Question: How do the theological concepts of Joseph Smith actually compare to those of Thomas Dick?

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Question: How do the theological concepts of Joseph Smith actually compare to those of Thomas Dick?

A comparison of several of the theological concepts of both Joseph Smith and Thomas Dick shows major contrasts

Thomas Dick was a Scottish born minister, writer, astronomer and philosopher, whose published works in the early 1800’s attempted to reconcile science with Christianity. Dick believed that "mind and matter" were the two basic principles of the universe.[1] Dick believed God was of "a spiritual uncompounded substance, having no visible form."[2] The reason for the existence of matter is to allow the mind to be able to focus on God through the observance of his creations.

According to Dick:

[F]or the Creator has ordained, as one part of their mental enjoyments, that they shall be furnished with the means of tracing the mode of his operations, and the designs they are intended to accomplish in the different departments of nature.[3]

The following is a comparison and contrast of several of the theological concepts of both Joseph Smith and Thomas Dick.

Concept Thomas Dick Joseph Smith
Creation None but that Eternal Mind which counts the number of the stars, which called them from nothing into existence, and arranged them in the respective stations...[4] Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God... [5]
Intelligences The Creator stands in no need of innumerable assemblages of worlds and of inferior ranks of intelligences, in order to secure or to augment his felicity. Innumerable ages before the universe was created, he existed alone, independent of every other being, and infinitely happy in the contemplation of his own eternal excellencies.[6] I dwell in the midst of them all; I now, therefore, have come down unto thee to declare unto thee the works which my hands have made, wherein my wisdom excelleth them all, for I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences thine eyes have seen from the beginning; I came down in the beginning in the midst of all the intelligences thou hast seen. Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; (Abraham 3:21-22)
Nature of God a spiritual uncompounded substance, having no visible form.[7] God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens![8]
Ability to comprehend God But the eternity, the omnipresence, and the omniscience of the Deity, are equally mysterious; for they are equally incomprehensible, and must for ever remain incomprehensible to all limited intelligences.[9] It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth. [10]
Nature of Matter What successive creations have taken place since the first material world was launched into existence by the Omnipotent Creator? What new worlds and beings are still emerging into existence from the voids of space?[11] 33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;[12]

A comprehensive comparison of the theologies and response to this was done by Edward T. Jones, a BYU professor, in the form of a thesis published in 1969 that can be found here


  1. Edward T. Jones, The Theology of Thomas Dick and its Possible Relationship to that of Joseph Smith, Master's Thesis, 1969, p. 27.
  2. Thomas Dick, The Philosophy of a Future State (New York: R. Shoyer, 1831) p. 188.
  3. Dick, p. 212.
  4. Dick, p. 192.
  5. Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1977) p. 350.
  6. Dick, p. 52.
  7. Dick, p. 188.
  8. Smith, p. 345.
  9. Dick, p. 183.
  10. Smith, p. 345.
  11. Dick, p. 214
  12. D&C 93. An interesting thing for this reference is that the revelation cited comes from the year 1833--nearly three years before he began any academic study of the Hebrew language