The Pearl of Great Price Is Awesome, and Prophetic

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?’ Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.
― Carl Sagan (1)

The Lord told the prophet Moses that He had created “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33). When He showed the prophet Abraham the things which He had made, Abraham “could not see the end thereof” (Abraham 3:12). Our loving God taught these two men–these two prophets– about the universe, and they both came away changed human beings. In unspeakable awe, they had seen the glorious works of God, and, as was likely contrary to their previous knowledge, His works were not confined to this one earth and the visible stars above it. No, God’s universe was much “grander” and much more “elegant” than either of them had supposed.

Photo of the Pearl of Great Price. [2]

Where can we find these stories about Abraham and Moses? They are contained in a book of scripture that the Latter-day Saints call the Pearl of Great Price. I don’t know if you can tell from the two small passages from it that I quoted, but this book is packed with quite a bit of the very stuff the famous astrophysicist Carl Sagan longed to see in a religion. I wonder if Carl had read the Pearl of Great Price–and I’m assuming he didn’t (3)–would he have realized just how much its text stresses “the magnificence of the Universe”? I guess a more important question would be: Do we, as Latter-day Saints, with the Pearl of Great Price jostling around in our pockets all day long, realize how much it stresses the universe’s overwhelming magnificence, awe, subtlety, and unspeakable grandeur (4)? And do we realize that it stresses much, much more about the universe than just things in outer space?

Those are the questions we need to ask ourselves. Guys, I think it’s about time we talk a little bit more about this awesome “pearl of great price” that we carry in our cannon (Matthew 13:45-46). We need to take a long, careful, open-minded look at it; because when it comes to reconciling our religion with science, the Pearl of Great Price is absolutely essential. I guess, to borrow a term, you could say it’s “priceless.”

Why is the Pearl of Great Price so valuable? Because:

Before his death in 1844, Joseph Smith had given us everything we need to allow us to accept the discoveries of modern science.

And most of those things are conveniently housed in the Pearl of Great Price. All you gotta do is open up the Gospel Library app on your phone or the old triple combination on your bookshelf (or click this link to read it free online!)(5).

Where Did it Come From?

“A merchant man, seeking goodly pearls … , when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

Elder Franklin D. Richards. [6]

Between June 1830 and February 1831, Joseph Smith received a revelation which is now known as the Book of Moses (7). This marked the beginning of what we call “the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible”–an effort by the Latter-day prophet to restore precious truths that were lost to the Old and New Testaments (8). In this book, the Lord teaches Moses about the heavens and the earth, prefacing it by saying, “I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease” (Moses 1:4, see also Moses 1-2).

Fast forward to 1835. In July of that year, a man named Michael Chandler came to Kirtland, Ohio with a bunch of ancient Egyptian mummies and rolls of papyrus. Joseph Smith soon new the papyri were important, so he raised enough money from among the Saints to buy them along with the mummies. In total, it cost $2,400–a considerable sum for the time. Using these ancient records, Joseph translated the Book of Abraham “by direct inspiration of heaven”, eventually publishing it in the Times and Seasons in the first half of 1842 (9). In this book, the Lord begins by teaching Abraham about the endless and creative variety of stars and planets, and, emphasizing His ability to make the universe as grand and elegant as He wants, says, “there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it” (Abraham 3:17).

Almost a decade after the Book of Abraham was printed, an apostle named Franklin D. Richards was presiding over the mission in England. In an attempt to produce good things for the British saints to read, he compiled the books of Moses and Abraham, along with some of Joseph Smith’s other writings, into a small pamphlet and published them in the summer of 1851. He called this little collection “The Pearl of Great Price”. Around 30 years later, the Pearl of Great Price was officially recognized as a standard work of the Church in the October 1880 general conference. Although some texts have been added and removed from this group of scriptures since its original publication, the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham have providentially remained (10).  

When Elder Richards introduced the Pearl of Great Price to the world in the July 15, 1851 Millennial Star, he said–perhaps, prophesied–that it would “be a source of much instruction and edification to many thousands of the Saints, who will by an acquaintance with its precious contents, be more abundantly qualified to set forth and defend the principles of our Holy Faith before all men” (11).

I think Franklin D. Richards was on to something. There really is something special about the Pearl of Great Price, and today we are among the “many thousands” who have benefited from it. But what exactly about its contents is it that makes it so precious? How can it help us “defend the principles of our … Faith before all men”? Why should we pay more attention to this little, now-canonized pamphlet first put together way back in the 1850s?

Maybe the name of this blog can give you a hint.

Its Purpose Is to Bring Back Science (from the future)

“[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, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.” (Abraham 1:31)

Facsimile 2 from the Book of Abraham. A picture that fascinates me as much today as it did when I was a child. [12]

When I was a kid, I loved looking at the Pearl of Great Price because it was the ONLY book of scripture that had pictures. I found them cool and mysterious, and I was ever curious to know what they meant. It helped me get through many a sacrament meeting, and I’d bet I’m not alone in that.

But I’m sure the ultimate purpose of these scriptures wasn’t just to entertain children during long church meetings. No, its purpose must go much deeper than that.

The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi saw in a vision that “many plain and precious things” had been taken out of the Bible, which caused “an exceedingly great many” to “stumble” (1 Nephi 13:29). We know that there are many gospel truths not found in the Bible that make a pretty detailed appearance in the Pearl of Great Price–such as a pre-mortal existence (13) and a good reason for the Fall of Adam and Eve (14)–but could it be that there were also some scientific truths lost to man that were brought back by it too? Perhaps some information about the cosmos and the living things within it, and how they all came to be? Hugh Nibley, a renowned LDS scholar and BYU professor seemed to think so. In a lecture in 1986, he told his students the following:

What is the merit of the Pearl of Great Price? It has restored those precious things to the scriptures that will answer about any question you can ask about prehistoric man, time schedules of millions of years, and all that sort of thing. You would be surprised how well it handles them. (15)

In an age where science and religion can’t seem to get along, and extreme biblical literalists debate popular science-show hosts from the 90’s on live video streams (16), the Latter-day Saints have something that can reconcile the realities of the natural world with the existence of a caring God: the Pearl of Great Price. Remarkably, the one thing that charismatic proponents of both atheism and Young Earth Creationism agree on is that Mormonism is an inexcusably false tradition (17). But what neither side realizes is that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can accept both evolution and the divinity of Christ, by virtue of the words of their prophets–some of the very “prophets” that Carl Sagan hoped would have given the world’s religions a more expansive view of the universe. To paraphrase what I’ve said before, the Pearl of Great Price not only allows for evolution to be the way that God created all life on Earth, it implies it (see this blog’s Introduction). It’s kind of a big deal.

The Pearl of Great Price, as Nibley proposed, restored those “precious things” that can bring science into harmony with revealed religion. In fact, I believe that one of its main purposes is to permit us to accept the science of our day, rather than reject it as many Christian groups have done. And I’m not talking about the science of the 1840s when Joseph Smith was alive. I’m talking about the mainstream science of TODAY, in the 2020s and beyond (18). I’m talking about discoveries that Joseph definitely wasn’t reading about in the scientific literature of his time. That, of course, makes the Pearl of Great Price prophetic. Awesome and prophetic.

Contrary to your views as a little kid trapped on a hard bench, science is its purpose, not pictures.

What Does It Say About Science?

“A prophet bringing new unknown information to the table that is yet to be discovered by science would be the undeniable signature of God.”–Anonymous Facebook user (19)

Albert Einstein and Joseph Smith. Einstein talked about how two observers can experience the passage of time at different rates relative to each other; Joseph talked about the same thing, only a few decades earlier (see #1 on the list below). [20]

The Pearl of Great Price has a lot to say about science. Probably way more than you thought it did. And what’s truly amazing about it–and the reason why I say it’s “prophetic,”–is that it told us most of this scientific stuff before science even did! That, if true, would indeed “be the undeniable signature of God.”

Therefore, in my opinion, the Pearl of Great Price must have God’s signature written all over it because there is SO MUCH science packed in it! To support this claim, I’ve compiled a nice little list of science-related things it got right before its time for you to peruse at your leisure. These aren’t in any particular order, but I’ve numbered the items in the list so we can refer to them in later blog posts.

Now, as you read the following list, remember: everything contained in the current version of the Pearl of Great Price was originally published before June of 1842 (21).

The Pearl of Great Price did the following:

  1. It told us about the relativity of time decades before Einstein published his ideas about relativity. (Abraham 3:4, 5:13)
  2. It told us that the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion to man, before physicists showed it was so. (Moses 1:6)
  3. It hinted that there were other things giving off light in space than just stars or planets before other galaxies, quasars, and stellar nebulae were discovered. (Abraham 3:13)
  4. It told us that God’s creations multiplied and stretched on without end, before we knew how big the universe was or how small things could get. (Abraham 3:12, Moses 1:4)
  5. It told us that God had made worlds without number before we even knew there were other planets outside our solar system, or how far away stars were, or if there were other galaxies, or the size of the universe. (Moses 1:33)
  6. It hinted that life has arisen on other worlds in this universe, over a century before we found any habitable-zone exoplanets (Moses 1:33-38)
  7. It told us that planets and stars “pass away”, long before we knew the nature of supernovae and the life cycle of the stars (Moses 1:35, 38)
  8. It told us that the stars were very great, many years before we even knew how big, massive, or hot stars could get. (Abraham 3:2, 16-17)
  9. It told us that the stars exist on a spectrum, 70 years before the discovery of the H-R diagram. (Abraham 3:2, 16-18)
  10. It told us that God made the heavens and the earth out of existing material, not out of nothing, as other churches believe. (Abraham 3:24)
  11. It told us the reason why this earth was made, and why there are species other than man, while the Bible does not. (Abraham 3:21-26, see blog post on Organization of Intelligences)
  12. It gave us a possible reason for why God would use evolution to create living things, where the Bible certainly does not. (Abraham 3:18-19, see blog post on Organization of Intelligences)
  13. It told us that plants, animals, and humans are all different degrees of the same stuff, while science tells us that humans are merely intelligent, technologically advanced animals, and that all life shares a common origin (Abraham 3:18-19, see blog post on Organization of Intelligences)
  14. It told us that the creation was probably much longer than six 24-hour days, before we knew how old the earth was. (blog post coming soon)
  15. It told us that God made and organized every plant and creature spiritually before this world existed, while many other churches deny that anything other than a human can have a soul or an afterlife. (Moses 3:5)
  16. It required that an earth existed which was habitable and just right for a variety of living things, before it was known that the earth shaped the course of natural selection. (Abraham 3:24)
  17. It told us that every living thing appeared “naturally” upon the earth; while many other churches insist God created everything supernaturally. (Moses 3:5)
  18. It told us that all of nature is free to act for itself, instead of relying on God to personally control every little thing that goes on in the universe. (Abraham 4:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31; Moses 7:32; see “Let Us Prepare the Earth”: Natural Selection in the Scriptures)
  19. It hinted that it took countless generations of matter and life to get us to today, before we knew about the generations of stars and planets or modern life descending and diversifying from a single source over billions of years. (Abraham 5:4, Moses 3:4)
  20. It hinted that simple organisms may have been present very early in earth’s history, before scientists discovered the oldest evidence for life. (Abraham 4:2)
  21. It called the earth “the mother of men”, before we knew that humans had evolved through a process of natural selection due to conditions on earth. (Moses 7:48)
  22. It told us that changes in the earth produced different species of animals and plants, 16 years before Darwin published his ideas on natural selection. (Abraham 4:11-12, 20-22, 24-25; see “Let Us Prepare the Earth”: Natural Selection in the Scriptures)
  23. It told us that the Bible isn’t necessarily 100% accurate, while other churches reject science because of their literal interpretations of the Bible. (Article of Faith 1:8, Moses 1-8, the whole Pearl of Great Price)
  24. It showed us that the actual chronological order in which things appeared in the universe was not exactly identical to the order of creation that Genesis gives us. (Abraham 4)
  25. It gives a creation account that complies with the current, established natural history of the earth, whereas the Bible does not. (Abraham 4; The Creation Account vs Science: Do They Agree?)
  26. It teaches that God has a physical body in the same form as man, while other churches maintain that man was created in the image of God, yet deny that He has a body or looks like a man. (Moses 7:35-36, 1:6, JS-H 1:17, Abraham 3:11-12)
  27. It hints that Adam was born into this world just like any other human, rather than fashioned out of clay or created from nothing. (Abraham 1:3, see also Moses 6:59, 1:34)
  28. It gave us evidence that the Flood of Noah was a local event, while the strongest argument against Creationism today is the lack of evidence for a global Flood. (See Noah’s Flood)
  29. It told us that God can make anything He can imagine, while new and strange features of the universe are being discovered every day. (Abraham 3:17)
  30. It told us that the first object to form in the universe was a star, before we new the ages of stars or the order of things after the Big Bang, and while many religions teach the first thing created was the earth itself. (Abraham 3:2-3 & Facsimile 2, Figure 1; The First Creation)
  31. It told us that the first stars included the biggest and heaviest stars ever, before we knew that the first generation of stars in the universe (Population III stars) could grow larger and more massive than any stars extant today. (Facsimile 2, Figure 1; Abraham 3:2-3, 16; The Greatest of All the Stars)

Now, the list above definitely isn’t a comprehensive compilation of the science you can find the Pearl of Great Price (22). I’m sure there are things I’ve overlooked, so if you know of any others, please let me know in the comment section below and I’ll add them! Also, if I’ve made any mistakes with the timing of discoveries or whatnot, please let me know about that too and I’ll fix it. I didn’t include any specific dates or sources (except scriptures) for any numbers because we’ll cover each of them again in the blog with more detail. As you continue reading other blog posts, look for the tags “POGP1”, “POGP2”, “POGP3”, and so forth, which will correspond with each numbered item on the list.

If any of these things on the list are true–if Joseph Smith really did anticipate some of the most important principles of science before they were formally discovered–what should we learn from it? What are the implications? I know that he didn’t just come out in 1842 and explicitly say, “This planet is 4.6 billion years old!”; but he gave us scriptures that allow for it to be so. Where the Bible seems to restrict an old earth, a big universe, and a flora and fauna developed by processes of evolution, the Pearl of Great Price seems to make them a definite possibility. I’d say it even strongly hints at them, giving them a very high probability that they are the reality. If anyone knew how things were created, it would be God, the Creator. Why couldn’t He reveal or at least drop hints about the history of the universe and “things as they really are” to His servant, the prophet (Jacob 4:13, see also D&C 93:24)?

And just for the record, there are way more scientifically-prophetic things from Joseph Smith which aren’t included in the Pearl of Great Price, so the list above doesn’t mention them.  However, we’ll definitely talk about them all as the blog rolls on, so stay tuned!

Consider Yourself Invited

If you’re a member of the Church, I invite you to read and study the Pearl of Great Price again with new eyes. If you’re a member of another church or of no church at all, and you have questions about how to reconcile religion with science, I invite you to read the Pearl of Great Price, regardless of your belief in a higher power. Read it with the question “How does this book support the findings of science?”, and if you do that, I think–as Hugh Nibley expressed–you’ll be surprised how much you can find (23).

Don’t worry–the Pearl of Great Price is super short. The books of Moses and Abraham together make up only 42 pages (24). If you read anything, be sure to read those. But feel free to read the rest of it too. There are valuable things to glean from the other parts as well. And if you still don’t feel like reading the whole book, at least read the passages I referenced in each of the items in the list above.

Conclusion

“Truly can we say the Lord is beginning to reveal the abundance of peace and truth.”– Joseph Smith, as he began the translation of the Book of Abraham in 1835. (25)

The cover of the old Institute student manual for the Pearl of Great Price. [26]

The Pearl of Great Price is awesome, guys. And it’s prophetic too. That’s the title of this blog post and I’m sticking with it! After all, its origin stems from a man who claimed he was a prophet of God. This man, Joseph Smith, claimed to see angels, visions, and even the Creator of the world Himself (see JS-H 1, D&C 76). And he claimed to receive God’s word through various revelations and new scripture to complement the Holy Bible. I believe that as we study these words from God, we’ll see that Joseph Smith was on to some truths about the universe that scientists wouldn’t get to for years and decades to come. If he wasn’t a true prophet, then where was he getting his information from?

The science vs religion debate is ongoing and fierce. All it takes is to follow a few choice Facebook groups on the subject for a couple days and you’ll see what I mean (27). As I’ve studied this debate, a couple things have become clear to me:

  1. Most of the arguments scientists have against Creationism can be answered by the LDS scriptures; and …
  2. Most of the arguments Creationists have against science can be answered by the LDS scriptures too.

As Latter-day Saints, we have the tools to peacefully bridge the gap between the two extremes, which, in my opinion, is something that should be expected of a true religion led by a true prophet of God. The Pearl of Great Price definitely restored some spiritual truths, but it also opened the door for us to receive the truths of science with joy like no other volume of scripture can. It definitely can, as Joseph might say, bring a very-welcome “abundance of peace and truth” to the current conflict between science and religion.

Can science be true? Can the earth be really old? Could evolution by natural selection be the way that plants and animals came to be? Is there a God behind it all? My hope is that with a deeper look at what’s in the Pearl of Great Price and how it answers all of these scientific (and religious) questions, we will all be able to see how this book can and does “draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths” (28). And I hope we’ll be able to see it as yet another source of evidence for Joseph Smith’s divine calling as a prophet in the last days.


Sources and Notes:

  1. Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, p. 52, Random House, Inc. New York, USA, 1994.
  2. Photo of Pearl of Great Price found here: https://deseretbook.com/p/the-official-audio-for-the-pearl-of-great-price-female-voice-mp3-audio?variant_id=158065-audiobook-mp3-
  3. I have no evidence that Carl Sagan ever read the contents of the Pearl of Great Price, in part or full. I assume that he did not, but if you have evidence to the contrary, please let me know!
  4. Hugh Nibley lamented during a lecture about the neglect of the Pearl of Great Price in our gospel studies: “So there are many precious things to be restored. The Latter-day Saints have never realized what they have here. Neglect, I think, is an understatement as far as that goes. When the Joseph Smith papyri were acquired by the church in 1957, a high authority, … who was editor of the Desert News at that time, said, ‘Why did Joseph Smith do that crazy thing? Why does he have to get involved in all this Egyptian stuff?’ Why does that bother us? His idea of what was important and news was a new mall … or something like that. Now that’s news, but why are we bothered with all this ancient stuff? And another thing is that we have always treated it as something that can be tossed off in three easy lessons. It’s only sixty pages long. When I first came to BYU, many professors felt that you couldn’t possibly find enough in the Pearl of Great Price to fill a whole quarter of instruction. So they divided it up with the Doctrine and Covenants. I see that we haven’t taken it seriously. That is an understatement; contempt is a better word.”; Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price: Transcripts of lectures presented to an Honors Pearl of Great Price Class at Brigham Young University Winter Semester 1986, FARMS, p. 10-11; for video recording of this very lecture, see: Maxwell Institute, ‘Hugh Nibley, “Restoring What Was Lost” (Pearl of Great Price Lecture Series – 1),’ YouTube, 23 Jan 2014, https://youtu.be/ehBxXyk-Ots
  5. The “triple combination” is a physical book that contains the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, all bound into one volume. It’s not as sinister as it sounds, trust me! See: https://deseretbook.com/p/genuine-leather-triple-combination-regular-indexed-2013-edition-lds-distribution-center-89517?variant_id=7036-black
  6. Photo of Franklin D. Richards found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_D._Richards_(Mormon_apostle)
  7. “Visions of Moses, June 1830 [Moses 1],” p. [1], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed April 1, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/visions-of-moses-june-1830-moses-1/1
  8. See: https://www.lds.org/study/history/topics/joseph-smith-translation-of-the-bible?lang=eng; and Saints, Vol. 1, pp. 107-110, 121; https://www.lds.org/study/history/saints-v1/10-gathered-in?lang=eng.
  9. For history of the Book of Abraham, its translation by the gift of God, the use of seer stones in connection with it, etc. see: Saints, Vol 1, pp 219-222, 446, https://www.lds.org/study/history/saints-v1/20-do-not-cast-me-off?lang=eng; LDS Perspectives Podcast, Episode 9: Joseph’s Seer Stones–Michael Hubbard MacKay, https://www.ldsperspectives.com/2016/11/15/episode-9-seer-stones-joseph-smith/; LDS Perspectives Podcast, Episode 16: Joseph Smith’s Papyri–John Gee, https://www.ldsperspectives.com/2017/01/03/joseph-smiths-papyri/; LDS Perspectives Podcast, Episode 51: Joseph’s Study of Hebrew and the Book of Abraham–Matthew J. Grey, https://www.ldsperspectives.com/2017/08/30/hebrew-book-abraham/; LDS Perspectives Podcast, Episode 97: The Book of Abraham with Robin Scott Jensen, https://www.ldsperspectives.com/2018/11/07/book-of-abraham/; Gospel Topics Essay, “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham”, https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng. Although mentioned in a couple of the sources above, the quote that Joseph received the text of the Book of Abraham “by the direct inspiration of heaven” comes from Warren Parrish, who served as a scribe for Joseph during part of the translation process–“I have set by his side and penned down the translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphicks as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration of Heaven.” (Warren Parrish, Feb. 5, 1838, Letter to the editor, Painesville Republican, Feb. 15, 1838, [3].)
  10. For history of the Pearl of Great Price as a whole, see: https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Pearl_of_Great_Price
  11. Franklin D. Richards, Millennial Star, 15 July 1851, https://books.google.com/books?id=F28tAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA216&lpg=RA1-PA216&dq=Millennial+Star,+15+July+1851,+217&source=bl&ots=rdweoOoOm9&sig=ACfU3U2frkTdDCgJv5VbXnXdPJnijAkvzQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiNiNKmwsThAhXIHDQIHchQBLQQ6AEwD3oECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=Millennial%20Star%2C%2015%20July%201851%2C%20217&f=false
  12. Picture of Facsimile 2 found here: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/fac-2?lang=eng
  13. https://www.lds.org/topics/premortality
  14. https://www.lds.org/topics/fall-of-adam?lang=eng
  15. Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price: Transcripts of lectures presented to an Honors Pearl of Great Price Class at Brigham Young University Winter Semester 1986, FARMS, p. 12; for video recording of this very lecture, see: Maxwell Institute, ‘Hugh Nibley, “Restoring What Was Lost” (Pearl of Great Price Lecture Series – 1)’, YouTube, 23 Jan 2014, https://youtu.be/ehBxXyk-Ots.
  16. Answers In Genesis, “Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham – HD (Official)”, YouTube, 4 Feb 2014, https://youtu.be/z6kgvhG3AkI. For the short version, see: Mashable, “Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham – The Short Version”, YouTube, 5 Feb 2014,   https://youtu.be/HA3E8wpBO_I.
  17. Ken Ham, Young Earth Creationist, president of Answers In Genesis, the Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Ham), on Mormons: Ken Ham, ”Islam and Mormonism: What do they have in common?” YouTube, 13 Jun 2017, https://youtu.be/OT2x5W8ZjE8; see his Facebook post on 23 Sep 2015, https://www.facebook.com/aigkenham/posts/every-mormons-need-for-restwhat-goes-through-your-mind-when-a-mormon-knocks-on-y/1021050141258675/…. Kent Hovind, Young Earth Creationist, president of Dinosaur Adventure Land, Creation Science Evangelism, and Dr. Dino (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_Hovind), on Mormons: Creation Believer, ”Exposing Mormons – Kent Hovind”, YouTube, 10 Nov 2016, https://youtu.be/vPSZCHp8ogoAron Ra, atheist, regional director of American Atheists,raised in a Mormon family (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aron_Ra), on Mormons: Scott Douglas Jacobsen,”Aron Ra on the Early Life of a Male Atheist”,  https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/aron-ra-sjbn/; Dutch Skeptic, ”14-year-old AronRa debating his Mormon family”, YouTube, 5 Jul 2016, https://youtu.be/osWVFF03z8o,… Richard Dawkins, atheist, evolutionary biologist, popular author of science books (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins), on Mormons: Antitheist, “Richard Dawkins Upsets A Mormon / Moron (tautology),” YouTube, 21 Feb 2014, https://youtu.be/_SOgvnspf00–for a better quality video of a segment of the previous video, see Sebastian Andersson, “Richard Dawkins vs Brandon Flowers,” YouTube, 7 Sep 2012, https://youtu.be/oZgIIeGnEXI; ShirleyFilms, “Dawkins and Krauss on Mormonism,” YouTube, 13 Feb 2012, https://youtu.be/KN4M8PvpmW4Lawrence Krauss is also a prominent atheist, cosmologist, and author (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_M._Krauss); Brandon Flowers, musician for The Killers, and a Mormon. He is the Mormon who is attacked by Richard Dawkins in the video referenced above. See:ComeUntoChrist.org, “I’m Brandon Flowers and I’m a Mormon,” YouTube, 12 Oct 2011, https://youtu.be/4PF0h7oqUEQ, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Flowers.
  18. I am also not talking about pseudoscience, such as the flood geology advocated by many YEC groups. These groups reject many of the findings of modern science, such as an old earth, evolution, even Einstein’s relativity, because they don’t find it compatible with their interpretation of the scriptures. One such group advocates what’s called the “Universal Model: A New Millennial Science.” Learn more here: https://universalmodel.com/; Universal Model, “A New Millennial Science by Dean Sessions,” YouTube, 22 Sep 2018, https://youtu.be/j0_dw8DjN_4; Universal Model, “New Scientific Evidence Proves Evolution is False,” YouTube, 2 Apr 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Yo_C4QPjAE; for reviews of the Universal Model by mainstream scientists, see: https://bbickmore.wordpress.com/universal-model/. For more on flood geology, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_geology.
  19. In a predominantly-LDS Facebook group about science and evolution, a member (who shall remain anonymous) typed the following comment, apparently (in my opinion) in skepticism of Joseph Smith’s divine calling as prophet. It was most likely written on 15 Feb 2019 (though this is uncertain): “As an example if Moses or Joseph Smith taught about dinosaurs or life during the various extinction epochs of time on this planet. A prophet bringing new unknown information to the table that is yet to be discovered by science would be the undeniable signature of God, but that is not what we get, what we get from these guys is just whispers or echoes of potential ideas.”
  20. Pic of Albert Einstein found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein; Image of Joseph Smith found here: http://www.historyisnowmagazine.com/blog/2015/1/30/an-important-date-when-mormon-founder-joseph-smith-met-the-president#.XJXIzLfYqlc=
  21. The Book of Moses was first published in 1831, see note 7; The Book of Abraham was first published between 1 Mar 1842 and 16 May 1842, see note 9; Joseph Smith–Matthew was first published in 1831, https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/js-m/1?lang=eng; Joseph Smith–History was first published in 1842, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-circa-june-1839-circa-1841-draft-2/2#source-note; The Articles of Faith were first published on 1 Mar 1842, https://www.lds.org/church/news/articles-of-faith-published-175-years-ago?lang=eng.
  22. Also, the science I glean from the scriptures referenced in the list is based on a personal interpretation of the text. As we know, all scripture is open for various interpretations, and my interpretation of a passage does not necessarily determine or agree with your interpretation or that of other scholars, Church authorities, or Church members. I simply argue that if you’re looking for science-related things in the Pearl of Great Price, you can find hints at them.
  23. Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price: Transcripts of lectures presented to an Honors Pearl of Great Price Class at Brigham Young University Winter Semester 1986, FARMS, p. 12;
  24. In the 2013 edition of the scriptures.
  25. “History, 1838–1856, volume B-1 [1 September 1834–2 November 1838],” p. 596, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed April 26, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-b-1-1-september-1834-2-november-1838/50. Statement is under the date 6 Jul 1835.
  26. Cover of Pearl of Great Price student manual found here: https://www.scribd.com/document/8170456/religion-327-pearl-of-great-price-student-manual; also see https://deseretbook.com/p/pearl-great-price-student-manual-religion-327-lds-distribution-center-72687?variant_id=26406-paperback.
  27. Here are a couple of them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CreationEvolutionDebate/; https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheREALDebate/
  28. Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, p. 52, Random House, Inc. New York, USA, 1994.

5 thoughts on “The Pearl of Great Price Is Awesome, and Prophetic

  1. Thanks for the info. I have not as yet read the POGP, but have one ordered. I am a member of a Restoration Church in Mo which used to be the RLDS church. They did not teach the POGP. I saw Hugh Nibley’s lecture on YouTube, and found it very fascinating. With all the information you gave, I will be better prepared when I read it.

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    1. You’re welcome Robert! That’s so cool! And thank you for leaving a comment. Hugh Nibley is an awesome source on the POGP. I am a huge fan of his and of the POGP in general. It’s an amazing book. Good luck in your studies! If you have any questions about the POGP or anything else, please feel free to contact me here on the blog or on Facebook.

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  2. UPDATE 4/21/2020: I added number 30 to the list of what the Pearl of Great Price did, which reads: “It told us that the first object to form in the universe was a star, before we new the ages of stars or the order of things after the Big Bang, and while many religions teach the first thing created was the earth itself. (Abraham 3:2-3 & Facsimile 2, Figure 1)”

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  3. UPDATE 6/18/2020: I added number 31 to the list of what the Pearl of Great Price anticipated, which reads: “It told us that the first stars included the biggest and heaviest stars ever, before we knew that the first generation of stars in the universe (Population III stars) could grow larger and more massive than any stars extant today. (Facsimile 2, Figure 1; Abraham 3:2-3, 16)”

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