Some people say that Mormonism and space exploration pair nicely together, like cheese and sacramental wine. Some faithful Latter-day Saints have even worked for the NASA, like Ron Dittermore. We have the Book of Abraham, which has all sorts of astrology and planetary information, including the infamous Kolob. But as much as Mormonism speaks of other worlds and planets without number, it completely misunderstands our place in the universe.
From the beginning, Mormonism has had an interesting take on other worlds. A few examples:
“ ‘Inhabitants of the Moon are more of a uniform size than the inhabitants of the Earth, being about 6 feet in height. They dress very much like the Quaker Style & are quite general in Style, or the one fashion of dress. They live to be very old; comeing [sic] generally, near a thousand years.’ This is the description of them as given by Joseph the Seer, and he could ‘See’ whatever he asked the Father in the name of Jesus to see.”
– Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., in Journal of O.B. Huntington, Book 14, p. 166
“In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel before I was 21 years of age; that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and – to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes.” – O.B. Huntington, The Young Women’s Journal, v. 3, pp. 263-264 (1892)
President Brigham Young further enlightened us about our own sun:
“Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon?… When you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the ignorant of their fellows. So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain.” – Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 13, p. 271
It seems that there is “no question” among the LDS faithful that these prophets were only speaking as men (as they always seem to be speaking when fact comes around proves them wrong). Or perhaps O.B. Huntington wasn’t righteousness enough to qualify for his patriarchal blessing to preach the gospel to the moon people, in which case we can just do their baptisms for the dead once we visit the moon cemetery on another Apollo mission.
But this is just the beginning of the theological problems that bring Mormonism and space exploration into conflict. For example, when Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, what would have happened if Jesus all the sudden decided to come again? Would Buzz stand watching in safety as the whole earth burned in a glorious baptism of fire?
Could Buzz masturbate in the lunar module? Since Satan’s hosts were banned to the earth (Revelations 12:7-9), would they have needed to ride the Apollo 11 in order to tempt him? Would Buzz be in better position to obey God’s commandments if he lived on the Moon? If so, should we be spending less time on FHEs and more time figuring out how to get off the earth and away from Satan?
Luckily, these are all non-issues because the Church takes the doctrinal standpoint that we never really landed on the moon. The prophet of the time, President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“We will never get a man into space. This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it. The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.” – Honolulu Stake Conference, 1961
Thanks to the counsel of President Joseph Fielding Smith, we know that we have never gone to the moon. But what about Mars? If Elon Musk gets his way and Mars becomes habitable, does Jesus need to have two showings of the Second Coming so no one misses it? Or, since “there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it”, does Jesus have to leave the hosts of angels at Earth when he burns the Earthlings on Mars?
Luckily, these questions do not need to be answered. They are not part of fundamental gospel truths (except the nature the adversary, the characteristics of glorified beings, and the Second Coming). We just need to keep focusing on the things that make sense, and hopefully you will either realize that this other stuff isn’t important or forget about it. Right…?