Mormonism conversely has a very different answer. It essentially adopts hylozoism, "life generates form" that spirit is another form of matter that interacts with standard matter providing an organization. God is thus expressed in laws of interaction and man's spirit is a participant component of the Godhead. Spinoza was a well known advocate of this idea with Kant having been a well known opponent. Martin Buber is probably the most recent prominent advocate. This idea fit well within Deism, which is probably where Pratt encountered it. Because of the Pantheistic overtones, most religions reject this theory and even in Mormonism it seems somewhat under developed in terms of specifics.
In modern usage there are 3 main schools of understanding regarding matter and determinism:
- hylostatism The belief that the universe is deterministic, thus “static” in a four-dimensional sense, classical mechanics, which was a view Orson Pratt was attacking at the time.
- hylostochastism The belief that the universe contains a fundamentally random or stochastic component, which has been proven by quantum mechanics.
- hylozoism The belief that the universe contains a fundamentally alive aspect, which is was discussed above. That the structures have in some sense intent, a drive or an intelligence behind them.
More recently we have discovered dark matter. This is a type of matter that we are able to detect by gravitational lensing and other effects but doesn't seem to exhibit any chemical or nuclear properties. Because of this it;s rather difficult to study but we can construct on paper a possible candidate the neutralino, but so far mostly haven't been able to prove or disprove this model. What is interesting from Orson's perspective is if true dark matter only lightly interacts with traditional matter proving that matter can exist, can interact and can be virtually undetectable.
So in short Orson Pratt proposed a type of organization of matter, he called spirit which is capable of some sort of reaction with baryons but isn't itself baryon. The existence of such types of organizations of matter is now proven, and it appears there are plethora of examples.
Now to end on an apologetic note, there is frequently a claim that Mormons believe God lives with his spirit children on a planet called Kolob. Dark matter passes right through planets, as does dark energy. Further a planet effects you because you have mass, and spirit matter doesn't have mass or at least not much mass, thus no gravitational effects. If it did dead bodies would weigh less than living ones. That is most of these different organizations or matter have vastly different properties a "planet" in the conventional sense would mean nothing to them, they wouldn't even "know it was there". They would be stabilized / organized by entirely different sorts of structures. So I think Mormons are absolutely correct to object.
What is interesting though is that Joseph Smith seems to have hinted at a solution in Abraham 3 where he does describe Kolob. He describes it as exhibiting properties both of a star and a planet. He also mentions one other curious property that time passes on Kolob at a rate of 1 day for every 1000 years on earth. Taking this far more literally than Joseph Smith intended gives us some intriguing possibilities:
- Doing the math, sqrt(1-1/
365250)yields that Kolob moves at 99.99986% of the speed of light relative to earth. Galaxies move faster from us the further away they are. If that held up we could imagine Kolob as extremely far away. But we have no evidence anything that far away exists and our theories about the size of the universe would be contradicted if it did. Though, many Mormons do believe in an inflationary multiverse and this sort of speed is fully consistent with that view.
- If it were an object in the known universe just moving that fast it would have all sorts of weird properties whenever it came in contact with anything from our universe moving in sync with known galaxies. At those sorts of high energies relativistic masses are enormous for even extremely lite objects. That still wouldn't allow for unusual organizations of matter, but it would allow for what would highly unusual during "slow down".
- The second possibility is this slowdown is caused by relativistic gravity, and the only place there would that much gravity is inside the event horizon of a black hole. And of course black holes are one of the areas where the rules of quantum mechanics overwhelm classical constant and all sorts of bizarre organizations of matter are possible. If we assume that Abraham really was a vision I could imagine someone in the 1840s being at a loss for how to describe events within the confines of a blackhole, somewhere between a planet and a star. If we imagine spirits to be interacting with things near the event horizon that can escape, again we get unusual organization of matter there are immense amounts of heat energy available, billions of times what's available in the core of a normal star, which produce all sorts of quantum effects this is the theory of Hawking radiation. In many ways that would meet all the criteria that Orson Pratt described.
- Of course there are things like other dimensions. via super strings which have a different organization of matter, because there would be different physics constant and have the possibility of affecting baryon matter. Assuming Orson Pratt were right, this is likely the most promising.