Friday, February 22, 2013


Scriptural/Transhumanist Speculations on the Universe Part 4

Of the state of the gods are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Earthly meekness projected into the heavens

God is meek. This is rather remarkable, and seems to me good reason to throw out a variety of absurd, stereotypical assumptions about God both within and without Mormonism. However, it does lead to some new problems. We clearly can't apply every common definition of meek to the gods. Whatever definition we use must be one that can be applied to the rulers of worlds. Somehow meekness must be possible while also wielding immense power. One way this can be explained was shared by Christ himself when he said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." This meekness is at least a willingness of God to share with us the work that has to be done to become gods ourselves. This isn't a God who says, I'm past that stage, and now it's up to you to sort things out yourselves. Here are the physics and chemistry labs, with all the equipment, supplies, and instruments. You've got brains. Good luck--and by the way, if you blow everything up, including yourselves, you've got only yourselves to blame. I gave you all the tools, it's not my fault if you didn't take the time to figure out how to use them right!

I know this idea of an involved God is a big sticking point, for many, but I believe it is an essential part of understanding the Mormon Transhumanist cosmos. In this cosmos, we aren't talking about a God that does things because they are arbitrarily good, or punishes things because they are arbitrarily evil. We are talking about gods who have arrived at what is good and evil through an evolutionary process, themselves. Good things are the things that lead to cosmic evolutionary success. Evil is what interferes with radical flourishing. This is a fundamental assumption of my exploration which may very well be wrong, but I don't know how to avoid it. So it appears we have a cosmos where gods in later stages have greater reproductive success when they are involved in the lives of their offspring and relatives in earlier stages of godhood. But God must be involved meekly. Somehow the invitation to share a yoke is the most effective way.

I also see an additional way God is meek. He allows that the meek will inherit the earth. I think for years I read that as the meek will get to live on this earth in a future, more perfect state, while the proud aren't going to have a place on it. The problem with that is I can't think of another time we use the word inherit to mean something so passive. When you inherit something, it is yours. It is your responsibility. It is yours to dispose of as you will. In this case, the meek aren't going to inherit the earth because God dies. So God plans to willingly relinquish something he created and ruled over to another group of people. Once again I have to ask, in what kind of cosmos is this advantageous?

Heavenly meekness brought to earth

I've struggled with the temple-centric definition of meekness. In short, the meek are those who keep the covenants they made with God and with their fellow travelers toward godhood. This includes promises made before we entered this mortal stage of existence, and which we cannot remember. It is true for those who have had mystical experiences teaching them what promises they made before this life, and true for those who remain ignorant of them. While I find this view emotionally rewarding and inspiring in my own life to help me find joy in doing good, I find it intellectually difficult. It lends itself to a kind of circular reasoning that implies that what I do is good if I promised it to God, and the only way I can know it is through subjective experience with God, so it's good if God tells me it's good. I have a whole list of problems with this line of reasoning, most of them boiling down to it's so easy to self-deceive and justify harm with it (or even extreme evil). However, there is an element that is very much worth our consideration--God keeps his promises. We can identify many cases in this world where breaking promises leads to various kinds of success. Often it leads to the most success when almost everyone else around you is keeping their promises. This kind of integrity comes up again, and without the code words of the temple history, later in the Sermon on the Mount. How does it lead to radical reproductive success?

Clarification on cosmic reproduction and the nature of God

Throughout this exploration I have used biological terminology to describe the success of the gods. Something the reader should keep in mind is that these terms are not necessarily being used in strict, biological ways. An easy way to err in this exploration is for me to assume I know something about how the gods reproduce. The only assumption I'm making is that they do reproduce (and that individuality of some kind is maintained throughout existence). I also am using the language of Mormonism, and to some extent Christianity at large, in referring to one, male God of this earth even though it is clear that my reasoning most naturally leads to the conclusion of many Gods of this and other earths. I do this intentionally for two reasons, I am writing primarily for a Mormon audience, and it is part of how the scriptures I am using as my foundation are written (the third reason is that it will take me great effort to overcome the thought processes shaped by the language of my youth, and I'm not yet convinced of the need to change certain parts of them). There is a definite anthropocentric, anthropomorphic, and patriarchal viewpoint from which this exploration begins. I have no intention of departing from the anthropocentric. I am unconcerned about the anthropomorphic--I think there are interesting reasons to speculate that some degree of anthropomorphism could be associated with gods, but the actual form of our godly bodies is not very important to this exploration. When I say I believe God has a body of flesh and bone that looks like a mans, I am saying that God's body is at least that. I expect it is much, much more, and that how we perceive God is both literally and figuratively a matter of perspective. As regards the patriarchal viewpoint, I have begun to think this is a cultural artifact of our mortal societies, and that there are hints throughout the scriptures that God is willing to lead us away from patriarchy and its abuses toward a Zion that is of one heart and one mind--not one male heart and one male mind--just as fast as we are willing to go there. Unfortunately, we haven't shown a willingness to move very fast. I suppose that's a draw of Transhumanism for me--there is great optimism that we can change. Even if the majority of us Transhumanist are anti-social male chauvinists who unintentionally project male-centric visions of future bliss onto humanity, most of us don't really want that. We hope that we can develop a more perfect view before that future day arrives.


  1. Jonathan, just to add something for consideration, I find a lot of these verses more comprehensible when viewed through their historical context. In first-century context, the power structures of that time were going to go away, leaving the powerful without much left. In contrast, the "meek", the people not committed to the structures of the time, were going to be able to flourish in the new situation much more easily.

    We can look both backward and forward from this historic situation. In ancient history, it was always the nomads who survived great social collapses, and went on to build the new society. Their power was the fact that they were not committed to large immobile systems. They looked "meek", but their meekness was an advantage.

    Looking forward, we might view "being open and willing to change" as the sort of power that enables us to survive in a constantly changing future. This is a "meek" sort of power, in contrast to the sort of power that must grasp tightly to the current situation.

  2. Thank you, Micah. I like this addition. At some future point, I'm going to attempt to take my list of characteristics and constraints and see how far I can get with it. Any other historical comments could be quite helpful. Historical criticism is not something I'm currently equipped to do.