Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Chapter 7—The Astronomy Vision

Charge: “Mrs. White was having visions which [Joseph] Bates did not believe were of God; but they [Mrs. White and her husband] were anxious to convince him that they were genuine. Bates had been a sea captain, and had consequently studied the stars; had, in fact, become enthusiastic about astronomy. In the presence of Mrs. White and others he had often talked about the different planets, their positions, moons, and the ‘opening heavens.’” * EGWC 91.1

J. N. Loughborough’s work, The Great Second Advent Movement, page 258, says: EGWC 91.2

“‘One evening at the conference above mentioned [Topsham, Maine, 1846], in the house of Mr. Curtis, and in the presence of Elder (Captain) Bates, who was yet undecided in regard to the manifestations, Mrs. White, while in vision, began to talk about the stars, giving a glowing description of the rosy-tinted belts which she saw across the surface of some planet, and added, “I see four moons.” “Oh,” said Elder Bates, “she is viewing Jupiter.” Then, having made motions as though traveling through space, she began giving descriptions of belts and rings in their ever-varying beauty, and said, “I see eight moons.” “She is describing Saturn.” Next came a description of Uranus with his six moons, then a wonderful description of the “opening heavens.”’ EGWC 91.3

“This was sufficient, and accomplished its purpose. Elder Bates was convinced, and became a firm believer in the visions. EGWC 91.4

“But what are the facts? Mrs. White simply saw what her companions at the time generally believed and talked about. Had God given her that view about the planets and the number of moons to each he would have given her the correct number in each case, and thus she would have revealed what astronomers at the time did not know, but later discovered. This would have proved her vision to be of God.... EGWC 91.5

“Later discoveries have now shown that both Jupiter and Saturn have more moons than she said. Elder Loughborough is obliged to confess this. In a foot-note on page 258 of his book already quoted he says: ‘More moons to both Jupiter and Saturn have since been discovered.’ EGWC 91.6

“As a matter of fact, Mrs. White herself, relating this vision, described Saturn as having only seven moons, the number then assigned to that planet by astronomers. Here are her own words in ‘Early Writings,’ page 32: * ‘Then I was taken to a world which had seven moons.’” EGWC 92.1