The Destruction of the Soul

December 18, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 7:05 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,Spirits/Intelligences,Theology

One of the things that remain a mystery to the world is the nature of the soul. I have already written a couple of posts on this subject, the first was called “Are we eternal or is it just our parts that are eternal?” and the second was my recent post on the Sterling McMurrin book. McMurrin put it pretty well when he said the question was one of what our spirits are made of – are they necessary or contingent; are they made up of irreducible parts or are they “simple”, irreducible, and indestructible themselves. When he wrote his book in 1965, McMurrin felt that the parts model was dominant in Mormonism.

Recently over at M* David J vigorously defended the idea that spirits are simple and irreducible. He reads statements from Joseph Smith in the King Follet Discourse as “clear and concise” evidence that Joseph taught the idea. Of course many others disagree with his interpretation. In fact, based on the overall evidence I have seen to date, I currently think it is more likely that spirits are composed of beginningless and uncreated parts rather than being simple and irreducible in their current form.

Joseph and the KFD

Joseph did make several statements that could be read as evidence for the irreducible model of spirits. But in the context they comment were given it seems likely to me that Joseph was mostly railing against creatio ex nihilo — the notion that our spirits were created out of nothing. He also seemed to be trying to drive home the idea that humankind and God are of the same kind — that there is no ontological gap between us and him.

Problems with simple and irreducible spirit model

There are some logical flaws with the notion that our spirits have always been in their current form. The primary problem for me is that I don’t think the doctrine is compatible with progress. If the spirit that is me has always been in its current form, then how can it change? The moment I change then that is a beginning of a new version of me. But that means I am no longer beginningless… There seems to be a paradox that requires absolute immutability (un-changeability) for this idea of beginningless, simple, “whole-cloth” spirits to work. But if we are unchangeable then there is no progress. If we are changeable, then we (in current form) have a beginning. The obvious fact that we are changeable seems to refute the notion that our spirits in current form are simple, irreducible, and beginningless.

The ring analogy

In the King Follet Discourse Joseph held up his ring and taught that everything that has a beginning must have an end. This could cause problems for us depending on how we interpret it. Our families and potential eternal marriages have beginnings after all. Joseph even taught that God (as God) had a beginning. Does the ring analogy mean that eternal marriages must eventually dissolve and that God must inevitable cease to be God some day? I doubt it. I suspect it mostly means that all things are in motion and that each second begins and ends and we are always slightly different as a result of the constant motion in the universe. Of course this constant motion is what allows for progress or for retrogression.

What is simple and irreducible then?

Joseph Smith taught that matter cannot be created – that all matter is beginningless. Our scriptures further teach that “spirit” is a form of matter. So the building blocks of our universe are without a beginning when reduced to their simplest form. The question is what are human spirits made of? Well we don’t know. But it seems most likely to me that just as our physical bodies are made up of tiny parts that work together and “we ” somehow emerge, our spirit bodies (whatever they might be) are likely built on the same basic principles. Based on the revelations, the universe is made of beginningless parts – the real question is what the nature of those parts is.

The destruction of the soul

I believe souls can probably be destroyed. I think spirits are not indestructible. More specifically, I suspect that souls/spirits have the capacity to erode away to oblivion. The scriptures use the term “destruction of the soul” in lots of places. I am not going to say that these verses are referring to anything other than figuratively suffering for our sins though. I think that would be reading too far in to the ancient texts (much like I think David J and others have done with the KFD). But I will argue that God and spirits live within time and that with temporal beings change is always possible and in some sense inevitable. Our spirits can transform into new and different types of beings. (I have already posted that I think the Adam narrative teaches this very principle.) We can get better. We can also get worse. We can gain light and truth or we can lose light and truth. There is opposition in all things. If on the one hand our spirits can embrace all light and truth, then on the other hand they can have the “lights out” experience of destruction – outer darkness. Therefore, I suspect that a better description of the destruction of the soul would be a deconstruction of the soul. A soul disposed to evil eventually loses so much light and truth that it loses its emergent identity and the parts that once constituted that spirit are recycled for another try some day – just like what happens to physical bodies. Perhaps in the world of spirits as in the mortal world, it can be ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

What do you think?

63 Comments »

  1. I feel that it is very important for us to believe that people can change. Is this not what conversion and repentance are ultimately about?

    I also feel that our existance is made up of progressing from one stage to another. Intelligence to spirit, spirit to mortal life, mortal life to resurrected being, etc. How does this fit with Josephs ring analogy? I think we can read to much into physical analogies sometimes, and when the ring analogy may fit many things it probably does not fit all things.

    I guess I am not opposed to a ‘recycling’ of some souls. I do not have a feel for this deconstruction idea yet.

    Comment by Eric — December 19, 2005 @ 6:47 am

  2. So long as someone from FPR is constantly bickering with Geoff over the meaning of the gospel, I feel that my work has been accomplished.

    Comment by John C. — December 19, 2005 @ 8:46 am

  3. There are a couple of things that I view as flaws in your description. If you take all the data that we have about God, then one is very safe saying that God never became God, and always was. What data do we have? That Jesus was God before exaltation and that He is God after exaltation. That God the Father was once motal, like Christ (not like us). So we have nothing that states that God has ever been eanything else than God.

    I agree that our spirits, according to the revelation, are likely made up of spirit matter. I don’t have any idea what that means. And I don’t have a problem with spiritual matter turnover (like we have physical matter turn over, now), though I will not asume it as truthful or even likely until we have more information.

    I think the biggest difference is between you and I, Geoff, is that I believe the mind of man is eternal, and you do not. You believe that the mind of man is emergent. I can’t concieve of how you reconcile this with your notion of free will, because you end out with the same problems as you do with emergent free will in mortality.

    There is one bit of support for you soul destruction idea, if I remember correctly. Didn’t Brigham teach something to the effect that those cast into perdition would be consumed and their matter be resused? I can’t find the citation though…and he also tought that perdition would act as the devils for the next mortal play, as well (right?), which is contradictory.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 19, 2005 @ 10:23 am

  4. Good thoughts J.

    So we have nothing that states that God has ever been anything else than God.

    You know of course that this is a major overstatement of the facts. For instance we do have Joseph saying:

    God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. (Teachings, 345)

    Now I will grant that one could read that to mean God was a man like Jesus and not a human like us, but that is a stretch in my opinion. Further we have the teaching of most every succeeding prophet supporting the idea that God was once a man like us and that we can become like him as exemplified by the famous Lorenzo snow couplet:

    As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.

    This has been repeated by prophets and apostles repeatedly since President Snow taught it. So I will grant that there are other acceptable doctrines within the church on this, but it is just plain false to say “we have nothing that states that God has ever been anything else than God.”

    I believe the mind of man is eternal

    Along with a lot of others. But how do you deal with the logical problem I brought up here? How can something be both changeable and eternal? The moment there is change that is the beginning of a new version of the thing. So unless you and I are completely immutable and unchangeable (our “minds that is) then the minds we have today have a beginning. If they have a beginning then they are obviously not eternal and beginningless. We are in constant states of iterations. So while there may have been a J. Stapley version 1.0 at some point in the past what iteration are you on now? J. Stapley version 8^5132^.4^315^? I am claiming that change is not compatible with this notion of beginningless spirits or minds. Am I missing something?

    he also taught that perdition would act as the devils for the next mortal play, as well (right?), which is contradictory.

    Actually, I didn’t know he taught that but I am not surprised. It fits very well with my idea of how it all works. Also, I don’t think the idea you mention is contradictory. I posted on this recently. The idea is that those that are in hell/prison awaiting the second resurrection prior to receiving a Telestial reward are the disembodied “devils” of the mortal play that takes place in the meantime. They are the “third” part that reject the plan of salvation and are cast out. (This is purely speculative of course, but it is not contradictory at least.)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 11:10 am

  5. I stand by my statement. To give you the full Joseph Smith in context it is:

    God who sits in yonder heavens is a man like yourselves That God if you were to see him to day that holds the worlds you would see him like a man in form, like yourselves…I want you to understand God and how he comes to be God. We suppose that God was God from eternity. I will refute that Idea, or I will do away or take away the veil so you may see. It is the first principle to know that we may converse with him and that he once was a man like us, and the Father was once on an earth like us, And I wish I was in a suitable place to tell it The scriptures inform us mark it that Jesus Christ said As the Father hath power in himself so hath the son power in himself to do what the father did 38 even to lay down my body & take it up again (WoJS pg. 345)

    So you can see here that Joseph equates Jesus’ mortal state as “a man like us.” Taking the whole in context repudiates your reading. Joseph does state that Joseph “refutes” that God the Father was always been God…but from the context you have to accept that he only means that He was no “the Father” before.

    As to Snow’s little couplet, he could have meant the same thing as Joseph, but what he personally believed is not important. We have from Joseph, what it does mean.

    How can something be both changeable and eternal?

    By filling the full measure of its capacity. Energy is eternal yet it transforms into matter and back. It fullfills the law which governs it. All primordial minds have a certain capacity and it is our probation to fill it.

    So, again, how do you square your perspective with your beloved Libertarian free will? How can something created not be beholden in its contruction to the creator. You essentially bed with our creedal friends.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 19, 2005 @ 11:32 am

  6. J: We have from Joseph, what it does mean.

    Ha! You twist Joseph’s statements beyond recognition and then declare the issue settled. Well you can take consolation in the fact that Blake Ostler pretty much tries to do the same thing. I think you are both completely out to lunch on this though. Here are some more quotes from the diaries to support the obvious reading of Joseph’s statements:

    “refute the idea that God was God from all eternity” (Willard Richards Diary)

    “God who sits in yonder heavens is a man like yourself… I want you to understand God and how he comes to be God. We suppose that God was God from eternity. I will refute that idea” (Wilford Woodruff diary)

    “God that sits enthroned in yonder heaven is a man like one of yourselves. That is the great secret.” (William Clayton report)

    Some of the reports do imply that God the Father served as a savior on a previous planet but when taken as a whole that serves to support the notion of a divine lineage of saviors and multiple mortal probations more than anything else. Too many of the reports also say that our God was once a man like us and that he has not been God from all eternity. The position you and Blake are arguing for ignores too much of the glaring evidence I think.

    One final part supporting that divine succession idea:

    “…we are to goe from glory to glory & as one is raised the next may be raised to his place or sphere and so take their exaltation through a regular channel & when we get to where Jesus is he will be as far ahed of us in exaltation as when we started” (George Laub Journal)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 12:23 pm

  7. Energy is eternal yet it transforms into matter and back.

    You lost me here… Isn’t this a variation on my theme that the parts of our spirits can be transformed and recycled?

    So, again, how do you square your perspective with your beloved Libertarian free will?

    I am lost on this question as well. I don’t think our spirits are created ex nihilo. I think they are essentially self-created by intelligence cleaving unto intelligence and light cleaving unto light (whatever that really means…). It seems most likely to me that free will slowly emerges as more light and intelligence is gathered over the eternities. That emerging free will is then used to choose to gather more intelligence, light and truth or to choose to shun it (I suppose).

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

  8. Holy Crap! Geoff, you are completely missreading the source material. You just can’t take one sentance out to prove your point. To finish your quotes:

    Willard Richards Diary:
    refute the idea that God was God from all eternity-Jesus said as the father had power in himself even so hath the son power 6 to do what the father did. Lay down his body. & take it up again

    The full Wilford Woodruff is in my previous comment.

    William Clayton Report:
    God that sits enthroned is a man like one of yourselves. That is the great secret. If the veil was rent to day & the great God who holds this world in its sphere or its orbit-the planets-if you were to see him today you would see him in all the person image, very form of man, For Adam was created in the very fashion of God. Adam recieved instruction walked talked as one man with another…Going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity – These are incomprehensible to some but are the first principle of the gospel-to know that we may converse with him as one man with another & that he was once as one of us and was on a planet as Jesus was in the flesh…What did Jesus say – as the father hath power in himself even so hath the son power to do what why what the father did, to lay down his body and took it up again.

    George Laub:
    Jesus Spake in this wise, I do as my Father before me did well what did the father doo why he went & took a body and went to redeem a world in the flesh & had power to lay down his life and to take it up again & this is the way we become heirs of God & joint heirs of with Jesus &[c]. But those who die without the obediance of the gospel while having a privlege here will have to subject to the law the[y] are under but those who have not had this privilege they[y] cannot be condemned therefore the[y] must come under condemnation by this wise & for the will be as the ware in torment of fire & brimstone untill the fullness of times for the[y] know not what will be their doom and as there are many mantions or departments in my father’s kingdom suitable for every ones condition Jesus Saint he would goe to prepare a place That where I am ye may also come for we are to goe from glory to glory & as one is raised the next may be raised to his place or sphere and so take their exaltation through a regular channel & when we get to where Jesus is he will be as far ahed of us in exaltation as when we started

    These all repudiate your thesis!

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 19, 2005 @ 1:15 pm

  9. If we can become joint-heirs with Christ and become as Gods and this process continues worlds without end… Then over time, wouldn’t that mean that the number of Gods is constantly increasing?

    Conversely, looking at this time-line, if you go back far enough on the time-line you would have decreasing numbers of Gods. Decreasing until you come to 1.

    Hence at one point there is only 1 God. This 1 God, it must be assumed, did not have to go through a probation period, worship a previous God, or need a Savior.

    So the famous couplet of Lorenzo Snow “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.” doesn’t apply to the original first God.

    Comment by Speaking Up — December 19, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

  10. J,

    Again, I readily admit that Joseph said God the Father was once a savior on a previous planet. But that does not solve your problem of the other statements he made that God became God and has not been God from all eternity and that he was once a man like us. The full sermon seems to mostly support my other belief that God was both a savior and another planet and was a man like us on a planet before that. The support for MMP and a divine lineage of saviors is strenghtened further by that quote from the George Laub report.

    The problem you face (aside from the glaring fact that most all prophets since Joseph have taught and supported the idea that God was once a man like us and that we can become a God like Him) is to show that our God (the Father of Jesus) did not become God but has been God from all eternity and that he was never a man like us (as opposed to a man like Jesus). The records of the KFD say that he was both.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 1:56 pm

  11. Speaking Up,

    The origins (or not) of everything including the Supreme God is obviously a mystery. However, I do tend to agree that there is probably a single supreme God with whom our Father and Savior have become “One”. Some people (BH Roberts included) prefer a model where there is an “infinite regress” of gods and therefore no single supreme monarch. I personally can’t wrap my head around that one… Maybe that is why I prefer to imagine a finite regress — even if it is innumerable to me.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 2:03 pm

  12. The text indicates that God was a man, like us precisely becasue he came to Earth like Jesus did; this is becasue Jesus was also a man like us during mortality. You cannot get anything else out of the text about the history of God the Father besides that.

    As Christ was God before His mortality, so was God the Father. Nothing in the KFD suggests that God was at one point not God (in the sense that Christ was a God before this earth).

    I’m not sure of any material of Presidents of the Church advocating that the Father was ever anything other than God. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith stated in regards to Christ seeing what the Father has done and theogony:

    From this remark we gather that the Son was doing what the Father had done before him. However, so far as the Father is concerned, we will leave that until we receive further knowledge, when and if we become glorified in his kingdom. So we will deal with this subject in relation to the Son, Jesus Christ.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 19, 2005 @ 2:25 pm

  13. I’m afraid the text won’t let you off the hook so easily J. Either God became God or he didn’t. Claiming God solely went to a previous earth like Jesus did for us does not solve your dilemma. Jesus did not become a God by coming here. He somehow was a God already. So somehow God became a God — which means he once was not God and now he is. The same must then apply to Jesus since Joseph clearly said Jesus did everything his father did. Therefore, when Joseph says God used to be a man like us, I believe him. Jesus was not a man like us. Jesus was God. The scriptures tell us that “God himself” will come to earth and atone for us. Therefore you can’t say that a God coming to earth makes them a man like us. So this question seems pretty cut and dry to me. Here’s what the message of the sermon is:

    God became God somehow.
    Jesus did too.
    Both of them at least served as saviors on planets.
    The Father was apparently a man like us at some point as well.
    Since Jesus followed the Father in every footstep we can conclude that Jesus was also a man like us a some point.
    They eventually became Gods.
    We can too.

    As for prophets and apostles and other sources teaching this, a quick search turned up these quotes:

    “It is a ‘Mormon’ truism that is current among us and we all accept it, that as man is God once was and as God is man may become.”
    - Elder Melvin J. Ballard
    General Conference, April 1921

    “From President Snow’s understanding of the teachings of the Prophet on this doctrinal point, he coined the familiar couplet: ‘As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.’ This teaching is peculiar to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
    Marion Romney (1st Presidency)
    General Conference, October 1964

    “The Lorenzo Snow couplet expresses a true statement: ‘As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.’”
    Seventy Bruce C. Hafen
    The Broken Heart: Applying the Atonement to Life’s Experiences, 1989, p.133

    “This process known as eternal progression is succinctly expressed in the LDS aphorism, ‘As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.’”
    Encyclopedia of Mormonism 4:1474

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 2:45 pm

  14. “Jesus did not become a God by coming here.” – Geoff

    I thought that Jesus did not receive His full glory until after the resurrection.

    While having a body may not neccessary to be declared God, i.e. The Holy Spirit, it does seem to be a step up. Although, I admit, I do not recall seeing it explicitly stated that the Holy Spirit was a God, but a member of the Godhead.

    Christ never stated he was God on earth, merely the Son of God. While acting as God of the Old Testament, he may had done so with permission of the Father, such as the angel in John’s Revelation having permission to speak as Christ. Hence, while Christ was acting under permission of the Father as God, he may not had been truly God until after the resurrection.

    Comment by Speaking Up — December 19, 2005 @ 3:27 pm

  15. As an addition to the original post…

    I occurs to me the very fact that God (the Son) could “empty himself” of some divine attributes to come here proves that the divine attributes are contingent for Christ. This seems to be some additional evidence of the parts model of spirits as well. If God had a spirit that was irreducible then it seems that he could not empty himself of any of his properties to condescend to this planet.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 3:32 pm

  16. Speaking Up,

    J is of the opinion that Gods have always been Gods and humans have always been humans and that there is a chasm between the two that can never be crossed. In his view the best we can hope for is to become “kings and priests” to God (though I’m not sure what that really means). Since I know that, and I strongly disagree with that take, it has colored some of my responses to him.

    Now the fact seems to be that Jesus was a full God before coming here. This mortality did not make him a God. The Holy Ghost is also called God. Together they are the unified and indwelling “One God” of scriptures. But as I mentioned before, even Godhood seems to be in iterations and the atonement Jesus Christ performed allowed him to progress further. Joseph clearly implied that Jesus’s father had done the same on another planet before him. The next implication that many (not all) have speculated is that there is a great chain of Gods and that each inhabitted planet has a savior. If this is the case it seems likely that the goal of all mankind (and the goal of God) is to help us all join into that unity of the Godhead with them and become one with them.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

  17. Geoff, all you have to do is look at the text:

    Going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity – These are incomprehensible to some but are the first principle of the gospel-to know that we may converse with him as one man with another & that he was once as one of us and was on a planet as Jesus was in the flesh

    We have:

    God became God by being as one of us as Jesus was in the flesh. Prettty straight forward.

    In your examples you do not cite a single president of the Church.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 19, 2005 @ 3:44 pm

  18. J, I don’t begrudge you believing what you want here, but the texts don’t really back you. While that single version of the KFD might work for your take on the teachings (as strained as it seems to me even there), the others are not so kind to your reading. When looking at all the versions from all the journals there is no getting around the three points that Joseph taught: 1).God (the Father of Jesus) has not been God forever 2). He became God 3). He used to be a man like us.

    God became God by being as one of us as Jesus was in the flesh. Prettty straight forward.

    So that means the Father wasn’t God before he went to a previous earth? But that is different than Jesus. If he was God already then coming to and earth did not allow him to “become God”. Your take is anything but straight forward here.

    In your examples you do not cite a single president of the Church.

    Umm, they were all quoting and agreeing with Lorenzo Snow.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 4:38 pm

  19. But the text does back me up. It is evident that Joseph is talking about God becoming God the Father. It is clear that Joseph states that God became God by doing what Jesus did. That is fine. But we believe that Jesus was God before this world was…but it is obvious that we are just talking about different definitions. Christ was not yet Exalted as the Father is, he needed to expiate for that. No mystery. Very clear.

    The Richards account is even more explicit, going so far as to equate what to ascribe our similarities in form only:

    [God] Is a man like one of yourselves.-should you see him to day. you would see a man in fashion and in form. Adam was formed in his likeness.

    And the Woodruff account states plainly that Joseph would “…go back to the beginning to show what kind of a being God was” He states like in all the other accounts that He came to an earth like us and like christ.

    Regarding Snow’s couplet, Joseph states plainly what that means in the KFD. Noone President of Church has stated otherwise. I’ll stick with Joseph on this one.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 19, 2005 @ 5:03 pm

  20. An interesting (but very non-LDS) description of God if you have the time and inclination to read Scott Adams (yes, the Dilbert Scott Adams) http://www.andrewsmcmeel.com/godsdebris/

    Synopsis

    Imagine that you meet a very old man who-you eventually realize-knows literally everything. Imagine that he explains for you the great mysteries of life-quantum physics, evolution, God, gravity, light, psychic phenomenon, and probability-in a way so simple, so novel, and so compelling that it all fits together and makes perfect sense. What does it feel like to suddenly understand everything? God’s Debris isn’t the final answer to the Big Questions. But it might be the most compelling vision of reality you will ever read. The thought experiment is this: Try to figure out what’s wrong with the old man’s explanation of reality. Share the book with your smart friends then discuss it later while enjoying a beverage.

    Comment by Daylan — December 19, 2005 @ 7:20 pm

  21. Alright, now we are getting somewhere, J. Your personal biases are clearly coloring your reading. Here are some examples:

    It is evident that Joseph is talking about God becoming God the Father.

    No, it isn’t. What signs in the text make this so clear? I clearly see it saying that God was not a God and that he became one after being a man like us.

    It is clear that Joseph states that God became God by doing what Jesus did.

    No, it isn’t. It does imply that Jesus was mirroring what his father did. But that is clearly not what caused Jesus to become a God. He was a God prior to coming here. Your biggest problem is trying to explain the clear statements that God was not God and then became one. The attempt to wiggle out by saying the Father atoned for a previous planet doesn’t cut it. Jesus didn’t become God as a result of his atonement and neither did his father.

    Christ was not yet Exalted as the Father is, he needed to expiate for that.

    I’m with you here. So the missing piece is how God (and Jesus) went from being a man like us to becoming a God. How they changed from our level to their level. If God was indeed a man like us on a previous planet then that would mean so was Jesus. Perhaps it was a different model though. The thing that cannot be avoided is that God used to be like us (before being like Christ) and now he is God the Father.

    Regarding Snow’s couplet, Joseph states plainly what that means in the KFD.

    I also believe that it is clear what Joseph meant. I just think President Snow and his contemporaries and successors had it right and that you have a completely new and incorrect interpretation of it.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 19, 2005 @ 7:27 pm

  22. Actually I pretty much agree with Joseph Fielding Smith’s exlication of the couplet and believe that it meshes quite well with my reading. It is to long to include, but here is the reference Answers to Gospel Questions vol. 2 pg. 127-131.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 19, 2005 @ 10:25 pm

  23. I checked that section in Answers to Gospel Questions out. It seems like JFS2 sort of avoided the issue all together with his “we won’t go into questions about the Father” comment. That is understandable though — this is pretty deep doctrine and in his position as an apostle at the time it doesn’t make for good PR to openly publish comments on these sorts of things. (We obscure bloggers don’t have that problem and Joseph Smith didn’t care much about that either.)

    Anyway, as for the King Follet Discourse, I guess we can leave it to each person to read the sermon and decide for themselves what Joseph meant about God’s former condition as a man like us and progressing to become a God. I think the message is crystal clear but apparently you see a completely different message.

    Maybe we should take a poll! (or not…)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 20, 2005 @ 1:09 am

  24. Geoff and J:

    Both of you are more aware of the wording of the KFD than I am. But to me there is far to many teachings about being children of God and heirs of God (even in the KFD) to ignore. It seems to me that J. has taken a very few specific words in the KFD, made a jump of interpretation, and ignored a lot more evidence than what he used. Geoffs position seem to me to match more of the statements of church leaders, church teachings, and my personal beliefs. Of course that doesn’t necessarily make him right. I think we will all have some surprises in store when all things are revealed. But I think on this score J. has a larger burden of proof to provide, and I am not sure that has been met. To me the belief that we are offspring of God and can become like him is a large part of what the restored gosple is all about. Believing that God is like a different species(?) than us is more like being in bed with the creedal friends than believeing that we are children of God.

    Comment by Eric — December 20, 2005 @ 6:52 am

  25. It appears to me, for Geoff’s model to work, is that one has to ignore Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: “.

    If I understand it right, in Geoff’s model, you’ll die here, resurrect, be judged, depending on your amount of light or righteousness, go to another world, die, resurrect, be judged, etc, etc. Basically, Live, Die, Rinse, Repeat.

    As Geoff has posted before: Multiple Probation or Batch ?

    I find there’s more evidence for Batch personally. I don’t see how repeating the Earth experience over and over WITHOUT the knowledge from before to learn from and profit with, can ever help one to escape the probation treadmill. You’d have to get lucky and have the right environment (parents, doctrine taught, etc.) just to get a decent chance.

    With the Multiple Probation Model, being resurrected seems rather useless. I mean, you’re just going to give the body back up and go to another “Earth”. Why even bother resurrecting?

    With that model, the resurrection seems insignificant, the redemption of Christ weaker than that in Batch theory, and Sealings degraded. I think the burden of proof still rests with the Multiple Probation Model.

    MPM just seems like the Movie Ground Hog’s Day without the benefit of learning from prior experiences. In that movie, if Bill Murray’s character hadn’t been able to learn from his prior experiences, he’d forever be trapped and not even know he was trapped forever repeating again and again the same behaviours. He would be in something akin to limbo.

    Comment by Speaking Up — December 20, 2005 @ 8:43 am

  26. Eric, as it relates to being children of God, I would refer again to that same article in Answers to Gspel Questioons.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 20, 2005 @ 9:07 am

  27. Eric – Obviously I agree. I actually think that JFS2 quote doesn’t help J’s position much at all either. Claiming we can’t really become like God is at least as radical in Mormonism as claiming we might have multiple mortal probations. I can live with the latter a lot better than the former.

    Speaking Up – I think you are making too many assumptions about the details of MMPs. Obviously we know basically nothing about this theory — including if there is any truth to it or not. But we certainly don’t know details about how it jibes with resurrections, etc.

    I can say that the idea you have the we start completely fresh is unfounded. Even if this is the only mortal probation we’ll ever have, it is a well documented Mormon concept that personalities and proclivities here are heavily influenced by our progression prior to this earth. The idea that noble and great ones from before are chosen to be leaders is scriptural. Therefore, it is incorrect to assume all progress is lost after a veil is dropped. Rather, noble and great spirits from before a veil remain such after they pass through a veil unless they freely choose to become wicked. Thus not every spirit has the same starting point in this probation. If MMP is correct then that solves your concern.

    Last, MMP is certainly not the only possible answer to progression before and after this life. But it does seem to be one viable solution to understanding the comments Joseph made implying that God used to be both a man like us on another world and that he also was a savior like Jesus on another world.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 20, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

  28. Interesting discussion!

    Geoff, I took particular interest in the small tangent about a Supreme God verses an “infinate regress,” and how you find a Supreme God easier to understand than an infinite regress.

    I have to say I feel quite the opposite. Mormonisim liberates us from riddles like “Who made God?” or “What happened before ‘in the beginning?’” The notion of an ‘original’ uncreated God opens up those crazy conundrums again. This starts sounding like mythology. “Who made the first man? God. Who made the first God? Um… no one, he just was always there.”

    It it easier for me to understand eternity going (backwards and forwards) on forever rather than saying at some point in the past, it was all very quiet and lonely for this one “Supreme God.” And the further back you go into eternity, it’s the same quiet and lonesome universe. For eternity? Why did he decide to start creating other Gods when he did? Why not a billion years prior? Or a billion years later?

    It’s easier for me to think of divine family trees making a repeating pattern, up and down AND right and left. If we were talking about a pattern of wallpaper on a finite wall, I’d have a hard time understanding it too. But we’re talking about an infinate wall, and an infinate wall that has a pattern with a starting point is infinately empty before that point. And that begs the question as to what caused that starting point.

    Isn’t it easier to think of the family of Gods always existing, with no end to their kingdoms?

    Comment by britain — December 20, 2005 @ 4:24 pm

  29. Geoff: Well as usual you’re sticking to your guns — I suppose that is to be expected. What do you do with the clear statements by JS that I quote (also made in Nauvoo) that God is eternal, and JS expressly states that eternal means without beginning or end? What do you do with the clear statement that there is a God of all other gods? What do you do with the clear scriptural statments that say that God is the same unchangeable being from all eternity to all eternity? In the second volume of my book I show that on this issue we must take into account not only the KFD but also the sermon in the Grove that was given two weeks later and touches on the on the very same issues — where Joseph was even clearer that Christ becomes God in the same way as the Father — always having been a God and condescending to becmome human. So while you may feel that I am out to lunch on this issue, I am pleased to at least be joined in this sumptuous meal by J. Stapley.

    Comment by Blake — December 20, 2005 @ 11:06 pm

  30. We may not start completely fresh, but how much we take with us through the veil has got to be small and limited taking into account what we do know through studies of twins seperated at birth; that a great deal of personalities and proclivities are genetic. The environment plays a great part as well. The noble and great ones may had been chosen before birth, but I’m sure God played a great hand in making sure they had the necessary genetics & environment to flourish. Not to mention His hand throughout their lives guiding them to His ends. I think it is more God’s involvement with their lives than these Spirits taking additional light or knowledge or whatever through the veil with them in these great ones becoming great here.

    I don’t assume all progress is lost after a veil is dropped, just that things learned are left behind. How can you take advantage of past lives, when so little makes it through the veil.

    If you have sources saying that more is taken through the veil, I’d like to see them.

    Comment by Speaking Up — December 21, 2005 @ 8:30 am

  31. Britain,

    I guess I just see the infinite regress of Gods thing as sort of putting off the issue. First I can’t make any sense of it. Second it does not really match what Joseph taught with his ring analogy anyway. The infinite regress seems to imply an unending linear set of progenitors that leads off intothe distance. The ring analogy implies a finite amount of stuff (even if it is an inconceivably huge amount) that recycles in an eternal round throughout eternity. Plus in Abraham 3 God says that he is greater than they all. These seem to indicate that there is a supreme monarch. Further I suspect there always has been one that is more intelligent than they all and always will be.

    Again, my biggest problem with infinite personalities is I can’t make any sense of it.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 21, 2005 @ 10:01 am

  32. Blake: So while you may feel that I am out to lunch on this issue, I am pleased to at least be joined in this sumptuous meal by J. Stapley.

    Ha! Nice.

    You ask some good questions and I hope by giving my answers you’ll see that we’re not as far apart on this subject as it might initially appear.

    What do you do with the clear statements by JS that I quote (also made in Nauvoo) that God is eternal, and JS expressly states that eternal means without beginning or end?

    I take “God” in those statements to mean the One God — the unified and indwelling group (and who knows how large it is?) that comprises the One God we worship (as you have so eloquently written about elsewhere). I certainly don’t think it means that God the Father of Jesus or that Jesus himself have always been part of the One God. Rather, I see Joseph clearly indicating in the KFD that they were not and that now they are.

    What do you do with the clear statement that there is a God of all other gods?

    I agree with it and with you. I think the One God (the unified indwelling group of divine individuals of scripture) fits this definition. Plus I think you are right that within that group there is one individual that is above and more intelligent than all other individuals. Again, the main difference between my views and yours is that I think the term Elohim currently favored in the church for our Father also indicates that he stands representing all of his fathers in indwelling unity going back all the way to supreme monarch with whom all are One.

    I know that you prefer the idea that the Godhead is only three individuals – and certainly the Godhead of our planet is – but I think the only way to reconcile the evidence is to also admit that our Father had a Father going back to the supreme monarch.

    What do you do with the clear scriptural statements that say that God is the same unchangeable being from all eternity to all eternity?

    The same thing you do. That this applies to the Godhead. Further, it could possibly have to do with relative intelligence — that God has always been more intelligent than they all. Or perhaps there is something to this recycling business (though that is a brand new and wild thought for me so I won’t even attempt to actually defend it.)

    In the second volume of my book I show that…

    Yes, thank for letting me read that last Spring. It helped me solidify some of my thoughts on this. You bring up lots of very good points, but I think your reconciliation of the data is simply off. The evidence that God (our Father) was not always God is simply too overwhelming. I think it requires a different approach than simply claiming Joseph (and all those succeeding prophets) didn’t really mean it or that they all were just mistaken.

    Once I get your new book from Amazon and read it I’ll be posting on it more specifically.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 21, 2005 @ 10:24 am

  33. Blake, it is an honor to dine with you.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 21, 2005 @ 11:07 am

  34. I know you might be a little weary of discussing plainly written statements which cause such differing opinions (for example, this “Joseph was talking about God once being like Jesus, not once being like us,” debate with J. Stapley and Blake), so I hope you are up to another dissenting opinion on the side.

    Joseph’s use of a ring was best three-dimensional example of something eternal he could find. I don’t think he was trying to say eternity is a closed system with that only has a finite amount of material within it (therefore requiring recycling). He was demonstrating that things without beginnings have no ends, whereas things with beginnings must have ends.

    This finite regression of Gods model has a beginning, and if so, it must have an end. What a discouraging thought! Not only was there a mega-God sitting around for eternity doing nothing (and who knows where he came from, or where he resides, or who built where he resides, etc.) but this means that at some point in the future we’ll be done creating! No more material left to organize. No more room for children to be born and raised. What will we do, all organized with no where to go? The only chilling alternative is that this Monarch God says, “That was fun, let’s do it all again,” and has to go about destroying us and everything around us.

    The ring analogy, in my opinion, supports the infinate regress. Yes, a ring turns back itself. It represents eternity, and using the ring analogy to support a finite and recycled universe is taking the analogy too literally. That’s like saying a teacher drawing a chalk timeline representing infinity is really trying to teach the students that infinity has two ends once you get to the edge of the cosmic blackboard.

    Abraham 3 statements may be attributed to a Supreme Monarch God, or they may be attributed to our Father. And if intelligence can be taught, why can’t any being who is willing to be taught, willing to change and repent, willing to follow God, ever achieve the same intelligence as God?

    (This is such a wierd discussion for me, since it feels like I’m talking to some non-LDS Christian friends who take offense at the idea of a God who can make other Gods like him. The same explanations I share with them I find I’m sharing here.)

    The One God above us all can make others just like him. Whether you want to call him Father, Grandfather, Great-grandfather, it doesn’t matter. They are all alike. They were crowned in a sequence, yes, and must be addressed in a sequence, but they are equals in abilities, and identical in attributes. Just like Adam presides over Eve even though they are equal partners, our Heavenly Father follows his Father, but it isn’t like this Grandfather is better or more intelligent than our Father.

    Abraham 3 verses 18-19 state:

    18 Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.

    19 And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.

    I don’t think this is a special appearance by uber-monarch God, telling Abraham that “there are plenty of spirits, plenty of people, and plenty of Gods, and I’m more intelligent than they all.”

    Doesn’t it just make more sense that this is our Father talking here? (Or, if we must, Jesus speaking on behalf of our Father.) There are spirits, that he calls his children, of varying intelligence, and he is greater than them all. But if they are willing, he desires that they increase in intelligence until they are as intelligent as he is.

    Saying that our Father can “max out” and become supremely intelligent doesn’t say he’s better than his Father. (Just like saying that we can “max out” and become supremely intelligent doesn’t mean we’re better than our God.) There is still order and seniority.

    So, using the infinate regression-equality and unity among Gods model, the Abraham verses retain their power without the negative consequences of finate regression.

    Comment by britain — December 21, 2005 @ 2:12 pm

  35. Why can’t something be Eternal and changing? Wasn’t that the whole point of it all? We are fundamentally Eternal? We know from the Proclamation on the family that our Gender is Eternal (Though in all probability at some point in our pre-existance this attribute was dormat, but eternal nontheless.) If we believe the Proclamation to be from God to us via his authorities in the church, we can conclude that in many aspects we are eternal. Further, we know that without Christ, we would have suffered Eternal lack of Change, being stagnant, which is damnation. Wasn’t that the case also in the beginning, in the pre-mortal experience, we all shouted for joy because we knew we would gain the capacity to progress. God, in effect, took us out of our eternal state and put us into this time linear state, giving us the finite opportunity to experience multiple stages of existence, on the one hand experiences the simple joy of childhood, where spinning in circles and rocking in a rocking chair are thrilling adventures, and on the other hand, the worries of routine and the meaninglessness of profit taking and consumption cursh us into oblivion, and finally the aged wisdom of senility. Perhaps we were eternal, pathetically so, and were unable of our own devices to progress, like a ball unable to move without force applied to it, and perhaps God came along and gave us a push. Does that change make us no longer eternal?
    And Why can we not be God? We must be Gods. What ultimately is the difference between God and us? Power? Capacity? Love? Availability? All of the above, and no doubt more, but why shouldn’t we be able to obtain those factors.
    Why was Jesus and Michael capable of Being God premortally, what makes the Holy Ghost capable now of such a act? I think this perhaps has more to do with our lack of understanding than with our lack of potential.

    Anyway, I have to sleep.

    Comment by Matt Witten — December 22, 2005 @ 12:43 am

  36. Matt: Of course something can be eternal (in the sense of sempiternal) and still be changing. The point is that God is not changing in the sense that God ceases to be God or ceases to be divine. There is now and has always been a God of miracles and that doesn’t change. But of course God changes in many other respects.

    Geoff: I challenge you to look again. Joseph says in the KFD that the Son becomes God in the same sense as the Father, and the Son was divine before becoming mortal. Now let me go this far with you, I believe that some of the references to an eternal God are in fact references to the Godhead as a whole and not the individual divine persons. It seems to me that the relationship of indwelling unity is experienced from all eternity by all three (and hence they are three gods who are one God in this sense). However, if there is a God of all other gods, and this phrase is taken from the Psalms referring to a Most High God (as it does in Abraham 3 and 4) then I believe that we are compelled to take these references to individual divine beings (in this case the Father).

    So I believe that what you take as evidence that God at some time became a divine being for the first time leaves us with a being not worthy of worship and not the being or individual spoken of in scripture. Jesus taught that all glory is given to his Father — and I ask why that is so if there are others on whom the Father was dependent for his godhood and thus to whom he is subordinate and dependent for his divinity?

    Comment by Blake — December 22, 2005 @ 12:40 pm

  37. Blake, While it is a good point that God will not cease to be divine, God can definitely increase in Divinity, I would think,as can we.

    To say that God has always been a God of miracles doesn’t necassarily create a gap between us, as we have always been a people of miracles ourselves…

    Comment by Matt Witten — December 23, 2005 @ 12:12 pm

  38. Going back to early comments about spirit matter. I am under the impression that the spirit is a body wrapped around intelligence much like our mortal bodies are wrapped around our spirit bodies. If that is so then the I will have to go with the spirit being made up of smaller unchangable parts.

    Comment by Russ J — December 23, 2005 @ 3:54 pm

  39. That was my impression too, Russ, although I admit I can’t think of any specific sources to really back that up.

    Comment by britain — December 23, 2005 @ 8:53 pm

  40. Sorry about my delayed responses, all.

    Blake:
    Joseph says in the KFD that the Son becomes God in the same sense as the Father, and the Son was divine before becoming mortal.

    I see evidence of this as well. The problem is that I also see strong evidence that the Father and the Son (of our planet) have not always been Gods. This evidence just cannot be ignored. I’m sure there are several ways that this can be reconciled, but I am currently partial to the idea Heber C. Kimball and his contemporaries taught that the path of eternal progression includes multiple mortal probations. I am open to other reconciliations though.

    It seems to me that the relationship of indwelling unity is experienced from all eternity by all three

    I can understand your preferring this model, but it requires ignoring or limboing around some of the statements of Joseph. I think it is more likely that the offices of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have entailed indwelling unity from all eternity and that our individual Father and our Savior progressed to those offices. In fact, that seems to be the fundamental message of the last few sermons Joseph gave.

    However, if there is a God of all other gods, … I believe that we are compelled to take these references to individual divine beings (in this case the Father).

    I agree generally with this logic. I just see no evidence that our Father is the individual that is God of all other gods. In fact I see strong evidence to the contrary (as has been discussed already in this thread). The evidence points toward our specific Father being One with the God of all Gods through indwelling unity though, as is Christ.

    I believe that what you take as evidence that God at some time became a divine being for the first time leaves us with a being not worthy of worship and not the being or individual spoken of in scripture.

    All members of the Godhead are worthy of our worship. They are all One with the Supreme God. The question we are disagreeing on is what the full Godhead consists of. We worship our Father, His Son, and the Holy Ghost here, but that not preclude the One God from having additional members leading back to the Supreme Monarch. It does not preclude Our Father from also having a Father.

    Jesus taught that all glory is given to his Father-and I ask why that is so if there are others on whom the Father was dependent for his godhood and thus to whom he is subordinate and dependent for his divinity?

    I think it is because speaking of “his Father” is just another way of speaking of his Fathers going back to the Supreme God.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 24, 2005 @ 3:55 pm

  41. britain: I don’t think he was trying to say eternity is a closed system with that only has a finite amount of material within it (therefore requiring recycling).

    You’re certainly not alone in that opinion. But the ring analogy does imply this idea to me. We just don’t have Joseph’s own guidance on whether that is an over application of the idea.

    There do seem to be some paradoxes involved in what you are teaching though. How can there be an infinite number of Gods and that do not physically fill all space for instance. We believe that God has a body made of matter after all, yet the immensity of space is not sardines packed with the infinity of Gods many try to describe. That is the problem with this fast and loose use of “infinite” we like to use — it just makes not sense. Now I do understand the idea of infinity of time as described by the ring, but it seems to me that in the infinity of time the matter must be recycled during the infinity of motion.

    What will we do, all organized with no where to go? The only chilling alternative is that this Monarch God says, “That was fun, let’s do it all again,” and has to go about destroying us and everything around us.

    I think it is lack of imagination like this that scares people about the things we’re talking about. I trust that we all will like how the Universe works if we become One with God.

    Just like Adam presides over Eve even though they are equal partners

    Ooh, I have a paper forthcoming that will interest you in this particular subject…

    I don’t think this is a special appearance by uber-monarch God, telling Abraham that “there are plenty of spirits, plenty of people, and plenty of Gods, and I’m more intelligent than they all.”

    Really? That seems to be exactly what Abr. 3:18-19 is to me. What is it if not that? I will say that it is our God speaking via “divine investiture of authority” on behalf of the Supreme monarch though (see my comments to Blake in #40). Having said that, it probably also is what you say — our individual Father speaking of his relative position to all of His children in terms of intelligence/light/glory.

    Saying that our Father can “max out” and become supremely intelligent doesn’t say he’s better than his Father.

    But it does say there is a point of no further progression for God(s). This is a point that Orson Pratt and Brigham Young hotly argued about. You are in the Orson Pratt camp on this — I lean toward Brigham’s camp personally. I think there is never stagnancy even for God.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 24, 2005 @ 4:17 pm

  42. Matt: Why can’t something be Eternal and changing?

    When something changes the new part or characteristic has a beginning. So if “we” are fundamentally eternal, that means there is something essential, beginningless, indestructible, and irreducible about “us”. My question has been what is that. Has Matt Witten always had the same personality from all eternity? The same strengths and weaknesses? Are your strengths and weaknesses indestructible? If so there can be no changing. If you develop a new strength it has a beginning. If you shed an old weakness that has a beginning. So what part of you has no beginning? I think it is the “atoms” that make you up (presumably this is spiritual “atoms” not just physical ones).

    I do think we can become like God. Joseph said our God has not always been God but that he used to be a man like us. That has been a major part of this discussion. The problem is reconciling that with the teaching that we have a God that has been God from all eternity. I have a method of doing that; others here have other models they prefer.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 24, 2005 @ 4:29 pm

  43. Russ: Going back to early comments about spirit matter. I am under the impression that the spirit is a body wrapped around intelligence much like our mortal bodies are wrapped around our spirit bodies. If that is so then the I will have to go with the spirit being made up of smaller unchangable parts.

    You are describing what is reportedly called the “Triparite” model of spirits. Blake has argued that this triparite view cannot be found in Joseph’s writings but was a later corruption of the original teachings. I’m not so sure of that, but I’m open to the idea. My problem with that view is that no one has explained to me what an “Intelligence” is in that model. I know that spirits and bodies are made of matter, and that there is no such thing as immaterial matter, but what is a pre-spirit “Intelligence” made of? If it is matter then how is it different from a spirit? If it has no matter then what is it?

    Clark thinks that Brigham actually leaned toward this idea of an intelligence being a variation on a Cartesian Mind (named after the philosopher Descartes). I’ll ask Clark to come and enlighten us or give us some links on this subject…

    Comment by Geoff J — December 24, 2005 @ 4:41 pm

  44. Well, I know Matt Witten has existed enough to have been Male from all eternity, drawing on the Proclamation on the Family(Which I believe is divinely inspired\revealed). That was Static and Unchangeable, and a bit more than Atoms(spiritual and otherwise), I might add. But it’s christmas eve, and I don’t think anyone wants to get into a discussion of gender and “size”…

    Now, this is going to seem stupid, but where does it Say God has been God from all eternity? God has been from all eternity, I know, but where does it say he’s been God from all eternity? Further, whether our God is the first or the 88th, what difference does it make? He is still our Father in Heaven, and the only one with which we have to do.
    Sorry to ask stupid questions, but I am not getting confused as to what is the true issue here.

    Comment by Matt Witten — December 24, 2005 @ 10:21 pm

  45. I meant I am geting confused, or did I. I am obviously confused. Merry Christmas

    Comment by Matt Witten — December 25, 2005 @ 10:42 pm

  46. Geoff, while the say of thinking Eternal in terms of permanent presence is common, if not ubiquitous, I’m not at all convinced that it is the only way to think of Eternal. An other way can be in terms of a common history. Thus a boat, even if all the planks are replaced, is still the same boat. The other way is in terms of a transcendence defined not by presence but by absence. That might be seen as a halfway position between the other two. And no, I can’t really explain it simpler than that. It’s a complicated notion, but a fairly common one among certain philosophers.

    As to Brigham Young. I think it was B. H. Roberts, not Brigham Young, who held to a Cartesian mind. He’s actually fairly explicit about this. I supply a quote of Roberts discussing this here. He was fairly up front about this. I have huge problems with dualism – especially Cartesian dualism. But Roberts did influence a lot of people.

    Brigham Young never really pushed his ideas in a rigorous fashion. I’d argue that Young moves towards a kind of neoPlatonic idealism. That is we’re made up of elements of intelligence in the sense of ideas. And multiple people obviously can share the same idea. It is these elements of intelligence that are eternal and not us as us. While I think Young believed this, arguing it would be more difficult, if only because of the way Young talked and his disdain for philosophy. He was, in many ways, very much the pragmatist only of the sort who preferred commons sense language.

    Comment by Clark — December 27, 2005 @ 11:13 am

  47. Clark: Thus a boat, even if all the planks are replaced, is still the same boat.

    I have seen this one. I guess that the BYU football team remains the BYU football team regardless of the players or coaches. But I don’t think this model of existence can be applied to us unless “we” are simply emergent and independent of our current material parts (spiritual and physical).

    I too have trouble buying this “Cartesian dualism” idea because I can’t fathom what this immaterial mind thing is and how it could remain intact (yet still change). It seems at odds with Mormonism’s general materialism to me.

    I agree about Brigham too. He was not a fan of philosophy (even though he had a general philosophy whether he could articulate it or not).

    Comment by Geoff J — December 27, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

  48. I don’t mind emergence – just radical emergence.

    Comment by Clark — December 27, 2005 @ 2:31 pm

  49. (Hmm… Should I place this comment on this thread or on that Enderverse thread? Eh, this should work fine.)

    I have very little understanding of philosophy, but I love discussing philosophy with those who know more about it than I do. Perhaps someone who understands various philosophies better than I could enlighten me on this observation:

    If a boat (let’s call it the Columbia) is still the Columbia even when all the planks have been replaced, and if the BYU football team is still the BYU football team even when the players/coaches/equipment have been replaced, then what is the Columbia? How do you define it? What is the BYU football team?

    One could say that what the Columbia really is is a design for a boat, and the wood has given that design form. The Columbia is really an idea in a shipbuilder’s mind. The BYU football team is an intangible entity that was conceived by an athletics board at the university, and it was given form by recruiting players, etc.

    So my question: Is there a philosophy (in Mormon thought, or anywhere really) that looks at these designs, these ideas, and calls them “spirits?”

    I’m not saying this is what I believe, but would this be compatible with what has been currently revealed, or are there any scriptures or sources ruling out this possiblity?

    Comment by britain — December 27, 2005 @ 4:13 pm

  50. Brit:
    This makes me think of Logos, which is actually from Socrates or Plato way back. I’m sure our resident experts could elaborate. This Idea comes into play very well in the Gospel of John as it starts with “In the begining was the Logos, and the Logos was made flesh.”

    Comment by Matt Witten — December 27, 2005 @ 8:04 pm

  51. Maybe this is a dead thread, but it seems like a lot of assumptions are being made and people talking past each other.

    What does eternal mean? What does “from all eternity to all eternity” mean? Are there more than one eternity? What does “God” mean? Are there different types of God? What kind of God can we become? The same kind as Christ and our Father?

    And why does there have to be a beginning? A “first” God? What is time? Is it the same everywhere?

    What is “eternal progression”? How does it work?

    What is spirit? What is intelligence?

    Seems like without a better understanding of some of this stuff, it is hard to really decide between MMP and other understandings.

    Maybe there are many types of God. Maybe it takes MMP to get from one kind of existence to a higher one, from being one type of God to another. Why would that be?

    If we are eternal in the sense of always having existed in some form, where have we been forever? In this universe? In another universe? Mortal? Immortal? Intelligence? Spirit?

    There are just so many questions here, and the answers so far seem to be to limited, though MMP seems to be able to account for more of the evidence provided by JS and the early LDS leaders–eg. intelligences always existed and are progressing, Lorenzo Snow couplet, etc.

    Comment by Rob — January 18, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

  52. Rob,

    Keep checking through the posts here. You will see that I have explained what most of my assumptions to the questions you asked are and why I believe them.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 18, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

  53. I’m pretty comfortable with most of your assumptions…guess this was aimed more at some of the more “traditionalists”. I tend to take a multiple universes, multiple eternities tack myself. But that position requires rethinking many of the proof texts offered by MMP opponents.

    Comment by Rob — January 18, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  54. Found a relevant Brigham Young sermon in the Journal of Discourses (Vol. 1, pg. 114).

    In a sermon on dancing (among other things) he states that the souls of those who pursue the opposite course of eternal life will be destroyed.

    Young: “Do you understand that you will cease to be, that you come to a full end, by pursuing the opposite course [of eternal lives]?”

    This destruction of the soul is “not annihilation, as we use the English term, there is no such principle as this, but dissolution or decomposition.”

    Click here for an online, pdf version of the JoD, Vol 1.

    Comment by Seth — March 11, 2008 @ 2:04 pm

  55. Well, I’m several years late to the conversation, but I’d like to dine with J. Stapley and Blake.

    I’m also persuaded by the the KFD interpretation stated by J.:
    “God the Father was once motal, like Christ (not like us)…We have nothing that states that God has ever been anything else than God.” Indeed, all our scriptures state that God is eternal, and Joseph wasn’t refuting the scriptures, but rather than God never had a mortal experience.

    As for the Lorenzo Snow couplet, I think it needs to be understood better by putting a different slant on it: “As man now is, Christ once was. As Christ now is, man may become”.

    I think that is how we are to understand it with God the Father too.

    Comment by Clean Cut — April 15, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

  56. think it needs to be understood better by putting a different slant on it

    Hehe. We can call that the Clean Cut couplet. I think I’ll stick with the Lorenzo Snow couplet.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 15, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

  57. I think humans if true, righteous and faithful by heart and deeds are moving in a direction of spiritually greater beings most probably first Great Humans, then Angels and then eventually part of God himself , it might be a very slow process and may take many births, rebirths. Sinners may have to take more births and turning away from wrong path to take the right road.

    Comment by Varun — September 13, 2009 @ 8:37 pm

  58. wow. u hit alot of points here. i have come to experience many of the things u mention here, and have found an answer to 1of ur questions.. “We are to be free, simple, and dominant in every aspect of ourselves, and the SouL” is simply the positive energy (behind our physical bodies) that drives us forward. And while remaining simple, Any purpose applied to it will not change it, and it will remain the same, positive and moving forward.

    Comment by rebel — March 3, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  59. Geoff:

    If I understand your view here, you believe in a finite number of uncreated particles of spirit-matter, eternal progression, and that those too disposed to evil to progress will be stripped down to component particles and recycled into new individuals.

    Most of that makes sense to me, but what happens when all the good souls have been exalted, and all the bad apples recycled?

    Don’t you still run out of material (and doesn’t this still put an end to eternal progression)?

    Comment by Mike — May 10, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

  60. Mike,

    I have actually come around to the idea that our core self really is irreducible and eternal. That is contrary to the position I argued for in this post.

    But in answer to your question — I think if there were a finite universe and eternal time it would require recycling of both good and bad. I used the “one eternal round” idea to defend that position in later posts that can be found in the eternal progression category.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 10, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

  61. When you say you’ve come around to the idea that “our core self really is irreducible and eterna,” what does that mean?

    Does it mean we always existed as individuals?

    Was Brigham all wrong about the sop losing their individual identities and being recycled?

    And if we always existed as individuals, did we exist as independent facts (independent of any Supreme being)?

    Comment by Mike Burke — May 12, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

  62. You once wrote “The origins (or not) of everything including the Supreme God is obviously a mystery. However, I do tend to agree that there is probably a single supreme God with whom our Father and Savior have become ‘One.”

    Do you still feel that way?

    And, if so, what relationship would our core selves have to this supreme God?

    Comment by Mike Burke — May 12, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

  63. Mike Burke:

    Does it mean we always existed as individuals? Was Brigham all wrong about the sop losing their individual identities and being recycled? And if we always existed as individuals, did we exist as independent facts (independent of any Supreme being)?

    Yes, yes, and yes. That is my current leaning at least.

    I now am partial to the idea that the One God is the eternal union of all eternal beings like us. I called that basic idea “radical universalism” in a previous post.

    The way I am leaning now may change in the future but as for now that model fits the evidence I am aware of best.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

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