Saturday, July 7, 2007

Quakers on the Moon

This is one of my favorite stories from the early days of the Mormon Church.

People dressed like Quakers living on the moon!

    "Nearly all the great discoveries of men in the last half century have, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a Prophet.

    "As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do -- that they live generally to near the age of 1000 years.

    "He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.

    "In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel before I was 21 years of age; that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes."

    (The Young Woman's Journal, published by the Young Ladies' Mutual Improvement Associations of Zion, 1892, vol. 3, pp. 263-64)

According to Oliver Huntington, Joseph said there were people living on the moon, and that Huntington himself would someday teach the gospel to them.

What do Mormons say about this?

Steven Gibson, in his book "One Minute Answers to Anti-Mormon Questions" gives a few explanations. First, he casts doubt on Huntington himself, saying that the record is inaccurate, based on a faulty memory. Possible, certainly, but the same thing could be said of just about anything else Joseph Smith or other church leaders said. Was the First Vision victim to a faulty memory? Perhaps so.

His next explanation: It's acceptable for Joseph to hold beliefs as a man that aren't actually true.

I whole-heartedly agree... and it's one of the main reasons for doubting the LDS Church and the Book of Mormon in the first place.

His last explanation:
Another aspect of the matter needs to be considered. At the present time, man has no scientific or revealed knowledge of whether or not there are inhabitants on the earth's moon. The fact that a handful of astronauts didn't see any inhabitants in the tiny area they viewed when they landed on the moon decades ago certainly gives no definitive information, any more than visitors to earth who might land in barren Death Valley would have any idea of the billions of inhabitants elsewhere.

No, I'm not making this up. He actually published that.

The last thing to consider is that the alleged statement from Joseph Smith is consistent with the rest of Mormon theology. In the Pearl of Great Price we learn that God lives near a star named Kolob. The church is based on the idea that multiple worlds without number are inhabited.

Anyway, Brigham Young agreed with Joseph and took it a step further... the sun is inhabited as well:
"Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon?...when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the ignorant of their fellows. So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain."

(Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 271)


Eight Hour Lunch said...

I thought it was Whalers on the Moon. Then again, I've seen a bit too much Futurama.

Tattooed & Atheist (T&A) said...

I forgot about this stuff! Thanks for the laugh!
I guess the Moonanites disappeared like the Nephites and Lamanites!

Carlos said...

I served my mission on the moon. It was the best two years of my life.

Alex said...

1 Corinthians 15:40-42

Cesium said...

Weird. How do LDS people overlook these things? There must be some weird psychological thing that makes people want to suspend criticism.