Monday, September 30, 2013

A Bottomless Word Pit

Scriptural Speculations on Transhumanist Gods

It was suggested to me that I refer to Doctrine and Covenants section 93 as a reference to characteristics of God. I will do so, but I continue somewhat hesitantly. There are an awful lot of ambiguous words in the descriptions of D&C 93. This is compounded by the use of these words to describe things with which we have no earthly experience. So any interpretation I give is necessarily mixed with huge amounts of guesswork. Some elements have corroboration in other parts of scripture and in this-worldly knowledge, and I will try to draw some of those connections, but I'm not sure how useful this section will really be in attempting a semi-concrete description of the characteristics of an evolutionarily successful god.

I could just quote large sections of D&C 93, with all their superficially straightforward statements of what God is and does, but that seems useless for my current purposes. Instead, I will write things in my own words, unapologetically, with my own interpretations. I do not claim that my interpretations are the correct, or even a correct interpretation, but I don't want to be couching every sentence in hesitancy. Assume my thoughts are tentative, and you can go read the section for yourself to decide if I've abused its words.

Christ is the true light, in the Father, one with the Father, the Father, the Son, from the beginning, before the world was, the light of the world, the redeemer of the world, the Spirit of truth, the stuff all things were made of, the life and light of humans, 'tabernacled' in element, the friend of anyone who will become an heir with him.
Christ lights everyone who comes into the world (is born into, or also those who come by some other means?), made flesh (elements) his tabernacle, dwelt among the children of humans, made manifest the works of the Father, made the world, made worlds, made humans, made all things, received grace for grace, received the fulness, received all power in heaven and on earth.

Now I'd like you to notice some things that this revelation says about us: Christ is through all things, and all things (us included) are of him. Christ is the Father because the Father gave Christ of his fulness, and we will receive of the fulness (conditionally). We, like Christ, were in the beginning with the Father. We are spirit temporarily connected with element. We are God's tabernacle (maybe not exclusively).

I think a few things are pretty clear from all of this mess of words, even without getting all of the details right--
  1. God is interconnected with us, and we with Him, and we with each other, in some way that is fundamental to our existence and to His glory. It may be literal, meaning we share some of the same matter (my hand is literally a part of my body), it may be completely relational (the way we are part of a family or an organization), or it may be some combination of the two.
  2. We share a lot of important characteristics with Christ. We can receive of the fulness, and if it means the same thing it meant when Christ received the fulness, then each of us will be God. To get around that, you have to argue that the same words mean significantly different things in the same revelation, with no textual reasons for such an assertion that I can see. It's possible, but I would need a pretty detailed argument to convince me of an alternative interpretation.
  3. God is spirit and element inseparably connected, and that is the object of our being, since that is how we receive a fulness of joy (see previous post). It seems that element is the observable stuff of this earth--at least what was observable in Joseph Smith's day. I still don't know what spirit is.
  4. Intelligence, light, and truth, whatever they mean here, are important characteristics of God.
There are some additional interesting things that I don't know how to turn into anything concrete. Intelligence is the light of truth and is uncreated. Truth and intelligence are independent (able to act) within limits (spheres), and that independence is necessary for existence. Receiving light is how you avoid condemnation. It is possible to be confounded in this world, and in the next. This last one I think is curious. Two possible meanings are that we can be surprised at how things really are in the next life (more likely meaning, I think), or we can be mixed up so that our individual elements are difficult to distinguish. I would discount this last, except parts of this section are talking about what we, and gods, are made of, and how we are interconnected. I don't think any of this last set of observations can be ignored, but I think I will have to come back to them when trying to answer specific questions. There is too much uncertainty in the meanings.

Getting back to God's purposes in giving this revelation--He wants us to know and understand how to worship and what we worship so that we can become gods. We need to know what Christ is and does so that we can become Christ. With all the tumult of words, that has been pretty easy for me to overlook, but reading D&C 93 this time, I don't know how else it can be interpreted. I'm willing to debate what becoming Christ means, practically speaking, but this revelation strongly favors a literal leaning interpretation. To share some feelings as I studied and wrote this, I was a little bit confounded to have this conclusion staring me so intently in the face. I guess that's one more reason for me to take Transhumanist thought seriously. Seems like the more I look the further I dig myself into a Mormon Transhumanist pit that I can't escape--or maybe a better picture is I'm getting closer and closer to the gravity well of a Mormon Transhumanism black hole. Hopefully it's a gateway to a heavenly universe. If it's a hole to hell, the community is pretty good so far, and I bet Joseph Smith would be pleased if we made something better of it.

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