So far on this blog, we’ve talked about how stars are element factories, how the earth was made out of dead stars, how the first creation in the universe was a star, and how the first stars were the greatest stars ever. If you couldn’t tell, I like stars. Well, today the star obsession continues. Today I’m going to lay out my theory on Kolob–that most elusive, mysterious of all stars in Mormonism. The first creation of God’s, the first star, and the greatest star–according to the sources Joseph Smith has given us.
Now, I need you to remember that this is a THEORY. It is not doctrine of the Church. The Book of Abraham does not require you to believe in Kolob literally. For all I know, Kolob may not be a real star at all–it could be a metaphor, symbol, literary device, lofty ideal, etc. My theory takes the position that Kolob is a real star–or rather, was a real star. But you are not required to accept my theory. Tear it apart if you can. Add more to it if you have anything. I’m just throwing ideas out there to hopefully get closer to the truth.
And so, let’s get to it. Here is my theory:
Kolob is dead. Once a very important, ancient star in our universe, Kolob passed away and now fills an essential role in our existence. Kolob was a Population III star that either went supernova to fertilize the cosmos with life-giving elements, or it collapsed upon death into a black hole that grew into the center of our galaxy. Either way, Kolob is no longer a star. We shouldn’t be asking, “Where is Kolob?” but rather, “When is Kolob?”
To support this theory, I provide 21 points of evidence below, taken mostly from the writings/sayings of Joseph Smith. There’s surprisingly more to go on than you’d think. But ultimately, you decide if my ideas are supported enough or not. And remember, as all YECs say about evolution, this “is just a theory.”
So relax, sit back, and see if any of what we know about Kolob fits with what we know about stars scientifically. Each point of evidence has references and notes in the Sources and Notes section at the end of this post.
Oh, and just so you know: I’ll be using the term “Population III star” a lot in this. Population III stars are the very first generation of stars in the universe. The first objects formed from the chaos of the Big Bang. They are very important to our existence. Overall, the gist of my theory is that I argue that Kolob was a Population III star.
#1. Kolob was the first creation God made
“Kolob, signifying the first creation…”Facsimile 2, Figure 1
After the Big Bang, the universe was very dark and the only elements in existence were hydrogen and helium, contained in vast clouds of gas. But eventually, these clouds started to collapse upon themselves into clumps and then into stars. The first object to form in the universe was a star. Stars were the first things “created” after the Big Bang. And this first star was the first light to shine in the history of the universe. If Kolob was the first creation, it must have been the first star, and thus a Population III star. (see the First Creation)
#2. Kolob was the greatest of all stars
“Kolob is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam that thou hast seen.”Abr. 3:16
It’s not known exactly what “greatest” means in this passage. Some possible definitions are “largest”, “brightest”, or “most massive”. Each of those means its own thing when it comes to stars. For me, the most compelling is “most massive”. Today stars usually only get as massive as 265 solar masses (that we’ve observed). But since the first stars were made up of entirely non-metals (hydrogen and helium), they could grow to ridiculous masses and sizes–even 1,000 solar masses or more. So, if Kolob was the “greatest” star in the history of the universe by mass, it had to have been a Population III star–the group of progenitor stars for all that was to come. (see the Greatest of all the Stars)
#3. Facsimile 2, Figure 1 is associated with a creator god
“Egyptologists interpret [Facsimile 2, Figure 1] as an altered figure of a creator god.”Wikipedia, accessed 7/2/2020
Joseph Smith identified Figure 1 as Kolob. Egyptologists say this figure is a creator god. If Kolob was a Population III star, then it must have fused hydrogen and helium into heavier elements, thus creating the elements out of which other stars, planets, and life would be made. It, like all stars (especially the Population III stars), would have literally been a creator, making not only the Egyptologists right, but Joseph Smith as well. (see Stars are Creators)
#4. Many worlds have already passed away
“And worlds without number have I created; … For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man… And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.”Moses 1:33-38
From this passage, I get the impression that many worlds and heavens have lived and died before Earth existed. If Kolob was the very first of the bodies of this creation, as Joseph said, then it would make sense that it has since passed away, like the other systems that (according to the Lord) existed before this earth was created. Why should Kolob be spared while innumerable younger stars have had to die already? Population III stars–especially if very massive–all lived relatively short lives and have “passed away” long before our planet rolled into existence.
#5. Abraham saw Kolob through the Urim and Thummim, even though the star may exist in the past
“And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, … And I saw the stars… And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord.”Abraham 3:1-4
If Kolob was a Population III star, then it must have already gone supernova about 13 billion years ago, and must be in the past. Abraham saw the star, so he must have been looking into the past. This would have been possible with the Urim and Thummim. In the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language (hereafter GAEL), we’re told that since the beginning, “the fathers” all sought out the greatest stars “by means of the Urim and Thummim”, a seer stone. In scripture, we are told that Abraham possessed the Urim and Thummim (Abr. 3:1) and was taught about Kolob by God through the device (Abr. 3:4). The Book of Mormon says, “a seer can know of things which are past, … and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known” (Mosiah 8:17). Joseph Smith was remembered saying that by looking into one of his seer stones, he “discovered that time, place and distance were annihilated; that all the intervening obstacles were removed, and that he possessed one of the attributes of Deity, an All-Seeing Eye.” When asked about the Urim and Thummim found with the gold plates, Joseph marveled, “I can see anything.” Therefore, there is no issue with Kolob being long dead with its guts scattered throughout the galaxy, for if Abraham is a seer with a seer stone, he can see the past.
Also, notice that a potentially timeless Lord always refers to Kolob in the present tense, while a time-bound Abraham always refers to Kolob in the past tense. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s true. (see note 5 for details; see also A Timeless God)
#6. Kolob is nearest unto the throne of God
“And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it.”Abr. 3:2
Joseph Smith remarked that God “dwells in eternity,” and that “He does not view things as we do.” The singularity or the “before” of the Big Bang was timeless, or in other words, eternity. The first star born after the Big Bang would then be the nearest star in time to this eternal state. Kolob would therefore be the closest star to eternity, where God dwells. If so, the first stars are nearest to God, being around 100-300 million years away; we would be much farther away at about 13.8 billion years. Population III stars are definitely the “nearest” ones to God’s eternal throne in time.
Looking at the distance of Kolob as being in time rather than in parsecs is supported by the GAEL, which ends with: “[Kolob] signifies the first great grand governing fixed star which is the fartherest that ever has been discovered by the fathers which was discovered by Methusela and also by Abraham”. In astronomy, the farthest objects we can see in a telescope are also the most ancient and farthest away from us in time. Kolob is the first star, the nearest star to God, and the farthest star from us in time.
We should also consider that when the first star formed, a couple hundred million years after the Big Bang, the universe was much smaller, at around 0.003% its current volume. If God does live at the origin of the universe, then the first star would have been much closer to that point than we are today due to the over 13 billion years of cosmic expansion that has occurred since then. Therefore, Kolob is not only the nearest to God in time, but in space as well.
#7. The stars nearest Kolob were also great
“And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it.”Abr. 3:2
When Abraham sees Kolob, he also sees many other great, “governing” stars near to the throne of God. If Kolob was a Population III star, then its sister stars were also Population III stars. There were many of these behemoths in the first generation. Just like Kolob, they would have been near to God’s throne in time (see Point #6 above). They also would have been close to Kolob in time, forming at around the same point in the universe’s timeline.
Since space has been expanding since the Big Bang, the density of the universe was about 40,000 times greater when the first stars were forming. Because all matter was packed into a smaller volume, the earliest stars would have been relatively close to each other compared to how close galaxies are to each other today. The universe was orders of magnitude smaller back then. This in mind, the other great, governing Population III stars would have been “near” to Kolob spatially as well. This is supported by Joseph Smith’s note on Oliblish, a star which “Stands next to Kolob,” and “is the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides; holding the key of power also, pertaining to other planets” (Facsimile 2, Figure 2). Oliblish sounds very much like another Population III star, which perhaps governs planets and stars in another region of space or in another galaxy (see #12 below).
When I read Abraham 3:2, I imagine Abraham taking a tour among the very first objects to form in the not-yet-quite-as-big universe: the great Population III giants that made our current existence possible.
#8. Some scholars theorize that Kolob is located in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy
“Several Mormon authors have attempted to situate Kolob within modern astronomy. Skousen speculated that Kolob is a star at the Galactic Center, Sagittarius A*, of our own Galaxy. This view also had the support of several former general authorities of the LDS Church… In the mid-19th century, early efforts to find a single ‘central sun’ in the galaxy resulted in failure.”Wikipedia, accessed 7/2/2020
Many Latter-Day Saints have speculated that Kolob is a star in the center of our galaxy. Could this have any validity to it? Some models suggest that some Population III stars, upon their deaths, became black holes and may have been the seeds of later supermassive black holes (SMBHs). Astronomers now think that all galaxies house a SMBH in their center, around which the galactic matter and stars revolve. If Kolob was a Population III star, it could have collapsed into the SMBH that eventually became the center of the Milky Way. This is a compelling idea for Kolob’s current location, as it fits well with other evidence we’ll get to in points below.
#9. Kolob governs the earth, Sun, and Moon–Part 1
“And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.”Abr. 3:3
The definition of the word “govern” here is open to interpretation. By being a Population III star, perhaps in the elemental ancestry of the Sun and the earth, Kolob could be said to “govern” them by providing the materials from which they were made. Kolob’s birth and death may have started a chain reaction of chemistry and physics which ultimately led to our current world: The first star is born, it fuses and creates elements, then dies and creates more elements; these elements become part of new stars, which then create more elements before dying, and so on, until the Sun is born and the earth is formed. In this way, Kolob doesn’t “govern” the earth necessarily via gravity or mystical energy, but by its ancient contribution of physical materials and by the natural progression of mechanics that followed its death and resulted in our birth. Kind of like how your ancestors “govern” you by providing bodies and culture and being an essential link in your pedigree, but not by ruling over your decisions. Without each one of your progenitors, you would not be here–and so they govern who you are genetically. The same could be said for Kolob’s relationship to the earth, and all other planets of the same order–the ancient star governs our elemental DNA. Stop and think: Are you made out of Kolob?
With this view, then the “governing power” isn’t necessarily gravitational dominance, but nucleosynthesis and the physics following the supernova. Some simulations have suggested that “only one massive star may have formed for each proto-galactic clump” in the early universe–or in other words–each galaxy today was started long ago by its own, single, giant Population III star. This special star would get the process of chemical enrichment going, and hold a large cloud of matter in place that eventually grew into a dwarf galaxy, which eventually would merge with other dwarf galaxies to become a large galaxy. We don’t know in detail how the Population III stars led to our current solar system, but we know that they did, and by that our existence is governed by them. If Population III stars are “the governing ones”, then they cannot necessarily govern as stars holding other stars and planets in orbit (since they are all dead), but they can govern as essential ancestral links in our stellar family tree.
#10. Kolob governs the earth, Sun, and Moon–Part 2
“Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.”Abr. 3:9
Another way to look at the word “govern”, and probably the most common interpretation among readers of Abraham, is that it’s describing gravitational influence. Many have mocked Kolob because of this idea, since the Sun is not governed gravitationally by any other star, especially not a “central sun” in the middle of the Milky Way. But remember, if Kolob is a Population III star, then it is no longer a star, but could be a black hole–the supermassive one at the center of our galaxy (see #8 above).
The SMBHs at galactic centers appear to influence how massive their host galaxy can get, and how fast its outer stars orbit the galactic center. Somehow, these SMBHs keep their galaxies together and govern at least some aspects of them. The solar system completes one trip around the galaxy every 230 million years. Other stars have their own period of orbit. Therefore, Kolob, as the SMBH at the heart of the Milky Way, would “govern” our Sun, our planet, our Moon, and all other planets and stars in the galaxy.
#11. The Sun borrows light from Kolob
“the Sun … borrow[s] its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power…”Facsimile 2, Figure 5
This passage has sparked many thinkers to evoke a sort of mystical, invisible connection between the stars that reaches across untold distances of space. How else could another star lend its light to our Sun? Theories have been used to explain this, such as the Electric Universe. This has drawn considerable ridicule from critics who claim that the LDS belief about Kolob requires us to accept cooky pseudoscience. But I propose a couple of other ways the Sun borrows light from Kolob.
A) As a Population III star, Kolob would have made light by fusing lighter elements into heavier ones (in a process called nucleosynthesis). Once it had exploded and spread its contents through the universe, other stars would have formed from its remains. This second generation of stars would have made their own light fusing some elements that had been inside of Kolob; same as the third generation of stars, of which the Sun is said to be. Therefore, the “grand key” or “governing power” could be nucleosynthesis, which is caused by the immense gravity of the star pulling massive amounts of matter onto itself. Nucleosynthesis is also how the Sun gets its light as it fuses hydrogen into helium. However, it’s possible that the Sun also “borrows” light from Kolob because it may be a descendant of the ancient first star, possessing material from that star in itself.
B) We’re also learning that galactic-center black holes can play a large role in the star formation of their galaxies. They can kind of turn it on or off. As matter falls into a SMBH, the black hole becomes “active”, and it spews high-energy particles and radiation back into its galaxy. This radiation is believed to trigger star formation in such galaxies. Quasars, some of the brightest things in the universe, are examples of early SMBHs lighting up their galaxies with activity and radiation. Thus, the light (or radiation) generated from a black hole triggers a star to shine. In a sense, the black hole lends the star light so that the star produces its own light.
If Kolob is a Population III star turned SMBH at the center of the Milky Way, then it may have been the Kolob SMBH that sparked the formation of the Sun or a predecessor to the Sun—making Kolob the lender of the light that the Sun “borrows”, since the Sun’s light is only possible due to its stellar ancestors and the black hole that may have started them. Thus, another interpretation for Kolob’s governance, creatorship, and light lending could be satisfied, it being a former element-maker, but more-currently star-producing SMBH.
#12. Kolob governs all planets of the same order
“And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob… I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.”Abraham 3:3
“Order” could mean a group of something or a religious fraternity—like the order of the Nehors in the Book of Mormon (Alma 21:4), or the Order of the Phoenix in Harry Potter. Another definition of “order” could be a division of natural objects, organized by family tree. In biology, all animals of the order Cetacea, for example, are descended from a common ancestor. These usages of the word are compelling considering the idea of “governing [stars]” in Abraham.
If Kolob is the source of many of the atoms that make up the planets in our galaxy, then you could say that Kolob is a common ancestor of those planets, and those planets are “of the same order”–they’re literally a family. And if Kolob is the SMBH at the middle of the Milky Way, then it’s almost like the planets in our galaxy are in a fraternity or group, revolving around and paying obeisance to the dead star in the middle of the circle. Either way, in this context, an “order” of planets pertains to the galaxy in which they reside.
Science does seem to support this. As we stated above in #9, some theories suggest that each galaxy was started with its own, single, massive Population III star, which helped turn the matter around it into a protogalaxy. It’s interesting to note from the Book of Abraham that another “governing” star named Oliblish is said to also hold “the key of power … pertaining to other planets” (Facsimile 2, Figure 2). Perhaps Kolob was the one that started our galaxy, and Oliblish was the one that started another galaxy which now contains its own order of planets.
#13. The earth was made of portions of other globes
“Earth has been organized out of portions of other Globes that has ben Disorganized.”Joseph Smith, 1841
This statement was recorded a year before the Book of Abraham was published, and probably several years after Joseph first learned of Kolob while translating the Egyptian papyri. Although no direct reference to Kolob is given here, it is clear that Joseph Smith was aware that progenitor globes or planets had broken up and contributed material to the formation of Earth. Whether he meant to include stars when he said “globes” or “planets” is unknown, but it is consistent with the idea of Population III stars, nucleosynthesis, and even explosive nucleosynthesis, the process of the creation of even more elements in the supernova death of a star. According to science, this planet, Earth, is made out of elements that were forged in exploded stars. Perhaps Kolob is part of that process, and perhaps Joseph Smith learned about it while translating the papyri? (see That Time Joseph Smith Said the Earth Was Made of Planets)
#14. The Sun receives its power through the medium of two other stars
“[The Sun] receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob.”Facsimile 2, Figure 5
The Sun is commonly said to be a third generation star, which means that there were at least two stars that preceded it in ancestry. This is because the Sun contains within it a cocktail of heavy elements that must have been created in earlier stars. Astronomers also think that an ancient supernova may have sparked the formation of the Sun. So not only does the Sun have pieces of deceased stars in it, but it also could have been the shockwave from a dead star that prodded it into existence.
As the SMBH in our galactic center, Kolob may have caused the formation of a stellar ancestor to the Sun. And Kolob may have been involved in the formation of the star whose explosion caused the Sun to form. We already know from #11 above that the Sun gets its light and power from Kolob, but it looks like the Sun actually gets that light and power “through the medium” of two stars that are not Kolob: Kli-flos-is-es and Hah-ko-kau-beam.
From science, we know that earlier stars influence later generations of stars by providing material and causing the star-forming process. Is it possible that these two stars in Facsimile 2, labeled 22 and 23, are two stars to whom the Sun owes its existence? If so, this supports the idea that Kolob was a Population III star that was instrumental in the creation of our solar system.
#15. Kolob is a symbol of Christ
“A metaphorical interpretation suggests that Kolob may be construed as a metaphor for Jesus.”Wikipedia, accessed 7/2/2020
Some scholars have suggested that Kolob is not a literal star, but merely a metaphor or symbol of the Son of God. Jesus Christ, who is said to be the Bright and Morning Star, and the Sun of Righteousness, died to give us life. If Kolob was a Population III star (perhaps the Firstborn star), it would have created elements and light, and then died, dispersing throughout the universe its contents–the materials essential for planets and life. Life as we know it is only possible because of the progenitor stars whose lives ended in supernovae. Therefore, Kolob may have died to give us life, just as the Savior did. Ponder how immense the infinite love of God must be for Him to sacrifice His greatest and nearest star for you. That’s pretty cool. (see Stars are Creators)
If Kolob was a Population III star that collapsed into a black hole at death, then it may live on, governing our galaxy and creating new stars from afar. After Christ died, He lived again and took His place on the right hand of the Father, yet He still influences our lives and leads His Church. Either way you look at it, Kolob’s symbolism is enhanced by thinking of it as a Population III star.
#16. QLB could mean “heart, center, or middle”
“First is the matter of the etymology of the name Kolob. One of the more common proposals is that the name derives from the Semitic root qlb, meaning ‘heart, center, middle,’ and is thus related to the root qrb, meaning ‘to be near, close.’”Pearl of Great Price Central
Atoms made inside of Kolob’s core, or heart, could be some of the very same atoms that flow through your veins and into your heart. The iron in Earth’s center could have originated from Kolob. In fact, it would have been the iron built up in Kolob’s core that caused it to die and go supernova. That very iron could be inside of you. If so, it’s now in your heart. How beautiful is that?
Also, the remnant black hole of Kolob could reside in the center of our galaxy. This would put it at the heart or middle of all activity in the Milky Way. Looking at Kolob as a Population III star provides many enlightening ways to satisfy this etymology for Kolob.
#17. KLB could mean “dog”
“Another promising proposal is that Kolob derives from the Semitic root klb, meaning ‘dog.’”Pearl of Great Price Central
This etymology is harder to fit with the theory, but there could be a place for it. In Egyptian mythology, the god Anubis was depicted as “a canine or a man with a canine head,” and his “sacred animal” was “an Egyptian canid, the African golden wolf.” Anubis was a dog. Anubis was also “the god of death, mummification, embalming, the afterlife, cemeteries, tombs, and the Underworld, in ancient Egyptian religion.”
As a Population III star, Kolob is dead, and certainly had already passed through “death” by the time of Abraham. Kolob could, in a way, have an “afterlife” as the elements in our bodies or the black hole in the middle of the Milky Way. This may be completely stupid, but it’s the only connection I could find.
#18. Brigham Young said the earth had been formed near Kolob, then fell to its present location
“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. And when man fell … the earth fell into space, and took up its abode in this planetary system, and the sun became our light.”Brigham Young, July 19, 1874 (JD 17:143)
If Kolob was the star that created some of the elements from which the earth is made, then this statement by Brigham isn’t all that far off. Earth’s materials were formed originally inside the great star, and then expelled at its death. Over eons, they would have “fallen” away until they became part of the nebula which turned into the Sun and its planets, including Earth.
Is it possible this statement of Brigham’s has roots in something Joseph Smith may have taught about the connection between Kolob and the formation of Earth? (see #13 above)
#19. The song “If You Could Hie to Kolob” might imply that Kolob’s in the past
“If you could hie to Kolob / In the twinkling of an eye, / And then continue onward / With that same speed to fly, / Do you think that you could ever, / Through all eternity, / Find out the generation / Where Gods began to be? / Or see the grand beginning, / Where space did not extend?”Hymn #284
I know that this hymn is not necessarily doctrine, and that it breaks my blog’s number one rule to not use anyone except for Joseph Smith to support my arguments (see Church Leaders and Evolution), but “If You Could Hie to Kolob” has some very interesting language in it if you think of Kolob as a giant Population III star.
According to the text, once you hie to Kolob, if you continue onward at the same speed, you could potentially end up finding the generation where Gods began or you might even see the grand beginning itself. Since the first Gods and the beginning of the universe are both things of our past, the lyrics seem to imply that your “hie-ing” is a journey through time, not necessarily through space. This supports the idea that the star Kolob is in the past, not an extant, burning star somewhere out there today. And it’s interesting to note that at the grand beginning you’d see that space does not extend, which evokes a small universe before it had expanded much after the Big Bang. (see #7 above)
I’m planning on devoting another blog post to Hymn #284 and the Big Bang, but for now, we’ll end this point with the following: W. W. Phelps was present with Joseph Smith during much of the Book of Abraham translation, including when “the system of astronomy was unfolded” to those working with the papyri. Is it possible that Phelps picked up more about time, space, expansion, Kolob, and the first generation of stars than has survived in the written record? How else could these modern cosmological components have ended up in this hymn if it was published in 1856?
#20. Sources never say God lives on Kolob or a planet orbiting around Kolob
“I believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob.”Missionary in the musical The Book of Mormon
The first stars formed in a universe devoid of heavy elements. Only hydrogen and helium existed. These stars would have fused H and He into all the other elements we know today. Therefore, according to science, the earliest Population III stars could not have had planets, as the materials with which to build planets were not yet in existence.
Despite the popular belief that God lives on Kolob or inhabits a planet in orbit around Kolob, a close reading of the information we have shows that this idea is never suggested in scripture or in the GAEL. This absence of evidence supports the notion that Kolob is a Population III star, which couldn’t have had any planets.
#21. Kolob has a different reckoning of time relative to Earth
“One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh.”Facsimile 2, Figure 1
And finally, any discussion of Kolob wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the famous ratio of 1 Kolob day to 1,000 Earth years. Despite the abundance of ideas about “Kolob time”, as I like to call it, we don’t actually know what these numbers mean in reality.
However, if Kolob time has anything to do with relativity or time dilation, the enormous mass of a large Population III star would definitely propagate some interesting relativistic effects–not to mention the 40,000-times-greater density of the early universe when these stars were forming, which would also involve some time dilation relative to the rate of our clocks. According to the theory of relativity, the closer one gets to a massive object, the slower his time passes relative to another observer farther away from the object. Certainly, one could theoretically get close enough to a black hole with 4 million solar masses (which the Milky Way’s SMBH has) to induce a time dilation of 1 day to 1,000 Earth years. Is this what the Book of Abraham is referring to? I don’t know. But considering that Einstein wouldn’t discover relativity for another 63 years or so after the Book of Abraham was published, Joseph Smith’s inclusion of this aspect of time being different relative to different locations is intriguing at the least.
And on top of that, if you went inside the Schwarzschild radius or event horizon of a black hole, you would find that your time had completely stopped relative to the outside universe. You would be in a timeless, eternal place—or in other words, eternity. Remember that according to Joseph Smith, eternity is where God dwells (see #6 above). So if Kolob is now a black hole, then one could say it is near to the throne of God (see Abr. 3:2, 9) based on its relativistic gravitational field. Thinking of Kolob as a Population III star definitely provides some interesting ways to apply what we’re told about Kolob’s “reckoning” of time (see Abr. 3:4, 5:13). (see A Timeless God)
Of course, this theory of Kolob being a dead Population III star isn’t perfect. There are still things about Kolob that it doesn’t explain. Here are three of them that I can think of (and they are by no means the only three out there):
(ONE) I used the GAEL as a source on Kolob, but it has some weird stuff that seems to conflict with the current Book of Abraham. I’m mostly referring to a section about a group of “three grand central powers that govern all the other creations”, which includes Oliblish but doesn’t include Kolob, the greatest of all. To me, that seems to contradict what we’re told about Oliblish in the notes of Facsimile 2. And I admit, the GAEL document as a whole doesn’t make much sense to me at all, so other contradictions may exist.
(TWO) Some people have made some compelling arguments that Kolob is Sirius, the brightest star in our sky. Sirius is also called the “Dog Star”, which serves well the etymological meaning of “KLB” being “dog.” I obviously don’t go in that direction, but it’s worth checking out.
(THREE) Obviously Kolob being a star that died over 13 billion years ago conflicts heavily with those who believe the universe is young, that stars and planets were created supernaturally, or that God cannot be timeless. I personally disagree with all three of those views, but if any of them turn out to be true, then my theory would definitely need some revising.
What do I think?
Although I badly want pieces of Kolob to make up some of the atoms in my body and in the planets of our solar system (because it’s such a beautiful thought), I think the most likely truth is that Kolob is the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy. If Kolob truly was the greatest star ever by mass, it probably would have lived a very short life as a star, died, then collapsed into a black hole. That black hole could have become a seed for a later SMBH. Due to the language in the Book of Abraham about how Kolob is the first star, a governing one, and governs our system and many other planets, and how it lends its light to the Sun and other stars, it sounds like Kolob being the SMBH at the center of the Milky Way is a very good fit. In this position, it would have been able to affect star formation in the galaxy, which may have sparked the formation of the Sun, either directly or by causing a chain reaction that ultimately resulted in our solar system. In my humble blogger opinion, this interpretation of Kolob is the best fit for the data we have.
Things I want to know.
Writing this theory has raised a lot of questions in my mind. Here are some of them: If a massive star collapsed into a black hole, could some of the elements it made as a star be spewed out in the material jets that some black holes eject? If so, could any of that material have been incorporated into the stars and planets in our galaxy? Did the Milky Way SMBH directly cause the formation of the Sun? Did any other references to Kolob survive in diaries contemporary with Joseph Smith?…. So many questions.
What we do know
Even though there’s a lot we don’t know about Kolob, I think we know a good amount—well, it’s a good start, anyway! Whether Kolob really was the biggest, heaviest, or brightest star, we don’t know for sure. But I think we can say for sure that Kolob was the first star–and as such, Kolob was a Population III star. And if Kolob was a Population III star even just a little bit more massive than the Sun, then it is currently dead. No other option exists for such an object.
Kolob, of course, has gone through its share of speculative theories. And it’s endured a fair amount of scorn for it all. But I think if we view Kolob not as some mysterious, magical orb in the sky; but as a deceased, ancient, sacrificial, and very significant Population III star, then we might have a chance at understanding its importance—its “greatness”, if you will (see Abr. 3:16). And then, suddenly, the idea of a governing, light-lending star doesn’t seem all that laughable after all.
So here’s my challenge to you: Go outside during the day and look around you. The leaves rustling in the breeze, the clouds drifting through the sky, the animals grazing in the field, the people walking on the street—all of those things may be made out of Kolob, its pieces having been scattered into the cosmos billions of years ago. Next, go outside at night and look up at the Milky Way’s galactic center, toward Sagittarius. Behind that thick cloud of stars and debris could reside the remains of a deceased Kolob, whose immense gravitational pull as a supermassive black hole is keeping our galaxy together—a stunning collection of nuclear lights that it has helped to form over the eons.
There you go. Kolob may have furnished the atoms in our world, or it may be the Milky Way’s prized SMBH. Either way, if Kolob is a Population III star, then we can find some very reasonable explanations for how Kolob can be the creator, governor, and light lender Joseph Smith told us it is.
What do you think?
Now I’m curious, what do you think about Kolob? Is it possible that Kolob might be dead? Is Kolob inside you?
Sources and Notes
The notes correspond with the numbering of the 21 points in the post above.
- https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2018/08/25/ask-ethan-why-were-the-first-stars-much-larger-than-even-todays-biggest-ones/; http://www.solstation.com/x-objects/first.htm
- https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Grammar_%26_Alphabet_of_the_Egyptian_Language; https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2019/first-vision-as-endowment-and-epitome-of-the-gospel; https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Joseph_Smith/Seer_stones/%22Rock_in_hat%22_used_for_Book_of_Mormon_translation; In Abraham chapter 3, when the Lord refers to Kolob it’s always in the present tense, but when Abraham refers to Kolob, it’s always in the past tense–The Lord: “These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, … I have set this one to govern all those… until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is… which Kolob is set nigh… Kolob is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam that thou hast seen…”; Abraham: “I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it;… And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord…”
- http://signaturebookslibrary.org/essential-joseph-smith-48/ , 7 Apr 1844; https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Grammar_%26_Alphabet_of_the_Egyptian_Language; https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/02/07/why-looking-at-the-stars-is-a-look-back-in-time/#17f4926014ec; https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2020/03/18/space-wasnt-always-a-big-place/#6835a52d4183
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolob; https://www.simonsfoundation.org/2016/11/10/how-did-the-first-supermassive-black-holes-form/; https://aasnova.org/2017/06/16/maxing-out-the-mass-of-early-stars/; https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/black-holes#:~:text=Astronomers%20believe%20that%20supermassive%20black,of%20super%2Ddense%20cosmic%20objects.
- http://www.solstation.com/x-objects/first.htm; Documentary, Cosmic front: First Stars; Curiosity Stream; Directed by Kotaro Miyake & Eriko Hase, Produced in 2013 by NHK, John Wise of the Georgia Institute of Technology: https://physics.gatech.edu/news/visualizing-birth-galaxies-episode-5-starring-john-wise
- https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/science.html; http://www.conflictofjustice.com/book-of-abrahams-claims-kolob-contradict-modern-science/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolob; https://www.cosmotography.com/images/supermassive_blackholes_drive_galaxy_evolution_2.html; https://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/questions/question18.html#:~:text=Answer%3A,orbit%20around%20the%20Milky%20Way!
- https://ldsanarchy.wordpress.com/2007/11/11/the-sun-borrows-its-light-and-the-planets-or-stars-were-fixed/; https://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/2018/abraham_&_electric.html; https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/science.html; https://phys.org/news/2018-01-supermassive-black-holes-star-formation.html; https://www.cosmotography.com/images/supermassive_blackholes_drive_galaxy_evolution_2.html; https://www.space.com/black-hole-triggers-widespread-star-formation.html#:~:text=Stars%20generally%20form%20where%20gas,which%20new%20stars%20may%20form.; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180131110353.htm; https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/2019/news-2019-44.; https://www.space.com/17262-quasar-definition.html; https://youtu.be/B-LXUHJmzzc; https://www.physlink.com/education/askexperts/ae465.cfm
- https://culter.colorado.edu/~kittel/WEcol_Handouts/MammalOrders_Sheryn06.pdf; See John Wise in CuriosityStream Documentary; https://academic.oup.com/mnras/article/467/1/1140/2966869; http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/order
- https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/words-joseph-smith-contemporary-accounts-nauvoo-discourses-prophet-joseph/1841/5-january#_edn14; https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/grammar-and-alphabet-of-the-egyptian-language-circa-july-circa-november-1835/7#foot-notes; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nucleosynthesis
- https://www.physlink.com/education/askexperts/ae465.cfm; https://academic.oup.com/mnras/article/467/1/1140/2966869; https://www.space.com/35151-supernova-trigger-solar-system-formation.html
- https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/music/library/hymns/if-you-could-hie-to-kolob?lang=eng&_r=1; https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-1835-1836/4; https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/articles/if-you-could-hie-to-kolob-mormon-tabernacle-choir.html
- https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2014/02/mormons-dont-get-planet-once-they-die-say-mormons/358669/; https://earthsky.org/space/how-and-when-did-the-first-planets-form-in-our-universe; https://www.quora.com/In-Mormonism-does-God-live-on-a-planet-called-Kolob#:~:text=of%20the%20gr-,No.,in%20the%20Book%20of%20Abraham.; https://www.quora.com/I-was-always-taught-in-Mormonism-that-God-came-from-a-planet-named-Kolob-Recently-Im-seeing-more-and-more-Mormons-say-they-dont-know-where-God-came-from-So-then-what-is-this-planet-s-importance-in-Mormon-beliefs; See D&C 130:7-8 & Abr. 3:2, 9 for a way that one might infer that God lives on a planet near Kolob.
- https://www.engineersedge.com/calculators/gravitational_time_dilation_15003.htm; https://www.space.com/milky-way-monster-black-hole-cool-disk.html#:~:text=At%20the%20center%20of%20our,23.6%20million%20kilometers)%20in%20diameter.; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_relativity; Using the gravitational time dilation equation, you can figure out for yourself how close you’d have to be to the Milky Way’s SMBH to achieve a time dilation of 1 day to 1,000 Earth years. The mass of our SMBH is 4 million solar masses, and its radius is 11.8 million kilometers…. Time dilation in early universe (cuz things were denser): https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13792-cosmic-time-warp-revealed-in-slow-motion-supernovae/#:~:text=Once%20upon%20a%20time%2C%20time,recent%20series%20of%20astronomical%20observations.; https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/119441/time-dilation-at-the-big-bang; My conversation on Facebook with an astrophysicist. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwarzschild_radius#In_gravitational_time_dilation; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_time_dilation; http://askanastronomer.org/bhc/2016/01/19/time-inside-black-hole/; https://study.com/academy/lesson/black-holes-the-event-horizon-and-schwarzschild-radius.html#:~:text=Surrounding%20the%20black%20hole%20is,to%20the%20speed%20of%20light.&text=The%20distance%20from%20the%20center,known%20as%20the%20Schwarzschild%20radius.
- Sirius being Kolob: https://bycommonconsent.com/2006/11/18/kolob-as-sirius/; See also Edwin Goble’s view about Sirius being Kolob: https://www.academia.edu/38568056/Kolob_and_Archaeo-astronomy; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirius
Images (these are listed in order of appearance in post above):
- Facsimile 2, Figure 1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolob
- “An illustration explaining Abraham’s vision of the stars”: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/image/god-kolob-7c1fba3?lang=eng
- Pic of first star’s possible fate: https://astronomy.com/magazine/greatest-mysteries/2019/07/20-did-stars-galaxies-or-black-holes-come-first
- CES Letter image making fun of Kolob: https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/science.html
- Phylogenetic tree of stars: https://academic.oup.com/mnras/article/467/1/1140/2966869
- Earliest stars: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/astronomers-detect-universes-first-stars-created-during-cosmic-dawn-180968312/
- Milky Way photo: https://www.photographytalk.com/landscape-photography/7534-how-to-plan-shoot-and-edit-photos-of-the-milky-way