“While at dinner, I remarked to my family and friends present, that when the earth was sanctified and became like a sea of glass, it would be one great urim and thummim, and the Saints could look in it and see as they are seen.”Joseph Smith (18 Feb 1843)
Do you remember how Joseph Smith taught that the Earth will die and then become a globe like a sea of glass? It’s even in the D&C (sections 77:1 & 130:9). That teaching has always seemed a little weird to me, because in science, we never hear about rocky planets dying and then being resurrected as globes of crystal. We definitely don’t have scientists predicting that Earth will be resurrected as a glassy sphere. So, was Joseph just pulling this out of nowhere to sound mysterious and entertain his followers?
It may appear so to some, but not so fast, guys–
Because, while we don’t hear about our planet dying and turning into a ball of glass, we do hear about stars dying and then becoming bright crystallized worlds called white dwarfs. In fact, our very own Sun is destined to become a white dwarf.
So, today I propose: What if Joseph was right, but it’s not the Earth that becomes the celestialized crystal sphere, but the Sun? And what if pieces of the Earth end up in the Sun, and that’s where this celestial sea of glass really is?
Well, as it turns out, bits of our destroyed planet making up a portion of a crystal globe for the rest of time is exactly what science is now saying will probably happen.
According to science, in about 5 billion years from now the Sun will expand into a red giant and will get so scary big that it will likely engulf and entirely consume Earth. While some scientists say there’s a chance Earth will get pushed out of the burn zone before then, this article by astrophysicist Ethan Siegel does a good job of explaining that, chances are, our planet will end its career as red giant breakfast. Toast. This is a very legitimate way in which the Earth will meet its demise.
After it expands, the Sun will eventually shed its outer layers, and all that will be left is its core–a glowing white dwarf made of mostly crystallized carbon and oxygen. Yes, our Sun, the flaming ball of gas that feeds the flowers and warms your skin, is destined to become a globe of crystal, “glass and fire” (see D&C 130:7-9).
Just this past month, news dropped that astronomers have found evidence of the “Pulverized Crusts of … Dead Planets” in the atmospheres of white dwarfs–showing that pieces of a sun-like star’s planets, destroyed in the process of the star’s death, can end up as part of the star’s remnant white dwarf. These dead planets can spiral inward and get ripped apart by the white dwarf’s gravity, their shards eventually making their way onto the star itself. The article states “that the abundance of enriched elements” found in these white dwarfs “matches what we know from our own solar system, indicating that planetary systems like ours have been in the universe for a very, very long time.”
Reminds me of Moses 1:35: “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.”
Anyway, this is pretty exciting news because scientists are now saying our very own planet may someday end up as a contributing piece of a white dwarf. And in 1832 and 1843, we have Joseph Smith telling his followers that the Earth will die but will end up as a sea of glass and fire. How did he know??
One thing that’s cool, is that Joseph said Earth would become a sea of glass, not a globe of glass–perhaps implying that the Earth itself would not be transformed from rock planet into crystal planet, but would be incorporated into the outer/upper regions (maybe atmosphere) of another existing crystal body, making it a surface sea of sorts. (see D&C 77:1, compare with 130:6-7)
Another cool thing is the deep symbolism that pervades the whole situation if white dwarf atmosphere is our fate. Just like the Earth may die and resurrect to become one with the immortal Sun, we, as humans, will die and be resurrected to potentially become one with the Son and joint-heirs with Him (see John 17:11, 18-23 & Romans 8:16-18). Either way, we (us and the Earth) transform into part of something far more glorious than our previous condition.
And the gospel/science nerd inside me thinks: For the astronomers to find that many generations of planets have ended up as elements in their white dwarf’s atmospheres makes me wonder if the doctrine of earths becoming seas of glass is a common one among gods and worlds throughout creation. If sun-like stars are so good at supporting life, it makes sense that many of the other earths we hear about from Joseph end up in white dwarfs too.
The more I learn about the universe, the more amazement I have for the teachings of Joseph Smith. He may have made all this stuff up, but he sure got a lot of things right.
Sources and Notes
- Joseph Smith quote on destiny of the earth: https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-d-1-1-august-1842-1-july-1843/115
- Ethan Seigel article, “Earth Is Spiraling Away From The Sun For Now, But Will Eventually Crash Into It”: https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2020/04/09/earth-is-spiraling-away-from-the-sun-for-now-but-will-eventually-crash-into-it/#75b71ab22385
- “White Dwarf Atmospheres Might Contain the Pulverized Crusts of Their Dead Planets”: https://www.universetoday.com/149912/white-dwarf-atmospheres-might-contain-the-pulverized-crusts-of-their-dead-planets/
- “Lithium pollution of a white dwarf records the accretion of an extrasolar planetesimal”: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/371/6525/168.editor-summary
- White Dwarf Atmosphere: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_dwarf; https://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/science/objects/dwarfs2.html
- LDS quotes about the earth turning into a sea of glass: http://ldslastdays.com/celestialized-earth/. Here we find some interesting Brigham Young quotes on the matter: (1) “By and by the Lord will purify the earth, and it will become pure and holy, like a sea of glass; then it will take its place in the rank of the celestial ones, and be recognized as celestial; but at the present time it is a dark, little speck in space.” (JD 14:19). (2) “And this world, … when it becomes celestialized, it will be like the sun, and be prepared for the habitation of the Saints, and be brought back into the presence of the Father and the Son. It will not then be an opaque body as it now is, but it will be like the stars of the firmament, full of light and glory: it will be a body of light. John compared it, in its celestialized state, to a sea of glass.” (JD 7:26).
- A note on Joseph and other earths: He said that there were “ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this”. See https://sitatcit.home.blog/2019/12/28/latter-day-saints-are-ready-for-extraterrestrial-life/