There are 8 thoughts on “Joseph Smith’s Universe vs. Some Wonders of Chinese Science Fiction”.

  1. Thank you for this article. I thoroughly enjoyed it and sent it to several friends and to my son who love to contemplate and write about these things.

    One question I have, which I don’t know if is in the realm of your experience, is whether the “Big Bang”, as a manifestation of particles emerging from the energy contained in an absolute vacuum, was the result of a cycle of universe expansion that had simply run its course. In other words, a universe like ours expanded until, somewhere, a region of space became an absolute vacuum or singularity. From that singularity exploded a whole new universe that will repeat the cycle, resulting in endless universes and endless space and time. This seems, to me, to fit Joseph Smith’s cosmology of a God who creates eternally with no beginning and no end.

  2. The utility of illustrations of gospel truths drawn upon “ancillary disciplines” that are purely theoretical are unavoidably specious. Such is the case with institutional theories of cosmology. Because any discussion of “Big Bang” and related theories enters the realm of science fiction, any ostensible connection with them to gospel truths are but fantasy.

    In contrast, observation and experimental evidence increasingly mount for the case that electricity, magnetism, and plasma–or light, essentially–dominates the cosmos far more than gravity has been imagined to. With an understanding of the effects of electromagnetic phenomena in the cosmos (contrasting “dark” theories, literally and figuratively), insights into related cosmological gospel truths begin to spark.

    • Particle Man, it sounds like you are advocating the “Electric Universe” (EU) theory. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a theory that denies a great deal of what modern science teaches — relativity, fusion at the core of stars, the Big Bang, the significance of the red shift, etc. Instead of gravity being a dominant force governing the cosmos and driving the fusion inside starts, the Electric Universe theory claims that plasma and electromagnetism is the key factor in the cosmos and that the sun is just a big plasma ball, no fusion required.

      When the theory was proposed over 50 years ago, there were some big gaps in mainstream science that raised legitimate questions, and the EU theory tried to offer new explanations to help fill in those gaps. But those gaps, such as uncertainty over the nature and quantity of neutrinos from the sun, have been nicely filled in since then with strong confirmation for the predictions of mainstream science. Ditto for the reality of relativistic phenomena which are used and need to be used for accurate navigation and timing not just for spacecraft but also for GPS systems. There are still questions about the details, such as what drives sunspots and corona temperatures, but the more we learn, the stronger the mainstream approach becomes. Mainstream science with its fusion, neutrinos, relativity, etc., gives us precise predictions that can be verified. EU simply does not. In fact, it fails in numerous ways.

      The Electric Universe (EU) theory holds that the sun is not driven by fusion at its core, but is a plasma ball whose electromagnetic forces are the key to its behavior and its interactions with the solar system. But that aspect of the theory utterly fails and should take about two minutes to debunk. The fusion model predicts a significant flux of neutrinos coming from the core of the sun. The EU model does not. The fusion model predicts that the photons from the sun should show a smooth spectrum typical of thermal radiation, while the EU model, with the sun more like a big fluorescent light, should have a much different spectrum with numerous share lines, not s smooth curve. Both issues provide strong empirical support for the fusion model and contradict the EU model. See “Testing the Electric Universe” by Brian Koberlein, February 25, 2014. Further details on the neutrino issue are discussed by Brian Koberlein in “Neutrino Rain,” October 6, 2014.

      The EU model disputes relativity and many other aspects of science for which there is growing and detailed empirical support. Good theories make specific predictions that can then be verified. Bad theories fail over and over, and require special patching to try to add on something to explain the contradictory data. Revision of many details of theories is common and does not of itself rule out the merit of a general theory that was incomplete, but when the theory fails to make any meaningful predictions that can later be verified, and when every test becomes a question mark or direct refutation, there’s a problem. The problem here is that the Electric Universe theory is bad science. It’s pseudo-science without an empirical foundation or consistent framework and no explanatory or predictive power. It should be discarded.

      Further resources on this distraction:
      1. Michael Shermer, “The Electric Universe Acid Test,” MichaelShermer.com, Oct. 2015.
      2. Sarah Scoles, “The People Who Believe Electricity Rules the Universe,” Vice.com, Feb. 18 2016.
      3. “The Electric Universe Theory Debunked,” Neutrino Dreaming, Sept. 29, 2011.

      While we Latter-day Saints accept some things that are viewed as ridiculous by many in the mainstream world — real angels, the Resurrection of Christ, a tangible Son and tangible Father, ancient Nephites who wrote on gold plates, and modern revelation to prophets and apostles, to name a few — I believe we have good and growing reasons to accept these things, reasons involving evidences and witnesses and explanatory power that can add to what we learn spiritually and result in further evidences as we learn and explore more, though faith is always required (but not unrewarded). On the other hand, some of the “fringe theories” in science lack these evidences. Things that sound plausible initially become increasingly hopeless over time, in spite of efforts but advocates to keep the theory alive. I think that’s where EU is today. Ironically, when it comes to the physics of the cosos, it is the EU theory which is specious, not the “ancillary disciplines” of mainstream science.

  3. Not on Jeff Lindsay’s excellent article, but on the subject of science fiction, I had made mention some time ago on an apologetics forum of Ursela Le Guin’s science fiction classic “The Left Hand of Darkness.” In the book are the inhabitants of the planet Gethen, who are all of one gender. It still takes two individuals to procreate, but individuals possess the capability to both give birth to — and father — a child, which they do at different stages or cycles of their lives.

    It made me wonder, if gender serves no purpose in the eternities, why does God create us male and female? Why not create us all as the same type of being, like the people of the imaginary Gethen? That way when we pass into our next existence, there are no useless artifacts of being gendered here on earth. As it is, certainly in the Christian ideas many hold today, we pass from this life and remain male and female persons, but for no particular reason.

    Looking at things just from a philosophic perspective, the knowledge that has come through “Joseph Smith’s universe” makes abundant sense: “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

    • I think that’s a legitimate question to raise. If the resurrection means rising with irrelevant gender traits or as genderless beings, what is the point of having gender be such a large aspect of who we are and become in mortality? And what is the point of a genderless God choosing Father as a preferred title? Thanks for the meaningful insight that relates directly to questions raised in this article regarding the motivation for the vast and intricate Creation.

  4. Jeff Lindsay simply amazing. I read a draft of Jeff’s essay and found it fascinating, and thought provoking.

    • Thanks for the kind words! I really enjoyed working on this. China has done a lot to change my way of looking at the world, and now it’s changing the way I look at the cosmos. So much to ponder and learn!

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