Saturday, April 26, 2008

The God I Worship

I don't like the omnis. Not omni-present, not omni-scient, and least of all, omni-potent. I don't believe God to be any of those things - at least not in any traditional sort of way (and possibily not even in untraditional ways). I believe in a God that, while eternal, is also finite, or limited.

The key scripture for my dislike is Doctrine and Covenants 93:29, which reads "Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be." The idea behind this verse was also taught more explicitly in the King Follett discourse where, in discussing the eternal nature of our souls, Joseph said we were "co-equal" with God. "Co-equal" in the sense that neither we nor God were created, at least in the sense of "from nothing".

I believe that you, me, and everyone else have always existed. And that existence has always included some degree of freedom and choice. Now, a freedom and choice that could and can be oppressed and controlled, but nevertheless, at our core we are eternal beings and God respects that. In fact, the verse says that God can't do anything about it, at least in the sense that God cannot make us. Cannot. So much for omni-potent.

If you, me, and everyone else have always existed and have always had and still have some degree of freedom, of power of choice, than God is not omni-potent. God does not have all power, because you, me, and everyone else has some power. Either you have power or you don't. The power you have is power that God doesn't have. Put the other way, if God truly has all power, than you have none.

Omni-scient I dislike because I fall into the "If God already knows what I'm going to do, I have no choice not to do it" understanding of agency. That's probably best saved for a separate post sometime. But the idea is the same. If I have choice, if a point I really can choose A or B and it is not already determined by my background, upbringing, past choices, etc. - if, for example, I really can choose to repent (or not repent), I really can't see how God can know in advance. I've heard the arguments, I just don't buy them. That and I believe God is progressing. And that I think eternal existence would be profoundly boring if I knew everything. But for another post.

Omni-present is the easiest. I believe that God has a body (either flesh and bone or spirit, depending on what member of the Godhead we are talking about), but either way, a body. Which means quite simply if God is here he is not there. Ironically, this is also the one I am most comfortably understanding in non-traditional ways. Doctrine and Covenants 88 talks about the light that radiates from God to fill the immensity of space. I don't take issue with God having impact, influence, awareness, etc., thoughout the universe. I just think if we, as Mormons, are going to believe God has a body we should keep terms like "everywhere present". God is present where God is.

At its core, I believe God is part of the universe. While I believe in God as the Creator, I do not believe God to be the creator of the universe. Not in the "ex nihilo" fashion, from nothing. Me, you, God, matter, spirit, etc., have always existed. As Joseph phrased it once, "God, finding himself among...". God found himself in a universe. God then set about "creating it". Organizing the chaos. I happen to believe that the "ex nihilo" doctrine is one of the worse doctrines ever developed; an idea ripe with destructive potential. God is a great craftsman. An artist. He is working with us to make the universe, including us, a better place. He calls us to be craftsmen an artists with Him.

I do not believe that He is all-powerful, but I do believe, as the scriptures phrase it, that He is mighty to save (D&C 133:47).

And that, in the end, is what is important to me.

1 comment:

Lincoln Cannon said...

I agree with the perspective you've presented, although I can imagine the presence, power and knowledge of God being substantial enough that "omni" is an economic (if notperfectly accurate) description. Consider the ramifications of this, for example: