to be had by the very, very learned alone. The truth is, science is in our blood as children of the Great Scientist, and His operations and principles defy the learning of men, and are within the grasp of all who seek it.
This document proposes a set of ideas derived from my study of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, specifically chapter three, nested within this truer cosmological science as outlined above. Really, it’s just an understanding of scientific principles that happen to be found within scripture added to spiritual principles also found within scripture.
Several days ago I entered into a conversation with some brethren of the church about the fall of the planet earth from the realms of Kolob when Adam partook of the forbidden fruit. I desired to speak my ideas concerning planet birth and lineage as I had come to understand them when I found myself frustrated in my course: many of my thoughts seemed true enough for face value, but when placed together in a coherent presentation, I found that they were incompatible, not only with one another but—most importantly—with the scriptures.
As is often the case in such situations, I found myself engaged in a struggle of thought upon the matter for quite some time, trying my utmost to comprehend the entirety of what I had learned. At length I gave up on that quest and decided to try the virtue of the scriptures instead of my own thoughts at rectifying the contradictions of mind that I was experiencing. The words came alive to me as I pored over the words of Abraham chapter three, enlightening my understanding like never before. Notions so foreign yet blessed in their simplicity and strangeness, delighted upon my mind, bringing with them vivid images and solemn musings of their veracity.
Though some seemingly-intuitive and factual ideas regarding the organization of our solar system will need to be discarded to secure the same thoughts and feelings I had, is it not often so in the Gospel? The principles of truth are often those of simplicity, but just as God’s ways are higher than our ways, so too is mortal intuition often incapable of finding them out.
The Moon is Above the Earth
The first principle to fully embrace, if we are to believe the scriptures, is that of the moon—our own, familiar pale luminary of the night—that it is in actuality a planet set to govern over the earth, the world upon which we now stand. Does this sound new or sensational? It shouldn’t. Let us review God’s words to Abraham:
“And the Lord said unto me: The planet which is the lesser light, lesser than that which is to rule the day, even the night, is above or greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning, for it moveth in order more slow; this is in order because it standeth above the earth upon which thou standest, therefore the reckoning of its time is not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years.
“Now the set time of the lesser light is a longer time as to its reckoning than the reckoning of the time of the earth upon which thou standest.
“And where these two facts exist, there shall be another fact above them, that is there shall be another planet whose reckoning of time shall be longer still;
“And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come night unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest….
“If two things exist, and there be one above the other, there shall be greater things above them; therefore Kolob is the greatest of all the [stars] that thou has seen, because it is nearest unto me.
“Now, of there be two things, one above the other, and the moon be above the earth, then it may be that a planet or a star may exist above it” (Abraham 3:5, 7-9, 16-17, emphasis added).
And in case he did not make the point clearly enough the first time, Abraham encodes deeper understanding in the chiasmus of chapter three, identifiable by the reused phrasing from before when he stated the existence of two facts concerning planets:
“And the Lord said unto me: These two facts [also] do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all” (Abraham 3:19).
In other words, what God teaches in principle regarding spirits applies to worlds just the same: there is an ascendancy—perhaps like unto a spectrum—of greatness that goes from a low end in one direction to the pinnacle—God or Kolob—in the other. In the case of spirits, the substance of the matter that defines the grades between them is simply the amount of intelligence there possessed; in the case of the planets it is speed of their reckoning of time. And what is that?
Reckoning and Existence
“All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:30).
As the scripture above states, the spirits—or intelligences—that be apparently exist upon two governing conditions: independence ‘to act for itself’ and a ‘sphere’ in which to act. Looking plainly at the creations manifest around us, those heavenly bodies that testify of God’s existence, it is apparent that God indeed creates the habitations of all intelligence in the shape of a sphere, for that is how any world—that we know of—appears. To be clear, the argument I am laying out below could apply regardless of the shape of the medium in which we perceive our existence. It could be a cube world, a world of infinite flatness in all directions, or even a two-dimensional world—it doesn’t matter; when the word sphere is here used, it denotes the round worlds that God has chosen to shape that way.
The discussion of why agency is a necessary component of existence is a long one that cannot be entered into here, but its underlying principles are hopefully self-evident; however, the secondary requirement, that of a sphere, may be less obvious at first glance. It comes down to the concept referred to over and over again in Abraham chapter three as “reckoning.”
Among the definitions of the word reckoning is the following: “A person’s view…” and “the act of judging something” (“Reckon.” Merriam-Webster, 20 Aug 2015). Accordingly, our own reckoning, or view and judgement of anything, is dependent upon that ‘sphere’ wherein we act. Again, as the Lord spoke regarding the relation of the moon to our earth, it is, “greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning, for it moveth in order more slow;…therefore the reckoning of its time is not so many…” (Abraham 3:5, emphasis added). In other words, existence is viewed/judged/experienced slightly differently there.
The words of Hugh Nibley may be instructive here in helping us understand what the Lord (and Abraham) are trying to get across here:
“Before being introduced to [the vision of the creation of] his home planet, Abraham is given a view of the cosmos, in the which he is reminded again and again that all distances, directions, and motions are to be measured with respect to his own position only. From another position, the picture might well look very different.…
“In the apocryphal Abraham literature…this point of vantage is a place in the heavens to which Abraham has been taken. There he is at first terrified because he finds no place on which to stand, until the angel who is with him gives him a correct orientation by drawing a round diagram of things…. Time also is not reckoned in absolutes but is limited to Abraham’s system” (Hugh Nibley, “Preparatory Creation—Abraham’s Account”, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley [TCWHN], 1:4:65-77, emphasis added).
Below is a table that I will attempt to use to further make this point—that without a world, we have no frame of reference for existence, and on a different world, existence will be perceived differently. As you look over the data, pay particular attention to that which is designated as a “Synodic Period” (the length of a day on a given world) and how it is measured (‘viewed’ or ‘judged’).
|Name||Orbital Center||Synodic Period||diameter (mi)|
|Olea (moon)||Earth||29d 12h||2,085.6|
|Mars||Sun||1d 0h 39m||4,222|
* Venus’ sidereal period is used due to the combined effect of its retrograde motion upon its synodic period calculation; the sidereal period better reflects how it “moveth in order more slow” (see Blog Post: Venus, The Symbolic One).
Did you catch what phenomenon occurs in the measurement of the synodic day of other worlds? A ruler is needed to perceive what is meant on another world by the same term. It’s simple enough to say that the revolution of any given world is defined by the time it takes for the sun to rise until it rises again in the sky; but each world varies in that respect so that no two worlds can truly be alike regardless of all other factors, and no spirits who reside upon those spheres can possess the same “reckoning,” or measuring of time.
To think of it in simpler terms: though the rate with which time passes is the same everywhere in the solar system1, the segmentation of time on any other planet than earth is measured in earth units for that is the only system we have to relate to; attempting to measure segments of time without any reference cannot be done—it must be relative to something; there are no absolutes.
Therefore the table above measures the passage of time on other worlds with respect to the measurement of the passage of time on earth. The ‘Synodic Day’ of Pluto, for instance, is shown to be six synodic earth days! Earth time becomes our only applicable ruler for measuring time on other planets for earth is the sphere ‘upon which thou standest.’ Take away our sphere, and what ruler do we have for measuring existence? None; and without the ability to so reckon our place in time and space—without a sphere—we have no place to apply the agency we have been given.
Imagine that you stand upon a small planet the size of a small country spinning slowly in space with the light of a nearby sun coming and going as you revolve. Now look down at your earthly watch upon your wrist. What good is it to you here? Its measurement is abstract of what you are experiencing upon the small world. Now remove the sphere so that you are floating singly through space but not spinning. Again look at your watch. It may seem more sensical to you now, but only as a tether to the reckoning of earth. Without the earth upon which to live, breath, think, and act, you are as good as a thing to be acted upon only and not a thing to act (the germs upon your body still have a home to reckon—at least spatially—you see). Now imagine your body dies. How old were you? It doesn’t matter for you had no reckoning. You are now a spirit of infinite duration without the ability to measure time’s passage. What can you do but contemplate your newfound oblivion?2
So we conclude that a sphere is not only needed for reckoning, which reckoning varies depending on the greatness of the sphere, but it is needed for a happy, sane existence. Then to what other purpose could we ascribe the existence of the many worlds in our solar system? They have been purposed for the habitation and reckoning of spirits, whether unembodied, embodied, or resurrected. But how can this be?
Spiritual Matter and the Invisible Existence
The Lord revealed the following through the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“…Their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets….”
“The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also…, as they roll upon their wings in their glory….
“Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power.
“I say unto you, he hath seen him; nevertheless, he who came unto his own was not comprehended” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:43,45,47-48).
Further in the revelation, the Lord states that these kingdoms are populated by “the inhabitants thereof,” (see verse 61) whoever they may be. If the moon, being a kingdom, has inhabitants, why have our telescopes and astronauts been unable to discover the cities of their habitation? The following revelation gives us the answer:
“All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;
“We cannot see it but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter” (Doctrine and Covenants 131:7-8).
The above scripture lays out an important premise regarding the inhabitants of the moon and those other worlds in our solar system and why it is that we have not beheld them. This purer matter, usually invisible to the natural eye, is also apparently that which makes up resurrected, glorified bodies of flesh and bone, as they possess the ability to manifest themselves in either the world of spirit or that of our course matter by will. So the worlds around us are inhabited by spirits or resurrected beings and we would never discover it without revelation or purification.3
But what glorified person would ever choose to reside on such a barren world as our moon, let alone the hellish landscape of Venus or the bouldery wasteland of Mars? The Lord revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith that:
“The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth;
“But they reside in the presence of God, on globe like a sea of glass and fire…” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:6-7).
The description is of a place we cannot—nay, would not choose to—dwell upon, for, as the Prophet also taught:
“God Almighty Himself dwells in eternal fire; flesh and blood cannot go there, for all corruption is devoured by the fire” (Galbraith, Richard C., Spiritual Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [STPJS], 367).
“…You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…going from one small degree to another…until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power” (Ibid., 346-47).
Describing the invisible world of spirit around us where the dead go, Joseph gave a curiously similar description:
“Enveloped in flaming fire, [the spirits of the just] are not far from us.… Flesh and blood cannot go there; but flesh and bones quickened by the Spirit of God can” (Ibid., 326).
Though we cannot say with certainty what the correlation of the fiery nature of these two distinct places is, the invisibility of both worlds to the natural eye may be therein related (see also 2 Kings 6:17 where the servant of Elisha sees the invisible army of God with “horses and chariots of fire round about…”.) The ‘fire’ may be a description of the appearance of the glory of the refined matter of spirit when viewed by opened mortal eyes.
The sum of the argument—and the reason for laboring so much on this point—is to show that a world such as the moon, a greater kingdom than the earth, possesses resurrected, glorified, invisible beings—and not just persons, but also trees, gardens, waters, and great buildings after the order of Zion. All these apparently abide invisibly upon that governing body that appears so bleak and inhospitable to flesh and blood. Though not spheres of celestial glory, they may be “outposts,” as it were, for celestial beings and spirits with specific missions.
The Greatness of the Worlds: The True Order of the Planets
In several references above, God has described our very moon as a kingdom and also a planet (i.e. he does not use the word moon). Under our mortal perception, it is taught or assumed that a planet that orbits another planet is subordinate to the one being orbited, as though the moon ought to be lesser than the earth simply because the earth is the one who orbits the sun and not the moon. But, if you will recall, that is not the Lord’s criteria for measuring the order of the worlds. Indeed, as we shall see, orbital arrangements have the least to do with the true order of the worlds.
Indeed it was detailed above that the factor governing the ascendancy of the worlds until one arrives at Kolob, the greatest, was the length of its reckoning of a day. As Abraham learned, “…One revolution [of Kolob] was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto [the earth]” (Abraham 3:4). The term astronomically speaking is referred to as the synodic period of a world—the time it takes for a planet to revolve so that the sun returns to the same spot in the sky.
You may recall that term from the table above, which arranged the worlds in order of their distance from the sun and subordination in orbit to others. With the true principle in mind pertaining to the ordering of the planets, let us revisit that table but organized by length of synodic period (below). In other words, the worlds will be listed from greatest to least according to this order:
|Name||Orbital Center||Synodic Period||Diameter (mi)|
|Olea (moon)||Earth||29d 12h||2,085.6|
|Mars||Sun||1d 0h 39m||4,222|
As can be seen in the table, the moon is indeed above the earth in greatness; in fact, the moon is the third greatest sphere in our solar system! And notice another intriguing detail: Jupiter is the least great of them all, along with all the other gas giants (Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn)! Just above them in greatness is the earth, which is proceeded only slightly by Mars, both of which are behind—and in some cases far behind—the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. These moons, which should be called planets along with our own moon, are governing bodies over those larger planets whom they orbit (just as with the situation between the earth and its moon).
But what of the relation of earth to the gas giants, namely that the earth appears to be greater than those enormous, mysterious worlds of clouded abyss? For the answer to that, we must continue reading the Book of Abraham.
The Creation: Day 0
After Abraham learns of the true order of the planets, he is shown the creation of this world, an explanation of those peculiarities encountered in contemplating the true order of the planets. And the account says, in chapter four:
“And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.
“And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters” (Abraham 4:1-2, emphasis added).
Notice a few features of the embryonic rocky world:
- It was “organized,” inferring an unorganized substance from which to form it;
- It was “empty and desolate” (answering to the Biblical “without form and void”) because the only thing formed of the raw materials was the sphere;
- It sat in darkness, as in, somehow shielded from outside light, for darkness cannot be defined without light;
- This shielding was apparently constituted of water, just as oceans and clouds are perceived as being constituted of water.
Hugh Nibley comments similarly:
“We see a delegation going ‘down’ to organize this earth and its heaven. To begin with, we see bare rock, ‘empty and desolate.’…The whole thing is covered water-covered beneath a dense envelope of cloud—‘darkness reigned upon the face of the deep.’ But things were already being prepared for what was to follow, for ‘the Spirit of the Gods was brooking upon the face of the waters.’ Dictionaries define brooding as “to sit or incubate (eggs) for the purpose of hatching.’ As Milton puts it—‘dovelike sat’d brooding on the vast Abyss and maddest it pregnant.’ Also, ‘to dwell continuously on a subject.’ Brooding is just the right word—a quite long quiet period of preparation in which apparently nothing was happening. Something was to come out of the water, incubating, waiting—a long, long time” (TCWHN, 1:4:65-77, emphasis added).
Hugh Nibley points out that the Gods appeared to be doing apparently nothing for a great length—or at least an undefined length—of time as the sphere ‘incubated.’ What reason there is for this period of preparation, though the sphere was formed, is not revealed. What is revealed is that the Gods watched over the process.
Later the young earth is finally ready to step into the light from which it was before shielded. As you read the following verses, take into consideration that the rest of the process is described from a new vantage point, as the Gods’ descend upon the new sphere as a point of ‘view’:
“And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light” (Abraham 4:3).
As the planet emerged from the darkness of the previous deep, its previous covering removed.
“And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night. And it came to pass that from the evening until morning they called night and from the morning until the evening they called day, and this was the first [time], or the beginning, of that which they called day and night” (Abraham 4:5).
There will be a total of six such “times” (or synodic periods) before the creation is complete, or readied for Adam’s arrival. Considering the relative youth or lack of greatness of the earth, it is unlikely that these synodic periods were any longer than they are at present. (God’s later pronouncement that Adam would die within the day of partaking of the fruit was after the synodic period of Kolob and not earth, Adam’s reckoning not being appointed him. In scripture, other references to time are sometimes given in Kolob terms despite it not being according to our reckoning.)
“And the Gods organized the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; with the lesser light they set the stars also;
“And the Gods set them in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to cause to divide the light from the darkness” (Abraham 4:16-17).
A great planet, our current moon, is brought into orbit around the earth to govern and watch the next stage of the earth’s development and history. Our current sun, too, is assigned to the earth for this period.
“And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed” (Abraham 4:18).
And so forth as the earth was beautified from its previous ‘empty and desolate’ state. The earth—with its vegetation, beasts, dragons, and lastly priest and priestess—was Terrestrial in its completed state, filled with the flames of eternal glory.
But before the Gods had the earth unveiled from its cloudy womb, from what point did they operate and reckon the space around them? The answers can be found if we look to our own solar system while acknowledging the following:
- it is necessary for a spirit to have agency and a sphere to operate;
- immortal habitation/life can be, and most often is, invisible to mortal eyes (fruited plains, gardens, cities, people, etc.—the beauty of a world);
- those moons set in orbit around the gas giants are greater than the gas giants, placed in orbit to govern, or watch, those they circle.
In light of these facts, it would stand to reason that a set of Gods are now brooding over the development of other rocky planets like our own though in embryo—namely Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune!
Beneath the impenetrably thick clouds of Jupiter there exists a solid sphere like unto other rocky planets in our solar system, incubating and hidden. Darkness indeed reigns upon its surface, and far more ancient and great planets are brooding over its surface, outposts—spheres of necessary, temporary reckoning—of the gods. The thick clouds, part of that which is termed “unorganized matter,” are so compressed and concentrated that it appears to the natural eye to be unto itself an enormous world of vaporous cloud. But when it is finished and ready to be furnished with vegetation and all manner of flesh and blood, the clouds will part, there will be light, and it will move to the habitable zone where mortal life can abide, where our earth now is, and a great planet, the lesser light, will rule its nights. There, a God will set his foot, and death will follow, and he will learn to reckon his time according to the new world.
- It may be pertinent here to rule out a predominant theory regarding the slowness of time on Kolob. It has been suggested by some that the reason for the slowness of time in Heaven relative to the earth is simply one of relativistic time dilation, which is the notion that time passes slower the closer one moves to the speed of light. This fantastic notion has been the subject of certain Hollywood films that depict an astronaut returning to his home world after traveling quickly through space to learn that his journey of a few weeks was in actuality a few decades to his friends and family who stayed behind. So it has been suggested that Kolob spins so quickly that time is dilated relative to the earth.
Applying the formula for relativistic time dilation, however, to solve for the speed with which Kolob would have to spin in order to attain a dilation of 1000 years to 1 day, the result is ≈99.9999999992% of the speed of light. Abraham 3:5,8-9 clearly indicate that Kolob in fact rotates slowly, not at 670,616,629 miles per hour. If we assume Kolob’s circumference to be equal to earth’s, the resultant speed is for more comprehensible at 0.00285 miles per hour.↩
- “The apostles ask the Lord, during the forty days after the resurrection, to show them what it is like before the Creation and when the creation arose. He tells them, ‘Don’t ask for that’; people can’t remain in their right minds after seeing that sort of thing. (Abraham saw the star. He says you won’t like it. It is terrifying.) ‘My Father worked out his kingdom in fear and trembling, and I must do the same.’ When these apostles asked to see the spaces, in quite a number of these writings the Lord warned, ‘No, it’s better for you not to, because it is more frightening than anything else if you don’t know what is going on.’ ‘Only the Lord,’ says the Gospel of Truth, ‘has penetrated the terrors of empty space.’
“All spaces are broken and confused, especially during periods of transition from old worlds to new, for they have no fixity or stability at that time…. The ultimate horror is being in a place without a firmament, without a foundation beneath…” (Hugh Nibley, Unrolling the Scrolls – Forgotten Witnesses, web, http://www.boap.org/LDS/Hugh-Nibley/Nibley-Unrolling-the-Scrolls.html, 25 Aug 2015).↩
- Hyrum Smith was recorded as teaching the following: “Now I say unto you that there are lords many and gods many…. This world was created by faith & works, the same as if a man would build a house. He knows where the materials are and he believes he could do the work of [constructing] that building, for he [understands] the science of building, and by faith he gained the work with his own hands and completes [it]. The same way was this world [constructed;]…it was made by the hands of God or gods…. [Jesus said,] “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” or in my Father’s world are many worlds, “I will go and prepare a place for you.” And [so] if there are many worlds then there must be many gods, for every star that we see is a world and is inhabited [in] the same [manner] as this world is peopled. The Sun and Moon are inhabited, and the Stars…are inhabited the same as this Earth…. They are under the same order as this Earth, [and] are undergoing…the same change. There was and is a first man Adam and also a Savior in the Meridian of times [on other worlds], the same computing times and all things in order [as this earth]” (Eugene England, ed., BYU Studies, vol. 18, no. 2, “George Laub’s Nauvoo Journal”, “April 27th 1843”, spelling and punctuation modernized).↩