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I have a line in my book about Joseph Smith being the Copernican theologian par excellence. Does that stimulate any thought?
Does Joseph Smith’s theology exploit the possibilities opened up by an infinitely expanding universe?
The heavens change! Spots come and go on the Sun, and God was once a man! Oops, it was Galileo who discovered sunspots, wasn’t it? : )
Why Copernicus instead of Galileo? Because Galileo has been used so much as an occasion to ridicule religion as being full of superstition? Copernicus is tricky because yes, he turned the heavens nearly inside-out, but some people might think a geocentric model (pre-Copernican) of the cosmos is more analogous to the highly anthropomorphic LDS view of God. (Randy Paul of course would say actually it’s a highly *theo*morphic view of *humans*)
What about Albert Einstein? : )
I think that Smith fits better into the Caperinican model than you might allow. After all, the solar centric model was really favored by most of the religious/magical/cosmological mystics in the late western tradition. I think Francis Yates has a good discussion of this in her biography of Giordano Bruno. This school of thought tended to give more weight (both literal and figurative) to the sun, which was often associated with the divine. So it wasn’t really all tht difficult to make everyting else revolve around it. Also, one reading of the Book of Abraham might indicate that while the text has a geo/human centric model of the cosmos, Fac. 2 does not. It puts the divine right in the mysical middle of the text, rather than placing it in a far off sphere.
I think Joseph Smith could fit into BOTH groupings. He saw God and man as the center of the Universe, but that was only part of the story. At other times Joseph Smith didn’t even put God at the center, as much as God as a continuation of an eternal reality. I think that Joseph Smith was much more of an Einstienian Relativist; the center of things depended on what view you were describing in relation to others.