Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mourning, Mortality and Mutability

Scriptural/Transhumanist Speculations on the Universe Part 3

Mourning as a sign of empathy and imagination

Of the state of the gods are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted (3 Nephi 12:4)

How does mourning make one like God? Equally importantly, how does mourning make God God? What evolutionary advantage could it give? One answer to that seems obvious to me--a strong sense of empathy is a characteristic of humanity, and it has likely contributed to the vast societal accomplishments of humanity. Mourning is a sign of empathy and imagination. The God of Mormonism is one who weeps at the suffering of His children (Moses 7:28-32) We know of one universe where empathy and imagination engender evolutionary success, so it isn't such a stretch to imagine a cosmos where this same traits are beneficial to flourishing. On the other hand, insects are extremely successful, and many microorganisms are extremely successful, and I am unaware of a highly developed sense of empathy or imagination in them. The importance of mourning has interesting possibilities for constraining our view of the cosmos.

Mourning as an evidence of the mutability of self and of different stages of existence

The temple-centric view of mourning is quite different from, but I don't think exclusive of, my simpler view. As a very brief summary (see Who Shall Ascend pp. 940-4 for a more extensive summary), those who mourn are the dead who await the resurrection. They have knowledge of the limits of their current state, and they look forward to being comforted. The comfort that awaits is an empowerment, not just a pat on the back, a hug, or a kind word. In my understanding of Mormon theology, achieving godhood is an eternal progression, but it is not a continuous progression. Birth into this life is a discontinuous change. Death from this mortality is another discontinuity. There are explicitly mentioned discontinuities previous to this life, and others yet in our future, as well as strong hints of even more. To identify a few that will be familiar to Mormons, we were intelligences and then spirits, we are now mortals, we will be post-mortal spirits, then terrestrial beings, then angels and gods, and these are just the explicitly named stages. In what cosmos is this kind of stepwise progression advantageous? This line of reasoning becomes most fruitful when we examine what we know about this particular stage--the only one about which we, as a group, have anything approaching objectively certain knowledge.

So mourning adds more constraining characteristics--there are evolutionary advantages from empathy and imagination among gods, and from progressing to godhood through discontinuous, sometimes limited stages.

Author's note: While all respectful discussion is welcome, I particularly would like to request comments from anyone who has corrections or clarifications for my Mormon theology, as this is admittedly a Mormon exploration of a Transhumanist cosmos.

No comments:

Post a Comment