A journal entitled Proceedings of the National Academy of Science published a study on Monday, November 4, 2013, declaring that there are “billions of planets” in the Milky Way about “the same size of Earth” that “orbit stars just like our sun.” These planets “exist in the Goldilocks zone” – a zone that is neither “too hot” nor “too cold for life. Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.” To put this in “perspective, that’s more Earth-like planets than there are people on Earth.” “In the Milky Way, about 1 in 5 stars that are like our sun in size, color and age have planets that are roughly Earth’s size and are in the habitable zone where life-crucial water can be liquid.”
Scientists do not yet know if these planets have the type of atmospheres that would produce life. This lack of knowledge does not stop people from wondering if there are other advanced civilizations out in space. I believe that there are worlds without number – worlds like Earth - out in space, and I believe that people who look like us live on them. I believe this because of the teachings contained in the scriptures and the counsel of living prophets and apostles.
The Prophet Joseph Smith and his associate Sidney Rigdon wrote the following testimony: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father-
“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24; emphasis added).
In an extract from the translation of the Bible as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, June 1830-February 1831, we learn that “Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain” where he spoke with God “face to face.” God told Moses, “I am the Lord God Almighty … And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease….
“And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created….
“And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof.”
Moses called upon God, saying: “Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them them?” “Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face. And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.
“And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
“And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten….
“But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.” (See Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:1-35; emphasis added.)
Thousands of years ago, Moses knew that there were worlds without number, and prophets have declared that information down through the ages. I learned this information as a child and never doubted the truthfulness of it; however, I rejoice that what I learned by faith is being confirmed by scientists.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated in 1987: “What John and Paul wrote about God’s creations and the plurality of worlds, the restored gospel grandly affirms, declaring that `worlds without number’ have been created (Moses 1:33); see also John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 11:3; Doctrine and Covenants 93:10). These gospel truths are very significant assurances for us, situated as we are on this tiny `speck of sand’ at the outer edge of a minor galaxy, the Milky Way. Without the gospel’s fulness, we would appear to be living during one tick of the geological clock and in the midst of unexplained vastness.
“Nevertheless, our focus is to be on this planet, just as the Lord told Moses: `But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away. … Innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them’ (Moses 1:35).
“Enoch, to whom the Lord revealed so much, praised God amid His vast creations, exclaiming reassuringly, `Yet thou art there’ (Moses 7:30; see also Jeremiah 10:12).
“This same special assurance can see each of us through all the seasons and circumstances of our lives. A universal God is actually involved with our small, individual universes of experience! In the midst of His vast dominions, yet He numbers us, knows us, and loves us perfectly (see Moses 1:35; John 10:14).” (See “Yet Thou Art There?” Ensign, Nov. 1987; emphasis added.)
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, said, “This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spar of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation – worlds without end – within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it” (“You Matter to Him,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, p. 20; emphasis added).
I am excited that scientists have discovered billions of planets like our earth in the Milky Way Galaxy. I am excited to learn more about these planets from scientists who study them; however, I already believe that God created all of them and many of them are inhabited by His children. I am grateful that scientists are confirming the words of prophets and scriptures that there are worlds without number!