Boundless Space and the Eternity of Matter Explained

By Charles W. Penrose

The Priesthood had no beginning, and will never have an end.  As we are told in the scripture – it is “without father or mother, without beginning of days or end of years;”  it always existed.  The individual, the organized person, may have had a beginning, but that spirit of which and by which they were organized never had a beginning.

There never was a first world or man; there will never be a last.  We cannot grasp that in its fulness, but we can understand a little of it by comparing it with other things.  For instance, we will take space.  This tabernacle contains so much space, bounded by the walls of the building; but go outside of these walls and space is there.  Go to the farthest bounds of this Territory, space is there.  Go to the ends of the earth, if you can find them, and there is space beyond.  Mount upwards to the stars; go to the sun, pass above the sun to the two worlds that govern it, that we read about in the Book of Abraham, go even unto Kolob, the nearest to the throne of God, and there is just as much space beyond as that which you have left.  There is no outside to space – no beginning, no end.

Thus there is boundless space, and we cannot fully comprehend it, yet we must admit that it exists without limit.  So travel where we will, there we find space, and also inexhaustible material.  And the elements, whether they be spiritual or what we call natural – they never had a beginning – the primal particles never had a beginning.  They have been organized in different shapes; the organism had a beginning; but the elements or atoms of which it is composed never had.  You may burn this book, but every atom of which the book was composed, every particle of substance that entered into its composition, still exists; they are indestructible.  When you go right down to the primary elements, they never had a beginning, they will never end.  For in their primal condition they are not “created”.  They did not come from nothing; they were organized into different forms, but the elementary parts of matter as well as of spirit, using ordinary terms, never had a beginning, and never will have an end.

Now, here are some things you can understand to some extent, that are beginning-less and endless.  It is the same with duration.  Duration never had a beginning, and it will never have an end.  We measure portions of time, but time itself cannot be counted.  Go back as far as we can think, and there was just as much time or duration before that period as since, and think as much as we can down the stream of time there is just as much ahead.  There is no limit to duration, no beginning, no end.  Thus there are boundless space, an infinity of substance, and endless duration.  The elements of that eternal spirit which exists in and through and round about all things, and is the law by which all things are governed, never had a beginning and will never have an end.  There was no beginning and there will be no end to its operations.  There is no beginning to the works of God, and there will be no end.  Therefore there was never a first world or being, neither will there be a last one.

[Elder Charles W. Penrose, Journal of Discourses, Volume 26, page 27-28]

[Discourse delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, November 16, 1884]

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The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is Figurative

As to the Fall itself we are told that the Lord planted “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of the garden. (Moses 3:9.) To Adam and Eve the command came: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Moses 3:16–17.) Again the account is speaking figuratively. What is meant by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is that our first parents complied with whatever laws were involved so that their bodies would change from their state of paradisiacal immortality to a state of natural mortality.

(Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, June, 1982)