(by Dennis B. Horne)
This general conference message by Elder Spencer W. Kimball is highly relevant to this series:
We live in a marvelous age with developments far beyond the most fantastic prognostications of a quarter century ago. Our communication lines have been extended from Pony Express to fast air service; transportation has been speeded from horse and buggy to globe-encircling jets for the masses, and speeds running into the thousands of miles each hour for the explorers. From the Vikings and Columbus, we come to "Glenn" and the astronauts. Persistent scientists continue to explore land and sea, and now they are out in space. Much learning has been added, but astronauts and rocket riders and telegraphers can little realize how relatively elementary are their movements and discoveries and knowledge. Astronomers have sought knowledge through study but prophets through faith. Astronomers have developed powerful telescopes through which they have seen much, but prophets and seers have had clearer vision at greater distances with precision instruments such as the Liahona and the Urim and Thummim, which have far exceeded the most advanced radar radio, television, or telescopic equipment.
In a recent magazine was printed a brief digest of an article from a German astronomer who says that radio astronomers today discuss as a distinct possibility interplanetary conversation between earth-bound man and creatures on other planets; he "demonstrates with intricate mathematical logic that planets suitable for life may be fairly common among the stars, and that there are perhaps only ten civilized communities within 1,000 light years of the earth," and "there may well be creatures intelligent enough on some of those planets to transmit radio messages across the enormous distances of interstellar space."
He seems convinced that earth's astronomers could eventually detect and interpret incoming messages which highly cultured creatures from those intelligent communities might send, but since the galactic history of such planets "might take billions of years to evolve their flowering might well last only a few thousand years, so their brief moments of glory would seldom coincide." He reasons that "some extraterrestrial civilizations may have destroyed themselves completely, while others may have killed off only the higher types of life, permitting new and later civilizations to evolve from the humble creatures that managed to survive."
Since no mention is made of a controlling power, we fear that there is the assumption that planets build themselves and that inhabitants create themselves. We honor and congratulate the scientists for their intensive research and some of their conclusions. When we add to their assumptions and findings the knowledge acquired through the scriptures, and then place an Omnipotent God in the center of all things, the picture becomes clearer and purpose gives it meaning and color.
The Gospel writer, John, gave us these precious words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
"The same was in the beginning with God.
"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:1-3.)
And modern revelation confirms: "The worlds were made by him, men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him,
". . . he was called the Son of God, . . ." (D&C 93:10, 14.)
The Lord himself testifies: "Behold I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, who created the heavens and the earth,..." (Ibid., 14:9.) "... [they] are in mine hands, . . ." (Ibid., 67:2.)
Students of the universe might be amazed to know how much Adam knew about astronomy; how much Enoch and Moses had of accumulated knowledge of this world in its beginnings, its history and of its projected end. Many would wonder at the great Abraham living nearly forty centuries ago, who was such a world authority, not only on the earth, its movements, and its conditions, but on the universe itself, extending to the very center of it.
His supernatural knowledge was probably supplemented by research and observation in the clear, starry nights in the plains of Mesopotamia, but he must have received the major part through the Urim and Thummim which could have been far more revealing than the most powerful telescope in the most modern observatory. In his 175 brilliant years of life he accumulated knowledge in many fields, but especially in astronomy, in which field he seems to have excelled, and was perhaps equal or superior to even the highly trained Egyptian astronomers. At the altar near Bethel, close to Jerusalem, came his greatest scientific knowledge.
As he sat in Egypt and wrote his treatise on papyrus, in longhand, likely to present to Pharaoh and his eminent court, he wrote. "And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees;
"And I saw the stars that they were very great, and one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto
"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." (Abraham 3 :1-3.)
The worlds were created, organized, and made to function by Jesus Christ our Lord, all this at the instance of and under the direction of his Father Elohim, our Heavenly Father. Abraham knew, as we know, that the works of God in all creations were infinite, purposeful, efficient, limitless.
The Lord continues in his revelation to the Prophet, "And there are many kingdoms, for there is no space in which there is no kingdom; . . .
"Unto every kingdom is given a law; . . ." (See D&C 88:37-38.) He knew the bounds set to heaven, earth, sun, stars, their times, revolutions, laws and glories—which orbs borrow their light from Kolob, the greatest of all the stars. (Abraham 3.) He actually tells us about the throne of God and that he resides "on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, [which]—is a great Urim and Thummim." (D&C 130:7-8.)
He continues in his inspired treatise, "And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, . . ." (Abraham 3:4) and that one revolution of it was equal to one thousand years on earth.
We quote again, "Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. First in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time." (P of GP, Facsimile 2:1.)
Other grand-governing creations near to the place where God resides are pictured. This advanced knowledge was "revealed from God to Abraham as he offered sacrifice upon an altar which he had built unto the Lord." (Ibid., 2:2.) He says, "Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, . . . and he told me of the works which his hands had made; . . . which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof." (Abraham 3:11-12.)
As we stretch our imaginations to absorb the limitlessness of the creations of God, we turn to a favorite song:
"If you could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue onward with that same speed to fly,
D'ye think that you could ever, through all eternity,
Find out the generation where Gods began to be?
"Or see the grand beginning, where space did not extend?
Or view the last creation, where Gods and matter end?
Methinks the Spirit whispers, No man has found 'pure space,'
Nor seen the outside curtains, where nothing has a place.
The works of God continue, and worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression have one eternal round.
There is no end to matter; there is no end to space
There is no end to spirit; there is no end to race."
—William W. Phelps
The noted scientist speaks of other planets and suggests civilized space communities. Time was when most people thought the earth was the world, and that the sun, the moon, and the stars were earth's counterparts, or inferior appendages, merely to give light like lanterns hanging in the sky. But now scientists know, as the people generally know, and as prophets knew long before them, that the earth is but one minor unit of numerous creations in space illuminated by the presence of God "who is in the midst of all things." (D&C 88:12-13) ". . . the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame. . . ." (Ibid., 133:49.)
Our friend the astronomer speaks of interstellar civilizations, probably experiencing turbulent history such as our own earth has had with the rise and fall of great civilizations, such as Babylon, Ninevah, Jerusalem, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and numerous others which have flared like an arc-light, then dimmed even to candlelight proportions, or to be extinguished. The prophets knew through the centuries that not only civilizations come and go, but worlds are born, mature, and die. The Lord said, "And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, . . .
". . . it is the workmanship of mine hands." (Ibid., 29:23, 25.) ". . . the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom for it filleth the measure of its creation, . . .
". . . notwithstanding it shall die, it .shall be quickened again, . . . and the righteous shall inherit it." (Ibid., 88: 25-26.) The Prophet Joseph writes, "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 give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.
". . . and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power." (Ibid. 88:45, 47.) "For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;
"That bodies of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified." (Ibid., 88:19-20.)
To Moses, to Joseph Smith, and to others of the great prophets, came visions and revelations unbelievable, so clear, so distinct, so complete that it will yet be long, if ever, when, through observation and exploration only, men will gain the knowledge, for the prophets saw unbelievable things in kaleidoscopic vision. "But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you," said the Lord to Moses. "For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power and there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them." (Moses 1:35.)
We are near appalled by the discernment of the scientists whose accumulated knowledge awes us, but there is greater knowledge; there are more perfect instruments; there is much more to learn. We can but imagine how the great truths have been transmitted through the ages. Exactly how this precious instrument, the Urim and Thummim, operates, we can only surmise, but it seems to be infinitely superior to any mechanism ever dreamed of yet by researchers. It would seem to be a receiving set or instrument. For a set to receive pictures and programs, there must be a broadcasting set. The scriptures above quoted indicated that the abode of God is a master Urim and Thummim, and the synchronization of transmitting and receiving apparatus of this kind could have no limitation.
Even with our most elementary communication sets we hear voices around the world. We remember when, even with earphones, we could decode only part of the static over the newborn radio. Our first television pictures were very local and very amateurish. Today, we see in our homes a fight in Madison Square Garden, a football game in the Cotton Bowl, the Tabernacle Choir in Chicago, an astronaut circling the globe. Is it hard to project ourselves from the elemental world of puny man to the world of Omnipotent God, who with great purpose has developed precision instruments operated through his omnipotent knowledge? Is it difficult to believe that the Urim and Thummim carried down through the ages by the prophets, even in the hands of our own modern-day prophet, could be that precision instrument which would transmit messages from God himself to his supreme creation—man? Can God have limitations? Can atmosphere or distance or space hold back his pictures? Would it be so difficult for Moses or Enoch or Abraham orJoseph to see a colorful, accurate, moving picture of all things past and present, and even future? Could one doubt that the holy man, Moses, could stand on the mountain peak and see? Moses' Creator said, ". . . look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, . . ." (Ibid., 1:4.) "Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth." (Ibid ., 1:5.) "For mine own purpose have I made these things....
"And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, . . .
And "worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them which is mine Only Begotten." (Ibid., 1:31-33.) ". . . The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine." (Ibid., 1:37.)
The perfected Enoch, as he saw the brilliant, awesome picture, exclaimed, "And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; . . ." (Ibid., 7:30.) And then the Creator said, ". . . there is no end to my works, neither to my words. "For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Ibid., 1:38-39.)
The quoted doctor speaks of the flowering of the civilizations upon the various planets. The Lord told Enoch, "Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren." (Ibid., 7:36.)
We know little about interplanetary conversation between planets of the same order and development, but we know that such messages on a two-way circuit have been heard and understood by earth men and properly interpreted to dying civilizations throughout the ages, and this in line with the thought of the dying worlds and the living worlds and the aborning worlds. The scriptures postulate that worlds have gone out of existence through self-destruction, but other worlds have gone on unto perfection, and communication between the higher and the lower is not only possible, but is also an actuality. At the controlling center of the universe in such a perfected world is God. He knows all things which could possibly affect us, and because of his experience in his creation of us in his image, he is eager that we become like him—perfect. Accordingly, he has continued communication with us through the millennia. Without plane or rocket, messengers have come.
Our surprise is greatest in the last conclusion made by the German astronomer when he expresses the belief that "the earth's young civilization is now approaching its first great crisis because of its new found powers of self destruction," and "man's best hope of avoiding disaster is to listen hard for radioed advice. Far out in starry space," he says, "perhaps is an old wise civilization that has survived many crises and is trying to warn the callow earth against the mistakes of its own youth." What an astute observation! Yet for thousands of years our omniscient Heavenly Father from his old wise world has been trying to get his children to listen hard for such radioed advice and televised wisdom, but they were blind of eyes and dull of ears. They were not connected to the power line.
Handwritten messages of warning have come to wicked Belshazzars, who, with lords and ladies in ugly debauchery, drank wines from golden vessels stolen from holy temples, and empires collapsed, and while drunkenness and sensual indulgence were at their height, there ". . . came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
"Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another." (Daniel 5:5-6.) This was a message from another world. Daniel interpreted the solemn warning. On another continent Aminadi ". . . interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God." (Alma 10:2.)
Another message written by the Lord on two sets of stone tables came from Mt. Sinai, ". . . And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments." (Exodus 34 :28.)
How else except through interplanetary messages could landlubber Nephi without experience, have built a seaworthy ship which would safely cross an ocean? How else could Noah have known the minute specifications for an ark to ride the flood successfully? How else could Moses know the dimensions, materials, and uses of the tabernacle, and how else could Solomon know the specifications for his temple?
Radioed programs came in great numbers through the ages, faithfully interpreted by the Jeremiahs, the Ezekiels and the Daniels; by the Nephis, the Moronis, the Benjamins; by the Peters, the Pauls, and the Joseph Smiths. Better than radio or television communications, have come personal messengers without plane, or rocket ship, from God's abode to announce the birth of Isaac, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the coming of Saul to Damascus. Through some program, perhaps something like super-television, Joseph saw the coming famine in Egypt so he could warn Pharaoh and save his own people. And another Joseph saw a trans-space program causing him to flee to Egypt with the Christ-child, and then to return to Nazareth. Peter saw a picture of the four-cornered sheet filled with beasts and heard voices which were to send the proselyting program not only to Jews, but also to all the world. A messenger from the Father crossed space to announce, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which s Christ the Lord."
And from out in space came suddenly ". . . a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying.
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:11, 13-14.)
Comforting messengers stood by the Christ in Gethsemane after his momentous decision. One from far out space was outside Jerusalem's wall by the empty tomb, and ". . . rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it." (Matt. 28:2.) He said, ". . . Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
"He is not here: for he is risen, . . ." (Matt. 28:5-6.)
And there were two men undetained by space or time, standing on the Mt. of Olives who said, "Ye men of Galilee, . . . this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11.)
Just last century a space messenger came to Joseph Smith, announcing, ". . . that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God . . . that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for [him] to do; . . ." (Joseph Smith 2:33.) In a single night repeated visits and the crossing through space from earth to the abode of God, seemed to be negotiated without limitation of time or space or gravity's pull!
From the center of the universe where the power, the light, the direction, and the intelligence originates, came another messenger announcing himself as the resurrected John the Baptist. Anciently beheaded, now resurrected, he came to restore the keys and powers which he himself had possessed on earth. He was followed by three other messengers, Peter, James, and John, who restored the Melchizedek Priesthood with all its powers and authority.
Divine guards had sped through space to save the life of Abraham on Potiphar's Hill in the land of Ur, to save Daniel and his companions in the lions' den, to save Nephi from the bitterness and bloodthirsty anger of his brothers, to save Isaac from the knife of sacrifice.
Then there were messages so precious so vital, that the Lord himself came. He taught Adam in the Garden of Eden showed Enoch the millions of units in his universe, and trained Moses to lead Israel. He stood on the highway near Damascus and started Paul in his marvelous transformation and ministry.
And then there were the visits of the Father himself, who came to bear witness of his Beloved Son Jesus Christ at the waters of Jordan, on the Mt. of Transfiguration, to the Nephites on soil of the New World. He introduced his Son on these pivotal and vital visits. "Behold, my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name."
And again, in the Sacred Grove in New York State came the Father and the Son in the restoration of great and holy things.
Is man earthbound? Largely so, and temporarily so, yet Enoch and his people were translated from the earth, and the living Christ and angels commuted.
Is there interplanetary conversation? Certainly. Man may speak to God and receive answers from him. Is there association of interplanetary beings? There is no question.
Are planets out in space inhabited by intelligent creatures? Without doubt.
Will radioed messages ever come between planets across limitless space. Certainly, for there have already been coming for 6,000 years, properly decoded, interpreted, and publicized messages of utmost importance to the inhabitants of this earth. Dreams and open vision, like perfected television programs, have come repeatedly. Personal representatives have brought warning messages too numerous times to mention, and it is our testimony to the world that God lives and abides in his heavenly home, and the earth is his footstool, and only one of his numerous creations; that Jesus Christ the Son of that Living God is the Creator, Savior and Redeemer of the people on this earth who will listen and obey; and that these interstellar messages—call them what you will, visions, revelations, television, radio—from the abode of God to man on this earth continue now to come to the living prophet of God among us this day.