Sacred records, mythology and cultural tradition, cosmology
Mormons are well aware of the inestimable value of sacred records that come to us as the result of direct revelation. Joseph Smith bequeathed us an inheritance that includes previously unknown texts, written by the hands of prophets, such as the Book of Mormon, and the revelations of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price.
What most church members do not recognize is that those revered texts echo the cultural traditions of nations around the world and down through time, recorded in a variety of ways. We call those accounts—written and oral—myths and legends. They do not read like prophetic texts because they are not. Yet, they contain the same stories, motifs and imagery as scripture—stories of the creation, the flood, etc., as recorded by people in cultures the world over.
Mythology and cultural tradition
Myths are sacred history, recorded as the exploits of gods and goddesses, beasts and dragons. They are hallowed stories, preserved in the traditions and religions of all humanity. They employ fabulous imagery and larger-than-life characters.
They come to us as fairy tales, odysseys and fables. Yet, they share one common literary device we are all familiar with: parables—stories meant to teach us truths that are nevertheless laced with odd imagery that seems more imaginary than true, more metaphorical than real.
Curiously, the imagery of those myths and legends is remarkably similar to the imagery employed by the prophets of God. That’s why they share so many common elements: kings, queens, princes and princesses, dragons, superheroes and arch villains with superhuman, even cosmic, powers.
Planetary history is embraced in the study of cosmology: the science of the origin and development of the universe and the history of our home planet, Earth, specifically.
Modern astronomy clings to theories such as the “big bang,” and the “nebular hypothesis” to explain the creation of the universe and our solar system. Most Mormons are unaware that the prophets taught a very different Earth history than today’s astronomers do, one that lends meaning and credibility to ancient accounts and redefines all we know about our world, our solar system and the universe.
Not surprisingly, a reinterpretation of modern science in general, and astronomy in particular, is required to put the revelations and teachings of the prophets, apostles and the Savior in proper context. Based in the views of maverick scientists and scholars, this new perspective is one shared by the prophets of God. It is characterized in phraseology such as “a new heaven and a new earth” or “the host of heaven.” It is founded in the scientific concept of catastrophism and elaborated in a new cosmology, the true history of Earth’s ancient skies.