Planet of the Priesthood, Part 2: Environment, Eternity, and Extraterrestials
Greetings! Welcome to Part Two of my series of podcasts entitled Planet of the Priesthood. Which is not to say that the Priesthood is any less instrumental or critically connected in the creation of other planets. In fact, God's Priesthood power is the power, we are plainly taught, behind the creation everything. I'll always seize the chance to read from D&C 88. Here's verses 7-13:
"This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things."
That sort of puts this topic in its proper frame, its full perspective. You can't talk about the environment, the planet, its demise or salvation, without discussing the Priesthood of God.
In Part One I presented some contrarian evidence with regard to the conclusions drawn by many scientists and the popular media with regard to climate change. We learned that scientists are people too, flawed by the same weaknesses and carnalities. The fact, and I think facts are very important in this discussion, global warming is not a foregone conclusion. The data is still streaming in.
I mentioned that many people are divided on this argument along political lines. Republicans like Sean Hannity want to utilize every resource that God has provided us, while, to be fair, emphasizing that we do so while remaining responsible stewards of the earth. While many Democrats want to entirely dismantle the fossil fuel industry throughout the world, or at the very least use our tax dollars to accelerate environmentally friendlier technologies that will turn the fossil fuel industry into (forgive the pun) a dinosaur. Some Democrats—to be fair, highly extremist Democrats—have even suggested that we designate an entire corridor of land from Alaska to Chili, about a hundred miles along either side of the continental divide of the Rocky and Andres Mountain ranges, as an industry-free zone, depopulating all cities and communities in this region—with the international cooperation of other countries, of course—so that nature along this corridor is allowed to entirely recover and return to its original state.
Politics can be a passionate thing. Although I confess, my own leanings tend to be politically conservative—which most often means Republican, although not always—when I was younger I think I tended toward the liberal point of view. Which, according the Winston Churchill, seems a pretty healthy transition for human thinking. He reputedly said, "If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain ." Some have questioned whether such a quote really can really be attributed to Churchill and believe if he said it he was quoting someone else.
My point is that its healthy to ponder every point of view. There are only a few things—a few very specific things in this life—that I'm absolutely sure about. The existence of God. The Atonement of Christ. The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and a few other essential Gospel principals. Beyond that, I could be muddled and flustered on just about everything. Even my interpretation of certain verses in the Book of Mormon could possibly be way off the mark.
It's essential that we remain humble, open, eternal students, and ever willing to learn, and frequently change or refine our opinion whenever it becomes obvious that we've been wrong. This is not an easy prospect. Pride almost always gets in the way of this kind of openness. Pride, tradition, culture, and habit. My prayer, it that it is continually your prayer, to overcome these stumbling blocks to eternal progression.
The point I wanted to make now, is that I don't think it much matters if Global Warming is caused by people. It doesn't matter if it's happening at all. We don't need the learning of the world to come to the conclusion that something is seriously out-of-whack. And we—as Latter-day Saints—should have conviction that it is in our power, and within our responsibility, to do everything possible to fix whatever is broken.
I've actually become a rather dedicated environmentalist. I'm proud of what our generation of Americans has done to change the habits and attitudes of the next generation—YOUR generation—of Americans, when it comes to being better stewards of the earth. Most of you have no memory of the litter and garbage that used to line the ditches and gullies, medians and shoulders, of every stretch of highway—even in the middle of nowhere. People in my parent's generation wouldn't have hesitated rolling down the window and throwing wrappers into the wind. As a kid I thought it was kind of fun watching colorful pieces of paper flit and whirl down the highway. I have memories of watching an adult toss an entire sack of garbage out the car window. We thought very little about it. Then came the commercial with the crying Indian. Everyone from my generation remembers the commercial with the crying Indian. Sorry, crying Native American. When I was young we also wouldn't have hesitated to use terms that are now entirely politically incorrect. We meant no disrespect, and if one of us happened to belong to a race defined by some term that is now politically incorrect, we had no problem calling each other by those names.
Now the pendulum has swung way the other way. Satan loves it when fundamentally well-meaning and noble ideas are taken too far, exploited to the point that people start to resent what they perceive as vicious wrongs and demand retribution. Sometimes those wrongs justifiably should be addressed. Changes must be made. And then there are the opportunists who are merely taking advantage of sentiment and politics.
Many believe this is exactly where today's environmental movement currently stands. We cringe when laws are passed entirely banning the use of certain resources, rather than putting our best minds and technologies to work discovering ways of harnessing such resources wisely, cleanly, often leaving behind not so much as a scar or any evidence whatsoever that anyone was there—even improving the environment, making it better than before those who harvested that resource arrived. I believe we must encourage the development of cleaner sources of energy, but what's wrong with utilizing traditional sources of energy more efficiently?
I read an article that stated that one of the most surprising things that tourists from other countries take notice of when visiting America is how much we throw away—the sheer scale of our garbage dumps—even with today's recycling plans. Brigham Young felt that city dumps were symbols of corruption and sin for a civilization, and that we should feel obligated to recycle absolutely everything, no matter the time or expense of such reclamation. Expense shouldn't even be a consideration. Recycling to him was a moral obligation.
I feel frustrated when I think such a glorious and important cause as the preservation and beautification of the earth has been hijacked by those whose values may often be twisted by the wrong priorities.
In Moroni Chapter 7, verse 6 it reads: "For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing." Again in verse 10: "Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift."
Accountability comes of knowledge, and only those who have rejected the light can truly be held accountable for that rejection. But it seems to me that the adversary would consider it a marvelous accomplishment—one of his best jokes, his most successful scams— if he could take the good intentions of rich and powerful people and governments and corporations and convince them to expend vast amounts of resources, money, time, energy and effort, on vain and worthless causes that ultimately have little or no effect upon bringing about real changes and implementing a desired result.
Keep in mind that for agnostics and atheists and people whose secular views leave them with undefined perspectives of God or heaven or whose views on morality are defined by relativism—which is the idea that what might be right and true for some might not be right and true for others—this planet is all that they have. The terra firma under their feet is the only thing they feel any degree of certainty about.
As a result, any concept reinforcing the fragility of human existence, the idea that it could all end in a flash if the earth's orbit changes by a fraction or if a meteor the size of a city block comes crashing out of the sky, or if a random flare from the sun fries our satellites, wipes out the electrical grid, or irradiates every living thing in eight minutes (which is the time it takes for such a cataclysm to reach the earth from the sun) terrifies them.
As I've already discussed, purely from a scientific standpoint, the odds that life even exists on this planet are astounding. Physicists and biologists and geologists and astronomers all concede that if any one of trillions of factors hadn't occurred in precisely the right way or in exactly the proper sequence, we wouldn't be here. Things as random as the planet Jupiter in its present orbit. Without Jupiter's gravity drawing in, cleaning up, and controlling all those billions of particles that make up the asteroid belt, it's almost certain that objects like the meteor that created the Chixalu crater 66 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs would be a fairly common occurrence. Thank you Jupiter!
If it wasn't for the earth's metallic core providing us with a magnetic force field that deflects the radiation of the sun, as well as lethal radiation from any of thousands of supernova from virtually any spiral arm of the Milky Way, our oceans would have long since boiled away. Even supernova a hundred million light years across the galaxy could kill us if wasn't for that force field. Thank you magnetic force field. If it wasn't for the moon stabilizing the earth's axis, keeping our north and south pole in the same basic alignment for millions of years—you get the idea.
Then there's all the things that could still go wrong and wipe out life on our home planet in the blink of an eye. To a person of faith these facts all point to an obvious and miraculous reality—indisputable evidence that the laws of nature are governed by a higher power. To a secularist—a person without faith—even pondering these apocalyptic variables and everything that could possibly go wrong—are the stuff of nightmares. These things can be intense sources of anxiety and stress. And then to ponder those catastrophes over which a vast number of people believe we might have some control?—Nuclear holocausts. Unstoppable plagues. Global warming—The anxiety felt by those without faith can be a source of real psychological trauma.
For a person with no spiritual moorings tied to their lives, a purely relativistic view of right and wrong, and a hedonistic view of mankind as just another animal who must satisfy his carnal, sensual, and devilish nature without constraint, it's a pretty short leap for them to latch onto a cause like anthropogenic global warming. Think of the benefits. Suddenly you're perceived by millions and millions of people of like mindset as some kind of hero. Doesn't matter what kind of lifestyle such a person might lead, what choices they've made, what example they're setting, or what things they might have done to get where they are—shucks, for many those sorts of choices and lifestyles are also admired and envied. Either way, if this person has entered the fray and taken on the fight to save the planet—well, obviously they can't be all bad.
No people on this earth should be more passionate about the preservation and beautification of the earth than Latter-day Saints. The scriptures are rife with verses that support this concept. In Genesis Chapter 1, again reiterated in Moses Chapter 2 it reads: "And I, God, said: Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl which may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And I, God, created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind; and I, God, saw that all things which I had created were good. And I, God, blessed them, saying: Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the sea; and let fowl multiply in the earth... And I, God, said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind, and it was so; And I, God, made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything which creepeth upon the earth after his kind; and I, God, saw that all these things were good."
"Good!" Not just to be consumed and processed. But appreciated, even loved. Aesthetically. Yup, there's actually a scriptural component to the notion that we ought to "Stop and smell the roses."
In D&C 59:18-20 it reads, "Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion."
Those last two phrases are very interesting. "Not to excess, neither by extortion." Extortion means to obtain something from an unwilling or reluctant person by physical force, intimidation, or the abuse of legal or official authority. The scriptures here are telling us that we can rightfully take only what we need, but when we abuse or extend that right to justify taking things we do not need, it becomes extortion.
(Moses 3:9). "And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it.”
(D&C 49:21) "Wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.”
Some Latter-day Saints don't realize that two of the most passionate environmental conservationists of the Last Dispensation were our first two Latter-day prophets, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. LDS scholar Hugh Nibley was particularly taken by the philosophies of Brigham Young. He wrote a long treatise called Brigham Young and the Environment that you can find online. Dr. Nibley, in case some Latter-day Saints weren't aware, was a passionate liberal on many issues. He was also a passionate conservative on others. Sometimes it's a challenge to pin down his specific political views. Still, he generally voted Democrat, and he lived in Utah, so whenever someone asked him to post a sign on his lawn for some Democrat candidate, he is known to have replied, "Well, I guess you better leave me two so that I can replace the first one after it gets stolen."
I believe in those days the label of being Democrat or Republican were much different. The Democrat party had not adopted most of the staunch leftist platforms that they vigorously pursue today. Some might also say that Republicans weren't as militantly conservative.
In any case, Hugh Nibley often referred to statements by Brigham Young to support his views on the environment, and those arguments strike a convincing chord.
Brigham Young had very few positive things to say about progress and nothing good to say about waste and excess and greed. Nibley noted the Brother Brigham could claim the rare privilege of being among the first to occupy, settle, and place the stamp of his personality on a large swatch of the earth’s surface. When he arrived, places like where I live in Cache Valley, Utah, were as fair and undefiled as on the morning of Creation. Brigham Young founded hundreds of communities over hundreds of thousands of square miles. He often remarked that he was keenly aware of the awesome responsibility that weighed upon anyone who presumed to alter the face of nature and create an environment where generations yet unborn would live out their mortal lives.
Speaking to the Saints of the Salt Lake Valley, President Young said: "The soil, the air, the water are all pure and healthy. Do not suffer them to become polluted with wickedness. Strive to preserve the elements from being contaminated by the filthy, wicked conduct and sayings of those who pervert the intelligence God has bestowed upon the human family." (JD 8:79) "All the creations are His work, and they are for His glory and for the benefit of the children of men; and all things are put into the possession of man for his comfort, improvement and consolation, and for his health, wealth, beauty and excellency” (JD 10:222).
Some who hear a statement like that, the only words that sink in are "possession" and "wealth." Yet Brigham repeatedly reminded the Saints, "It is not our privilege to waste the Lord’s substance. (JD 11:1) Whatever you have, it is the Lord's. You own nothing, I own nothing. . . The Lord has placed it in our power to obtain the greatest gift He can bestow—the gift of eternal life . . . if we keep the faith, all things will be ours. The Saints do not own anything now. The world do(es) not own anything. They are hunting for gold—it is the Lord's. If my safe had millions of gold in it, it would be the Lord's, to be used as he dictates. The time will come when those who are now dissatisfied will not be satisfied with anything, but the Saints who live their religion are and will be satisfied with everything" (JD 10:298). “Not one particle of all that comprises this vast creation of God is our own. Everything we have has been bestowed upon us for our action, to see what we would do with it—whether we would use it for eternal life and exaltation or for eternal death and degradation.” (JD 8:67).
When we hear that some of us might think, "Well, sure. Such lofty ideals are fine, but thank goodness the law still protects me. I own my house. My car. My golf clubs. My iPad. Technically I'm just fine and dandy with the idea that God owns all of it, except for my smart phone. I don't think a just God would ever deny me my smart phone." I'm being facetious, but the point is deadly serious because it's so easy to ignore this principle—put it out of our minds.
So listen to Brigham emphasize it again, "A man has no right with property, which, according to the laws of the land, legally belongs to him, if he does not want to use it; he ought to possess no more than he can . . . to do good to himself and his fellow man." (JD 1:252) "What do we absolutely need? I possess everything on the face of the earth that I need, as I appear before you on this stand. . . . I have everything that a man needs or can enjoy if he owned the whole world. If I were the king of the earth I could enjoy no more.” (MS 32:818—19) “When you have what you wish to eat and sufficient clothing to make you comfortable you have all that you need, I have all that I need.”
These ideas can seem so foreign to our way of thinking. I mean, c'mon. We're all capitalists, right? Brigham's just talking about stewardship, right? I'm not suggesting he was some kind of closet socialist, am I? Spread the wealth? Actually, yes. That is what Brigham is describing, with one vital difference. Nobody is taking it from you. You're giving it away—voluntarily—of your own free will. That's right. After working so hard to get it, we have to be willing, in a heartbeat, if the Lord commands, and sometimes when He doesn't command, to give it all away.
It's one of the great tests of mortality, and frankly most of us fail it. That's why we don't have Zion today. That's why we're no longer living in Jackson County and why the Lord allowed the Saints to be driven out. We like to blame Missouri's "Extermination Order" and all the evil forces that combined against our Church, but the reality is that when the Lord asked us to live the Law of Consecration, we couldn't do it. So instead of fighting our battle for us when mobs started to gather, He allowed us to be smitten.
Dr. Hugh Nibley brilliantly boiled it down to a single axiom: Paradoxically, we are learning to live without things so that we can learn to live with things. That's kind of profound, so I'll quote it again. Paradoxically, we are learning to live without things so that we can learn to live with things.
Brother Brigham put it like this: God wants us to “handle the gold and silver of the whole earth without having a desire for it, only as a means with which to gather Israel, redeem Zion, subdue and beautify the earth, and bring all things in readiness to live with God in heaven” (JD 10:362).
Or as it says in Jacob 2: 18-19: "But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted."
However, applying this principal to your personal finances is only part of it. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and many other prophets, and the Savior Himself, made it clear that they wanted this principal—acting in this life for the mutual good of mankind—to also apply to the our stewardship of the earth.
Brigham Young declared, "We are trying to be the image of those who live in heaven; we are trying to pattern after them, to look like them, to walk and talk like them, to deal like them, and build up the kingdom of heaven as they have done. We are exhorted to make our own heaven, our own paradise, our own Zion. How is this to be done? By hearkening diligently to the voice of the Spirit of the Lord that entices to righteousness, applauds truth, and exults continually in goodness."
So how does this apply to the environment? As it turns out, it applies in every way. As Brother Brigham observed: "Endless variety is stamped upon the works of God's hands. There are no two productions of nature, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, that are exactly alike, and all are crowned with a degree of polish and perfection that cannot be obtained by ignorant man in his most exquisite mechanical productions. Man's machinery makes things alike; God's machinery gives to things which appear alike a pleasing difference. Fields and mountains, trees and flowers, and all that fly, swim, or move upon the ground are lessons for study in the great school our Heavenly Father has instituted for the benefit of his children. Let us explore this great field of information that is open before us in good books and in the great laboratory of nature . . ." (JD 9:370).
All of us are perfectly aware that the fields of astronomy and astrophysics and biophysics are searching desperately for life on distant planets, moons, or asteroids. Scientists aren't particular about where we find it. Nor are scientists alone amongst the members of the human race who are eager to discover and confirm the reality of alien life. Little green men. Or alien microorganisms. Astrobiologists would be equally excited either way. Many have already designated the moment that we confirm the reality of extraterrestrial life as the greatest event in the history of mankind.
Because curiosity is so entrenched in our DNA, Latter-day Saints would also be excited, but I believe on this matter we'd have a very different perspective. We certainly wouldn't see it as the greatest moment in human history. Not by comparison with a certain moment that occurred on night in a quiet garden about two thousand years ago. I'm not even sure if discovering alien life would crack the top 100 of the greatest moments in human history. See, we already know that there's life on other planets. We've known it for about a hundred and seventy-five years. An announcement by science would merely be a confirmation of what Joseph Smith has long since declared. Or what Abraham proclaimed thousands of years before Christ.
We don't need spectroscopy or high-powered telescopes to confirm this reality. We need only turn to God and His prophets. I'll even make a prediction. Just a prediction. Not a prophecy. I don't think prophecy is my particular gift. I predict that in the near future we will find verifiable evidence of extraterrestrial life. It will be confirmed in the next decade or two, either by locating fossils on Mars, in physical samples analyzed from the moons of Saturn or Jupiter, or on exo-planets in the goldilocks zones of their host stars. Our next generation of detectors will be so sensitive that they will be able to analyze an exo-planet's atmosphere and verify with absolute certainty if that atmosphere has the essential ingredients and elements of a thriving biosphere, perhaps identical with the earth.
This will make HUGE headlines across the globe for months and months. Discoveries of other biospheres will proliferate such headlines for years to come. We'll try to send messages. We'll try to receive messages. However, my own theory is that most life in the universe—mortal life, even intelligent life—is incapable of sending or transmitting messages. Human beings have been around for thousands and thousands of years, yet it's only in the past 70 years or so that we even started to piece together the rudimentary technology of sending messages into space. We're still in that rudimentary phase. I suspect—suspect—that most intelligent life is probably in a state of mortal progress much like our own during the vast majority of its history. The stone ago. The bronze age. The iron age. Again, I suspect that when intelligent life reaches a state of technological advancement similar to our own, they're just about ready to enter the next phase of mortality. The prophets have taught us that the inhabitants of other planets are undergoing mortal probation and being tested to see if they will "do all things which their Father in Heaven has commanded them" precisely like us. So I wonder if, when beings in the image of God reach a certain point of technological advancement, the Lord instructs them to hold off on sending intelligible communications to other worlds—sort of a Prime Directive of non-interference, like the one they used to dramatize in the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I could be wrong. I could be very wrong. The objective evidence of humankind's interaction with interstellar UFOs is a subject for an entirely different podcast. Let me just say, if true, if we really are being visited by beings with an advanced technology that dwarfs our own—I don't have the foggiest idea how this would relate to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I just know that sincere, rational people—pilots and officers from the military, civilian, and scientific populations of multiple nations—have logged powerful testimonies that such confrontations have taken place. But hey, there's a lot of things that I can't quite explain from a Gospel perspective. This does nothing to diminish my Gospel testimony. It just heightens my curiosity.
What the heck was that object flying over Gate C-17 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago from 4:15 PM to 4:20 PM on November 7, 2006, witnessed by 12 United Airlines employees, including pilots, co-pilots and supervisors as well as independent witnesses outside the airport? After watching this thing for about five minutes, observers gasped as the object shot through the clouds at high velocity, leaving a clear blue hole in the cloud layer that seemed to slowly close in on itself. ("UFO Hunters Episode Guide — Season 2". History.com. February 11, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2015.) Sorry. I don't know what it was. But I know the people who saw it seemed to believe it and they were upset that the FAA refused to investigate the obvious breach in airport security. Like so many other encounters that reliable witnesses have had with unidentified flying objects, no explanation is ever presented as to why the objects were there, what they were doing, or what they wanted. There's a few theories, but nothing I've heard that seems definitive. Just another mystery.
So even with a testimony of Christ and the Gospel, I have to admit there's a boatload of things I still don't understand. Openness, humility, a willingness to learn—all those things I talked about at the beginning of this podcast—must remain in force. Including the possibility that it might all be a misinterpretation of events or utter nonsense.
Okay, I didn't want to get too far off track with that. Some listeners I've already lost. "Okay, Chris, you left the spiritual, you left the intellectual, and went into la-la land, you veered off into crazy town." Sorry. Blame it on ADHD.
Let me come back to my prediction of what will happen in the aftermath of what I feel is the inevitable scientific confirmation of extraterrestrial life, probably in the upcoming decade, in whatever form it takes. My instinct suggests that because a Prime Directive, probably from God, was set in place not to allow interaction or correspondence between two planetary civilizations in different phases of their mortal progression, eventually headlines trumpeting the reality that we have verified the existence of life on other worlds, will fade. Business will return to normal. Things will go on as they always have, and we'll settle back into the reality that this is our home. We're already home. This is where we have to make things work. And this is where we will spend the rest of time and eternity, upon a living earth that God has already proclaimed worthy of celestial exaltation.
Keep in mind, the Lord could help us—inspire us—to overcome any obstacles that prevent interstellar communication if he so desires. Consider, however, that even immortal, resurrected beings, or the disembodied spirits of our ancestors, also seem to have strict Directives that prevent them from openly communicating with us—except in extraordinary circumstances. Such beings may be in the same room with us, existing all around us, on a parallel plane, at every moment, and yet we may never sense their presence. Many have sensed their presence. They have testified that ancestors or other heavenly beings have interacted with them, although the perceptions and sensibilities encompassing such events are highly subtle and subjective. Obviously there are many circumstances and rules that govern these kinds of interactions. A major component seems to be faith—on both sides of the veil. In any case secular science seems no closer to breaching that veil, penetrating that parallel reality, than the earth's inhabitants of 5000 years ago.
Until the Lord deems otherwise, I presume controlled and regular correspondence between life in neighboring solar systems, or between life in parallel universes, will remain prohibited. Science is developing a plethora of fascinating theories on how to bridge, span, or penetrate these divides, but considering the expense and interglobal cooperation required, as well as the moral and spiritual disintegration of humankind, it appears unlikely that we'll be able to correspond with extraterrestrial life before the Savior's return, and the earth enters a new phase of its existence.
Will we correspond with extraterrestrial life during the Millennium? I don't know. I wonder if I'm the first person to ever actually put the words of that sentence together into a cohesive question. We just don't seem to mingle those concepts.
I gotta tell you, my programmer, Jared, also brought up an intriguing theory that I'd never before considered. He was pondering the words of Genesis Chapter 1 verse 2: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Then we read in verse 6: "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." Divide the waters from the waters. That's an odd way to say it. Then verse 7: "And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so." Keep in mind we're not actually talking about lands and oceans as we understand them today until verses 9 and 10: "And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas."
Compare this to the description of the Creation found in Moses Chapter 2 and Abraham Chapter 4 and you'll see that the terminology is almost identical.
He noted that it was pure speculation, but the term "the deep" referenced in Genesis 1:2 does not seem to be referring to the earth's ocean. It's the universe. The Spirit of God that moves across the face of dark waters seems to be the Milky Way or the universe itself. Astronomy confirms that many of the asteroids and meteors and comets floating around our solar system are water. Mostly ice. This includes that material that comprises the asteroid belt, the matter that makes up the rings of Saturn and billions of chunks in the Keiper Belt beyond Pluto. Certain moons orbiting Jupiter Uranus and Saturn may have more water underneath the outer crust or even on the surface than all the water in the earth's oceans. Most of these comets and asteroids appear as black chunks because they're caked with space dust, but make no mistake, many of them are more than 90% water. So this "darkness upon the face of the deep" and "God's Spirit moving upon the face of the waters", instead of referring to an ocean, which makes a distinction between waters under the firmament and waters above the firmament, may refer to all that water floating around aimlessly in the unorganized black space surrounding the newly organized earth.
Then Jared gets really crazy, okay. He takes us to D&C Section 133 where the term "the deep" and "the great deep" are mentioned again, this time not in reference to the beginning of the world, but in reference to Second Coming of the Savior and return of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. Starting at 133:23: "He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries . . ." North countries. That's always been a very curious term for some of us who study the events of the last, last days. Do we mean north, such as toward the north pole, which is actually kind of a curved or circular direction, or do we mean literal north, as in, outer space. Okay, don't freak out. This is Jared's idea. Take it up with his therapist. I just happen to think it's rather profound. The verse continues: ". . . and the islands shall become one land." We know what that's taking about. Pangaea, or the reformation of a single continent. Continuing: "And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided. And the Lord, even the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people, and shall reign over all flesh. And they who are in the north countries . . ." Okay, now we seem to be speaking specifically of the Lost Ten Tribes. Anyway, it reads ". . . they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence". The what shall flow down from what? The "ice" (which is the state of water in most parts of our universe) shall "flow down" at their presence. Okay, I'm lost. Then what might be the most fascinating verse of all: "And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep." Great deep. There it is again! Highway. Highway from heaven? Cast up by one of their prophets? Maybe the Ten Tribes are actually fleeing from something. Persecution? War? Maybe they're come here as refugees seeking the Lord's protection. Seeking OUR protection.
Okay, take a breath. Just speculation. Jared's speculation. I pointed that out, right? But it was a new idea to me. And it's fascinating. Just don't take it too seriously—yet. Merely something to knock your noggin. Spin your cerebellum. Whirligig your gray matter.
Some of this stuff, I got to tell you right now, we're just dying to find out what it all means. I mean that literally. We're dying. We'll be dead. We will have passed beyond to the great beyond. The living must depart this life to finally learn all its mysteries and secrets. Most of the living anyway. Those celestial souls like Abraham, Moses, and Joseph Smith were apparently given a glimpse while still in the flesh. I suspect there are others too. Souls as celestial as the Earth itself. We just don't hear much about those souls, because they've learned the most fundamental rule that governs God's mysteries. They've learned to keep their mouths shut. Not the blabber about it.
And that brings up one final head spinning subject, if your mind isn't already whirling enough. The fact that the scriptures seem to define "life" much differently than science. Prophets have declared that even rocks and minerals and molecules of water are literally alive. As I just indicated, the earth itself, with its molten, magnetic core, is a living thing. We even know it's a "her." But if Mother Earth is alive, it must mean other heavenly bodies are alive as well. Jupiter, Pluto, Kepler 62f (which is an exoplanet you'd already know about if only you followed astronomy) are all living entities. This means we've been gazing upon alien life—the moon, planets, and stars—every time we've looked up into the sky. Okay, again, these are things we're just going to have to get into some other time.
In the meantime, I'll post one final podcast discussing the stewardship of our earthly home, and whatever and wherever other tangents my ADHD brain seems to take us—Part 3 of Planet of the Preisthood. I always welcome commentary and questions on foreverLDS. And, as is our own Prime Directive on this podcast, I invite everyone listening...to stay close to the Lord. Seize more tightly to the Iron Rod than ever before so that the Spirit can penetrate your heart, and the intelligence of your Father in Heaven can accelerate your understanding. I appreciate your time and I hope these podcasts brighten your day and stir your imagination. This is Chris Heimerdinger and this is ForeverLDS. Signing off.