I don’t especially want to hie to Joseph Smith’s Kolob. The vision of Kolob in the Book of Abraham with its firm hierarchy of planets and intelligences does not appeal to my ego as fully as the other Mormon view that emphasizes how we can progress to become like God in power and knowledge. But, Joseph Smith’s vision of Kolob, along with its song and its latest off-shoot, Battlestar Galactica’s Kobol, thrill me nevertheless, because each of these works played or plays the crucial role of helping people bridge the gap between the world they see and their understanding of God, a role that contemporary Mormonism often largely cedes.
Contemporary Mormonism rarely inquires into the nature of God, choosing instead (and I think generally rightly) to focus on the more practical issues of organizing a community on earth that follows Christ’s teachings. For the most part, we understand Christ and God through our canonical pictures that represent them as looking like us and through the familial relationships of father, son, and brother. Although I don’t know precisely how to label the Book of Abraham and its grand narrative of the cosmos—is it an inspired translation? speculation?—I am sure that I would be surprised to hear a modern prophet theorize about the nature of God, eternal life, and Heaven. Although the Proclamation of the Family recently spoke about eternal nature in a limited way as it applies to humans, it did so more in a response to contemporary social mores than to any desire to know about how heaven works.
But at the same time that my testimony that God exists has grown stronger, the images and stories we use to visualize God and crucial concepts like the Resurrection have become less and less adequate in my mind. Typically, I am content to remain in mystery on these issues, but recently I have discovered that while Mormonism has essentially stopped creating narratives to help us better understand God, science fiction has created an outpouring of stories that while obviously fictional, explore in the context of our current technologies and scientific understandings how concepts like God and the Resurrection might exist.
I find these science fiction stories surprisingly faith-inducing. They offer ways of understanding how God and a resurrection might plausibly exist that make sense to people living today, and they consider what kind of societies we need to sustain (eternal) life. By offering compelling ways to visualize God that are frequently compatible with basic Mormon beliefs, they fill an intellectual gap for me that Mormonism and its current canon of scripture doesn’t always satisfy. Now, I don’t want our prophet to tell us more about the nature of God and Kolob until he is entirely sure that what he is saying is right. But, I can’t help thinking that science fiction is currently the most exciting source of religious thought that we have—a place where we can channel our desires to understand God without risking canonizing as doctrine what we don’t really know. It’s a refreshing companion to the scriptures that compliments and revitalizes my faith.