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I recently read about the doctrine of eternal families in the LDS Church. As I understand it, the LDS church teaches that men on this planet have the potential to become gods themselves, who then have their own planets upon which people may become gods also.

I am mathematically inclined, so I began thinking of this from that perspective. Currently, the LDS Church has a membership of around 15 million people worldwide. If we, however, only assume that one million men attain godhood from God's spiritual progeny on this planet and that this is the only planet on which His progeny attains godhood, then we would have a generational ratio of 1:1,000,000 or 1:10^6. If that ratio were to hold for each man that becomes a god in each subsequent generation, the numbers become quite large very quickly, even assuming linear growth rather than exponential.

I understand that LDS teaching holds the our God was once a man on another planet, so at the very least, people on this planet are the third "generation". If our God is one of a million others who also became gods on their planet, then the total number of gods and planets, if this really is the third generation, would now be 10^6 X 10^6, or 10^12 (one trillion). If this is the 4th generation, then there would be 10^12 or one quintillion gods and planets.

Ten celestial generations would produce 10^60 gods and planets, and 20 would produce 10^120 gods and planets.

Science estimates that there are only between 10^78 - 10^82 atoms in the observable universe. So, my question is whether or not the LDS Church speaks to this reality and whether it holds to a multi-universe or infinite universe theory in order to account for the mathematical realities or if there is some other explanation.

I have never read anything about this question on any other sites. The mathematical realities just occurred to me as I was thinking about this.

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    Interesting thought. I'm guessing out on a limb that the orthodox LDS answer to this question is, "It hasn't been revealed yet." I truly hope I'm wrong though. :) – user5286 Dec 12 '13 at 19:22
  • I thought I remembered reading about an eternal matter something that exalted Mormons use to build their worlds. I also remember reading that the "generations" of previous Gods to previous worlds continues ad infinitum. There is no "first God". I might be wrong because they were not official LDS sources. – fredsbend Dec 12 '13 at 20:33
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    A simple "what we observe is obviously not all there is" sounds like the answer to me. – fredsbend Dec 12 '13 at 20:36
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The problem with this kind of question is that, at least within the context of Mormon Doctrine, there has never exactly been an authoritative treatise on any sort of relation to these concepts in our physical realm. I can, however, present the various theories laid forth by various 'philosophers,' so to speak, within Mormonism.

An interesting book I came across recently is entitled The Kolob Theorem by Lynn M. Hilton. Hilton gives the hypothesis that Kolob (the star/planet on which God resides according to Mormonism) is at the center of the Milky Way, and that all subsequent other Galaxies are their own realms with their own respective Gods. Of course, the problem with this according to your numbers is obvious: There are only about 10^12 galaxies in the observable universe. I am not sure if Hilton addresses this in his book, perhaps he gives an explanation or perhaps believes in some kind of infinitum.

Another, and anecdotally more common, theory is that everything that is observable in our universe is the creation of only our God. The late Neil A Maxwell, an Apostle in the church, offered this:

The Restoration’s revelations and translations accommodate a vast universe; thus it is no surprise to us that scientists’ latest estimate of the number of stars in the universe is approximately 70 sextillion—“more stars in the sky,” scientists say, “than there are grains of sand in every beach and desert on Earth”

The context of his sermon indicates belief in all that being of God, and thus lends credence to the former theory. I believe it is the more common one among adherents to Mormonism.

While it is possible to find various speculations and even contradictory statements from both members and church leaders regarding the exact nature of such doctrines, most Mormons simply believe in an absolute infinite, that is; that there is no end to the number of universes out there. Few ever formulate an opinion on how that is accomplished. I believe that it would be accurate to say that as a whole Mormonism accepts the notion of a multiverse, but because, as in many other things in Mormonism, the exact mechanics are not prescribed, it's best to conclude that there is simply no precise conclusion in Mormonism other than the infinite number of Gods, and thus an infinite universe or multiverse.

  • +1 Thanks. I'm very interested to know that some of this has been addressed in some fashion. – Narnian Dec 13 '13 at 12:53
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    This isn't really important in terms of answering the question, but technically, Kolob is the star "nearest unto the throne of God" (Abraham 3:2), not the "the star/planet on which God resides." – Samuel Bradshaw Jan 16 '17 at 23:37
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I saw your query today as I was sitting through the Primary program in Sacrament meeting. Other LDS will understand this. 😇 I was searching Google hits on the query [mormon string theory] and your question was right there.

One of the problems with your calculations is the assumption that every man (and woman,incidentally) who achieves godhood goes on to create their own planet, etc. This is a common misconception among Mormons and non-Mormons alike. There is nothing in the LDS scriptures, which consist of the Bible, The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants [D&C], and the Pearl of Great Price that compels such a doctrine. There are, however, indications that such a doctrine is false.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught than the same sociality that exists among us here on earth exists in heaven. (D&C 130:4.) We don't go to heaven and then go off and do our own thing. We do things, like creating, together. LDS scripture supports such a conclusion.

The Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price includes an account given of the creation of this earth that differs from the Hebrew Bible on one particular matter. The Hebrew Bible describing the creation tells that God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1.) However, Abraham records that it was the Gods (plural), or Council of the Gods that was responsible for creating the heavens and the Earth. (Abraham 4:1.) Thus, the creation of the earth was accomplished by God AND all of the other gods of that celestial generation. Rather than having 1 million gods each creating innumerable planets, we would see 1 million gods cooperating in the same socialty that existed among us here, where we all work together to raise the neighbor's barn, creating innumerable planets.

As to whether or not such an LDS doctrine is at odds with the amount of matter observable in the universe, I doubt many LDS Christians would struggle to comprehend an incomprehensible god's power. Indeed, I suspect there is a similar dearth of non-LDS Christians struggling to understand the incomprehensible God. That, of course, is what faith is for.

Anyway, I appreciate the question because in pondering and composing this response a couple of answers to other questions I have had for many years became clear. But those questions and answers are unrelated to your query.

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    Welcome to Christianity.SE, and thanks for taking the site tour. Thanks also for offering an answer to this question. For further tips on writing good answers here, please see: What makes a good supported answer? And for more on what this site is all about, please see: How we are different than other sites. – Lee Woofenden Nov 14 '16 at 3:27
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    Interesting answer. This would be more useful if you can find sources that agree with your ideas. You probably can't find "official" sources but perhaps other LDS members have speculated similarly in writing. Quoting the exact words of your scripture might also be helpful. I wonder about D&C 130:4, for example. If you can find references and include short quotes from them, I will definitely upvote this. – disciple Nov 14 '16 at 3:32

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