The Transitory Nature of Telestial Knowledge

by H. Clay Gorton

Latter-day Digest, Volume 3, Number 3

There are two types of knowledge or truth, different in their source, their nature, their application and their meaning. One is celestial knowledge, which emanates from God the Father and which is made available to men through revelation and inspiration. This knowledge provides the means whereby man may achieve peace and joy in this life and the hope of eternal life in the world to come. It is revealed to prophets in all ages of the world and is confirmed in the hearts of men by the influence of the Holy Ghost. This knowledge is eternal and absolute in its nature. The principles exist independent of men and are of such a nature as not to be discoverable or verifiable in the scientific laboratory. Therefore, they must be accepted by faith, and are confirmed to the believer by the Holy Spirit only after they have been put into practice. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the principal promoter of celestial knowledge, and is the guardian of the covenants and attendant ordinances associated therewith.

The other type of knowledge emanates from the mind of man and comprises the discoveries and inventions of science, the deductions of logic and the development of artistic expression. This knowledge applies to the environment in which we live and is derived from the interaction of the five senses with stimuli from the material world. Since we live in and interact with a telestial environment, it could be called telestial knowledge. It is known in the world as the arts and sciences. The universities are the principal promoters, and together with professional societies, are the principal guardians of telestial, or scientific knowledge.

It is essential for the happiness, well being and ultimate salvation of Latter-day Saints that they clearly distinguish between the two types of knowledge and apply them appropriately in their separate spheres of application. A significant problem arises in that the proponents of telestial knowledge often convey the impression that they are dealing with absolute truth. Where celestial and telestial knowledge overlap, as they do in peripheral areas, the scientific professionals tend to relegate revealed truth to mythology. It is not difficult for LDS students whose testimonies of eternal truth are not yet fully founded to be deceived by the conflicting claims of scientific knowledge and thus begin to question the validity of revealed truth. It may therefore be of value to examine the nature of scientific knowledge with respect to its inherent bounds and limitations.

We may use the most exact sciences, physics and mathematics, as examples, understanding that all scientific knowledge, regardless of the field or specialty, is of the same nature. Each system of scientific thinking begins with and is based on a priori premises, or a set of assumptions that are accepted as given and are not subject to verification or proof. In Euclidean geometry, for instance, the a priori assumptions seem to be logical and are expected to concur with reality. The assumptions are: 1—the shortest distance between two points is a straight line; 2—two parallel lines never cross; and 3—two non-parallel lines cross at one and only one point. It seems hard to argue with any of the assumptions as they appear to fit our notion of reality. Sir Isaac Newton, who founded the basis for the physics of macroscopic bodies and formulated what have come to be called ‘the laws of motion’, based his concepts on Euclidian geometry. It is interesting to consider that Albert Einstein based his general theory of relativity not on Euclidian geometry, but on Riemannian geometry. George Friedrich Riemann (1826-1866) developed a geometry based on different, and conflicting, a priori postulates than those of Euclid. Riemann's conflicting assumptions were: 1—the shortest distance between two points is a curve, and 2—two parallel lines cross at infinity. These assumptions seem a bit strange to our ordinary experience, yet Einstein’s relativity, based on these assumptions, gives more precise correspondence with observed phenomena, particularly at speeds approaching the velocity of light, than does Newtonian physics.

Newton’s laws of physics are also based on a priori postulates. His postulates involve mathematical definitions of mass, time and length. These three concepts appear to be directly related to the senses and to be descriptions of the real world. However, when examined critically, they are all imponderables.

Mass was given by Newton as the proportionality constant between force and acceleration, and has the appearance of being an intrinsic and invariant property of all matter. Einstein, on the other hand, develops mass as a variable property, whose value depends on the velocity of the object with respect to the observer.

In his definition of time, Newton stated, "We conceive true or absolute time, to flow uniformly in an unchangeable course, which alone serves to measure with exactness the changes of all other things." Newton’s concept of an ‘absolute’ time, which assumes a standard clock somewhere in the universe is not confirmable and therefore loses its justification. Georg Joos commented on the subject, "Nevertheless, the fact that Newton was able to formulate a thoroughly adequate foundation for the mechanics of macroscopic bodies by introducing these two concepts, (fixed mass and absolute time) whose difficulties could scarcely have escaped his notice, is to be regarded as an outstanding stroke of genius." (Italics ours.)

The concept of length or the measurement of distance seems straightforward. The accepted procedure is to obtain a stick of standard length and lay it repeatedly end-to-end from point A to point B. The number of multiples of stick length between A and B is said to be the intervening distance. The first problem comes when we try to measure the distance from A to B across a river. Since the stick cannot be held in a fixed position on the water, an alternate method must be used. The standard stick is used to measure the distance between points A and C along the shore, and then by triangulation the distance between A and B on the other side of the river is calculated. The calculations, however, utilize principles of Euclidian geometry, which are based on un-provable a priori assumptions, and therefore can only be stated to be true in terms consistent with those initial assumptions. An additional problem arises when we attempt to measure astronomical distances. One of the accepted techniques of measuring the distance between the earth and stars is to infer the Doppler effect of increase in wave length of light emitted from the star proportional to the speed of recession of the star. This inference is based on the assumption of a uniformly expanding universe such that all celestial bodies are moving away from the earth at a rate proportional to their distance from the earth, in the same manner that ink dots on an inflating balloon all move away from each other at a rate proportional to their distance from one another. At the same time, the concept of an expanding universe comes from the observed increase in the wave length of the red spectral lines of light emitted by hydrogen atoms in the stars. The measurement system is based on the theory of the system being measured!

The concept of an expanding universe presents some interesting philosophical problems. The gravitational force related to all the material in the universe pulls the stars in a direction opposite to the direction of expansion. If there is sufficient matter in the universe, the inward gravitational force will exceed the outward centrifugal force and the receding stars will gradually slow down, stop and then fall back into one another, so that all the matter in the universe will again be concentrated at one point in space. The density and temperature of the matter at that point would be so great that all the matter would explode outward again, creating a subsequent expanding universe.

Recent calculations show that the quantity of matter in the universe is about only one one-hundredth of the amount needed to stop the expansion. So, according to current theory, we have a one-shot universe, forever expanding. The track of the stars in the expanding universe may be traced back to their origin in time to the point at which the universe began with a tremendous explosion. Science promotes this concept as fact, curiously avoiding the question of the status of matter the moment before time zero. Neither concept, that of a forever expanding universe initiated with a big bang at time zero, or a pulsating universe in which all existence is periodically destroyed, can be true because God himself has declared that his creations are timeless, without beginning of days or end of years, and that his course is one eternal round.

There is little doubt that these erroneous theories of an expanding universe will in their turn be relegated to the dust bin of history as they are replaced with new theories more closely approximating reality. In fact, Emil Wolf has recently developed the appropriate mathematics and has proposed a theory of a stable universe in which the red shift is accounted for by an interstellar scattering mechanism rather than by a receding source. Such a concept is certainly more aesthetically appealing than the expanding universe theory.

The entire concept of light, or electromagnetic radiation, is enigmatic. Scientifically, the concept of the velocity of light comes from Maxwell’s equations relating electric and magnetic fields. The proportionality constant in his equation, which has the value of 3x1010 Cm/Sec, has the dimensions of a velocity—distance divided by time—and this value has been taken for the velocity of light. All of the so-called measurements of the speed of light are in reality measurements of the value of the proportionality constant in Maxwell’s equation. The actual speed of light has never been measured, nor indeed can be. In order to measure speed, the time and location of the object must be taken at the start and at the finish of the transit over a given course. Light itself has never been observed. P.W. Bridgeman has stated, "The most elementary examination of what light means in terms of direct experience shows that we never experience light itself, but our experience deals only with things lighted. This fundamental fact is never modified by the most complicated or refined physical experiments that have ever been devised; from the point of view of operations, light means nothing more than things lighted... From the point of view of operations it is meaningless or trivial to ascribe physical reality to light in intermediate space, and light as a thing travelling must be recognized to be a pure invention." (Italics ours) If we take the view that light consists of photons, elementary quantized entities that carry the electromagnetic energy, such photons may indeed be detected. However, they are only detected by complete absorption by the body on which they impinge. Since two measurements on a single entity are required in order to establish its velocity, again the speed of light cannot be said to have been measured, since the photon of light being observed is destroyed by the observation of it. Knowing revealed truth, we should have no trouble with this concept, as light is a celestial phenomenon interacting in a telestial environment, Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space, (D&C 88:12) and as such is forever beyond definition by scientific method.

The conclusion to all these considerations is that a body of knowledge can only be as true as the fundamental postulates on which it is based; and since fundamental postulates are not subject to verification, neither therefore is the body of knowledge. Science cannot say that any body of knowledge is ‘true’, i.e., that it is imbued with an absolute character independent of man and his reasoning process. The word ‘truth’ in science means ‘consistent with itself, repeatable and communicable.’ Truth in religion means knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come. (D&C 93:24) The Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be. (Jacob 4:13) As new and more refined observations and theoretical deductions are brought to light, old theories that have come to be accepted as laws, are gradually replaced by new theories, when the body of confirming experimental evidence becomes preponderant.

If a body of knowledge cannot be said to be absolutely true, how then can it produce the astounding results of modern technology? If the relationships within a body of knowledge are logical and consistent with observation, those relationships may be adequate to predict an extension of observed phenomena. Thus, the body of knowledge may be functional and workable, logical and self consistent; but the theories upon which it is based may be fictional. A case in point is the electromagnetic wave theory of light. Sir Isaac Newton held that light consisted of quantities of small particles that transported optical energy from source to destination. (Interestingly, in such high regard were held the works of Newton that the wave theory of light was held back by about 100 years.) Finally, the evidence for the wave theory was so preponderant that the particle theory was eventually abandoned. The wave theory required the existence of a material substratum throughout the universe to carry the undulations that transport electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and light waves, much as a water wave or sound wave carries mechanical or acoustical energy. Although the substratum itself had never been directly observed, it was given the name of ‘ether.’ James Clerk Maxwell and others developed the mathematics of the electromagnetic theory based on the transport of electromagnetic energy as the undulating wave in the ‘ether’ substratum. This theory was the basis for the development of radio and radar transmission and reception, as well as classical optics. It was later experimentally demonstrated that the underlying ether did not exist. The existence of a universal substratum was disproven. However, the theories based on that fiction are sufficiently workable to continue in use today in radio, television, and many other applications.

Although the exact sciences are touted as being impartial, objective representations of reality, there is nevertheless a high degree of emotionalism and subjectivity associated with ‘scientific belief’ in accepted theories. The delay in accepting the wave theory of light because of attachment to Newton’s particle theory is one example. In fact, because of this emotionalism, the universities and scientific societies have continued to play significant roles in impeding the advancement of scientific knowledge. It seems that they step on the accelerator with one foot and on the brake with the other. Scientific advances are encouraged, promoted and fostered when the advances are extensions of the present body of accepted scientific knowledge. However, the challenge of fundamental concepts and basic premises is met with fierce resistance, particularly if the challenger is not a member of ‘the club’ with accepted academic credentials in the particular discipline in question.

To support what may appear to be a heretical accusation against the sacred scientific establishment, we cite the case of Immanuel Velikovsky. Dr. Velikovsky was born in Vitebsk, Russia, in 1895. He studied in France, in Palestine and in Edinburgh, Scotland. When his pre-medical studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, he enrolled in the Free University in Moscow and there studied law and ancient history. He received a medical diploma from the University of Moscow in 1921. He later received psychiatric training in Europe and practiced psychoanalysis in Haifa and Tel Aviv. He was also versed in several ancient languages. Studying the Egyptology of biblical times, he became aware of a 500+ year discrepancy in conventional dating of certain events in ancient Egypt. Applying the 500 year correction, he was able to correlate the Egyptian account of plagues in Egypt with Bible chronology. To pursue his research he moved from Israel to New York in 1939. His research led him to propound a cataclysmic theory for the history of the earth; a view that, interesting enough, was generally held in the orthodox school of earth sciences until the middle of the nineteenth century. The cataclysmic theory holds that the present condition of the earth has resulted from sudden, tumultuous events of world proportion, such as a universal flood, near misses by astronomical bodies that caused great tidal waves, meteoric impact, cataclysmic volcanic action, and other disruptions, and that such disturbances have occurred in relatively recent geological times. The presently-accepted benign theory of the earth’s history, known as ‘uniformitarianism,’ on the other hand, holds that the present condition of the earth has resulted from imperceptibly slow changes occasioned by the forces now at work, such as wind and water erosion and gradual changes in topology resulting from continental drift. Dr. Velikovsky investigated the effects of astronomical and geological phenomena and the chronology of related events as evidenced by the intellectual remains of earlier cultures, including written descriptions of physical phenomena, archaeological evidence, mythology, legends and epic poetry. He held that such accounts had their basis in fact rather than fancy, and because of his psychiatric training and understanding of ancient languages, was eminently qualified to evaluate such information. He prepared his findings in the three areas of evidence—astronomy, geology and chronology—in three manuscripts, which he titled "Worlds in Collision," "Earth in Upheaval" and "Ages in Chaos."

The first volume prepared was Worlds in Collision, which he submitted to the MacMillan Publishing Co. MacMillan submitted the manuscript to professionals in astronomy for review. The review, of course, was hostile and the book was not recommended for publication. MacMillan nevertheless published the book in 1950. However, the scientific community was incensed at the effrontery of a non-astronomer attacking fundamental concepts of astronomy, and prominent scientists, led by a leading astronomer of the time, Harlow Shapley, then director of the Harvard College Observatory, threatened to boycott MacMillan’s textbook division if they would not cease publication. Shapley, as well as a number of the other critics, by the way, had never read the manuscript, but formed their opinions of the work from the popular press and the critique of others. Although the book topped the best-seller lists of the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune for twenty successive weeks in 1950, MacMillan caved in to the pressure and sold the publication rights to Doubleday, which did not have a textbook division. Seminars were held to present findings condemning Velikovsky’s thesis, but Velikovsky was never permitted to rebut either at seminars or in the technical journals. Prominent members of the scientific community became defensive and emotional when the fundamentals of their belief system were challenged.

In spite of the lack of credibility given to Dr. Velikovsky, his surprising discoveries and predictions were later verified by experimentation and observation. Professor H.H. Hess, who at the time was Chairman of the Space Board of the National Academy of Science, wrote to Dr. Velikovsky; "Some of these predictions were said to be impossible when you made them; all of them were predicted long before proof that they were correct came to hand. Conversely, I do not know of any specific prediction you made that has since proven to be false." Nevertheless, as late as 1977 Dr. Velikovsky was labeled a scientific heretic in a collection of papers by eminent scientists.

The underlying emotions of those holding the majority scientific view today has not really changed from the time of Galileo, who had the audacity to challenge the geocentric theory of the universe. So it is understandable, more from an emotional view than an intellectual view, that in those areas where religion and science tend to overlap, religion is relegated to mythology. Among the biblical accounts that are not given scientific credence are the advent of man on earth approximately 6000 years ago; the universal flood in the days of Noah; the dividing of the earth in the days of Peleg; the parting of the Red Sea and other miracles in the days of Moses; the detention of the sun and fire raining down from heaven in the days of Joshua.

But what about the preponderance of scientific evidence for the existence of homosapiens since ancient geological times? The anthropologists, paleontologists and geologists date prehistoric and geologic time by numbers of techniques including sedimentation and salination rates in the oceans, the temporal hierarchy of complexity of life forms, carbon dating, etc. All of these methods presuppose a benign history of the earth, with erosion rate processes and atmospheric content approximately as they are today. Apart from objections to these premises proposed by the cataclysmic theory of the earth’s history, there is yet another overriding fact that negates in their entirety all of the premises of a gradual continuation of natural processes in a stable environment for geologic periods of time. President Brigham Young declared in 1874 "This earth is our home, it was framed expressly for the habitation of those who are faithful to God and who prove themselves worthy to inherit the earth when the Lord shall have sanctified, purified and glorified it and brought it back into His presence, from which it fell far into space . . . When the earth was framed and brought into existence and man was placed upon it, (italics ours) it was near the throne of our Father in heaven. And when man fell . . . the earth fell into space and took up its abode in this planetary system." Interestingly enough, two British scientists, R.A. Lyttleton and W.H. McCrea arrived independently in 1960 at the conclusion that the small inner planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars—could not have been formed, as were the outer planets, from congregations of matter in the solar vicinity. They were of the opinion that the inner planets must have originated from disruptions of the planet, Jupiter. The earth, as well as Venus according to Dr. Velikovsky, is a relative newcomer to the solar system. Nothing can be said scientifically about prior forces, rates, or conditions of any kind, when nothing is scientifically knowable of the history of the earth prior to its advent in the solar system approximately 4000 BC. Truly did Paul declare, For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. 1 Cor. 3:19.

It is curious to consider that science has adopted the methodology of religion, yet demands of religion the methodology of science. Eminent scientists have acquired the status of prophets: their pronouncements are often taken on faith, without the requirement of independent verification by every novice. The majority-held theory is often held with such an emotional attachment that those with conflicting opinions are branded as heretics. At the same time, science demands scientific methodology of religion. By virtue of the nature of its discipline, science accepts nothing on faith, and retains a reasonable doubt until religious concepts are proven by preponderate evidence.

The most global limitation of scientific knowledge, which must be understood by LDS students, is that it pertains to a telestial order of kingdoms, and will apply at best only in part to terrestrial kingdoms, and, one would imagine, essentially not at all in celestial kingdoms. To attempt to judge the validity of revealed truth by the light of scientific knowledge, demonstrates the greatest degree of naiveté. Since scientific knowledge is an expression of the environment in which we live, it has no interface with terrestrial or celestial environments, and therefore is not in a position to comment on, and certainly not in a position to deny, revealed truth. Where conflict between revealed truth and scientific knowledge exists, it would be prudent to hold the scientific knowledge in abeyance pending further development and discovery.

Not much has been revealed about environmental conditions in the other realms of glory, but enough has been revealed to verify that telestial knowledge will have limited application at best even in a terrestrial environment. To continue first with the analogy of physics, the concept of time as a fundamental postulate is an essential ingredient in all the physical sciences. How, then, could our physics apply in a terrestrial environment where the concept of time does not exist? At the beginning of the millennium when the earth shall be returned to its paradisiacal or terrestrial glory, and after the six angelic revelations of the secret acts of men and the mighty works of God in each of the six thousand years of the earth’s temporal existence, a seventh angel shall stand forth and swear in the name of the Lord that there shall be time no longer. (D&C 88:110)

But time is not the only threatened postulate of telestial physics. At that epoch when the earth shall pass away and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth, there will be fundamental changes in either the concept of mass or in the manner in which material bodies attract each other, which we now define as gravitational force. John, the author of Revelations, cites the New Jerusalem descending out of heaven. The dimensions of this city are astounding. The city is described as being in the shape of a cube, the length, width and height of the city each being 12,000 furlongs or 1,400 miles in length! (John 21:16) In a telestial environment a structure on the earth’s surface 1,400 miles high, or nearly one sixth the diameter of the earth, cannot even be imagined.

Telestial physics holds that no signal can be propagated and that no velocity can exceed the velocity of light, which has been pronounced to be 3X1010Cm/Sec or 186,000 miles per second. Thought transfer in the form of prayer, and the answer to prayer, has no restriction of speed of transmission. Angelic visitors to the earth, who come from the presence of God, (Mosiah 27:15) are not limited in their transport to something less than the velocity of light. Parley P. Pratt wrote,

"Angels are ministers, both to men upon the earth, and to the world of spirits. They pass from one world to another with more ease, and in less time than we pass from one city to another. They have not a single attribute which man has not. But their attributes are more matured, or more developed, than the attributes of men in this present sphere of existence."

In a terrestrial environment, which was the environment of the earth prior to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and will again so be during the millennium, plant physiology will be fundamentally different from that in a telestial environment. Under telestial conditions, plants beneficial to man— grains, vegetables, fruits—do not flourish spontaneously. Thorns and thistles, weeds, flourish spontaneously. In a terrestrial environment, on the other hand, "every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food," flourishes spontaneously. One would assume that weeds, in order to flourish in a terrestrial environment, would have to be cultivated.

When the earth is transformed from a telestial to a terrestrial environment, there will be changes in the physiology and temperament of the animal kingdom, as well. Carnivorous animals will become herbivorous—"The lion shall eat straw like the ox." The animosity characteristic of carnivores will cease. Isaiah speaks of the benign association of the leopard and the kid, the calf and lion, the cow and bear, infants and venomous snakes.

Science treats the earth as an inanimate sphere, an accumulation of elements and compounds acted upon and responding to the forces of gravitation and radiation, and therefore, in principle at least, completely predictable by scientific methods. How accurate can science be considering the earth as inanimate when in reality it is a living organism with volition to act upon its environment and to obey or disobey eternal law? Elder John A. Widstoe wrote,

"Whether the references in sacred writ concerning the pre-existence of all life, plant and animal, justify the belief that individuality is preserved even in the lower orders of creation, must remain, until further light is obtained, a matter of personal opinion. The wording of the above quotations from the Pearl of Great Price seems to imply the pre-existence of individual life everywhere. Certainly, the earth on which we live is an imperishable, living organism." (Italics ours)

How should our telestial science apply in a celestial kingdom? Joseph Smith spoke of the entrance gate, "which was like unto circling flames of fire," and also "the blazing throne of God." (DHC 2:380-381, Jan. 21, 1836) The celestialized earth, which will be the habitation of those who maintain integrity to the faith, will be not a planet revolving around a sun as it now does, but it will be a star. It will shine with its own light, and will have been moved from the solar system to a location near the residence of God. President Joseph Fielding Smith stated that

"This earth is destined to become the everlasting residence of its inhabitants who gain the glory of the celestial kingdom. It shall become in that day like the throne of God and shall shine forth with all the splendor and brightness of celestial glory in its eternal, sanctified and glorious state."

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote,

"Here, then is eternal life... [to be] able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power." (Italics ours)

And Brigham Young remarked,

"If the heavenly hosts were not one, they would be entirely unfit to dwell in the eternal burnings with the Father and Ruler of the universe." (Italics ours)

The science that is all but worshipped in the world today is totally unequipped to deal with life and its environment in celestial kingdoms. Consider only one topic, that of music. Elder Bruce R. McConkie recorded the following: "Good music is eternal. Angelic choirs brightened the pre-existent heavens with their hymns of praise. Who can conceive of the heavenly melodies heard in the courts above, ‘When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?’... And what saint is there who does not look forward to the day when his ‘immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God’?" We understand music’s melodic and harmonic vibrations of the air impinging on the ear drum, creating the sensation of sound. The human ear is sensitive to vibration frequencies from a few tens to a few ten thousand vibrations per second. The richness of the sound we hear is produced by combinations of frequencies in this rather narrow audible range. But what about sound in the pre-existent heavens, or in the post-mortal spirit world? One would not consider that either pre-mortal or post-mortal spirits would be constrained to existence within an atmosphere similar to our telestial earth. Certainly such an atmosphere would not exist in the eternal burnings of a celestial world. What then would be sound without an atmosphere? Perhaps the auditory organs of spirits are sensitive to electromagnetic vibrations (light) rather than to vibrations of the material atmosphere. Were such the case, could one begin to imagine the range of pitch or the combinations of harmonics that could be sensed and appreciated? Such music would be beyond our imagination.

What then should be the position of the LDS scholar with respect to telestial knowledge? In the very beginning God ordered man to subdue the earth and gain dominion over it. (Gen 1:28) In our day, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith,

Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms— That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you. (D&C88:78-80)

Therefore, we are to acquire telestial knowledge, to gain understanding of the order of telestial kingdoms, to use the elements and the environment that the Lord has placed at our disposal for the blessing and benefit of ourselves, our families and of all mankind. Brigham Young related,

"Every good and perfect gift cometh from God. Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. It has been given with a view to prepare the way for the ultimate triumph of truth, and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan. We should take advantage of all these great discoveries, the accumulated wisdom of ages, and give to our children the benefit of every branch of useful knowledge, to prepare them to step forward and efficiently do their part in the great work."

The danger, which is fostered by the academician’s promotion of telestial knowledge as absolute truth, is that we may tend to apply telestial knowledge to the judgment of revealed truth. Some would bolster their case by citing D&C 130:19, And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. The advantageous knowledge and intelligence is that related to the eternal salvation of man, and has nothing to do with telestial knowledge. The simplest unschooled person, if he understands the laws pertaining to righteous living, if he understands and obeys the covenants essential for salvation, will be light years ahead in the world to come of the most erudite sophisticate in the ways of the world who does not understand nor accept the knowledge of God and the laws of the gospel. President John Taylor, then a member of the Council of the Twelve, said it well in the following declaration:

"Man, by philosophy and the exercise of his natural intelligence, may gain an understanding, to some extent, of the laws of Nature. But to comprehend God, heavenly wisdom and intelligence are necessary. Earthly and heavenly philosophy are two different things, and it is folly for men to base their arguments upon earthly philosophy in trying to unravel the mysteries of the kingdom of God."

Something of celestial knowledge, or absolute truth, has been revealed by God to man; however, only that portion essential for man’s progress through mortality on the path of exaltation. For the most part this celestial knowledge has to do with man’s relationship with God and with his fellow man. This is the knowledge which emanates from God the Father and which is made available to men through revelation and inspiration. This is the knowledge that is eternal and absolute in its nature, whose principles exist independent of men and are of such a nature as not to be discoverable or verifiable in the scientific laboratory. Through righteous living, embodying an implicit faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world and the Redeemer of mankind, through seeking after righteousness and the things of the Spirit, this higher knowledge may be revealed to man. In the words of Alma,

It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:9-11)


1. Colin Maclaurin, An Account of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophical Discoveries, London, 1748, pp 100-101.

2. Georg Joos, Theoretical Physics, Hafner Publ. Co., New York 1950, p 227.

3. Emil Wolf, "Correlation-Induced Doppler-Like Frequency Shifts of Spectral Lines", Physical Review Letters, 63, 20, 13 Nov 1989, pp 2220-2223.

4. P.W. Bridgeman, The Logic of Modern Physics, The MacMillan Company, 1927, p 151.

5. Ralph E. Juergens, "Minds in Chaos: A Recital of the Velikovsky Story," The American Behavioral Scientist, pp 4-18, Sept. 1963.

6. Scientists Confront Velikovsky, Edited by Donald Goldsmith, Cornell University Press, 1977

7. Eric Larrabee, "Scientists in Collision: Was Velikovsky Right?", Harper's Magazine, pp 48-55, Aug. 1963.

8. Immanuel Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, Chapters 1-10, Doubleday, 1950

9. H. Clay Gorton, "There Shall Be Time No Longer," Latter-day Digest, Vol. 2, Num. 4, 1993, pp 48-61.

10. Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, pp 113-114.

11. John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p 157.

12. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 17:143, 19 Jul, 1874.

13. Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p 351.

14. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p 321.

15. Discourses of Brigham Young, p 282

16. op cit, pp 18-19.

17. John Taylor, Deseret Weekly, 30 Mar. 1870, p 92.