The danger of analogy for Mormon cosmology

November 5, 2009    By: Guest @ 7:01 pm   Category: Spirits/Intelligences,Theology

A guest post submitted by our good friend J. Stapley:

In this post, I hope to successfully describe what I believe to be a prominent and persistent failing among individuals seeking to explore Mormon cosmology. Specifically, I will describe the common use of analogy, its limitations and highlight how, when employed in the exploration of Mormon thought, it frequently yields conclusions that are highly unreliable.

When forming an analogy, an individual takes a source and then maps attributes onto a target. For an analogy to be successful, both the source and the target have to be systemically continuous. That is to say, they have to be playing by the same rules. Furthermore, for any likelihood that the analogy be accurate, the observer has to be aware of the rules.

Let’s look at some historical examples of failed analogies and how they relate to the two requirements of likely analogical success:

More On the Nature of Spirits

November 1, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 6:43 pm   Category: Spirits/Intelligences

In the absence of revelation on the subject, we are left to speculate on the nature of spirits. In this post I will to sketch out some of the possibilities.

Spirits vs. Intelligences vs. Minds

One of the first difficulties we have is with definitions. There is no clear revelation that explains whether a spirit is the same thing as an intelligence or not. There is some evidence to support the idea that spirits/intelligences/minds are all names for the same thing, or at least that Joseph Smith considered them to all be names for the same thing. But counter arguments have been made that spirits are a more complex things than intelligences/minds. (Eternal minds and intelligences are almost universally considered to be the same thing in Mormonism as far as I can tell.)

Beginningless or not?

Near the end of his life Joseph Smith taught that the “mind of man” is co-eternal with God and thus without a beginning. Brigham Young was away on a mission when Joseph Smith publicly taught this idea and Brigham taught years later that the mind of man does indeed have a beginning. BH Roberts and others later attempted to bridge this gap between Joseph and Brigham with the tripartite model of spirits where our spirits are essentially bodies (with a beginning) made of spirit matter that are powered by our beginningless (presumably immaterial) minds/intelligences. Orson Pratt speculated that spirit matter is made up of atoms or particles like all other matter and that at least some individual spirit particles have a rudimentary intelligence. He further suggested that these intelligent particles could somehow unify to create higher order minds. So in his model, only the rudimentary parts of the mind of man are beginningless while the human-level mind clearly has a beginning.

Cartesian minds?

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