Several scholars, both LDS and members of other faiths, have noted that the temple is a model of the universe:
- The temple is a scale model of the universe…1
- …the temple represents the principle of ordering the universe.2
- [The temple is] for the purpose of taking our bearings on the universe…3
- …the temple reflects things as they exist in heaven-things as they really are.4
- The temple embodies “the structure of the universe, so that ascent through the heavenly levels [is] also a journey ‘inward’ through the temple’s concentric areas of increasing holiness to the Holy of Holies at the center.” 5
- …the temple (whether earthly or heavenly) is a miniature imitation of the structure of the universe. 6
God’s perception of time and space are incomprehensible to our mortal and finite minds (Isa. 55:8–9). However, if the temple is an accurate model of the universe, then it should be possible to reproduce an approximate visual representation of the universe from what we learn from the temple, which is what I’ve attempted above.
The concentric circles represent the various degrees of glory. The red arrows indicate the path that the earth has taken from its terrestrial creation, its fall to a telestial state (our current state), its renewal to a paradisaical terrestrial glory during the millennium, and then its final purification when it is made a celestial sphere, and, according to Elder McConkie, “no one can live on it who does not conform to a celestial law. Hence, in that day it will be reserved for those who are saved and exalted” 7. The other planets shown represent the other innumerable worlds that now stand at some point in their progression from creation to celestialization (Moses 1:35).
Note that this is an attempt at an actual representation of the universe, so the earth would actually physically travel the path away from and back to the presence of God, passing through the different stages and levels. Indeed, the end of times sign of the “stars falling from heaven” has been described as the earth moving through space rather than the stars moving (Rev. 6:12–13; D&C 29:14; D&C 88:87; D&C 133:49). The pre-mortal world starts at the center of the celestial circle (in the presence of God). The spirit world is in the same location as the earth is, albeit in the different dimension. Our celestial kingdom will be upon this earth back in the center of the celestial circle and in the presence of God.
How accurate do you think this representation is? How could it be improved? What are your thoughts on the relationship between this model and the current scientific model of the universe we know today? Where do you think those who inherit the terrestrial and telestial kingdoms will reside in the universe? What have other prophets and apostles said about the structure of the universe that might help improve the representation? Where does our solar system, galaxy, and visible universe fit into this representation?
If we get convincing comments I will update this graphic to reflect the newfound insights.Notes:
- Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos, 14-15 [↩]
- ibid. [↩]
- ibid. [↩]
- Andrew Skinner, Temple Worship, 2 [↩]
- Qtd. in Matthew Brown, The Gate of Heaven, 7 [↩]
- ibid. [↩]
- Bruce R. McConkie, New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 651 [↩]