Jump to content

Embodied Cognition and the Problem of Evil


Recommended Posts

3 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Yes, love (the Atonement of Christ) is the bottom line for everything. They were sent to her to love, because He knew she would love them, no matter their potential to achieve greater or lesser suffering in this world.

What are the implications of this re pre-mortal existence, God’s foreknowledge, agency, judgement?

Link to comment
18 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

2. It might be that God takes cognitive construction into account when judging the individual and judges them based on the best they did with the brain they had. After all, genetics don't determine behavior, they just strongly influence it. There's still room for free will, and thus the psychological traits our brains give us can be thought of as similar to temptations, albeit strong ones. We will then be judged by the best we did with what we had. On the one hand, this might mean that some people we think deserve to...not...make it to heaven will, and some people who were born with naturally good tendencies may not make it because they didn't magnify their gifts of goodness enough. Kind of an inversion of the parable of the talents. I can see this paradigm of judgement being the case, though I still wonder why there has to be a difference or why some people have to have mental illnesses which heavily shade how they can interact with the world. Still, I don't expect to figure out everything. 

I've thought about the question you raise, and have determined that your #2 is the closest to being correct.

I have a son who suffers from Paranoid Personality Disorder to some degree. You can have a normal conversation about something with him, think that it went pretty well and believe that the two of you have forged a consensus, only to have him come to the conclusion after a few days that you are somehow plotting against him. Everyone ends up being his enemy to one degree or another. He is on good terms with no-one in the family. It's not always a given, though. One of my other sons happened upon him in the local public library, and even though this brother and he had had difficulty in the past with "things", nevertheless seemed happy to see him, and even gave him a hug. But quickly moved on without any conversation.

On the other hand, he is obedient to laws and seeks to harm no-one (even though he has threatened harm, I am pretty sure it was a defense mechanism in those cases). 

This thing with him is definitely genetic. He didn't choose it, and the disorder itself militates against an individual being able to acknowledge the problem. I assume that a merciful God will judge him based on his capabilties.

I sometimes worry whether I will be found to have fulfilled my purpose here on earth, given that God gave me certain abilities and presumably expects me to use them appropriately. But I, too, have some mental issues that are likely genetic, namely Attention Deficit Disorder. I know that I could have achieved more in this life if I hadn't been encircled with the particular chains this disorder imposes. I do hope that God will judge me mercifully, and will take into account those problems that were not in my control.

My hope is that God will be merciful to us all because of these things. And I am pretty sure He will be.

Link to comment
32 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

When it come to mental illness, I'm inclined to agree, but mental illness is not primarily what I am trying to address. If our genetics heavily impact our behaviors and psychological traits, then they'll heavily impact our proclivities towards righteousness or wickedness, right? If that is the case, then, since our mortal bodies are clearly within God's power (and the rules by which they were created were created by Him), why does He allow so many people to be...bad? And is it fair to judge people based on our choices when He could have freely made us better people? It's not even that He'd take away free will...He could have made us want the good more than we do. That's kind of why I think you need something like Scenario 1 to exist, or Scenario 3 where our genetics are picked based on the nature of our spirits so that they'll reflect the nature of our spirits. I didn't just come up with those scenarios for the hell of it. 

Honestly at this point I think all three of them are necessary, together, in order to overcome the problems at hand. 

Now, I should say that I don't believe the evidence shows determinism. I believe we still have free will, but that free will is conditioned by the bodies that we have. Hence, Scenario #2. 

Every step of the way we choose to go I believe we make some choice to do what we will choose to do.  Maybe we don't always get to pick the arena or stage of our performance, maybe, but we are always the actors who choose how to handle our situations.

Going back to my former example, she has told me she believes she could choose to not try to discipline her behavior to let the Hulk inside her come out.  That she is choosing to try to do better about preventing the Hulk inside of her to come out.  And she says she handles her dual natures better now than she did in the past.  Something about 2 wolves inside of each of us, fighting, and the one who wins is the one we choose to feed.  She didn't ask for her particular problems, she says, she is just trying to manage as well as she is able.  And something about asking God to help her overcome her problems while not holding God accountable for them.  She is good inspiration for me to see how much she is trying to be good.  And there are a lot of times when she is good, before she feels prompted to allow her Hulk to come out.

Link to comment

Christ took upon Himself a lot of things.  Of course, the one we speak about. most is sin.  The one we speak about second-most (or perhaps it's a tie) is death.  And yet other things Christ took upon Himself are our "pains and sicknesses, that He might know according to the flesh how to succor His people in their infirmities."  See Alma 7.  We might be surprised at where some people who, as mortals, engaged in some not-very-nice behavior that, primarily, was illness-driven, will end up.  Just a thought.

Link to comment
2 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

What are the implications of this re pre-mortal existence, God’s foreknowledge, agency, judgement?

Generally speaking, I see foreknowledge as a form of faith, and that faith and knowledge are two forms or expressions of the same thing. I’m thinking that when God said He knew she would love her sons, it was out of foreknowledge or faith, and turned out to be fulfilled in the attitude she took toward them and toward God in her time of need. I think He knew this because of His faith in the Atonement of Christ, which was instituted before the foundation of anything to guarantee ultimate perfection, hence He knew she would arrive at this point in her eternal journey... if she chose to. Our agency as exercised in developmental stages in pre-mortality and then mortality, and then in the conviction by covenant to live a life of repentance and discipleship (progress) is meant to fulfil the ends of the Atonement of Christ, which we can consider the judgement. So, God could rightly say this regardless of how the sons would exercise their agency in this world (including any unchosen constraints in their ability to do so) or how loving a mother she would be. He could also say, has she exercised her agency differently, “I knew you would love them by virtue of the Atonement of my Son, but sadly through your poor choices, you were unable, i.e., you ultimately chose not to.” The roles of charity, mercy and grace are also paramount, so improvement can continue into the next life, but always toward a balance between the Lord’s Atonement and our agency in relation to it (our agency being the only limiting factor to perfection). The “last day” is when that balance is irreversibly struck – much like the point when we left the pre-mortal estate into this one.

Link to comment
21 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Hey guys! I'd like to raise a question and start a discussion if you don't mind. 

The past year or so I've grappled somewhat intensely with the problem of evil. The issue of embodied cognition, which I'll explain later, has proven to be surprisingly thorny. I've discovered in the past that, if I spend too much time with an issue in my head, my mind gets into ruts and there are whole avenues of approach to the problem which I just fail to see. I'm concerned that this is happening now in real time (my thinking has felt kind of static and rigid lately), so I'd like to reach out and see if I can get some input. 

Anyways, for embodied cognition, see this 4-article series by Ed Gantt and Jeffrey Thayne (both of whom are speaking at the FairMormon conference this weekend, though not on this topic). I generally agree with Gantt and Thayne's presentation. It seems inescapable that the very ways in which we think are mediated by our mortal bodies. My confidence in this has been reinforced by looking towards science. For instance, current research suggests that our psychological traits are heavily influenced by our genes, to the tune of 30%-50%.  In other words, though how we behave isn't necessarily determined by our genes, it is heavily influenced by them. This pretty much shatters my prior thoughts about the source of our morality. Previously I had thought that our moral natures were effectively artifacts of our premortal eternal intelligences, sent to Earth to be tested and fleshed out. I thought this was a major advantage to our theology as, per the B.H. Roberts view God did not create our primordial intelligences, God could not be responsible for creating our moral natures. Thus, He could not be blamed for creating children that are so regularly malicious, evil-prone, etc. However, if our behavior is heavily influenced by our earthly bodies, then God is back in the dock. Is the worthiness-test of this world really legitimate when God could have made us all better from the start?

I have thought of a few things. None of them fully satisfy me, but they might be useful stepping stones to a greater understanding. 

1. It's possible that God's freedom of action is limited in a telestial realm like this one. To be precise, a fallen telestial realm can only be conformed to God's will to a certain degree. Thus, He has to govern by setting up general laws and letting them run with occasional interventions, because there's only so much power He can exercise at any given time. Thus, when those laws entail glitches in complex systems like the brain, He can't step in to patch it up perfectly all the time, nor can He make everything balance out perfectly fairly. This would actually go a long way towards dealing with the problem of evil in general and it appeals to me very much. I generally like finitist conceptions of God because the scriptures frankly make more sense to me when you toss out the Anselmian maximal-omniGod who can do anything. I will say that I got this idea while pondering D&C 76 and observing how each kingdom approximates God's will more and more as you climb, but I'm aware that the idea of degrees of glory being an ontologically-independent facet of reality as opposed to a construction of God's is somewhat ad hoc. This theory will likely make many Latter-day Saints uncomfortable, but its potential for resolving these problems is considerable. 

(As an aside, I should also add that this idea was heavily influenced by how deities function in Brandon Sanderson's cosmere literary universe. If this actually goes somewhere then my confidence in literary inspiration will be heavily increased. Well-written high fantasy expands the mind.)

2. It might be that God takes cognitive construction into account when judging the individual and judges them based on the best they did with the brain they had. After all, genetics don't determine behavior, they just strongly influence it. There's still room for free will, and thus the psychological traits our brains give us can be thought of as similar to temptations, albeit strong ones. We will then be judged by the best we did with what we had. On the one hand, this might mean that some people we think deserve to...not...make it to heaven will, and some people who were born with naturally good tendencies may not make it because they didn't magnify their gifts of goodness enough. Kind of an inversion of the parable of the talents. I can see this paradigm of judgement being the case, though I still wonder why there has to be a difference or why some people have to have mental illnesses which heavily shade how they can interact with the world. Still, I don't expect to figure out everything. 

3. It's possible that the Lord chose where and when we would be born by lining up our spirits with the parents who would produce a body most suited to our premortal characteristics. I kind of don't like this because it requires God to have absolute foreknowledge, which as a tentative Open Theist I reject. It also seems unfair to declare that those who are born with mental disabilities were that way in the premortal life, though I don't think this is necessarily implied by the acceptance of Scenario 3. I can see a scenario (perhaps paired with something like Scenario 1) in which God tells us in the Grand Council that He'll do His best to get us bodies that go well with our spirits, but things go wrong in the telestial world and we might be unlucky, but He'll try to patch it all up afterwards. I can see us signing on to accept that risk, signing a celestial waiver if you will. It also may be that some people agreed with God to have certain trials or afflictions for whatever purpose - at least, I can't rule it out for select cases. 

I would appreciate your thoughts. I'm still young and unschooled in the ways of men and things, and there is much wisdom which eludes me. Please help me see what I can't see right now. 

 

 

Lots to ponder.  Good thoughts. I have some ideas to share later.  One quick question.  Are you familiar with Sam Harris's arguments against human free will?  Much of his argument seems based on genetics but I have not drilled into his  thoughts in detail.  Just listened to him speak some on it.

Link to comment
2 hours ago, katherine the great said:

Speaking of love, I personally think this is the primary reason we come to this earth. (The test thing, meh…)

I've started to move away from a "test paradigm" myself, there's just too much going on down here. I think we're here to get experience which we need and, if there is a test, it's only relative to our positioning in life vis a vis our society, religious positioning, factors relating to our bodies, etc. 

Still leaves the question of why this has to be so messy but at the same time I'd rather not undergo the hubris of Job's friends, thinking that they can explain God to any satisfactory degree. 

Tbh Job has surprised me lately. I think there are hidden treasures in there waiting to be found. 

Link to comment
13 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Lots to ponder.  Good thoughts. I have some ideas to share later.  One quick question.  Are you familiar with Sam Harris's arguments against human free will?  Much of his argument seems based on genetics but I have not drilled into his  thoughts in detail.  Just listened to him speak some on it.

I'm relatively familiar with it. If I'm not mistaken his arguments focus on generic determinism in physics more than they emphasize behavioral genetics. It may not surprise you to learn that I haven't found Harris' formulation of the "argument from determinism against free will" to be convincing. 

That said, I'm not particularly sure that Harris' argument is super germane to my question. Like I've said, I do believe that we still have free will, free will to choose, but it seems apparent that our genetics provide us with a strong (though not determining) push in any given direction. Like a temptation. You can still believe in free will and wonder why God allows so much of such temptation, though I admit that takes this question from less of a novel approach and more of a rehashing of the theological concepts of sin, temptation, and culpability. 

Link to comment
1 hour ago, CV75 said:

Generally speaking, I see foreknowledge as a form of faith, and that faith and knowledge are two forms or expressions of the same thing.

That is super interesting to me. What is the basic thing which faith and knowledge both express?

Link to comment
2 hours ago, bOObOO said:

Every step of the way we choose to go I believe we make some choice to do what we will choose to do.  Maybe we don't always get to pick the arena or stage of our performance, maybe, but we are always the actors who choose how to handle our situations.

I do agree with this. I retain my belief in free will. 

2 hours ago, bOObOO said:

And something about asking God to help her overcome her problems while not holding God accountable for them.  She is good inspiration for me to see how much she is trying to be good.  And there are a lot of times when she is good, before she feels prompted to allow her Hulk to come out.

This is a good thought. Perhaps attempting to hold God accountable for these sorts of things just makes the problem worse. That would also seem to be a lesson from Job. 

Link to comment
1 minute ago, OGHoosier said:

That is super interesting to me. What is the basic thing which faith and knowledge both express?

A continuum between doubt and certainty.

Link to comment
3 hours ago, Stargazer said:

I've thought about the question you raise, and have determined that your #2 is the closest to being correct.

I have a son who suffers from Paranoid Personality Disorder to some degree. You can have a normal conversation about something with him, think that it went pretty well and believe that the two of you have forged a consensus, only to have him come to the conclusion after a few days that you are somehow plotting against him. Everyone ends up being his enemy to one degree or another. He is on good terms with no-one in the family. It's not always a given, though. One of my other sons happened upon him in the local public library, and even though this brother and he had had difficulty in the past with "things", nevertheless seemed happy to see him, and even gave him a hug. But quickly moved on without any conversation.

On the other hand, he is obedient to laws and seeks to harm no-one (even though he has threatened harm, I am pretty sure it was a defense mechanism in those cases). 

This thing with him is definitely genetic. He didn't choose it, and the disorder itself militates against an individual being able to acknowledge the problem. I assume that a merciful God will judge him based on his capabilties.

I sometimes worry whether I will be found to have fulfilled my purpose here on earth, given that God gave me certain abilities and presumably expects me to use them appropriately. But I, too, have some mental issues that are likely genetic, namely Attention Deficit Disorder. I know that I could have achieved more in this life if I hadn't been encircled with the particular chains this disorder imposes. I do hope that God will judge me mercifully, and will take into account those problems that were not in my control.

My hope is that God will be merciful to us all because of these things. And I am pretty sure He will be.

I think so too. And I definitely believe #2. #1 can help explain why such things exist in the first place, though God might have other reasons that I can't perceive. Some times I'm more willing to admit that possibility than others :P. 

#3 is basically to deal with the potential edge case of a guy who, say, was pretty valiant in the premortality but gets born into a body that predisposes him to do some bad stuff and overwhelms him with temptation. I'm not sure God would do that, but it's possible that the things which our mortal bodies predispose us to do could be considered the "natural man." Of course, the same would have to be said with regard to our positive psychological traits too. This basically leads us to the idea that our personalities as they exist now are dominantly if not entirely the result of our embodiment and only our consciousness and basically some abstract reasoning abilities existed in our premortal forms. This jives decently well with Gantt and Thayne and also Thomistic philosophy of mind, but it's not what we usually think of when we think of the premortality.  

It's also possible that there are so many branching variables in play with these questions that I can't track them all and any conclusion I come to will always be vulnerable. I actually think that's true for anybody who pursues the life of the mind or tries to seek Grand Theories of Everything, which means that faith is to some degree a prerequisite. 

Link to comment
1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

That is super interesting to me. What is the basic thing which faith and knowledge both express?

Faith is an expectation of things not seen (which become seen), and knowledge is an expectation of things seen (including the expectation that what we see will be replaced when we obtain greater vision), so maybe "expectation" is a good word as a second or alternative meaning of "hope." I think the "pure love of of Christ" might be "expectation" in perfection, so perhaps "charity" and "expectation" can mean the same thing.

I think this is why/how God fully expects us to return to Him and yet we may also do what we will.

Edited by CV75
Link to comment

Pragmatically, there is no problem and no need to worry about angels and pinheads.

We still make decisions daily, and there is always compatiblism if we are stuck for a rationale.

If you do the crime, you will still do the time.

God loves us, and we will all end up fine- just fine.

Reality is what we experience, not what we dream up from confusing words.  When God drenches you with love, you know it, and I know many of those here know it too.

Link to comment
48 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Faith is an expectation of things not seen (which become seen), and knowledge is an expectation of things seen (including the expectation that what we see will be replaced when we obtain greater vision), so maybe "expectation" is a good word as a second or alternative meaning of "hope." I think the "pure love of of Christ" might be "expectation" in perfection, so perhaps "charity" and "expectation" can mean the same thing.

I think this is why/how God fully expects us to return to Him and yet we may also do what we will.

Love it!!

"Expectation" is an active word that connotes willingness to take action, while "hope" connotes, for me a passive wringing of hands and worry.  

I gotta steal that one! 🤨

 

Link to comment
On 7/28/2021 at 8:54 PM, OGHoosier said:

Hey guys! I'd like to raise a question and start a discussion if you don't mind. 

The past year or so I've grappled somewhat intensely with the problem of evil. The issue of embodied cognition, which I'll explain later, has proven to be surprisingly thorny. I've discovered in the past that, if I spend too much time with an issue in my head, my mind gets into ruts and there are whole avenues of approach to the problem which I just fail to see. I'm concerned that this is happening now in real time (my thinking has felt kind of static and rigid lately), so I'd like to reach out and see if I can get some input. 

Anyways, for embodied cognition, see this 4-article series by Ed Gantt and Jeffrey Thayne (both of whom are speaking at the FairMormon conference this weekend, though not on this topic). I generally agree with Gantt and Thayne's presentation. It seems inescapable that the very ways in which we think are mediated by our mortal bodies. My confidence in this has been reinforced by looking towards science. For instance, current research suggests that our psychological traits are heavily influenced by our genes, to the tune of 30%-50%.  In other words, though how we behave isn't necessarily determined by our genes, it is heavily influenced by them. This pretty much shatters my prior thoughts about the source of our morality. Previously I had thought that our moral natures were effectively artifacts of our premortal eternal intelligences, sent to Earth to be tested and fleshed out. I thought this was a major advantage to our theology as, per the B.H. Roberts view God did not create our primordial intelligences, God could not be responsible for creating our moral natures. Thus, He could not be blamed for creating children that are so regularly malicious, evil-prone, etc. However, if our behavior is heavily influenced by our earthly bodies, then God is back in the dock. Is the worthiness-test of this world really legitimate when God could have made us all better from the start?

I have thought of a few things. None of them fully satisfy me, but they might be useful stepping stones to a greater understanding. 

1. It's possible that God's freedom of action is limited in a telestial realm like this one. To be precise, a fallen telestial realm can only be conformed to God's will to a certain degree. Thus, He has to govern by setting up general laws and letting them run with occasional interventions, because there's only so much power He can exercise at any given time. Thus, when those laws entail glitches in complex systems like the brain, He can't step in to patch it up perfectly all the time, nor can He make everything balance out perfectly fairly. This would actually go a long way towards dealing with the problem of evil in general and it appeals to me very much. I generally like finitist conceptions of God because the scriptures frankly make more sense to me when you toss out the Anselmian maximal-omniGod who can do anything. I will say that I got this idea while pondering D&C 76 and observing how each kingdom approximates God's will more and more as you climb, but I'm aware that the idea of degrees of glory being an ontologically-independent facet of reality as opposed to a construction of God's is somewhat ad hoc. This theory will likely make many Latter-day Saints uncomfortable, but its potential for resolving these problems is considerable. 

(As an aside, I should also add that this idea was heavily influenced by how deities function in Brandon Sanderson's cosmere literary universe. If this actually goes somewhere then my confidence in literary inspiration will be heavily increased. Well-written high fantasy expands the mind.)

2. It might be that God takes cognitive construction into account when judging the individual and judges them based on the best they did with the brain they had. After all, genetics don't determine behavior, they just strongly influence it. There's still room for free will, and thus the psychological traits our brains give us can be thought of as similar to temptations, albeit strong ones. We will then be judged by the best we did with what we had. On the one hand, this might mean that some people we think deserve to...not...make it to heaven will, and some people who were born with naturally good tendencies may not make it because they didn't magnify their gifts of goodness enough. Kind of an inversion of the parable of the talents. I can see this paradigm of judgement being the case, though I still wonder why there has to be a difference or why some people have to have mental illnesses which heavily shade how they can interact with the world. Still, I don't expect to figure out everything. 

3. It's possible that the Lord chose where and when we would be born by lining up our spirits with the parents who would produce a body most suited to our premortal characteristics. I kind of don't like this because it requires God to have absolute foreknowledge, which as a tentative Open Theist I reject. It also seems unfair to declare that those who are born with mental disabilities were that way in the premortal life, though I don't think this is necessarily implied by the acceptance of Scenario 3. I can see a scenario (perhaps paired with something like Scenario 1) in which God tells us in the Grand Council that He'll do His best to get us bodies that go well with our spirits, but things go wrong in the telestial world and we might be unlucky, but He'll try to patch it all up afterwards. I can see us signing on to accept that risk, signing a celestial waiver if you will. It also may be that some people agreed with God to have certain trials or afflictions for whatever purpose - at least, I can't rule it out for select cases. 

I would appreciate your thoughts. I'm still young and unschooled in the ways of men and things, and there is much wisdom which eludes me. Please help me see what I can't see right now. 

 

 

Some thoughts.

The problem of evil and suffering has been a large hurdle for me as I have explored my own personal beliefs. This has challenged my own belief in a loving benevolent God. I have pondered that if there is a God of the type the Bible and Judeo/Christian thought contemplates given the the issue of evil and suffering perhaps Calvinism was on to something.  But personally I rejected such a God.  

So how to reconcile this with a God that at least I came to understand to some extent through the LDS worldview.  Well I struggled with it. For some time i figures suffering and evil were all just part of the test and the process to learn how to become gods ourselves. So it was necessary.  Yet the gross injustices and differences humans are born into as well as the life circumstances that bring so much random suffering to some and not much to others just did not seem to click with the test and learning approach.  Additionally the issues that you point out abut genetics, etc means that God made us certain ways and this is responsible to an extent.  Take a someone who is gay. Likely not a choice. Yet allegedly according to many religions the act of marriage and sex between same sex persons is a major sin. So God essentially is creating an awful life for a gay person who wants to be an active Latter-day Saint.

It has become for me to conclude the easiest answer and that is there may be no God at least in the sense most of us thing about God.

But your suggestions above are interesting. I like 1 but it does seem to limit God and make him weak. Omnipotent would have to be tossed.  2 is compelling and I have thought and still do that if there is a God in judging His creation all of what you described would be taken into account as well as all the random unjustness of this life-the parable of the diver if you are familiar with Stephen Robinson's book Following Christ.  3 is intriguing because maybe our genetics and what we bring with us in this life were coded to reflect who, what and how we were in the pre earth life. But that does not seem to account for those born with serious physical or mental disabilities.

 

I guess I like 2 the best. That is  IF there is a God.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Some thoughts.

The problem of evil and suffering has been a large hurdle for me as I have explored my own personal beliefs. This has challenged my own belief in a loving benevolent God. I have pondered that if there is a God of the type the Bible and Judeo/Christian thought contemplates given the the issue of evil and suffering perhaps Calvinism was on to something.  But personally I rejected such a God.  

So how to reconcile this with a God that at least I came to understand to some extent through the LDS worldview.  Well I struggled with it. For some time i figures suffering and evil were all just part of the test and the process to learn how to become gods ourselves. So it was necessary.  Yet the gross injustices and differences humans are born into as well as the life circumstances that bring so much random suffering to some and not much to others just did not seem to click with the test and learning approach.  Additionally the issues that you point out abut genetics, etc means that God made us certain ways and this is responsible to an extent.  Take a someone who is gay. Likely not a choice. Yet allegedly according to many religions the act of marriage and sex between same sex persons is a major sin. So God essentially is creating an awful life for a gay person who wants to be an active Latter-day Saint.

It has become for me to conclude the easiest answer and that is there may be no God at least in the sense most of us thing about God.

But your suggestions above are interesting. I like 1 but it does seem to limit God and make him weak. Omnipotent would have to be tossed.  2 is compelling and I have thought and still do that if there is a God in judging His creation all of what you described would be taken into account as well as all the random unjustness of this life-the parable of the diver if you are familiar with Stephen Robinson's book Following Christ.  3 is intriguing because maybe our genetics and what we bring with us in this life were coded to reflect who, what and how we were in the pre earth life. But that does not seem to account for those born with serious physical or mental disabilities.

 

I guess I like 2 the best. That is  IF there is a God.

 

 

 

 

Good thoughts. 

Regarding #1, I'd say that Latter-day Saint concept of God already dismisses "omnipotence" as it is usually defined. A God that can "cease to be God" as Alma 42 suggests is not omnipotent in the classical sense. The question is, what are the nature of God's constraints? I agree that Scenario #1 weakens God to an extent, but maybe this is not such a bad thing. I recommend looking into Open and Relational Theology: https://c4ort.com/At least, my investigations are currently trending in that direction, and some prominent and well-informed LDS theologians like Blake Ostler and Robert Boylan have indicated that it jives well with traditional LDS doctrinal claims. 

For some specific intersections of ORT and LDS doctrine, I'd recommend Robert Boylan's blog posts:

Review of Thomas Jay Oord, Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Eugene, OR.: Pickwick Publications, 2009)

The Uncontrolling Love of God: A Mormon Approach

Thomas Oord and Gregory Boyd Interviewed On Creation Ex Nihilo and Open Theism

I can't promise a theological panacea, of course, but it seems promising and at least worthy of further investigation on my part. It also seems to me that the nature of the variations in degrees of glory requires a certain check on the efficacy of God's will built into LDS theology itself, so something like Scenario 1 is unavoidable, though I most certainly haven't figured out the details yet. 

As for #3, I think it only works if paired with something akin to #1: in a fallen world, things can go wrong and God can't always fix it without incurring more severe consequences. The idea of a fallen world deviating from God's desires is a very old one in  Christianity, and I think dusting it off might open up new investigative pathways. I also don't hold it as unbelievable that some people agreed of their own will and choice to undergo disabilities, though I wouldn't dare say that all who have such disabilities did so. However, ruling out the idea that some people might agree to such things would require the judgement that a life lived with disabilities is fundamentally lesser and offers no unique gifts or perspectives, and I don't believe that. 

I also emphatically reject Calvinism, but if I'm honest I think I'm inconsistent on my reasons why. I have an emotional reaction to it, to an omni-controlling God who ordains all the good and evil that exists. However, when I think about it, is naturalism really that much better? I mean, I can affect how an impassable narrator omni-God acts with regard to me about as much as I can affect how impersonal chance regards me, especially if one holds to deterministic, non-free will naturalism. Is there really much of a difference? Does naturalism really offer anything over and above Calvinism that would cause me to have such a strong emotional reaction to one and not the other? I don't think so. Also, I am a skeptical theist, which means that I do not regard myself as being epistemically capable of evaluating God's rationales for action. I'm actually hold higher credence in this view than I do in most of my other philosophical views, so all of this theorizing about the nature of God vis a vis evil is really more emotionally driven than rationally driven for me. As is my reaction to Calvinism. All sorts of inconsistencies on my part. 

 

Link to comment
10 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Good thoughts. 

Regarding #1, I'd say that Latter-day Saint concept of God already dismisses "omnipotence" as it is usually defined. A God that can "cease to be God" as Alma 42 suggests is not omnipotent in the classical sense. The question is, what are the nature of God's constraints? I agree that Scenario #1 weakens God to an extent, but maybe this is not such a bad thing. I recommend looking into Open and Relational Theology: https://c4ort.com/At least, my investigations are currently trending in that direction, and some prominent and well-informed LDS theologians like Blake Ostler and Robert Boylan have indicated that it jives well with traditional LDS doctrinal claims. 

For some specific intersections of ORT and LDS doctrine, I'd recommend Robert Boylan's blog posts:

Review of Thomas Jay Oord, Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Eugene, OR.: Pickwick Publications, 2009)

The Uncontrolling Love of God: A Mormon Approach

Thomas Oord and Gregory Boyd Interviewed On Creation Ex Nihilo and Open Theism

I can't promise a theological panacea, of course, but it seems promising and at least worthy of further investigation on my part. It also seems to me that the nature of the variations in degrees of glory requires a certain check on the efficacy of God's will built into LDS theology itself, so something like Scenario 1 is unavoidable, though I most certainly haven't figured out the details yet. 

Well you've piqued my interest some more by what you've added here.  The idea that God is omnipotent should be understood correctly, I think.  Not that it always will be but I believe it should be.  Can God turn me into a horse, literally?  No, I don't think so.  If I were a horse then I would not be me.  So when we say God is omnipotent I think it should be understood that what we mean is that God can do anything that can be done.  God can not do what can not be done, so a God that is good and always does good can not do something that is evil, otherwise he would cease to be good and have a reputation for always doing good.

10 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

As for #3, I think it only works if paired with something akin to #1: in a fallen world, things can go wrong and God can't always fix it without incurring more severe consequences. The idea of a fallen world deviating from God's desires is a very old one in  Christianity, and I think dusting it off might open up new investigative pathways. I also don't hold it as unbelievable that some people agreed of their own will and choice to undergo disabilities, though I wouldn't dare say that all who have such disabilities did so. However, ruling out the idea that some people might agree to such things would require the judgement that a life lived with disabilities is fundamentally lesser and offers no unique gifts or perspectives, and I don't believe that. 

I also emphatically reject Calvinism, but if I'm honest I think I'm inconsistent on my reasons why. I have an emotional reaction to it, to an omni-controlling God who ordains all the good and evil that exists. However, when I think about it, is naturalism really that much better? I mean, I can affect how an impassable narrator omni-God acts with regard to me about as much as I can affect how impersonal chance regards me, especially if one holds to deterministic, non-free will naturalism. Is there really much of a difference? Does naturalism really offer anything over and above Calvinism that would cause me to have such a strong emotional reaction to one and not the other? I don't think so. Also, I am a skeptical theist, which means that I do not regard myself as being epistemically capable of evaluating God's rationales for action. I'm actually hold higher credence in this view than I do in most of my other philosophical views, so all of this theorizing about the nature of God vis a vis evil is really more emotionally driven than rationally driven for me. As is my reaction to Calvinism. All sorts of inconsistencies on my part. 

 

So now I think I am seeing how your #3 option could also be very likely, in addition to #1 and #2.  God can not and will not fix some things that go wrong in this world because that would only cause more problems, and not actually fix the real problems.  It would involve fixing some of the bad consequences that result from mistakes and evil actions without actually helping people to avoid making mistakes or not do things that are evil, relegating God to the role of a janitor who cleans up messes while doing nothing to prevent those messes.  News story:  Someone was shot today, but nevermind, God brought the one who was killed back to life.  Meanwhile, the one who shot him is still on the loose.  We're sure God will fix all problems though because that is what God always does.  Now on to the next story in a world that is filled with chaos.

Link to comment
On 7/29/2021 at 3:45 PM, Stargazer said:

I've thought about the question you raise, and have determined that your #2 is the closest to being correct.

I have a son who suffers from Paranoid Personality Disorder to some degree. You can have a normal conversation about something with him, think that it went pretty well and believe that the two of you have forged a consensus, only to have him come to the conclusion after a few days that you are somehow plotting against him. Everyone ends up being his enemy to one degree or another. He is on good terms with no-one in the family. It's not always a given, though. One of my other sons happened upon him in the local public library, and even though this brother and he had had difficulty in the past with "things", nevertheless seemed happy to see him, and even gave him a hug. But quickly moved on without any conversation.

On the other hand, he is obedient to laws and seeks to harm no-one (even though he has threatened harm, I am pretty sure it was a defense mechanism in those cases). 

This thing with him is definitely genetic. He didn't choose it, and the disorder itself militates against an individual being able to acknowledge the problem. I assume that a merciful God will judge him based on his capabilties.

I sometimes worry whether I will be found to have fulfilled my purpose here on earth, given that God gave me certain abilities and presumably expects me to use them appropriately. But I, too, have some mental issues that are likely genetic, namely Attention Deficit Disorder. I know that I could have achieved more in this life if I hadn't been encircled with the particular chains this disorder imposes. I do hope that God will judge me mercifully, and will take into account those problems that were not in my control.

My hope is that God will be merciful to us all because of these things. And I am pretty sure He will be.

Amen and amen.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...