Question from Tower To Truth:
2. Since the time when Brigham Young taught that both the moon and the sun were inhabited by people, has the Mormon church ever found scientific evidence of that to be true? (Journal of Discourses, 13:271)
Answer from FAIR:
In Brigham (and Joseph’s) day, there had been newspaper articles reporting that a famous astronomer had reported that there were men on the moon and elsewhere. This was published in LDS areas; the retraction of this famous hoax never was publicized, and so they may not have even heard about it.
Brigham and others were most likely repeating what had been told them by the science of the day. (Lots of Biblical prophets talked about the earth being flat, the sky being a dome, etc.—it is inconsistent for conservative Protestants to complain that a false belief about the physical world shared by others in their culture condemns Brigham and Joseph, but does not condemn Bible prophets.)
In any case, Brigham made it clear that he was expressing his opinion: “Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is.” Prophets are entitled to their opinions; in fact, the point of Brigham’s discourse is that the only fanatic is one who insists upon clinging to a false idea.
Well, considering the fact that Brigham was supposed to be a “prophet” of God, don’t ya think God would have given him just a little more insight than your garden-variety, back yard astronomer? Does this mean that the Mormon “prophets” don’t ask God, “I’m about to say this. Is this true? Because if it is, we’re both going to look foolish!” They can say all they want to about this only being Brigham’s “opinion.” This was not stated as opinion, but rather as fact. Here is the whole quote:
Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed “the man in the moon,” and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with 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. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized. (Journal of Discourses, 13:271)
In this statement, he purports to know more about the moon and sun than “the most learned” whom he calls “as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows.” And, as he said, he believed there was “no question” that the sun was inhabited. Young took his information from a hoax perpetrated by a reporter for the New York Sun. What a sad commentary about God if His “prophet” can be conned by a work of satire by a two-bit newspaper writer.
Besides, if Brigham Young is to be believed, this sermon is, indeed, Mormon Scripture.
“I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in our midst. He teaches the people continually. I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually.” (Young, Journal of Discourses 13:95)
“The Journal of Discourses deservedly ranks as one of the standard works of the Church, and every right-minded Saint will certainly welcome with joy every number (issue) as it comes forth.” (President George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, Preface, Vol.8.)
Taking these quotes together—along with other, similar quotes from Mormon authorities—and one can come to no other conclusion than the words contained in the Journal of Discourses are Scripture to the Latter-Day Saint.
So, what about biblical prophets believing in a “flat earth?” FAIR quotes the Anchor Bible Dictionary and its references to different ways various parts of the universe, Hell, Heaven, etc. were portrayed through symbolism (pillars of the earth, foundation of the earth, belly of Sheol, etc.) Time and space (and moonmen) do not permit me to go into detail about the symbolism used in the Bible to illustrate things which the writers could not put into words.