Hi from Kolob! Why E.T. might be a Mormon (probably not an Evangelical)

According to some estimates, there are billions of inhabitated planets in the universe, and maybe even tens of billions of “earth-like planets”  in our galaxy alone.

Mormon scriptures are in accord.  We believe that there are unumerable  inhabited planets created by God. In Moses 1:33-39: God tells Moses:

33 And aworlds without number have I bcreated; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the cSon I dcreated them, which is mine eOnly Begotten.

34 And the afirst man of all men have I called bAdam, which is cmany.

35 But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. 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 aknow them.

. . .

38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no aend to my works, neither to my words.

39 For behold, this is my awork and my bglory—to bring to pass the cimmortality and deternal elife of man.

For me these are some of the most intriguing and powerful descriptions of God.  They are at the heart of Mormon ideas of the purpose of life and the relationship between man, God and creation.

When you consider that there are over 100 billion galaxies and tens of billions of earth-like planets in each of those galaxies you are really talking about an unimaginably large number of worlds like ours.

Later in the Pearl of Great price, Abraham sees a vision of the greatest of these worlds: Abraham 3:2-3

2 And I saw the astars, 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;

Evangelicals and others are quick to laugh at references to a planet Kolob. In a recent blog conversation I had with a few Evangelicals and I was told that the Mormon belief in the planet Kolob was simply unbelievable.

I really have no idea what Evangelicals think about extra-terrestrial life aside from these sorts of comments,  but given the scientific evidence of other worlds, the evidence for extra-terrestrial life is far stronger than the evidence for a worldwide flood or any number of biblical accounts.

I do think, however, that christian thought is generally earth-centric.  If no one is saved without knowing about Jesus while alive, it looks like the infinitely vast majority of God’s creation is just out of luck, or out of touch. If traditional Christianity hasn’t been able to effectively penetrate the Indian subcontinent, how can we expect it to penetrate the depths of the Milky-way?

Mormon thought seems to take into account of the cosmological reality a bit better than what I know of Evangelical thought.  Am I wrong?

P.S. here is in an interesting related discussion from Parchment and Pen, an evangelical theology blog.

Pornography, Bankruptcy and Depression

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. . .

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Colossians 2:16-17, 20-23)

I’ve been thinking more about these verses. It’s been said that Utah has the highest rates per capita of internet and cable pornography, bankruptcy and use of psychotropic medication. I know that the LDS church is at least aware of the pornography problem and is trying to deal with it. The one time I visited a Priesthood session, the lesson was all about avoiding pornography. The discussion among the men then focused on how it was the “world’s” problem that we had to protect our children from. I know enough about pornography use in Evangelical churches to know that this was a lot of hot air to distract from the substance of the lesson (probably 4 out of 10 men in that class had looked up internet pornography within that week).

The problem with pornography and financial irresponsibility is that they are private or secret sins. They’re not the kind of things you can tell about a person by their public behavior. Usually you don’t know until a person becomes severely addicted to either one. It actually makes a lot of sense to me that a church that has such a huge focus on outward behavior over all else would find itself with an epidemic with pornography and bankruptcy. As Paul states regulations have an appearance of wisdom but they lack any real value in restraining sensual indulgences. Regulations get people to do the right thing when they are being watched, but when they’re alone they don’t have the character to exhibit integrity (doing the right thing when no one is watching).

Depression is by no means a sin, but it’s not the kind of thing we want our faith to produce. It’s a complex and highly personal problem. But in my experience one of the things that exacerbates depression is living a duplicitous life. Acting one way in public but feeling another way on the inside. Without the ability to be authentic, to admit that you aren’t perfect and are in sin, while being required to pretend everything is hunky-dory you can expect to find yourself in need of prozac at some point.

I’m more than happy to attend church with sinners. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of church I want to be a part of, a place where people openly can confess their sin and seek help and encouragement. Where grace and mercy are the response rather than judgment and condemnation. Their may be less “righteousness” expressed by the congregation but there will be far greater emotional health (and lets be honest every church is full of nothing but sinners).

If you think I’m just getting after Mormons on this one, you need to read a little bit more about my background here.