Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

“19th-century over-beliefs”

August 24th, 2011 by Vader

Some very interesting thoughts by James Falconer.   

I do not know if Dr. Falconer is right, but I have speculated much the same thing.

The scriptural evidence for theosis is quite strong, particular in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, but it can be found even in the Bible. My understanding is that thesosis is an acknowledged concept in Greek Orthodoxy, though not identical with our concept. For that matter, while I am no expert on Catholicism, it seems to me that the Catholic concept of partaking of the divine nature is not so different from the non-caricatured version of the Mormon doctrine. If there is a critical difference, it is probably that the Mormon version implies participation by deified humans in God’s continuing process of creation, while my impression is that in Catholicism creation is “a done deal.”

The scriptural evidence for “As Man now is, God once was”, seems mighty scanty to me, the more so the more I examine the question. Falconer gives some pretty good explanations of why that view caught on, and why we need not necessarily feel obligated to cling to it.

On the other hand, the infinite regress of Gods implied by “As Man now is, God once was” solves certain cosmological problems. So I remain undecided. Which may be just as well: Not only do we not know the answer, we may at this point be incapable of understanding the answer. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard …” Which could explain why more has not been revealed about it.

Of course, another explanation of why more has not been revealed about it is because obsession with mysteries, to the detriment of learning correct character, is hardly a uniquely Mormon problem. Kaballah, anyone?


Comments (5)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , ,
August 24th, 2011 11:55:07

Adam G.
August 24, 2011

That’s quite the good essay and I buy it as far as it goes. But there are other factors to the 19th C. view (“As Man now is, God once was”) that Faulconer ignores, though I prefer his view to the 19th C. one.

First, fundamental to Mormonism’s proclamation that “as God now is, Man may become” is the belief that we are essentially of the divine species. But saying that God (i.e., the Father) did not undergo a mortal experience like the rest of us cuts against the Mormon grain of seeing us in terms of God and vice versa. There is probably no *logical* problem with seeing God as the prototypical Man, but without a mortal experience, and us not, but it does feel wrong.

Second, and related. Mormonism strongly believes that God is embodied. Explaining how God came to be embodied without birth and such presents insuperable problems. If we are eternal personalities, like God, than why should He not have united with the material world in the same way we did? But saying that God just always had a body is also unsatisfactory.

Third, and still related. One of Mormonism’s great strengths is that its religious doctrines are closely tied to primal human experience. That is why other religions’ folk or casual descriptions of the divine tend to sound Mormon. That is why the family has become so explicitly and naturally the defining characteristic of the Mormon faith. But the primal experience of family is that it points in two directions. Fathers are also sons. Mormonism clearly and explicitly teaches that we are sons and will grow to be Fathers (this is the second half of the famous couplet) so believing the that Father was also once a son is only a natural complement. There is nothing logically incoherent with a family chain having a definite point of origin (as with Adam and Eve, e.g.), but it cuts against the grain.

Ultimately, why is there something instead of nothing is unanswerable from any point of view. Atheism, classical theism, and Mormonism all reduce to saying ‘just because.’ Trying to understand the origins of God is probably like trying to figure out why a=a.

August 24, 2011

I think one reason we are incapable of understanding it is that we can’t imagine a frame of reference in higher dimensions beyond our 4, ie, 3D+Time. We can’t even imagine how exalted beings might view our 3D+Time world as we might view a 2D space.

In addition to being locked into only 3 physical dimentions, we are incapable of thinking _outside_ of time. We don’t know what “forever” or “eternity” really is. We can create a phrase “the beginning of time” or “the end of time”, but we can’t fathom what came before the beginning of time, or will come after the end of time.

Perhaps the beginning of “our” time, was the “big bang” of this universe. Perhaps the end of “our” time will be the “big crunch” of this universe. Then what? Does the cycle repeat?

Do exalted beings somehow get off the merry-go-round of that cyclic action, but non-exalted beings get “recycled” somehow to the next universe created out of that material?

Immortality of NON-exalted beings is “forever” but is the recycling of the universe (crunch, bang, crunch, bang, etc) the beginning and ending of successive “forevers” or “eternities ? Is that what JS meant by “one eternal round?”

If God is God “_from_ eternity _to_ eternity” does that mean that once He attained exaltation, He maintains his exalted state through successive iterations of “His” universe? Does He “own” multiple universes, or just this one?

And where do exalted beings go if they get off the merry-go-round of cyclic universe bangs/crunches?

And if non-exalted beings get recycled in the formation of the next universe-cycle, do they get recycled as an intelligence, as a spirit, or what?

Bottom line: we don’t know what “forever”, “eternal”, and “eternity” really mean. We don’t know what time is from God’s perspective. (Even some scientists say that “time is a local phenomenon.”)

August 25, 2011

It has long interested me (in an interested, but only from a distance, kind of way) that God explicitly points out that the final end of the sons of perdition is NOT revealed to anyone.

August 25, 2011

Zen, In case I caused any confusion, I wasn’t referring to the sons of perdition, but rather to the non-exalted resurrected beings who inhabit the Telestial, the Terrestrial, and the bottom two rungs of the Celestial. Those immortal resurrected people still suffer some kind of “eternal death” according to the scriptures. If one doesn’t attain unto “eternal life” (exaltation), one suffers “eternal death”. But I don’t know how exactly to parse “eternal death”; what is the meaning of ‘eternal’ in that usage, and what is the meaning of ‘death’ in that usage?

(And as Vader points out, I’m on thin ice pondering this mystery; and I should focus more on faith/repentance/baptism/enduring-to-the-end and developing a more Christ-like character.)

Some astronomers tell us that galaxies collapse into the black hole at their centers, and then are reborn in a mini, or galactic (as opposed to unversal) big-bang. So the bang/crunch cycle may occur on a galatic instead of, or in addition to, a universal level.

If the exalted beings (top rung in CK) get to “move up” one level in dimensions, and become “eternal” in the sense that they are no longer subject to the cycles of this 3D+Time existance/galaxy/universe, and then become gods/creators of their own 3D+time spaces, …. what happens to those non-exalted (but still resurrected) inhabitants of the three kingdoms?

And does any of this tie in with Jospeh Smith’s comment that with God time/existence is “one eternal round” ? He said something like it being like a ring. There is no beginning or end to a ring, it just loops back on itself.

August 25, 2011

There are other bounded topologies besides a ring.

Pondering on the fates of those who fall short of the highest degree of the highest kingdom is not an empty exercise. We’re likely all going to have friends or loved ones there.

Furthermore, I think there is danger of encouraging a frame of mind in which, if we don’t feel we can make the highest rung, we might as well not bother starting up the ladder, because ultimately we’re going to end up pretty much the same place.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.