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Pa Pa

“Yonder Is Matter Unorganized”; Why Joseph Was A Visionary.

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The doctors of religion in Joseph Smith’s day all believed (or taught) Ex nihilo creation. Also the six “days” to create all things. Joseph taught that matter has always existed, that it must be “organized”, also in scripture revealed by him that God was bound by his own laws, or that these laws were eternal.

As science has progressed we know that the earth is millions of years old and that it took millions of years to be “organized” from already existing matter that is billions of years old. The (our) universe did begin with a sudden “big bang” (if you will) but this type of “fusion” would require existing atoms to create. Then when God created man he did so (once again) with existing matter. He did not simply speak man into existence but formed man from the dust of the earth…”For dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return”.

Even as the world has moved to a more scientific view of how the earth came to be, most faiths still see what Joseph knew as heresy.

Does this make him a Prophet, a visionary or just observant? Or does it make him all three?

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The doctors of religion in Joseph Smith’s day all believed (or taught) Ex nihilo creation. Also the six “days” to create all things. Joseph taught that matter has always existed, that it must be “organized”, also in scripture revealed by him that God was bound by his own laws, or that these laws were eternal.

As science has progressed we know that the earth is millions of years old and that it took millions of years to be “organized” from already existing matter that is billions of years old. The (our) universe did begin with a sudden “big bang” (if you will) but this type of “fusion” would require existing atoms to create. Then when God created man he did so (once again) with existing matter. He did not simply speak man into existence but formed man from the dust of the earth…”For dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return”.

Even as the world has moved to a more scientific view of how the earth came to be, most faiths still see what Joseph knew as heresy.

Does this make him a Prophet, a visionary or just observant? Or does it make him all three?

All three, I say.

Was he the only religious leader at the time who was teaching the idea of matter being organized rather than created ex nihilo?

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All three, I say.

Was he the only religious leader at the time who was teaching the idea of matter being organized rather than created ex nihilo?

This is where I was hoping others could help expand my comments. Did he have others in his day...don't know. I am sure men of science were, not sure about other church leaders of other faiths.

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Many religious teachers before Joseph Smith denied creation ex nihilo. An excellent example, and one that is quite relevant in this context, is Emanuel Swedenborg. "Swedenborg unequivocally denies creation ex nihilo" (Emanuel Swedenborg, Divine Love and Wisdom, trans. George F. Dole, intro. Gregory R. Johnson (Swedenborg Foundation, 2003), 27 (see there for direct quotations from the book). This is not the only similarity between Swedenborg's doctrine and Joseph's Smith's. Here are some additional similarities I have noted:

  • There are three heavens likened to the sun, moon, and stars; the highest of these heavens is the celestial heaven.
  • The celestial kingdom itself has three divisions.
  • Marriage in or for heaven is necessary to attain life in the celestial heaven.
  • Priestly robes are worn in the marriage for heavenly life.
  • The world depends on a balance or equilibrium between opposing forces (spiritual—physical, good—evil).
  • God is (a) man; all angels and humans are created in the image of his divine likeness.Physical things in this world correspond in some way to spiritual realities.

I don't claim that Joseph got these ideas directly from Swedenborg or even from Swedenborgians, though that is possible. I do think, however, that the evidence shows that such ideas were floating around in Joseph's culture and he could have picked them up in any number of ways. He didn't need to read Swedenborg to be dependent on him or others, indirectly, for these ideas. I also don't claim that there is no difference between Joseph Smith's and Swedenborg's doctrines. They obviously differed on many things.

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Prophetic knowledge isn't created ex nihilo either. If Joseph was privy to the Swedenborgians teachings while he was busy being chased from state to state with his people... He still knew the difference between a popular and widely believed untruth and a rare eternal truth.

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DaddyG,

You wrote:

Prophetic knowledge isn't created ex nihilo either. If Joseph was privy to the Swedenborgians teachings while he was busy being chased from state to state with his people... He still knew the difference between a popular and widely believed untruth and a rare eternal truth.

I was responding to Pa Pa's statement, "The doctors of religion in Joseph Smith’s day all believed (or taught) Ex nihilo creation," which he later qualified by saying that he didn't know if any of them taught otherwise. The fact that a great deal of Joseph Smith's "restoration" appears to have been drawn from the smorgasbord of religious ideas popular in the early nineteenth century at least raises some legitimate questions about his claim to have restored the true church and full gospel.

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Any restoration would appear to be drawn from a smorgasbord of religious ideas given those ideas came from a common source. I'm just keeping Josephs critics honest.

I'm sure there have been those with legitimate questions for Christ and all of His prophets from the beginning. All the more reason for seeking personal revelation in these matters.

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The fact that a great deal of Joseph Smith's "restoration" appears to have been drawn from the smorgasbord of religious ideas popular in the early nineteenth century at least raises some legitimate questions about his claim to have restored the true church and full gospel.

Bowman, you do have a way of over stating things.

You made this assertion without providing any evidence to back it up. That means that all I need to do to answer this criticism adequately is simply to deny it. I deny it.

Edited by Vance
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The fact that a great deal of mormon focused "ministries" appear to have been drawn from the smorgasbord of anti-mormon ideas popular in the early nineteenth century at least raises some legitimate questions about the claim to have scholarly knowledge about the Latter-day Saints.

...all I can say is that Joseph must have had one heck of a library to have drawn on during his early years. Perahps he was granted a celestial Iphone and had access to Google?

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By assimilating a great deal of the popular ideas of his time, you would have thought he would have been more popular than he was.

You made this assertion without providing any evidence to back it up. That means that all I need to do to answer this criticism adequately is simply to deny it. I deny it.

Edited by Vance
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...all I can say is that Joseph must have had one heck of a library to have drawn on during his early years. Perahps he was granted a celestial Iphone and had access to Google?

Maybe not a heck of a library, but a library. Hasn't it been shown that Swedenborg's "Heaven and Hell and Its Wonders" was in Smith's hometown library as early as 1817?

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Maybe not a heck of a library, but a library. Hasn't it been shown that Swedenborg's "Heaven and Hell and Its Wonders" was in Smith's hometown library as early as 1817?

Check their computer and see when he checked it out.

I didn't say he couldn't have know about their ideas. I did say he knew the truth when he heard it- that is the role of a Prophet.

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Many religious teachers before Joseph Smith denied creation ex nihilo. An excellent example, and one that is quite relevant in this context, is Emanuel Swedenborg. "Swedenborg unequivocally denies creation ex nihilo" (Emanuel Swedenborg, Divine Love and Wisdom, trans. George F. Dole, intro. Gregory R. Johnson (Swedenborg Foundation, 2003), 27 (see there for direct quotations from the book). This is not the only similarity between Swedenborg's doctrine and Joseph's Smith's. Here are some additional similarities I have noted:

  • There are three heavens likened to the sun, moon, and stars; the highest of these heavens is the celestial heaven.
  • The celestial kingdom itself has three divisions.
  • Marriage in or for heaven is necessary to attain life in the celestial heaven.
  • Priestly robes are worn in the marriage for heavenly life.
  • The world depends on a balance or equilibrium between opposing forces (spiritual—physical, good—evil).
  • God is (a) man; all angels and humans are created in the image of his divine likeness.Physical things in this world correspond in some way to spiritual realities.

I don't claim that Joseph got these ideas directly from Swedenborg or even from Swedenborgians, though that is possible. I do think, however, that the evidence shows that such ideas were floating around in Joseph's culture and he could have picked them up in any number of ways. He didn't need to read Swedenborg to be dependent on him or others, indirectly, for these ideas. I also don't claim that there is no difference between Joseph Smith's and Swedenborg's doctrines. They obviously differed on many things.

None of this is an issue for Latter-day Saints. We accept that God reveals truths to all people, and I, personally, have no problem believing that Swedenborg had some divine inspiration in developing his theology about heaven.

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By assimilating a great deal of the popular ideas of his time, you would have thought he would have been more popular than he was.

Rob denied you permission to use his quote in your signature line. Please don't repeat it in every reply to him.

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Rob denied you permission to use his quote in your signature line. Please don't repeat it in every reply to him.

It is not in my signature line.

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It is not in my signature line.

Don't try to skirt the rules by using it in every post. That is bad form.

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None of this is an issue for Latter-day Saints. We accept that God reveals truths to all people, and I, personally, have no problem believing that Swedenborg had some divine inspiration in developing his theology about heaven.

Perhaps Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Joseph Fielding Smith should have paid closer attention to Swedenborg. We have instead the following explanation regarding the creation and history of the Earth according to revealed Kolob Cosmology.

President Joseph Fielding Smith stated that in this verse the Lord “revealed to Abraham that
Adam was subject to Kolob’s time before his transgression.”
According to President Brigham Young, Abraham 5:13 [
] also means that before the Fall of Adam, the earth was near the very throne of God. But when the Fall occurred, the earth literally fell or moved from the physical presence of God to its present position in our solar system. When all the effects of the Fall of Adam are finally overcome, the earth will literally move back into the presence of God.
Here are President Young’s words: “When the earth was framed and brought into existence and man was placed upon it, it was near the throne of our Father in heaven. … But when man fell, the earth fell into space, and took up its abode in this planetary system. … This is the glory the earth came from, and when it is glorified it will return again unto the presence of the Father, and it will dwell there, and these intelligent beings that I am looking at, if they live worthy of it, will dwell upon this earth.”

No, I am not kidding. This bit of visionary cosmology is from Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham by way of the Ensign.

http://lds.org/ensig...e-book?lang=eng

Edited by Mariner
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The fact that a great deal of mormon focused "ministries" appear to have been drawn from the smorgasbord of anti-mormon ideas popular in the early nineteenth century at least raises some legitimate questions about the claim to have scholarly knowledge about the Latter-day Saints.

...all I can say is that Joseph must have had one heck of a library to have drawn on during his early years. Perahps he was granted a celestial Iphone and had access to Google?

Bill Hamblin once said that he was working on an intellectual biography of Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith: The Cambridge Years. ;)

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Many religious teachers before Joseph Smith denied creation ex nihilo. An excellent example, and one that is quite relevant in this context, is Emanuel Swedenborg. "Swedenborg unequivocally denies creation ex nihilo" (Emanuel Swedenborg, Divine Love and Wisdom, trans. George F. Dole, intro. Gregory R. Johnson (Swedenborg Foundation, 2003), 27 (see there for direct quotations from the book). This is not the only similarity between Swedenborg's doctrine and Joseph's Smith's. Here are some additional similarities I have noted:

  • There are three heavens likened to the sun, moon, and stars; the highest of these heavens is the celestial heaven.
  • The celestial kingdom itself has three divisions.
  • Marriage in or for heaven is necessary to attain life in the celestial heaven.
  • Priestly robes are worn in the marriage for heavenly life.
  • The world depends on a balance or equilibrium between opposing forces (spiritual—physical, good—evil).
  • God is (a) man; all angels and humans are created in the image of his divine likeness.Physical things in this world correspond in some way to spiritual realities.

I don't claim that Joseph got these ideas directly from Swedenborg or even from Swedenborgians, though that is possible. I do think, however, that the evidence shows that such ideas were floating around in Joseph's culture and he could have picked them up in any number of ways. He didn't need to read Swedenborg to be dependent on him or others, indirectly, for these ideas. I also don't claim that there is no difference between Joseph Smith's and Swedenborg's doctrines. They obviously differed on many things.

Forgive me, and I say this with a due respect. But binging up a contemporary of Joseph somewhere in the world just plays back into the "Joseph the Sponge" argument that "he never had an original thought in his life".

Edited by Pa Pa
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Pa Pa,

You wrote:

Forgive me, and I say this with a due respect. But binging up a contemporary of Joseph somewhere in the world just plays back into the "Joseph the Sponge" argument that "he never had an original thought in his life".

Well, that wasn't my argument or claim. Joseph Smith did end up developing a very original theology. The notion that the Christian God progressed from a mortal man to a God and that we can do the same certainly qualifies as original. But you raised the question of whether his denial of creation ex nihilo was unprecedented among religious teachers of his era (actually, at first you simply asserted that it was), and I showed that it was not. I further showed that the Swedenborgian influence was credible by listing several other doctrinal similarities between the two.

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Pa Pa,

By the way, you had also stated:

As science has progressed we know that the earth is millions of years old and that it took millions of years to be “organized” from already existing matter that is billions of years old. The (our) universe did begin with a sudden “big bang” (if you will) but this type of “fusion” would require existing atoms to create. Then when God created man he did so (once again) with existing matter. He did not simply speak man into existence but formed man from the dust of the earth…”For dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return”.

First, Joseph Smith does not seem to have had any inkling that the universe is billions of years old.

Second, the universe did not require preexisting atoms from which to be created. The Big Bang was a singularity with no space or time "before" it, and brought atoms into existence. It literally is creation ex nihilo. On this issue, see, for example, Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation Out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), especially chapters 7 and 8.

Third, orthodox Christians have always believed that God created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, from existing materials (the "dust of the ground"). However, these existing materials came into existence earlier in the creation period; they were not eternally existing matter.

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Pa Pa,

By the way, you had also stated:

First, Joseph Smith does not seem to have had any inkling that the universe is billions of years old.

Second, the universe did not require preexisting atoms from which to be created. The Big Bang was a singularity with no space or time "before" it, and brought atoms into existence. It literally is creation ex nihilo. On this issue, see, for example, Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, Creation Out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), especially chapters 7 and 8.

Third, orthodox Christians have always believed that God created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, from existing materials (the "dust of the ground"). However, these existing materials came into existence earlier in the creation period; they were not eternally existing matter.

And what of the entire Genesis account, God needed time (instead of days, millions of years...Billions of years)and materials to accomplish his goals. Did you actually do a word search between Joseph Smith and Billions to deduce this?

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Pa Pa,

You wrote:

And what of the entire Genesis account, God needed time (instead of days, millions of years...Billions of years)and materials to accomplish his goals. Did you actually do a word search between Joseph Smith and Billions to deduce this?

No, I didn't. Do you have contrary information? I'm open to any you might care to present.

I'm not at all arguing that Joseph Smith should have known that the universe was billions of years old. You brought up that issue in the context of suggesting that Joseph was "a visionary" because he knew things about creation that scientists now confirm. I was simply pointing out that this is one scientific fact about creation that Joseph, to my knowledge, did not know.

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Pa Pa,

You wrote:

No, I didn't. Do you have contrary information? I'm open to any you might care to present.

I'm not at all arguing that Joseph Smith should have known that the universe was billions of years old. You brought up that issue in the context of suggesting that Joseph was "a visionary" because he knew things about creation that scientists now confirm. I was simply pointing out that this is one scientific fact about creation that Joseph, to my knowledge, did not know.

Before going any further we are talking of the "big bang" correct? I believe I brought that up and did not attribute it to Joseph Smith. But is this what you are making reference too (see highlighted portion)?

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Pa Pa,

You made four scientific assertions. 1. The universe is billions of years old. 2. It originated in the Big Bang. 3. The Big Bang required preexisting atoms. 4. Man was made from existing materials. The first two are correct but Joseph Smith does not seem to have known about them. The third is incorrect. The fourth is biblically correct but has always been the view of orthodox Christians; modern scientists hold differing views on how this occurred, with most favoring biological evolution of man from non-man (a position I reject).

Before going any further we are talking of the "big bang" correct? I believe I brought that up and did not attribute it to Joseph Smith. But is this what you are making reference too (see highlighted portion)?

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