Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Three Persons, One Nature

August 04th, 2014 by G.

Here is an explanation of the classical Trinity that I can make sense of:

Similarly, in the Trinity, we have one nature–meaning one knowledge and one will–but three Persons possessing it. In our post-Kantian times, we would say that there are three “I”s in the Trinity and one in Jesus Christ.

I have a sense that the set of real theological and doctrinal differences between the churches and the set of perceived differences overlap, but maybe not a whole lot. Part of the problem is that when you take the best and most sophisticated version of a church’s doctrine, steelmanning it so to speak, it’s usually much closer to the best and most sophisticated versions of other church’s too. It’s pretty easy to see the peaks from a peak. Take deification, for instance. Even Catholicism approaches something like it when Catholic thinkers and mystics think seriously about when it means to be saved and communing with God. Only they hasten to add, there still is a basic ontological difference, blah, blah, blah. Mostly meaningless mumbo jumbo, as far as I can tell. As if one church were to say, we believe in this truth, and another church were to say, we also believe in that truth, but its totally different, because the truth we believe in now has more aether.

The problem is that religions don’t really function at the peaks. The wise and good versions of doctrines usually devolve into crude simplifications in the day to day life of the faith and as applied by the mass of the faithful. But one cannot just compare crude simplifications either, because how much and in what way a doctrine will be crudely simplified is unpredictable.

Comments (32)
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August 04th, 2014 10:13:53
32 comments

Agellius
August 4, 2014

“Even Catholicism approaches something like it when Catholic thinkers and mystics think seriously about when it means to be saved and communing with God. Only they hasten to add, there still is a basic ontological difference, blah, blah, blah. Mostly meaningless mumbo jumbo, as far as I can tell.”

The basic ontological difference is that God holds everything else in existence, including us, and nobody holds him in existence. Whereas, in Mormon doctrine we and God are all of the same type (once we are deified), depending alike for our existence on the surrounding cosmos, subject to time, the laws of physics, etc.

At least, that’s how I understand it.

But I agree that Catholics don’t have a problem with the idea of deification per se.


Bruce Charlton
August 4, 2014

@Agellius – you need to understand that Mormonism does not have an *official* position on these matters of detailed philosophical theology in the way that the Roman Catholic church does.

But according to the most coherent explainers of Mormon theology (especially McMurrin and Ostler) you are are partly and significantly wrong in your summary:

“Whereas, in Mormon doctrine we and God are all of the same type (once we are deified),”

Yes.

“depending alike for our existence on the surrounding cosmos, subject to time, the laws of physics, etc. ”

No – God and Men (and angels) do not *depend* on the cosmos for existence.

Existence is given – God, Men and all sentient things were ‘always here’ in the cosmos, and are (probably) indestructible.

In what form were Men always here exactly? That is unsure. It seems to be as seeds of potential – not self aware, not capable of agency – but nonetheless in existence.

Beyond this, as to where God came from and why God is so vastly different from men) there is not much of a consensus (some suggest an infinite regress of Gods, some that our God is the one and only ever; that being my view).

At root this can be conceptualized as a pluralism versus monism issue – as I have argued at my blog.

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=pluralism

And monists typically regard pluralists as incoherent, and monism as logically entailed.

However, Mormons *are* pluralist (whether they know it or not – and mostly the do not!) and this renders some of the categories from monism inapplicable.


Agellius
August 5, 2014

Bruce:

I realize that there are a number of theories within Mormonism about God’s nature and origin and the extent to which he is infinite and almighty and self-existent, etc. But I have to settle on one, if I’m to make any comment at all. I chose the one that I think is most common among Mormons whom I have encountered.

If some Mormons believe that God is not held in existence by anything or anyone outside himself, and that he holds all other things, including us and the entire cosmos, in existence, then of course I would agree that there is no difference in our respective doctrines, thus far expressed. But I have never encountered a Mormon who said he believed that.

The conflict that I, as a Catholic, see in the Mormon doctrine of deification compared to my own doctrine, is not the idea that we become more and more god-like (i.e. like God), both on earth and in Heaven; but with the idea that we ourselves could ever become a being of the same nature as we believe God is. We believe he is the origin of all things and holds all things in existence. How could we become the origin of all things, when we ourselves originated in God? How could we hold all things in existence, when we ourselves are constantly held in existence?

If we agree that we don’t ever attain to the very same nature as God, but merely become like him in certain ways and to a certain extent, then it seems to me the conflict between Mormons and non-Mormons on this matter is resolved.


Bruce Charlton
August 5, 2014

@Agellius – You are making a lot of wrong statements here – in particular putting together something that is correct with something that isn’t but you wouldn’t agree with a correct summary so maybe you aren’t bothered!

So, for example “If some Mormons believe that God is not held in existence by anything or anyone outside himself,”

This is correct about Mormon belief – but

” and that he holds all other things, including us and the entire cosmos, in existence, ”

I think no Mormon theologian would say that God “held everything in existence”.

But your method of comparison is unsound when you say “I have never encountered a Mormon who said he believed that.” …because you are comparing Roman Catholic professional theology (or at least professional priests) with Mormons who you meet.

You could spend a long time meeting lay Roman Catholics in Ireland or Liverpool or Glasgow without finding anybody who could explain theology or who would volunteer or could explain the statement that God ‘holds all things in existence’. Indeed, I would confidently predict you would get a lot of people who described God in terms much more like the Mormon usage – especially when it came to the Trinity!

All I am asking is that if you want to compare RC and CJCLDS theology, you compare like with like. There are indeed very different in many ways – but you would then get the descriptions more accurate.


Agellius
August 5, 2014

Bruce:

I’m confused. In your first comment you said, “Mormonism does not have an *official* position on these matters”, but since then you have repeatedly spoken of correct and incorrect descriptions of Mormon doctrine. On what basis do you call them correct and incorrect?

What I compared is official Catholic teaching with my best understanding of Mormon beliefs based on my exposure to Mormons and what I have read of Mormon teaching. I would like nothing better than to compare like with like, in the form of official Catholic teaching and official Mormon teaching. But if the latter doesn’t exist in some areas, I can only do my best with the information I have.

I don’t see why I am obligated to compare unofficial Catholic beliefs with unofficial Mormon beliefs, nor do I see what the point of that would be.

In any event, I tried to obviate the problem of the lack of official Mormon teachings relevant to the topic, by simply stating the problem that exists for a Catholic, with the idea of our becoming of the same nature as God, in light of official Catholic teaching. This problem exists for a Catholic regardless of what the “correct” Mormon teaching is; therefore, whether I guessed right as to the most common Mormon belief, is not really relevant. The point is just that, given Catholic teaching, the idea of our becoming of the same nature as God, is problematic for a Catholic, for what I consider to be solid reasons and not mere mumbo jumbo.

If any Mormons believe that we become like God only in certain ways and to a certain extent, but not of the very same nature, then with those Mormons I need not have any substantial disagreement on this topic. My point is that I disagree with an idea, and not with Mormons just because they’re Mormons.


G.
August 5, 2014

*we and God . . . depend. . . alike for our existence on the surrounding cosmos, subject to time, the laws of physics, etc.

*But I have to settle on one, if I’m to make any comment at all. I chose the one that I think is most common among Mormons whom I have encountered. *

I’m not sure I know any Mormons at all who hold that view. Probably there are some, but I’m pretty sure that the idea that the universe is superior and prior to God would bother most Mormons.


Agellius
August 5, 2014

I’m surprised to hear it, but I’m not surprised I got it wrong. : )

I’d like to question you on this, to try to square what I understand with whatever you think is the most common Mormon opinion (or the official teaching, if applicable). But I don’t want to hijack this thread for that purpose if you’d rather not. Do you mind?


G.
August 5, 2014

Fire away.


bookslinger
August 6, 2014

the synthesis of this is found in the theory of higher dimensions and a multiverse of Universes.

Our “everything” is limited to this space-time universe. However, Heavenly Father is an inhabitant of or able to traverse higher dimensions of space and time. He can stand someplace in some higher dimension and see all of our universe’s timeline at a glance. the vision of Moses in the book of Moses indicates Moses was temporarily given a view from such a standpoint where he saw every particle of the earth at the same time.

if there are recursive gods, ie, Heavenly grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., then there are likely higher dimensions, and sister-universes in a bigger multiverse.

If we think of scriptural absolutes – everything, all, forever, eternal – as being bounded or delimited by our three dimensional space-time, then Mormon theology creates a nice bridge between 1st century christian religion and Hawking’s theory of a multiverse.

Heavenly Father may have once been a man, but if so, it wasn’t in this space-time, it was not in this universe. In our universe, in our space-time, God has always been God. Before _our_ time began, before _our_ universe came into being, God was already God. therefore, in our frame of reference, since we have no access to higher dimensions, God has _always_ been God.

If He “attained” unto exaltation, He likely ascended from His 3D space-time, to a higher dimension in the multiverse, and then became the creator/sovreign of this universe, and this space-time.


Agellius
August 6, 2014

Bookslinger:

Thanks for your explanation.

Let me say first off that it’s not my intention to argue the truth or falsity of any of this, but only to try to understanding your position. So if I question what you say, I’m only trying to get it clear in my mind.

This is the first time I have heard it explained in this way.

First, am I right that this is not official Church doctrine, but one of several paradigms that are open to Mormons? (I will use “paradigm” to refer to it unless you have a better word.) What proportion of Mormons would you say adhere to this paradigm?

Second, assuming the one-god paradigm, you say, “Heavenly Father is an inhabitant of or able to traverse higher dimensions of space and time”. You seem to be saying that he resides in a region of space and time, as opposed to a timeless realm. Is that right?

Third, assuming the recursive gods, multiple-universe paradigm, couldn’t you refer to all of these universes, in their totality, as the cosmos, i.e. the totality of all that exists? And if so, wouldn’t each god be a part of the cosmos, as the framework within which he must operate? I mean, the whole process: becoming a man, attaining to godhood, creating a new universe — are these not processes that would take place within an overall framework within which each god must operate?

Would there not have to be time in such a cosmos, a before and after: One god begetting another, each creating universes in his turn, one after the other?

I’ll say up front what my point is: It seems to me that a being with a physical body who is subject to time and lives within a cosmos or framework within which he must operate, is thereby subject to various laws and to time. Am I wrong?

This is basically what I understand Bruce Nielson to be arguing in this post [http://www.millennialstar.org/the-laws-of-physics-and-the-comprehensibility-of-god/] (and in other places): That God, in order to be comprehensible, even to himself, must be describable by laws, which Bruce refers to as the laws of physics. Of course I know Bruce doesn’t speak for all Mormons.

Thanks for letting me quiz you.


G.
August 6, 2014

Being describable by law or a participant in a law-bound universe does not entail dependence, in my view. And Catholics also see God as law-bound. The law of non-contradiction, for example. The difference is that Catholics claim that these laws are part of God’s own nature, but respecting that you think it matters, I don’t see that it matters. Whether the law of non-contradiction is part of God’s nature or just one of the givens, like God himself, is much of a muchness.


Agellius
August 6, 2014

“Being describable by law or a participant in a law-bound universe does not entail dependence, in my view.”

I don’t think I grasp how an embodied being could be law-bound but not dependent on physical laws. Aren’t physical laws required to hold his body together and for it to operate? Or are you saying that an embodied god could exist in a void, without any kind of a “support system” of physical laws, if he wanted to, and only subjects himself to physical laws by choice?

I don’t mean to insist on the word “dependent”, but as far as I can see it’s necessarily implied. What am I missing?


G.
August 6, 2014

Aj, I don’t see how physical existence necessarily implies that the physical universe is prior to and superior to the deity. You believe that Christ is fully God, correct? If so, doesn’t your position entail that God is “dependent” on physical law?

To be honest, I don’t much see what your last comment has to do with what Mormons believe. It’s more of an argument against Mormon belief or an argument about what you think Mormons *ought* to believe.


Agellius
August 6, 2014

I didn’t see it as arguing against Mormon belief. I don’t know whether the official, or most common Mormon belief is that physical gods are dependent on the physical cosmos for their existence, or that they’re not.

I wasn’t arguing for the truth or falsehood of either, but saying what I thought was implied by the premise: That a physical body implies dependence on physical surroundings. I had long thought that this was understood and accepted by Mormons. I didn’t think I would shock anyone by saying it.

The statement of yours that I was responding to — “Being describable by law or a participant in a law-bound universe does not entail dependence, in my view” — sounded like you giving your opinion.

It was your opinion that I was questioning. I wasn’t arguing against it, but asking how you, personally, account for a physical body not being dependent on physical surroundings. You might have had an answer that I hadn’t thought of (which would not have been the first time).

If any of this was offensive to you, I’m sorry.


bookslinger
August 6, 2014

“First, am I right that this is not official Church doctrine, but one of several paradigms that are open to Mormons? (I will use “paradigm” to refer to it unless you have a better word.) What proportion of Mormons would you say adhere to this paradigm?”

Correct. Official doctrine is pretty much limited to canonized scripture in this regard. I’m putting this forth as a way to synthesize Mormon’s official doctrine of deification/exaltation/eternal progression ( and unofficial, but widely accepted King Follet discourse, and Lorenzo Snow’s couplet) with the seemingly absolute (ie, always, forever, eternal) adjectives of the Old and New Testament. The synthesis lies in nuancing the OT/NT verbiage in relation to the common ancients perhaps not being aware of the physics/mathematics concepts of higher physical dimensions of space and time.

Since God does not reveal all at once, all revelation may possibly be nuanced so as to automatically carry the unspoken caveat/prefix “as far as you are concerned, and for the time being…”

For instance, the 7th Day Adventists are hung up on the Mosaic Sabbath being “eternal”, yet the ancient Apostles changed it. How can that be if it is “eternal”? The 7DAs, refuse to nuance the word into an eternal -concept- yet changeable in execution.

The newer revelation of exaltation (though at times specific prophets and people of the past likely did have the knowledge) does not invalidate previous absolute-sounding words, but reveals those words’ scope/parameters/limits. A new horizon has been revealed, and the old absolutist words of the OT/NT are revealed to Mormons as relating more to people who could only see or imagine the old horizon. They just weren’t given the bigger picture or told how to apply the words. The words then got defined by men’s traditions, either too strict and limited, or too poetic and unspecific.

I’d say a lot of Mormons, perhaps the majority of those active members, believe the KF discourse, and Snow’s couplet. I have only encountered a few who actually have tried to make a correlation between those and the multiverse/multi-dimension theories of Hawking and other cosmologists.

The multiverse/multi-dimensions theories are pretty common and maybe even commonly accepted by cosmologists and string theoreticians. I think they are wonderful bridges between “science” and faith/spirit/religious cosmology.

Atheist Science-worshippers deny God/religion because He and things religious are not obviously manifest in our 3d space-time. ok, so what if “God”, “spirit” etc, operates through higher dimensions that we can’t see/measure? Scientists, such as Hawking et al, believe in higher dimensions which we cant see or measure, only theorize, so why can’t they believe in God?

“Second, assuming the one-god paradigm, you say, “Heavenly Father is an inhabitant of or able to traverse higher dimensions of space and time”. You seem to be saying that he resides in a region of space and time, as opposed to a timeless realm. Is that right?”

I’m unsure of the proper vocabulary. “timeless” is a poetic word, and I don’t know if it is correct to use it to describe those higher dimensions of space and time. And what is a “realm”? Since lower dimensions are subsets of higher dimensions, it is possible to inhabit several dimensions simultaneously. I occupy 3 dimensions of space and one of time, all simultaneously. When I draw 2d figures on paper, I’m working with those dimensions as subsets of my existence, even though the ink and paper have a miniscule 3rd dimension, their concepts or ideas are 2d. I can place 3 dimensional objects in the path of 1dimensional lines, or use objects to intersect a 2 dimensional plane. But it is not in my power to make multiple 3dimensional objects intersect the same 3dimensional space. I can only rearrange the 3dimensional relationship of particles.

We can theorize higher dimensions, but we can only speculate how God or angels or disembodied/unembodied spirits (ie, dead people, or pre-born people) move about those dimensions, or how they move in and out of our 3d world. When Heavenly Father listens to a billion prayers/thoughts at once, or the Holy Ghost whispers to multiple people simultaneously (simultaneously from our perspective), is God physically in our 3d space-time multi-tasking at a furious pace, or operating from/in a higher dimension, doing it all seriatum, where it merely looks simultaneous to us, or is the distinction meaningless to an exalted being standing where He is standing?

We literally can’t put ourselves in a place or mindset to fully comprehend it. i would suppose that the geniuses like Hawking have a much better glimpse of it than I can imagine. But we can _start_ to put together the jigsaw pieces, especially using those pieces of scripture that imply higher dimensions, such as the Book of Moses in the PofGP.

I’m putting this forth as a possible framework so that
A) we don’t have to solely rely on mumbo-jumbo or “It’s a mystery!” I think we’re allowed to experiment or play around with the few jigsaw pieces we’ve been given. I think we’re allowed to offer the “higher dimensions!” rejoinder to religion-hating science-worshippers.
B) absolutes that were given in times of limited horizons may need to be nuanced with scope as new horizons are revealed.
C) words now taken as poetic may have had (or will have yet ) to be nuanced themsleves, redefined, have new meanings revealed, or new scopes/parameters attached or detached.


bookslinger
August 6, 2014

In regard to “religion-hating science-worshippers.” that is not to say that all science-worshippers hate religion. i’m using the restrictive adjective to limit which science-worshippers I’m talking about. And, is it necessary for me to point this out? my experience tells me that some lurkers will misconstrue and misrepresent such phrases.


Bookslinger
August 6, 2014

“Third, assuming the recursive gods, multiple-universe paradigm, couldn’t you refer to all of these universes, in their totality, as the cosmos, i.e. the totality of all that exists? And if so, wouldn’t each god be a part of the cosmos, as the framework within which he must operate? I mean, the whole process: becoming a man, attaining to godhood, creating a new universe — are these not processes that would take place within an overall framework within which each god must operate?

Would there not have to be time in such a cosmos, a before and after: One god begetting another, each creating universes in his turn, one after the other?

I’ll say up front what my point is: It seems to me that a being with a physical body who is subject to time and lives within a cosmos or framework within which he must operate, is thereby subject to various laws and to time. Am I wrong?”

I think I pretty much agree with all of that. But we have to be careful to understand that “cosmos” and “time” have different scopes, and at least some different meaning in those higher dimensions. In a way, time, as we perceive it, is a local phenomenom of our 3d space-time.

fer instance, as God looks at what I will do tomorrow, He sees me doing it, though from my standpoint, I have not done it. But God sees it as already having been done. Or in process. (Some prophet once said that all of time is an eternal “now” with God.) This, to some, is a paradox, which either requires the non-existence of agency, or denies the foreknowledge of God. Moreover, I understand this as being that God -observes- what I choose/do tomorrow, and does merely -predict- (via extrapolating His complete knowledge about me, such as an earthly parent predicitng his child will choose chocolate over vanilla.)

So…. Those who attain unto exaltation will have a newer, higher, understanding and existence with regards to “time”. The concept of time will take on new/additional horizons.

i dont think an exalted being can entirely “leave” a dimension, since dimensions are nested/recursive. So while we are in this lower 3d space, it’s almost impossoble to say where God physically resides. The poetic /mystic phrase “He’s everywhere!” can actually be literally true when nuanced through multiple dimensions of space/time, if He’s standing someplace where our 3d space-time is a subset.

Moses, as a mortal, was temporarily raised up, or promoted, or transfered to a higher dimension where he could behold all particles of the earth, then he “fell” back to earth. Paul used the phrase “whether in the body or out of the body, i could not tell” in reference to being taken to some kind of heaven. So even when experienced in person, a non exalted being seems incapable of describing it. Some prophets used the phrase “unlawful to describe/speak”, as if they were prohibited from revealing how such things worked.


Bookslinger
August 6, 2014

“does merely -predict-” should have read “does not merely -predict-”


Adam G.
August 7, 2014

Agellius,
God controls the universe, so being part of it doesn’t make him dependent on it, I wouldn’t think. But the basic flaw in your reasoning, to my mind, is to see the natural laws that govern a body as prior to and superior to that body, as if they were imposed from the outside. But those natural laws are part of the body, and the body is the person, so they are part of the person. Since God is embodied (you believe this too), natural law is part of who He is.

Basically, I don’t see much practical difference between what I understand is the core Catholic view (natural law has existed, possibly forever, because God has willed it to forever, because it is in His nature to so will), and what I take to be the most common Mormon view, which is that God and natural law/nature in some form have coexisted forever and it is in their basic nature to coexist.


Agellius
August 7, 2014

Bookslinger:

I really appreciate you taking the time to give such a thorough explanation.

The overall impression I get from what you say, is that you do view God as being a part of the cosmos. You feel the need to fit him within the physical, scientifically explainable (at least in principle) cosmos, using terms like space, time, dimension, etc.

Whereas traditional Christians conceive of him as outside the cosmos — the cosmos comprising “creation” and himself being the creator and sustainer of the cosmos/creation.

It seemed to me that if God is within the cosmos, then he is not the creator/sustainer of the cosmos, but simply finds himself within it. And like any being who exists within a certain context, he is dependent on that context for his existence. I found this to be a necessary implication. (I’m open to being persuaded otherwise but I’m still working on that.)

I know G. disagrees with my conclusion on this. Do you?

Again if we disagree that’s fine, it’s not my intention to continue arguing the point, but just to see where our differences lie. If Mormons believe gods are embodied, yet that this does not imply dependence on their physical surroundings, I’ll chalk it up to a simple disagreement and leave it at that.

By the way, when you mention “Mormon[ism]’s official doctrine of deification/exaltation/eternal progression”, do you mean it’s office doctrine that men can become gods of the very same nature as our God, or only that they may become like our God in some ways and to a certain extent?

Thanks again.


Agellius
August 7, 2014

Adam:

I have so many questions I hardly know where to start. How about this:

It seems to me that these are the possibilities. (Definitions: By “control” I include the ability to make things do whatever you want them to do, as well as to limit what they can do. By “sustain” I mean to be the origin of and to maintain in existence. By “cosmos” I mean the universe of all universes created by God or any god, as explained to Bookslinger above.)

1. God is self-sustaining and sustains and controls the cosmos.

2. The cosmos is self-sustaining and sustains and controls God.

3. Both the cosmos and God are self-sustaining and God controls the cosmos.

4. Both the cosmos and God are self-sustaining and the cosmos controls God.

5. Both the cosmos and God are self-sustaining and neither controls the other.

6. Both the cosmos and God are self-sustaining and sometimes the cosmos controls God and sometimes God controls the cosmos.

7. God and the cosmos are one and the same and God/cosmos is self-sustaining.

Catholics believe 1. Which would you say is closest to what Mormons believe? Feel free to correct and clarify whichever you choose.


Agellius
August 7, 2014

Adam:

I forgot, I also wanted to correct what I think is a misunderstanding of the Catholic view:

God in his own nature is not embodied, but in Christ has taken on an additional nature, a non-divine nature, i.e. a human nature of his own creation. God in his divine nature is distinct from creation/nature/the cosmos, and is not part of it, but wills it into being and constantly sustains it. He is in no way contained by the cosmos, he doesn’t dwell in the cosmos, nor is he sustained by it or limited or governed by its laws.

Natural law, or the laws of nature, came into being when God created the cosmos. He willed and designed nature and creatures to work in certain ways and not other ways, and that’s natural law in a nutshell. Natural law has no applicability to himself, in his divine nature, but only pertains to that which he has created.


Adam G.
August 8, 2014

Aj,
Most Mormons would probably pick 8. We don’t know/God hasn’t revealed it to us/it’s not important to our salvation/the answer is probably something elegant and wonderful that we lack the concepts and intelligence to grasp.

A lot of these metaphysical questions, Mormons respond by wondering why it’s important, and when the answer to that gets to something like ‘because then God would be worthy of worship’ or ‘because then God would be capable of your salvation,’ light up and say, ‘oh, well, we believe that He is’ and are content with that.

But if they had to pick, I think most Mormons would probably go for your 3. I think I’d go for 6, because I mostly don’t see a practical difference between being subject to something and voluntarily participating in something, where the voluntarily part comes from your innate and unchangeable will.

Also, thinking about it, the cosmos as we see and experience it is mostly sustained and ordered by God (by ‘cosmos’ I assume you mean something like ‘everything that is’). The main difference I can see between the classical metaphysical view and my own view is that even the existence of stuff at all or basic laws of logic aren’t inherent in the Catholic view, they are in some way arbitrary decrees of God (at least from our standpoint) that in theory could have gone differently. If God had wanted a = -a, He could have done it that way, or he could have dispensed with a’s altogether and come up with something wholly different from our reality where things have an identity, where its possible to speak of ‘things,’ and for all we know he has. That’s possible–in my own view I wouldn’t go so far as to say that basic logic was mutable, but I can accept the possibility of very different orders of being that God has made that are effectively incomprehensible to us. That possibility isn’t frightening because God has made himself comprehensible to us through his participation in the order of being to which we belong, not least in the person of Jesus Christ. But you seem to be insisting (without meaning to?) on a strong notion of separation between Christ’s divine nature and his human nature, strong enough that it would seem that God did NOT become Man in any meaningful sense. If I thought you really believed that, I would think that was a very pernicious belief. The incarnation, the radical union between Godhood and mortality, between creator and creation, is the fundamental fact to which all theories must bend.


Agellius
August 8, 2014

You write, “The main difference I can see between the classical metaphysical view and my own view is that even the existence of stuff at all or basic laws of logic aren’t inherent in the Catholic view, they are in some way arbitrary decrees of God (at least from our standpoint) that in theory could have gone differently.”

True, the existence of “stuff at all” is not inherent in the Catholic view. God did not have to create. But I think the basic laws of logic, the first principles of knowledge such as the law of non-contradiction, are inherent in reality itself, which is the same as saying they are inherent in God. Just as God is the source of goodness, he is also the source of reason and wisdom, which is what I understand to be meant when Jesus is called the Logos (same root word as “logic”).

All things were created through him, and his own wisdom was imparted into the very fabric of the cosmos, which I think is what’s revealed when scientists continuously find that physical processes can be reduced to information. Indeed science can’t help using logic when drawing conclusions from observed phenomena, because that’s just the way reality is. “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom thou hast made them all.”

You write, “[Y]you seem to be insisting (without meaning to?) on a strong notion of separation between Christ’s divine nature and his human nature, strong enough that it would seem that God did NOT become Man in any meaningful sense.”

I’m just saying that Christ has two natures, a human and a divine. Since it’s the same person who “occupies” both natures, I would not say there is any real separation, only that you can say things about one nature which don’t apply to the other. For example it’s not inaccurate to say that “God died on the Cross”, since Jesus is God; but it’s inaccurate to say that “God in his divine nature died on the Cross”. This is because the divine nature is not susceptible to death in any sense, whereas the human nature is.

When God the Son died in his human nature, he remained alive in his divine nature, otherwise he could not have risen from the dead! For that matter, if God’s divine nature had expired (per impossible), all of reality would have ceased to exist. So you see why we have to distinguish between the two natures.

Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to explain your views. You always have an interesting viewpoint to which you’ve evidently given careful thought.

Regarding how you account for a body not being dependent, I was right, you did have an answer that I hadn’t thought of. It conflicts with how I make sense of things, but I have to concede that it’s not impossible for God to be embodied yet not dependent, since I can’t prove otherwise. Once I have a chance to ponder it at length, I may have more to say on my own blog.


Bookslinger
August 8, 2014

Ag: I think we have different ides of what “cosmos” is. In my idea, “cosmos” is limited to our 3d space-time, ie, the universe, or our “Hubble Space”. “Cosmos”, to me, means a universe of galaxies, star systems and planets. Galaxies and universes likely come into and go out of existence via big bangs and big crunches, with something to do with black holes and white holes.

I dont know how the higher dimensions are organized. Universes are subsets of higher dimensions, but the higher dimensions are not necessarily organized like a universe. i also do not view galaxies or universes as permanent. Cosmologists say universes are merely temporary bubbles in something bigger. There are some scriptural passages about the heavens being wrapped together as a scroll and that to me sounds like a “big crunch” into a black hole, on a galactic or universe level.

(Or it may be that universes are permanent, but galaxies get recycled. Cosmologists say every galaxy has a black hole at its center.)

In my idea, the “cosmos” is a subset of a higher multiverse where gods, spirits, and resurrected persons may exist and move about, and in which gods can create their own bubbles/universes.

I envision our Heavenly Father as an inhabitant of those higher dimensions, and in your paradigm, yes, I would agree He is subject to or constrained by the laws of that environment. I’m hesitant to use the phrase “dependent upon”. Because of His perfection and permanence/eternal-ness, I dont know that we can say He is dependent on anything.

Based on the KF discourse and Snow’s couplet, I deduce that Heavenly Father has (and always had, with possible nuance on what “always” means) His own Heavenly Father. I therefore envision some future point where people on this earth (at least some) eventually attain unto exaltation, and then their relationship with our Heavenly Father will eventually mimic our Heavenly Father’s relationship with His Heavenly Father. Along the lines of what Adam has said about fathers and sons. Children grow up to be fathers, and fathers age into grandfathers, etc.

It was very hard for me to start to get an understanding what cosmologists mean by higher dimensions, but once I started to “get it” it was enhanced by certain scripture passages. and my mental picture of those scripture passages was enhanced by the ideas given me by cosmologists.

Higher dimensions are more than just a “worm hole” or “hyper drive” shortcut between point A and point B in our 3dimensional space-time. Its more than just the bending or manipulation of space and time.

There is no way we could get into a magical spacecraft that could travel faster than light and “warp” to another universe. To get outside of our universe would require going “up” a dimension or two or three, going “over”, and then going “down” a dimension or two or three.

And from our standpoint, it looks like only exalted beings, or resurrected/perfected beings can travel like that.

But it is tied in somehow with spiritual matter, and the spirit-of-the-spirit that Mormons refer to as _an_ intelligence. The Book of Abraham indicates, and modern prophets have more plainly said, that Heavenly Father took “intelligences” and clothed them in spirit bodies, and that that was somehow their spiritual birth. The intelligence is then like the spirit of the spirit body. (However, that is not official doctrine either.) Then the spirit body gets born into a human baby, grows, dies, gets resurrected etc.

Basically, I think we’re in agreement in the context of perceiving this 3d physical universe as the sum total of all existence. However, with the added/new horizon revealed in the doctrine of exaltation/eternal progression, a tiny hint has been given which throws a monkey wrench into the theology of 2000 years of tradition that had lost sight of that horizon.

I know it sounds heretical. But so did the Gospel of Christ sound in 33AD to Jews who had lost sight of the horizon given them by Moses over a millenium before.


bookslinger
August 8, 2014

Let me fix something…
“Basically, I think we’re in agreement in the context of perceiving this 3d physical universe as the sum total of all existence. ”

Would be better written…
Basically, I think we’re in agreement about Heavenly Father’s relationship to His surroundings, as long as we view this discussion in the context of perceiving this 3d physical universe as the sum total of all existence. If we open our view to the higher/spiritual/eternal (depending on how one defines the terms) realms/dimensions/cosmos (again depending on how one defines the terms), where He exists among a society of exalted beings/gods-like-Him, then I think we diverge.


Agellius
August 8, 2014

Bookslinger:

You write, “I think we have different ides of what “cosmos” is. In my idea, “cosmos” is limited to our 3d space-time, ie, the universe, or our “Hubble Space”.”

Well, I did ask you, “assuming the recursive gods, multiple-universe paradigm, couldn’t you refer to all of these universes, in their totality, as the cosmos, i.e. the totality of all that exists?” (among other things), and your response was “I think I pretty much agree with all of that.”

It would be helpful to me in discussing these matters to have one word that stands for “all that exists”, by which we really mean ALL that exists, including “higher/spiritual/eternal” “realms/dimensions/cosmos”, and the word I was proposing for that purpose was “cosmos”, as opposed to “universe” which might be the realm of just one God.

In any event, you’ve given me as thorough an explanation of your view as I could have hoped for, and I appreciate it, and the friendly spirit in which it’s been done.


G.
August 9, 2014

A good conversation we’re having. Credit goes to you.

Personally I don’t find the two-natures explanation convincing or even comprehensible, but I haven’t found any explanation of that christological problem convincing, including the Mormon one (not sure there is a Mormon one, actually).


G.
August 9, 2014

Books reminds me of this passage of scripture:

he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.

8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;

9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;

10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.

11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;

12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—

13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.

Based on that, I wonder if in a real sense the Universe *is* God’s body.


Agellius
August 9, 2014

Nice bit of poetic explication.

You write, “Based on that, I wonder if in a real sense the Universe *is* God’s body.”

I think we may not be far off from each other in what we’re imagining, even if we don’t call it by the same name. I would say not that the universe embodies God, but it does make him manifest. St. Thomas says over and over that we come to know the invisible through the visible, and to know God by what he has made. So in a sense we are coming to know God by knowing the universe.

I could say something similar about my wife: That I come to know her by what she makes visible of herself to me, which of course is done through her body.


Agellius
August 9, 2014

In the last paragraph I should have said “manifest” instead of “visible”. I didn’t mean to say that I only know her through what I can see.

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