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Remarks delivered at the General Conference of the Church at Nauvoo, Ill. on April 7, 1843
Sources: Joseph Smith diary (Willard Richards) and Franklin D. Richards (Scriptural Items)
Smith DiaryRichards Record
Orson Pratt on Resurrection

During Conference Orson Pratt gave a Lecture upon the Second advent of Christ in connexion with the resurrection & to refute the argument of the transition of matter He said that Only about 3/4 of the matter contained in one creature could be converted to the use of another1
Fundamental Principles of a Body

4/45 Joseph said to complete the subject of Bro. Pratt's. I thought it a glorious subject with one additional idea addition their is no fundamental principle belonging to a human System that "ever goes into another in this world or the world to come." the principle of Mr Pratt was correct. I care not what the theories of men are.--we have the testimony that God will raise us up & he has power to do it. If any one supposes that any part of our bodies, that is the fundamental parts thereof, ever goes into another body he is mistaken--5 Choir sung. & notice that Bro Joseph will preach tomorrow morning at 10--
Joseph said No fundamental principle of one creature can be changed to another Creature.


1. Precisely what is meant here is a bit mysterious. If Pratt is referring to chemical content of food becoming part of the consuming organism, then he may be speaking of current scientific speculation. Evidently the importance of the issue derived from the resurrection. Apparently it was thought that the resurrection was a literal gathering of materials that last formed the body. If the stuff that formed one body had become a part of another then to whom does it belong? Joseph states that the essential principles of one body do not become part of another. He does not tell us what a "fundamental principle" may be.

If Joseph believed in what is termed "extreme resurrection," that is, that the resurrected body contains only and exactly that matter found in the corpse of the person resurrected, he becomes involved in the "two-body" paradox. A moldering body in the sea for example is consummed by some animal who is in turn consummed by another person, say. That chemistry becomes part of the receiving person who might die then. To whom does the chemistry belong in extreme resurrection? Joseph's claim, if true would avoid such a paradox. However, such a claim is patently false. Human metabolism certainly allows for the uptake and incorporation of injested chemicals, indeed many medical tests depend on this process. Moreover, human transplants from dead donors make whole cell structures a part of the receiving person. In some sense, DNA structure is unique to each organism, however, and even a transplant is still regarded as foreign by the host. In that sense, there is a permanent distinction between one body and another. The question of twins however suggests that Joseph's "fundamental parts" is something else entirely. The point for Joseph seems to be that whatever transfer may take place between two bodies, it will not impede the resurrection of the body. Joseph's and Orson's points speak to the thought of the times (John Locke, Charles Buck, Thomas Dick, etc.).

Just as statements about "spirit" being matter are impossible to interpret at present in the context of modern physical theory, so we must wait for a fuller explanation of these statements to establish a correspondence with current scientific understanding, if that is possible.

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