Especially through the prophets of the Restoration, our Heavenly Father has revealed in great detail His plan “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39) These revelations stand in stark contrast with the concepts on immortality presented in the recent episode entitled “The Immortals” from the highly acclaimed new Cosmos series on the wonders of life and the universe.[i]
Click here for footnotes #1-24
Immortality through the Written Word
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos star and narrator, explained:
“Must we die? Are there beings in the cosmos who live forever, afloat on an endless journey down the river of time?”
“[About 5,000 years ago] they called this place Uruk. We call it Iraq. The city was invented here. And one of humanitys greatest victories was won in the ceaseless battle against time. It was here that we learned how to write. Death could no longer silence us. And writing gave us the power to reach across the millennia and speak inside the heads of the living.”
“Uruk is also the place where the epic tale of the Heros Journey was first written down. Before Batman, Luke Skywalker, Odysseusbefore them allthere was a man named Gilgamesh who left home on a quest to vanquish time. Gilgamesh was searching for immortality. He looked everywhere, gained complete wisdom, He brought back a tale of times before the Great Flood.”
“[Gilgamesh] inspected the edges of the world searching for eternal life. On his travels, Gilgamesh encountered a wise man named Umapishtim, who told him the story of a flood that destroyed the world, and how one of the gods instructed Utnapishtim to build an ark to rescue his family and the animals.”
“The earliest surviving account of the flood legend was written down in Mesopotamia, a thousand years before it was retold as the story of Noah in the Old Testament. So you can say Gilgamesh fulfilled his quest for immortality. We still read the epic of Gilgamesh, and with every reader, he lives again. And all those heroes and superheroes who have come since follow in the footsteps of the first heros journey, another kind of immortality; a story sent from one civilization to another across thousands of years.”
Even prominent latter-day saints believe in the influence of orally transmitted “campfire stories” of primitive peoples on the scriptural accounts of the patriarchs in the Bible. Particularly under scrutiny is whether the Great Flood was a worldwide flood or just a local flood and the claim that the account of the flood in Genesis must have evolved over time as an oral tradition before being recorded.
From biologist Duane Jeffery in a 2004 article:
“Many of us have grown out of believing the story of Noahs flood to be literally true. Now scientists have pinpointed a large-scale deluge and a sudden population dispersion from the Black Sea area around 5600 BC. Is it time for Latter-day Saints to reexamine the Flood as well?”
“The academic world in general has concluded that the Noachian Flood is a legend, perhaps founded on some local event to which details have been added over time, or something possibly hatched up altogether. We would do well to remember that our ancestors used to sit in the evenings in community groups, or around open fires or the hearths in their homes, and tell stories marvelous stories of the past, of great heroes and heroines, of wars among the gods, of great catastrophes. And sometimes these story sessions went on and on, evening after evening, for days on end. I suspect these gifted storytellers have had far more influence than we have imagined.”[v]
“A Book of Remembrance Was Kept”
The Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price describes a vision given to Moses, which he recorded himself and became the book of Genesis, including the record of Noah and the Great Flood. [vii] The true story of the origins of written language is also explained. Moses described the history of our first parents, Adam and Eve, whom Moses also saw in this great vision.
“And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration; And by them their children were taught to read and write .”(Moses 6:5-6)
Abraham received “the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs, concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands; therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day .” (Abraham 1:31)
The Old Testament accounts were far more than just a recounting of the epic legend of Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim, and the Great Flood originating in Mesopotamia and then passed down orally and changed generation by generation. Instead, the epic of Gilgamesh was doubtless quoting traditions that had their roots in true prophetic visions and true ancient records.
Moses had original revelations of the creation and the early history of the world when he “was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain.” (Moses 1:1) Abraham had been given the books of remembrance written by the early patriarchs themselves.
These inspired accounts emphasize that there is much more to hope for related to individual immortality and eternal life than just the communication of our writings after we are dead through creative storytellers.
Might The “Stories” in our DNA Move across Solar Systems?
The Cosmos episode then discusses another kind of immortality, the DNA code of life.Once again, this is only a telestial, “mortal” kind of immortality. Along with many scientists, the authors of Cosmos do not believe in the possibility of individual life after death and the possibility of a literal resurrection.
“Life itself sends its own stories across billions of years. Its a message that every one of us carries inside, inscribed in all the cells of our bodies, in a language that all life on Earth can read. Every living thing is a masterpiece, written by nature and edited by evolution; the instructions for running and reproducing the intricate machinery of life. The essential message of life has been copied and recopied for more than three billion years. But where did that message come from? Nobody knows.”
“Perhaps it began in a shallow sunlit pool just like this. Somehow carbon-rich molecules began using energy to make crude copies of themselves. Or, life could have started in the searing heat of a volcanic vent on the deep sea floor.
“Or, is it possible that life came to earth as a hitchhiker? [When water was plentiful on Mars] an asteroid the size of the Rock of Gibraltar crashed into the Martian surface, blasting out a huge crater. Much of the debris was ejected back out into space, where it orbited the Sun until a gravitational tug from its home planet Mars diverted one of the boulders into a collision course with Earth. The meteors arrival shook up the little [Egyptian] village of Nakhla [and its chemical signature matched that found on Mars by the Viking spacecraft]. Meteorites of the type that hit Nakhla are the vehicles of a natural interplanetary transit system that sends rocks between the planets. Such a meteorite can safely shelter microscopic cargothe seeds of life, an interplanetary ark. “
“We know that some microbes can survive the hostile environment of space [and that bacteria were frozen in eight million year old Antarctica ice and are still alive.] If life can withstand the hardships of space and endure for millennia, then it could ride the natural interplanetary transit system from world to world. It is a good bet that our microbial ancestors spent some time in space.”
“[This interplanetary meteor transport system is] like Noahs ark. What this means is that life does not have to start over again from scratch after each catastrophe [of large asteroid collisions in primeval earth]; it can pick up where it left off. [He then describes similar logic to move single cell life in meteorites from star to star as our Sun passes through the interstellar clouds where solar systems and planets are formed.] Imagine this process repeated world to world, each one bringing life to others.”[x]
Life in a “Bottle on the Ocean” or the Work of a Creator?
This sounds like an amazingly slow and unlikely “letter in a bottle on the ocean” theory as the foundation for life in the universe. To be useful in the ongoing progress of life, this theory requires life to be able to evolve from a microbe to man since only simple bacteria might survive in a meteorite fragment. Chance evolution is not at all good at creating long new DNA sequences, and therefore is inadequate to support this theory of lifes origin starting from single cell life and evolving into the complex multicellular level.[xi] Also notice the hand waving, unscientific nature of the simplistic proposed theories of the origin of life and the miraculously complex cellular processes.
There are much simpler solutions to the need to transport life around the universe. We believe in a God who is an active Creator, uses natural laws, organizes existing intelligence, spiritual and physical materials, and who upholds all things by His power. The creation accounts given by revelation indicate that the various kinds of animals and the seeds for plant life were placed upon this new earth at the proper time and in the proper sequence. This whole process is guided by intelligence, God Himself being the Supreme Intelligence. Rather than a letter in a bottle life transportation theory, why not believe in the “Angel Moroni light beam express” or similar transportation theory, skillfully operated by exalted immortal beings?[xii]
Will Our Civilization Self-destruct Due to Profit-driven Economics and Climate Change?
Dr. Tyson then continues with what many consider to be the major threats to civilization. The priority of these threats is quite different from those the Lord explains in the scriptures.
“But there is another more troubling possibility. Civilizations, like other living things, may only live so long before perishing, due to natural causes, or violence, or self-inflicted wounds. What is the life expectancy of a civilization?”
“[Description of destruction of Mesopotamias great civilization due to war and eventually severe extended drought] For all their brilliance, the people of those civilizations had no inkling they were experiencing abrupt climate change. [Similar result for Mayan civilization is described.] We still carry within us the echoes of these extinct civilizations in our languages and in our myths.”[xiv]
“Today, we have a single global civilization. How long will it live? There are so many ways for a civilization to die. [He then describes close (Less than 30 light-year away) supernova, supervolcano (Toba eruption 74,000 years ago), small asteroid collision (with sufficient notice believed to be deflectable with current technology) and plagues (like smallpox in post-Columbus America).]”
If we are able to avoid catastrophes such as the Toba Supervolcano in Sumatra believed to have happened 74,000 years ago, Dr. Tyson believes that mankind will likely face catastrophes caused by ourselves. However, modern secular explanations of why human caused catastrophes may come do not seem to include the breaking the commandments of the true and living God proclaimed in the scriptures and the prophets.[xv]
“But what about civilizations that self-destruct? Our economic systems were formed when the planet and its air, rivers, oceans, lands, all seemed infinite. They evolved long before we first saw the Earth as the tiny organism that it actually is. They are all alike in one respect.
Theyre profit driven, and therefore focused in short term gain.The prevailing economic systems, no matter what their ideologies, have no built in mechanisms for protecting our descendants of even 100 years from now, let alone 100,000.”[xvi]
“In one respect, were ahead of the people of Ancient Mesopotamia. Unlike them, we understand whats happening to our world. For example, were pumping greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere at a rate not seen on Earth for a million years. And the scientific consensus is that were destabilizing our climate. Yet our civilization seems to be in the grip of denial; a kind of paralysis. There is a disconnect between what we know and what we do. [If we use our intelligence] we are likely to be able to solve almost any problem we are likely to confront in the next 100,000 years.”
Putting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere are believed by many scientists to lead to catastrophic climate change in the near future. This theory is also described as unproven by many scientists and a danger to the freedom and prosperity of the world. [xvii] [xviii] [xix]
Immortality in Elliptical Galaxies?
“And now weve arrived at the place where our ancient dreams of immortality and modern astrophysics converge. Giant elliptical galaxies are something like Florida, where the oldest stars in the universe may be found. [Red dwarf stars] will continue to provide light and warmth to their planets for trillions of years. What would intelligent beings do if they had an eternity to develop their understanding of the universe? Perhaps they would learn to open shortcuts in the fabric of spacetime, to travel between galaxies faster than the speed of light. Maybe they would create whole universes as artistic or scientific experiments. Of course, no one, or at least nobody on Earth, knows what the immortals might do.”
Is this the Future of Human Kind?
“But what about us? What is our own future? Science makes it possible to foretell certain astronomical events the death of the Sun, for example (5 billion years away). The next golden age of human achievement begins here and now. We learn to share this tiny world with each other. The last internal combustion engine is placed in a museum, as the effects of climate change reverse and diminish.”
“People will stop dying from the effects of poverty. The planet is now completely self-sustaining, intercommunicating organism. The polar ice caps will be restored to the way they were in the 19th century, and the forecast is mild and pleasant [for] 40,000 years. [Our descendants will reach other star systems like Alpha Centauri] on our interstellar arks. For all our failings, despite our flaws and limitations, we humans are capable of greatness.
“What new wonders, undreamt of in our time, will we have accomplished in another generation? And another? [Our descendants scattered among the star systems will wonder at] how many rivers we had to cross before we found our way.”
Immortality and Eternal Life as Revealed by our Heavenly Father
Let us contrast this mostly atheistic view of history and this proposed future utopia in the Cosmos series with the Lords revelations.
“For behold, this is my work and my gloryto bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)
“Jesus said unto ]Martha], I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)
“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
“And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”(Abraham 3:24-26)
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph SmithHistory 1:19)
“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creators plan for the eternal destiny of His children. We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” (Proclamation on the Family, 1995)[xxi]
The Cosmos account promotes quite a different vision of the future than these powerful modern revelations from the ancient and modern prophets, plus the words of the Savior Jesus Christ.
The Cosmos script contains no discussions of the spiritual or intelligent dimensions of the universe and life; no recognition of Gods hand or the preeminence of intelligence in all things in the universe; no importance of keeping the commandments of God as the proclamation on the family emphasizes; no individualized plan of salvation for Gods children made in His image; no individual life after death; and no atonement that vanquishes death and enables immortality and eternal life.
It all is a pretty bleak picture in my view.
“If a Man Die, Shall He Live Again?”
President Thomas S. Monson testifies of Christs divinity and of life after death, an optimistic view of the real future.[xxii]
“We ponder the universal question, best phrased by Job of old, who centuries ago asked, If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14)
“Against the doubting in todays world concerning Christs divinity, we seek a point of reference, an unimpeachable source, even a testimony of eyewitnesses.
Stephen, from biblical times, doomed to the cruel death of a martyr, looked up to heaven and cried, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56)
“Who can help but be convinced by the stirring testimony of Paul to the Corinthians? He declared that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: And,” said Paul, “last of all he was seen of me. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5, 8)
“In our dispensation, this same testimony was spoken boldly by the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he and Sidney Rigdon testified, And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! (D&C 76:22)
“This is the knowledge that sustains. This is the truth that comforts. This is the assurance that guides those who are bowed down with griefout of the shadows and into the light.”
“Because our Savior died at Calvary, death has no hold upon any one of us.”[xxiii]
“A New Heaven and a New Earth”
In a recent Meridian article on the Book of Revelation, Richard Draper and Michael Rhodes describe the wonderful future for this earth and humanity.
“So many see the point of religion, including Christianity, as the means of leaving behind this wretched old world with all its materiality and going to a better place, a place called heaven. But [the book of] Revelation will not let us get away with that. It tells us that there is going to be not only a new heaven but also a new earth. Not another earth, just a new one, or better, this one transformed and recreated (Rev. 21:1; D&C 77:1: 88:2526). Jesus is going to do away with all the evil and corruption on this sphere and launch the project of a new creation. Johns master work invites its latter-day readers to not only be observers but also participants in that new creation.
“Let us make two points about that: first, though heaven is important, its reality does not denote the end of the existence of this earth. The last scene in Revelationits very climaxis not God snatching the Saints up to heaven away from this profane and vile sphere, but rather, the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to this sanctified and holy earth to remain here forever (Rev. 21:10). Indeed, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them (Rev. 21:13), not the other way around. This very sphere will be the new heaven including all the materiality that it now possesses (D&C 88:2526). The difference is that the new materiality will be pure and incorruptible. The resurrection itself is a celebration of continued sanctified materiality.”[xxiv]
The true predictions of the future of the earth and of humanity from the scriptures are much more exciting and wonderful than the current philosophies of men, even with the great discoveries of modern science. What a great blessing to live in this day of miracles at the time of the great last-days restoration and the coming return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth.
Click here for footnotes #1-24