Degrees of Divinity

September 14, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 11:53 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,Theology

There have been some interesting discussions recently that have made me ponder the question of degrees of divinity. J. Stapley wondered at another thread whether the pre-earth Christ was “fully divine” and thus worthy of our worship. He also expressed doubt that we should currently worship the Holy Ghost along with the Father and Son.

These are interesting questions. How divine must a God be to be worthy of our worship? Since we believe in the Godhead in Mormonism – three separate divine persons joined in perfect unity and thus we refer to that perfect union of divine persons as “one God” – is each of the members of the Godhead worthy of worship? Is the Holy Ghost as divine as the Father and the resurrected Son? I’m curious to see what others think.

As for me, I suspect that J. is partially right. I think that the disembodied Holy Ghost is divine and worthy of our worship along with the Father and the Son, but I suspect he is not as divine as they are. In other words the Father and Son have intelligence and glory that the Holy Ghost (whoever he is) lacks. I suspect, though, that in the eternities to come He will have the chance follow in the footsteps of the Father and Son.

What this all leads to is the concept of degrees of divinity. Have you ever thought of divinity on a continuum? I think it is so. And not only that, I think all of humankind fits somewhere on that divine continuum. As my evidence for this I present Abraham 3. Beautiful and terrifying Abraham 3… The chapter that brings us Kolob (and thus the best hymn in the LDS hymnal) and our best insights into our pre-mortal existence. I recommend you read it again if you haven’t in a while. Among the concepts it teaches is that for every star there is one brighter (or more intelligent). It seems clear to me that while the lesson to Abraham is about stars, it also applies to spirits. This does not continue in an endless regress as some Mormons believe, however. Nope, it is a finite regress that stops at God.

I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all (Abr. 3:19)

So one question is – If humans and God are of the same “species”; if there is no ontological gap between us and Him; how wide is the divide between us? Are we the equivalent of an embryo to God being a full grown adult? Here is what is how I responded to that suggestion by John C. today:

I think your embryo-adult analogy is a strong one. My only caveat is that Abraham 3 says to me that each of us is already at a different level of progression on that embryo to adult continuum. Some are indeed just embryos, but where do you think the pre-mortal Christ was on that scale? A young adult? A late teen? A pre-teen? A toddler? Well wherever you put him — just remember that he “stood among” the other noble and great intelligences there. Abraham was one of them. I take that as evidence that some of humankind is much closer to being like God prior to arrival here than others.

So there you have my latest theory. Divinity is on a continuum. We are somewhere on that continuum. At some point divine persons become worthy of human worship. I believe that the pre-mortal Christ and the Holy Ghost were and are beyond that point on the divinity continuum and thus worthy of human worship. I also believe that every person in the human family is somewhere on the divinity continuum and that “noble and great ones” like Abraham are relatively close to full divinity even before arrival here. Other humans are much farther down the continuum (but trying to move upward on it).

What do you think?

32 Comments »

  1. How about this Geoff: I agree.

    Except that there is one qualification: Not all embryos have the same eternal potential. There are some embryos that are capable of doing things that others are not, like expiation.

    Let’s just look at the eternal intelligence. Unless you are going for an Orson style spirit evolution, than there is a spectrum from 1 to 100 (let’s say). When these things are prepared for mortality, divisions have to be made. 0-5: bacteria; 6-10: plants; 11-20: insects…95-99: humanity; 100: God.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 9:58 am

  2. Geoff, I think Abraham was referring only to the stars (spirits) pertaining to our God’s creations. Therefore when you said: “This does not continue in an endless regress as some Mormons believe, however. Nope, it is a finite regress that stops at God.” I think that means for us and everything and everyone our God has created, He is the most.

    I don’t know if I can carry that on to say that in ALL creations or all the Gods that exist that our God is the stopping point. Maybe He is because once your Godhood reaches a certain point it doesn’t go any further.

    I agree with your premise in general, but “worthy to worship” bothers me a bit. Worship I think comes in varying degrees too. I “worship” my dad, my wife, my brother and others….in a embryo form of the worship I have for my “big” brother and for “Father”.

    Comment by don — September 15, 2005 @ 10:14 am

  3. I also fundamentally agree, except that I think that all the embryos have the potential to be fully Divine (assuming that God can make them so) and that I think the divide on the continuum is small between all of humanity (“the noble and great” included) and wide between ourselves and God. But, again, I do believe that it is bridgable.

    Comment by John C. — September 15, 2005 @ 10:15 am

  4. J – I think the 1-100 scale you present is useful. For the purposes of this post I am focusing on the Human-God aspect of the scale. So if we pull that that section and create a new 1-100 subscale I agree that God is at the top, and that some humans are at 1 and working their way up. Christ is also at 100. My question is where is the Holy Ghost (sans a body still). Where is Michael? It seems to me that he must be in the high 90s at least since we believe he was part of the pre-earth First Presidency. Yet he appeared here as Adam. If Abraham was one to the ones that stood among Christ (who is now 100) does that mean he is in the 80-90s too? Juhn C. believes not. I believe it might be so.

    John C. – Where would you put Abraham and Michael on that scale I presented to J? Do you see hima and all of us in the 1-10 range or something? How do you account for Michael’s association with them prior to his stint as Adam? How do you acount for Abraham standing among the group Christ was in?

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 10:30 am

  5. Don – Good points all around. While I doubt there is an actula infinite regress of Gods, I suspect it might be a massive one. (I wonder if there may be a finite number with one ultimate monarch.) I think that God was speaking for the larger “Godhead” that linked Fathers and Sons for innumerable worlds before our Father became our Father and with whom He is perfectly unified or “One”.

    This worthy of worship idea is foreign to me as well. But since it came up I thought it was important enough to investigate.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 10:37 am

  6. You see Geoff, I’m not so certain the numbers can change…ever. If they can change then you have to accept spiritual evoltion. You have to simply accept that a cricket has the potential for Godhood.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 11:42 am

  7. Well, that is a Pandora’s Box isn’t it J? I will just say for now that if one accepts some variation on Orson Pratt’s particles of intelligence concept that there could be a scheme that different intelligences (or intelligence particles) could fuse and become a new entity. There are those that believe that there is some variation on this that explains the oneness of the Godhead (though admittedly this brings up very sticky issues about truly retaining identity or not). I have not settled on a solution to that side issue.

    You apparently hold to a view of spiritual essentialism I take it? I think your take goes something like: “We have forever been in the basic form we are now and God likewise has always been God and as such the gap is not actually bridgeable.” Is that basically right? It doesn’t have logical problems, but it is at odds with the major strain of Mormon thought to be sure.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 12:01 pm

  8. I just can’t see how you can take one without the other. So if I am going to choose between all out spiritual evolution or spiritual essentialism, essentialism wins out.

    My take on your perspective is that you are required to except spiritual evolution.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

  9. …basically, your whole speil requires MMP’s extend to all forms of life. A cricket can become God.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 12:47 pm

  10. You may be right that in the end it must be one or the other. I’m not sure. I will say that saying “a cricket can become God” is an inaccurate take on the view you don’t prefer, though.

    Regarding your spirit-essentialism — How do you understand the mortal visit of God the Son to our planet and the visit of the Father to a previous planet as taught be Joseph? (I asked Blake a similar question at Clark’s site too). I mean if they created inhabitted worlds without number why visit two of them but not the others?

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 1:05 pm

  11. The way I look at all of that stuff is by Title. I’m not sure whether Jesus atoned for inhabited world’s yet unumbered, I just don’t have the data. But I think that we all agree that many Jehovas have created many worlds. And many Saviors have atoned on many worlds. The easiest answer would be to say that there is one savior per world..that actually works best with our idea of the preexistance, anyway.

    And to your first comment, why is it inaccurate?

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 1:16 pm

  12. Zoinks! You threw me for a loop with that comment J. Let me see if I can figure this out… If God the Father God the God the Son are of a different “species” than humankind, and other worlds had saviors that were not them, then who were those saviors?

    (I promise to get to your cricket question once I can figure this one out…)

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

  13. More 100s…perhaps their only begotten.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 1:35 pm

  14. I mean, if you look at the pre-mortal narrative that we have, what is the big deal if we 1) use that as the pattern for all worlds, while 2) believing in uncreated premortalty

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 1:40 pm

  15. Ok, I’m starting to get a better view of your take I think. There is them (the Divine) and us (the human). But if there are more of them how do you explain the idea that our God talks of the inhabited worlds without number he has created? Is it a through some sort of unity among them and he speaks as if all were One? Does each only create one world? Does each have one son? I don’t really understand still…

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 2:15 pm

  16. I think at this point, the narative becomes pretty standard. What is God the father going to do after the final judgement of this world? I imagine that he will start over. How many times has/will this process happen(ed)? My guess: inumerable. My oppinion is that every planet has a Savior that expiates for the sins of that world, becoming the Father himself. And the process continues on and on.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 2:22 pm

  17. Ok, but if our Father has made inumberable worlds and will continue to do so, who were/are the Saviors there if not exalted humans? What am I missing?

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 2:31 pm

  18. I think this is were I can borrow heavily from popular mormon thought. No one is worried about running out of spirits, it seems. We don’t worry that all of the sudden there just won’t be enough intelligences to keep on going. Right? Well, the same goes for 100s (to keep with the number system of preceding comments).

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 2:39 pm

  19. Got it. There is an abundance of “100s” just like there is an abundance of humans. Them and us… hmmm… so is this just your idea or is this a school of Mormon thought I’d never heard of before?

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 3:10 pm

  20. To be frank, I don’t know. I imagine that you’de get similar answers from most Mormons if you asked them where a Savior of the next round will come from (just like Abraham lays it out). Mostly however, people don’t think to take everything to their logical conclussions…kind of like the cricket :p

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 3:23 pm

  21. Well your take is definitely new to me. I guess you are probably right. Most Mormons have probably never even wondered if other worlds had saviors of their own. But I think most Mormons are familiar with the idea that they might have the possibility to create worlds in the future. In fact this seems to be the most common take on things these days. And such a take does have plenty of support from modern church leaders. I don’t think I have ever heard of any other Mormon (besides you) describe this idea of a race of Gods paralleling the race of humankind… I think you might be a solo artist on this one. (Not that I have a problem with that…)

    I’ll try to respond to the cricket thing next… (better here than in a post where more people will actually read it, right?)

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

  22. I’ll give you that most Mormons think that they will create worlds one day while concurrently believing that they will never hold the title of Christ/Jehova. This is, from a technical perspective, a contradiction…but what the hey.

    As for support, there is a fair amount of hisorical support for exaltation as a station in the government of God. Alot. There are also many who have taught that expiation is a requirement for God the Fatherhood.

    I have been told that McConkie taught against the “divine lineage of Saviours” or something to that effect, but I haven’t seen any documentation.

    As many have said before, it is better to be right than popular.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 15, 2005 @ 4:02 pm

  23. Ok, so I’ve had to think about this “spiritual evolution” thing.

    The first thing I realized is that I really don’t have enough knowledge to even begin making guesses at details. I do however believe that the scriptures give us clues into some of these things. Among those clues is the oft repeated saying “the course of the Lord is one eternal round”. I take that to primarily mean that God’s Universe is all about patterns — patterns that repeat themselves all over and on macro and micro scales. In other words, when we find God using a pattern in one part of the Universe we can almost always rest assured that the same pattern is being used for all sorts of purposes in all sorts of places.

    Ok, with that in mind I will say that I believe that life on this planet evolved in largely the way scientists and biologists say it happened. (I have some specific separate ideas about Adam that I won’t go into here). So if God utilized evolution here in the short millions of years this planet has been ripening, that gives me the idea that he is using that very pattern all over the universe.

    So based on that I’ll get to your question about a cricket evolving into a God. No, I don’t think that is any more possible than I think it is for a specific cricket here to evolve into a man. Crickets live and die. But if we consider the world through the eyes of an atheist for a minute (and disregard the idea of Spirits) one could say that the particles that make up a cricket through the cycle of life could certainly become processed some day into the particles that make up the body of a human being. In a sense all people really are made of “dust” so to speak. We are made up of the stuff here on this planet and our brains apparently create a sort of emergent intelligence (and I don’t claim to really understand this at all).

    So I will just say that I believe the very pattern that I believe was used to bring this earth to its present state (evolution) could be a type and shadow of patterns that have spiritually brought all mankind into being as well – both spiritually and temporally. And if that is a case, perhaps there is a single supreme Monarch (rather than an endless regress of Gods) that is more intelligent than they all.

    This idea certainly fits my concept of a massive and unbreaking continuum of Intelligence within beings and things in the Universe. I think it fits the pattern described in Abraham 3 the best as well.

    (How’s that for some speculating?)

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2005 @ 11:34 pm

  24. So to summarize: A cricket has the capacity to become God. You simply took several paragraphs to equivicate over it.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 16, 2005 @ 10:44 am

  25. Nope. Rather, the intelligence parts that make up a spiritual cricket could potentially become integrated into the intelligence that makes up a God.

    Let me put is this way. If every mortal thing has a matching spirit, what becomes of a spirit cricket that gets eaten (and digested) by a spirit frog? Is the spirit of that cricket then integrated into the spirit of that frog? Do they become one? I don’t know the answer of course, but it is an interesting question to me.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 16, 2005 @ 11:08 am

  26. Wow! I ultimately have no opinion on crickets or other animals. Offhand, I would guess that they don’t become Gods, because I don’t believe that they can sin and, therefore, I don’t believe that they participate in the Atonement. Generally, animals are what I believe we would be if we went with Satan’s plan.

    Regarding the business with Michael, as Michael/Adam/Eve are stand-ins for all of us (in other words, I think his presence is shorthand for all of our participation), I am happy setting him down in the single digits with the rest of us (ditto Abraham). I don’t do this to denigrate a great man; I just believe that we really are that different from God. Regarding animals, plants, rocks, and so forth, I don’t know where to put them on the scale since their interaction with God is, I believe, fundamentally different from ours.

    Comment by John C. — September 16, 2005 @ 1:55 pm

  27. Come on John, if Michael is a stand in for us but he (and therefore we) are represented as having real input into th creation of this world then how could we all be single digits to God’s 100? That would be like you letting a cricket join a decision making team of yours.

    (BTW — I denied the idea that animals could “become Gods”. J. just likes to use that accusation because it is so ridiculous)

    Comment by Geoff J — September 16, 2005 @ 2:17 pm

  28. But you see Geoff, you deny that animals could become gods, yet you say that their spirits are consumed in God. Men must therefore also be consumed in God. Therefor crickets have equal potential to be God as humans.

    chirp chirp

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 16, 2005 @ 3:07 pm

  29. On this we may have to agree to disagree. I think the fact that God cares at all about what we do indicates that he is into the crickets, so to speak.

    Also, where is this real input? We do what we’re told to do.

    Comment by John C. — September 16, 2005 @ 3:07 pm

  30. J: chirp chirp

    Lol

    I’m writing a post that disputes your conclusion as we speak, J.

    John — Your point about only following directions is pretty good. The weakness to it is that the narrative makes us equal to Jehovah in that sense. He only follows directions as well.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 16, 2005 @ 3:22 pm

  31. Geoff,

    It is exactly that which allows the whole “joint-heirs” thing to make sense to me. We are being asked to do the same thing, ultimately, that Christ was asked to do: submit our will to God. He was much, much better at it than us though.

    Comment by John C. — September 19, 2005 @ 9:11 am

  32. I disagree with the 0 to 100 scale of intelligence in that thread you referenced. And this is to be expected based upon my views of spirit and matter which we discussed last time. I think that the scale goes from 0 to infinity in that there is always room for more progression. A bacterium is not 0. Its actually very high on the scale. However, it might as well be 0 in comparison with us human who are really, really high up there (10^60^). Of course well above us is God (10^70^). And of course there is even higher still. There is always higher.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — October 18, 2005 @ 4:11 pm

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