Abraham 3, Verses 2 through 12 reflect several features of General Relativity, including black holes and time dilation. The 4.1 million solar mass black hole at the center of our galaxy, closely surrounded by thousands of more ordinary (typically 25 – 40 solar mass) black holes, is “the great star,” Kolob, with “many great ones near unto it.” Every galaxy, as far as is currently known, contains one and only one of these “supermassive black holes” (SMBHs), that controls or “governs” the galaxy.
Many well respected physicists, including Nobel Laureates, now also believe black holes likely involve higher-dimensional portals leading out of our universe and into an alternate reality. This is almost certainly the sense in which Kolob is “nearest to the throne of God.”
Another feature of Relativity is the warping of time in the presence of mass, called “time dilation.” Understanding Verses 4 through 10 in terms of time dilation, obscure terms and phrases such as “set time” and relative “reckoning of time” become clear.
Verses 10 and 11 then answer a common question regarding Kolob and our galaxy relative to other galaxies, and neatly wrap up Abraham’s lesson on galactic astrophysics.
Kolob is the Supermassive Black Hole “Sagittarius A*.” Source: Author
Abraham 3:2-10 is scientifically correct in terms of modern galactic astrophysics and General Relativity. Yet Einstein did not publish his seminal paper on General Relativity until 1915, 73 years after first publication of Abraham’s revelation. No one alive in Joseph Smith’s day could have known anything about Relativity’s predictions of black holes, Einstein-Rosen bridges (AKA wormholes), and the warping of time and space (time dilation), except by revelation. Yet there it is, in the first few verses of the chapter!
To begin, let’s make sure we’re up to speed on a few simple basics, starting with a brief primer on stellar evolution and black holes. We’ll keep it simple. A rudimentary understanding of the science is necessary in order to grasp the meaning of these verses. We’ll soon see that modern science not only enables us to identify Kolob, it also provides answers to a couple of riddles that have perplexed theologians and philosophers for millennia!
Stellar Evolution 101
Stars form within large clouds of interstellar gas and dust called nebulae. Although the dust and gas are sparse, the nebulae are so large that they contain enough mass to make several thousand stars the size of our sun. This material exerts a gravitational force, and irregularities in the density of the dust and gas cause regions of net gravitational force that begin to pull the molecules together.
As the process continues, the mass, and therefore the gravity, continue to increase. The material at the center is compressed by the in-falling material, which heats it up. When the pressure and temperature in the core become great enough to sustain nuclear fusion (around 25 million degrees Fahrenheit), the outward pressure of the energy being released balances the crushing gravitational force and prevents the star from collapsing in on itself.
When the star’s fuel is used up and the outward energy flow from the core stops, the star collapses. Depending on its mass, it will reach the end of its life as (in order of increasing density) a white dwarf star, a neutron star, or a black hole. A star about the mass of our sun will become a white dwarf star. If it’s somewhat more massive, it may undergo a supernova explosion and leave behind a neutron star. But if the collapsing core of the star is large enough – at least three times the mass of the sun – nothing can stop the collapse.
According to general relativity, spacetime is warped in the vicinity of every object that has mass, and the greater the mass, the greater the warpage. In the case of a black hole, the star implodes to form a region of space so warped – that is, a region in which gravity is so strong – that nothing can escape its grasp, not even light. At the center, everything that falls into the black hole is crushed to a point of zero size and infinite density, called a singularity. At least, that has been the thinking until recently. But black hole studies are changing this picture significantly.
Abraham’s Astronomy Lesson
In the following verses Abraham mentions stars, great stars, and planets. He also singles out one of the great stars in particular, calling it the great star, and naming it Kolob.
2 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;
3 And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
Our goal is to identify Kolob. To do so we’ll have to identify or explain each of the underlined items in these two verses. But the first order of business is to understand what Abraham means by “great stars.” The largest stars eventually end up as black holes. Thus it seems reasonable to assume that Abraham’s “great stars” are black holes, or stars that will eventually become black holes, as in the following table.
Comparing Abraham's Stars with What We Know from Science
Stars (All are "very great)
Our sun, 333,000 times as massive as earth, is typical
Black holes (typically 25 - 40 solar masses)
The great star (Kolob)
Supermassive BHs (SMBHs) (Millions or billions of solar masses)
Abraham also mentions planets, which in context clearly means any astronomical body other than a star or great star, including our own earth and moon.
1. Identify the great one
Astronomers have known for some time that a 4.1 million solar mass black hole occupies the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. In fact, essentially every galaxy has one and only one of these giants, which astronomers call supermassive black holes (SMBHs), located exactly in its center. Astronomers have named the SMBH in the center of the Milky Way “Sagittarius A*” (pronounced “Sagittarius A star”), or Sgr A* for short. Significantly, Sgr A* is 100,000 times as great as a typical black hole.
2. Identify the many great ones near unto the great one
In 2016 Astronomy.com featured an article with the following headline that sheds some light on the great stars near Kolob:
“Sep 12, 2016 – Hundreds of black holes congregate surprisingly peacefully in a Milky Way star cluster. ...A globular cluster is a large ball of stars that orbits the center of a galaxy. This particular cluster, NGC 6101, orbits the center of our own Milky Way galaxy…”1
A more recent study by Columbia University researchers found even more great stars orbiting near the great star. Results of their study, titled “A Density Cusp of Quiescent X-ray Binaries in the Central Parsec of the Galaxy” was published Apr 4, 2018 in the journal “Nature.” Their study indicates the existence of an estimated 10,000 black holes orbiting Sgr A* very closely.2
In fact, globular clusters can consist of hundreds of thousands or even millions of stars crowded together, packed much more densely than elsewhere in the Galaxy. An odd feature of these clusters is that they’re ball shaped, which means the orbits of the stars in them are not confined to the plane of the galaxy like most stars. Their orbits tend to be chaotic, and it’s believed that collisions in these galactic traffic jams occur about once in 10,000 years on average.
So, we have a black hole that’s 4,100,000 times the mass of our sun, or 1.4 trillion times the mass of the earth, in the center of the Milky Way, that everything in the galaxy orbits, including some ten thousand black holes orbiting very close to it. I’d say this situation qualifies as a great star with many great ones… near unto it!
So, we have a candidate for Kolob.
3. Explain how the great one “governs”
If Sgr A* is Kolob, then in what sense does it govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which Abraham stood?
A science news release by the European Southern Observatory titled “Stars Born in Winds from Supermassive Black Holes” found prodigious star generation driven by huge energy output from active galactic centers, meaning from active, centrally located SMBHs. Quoting the release, dated 27 March 2017:
“Observations using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have revealed stars forming within powerful outflows of material blasted out from supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies.”3
A more recent study by physicists at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) published January 2018 in “Nature,” titled “Black-Hole-Regulated Star Formation in Massive Galaxies,” also found SMBH activity controls star formation in their host galaxies. Quoting from the article:
“The observed relation between [supermassive] black-hole mass and star formation efficiency applies to all generations of stars formed throughout the life of a galaxy.”4
Thus, the first and largest object in any given galaxy controls star formation in the galaxy throughout its life. It “governs” the galaxy.
4. Identify the order of that upon which Abraham stood
Given that Kolob is the SMBH at the heart of the Milky Way and governs everything in it, and that every galaxy has its own governing, centrally located SMBH, it follows logically that the order of that upon which Abraham stood and that Kolob governs refers to the Milky Way.
We’ve now identified a gargantuan great star that’s orbited closely by thousands of more typical great stars and governs the order of which the earth is a part.
5. Explain how the great one is “near unto the throne of God”
Here’s the short answer: Kolob/Sgr A* is a portal to an alternate reality!
Recent black holes studies by several highly regarded physicists, including at least a couple of Nobel Laureates, indicate that the interiors of these behemoths quite likely traverse a higher-dimensional space to an alternate reality (possibly in conjunction with an Einstein-Rosen bridge, AKA “wormhole”). That alternate reality is where the throne of God is located. This is the sense in which Kolob/Sgr A* is nearest to the throne of God. It may sound like science fiction, but it isn’t! Wormholes, as well as black holes, are predicted by the mathematics of Relativity.
It was 1915 when Einstein published his seminal paper on general relativity. A year later, Ludwig Flamm in Vienna discovered a solution of Einstein’s equations that describes what is now commonly called a wormhole. Flamm’s wormhole received little attention at the time, but 19 years after Flamm, Einstein and Nathan Rosen rediscovered Flamm’s wormhole, after which it became known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge. Physicist John Wheeler later coined the nickname “wormhole.”
A wormhole is a bridge or tunnel in the fabric of spacetime postulated to traverse a higher-dimensional space (or greater reality in which many physicists now believe our three-dimensional universe exists). Wormholes are postulated shortcuts connecting widely separated parts of the universe, or connecting our universe to an alternate reality. My hypothesis is that that alternate reality is where the throne of God is located.
Black Hole and Wormhole Studies
Based on leading edge research by some of the most respected names in physics, it’s appearing increasingly likely, from a purely scientific perspective, that black holes, at least some of them, are associated with wormholes. The latest research also provides additional evidence that Sgr A* is a portal to an alternate reality. Following is just one example. I mention it to give an idea of the current state of research into black holes and wormholes, and because it provides additional support to the claim that Kolob/Sgr A* is a portal to an alternate reality, a higher realm. I could list others.
In nonrotating black holes all the mass is located at an infinitely dense point at the center, called a singularity, in which the spacetime warpage becomes infinite. At least, that has been the assumption until now. But a recent study by physicists Rodolfo Gambini of University of the Republic in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Jorge Pullen of Louisiana State University challenges that assumption. Instead of a singularity at the center, they found a portal to another universe.
Their results indicate that everything that falls into a nonrotating black hole doesn’t get compressed to a singularity after all, but instead gets compressed to a small but finite size and ejected, either elsewhere in our own universe or into another universe entirely. Their study was published in “Physical Review Letters” in 2013.5
Like all stars, real black holes rotate. In a spinning black hole the point singularity of a nonrotating black hole is replaced by a ring with zero thickness and non-zero radius. This is referred to as a ring singularity (or “ringularity”). According to some physicists, an individual falling into a rotating black hole may be able to avoid the ring singularity, which makes it theoretically possible for the rotating black hole to act as a wormhole, possibly even a traversable wormhole.6, 7
This begs the question of where, and into what sort of reality, the person might emerge. And what if he or she is a recently deceased individual, who would have no physical body to be concerned about, and the rotating black hole is Kolob/Sgr A*? Do you see where this is going?
The meaning of “nearest to the throne of God” is now clear: There’s a portal at the core of our galaxy (and other galaxies as well). It’s the shortest route out of our 3-dimensional universe and into an alternate reality. That alternate reality is the dwelling place of God. And the route passes through Sagittarius A*, AKA Kolob.
Seeing is Believing
We might ask whether anyone has actually seen such phenomena, and the answer would be yes! Throughout history there have been many witnesses of this higher-dimensional portal between our physical reality and the abode of God. Augustine of Hippo, in his 13-volume “Confessions,” called it the “eye of my soul,”8 and the visionary Hildegard of Bingen, in circa 1140 AD referred to it as the “gateway of the soul.”9 Joseph Smith saw “a conduit open right up into heaven” after Moroni’s visit.10
But by far the largest group of “visionaries” are the many people who have had a so-called near death experience (NDE), in which they temporarily “flat-lined” due to illness or accident and were then revived. A 1982 Gallup poll estimated 13,000,000 Americans had had one or more NDEs.11 Many of them report having seen and travelled through a “tunnel” of sorts to a heavenly realm where they met Christ. I believe all of these are actually the same phenomenon – our higher-dimensional portal.
Gravity Slows Time
Verses 4 – 12 reflect another feature of Relativity: time dilation. If you’ve seen the movie “Interstellar” you’ve already had an introduction to time dilation. If you haven’t seen it I recommend that you do so. Caltech physicist and Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne served as science advisor and co-producer of the film. Thorne is also the author of “The Science of Interstellar,”12 in which he explains the many abstruse gems of scientific fact and theoretical inference in the movie. The story is fictional, of course, but it’s based on real science.
In “Interstellar,” a team of scientists travel via a wormhole to a planet near a SMBH named Gargantua. The crew of the spacecraft “Endurance” is in a rush to complete their mission and return home. The reason for the urgency is this: Although time is passing quite normally to their perception, and back home time is passing normally for their families and friends as well, relative to each other there is a huge difference in elapsed time. When he does return home, lead astronaut Joseph Cooper finds that his young daughter, Murph, is not so young anymore, but is now an eminent scientist in her own right. In fact, she’s much older than he is!
This unintuitive but scientifically accurate state of affairs is called time dilation. Time dilation is a feature of both special relativity, which does not include gravity, and general relativity, which does. In “Interstellar” it’s caused by the huge difference in the gravitational field in which the astronauts are immersed relative to that of the earth.
In the story, a team of scientists travels via a wormhole to a planet near a one billion solar mass SMBH named Gargantua. The crew of the spacecraft “Endurance” is in a rush to complete their mission and return home. The reason for the urgency is that although time is passing quite normally to their perception, and back home time is passing normally for their families and friends, relative to each other there is a huge difference in elapsed time. When he does return home, lead astronaut Joseph Cooper finds that his young daughter is not so young anymore, but is now an eminent scientist in her own right. In fact, she’s much older than he is!
The cause of this unintuitive but scientifically accurate state of affairs is time dilation. Time dilation is a feature of both special relativity, which does not include gravity, and general relativity, which does. In “Interstellar” it’s caused by the huge difference in the gravitational field in which the astronauts are immersed relative to that of the earth.
“Interstellar” provides a perfect model for understanding time dilation in Abraham 3. In “Interstellar,” one hour on a planet near Gargantua corresponds to seven years on earth. We can say the earth’s time is a longer time as to its reckoning, relative to Gargantua. And we can calculate a time dilation factor: Seven years divided by one hour = 61,362.
An NFL game lasts 60 minutes, or 3,600 seconds, neglecting halftime and time outs. If we could watch from near Gargantua, the Super Bowl would be over in about 3,600 seconds divided by 61,362 = .06 seconds. We can say the reckoning of the earth’s time is not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years.
Notice that these two statements seem to contradict each other if we don’t fully understand their meaning. We find this same faux contradiction in Abraham.
Since Gargantua’s gravity is greater than the earth’s gravity, and the earth’s gravity is greater than the moon’s, Gargantua time (or Kolob time) is to earth time as earth time is to moon time. (Except that the earth/moon effect is much smaller than the Gargantua/earth effect because the relative difference in gravitational strength between the earth and the moon is much smaller than between Gargantua and the earth. But the principle is the same).
Time dilation, a relativistic effect of gravity discovered by Einstein a century ago, is a well-established scientific principle. A real example of this effect is the Global Positioning System. Clocks aboard GPS satellites are designed to “tick-tock” at a slightly lower frequency than your ground-based counterpart to compensate for the time differential caused by the reduced gravity at altitude relative to receivers on the ground. If they weren’t, their location positioning would be so inaccurate as to be unusable.
Time Dilation in Abraham 3
Let’s see how time dilation applies to Abraham:
4 And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.
In our “Interstellar” model, one hour on a planet near Gargantua corresponds to seven years of earth time. Similarly, one day of Kolob time = 1,000 years of earth time. In both cases the reckoning of time in the lesser gravitational field is a longer time as to its reckoning. Verse 4 fits our model perfectly.
5 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.
In our model we calculated that the Super Bowl would last .06 seconds if we could watch it from a planet near Gargantua. Since Gargantua (or Kolob) is to earth as earth is to moon, the reckoning of the moon’s time is also not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years, relative to the earth. Again, the verse fits our model.
6 And the Lord said unto me: Now, Abraham, these two facts exist, behold thine eyes see it; it is given unto thee to know the times of reckoning, and the set time, yea, the set time of the earth upon which thou standest, and the set time of the greater light which is set to rule the day, and the set time of the lesser light which is set to rule the night.
In physics, “set time” is called “proper time.” It’s defined as time measured by a clock moving with the observer. Two observers in different gravitational fields (or in relative motion) will not measure the same interval of proper time (set time) between two events. (Note that by the equivalence principle of Relativity, “moving” in this sense includes being at rest in a gravitational field).
In Verse 4 the standard by which Kolob’s 1,000 year period of rotation is measured is set time of the earth. This is the meaning of it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. In other words, by set time (proper time) as measured on earth, Kolob rotates once every thousand years.
7 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.
Recall our “Interstellar” example again, in which the set time of the earth was a longer time as to its reckoning than the reckoning of the time of Gargantua by a factor of 61,362. Since Gargantua is to the earth as the earth is to the moon, the set time of the moon is a longer time as to its reckoning than the reckoning of the time of the earth, just as the Lord tells Abraham in Verse 7. Again, the moon/earth effect is much smaller than the earth/Gargantua effect, but the principle is the same.
8 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;
What two facts? The fact of one planet orbiting another, with their relative reckoning of time. And “another fact above them” means a second orbiting planet in a higher orbit than the first orbiting planet. The second orbiting planet would have a longer reckoning of time than the first, everything else being equal, because it’s farther from the orbited planet, and therefore less affected by its gravity.
9 And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh 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.
10 And it is given unto thee to know the set time of all the stars that are set to give light, until thou come near unto the throne of God.
The significance of these two verses is very easy to miss. Let’s suppose we’re building a house. Knowing that board B is to be longer than board A, or even quantifying their relative lengths (e.g., board B is to be three times as long as Board A), is not sufficient. We have to relate the board lengths to a standard length (say feet/inches) that’s known with precision.
As with board lengths, knowing the set times of the planets relative to each other does not tell Abraham their actual set times. But these verses say it is given to Abraham to know the set times of all the planets and stars. So, as with board lengths, Abraham would have had to know the set times relative to a standard. And that standard is one revolution of Kolob (a day unto the Lord).
We can calculate the set time of the earth relative to Kolob based on Verse 4, which tells us that one day near Kolob (one rotation of Kolob) equals 1,000 years according to the time appointed unto the earth. There are 365,000 earth days to a Kolob day. (1,000 years multiplied by 365 days). So the set time of the earth is 365,000 Kolob days.
To know the set times of every star and planet in the Milky Way their set times would have to be related to Kolob. “…until thou come near unto the throne of God” (or Kolob) includes Kolob time in this system of relative set times, relating the set times of the stars and planets ultimately to Kolob, thereby setting it as the standard.
11 Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made;
12 And he said unto me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.
I have been asked on more than one occasion whether the fact that every galaxy has its own “Kolob” means every galaxy was created by a different creator – that is, by its own God. These two verses appear to have been given in anticipation of the question, and the answer is “No.” Abraham saw many galaxies, each of which has its own centrally located, governing SMBH – its own “Kolob” – that’s the closest astronomical object to God’s throne relative to the inhabitants of that galaxy. And every “Kolob” leads to the same alternate reality, where the God of the universe resides.
I have further been asked how each galaxy’s central SMBH can be near the throne of God given the enormous distances between the galaxies. But time and space as we know them are features of our universe. When we’re out of the universe all bets are off regarding distances.
Having said that, a popular idea in physics nowadays is that of a multitude of universes – a “multiverse.” There are several versions of the multiverse idea. Some of them I would reject out of hand, because they postulate universes coming into existence with no involvement from an intelligent Creator. But I can imagine a version of multiverse in which each universe is created by a different Creator.
If we could travel to Kolob we would experience less and less time dilation relative to Kolob as we travelled, and earth time would be more and more dilated relative to our position. At the event horizon of a black hole this effect becomes infinite, so that an omnipotent and omniscient being (God) observing the universe from Kolob/Sgr A* would see everything in the universe taking place simultaneously.
Thus, modern science and ancient revelation together solve two age-old riddles that have perplexed philosophers and theologians for millennia: 1) The meaning of the scriptures equating one day with a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8), and 2) The question of how it is that God can know the end from the beginning (He knows what our choices will be before we make them) yet there is no violation of our free will. Time dilation provides an answer (among other possible answers, perhaps) to both.
- https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25029/A density cusp of quiescent X-ray binaries in the central parsec of the Galaxy, Charles J. Hailey, Kaya Mori, Franz E. Bauer, Michael E. Berkowitz, Jaesub Hong & Benjamin J. Hord, April 2018
- Star Formation in a Galactic Outflow, R. Maiolino, et al. Nature 2017
- https://www.nature.com/articles/nature24999/Black-hole-regulated star formation in massive galaxies, Ignacio Martín-Navarro, Jean P. Brodie, Aaron J. Romanowsky, Tomás Ruiz-Lara & Glenn van de Ven
- Loop quantization of the Schwarzschild black hole, R Gambini, J Pullin, Physical review letters, May 2013
- Roy Kerr: Spinning Black Holes (Lecture at the University of Canterbury
- Confessions, Saint Augustine of Hippo, written 397 – 400 AD
- The Personal Correspondence of Hildegard of Bingen, Joseph L. Baird, Oxford University Press, Sep 7, 2006.
- Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith – History, 1:43
- The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, W. W. Norton and Company, November 2014
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