Worlds Come and Pass Away: Evolution of Stars and Planets in the Pearl of Great Price?

In a revelation given to Joseph Smith and recorded in the book of Moses, we find the statement that “worlds” come into existence, live for a time, and pass away (or, at least, pass into a different state). How does this statement accord with the astronomical knowledge of Joseph Smith’s day?

Emeritus professor of astronomy Hollis Johnson briefly recounts the history of astronomy, from ancient days, when the earth was deemed the center of creation, to the present, when astronomers are discovering earthlike planets orbiting distant stars. Johnson also reviews the life cycle of stars and how our knowledge of stellar evolution gradually unfolded in recent decades. He concludes that the statement in the book of Moses is far ahead of the science of Joseph Smith’s day. No one in the 1830s understood that stars do come into existence and eventually “pass away.”

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 50:1
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