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The Nature And Relationship Of God And Creation


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I am a convert to the LDS church.  I was agnostic in my teenage years and began investigating Mormonism while in college.  I was very skeptical of organized religion.  When approached by my religious family members, I would tell them,

 

"Why would God create me, and when I turn out to be defective or insufficient, He punishes me for not being good enough?  It is nonsense for God to punish me for being who and what God created me to be."

 

Unfortunately, those who I said this to had no good answers for this logical response.  I will explain in more detail why this argument was so convincing, but in the mean time, I wanted to enter the discussion by referring to an old article in the Harvard Theological review, which I am sure that many of you all will appreciate.

 

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THE LOGIC OF BIBLICAL ANTHROPOMORPHISM

In the Harvard Theological Review (Vol. 55, 1962)

 

http://www.philosophy-religion.org/cherbonnier/logic-bible.htm

 

 

This was followed up by another article, also written by Cherbonnier: 

In Defense of Anthropomorphism

http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/reflections-mormonism-judaeo-christian-parallels/9-defense-anthropomorphism

 

 

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This is not just about Anthropomorphism.  It is about the nature of God.  It is about the nature of existence, the nature of the Universe / Multiverse.  It is about the nature of man and our relationship with God.

 

-Stephen

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"Why would God create me, and when I turn out to be defective or insufficient, He punishes me for not being good enough?  It is nonsense for God to punish me for being who and what God created me to be."

 

I like this Book of Mormon answer:

 

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Ether 12:27

Edited by BCSpace
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Hmmm looks right up my alley

 

Lemme check it out

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All that we know about God is what man has told us, whether through prophets or the scriptures. Even the invitation to ask God comes from man but the actual witness of the Spirit is undoubtedly greater than all the teaching and wisdom and knowledge of man - when one truly receives this witness it is of far greater worth than all the teachings of man both past and present. Humans have far more power than the teachings of man attributes to us - the teaching that we are gods has great meaning when one truly realizes what that means - humanism is part of the ultimate divine truth but it is flawed in that it rejects the divine origin of man ("Secularists worship the works of men and we worship the Man who made them"). We should welcome all these varying views but of course with the right perspective we can sift out the truth in everything - mankind cannot be wholly trusted even the teachings of prophets have not all stood steadfast and immovable but has failed and in many instances one wonders how such doctrines were allowed to be taught in the first place and by the prophets - e.g the doctrine of the priesthood was so extensively taught and now refuted, polygamy, mixed marriages etc. The prophets are not always right because they are men and man is fallible - Brigham in some quote said that the Latter-day saints will be too trusting of their leaders - indeed we are and have been. All the teachings of punishment are man's teachings - in D&C it says that endless doesn't mean that there will be no end; so what the scriptures and prophets teach is not necessarily the will and mind of God even though it says so - history teaches otherwise. The greatest asset that we humans have is our agency - in it lies all our power and it is beyond man, beyond prophets and apostles - it originates with God and is co-equal with him and the power that we can access by using it is beyond man, beyond Earth. It connects us directly with God no matter what our standing with religion is - without us there is no religion and without us the scriptures are of no use - we are the most important creation on this planet and indeed in the universe; so God doesn't punish us, we punish ourselves - we are the gods here and the laws that govern everything work as they were created - God is not a puppeteer, the power is already on Earth - we just need to access it through our agency. 

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I like this Book of Mormon answer:

 

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Ether 12:27

I disagree that this is what that verse is teaching. 

 

I think this refers to physical weakness.

 

I doubt that God would purposefully give us spiritual weakness ... and then punish us because we have those weaknesses.

 

-s

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I disagree that this is what that verse is teaching. 

 

I think this refers to physical weakness.

 

I doubt that God would purposefully give us spiritual weakness ... and then punish us because we have those weaknesses.

 

-s

 

Spiritual weakness in another set of words for succumbing to temptation. Christ was tempted in all things, but remained sinless.

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I disagree that this is what that verse is teaching. 

 

I think this refers to physical weakness.

 

I doubt that God would purposefully give us spiritual weakness ... and then punish us because we have those weaknesses.

 

-s

 

He doesn't but God did give us weakness. In the scriptures we are taught that he made us weak so we can be humble and become strong. It is interesting that God does not say that we will become strong by ceasing to be weak. I suggest that our weakness is there to exalt us. Only by dealing with weakness that we may never overcome in this life can we develop the patience and faith and strength we need.

 

God does not punish us for being weak. He made us that way. He punishes us for our sins and being mortal and weak is not a sin.

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He doesn't but God did give us weakness. In the scriptures we are taught that he made us weak so we can be humble and become strong. It is interesting that God does not say that we will become strong by ceasing to be weak. I suggest that our weakness is there to exalt us. Only by dealing with weakness that we may never overcome in this life can we develop the patience and faith and strength we need.

 

God does not punish us for being weak. He made us that way. He punishes us for our sins and being mortal and weak is not a sin.

 

Let me expand on what I mean by "physical weakness".  I am referring to the kinds of weaknesses that are not "spiritual flaws". 

 

For example, in mortality, we get tired and we get sick.  This helps us remain humble.

 

We have intellectual weaknesses.  Not everyone has a perfect memory, for example.  This helps us remain humble.

 

We have social weaknesses.  Not everyone is popular.

 

etc.

 

I think it would be cruel for God to purposefully give us spiritual flaws that would make us sinful, and then enact a punishment as a result. 

 

-stephen

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Introduction to Ex Nihilo Creation theology

 

Ex Nihilo arose in the mid-Second Century A.D.  The idea developed from novel thinkers in gnosticism, but they derived it also from the Greek philosophical monotheism of the "unmoved mover".  The "unmoved mover" was a single substance that moved everything else and that is how the universe came to exist as it does today. 

 

With Ex Nihilo creation theology, only a single substance is "uncreated / eternal", and that single Being/Substance is God, and it created everything else "out of nothing". 

 

LDS reject the doctrine of Ex Nihilo creation.  The core of Christ's being (the essence of his spirit, which is sometimes called his "intelligence") has always existed from eternity past.  Yet at the same time, it is also understood that Christ was "begotten".   The same is true for every one of us.

 

Therefore, if we have spiritual flaws that result in our sinfulness, it was not because God created us to be that way.  Just as Jesus Christ is naturally divine in spirit by nature, we are naturally flawed in spirit by nature.  God cannot be blamed for creating us poorly. 

 

God does the best He can with what He has to work with.

 

So, Mormonism avoids many of the philosophical "nightmares" that other theologies have to deal with, including the "problem of evil" (ie the existence of evil).

 

-stephen

Edited by stephenpurdy
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The weakness referred to by Moroni can be interpreted as weak areas or development areas whether spiritual or physical - the Lord will show us where we need development and then strengthen us or guide us to improve when we accept the need for improvement - accepting that need is humbling ourselves. I don't agree with the notion that God punishes us - I don't believe that He punishes us; we are punished by the law of consequence - if I walk on hot coals my feet will burn, was the burning a punishment because I walked on hot coals, no - it is a consequence. If I deny the faith and become apostate and start an anti-Mormon campaign: I will be subject to church discipline and lose my membership; is that a punishment, no: its a consequence. The purpose for 'punishment' or suffering is to purify whether as a consequence of good or bad action on our part. So whether we do good or bad we will be purified and those times of purification will either be as a consequence of our bad action (e.g getting lung cancer after years of smoking) or good action (suffering from dementia after years of having a photographic memory from memorizing BoM verses) - either way we are purified and come out stronger and more able - that we will all experience this purification/suffering/punishment is part of the divine plan. There is nothing evil in it, no punishment - just consequence. The Lord's grace is sufficient for the meek or for those who are compliant with the principles of righteousness which can be invoked in an instance of suffering/punishment - when we then lean upon the Lord in compliance then he strengthens and purifies us and the atonement becomes sufficient to survive/live through/overcome that challenge. 

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The weakness referred to by Moroni can be interpreted as weak areas or development areas whether spiritual or physical - ... I don't agree with the notion that God punishes us - I don't believe that He punishes us; we are punished by the law of consequence - if I walk on hot coals my feet will burn, was the burning a punishment because I walked on hot coals, no - it is a consequence. ...  The purpose for 'punishment' or suffering is to purify whether as a consequence of good or bad action on our part. So whether we do good or bad we will be purified and those times of purification will either be as a consequence of our bad action (e.g getting lung cancer after years of smoking)  .....that we will all experience this purification/suffering/punishment is part of the divine plan. There is nothing evil in it, no punishment - just consequence. The Lord's grace is sufficient for the meek or for those who are compliant with the principles of righteousness which can be invoked in an instance of suffering/punishment - when we then lean upon the Lord in compliance then he strengthens and purifies us and the atonement becomes sufficient to survive/live through/overcome that challenge. 

 

 

I think you are missing the point.  Some people will not "lean upon the Lord".  Some people will not be "meek".  Some people will not learn from the consequences of poor decisions.  Why are some people less prideful?  Why are some people more obedient?

 

Did God create certain individuals with more inherent pride, knowing full well that that by creating them that way, they would suffer the consequences?

 

-stephen

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LDS are frequently criticized for believing, for example, that we can "see God". Anti-Mormons argue to me that God is literally "invisible".

 

Frequently what Christians say, is that when God makes himself "seen" and it is called "God" in the text, it isn't really God at all, but just some kind of temporary puppet manifestation which isn't really God at all, and it just "evaporates" back into nothing.  This goes back to Augustine, who claimed that these manifestations were temporary "created instruments of God’s presence".  And when God is described in the form of a man in the Bible, it really isn't God at all and it cannot be taken literally, because in that view (or the typical Protestant/Catholic view) God has no true image or likeness to be seen at all.  .


In other words, the LDS view is that God has a form, but God does not usually allow it to be seen, especially after the Fall.  The Protestant and Catholic view is that God by nature has no image/form at all, and is therefore "invisible" unless it makes some thing appear out of nothing as a representation of God rather than God himself.  Cherbonnier wrote:


"Such a God is invisible in principle ... The biblical God, on the contrary, is invisible simply as a matter of tactics. De facto, men seldom do see Him. Upon occasion, however, he does show himself... Perhaps one reason why God chooses to remain invisible for the time being is that He cannot yet trust men not to stare at him.... In the meantime, we may well think twice before assuming that just because He has not shown himself to us, He is invisible "by nature."


So, IF God is literally everywhere, then how could anybody "stare at Him"?  If God has no form to be seen, then why command not to make an image of anything "whether it be in Heaven or on Earth?  What form exists in Heaven?    If God is "spacio-temporal" and people can "stare at Him" and Cherbonnier criticizes "scholars and theologians" for taking appearances of God too figuratively and symbolically.  Even with the argument that appearances of God are simply pre-Incarnate Christ, it still means that it was just an apparition, which simply dissolved after the appearance, and it wasn't really "God/Deity" who appeared.

 

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"Mormons do not hesitate to speak of God as having a body. Nor is this any cause for embarrassment, because for them, as for the Bible, matter is not evil but good. A disembodied spirit is a thing to be pitied, as it is in the Bible. Hence the assertion of Joseph Smith, "All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not." - Cherbonnier

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Cherbonnier went beyond the concept of whether or not matter is evil.  He says that to insist that God is omnipresent would be to "imprison Him".  He argues, essentially, that the preferred existence is a bodily and corporeal existence within space and time.

 

We can look at having a spirit dwelling in a body as being preferred over bit as a broad and general concept. It is true if it refers to a pre-incarnate spirit. It is true if it refers to a post-incarnate spirit (like, for example, the spirit of Jesus before his resurrection on the third day). It is true for any personage of spirit period.  This is why many LDS predict that one day the Holy Spirit will obtain a physical body as well. 

 

(The reference Cherbonnier is alluding to in the Bible is the spirits who took over a man and then were permitted to enter the herd of swine.)

 

In LDS theology, unembodied spirits are to be pitied, because it is is BETTER to be both "spirit AND body", rather than "only spirit".  As I said, to think otherwise and think that Deity is better off without a body, would be to say that God condemned Jesus to have to exist in a body as if it would put limits on the Son of God.  And "traditional Christian" critics of the LDS faith, speak of "God in a body" as if it would make the Person of God "finite".  Did the incarnation of Jesus Christ make him "finite".  No.  The "fulness of Deity dwells in Christ bodily.  ]


Cherbonnier argues that our existence is similar to the existence of God and not "entirely other" as Christians often claim.  "Traditional theologians" often speak of God as a being completely different in kind from us, not only in space and time, but also in a "metaphysical sense", and Cherbonnier argues against that in the article as well.

 

Cherbonnier specifically describes LDS ideas, and quotes LDS leaders. He does so in an entirely positive light, and explains why many of the LDS viewpoints are valid according to the scriptural text.   Along with LDS, Cherbonnier argues for a God who lives in space and time, while Christians argue for a God outside space and time.  (Please note, however, that LDS may admit that God can exist outside space and time as we know and understand it, but that may not be the same as placing God outside space and time altogether.)  Indeed, it is arguable that no relationships can exist outside of time. 

 

Cherbonnier discusses how existing outside space and time altogether, or in a "timeless eternity" is not the Biblical God. Cherbonnier says that , "To insist that He (God) is omnipresent would be to imprison Him."

 

-Stephen

 

 

Rituals and Ritual Theory in Ancient Israel

 By Ithamar Gruenwald  Pg 109  (concernint the term "Image" in the Old Testament

 

The Hebrew term tselem derives from the Akkadian word tsalmu.  According to Irene J. Winter, the word means, “consistently and only, image, which then may occure as a statue, or a stele, carved in relief, painted, drawn, or engraved.”  A theologically oriented interpretation of tselem emphasises only the spiritual quality.  However, if God does not have a physical image, how can humans be created in his tselem, in the technical sense of the term?  Winter's etymological definition repudiates outright the philosophical interpretations of the kind found in Jewish commentaries, to the effect that the term indicates primarily a spiritual representation of a certain being.  Professor Simo Parpola has indicated to me that the term may , secondarily, refer to spiritual qualities as well.  This does not remove, or displace, the more physical sense suggested by etymology.  In the story of Gen. 1, God created humans in his tselem, as man and woman.  This cannot but be a signal which, in this particular case, tells us that the word Tselem refers to something that is primarily physical.

Edited by stephenpurdy
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Of course to affirm that the "Biblical God is anthropomorphic" becomes unimportant if we believe the bible was "written by men".  Of course men would make a God like themselves.

 

On the other hand, those two ideas happen to both be true. The Bible was written by inspired men.  Men WOULD invent an anthropomorphic God for a reason, and that is because it just happens to be true that God IS anthropomorphic AND we individually have the Light of Christ within us to draw us to such a conception.

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We have a parallel past.  I was raised Catholic and became an atheist while studying philosophy but then discovered William James and the process philosophers and realized that religion is a "valid" way of ordering our lives and viewing reality.

 

It is not an issue that God created you "insufficient", he creates you with an invitation to BECOME more than you are, to improve and overcome your nature, to leave behind the "natural man"

 

 

This is true, but when I was agnostic and critical of religion, I was criticizing "classical theism".  I did not know that there was an alternative to this classical concept of God and God's relationship to creation.  I was skeptical of this idea that God was the only entity that existed in eternity past, and then that God brought everything into existence "out of nothing".  In other words, the viewpoint I had understood is that God had brought every single aspect of creation into existence from God's own mind.  If this is the case, then God is the root cause of evil and suffering, even the root cause of eternal damnation, perhaps even eternal damnation for the grand majority of all man kind.  That was ludicrous to me, because IF God exists, why would he come up with such a failed plan, and why would he create so many failed creatures out of His own mind?

Think about it.  With creation Ex Nihilo, fee will is an illusion, and if God and creation is what classical theism describes, God could simply decide not to create those who will "freely" choose the evil.    God, creating from God's own mind and imagination (or if you want to say Ex Nihilo), would have that option.  

Since God can create ANY KIND OF BEING from an essentially infinite set of possible beings, God is also choosing which "choices" will be made, when He creates that particular individual being.  If it wasn't a set of choices that God wants, then God could refrain from creating that particular individual, and instead choose to create someone else.

The "possible" persons/creatures/beings that God could create would available to God's mind before He even creates them. God can decide to create, out of nothing, that creature he wants rather than a creature that will choose that which God does not want.

The resulting Universe will be ONLY the exact Universe that God himself imagined, making the Universe an extension of God's own imagination. This is a form of PanENtheism.  (Although , many who misinterpret the Bible just want to call it sovereignty.)

PanENtheism is the idea that God exists outside of the Universe, but is also the Universe. This is, in a sense, true in Ex Nihilo creation.  Every single thing that exists, exists because God decided to create that particular thing/creature which would do exactly what God envisioned that thing/creature to do before God decided to create it. Therefore, the Universe is nothing less than an extension of God's own mind and God's own imagination.  If God wanted any individual to do something differently, then He could have created another individual in its place.  The Universe is an exact extension of God His own mind with Ex Nihilo theology.

 

So my question to classic theists is, If you want to claim that you believe in free will, which assumption are you willing to give up?  God's omniscience (specifically foreknowledge) or his omnipotence (specifically creating Ex Nihilo)?  (Please note however, that it is not foreknowledge, in and of itself, that negates free will.  I can explain that in more detail later.)

 

-Stephen

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 With creation Ex Nihilo, fee will is an illusion, and if God and creation is what classical theism describes, God could simply decide not to create those who will "freely" choose the evil.    God, creating from God's own mind and imagination (or if you want to say Ex Nihilo), would have that option.  

Since God can create ANY KIND OF BEING from an essentially infinite set of possible beings, God is also choosing which "choices" will be made, when He creates that particular individual being.  If it wasn't a set of choices that God wants, then God could refrain from creating that particular individual, and instead choose to create someone else.

The "possible" persons/creatures/beings that God could create would available to God's mind before He even creates them. God can decide to create, out of nothing, that creature he wants rather than a creature that will choose that which God does not want.

 

 

The above is a mis-representation of Creation Ex Nihilo. 

 

Creation of a being with free-will is the exact opposite of choosing which "choices" will be made. I think the term you are looking for is called Determinism. 

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The above is a mis-representation of Creation Ex Nihilo. 

 

Creation of a being with free-will is the exact opposite of choosing which "choices" will be made. I think the term you are looking for is called Determinism. 

 

The logical conclusion of creation Ex Nihilo IS Determinism.  That is exactly the argument I am making.

 

I want to make some clarifications concerning the second video.  Some will watch it and say that I am making the claim that randomness is the same as free will choices.  I am not making that claim at all.  In fact, I am making the opposite claim.  I claim that our choices result from our nature. 

 

God, for example, has free will.  Yet God will always make the correct moral choices, because of God's perfect nature and God's flawless characteristics.  We on the other hand are imperfect by nature, which is why we make immoral choices.

 

The point I am making in the second video with the six-sided cube illustration is this:

 

Even IF our choices had nothing to do with our created characteristics, in the scenario or Ex Nihilo, God would still be determining outcomes.  This is true because God decides which beings to create and which beings not to create out of nothing, all while knowing the outcomes before even deciding to create each being.

 

Then I move to a second point about God creating each of us, out of His own mind, with characteristics.  Each and every one of our characteristics were determined by God, which also would determine the outcomes because we will simply do that which is according to our nature, which God himself created.

 

-Stephen

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I disagree that this is what that verse is teaching. 

 

I think this refers to physical weakness.

 

I doubt that God would purposefully give us spiritual weakness ... and then punish us because we have those weaknesses.

 

-s

 

Why would you limit God's grace?

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This is true, but when I was agnostic and critical of religion, I was criticizing "classical theism".  I did not know that there was an alternative to this classical concept of God and God's relationship to creation.  I was skeptical of this idea that God was the only entity that existed in eternity past, and then that God brought everything into existence "out of nothing".  In other words, the viewpoint I had understood is that God had brought every single aspect of creation into existence from God's own mind.  If this is the case, then God is the root cause of evil and suffering, even the root cause of eternal damnation, perhaps even eternal damnation for the grand majority of all man kind.  That was ludicrous to me, because IF God exists, why would he come up with such a failed plan, and why would he create so many failed creatures out of His own mind?

Think about it.  With creation Ex Nihilo, fee will is an illusion, and if God and creation is what classical theism describes, God could simply decide not to create those who will "freely" choose the evil.    God, creating from God's own mind and imagination (or if you want to say Ex Nihilo), would have that option.  

Since God can create ANY KIND OF BEING from an essentially infinite set of possible beings, God is also choosing which "choices" will be made, when He creates that particular individual being.  If it wasn't a set of choices that God wants, then God could refrain from creating that particular individual, and instead choose to create someone else.

The "possible" persons/creatures/beings that God could create would available to God's mind before He even creates them. God can decide to create, out of nothing, that creature he wants rather than a creature that will choose that which God does not want.

The resulting Universe will be ONLY the exact Universe that God himself imagined, making the Universe an extension of God's own imagination. This is a form of PanENtheism.  (Although , many who misinterpret the Bible just want to call it sovereignty.)

PanENtheism is the idea that God exists outside of the Universe, but is also the Universe. This is, in a sense, true in Ex Nihilo creation.  Every single thing that exists, exists because God decided to create that particular thing/creature which would do exactly what God envisioned that thing/creature to do before God decided to create it. Therefore, the Universe is nothing less than an extension of God's own mind and God's own imagination.  If God wanted any individual to do something differently, then He could have created another individual in its place.  The Universe is an exact extension of God His own mind with Ex Nihilo theology.

 

So my question to classic theists is, If you want to claim that you believe in free will, which assumption are you willing to give up?  God's omniscience (specifically foreknowledge) or his omnipotence (specifically creating Ex Nihilo)?  (Please note however, that it is not foreknowledge, in and of itself, that negates free will.  I can explain that in more detail later.)

 

-Stephen

Not necessary- at least for me- I get it and you are right. And of course there is Compatibilism- which is what you may be referring to.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

 

The false god of the sectarians really is dead- or actually could not have ever existed because "he" is a contradiction on numerous levels.

 

But I think that we must always remind ourselves that any idea of God we can as humans come up with is indeed - think about it- AN IDEA HUMANS CAME UP WITH ABOUT GOD.  It cannot be otherwise.

 

So I think we need to be wary of even any tacit idea that what we think has much to do with the way God "really is" since that is unknowable.

 

What we CAN do is KNOW that he is as he reveals himself to us, know that those experiences are beyond words and encourage others to seek their own experiences.

 

We can also define "best possible explanations" for God and his works, and for me it is totally intellectually clear that indeed that is what Mormonism is and why it purports to be the "one true faith", which I am convinced it is justified in claiming because it is indeed the best possible practical way of thinking about God that I can even imagine, and trust me, I have tried to imagine many many such descriptions.

 

It is a "true and living faith" precisely because it IS "living"- and as an orthopraxis must be lived to be appreciated- as per Alma 32.   The proof is in the living of the faith which is what makes it "true" as the truest path available to mankind for happiness

 

So for me that is its intellectual as well as spiritual importance- and the importance is incalculable.  So here then you have all the intellectual richness anyone- including I am convinced, atheists, if they could only see the intellectual richness- could want, AS WELL AS the spiritual confirmation of a testimony as a required prerequisite for membership in the baptismal interview.  (Do you have faith in and  a testimony of......)

 

I ain't goin nowhere.   ;)

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Combatibilism is a concept, and there are others, but none of them resolve the problem of Ex Nihilo which I have described.  In Ex Nihilo, God is doing the choosing, in Ex Nihilo, by creating from God's own imagination, while knowing every creation's exact destiny. Every single aspect and detail of each individual creature is exactly what God created it to be, nothing more, nothing less.  So yes, God is choosing/determining what will occur.

 

There is a Calvinist by the name of Mark Hausam who presented a fascinating paper on the subject entitled "IT’S ALL IN ARMINIUS: MORMONISM AS A FORM OF HYPERARMINIANISM" where he argues a similar "logical contradiction" between ex nihilo and free will.
 

In that paper, Hausam, who is a Calvinist, makes clear that Arminianism differs from LDS theology in many respects, but significantly in that Arminianism believes in ex nihilo, and LDS do not.  He also points out an important similarities between Arminiansim and Mormonism and sets it in contrast to Calvinism:


"{In LDS thought} there are laws and structures of reality that are not identical with God, that God did not create and cannot destroy, that are coeternal with him, and that limit his ability to accomplish all that he would like to accomplish. And this teaching Mormonism holds in common with Arminianism.

    In contrast to both Arminianism and Mormonism, Calvinist thought holds that God is never defeated in any of his desires. Calvinists believe that all the events of history, including all sin and suffering, have been ordained by the eternal will of God and are thus, obviously, in accordance with that will. As the Calvinist Westminster Confession of Faith puts it, “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.” 


Calvinism wouldn't exist without Ex Nihilo.  Calvinism is BASED on Ex Nihilo creation theology.  As Hausam says, "In fact, creation ex nihilo logically leads directly to Calvinistic determinism."  My video is addressed to a lay person audience and specifically addresses the detailed nuts and bolts on exactly why ex nihilo with would result in determinisim, while focusing on the logical implications of God creating anything God wants from nothing with foreknowledge.  Meanwhile, Hausam puts it this way by first saying IF we truly have free will ....


"If our choices are undetermined by God and first-causal by nature, they therefore cannot be effects of God’s creative activity. They cannot be explained by it or traced back to it. They are wholly self-existent or self-originated. God cannot create uncaused choices, directly or indirectly. He cannot create them directly, nor can he start in motion a chain of causes and effects that eventually leads to them, for the very simple reason that they are, by definition, uncaused or self-caused.  And the choices here cannot be separated from the person choosing. Since the choice is uncaused, the will that produces the choice must be uncaused. Since God did not create (even indirectly) any of the actual choices of the will, he did not create whatever it is in the will that is the cause of the actual choices we make. Even proponents of libertarian freedom will admit, although paradoxically, that the choices we make are the results of the motivations, desires, loves, values, priorities, beliefs, etc., that constitute who we are, that make up the real essence of our actual being. That is why our choices reveal who we are. If our choices were not produced from the essence of our being, they would not be our choices fundamentally and would not reveal anything about who we are."

 

This is the point that I was making in the video and the last couple posts, however, Hausam in this article is simply using a little bit different terminology.   I had not seen his article prior to making the videos.  Our choices are determined by God with "creation out of nothing" doctrine, because not only does God cause individuals to exist, but God also is the cause of the nature of each individual, which in turn determines how those individuals will act in any given circumstance.  He continues:

 

"Therefore, if God were the creator of our being or the essence of who we are, as a logically consistent account of creation ex nihilo would affirm, he would also be the creator and cause, at least indirectly, of the actual choices we make. But since these cannot be causally traced back to God, in Arminianism, the essence of who we are that our choices flow from, and thus reveal and express, must also be unable to be traced back to God or his creative activity. Whatever God created ex nihilo when he created human beings, he thus did not create that which constitutes the real essence of our being and character. So we can see that, in Arminian theology, the main implications of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo are negated and the doctrine itself is thus, in effect, relegated to practical unimportance, since the most important part of who we are, that which defines our primary essence, is not created by God, but is self-existent or self-created appropriate for such entities in Arminianism, although Arminians, being less consistent and developed in their theology, usually do not clearly see this and avoid the term because of its obvious clash with more classical theistic aspects of their thinking that they do not want to wholly or explicitly jettison."

 

So, Hausam goes on to explain that essentially, Arminians wanted to have their cake and eat it too, which is what modern mainstream Christianity tries to do as well.  On one hand, they want to say that God created every aspect of our existence which logically determines outcomes, yet on the other hand want to claim that the created creatures are responsible for their own natures, which God himself created.  In Ex Nihilo, it is absurd that God creates creatures who are ignorant, disobedient, discontent and easily deceived and then God punishes those who He created for being that way.  

 

Mormonism, on the other hand, teaches that each individual "will" has existed from eternity past.  Therefore, unlike Arminianism, the LDS viewpoint is entirely consistent with free will and God creating spirits from those eternal "intelligences."  In the supplement video I posted, I likened this to the six-sided cubes.  In Ex Nihilo, God creates the cubes from God's own mind.  With Mormon theology, the "wills" represented by the six-sided cubes already existed, and therefore God is not determining outcomes.

 

-Stephen

Edited by stephenpurdy
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I disagree that this is what that verse is teaching. 

 

I think this refers to physical weakness.

 

I doubt that God would purposefully give us spiritual weakness ... and then punish us because we have those weaknesses.

 

-s

I have a mama policy about trees. I let my children climb them, but they have to climb. I won't boost them to a branch they cannot reach. To me, it's both a safety issue and a learning experience.  So I think of that when I think of why God might--for lack of a better word--dissapprove--of allowing us certain privileges before we're ready. I do think this applies to many areas when we sin and when we prepare to make covenants. We have to be ready for them.

 

And generally, in the sense of the whole Church, we have to be ready as a whole for changes or more revelation to come.  I wonder some times if, as a Church, we're as ready as members used to be.  Are we soft-hearted enough for more?

 

The nature of God as we LDS believe it is pretty unique.  We believe, for example, God the Father is a physical person.  This is very groundbreaking especially since God the Father is like no other person-God we've heard of.  There's no rivalries and affairs and imbalance. It's almost unthinkable at best to conceive of a human-like, perfect being.

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Combatibilism is a concept, and there are others, but none of them resolve the problem of Ex Nihilo which I have described.  In Ex Nihilo, God is doing the choosing, in Ex Nihilo, by creating from God's own imagination, while knowing every creation's exact destiny. Every single aspect and detail of each individual creature is exactly what God created it to be, nothing more, nothing less.  So yes, God is choosing/determining what will occur.

 

There is a Calvinist by the name of Mark Hausam who presented a fascinating paper on the subject entitled "IT’S ALL IN ARMINIUS: MORMONISM AS A FORM OF HYPERARMINIANISM" where he argues a similar "logical contradiction" between ex nihilo and free will.

 

In that paper, Hausam, who is a Calvinist, makes clear that Arminianism differs from LDS theology in many respects, but significantly in that Arminianism believes in ex nihilo, and LDS do not.  He also points out an important similarities between Arminiansim and Mormonism and sets it in contrast to Calvinism:

"{In LDS thought} there are laws and structures of reality that are not identical with God, that God did not create and cannot destroy, that are coeternal with him, and that limit his ability to accomplish all that he would like to accomplish. And this teaching Mormonism holds in common with Arminianism.

    In contrast to both Arminianism and Mormonism, Calvinist thought holds that God is never defeated in any of his desires. Calvinists believe that all the events of history, including all sin and suffering, have been ordained by the eternal will of God and are thus, obviously, in accordance with that will. As the Calvinist Westminster Confession of Faith puts it, “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.” 

Calvinism wouldn't exist without Ex Nihilo.  Calvinism is BASED on Ex Nihilo creation theology.  As Hausam says, "In fact, creation ex nihilo logically leads directly to Calvinistic determinism."  My video is addressed to a lay person audience and specifically addresses the detailed nuts and bolts on exactly why ex nihilo with would result in determinisim, while focusing on the logical implications of God creating anything God wants from nothing with foreknowledge.  Meanwhile, Hausam puts it this way by first saying IF we truly have free will ....

"If our choices are undetermined by God and first-causal by nature, they therefore cannot be effects of God’s creative activity. They cannot be explained by it or traced back to it. They are wholly self-existent or self-originated. God cannot create uncaused choices, directly or indirectly. He cannot create them directly, nor can he start in motion a chain of causes and effects that eventually leads to them, for the very simple reason that they are, by definition, uncaused or self-caused.  And the choices here cannot be separated from the person choosing. Since the choice is uncaused, the will that produces the choice must be uncaused. Since God did not create (even indirectly) any of the actual choices of the will, he did not create whatever it is in the will that is the cause of the actual choices we make. Even proponents of libertarian freedom will admit, although paradoxically, that the choices we make are the results of the motivations, desires, loves, values, priorities, beliefs, etc., that constitute who we are, that make up the real essence of our actual being. That is why our choices reveal who we are. If our choices were not produced from the essence of our being, they would not be our choices fundamentally and would not reveal anything about who we are."

 

This is the point that I was making in the video and the last couple posts, however, Hausam in this article is simply using a little bit different terminology.   I had not seen his article prior to making the videos.  Our choices are determined by God with "creation out of nothing" doctrine, because not only does God cause individuals to exist, but God also is the cause of the nature of each individual, which in turn determines how those individuals will act in any given circumstance.  He continues:

 

"Therefore, if God were the creator of our being or the essence of who we are, as a logically consistent account of creation ex nihilo would affirm, he would also be the creator and cause, at least indirectly, of the actual choices we make. But since these cannot be causally traced back to God, in Arminianism, the essence of who we are that our choices flow from, and thus reveal and express, must also be unable to be traced back to God or his creative activity. Whatever God created ex nihilo when he created human beings, he thus did not create that which constitutes the real essence of our being and character. So we can see that, in Arminian theology, the main implications of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo are negated and the doctrine itself is thus, in effect, relegated to practical unimportance, since the most important part of who we are, that which defines our primary essence, is not created by God, but is self-existent or self-created appropriate for such entities in Arminianism, although Arminians, being less consistent and developed in their theology, usually do not clearly see this and avoid the term because of its obvious clash with more classical theistic aspects of their thinking that they do not want to wholly or explicitly jettison."

 

So, Hausam goes on to explain that essentially, Arminians wanted to have their cake and eat it too, which is what modern mainstream Christianity tries to do as well.  On one hand, they want to say that God created every aspect of our existence which logically determines outcomes, yet on the other hand want to claim that the created creatures are responsible for their own natures, which God himself created.  In Ex Nihilo, it is absurd that God creates creatures who are ignorant, disobedient, discontent and easily deceived and then God punishes those who He created for being that way.  

 

Mormonism, on the other hand, teaches that each individual "will" has existed from eternity past.  Therefore, unlike Arminianism, the LDS viewpoint is entirely consistent with free will and God creating spirits from those eternal "intelligences."  In the supplement video I posted, I likened this to the six-sided cubes.  In Ex Nihilo, God creates the cubes from God's own mind.  With Mormon theology, the "wills" represented by the six-sided cubes already existed, and therefore God is not determining outcomes.

 

-Stephen

I take no position on compatibilism but I think you will find that it does solve the problem.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/#MorRes

Theologians often get caught up in their own discipline, missing some of what is going on in philosophy.

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