What do Mormons believe about how the universe started?

In response to the question posed by Ann; “Do mormons believe in an eternal universe of eternal matter or a big bang type universe?”

To answer this question requires a more than a one or the other type of answer because the answer is “yes” to both…sort of. Well, it depends on what you mean by “big bang”. As I understand things, it’s fairly settled science that everything in the universe is moving away from a center point. This loosely supports the big bang theory, although I have not heard it explained as to why everything is moving away from that point at an accelerating speed. Now that’s just kind of weird, but I digress.

If the question is “Do Mormons believe everything is moving away from a center point of the universe?” then the answer is that Mormons don’t have any doctrine to that effect, although Mormons generally regard any scientific knowledge or discovery as interesting and valuable, since we believe we’re all children of God, destined to become like him, and since God knows everything we’re interested in knowing everything as well.

Just as well for any other aspects of big bang theory. Science doesn’t have all the answers yet and can’t fully explain the big bang, so there’s nothing Mormons can truly agree or disagree with. It’s mostly theory and hypothesis.

The one part of Mormon doctrine that touches on this subject is that our scripture says that everything has always existed. Not necessarily in its current form, but that there’s no such thing as creating something out of nothing. So if one assumes that a belief in the big bang means you believe that a bunch of stuff came out of nowhere, then no, Mormons don’t believe in that. But if nowhere actually means “nowhere” as in “we don’t know where it came from” then sure, there’s nothing in our doctrine to preclude a belief in a big bang.

Comments

  1. Found it……………….I’m going to ask again more simply. Does mormon doctrine teach the universe is eternal?

    Does mormon doctrine teach that all the matter in the universe is eternal?

    Thank you.

  2. I don't know of any teaching that the universe is eternal, but we are taught that the matter in the universe is. Here's a more detailed explanation, from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

    Author: Grant, David M.

    By the end of the eighteenth century, modern scientific methods had begun to provide new insights into the fundamental nature of matter, and these negated the Greek philosophical position of form over matter. This change in scientific thinking was contemporary with the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the theological realm. His teachings returned theology to the intimate relationship between God and mankind of early Judeo-Christian writings. These concepts were in contrast to the position that deity is an embodiment of principles and philosophical ideals that transcend in importance the physical realities of matter. Furthermore, the view that matter was created from nothing (ex nihilo), a concept dominating theological and scientific thought for many centuries and still widespread in nineteenth-century thought, lost the support of modern science and was opposed by the gospel restored by Joseph Smith. Modern scientific theories of matter, from Antoine Lavoisier's (1743-1794) to Erwin Schrödinger's (1887-1961), maintain the permanence of matter.

    In the twentieth century, atomic theory has embodied a number of fundamental nuclear particles and powerful mathematical theories. Some, falling outside human intuition, account for properties of matter newly discovered in this century. Concepts have led to the development of unified quantum mechanical and quantum dynamic theories for both matter and light. The conservation law of Lavoisier has been extended to include all equivalent forms of matter and energy and still constitutes one of the primary pillars of modern science.

    It is significant that the teachings of the restored gospel on the eternal nature of physical matter, along with a parallel in the spiritual realm, embody these conservation principles. These are key statements: "The elements are eternal" (D&C 93:33). "The spirit of man is not a created being; it existed from eternity, and will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be eternal; and earth, water, etc., had their existence in an elementary state, from eternity" (Joseph Smith, in HC 3:387).

    Addressing the issue of creation ex nihilo, Joseph Smith asserted in one of his final sermons: "Now, the word create…does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos-chaotic matter, which is element…. Element had an existence from the time [God] had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end" (HC 6:308-309).

    Extending the concept of the eternal nature of matter to the substance of spirit, Joseph Smith revealed, "There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; we cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter" (D&C 131:7-8).

    Parley P. Pratt, an apostle and close associate of Joseph Smith, wrote, "Matter and spirit are the two great principles of all existence. Everything animate and inanimate is composed of one or the other, or both of these eternal principles…. Matter and spirit are of equal duration; both are self-existent, they never began to exist, and they never can be annihilated…. Matter as well as spirit is eternal, uncreated, self existing. However infinite the variety of its changes, forms and shapes; …eternity is inscribed in indelible characters on every particle" (HC 4:55).

    In strict analogy to principles governing physical matter, the revelations to Joseph Smith stress that eternity for spirits also derives from the eternal existence of spiritual matter or elements. The preeminent manifestation of the eternal nature of both physical and spiritual matter is found in the eternal existence of God and ultimately his human children as discrete, indestructible entities. In this unique LDS doctrine, matter in all of its many forms, instead of occupying a subordinate role relative to philosophical paradigms, assumes a sovereign position, along with the principles and laws governing its properties and characteristics.

    Bibliography

    Pratt, Parley P. "Eternal Duration of Matter." HC 4:55.

    DAVID M. GRANT

  3. Follow up: Is God eternal? Can God sin according to mormon doctrine?

    Thanks so much.

  4. Is God eternal?

    Yes, he has always existed, and will always exist.

    Can God sin according to mormon doctrine?

    No, God is perfect and if he sinned he would cease to be God, assuming he could sin. He can't, or rather, he never would, because if he ever would then he never would have become God in the first place.

  5. I think you need to clarify that we believe God used to be a man like us, and that he progressed to his perfect state, which now precludes him from sinning.

  6. So does that mean that God was once a sinner, but he can't sin now?

  7. In a sense. Of course he wasn't "God" when he was a sinner, so in a way you can say God never was a sinner, and in a way you can say he was.

  8. You are confusing me.

    James 1:16: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,

    and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is

    no variation or shadow of turning."

    Hebrews 13:8-9: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be

    carried about with various and strange doctrines."

    You seem to be promoting cognitive dissonance and holding 2 contradictory

    beliefs at the same time. Please let me know how you see this.

  9. Joshua, I think you understand the question better than that. The spirit and substance of the question is whether God the Father was once perhaps a mere mortal sinful man before he became a God.

    Even the Lorenzo Snow couplet refers to "God" by identity (not as a state of being, althuogh elsewhere the word surely is used as such): "As man is God once was, as God is man may be."

    Take care,

    Aaron

  10. I would also like to know if matter is eternal and God is not, is the matter more elevated or more holy than God? Are there many gods? Are gods more holier than each other? Please answer. I'm trying to understand.

  11. Hi Ann, I felt your question from the 6th was worthy of a new post, so I created one at "Do Mormons believe God changes?"

    I'm going to work on an answer to your question from the 7th now.

  12. Ok, here is "Do Mormon believe in many Gods?". I'm surprised I didn't already have a post for that one somewhere. I've probably touched on the subject somewhere else under a different subject heading.

    That answers (or at least tries to answer) your 2nd and 3rd questions. Regarding "if matter is eternal and God is not, is the matter more elevated or more holy than God", I'm not sure how to answer the question, but I'll speculate a bit. I would say that matter itself is not "elevated" or "holy" at all. It just "is" the same way that a rock is not good or bad. We generally impute terms like "elevated" or "holy" to intelligent beings that can make choices which are good or bad.

    However, we Mormons do believe that in the resurrection our bodies undergo a physical change that makes them immortal. Since the particles that make up our current bodies seem to clearly be subject to degradation, does that mean the particles themselves undergo a change as a result of the resurrective process?

    Or here's another thought, is it that the fundamental, quantum-level particles of our body are subject to degradation, or is it merely the way in which those particles are organized that is subject to degradation? After all, skin and bone are not elements. The elements that make up our skin was part of the dirt a year ago, a tree six months ago, fruit a week ago, and then became part of our body. When we shed skin cells, the elements return to the earth from whence they came, but the element itself remains unchanged at its fundamental level. Perhaps the elements never change, even in the resurrection, but only those forces that bind them together? It's fun to think about.

  13. Interesting blog. I am here looking for information on the Mormon faith, the faith of Mitt Romney. I am a non believer my self, but I don't deny that there is in our cosmos some power or intelligence that I am unable to "see". The possibility that there is an eternal nature of spirit (including man's spirit) and matter is not unreasonable to me. In fact, due to the vastness and complexity of the universe, I think is entirely possible. The Mormon teachings seem to me to be not as off kilter as Islam or Christian Scientists. One thing for sure, some day each and everyone of us will face our last day. And Epicurus's "for us to be fearful of a future event that will not harm us when it occurs. What is no trouble when it arrives is an idle worry in anticipation." Will be either true and we won't know or false and we will be eternal in some form.

    • Our universe and the laws that abide in it are as if it was organized by a superior being, even scientist agree upon this (‘Multiverse Theory’ ) now as the prophet alma says in the book of mormón, (The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.) now science did agree on this untill recently.

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