If you decide to venture onto the temple grounds and cast your eyes up its lofty spires and battlements, the castle-like exterior will reveal a host of astronomical markings: sunstones, moonstones, Earth stones, and even Saturn stones adorn its granite face. The seven stone stars are positioned so Dubhe and Merak, the two end stars of the cup, align toward Polaris, the North Star, just as they do in the night sky—an elegant tethering of Earth to heaven. The architect of the temple, Truman O. Angell, said he included the Big Dipper to remind Mormons that the lost might find their way by the aid of the priesthood, the power of God given to men to do his work. When I was a teen, my exclusion from this priesthood—as a female—did not consciously bother me.
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If you decide to venture onto the temple grounds and cast your eyes up its lofty spires and battlements, the castle-like exterior will reveal a host of astronomical markings: sunstones, moonstones, Earth stones, and even Saturn stones adorn its granite face. The seven stone stars are positioned so Dubhe and Merak, the two end stars of the cup, align toward Polaris, the North Star, just as they do in the night sky—an elegant tethering of Earth to heaven. The architect of the temple, Truman O. Angell, said he included the Big Dipper to remind Mormons that the lost might find their way by the aid of the priesthood, the power of God given to men to do his work.
When I was a teen, my exclusion from this priesthood—as a female—did not consciously bother me. But I did long for knowledge, for understanding, and yes, even for power: the power to heal the sick, to baptize the living, to raise the dead. Before they go on full-time church missions or marry in the temple, Mormons are expected to attend a ceremony called the Endowment, where they receive additional spiritual instruction and make covenants with God.
Nibley taught at Brigham Young University and was highly respected in Mormon circles as a scholar of ancient cultures and as a prolific—if esoteric—apologist for Mormonism.
In Temple and Cosmos , I learned that templum originally referred to any consecrated space. A Roman augur, or prophet, would find an open space and, with his staff, scratch an encircled cross into the ground, the urbs quadrata.
With this earthy compass, the prophet could establish the precise direction in which prophetic birds flew.
Nibley saw this practice as a parallel for modern temple worship, and I was enchanted with the idea. Brigham Young, second prophet of the Mormon Church after Joseph Smith, also knew a thing or two about coordinates.
An inspired planner, he oriented entire cities around the Salt Lake Temple. One block north of the temple was North, one block east East, and so on. I always knew how far away the temple was. My home in Sandy, Utah, was about 11 blocks east and blocks south, at the foot of Lone Peak. Looking westward across the valley, I could see the Jordan River Temple, the temple where eventually I would promise to give myself to my husband and he would promise to receive me.
At night the white glow from its one massive spire acted as a beacon of peace and hope—and a literal beacon for airplanes flying toward the Salt Lake airport. My best friend, Brent, lived up the street. On Sundays, he made the clock tick a little faster and the hard beige chair seem a little softer as we talked and laughed—quietly—and on weekday mornings he forced me to listen to Counting Crows and Third Eye Blind as we drove to high school.
We competed fiercely for the top grades in our classes, and he usually beat me. But who wanted to talk cosmetics when you could talk about the cosmos? What are boys to black holes? If only God could tell me what lay beyond the event horizon!
How long would it take before I proved myself worthy? I wrote page after page—hundreds of pages—in my scripture journals. I often copied scriptures like the monks of old, as if doing so would cause new meaning to spring from the words. But privately, as Mark Twain once wrote in a letter, I yelped astronomy like a sun dog and pawed Ursa Major and other constellations. My neighborhood seemed small for my ambitions, and I began to chafe under rigid gender expectations.
Still, science conveniently seemed to confirm many of my religious beliefs. He knew how to manipulate surface tension. If he wanted to, he could walk through walls by rearranging the empty space in atoms. The first planet I would create, I decided one Sunday, would have variable gravity so I could hike up the highest mountain, throw myself off the top, and float gently back to the ground. It was a promise extended to anyone willing to come unto Christ—even women and after anyone of any skin color.
Science and religion went hand in hand in many other ways. Neither did Mormons object to a universe filled with increasing disorder, as defined by the second law of thermodynamics, which says that any ordered system tends to dissolve into chaos over time. God was the Creator, but he had to live by his own laws, too, so the idea of science opposing our religion seemed laughable. The Book of Mormon itself contained multiple warnings for those who questioned God and demanded proof of gospel truths.
In one epic confrontation, Korihor, an anti-Christ, goads the prophet Alma:. And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words. But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets?
The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. Alma — Any argument against the existence of God meant that someone was looking for trouble and an excuse to sin. Doubt was the foil of faith, sent from the devil to weaken and confuse us. The lesson is clear: those who doubt, look out.
But I had few doubts in those days. Too few, I think, which made my eventual disillusionment even more painful. When my faith was challenged with new scientific information—new for me, anyway—Mormonism acted like the semipermeable membrane of a cell: the new information was either allowed to pass and assimilate into my worldview, or it was rejected as untrue and banned from being investigated further.
The theory of human evolution? Yes, it could enter, albeit with trouble, since the Church had no official position on evolution but still culturally claimed white-skinned Adam and Eve as the first common ancestors of all humans.
And what about the assertion that homosexuality occurs naturally in humans and is not inherently evil? No, not a chance; the leaders had made themselves clear on that point, although they have recently softened this stance in the wake of so many teen suicides.
Such a label could easily be applied to people in other religions, too. One day, outside a Christian convention downtown, someone handed me a pamphlet. On this particular pamphlet was an image of Jesus, his eyes replaced by flames, and beneath it was the word sinner.
I did not recognize this angry Jesus. Why should this fire-eyed god be upset with me if I were trying my best to follow his teachings?
In church movies, Jesus sat and laughed with children and coaxed large monarch butterflies to land on his shoulder. The only time my Jekyll Jesus went Hyde was when people started commercializing his temple. In the summer of , just before my senior year of high school, the Utah Transit Authority had almost finished building a second light-rail line, the Red Line, out to the University of Utah.
A good bus route was still in place, however. I suspect he was more amused than convinced, but he hired me on the spot. Day one, on the conference room whiteboard, he began an overview of the project and my assignment.
I struggled to keep up, but I was filled with awe. These were the mysteries of the universe, unfolding before me! I was at the forefront of astrophysics research! The manager gave me a place in the Undergraduate Slum, a largish cubicle with a scattering of computers, programming books, half-empty coffee cups, and half-groggy interns.
My task? Create a set of computer programs that would convert one geodetic, or Earth-based, coordinate system to another. The end goal of Geolib, as we called the program, was to help full-time cosmic ray researchers more easily use our data to determine where ultra-high-energy cosmic rays came from. Here was my big chance to connect heaven and Earth through the scientific templum. Stan, my direct supervisor, took me outside later that day with a surveying unit, a plumb bob, and a GPS device.
In geodesy and cartography, he told me, a fixed reference point is called a datum. I squinted at him in the bright sun, trying to squint knowingly. Azimuth and elevation; an east, north, up vector system; GPS coordinates; an XYZ coordinate system with an origin placed anywhere you wanted, augur-style—these were all geodetic datums I had to connect mathematically in my conversion program. Stan reached up to readjust his giant tinted glasses.
Creating Geolib was not easy, but I did it. In my brown notebook, I drew many oblate ellipsoids skewered by various sets of axis lines without fully understanding what I was seeing. I actually used the trigonometry and pre-calculus I had learned in school.
I tried to imagine what the Earth would look like as a geoid—a more accurate model of our bumpy, uneven planet—so we could measure surface elevations more precisely. I fell asleep on my keyboard trying to learn how to create an array of pointers in the C programming language. I ate an obscene number of Nutty Buddy bars. I asked the other undergraduates for help with partial differential equations and was frustrated by my inability to understand the math.
His desk was overflowing, mad scientist-like, with papers, folders, mugs with various levels of dark liquid, multiple computers, and assorted gizmos and gadgets, including a high-tech laser photometer. It turned out that Stan was technically one of those ex-Mormons I had been taught to fear, but he was not like any kind of anti-Christ Korihor I had pictured: Stan had refused to attend church at the ripe old age of eight, when he felt pressured to proclaim in front of the entire congregation that he knew the Church was true.
I talked about how God sends powerful experiences and feelings to those who ask in faith. This is great missionary experience , I inwardly crowed, spiritually patting myself on the back.
Milk before meat, and all that. He just grinned. Now, get back to work. On my eighteenth birthday, one of my little sisters came clattering down the stairs to tell me that Paul, a boy from my physics class, was at the front door. I had begun to consider that black holes and boys were not mutually exclusive topics of interest after all, and I had developed a crush on him. I still have the book: the pages fall out no matter how lightly I try to turn them. Ingebretsen was part of a cadre of Mormon science lovers who wrote books describing their grand unified theories of science and religion.
These books were never official publications of the Church, but they still pervaded our discourse and occupied hallowed spaces on our bookshelves. It took science over 3, years and the superb intellect of Einstein to re-discover what Abraham knew.
“Shuddering Before the Beautiful”: Trains of Thought Across the Mormon Cosmos
Brigham Young was ordained an Apostle on Feb 14, at the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, under the hands of the three witnesses. This ordination was then confirmed by the laying on of hands by the First Presidency of the Church. Later he became president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held that office for nearly thirty years, which is a longer period than that of any other church president. Reports, synopses and reviews of over of his talks are on record by comparison, the Journal of Discourses contains of these talks.
Science & Religion
Sessions and Craig J. Chapter 1. Many Latter-day Saints have become suspicious of science and consider a number of currently accepted scientific theories irreconcilably at odds with the teachings of the faith. Compounding this difficulty is the fact that the scientific aspects of Mormon theology have not been thoroughly studied, especially in the last few decades during which a virtual explosion of scientific knowledge has occurred. Nearly thirty years ago Mormon philosopher Sterling McMurrin lamented that no one had yet seriously attempted to place Mormon theology on a scientifically rigorous and philosophically acceptable foundation. Many recent developments of modern science have significant implications for LDS theology. Crucial to this theory was the development during the late nineteenth century of a highly accurate method for measuring the speed of light.
A Strange Thing in the Land:
Noldoaran , Dec 5, UTC. Joseph Smith, Jr. This doctrine was that the Grand Council of the Gods was the meaning of the word Eloheim. Which, while technically correct, is much less specific than Joseph Smith's more elaborate discourses on the subject. Some of Joseph Smith's material on this matter should rightly be incorporated in this article somehow.
The purpose of these articles is 1 to call attention to some of the long-ignored aspects of the Joseph Smith account of Enoch in the book of Moses and in the Inspired Version of Genesis and 2 to provide at the same time some of the evidence that establishes the authenticity of that remarkable text. Contemporary learning offered few checks to the imagination of Joseph Smith; the enthusiasm of his followers presented none. Yet, though free to roam at will over a boundless plain, the Prophet never once in his account of Enoch strays from the narrow and exacting path that later Enoch texts have so clearly marked. To present and discuss all the ancient parallels to the Joseph Smith Enoch would require a work of immense scope, but such is not necessary for our purpose. Many important questions, such as the real age of the Enoch tradition, how the various texts are related, their relevance to modern life, etc. For the present the message and the bona fides of the Joseph Smith account of Enoch are our sole concern.