Hey guys. So, do Latter-day Saints believe in aliens? Well, if you type that question into YouTube, you might stumble upon this video from History Channel’s Ancient Aliens. Personally, I give it 5 stars for entertainment but only 2 stars for accuracy. So in an effort to set the record straight, let’s talk about what Latter-day Saints actually believe about aliens.
Alright, so here’s the deal: the simple fact is that you’re probably never going to hear Latter-day Saints talking about aliens and UFOs and outer space at church on Sunday. That said, you could say that Latter-day Saints do believe in extraterrestrial life in at least 3 different ways.
Number 1—Extraterrestrial Mortals. In Latter-day Saint scripture, the prophet Moses has a vision of the cosmos, and God tells him, “…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….”
A great companion for these verses is Doctrine and Covenants 76:24, which teaches, “That by [Christ], and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”
As the Encyclopedia of Mormonism so eloquently puts it, Latter-day Saints “accept the existence of other worlds created by God for a divine purpose that is the same as the purpose of earth life—‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life’ of God’s children (Moses 1:39). The inhabitants of these other planets are understood by Latter-day Saints to be children of God and created in His image, though they might differ from the earth’s inhabitants in unspecified ways (Moses 1:33; D&C 76:24). The means of salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ is the same for all of God’s creations … God’s Plan of Salvation operates on a universal scale.”
Number 2—Extraterrestrial Immortals: Latter-day Saints believe that while our mortal, physical bodies were born on Earth, the immortal spirit bodies of all of humanity existed as God’s spirit children before Earth’s creation. We talked more about this teaching in this episode. Since our being existed pre-earth, you could say that you and I were originally aliens or extraterrestrials sent from the presence of God to live out our mortal lives on Earth. And this brings us to…
Number 3—God as an Extraterrestrial. Bear with me on this one. Most Christians believe in an immaterial, incorporeal God that has no form and takes up no physical space—which we talk more about in this episode. Latter-day Saints believe that God is an actual physical being with an immortal, glorified, and perfected physical body. We believe he is made of actual matter and (like you and I) does take up actual space. And, of course, God was around long before Earth was created. Thus, God could be described as “extraterrestrial.” It brings to mind Abraham 2:7, “For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool….”
Interestingly, in 1962 then-Elder Spencer W. Kimball touched on this interpretation at general conference. He asked, “Is there interplanetary conversation? Certainly. Man may speak to God and receive answers from Him. Is there association of interplanetary beings? There is no question. Are planets out in space inhabited by intelligent creatures? Without doubt.”
Of course, you’re never going to hear a Latter-day Saint in casual conversation referring to God as an alien. We believe we are all part of God’s spirit family and that He loves us and is involved in our lives. We are of the same species. So while He might be considered “alien” to Earth, God is certainly not alien to us.
So where is God’s native home? I have no idea. The Book of Abraham mentions a star or planet called Kolob that is described as the place where God lives or near where He lives, but nobody knows where that is, and many believe it’s not even a literal location but rather just a symbol for Jesus Christ. Of course, for years, critics have gotten a lot of mileage out of the Kolob detail in an effort to make us look weirder than we already naturally are.
Fun fact: It sounds like Battlestar Galactica because the creator was a Latter-day Saint. The planet Kobol is an anagram of Kolob. But while there are some people who mock this idea of God as a kind of superintelligent extraterrestrial, it actually resonates with others who have a hard time with the traditional Christian view of an immaterial God. For example, this CSPAN clip from a conversation between Latter-day Saint scholar Dan Peterson and atheist Michael Shermer illustrates this point quite well. Check it out.
Of course, there are still plenty of questions we don’t have answers for. Will we ever contact and interact with mortals from other planets? How different from us might the inhabitants of other planets be? What kind of technology or resources exist on other worlds? All fun questions but tangential to what ultimately really matters, which is the universal gospel of Jesus Christ. If you liked this episode, you’ll love the one we did on Bigfoot in Latter-day Saint folklore. Check it out, and have a great day.
TikTok snippet: Latter-day Saints believe in life beyond earth primarily because our scriptures teach that God has created many inhabited worlds. But beyond that, we believe that you and I and even God are beings that existed before Earth was formed. In that sense, I suppose we all could technically be considered extraterrestrials. That said, you’re likely never gonna hear Latter-day Saints talking about UFOs and Area 51 and all that kind of jazz at Church on Sunday. More on this in our full episode! Go check it out.
— Moses 1: https://tinyurl.com/5fpbu24v
— Doctrine and Covenants 76: https://tinyurl.com/ynjv9dmf
— See the talk by Elder Spencer W. Kimball from the April 1962 general conference here: https://tinyurl.com/mr7breyc (this talk also appeared in pamphlet form under the title, “Modern Scientific Findings Harmonize with Revelation Through the Ages”).
— “Civilizations Out in Space,” by Hollis R. Johnson (BYU Studies, 1971): https://tinyurl.com/r35s8jeh
— “Worlds,” via the Encyclopedia of Mormonism: https://tinyurl.com/4c57u7ts
— Mormon Q&A about Kolob, plus database of sources: https://mormonr.org/qnas/6F7xbc/kolob
— Full CSPAN debate between Daniel Peterson and Michael Shermer (though this link will start you in the middle of the “extraterrestrial” part, at about 45:00): https://tinyurl.com/3jmstuc5