Category Archives: Mormonism

Three Mormons and I

Part 7

Another argument that we cannot become True God.

As Thomas Aquinas brilliantly argued, there can be only one thing that is existence itself. The reason is that whatever is existence itself lacks nothing of the whole range of perfect being. If you were to posit two or more, however, you would posit (at least) another which (supposedly) lacks nothing of the whole range of perfect being.

But two things can be distinct only if one thing has what the other does not. This house has this wood; that house has that wood. They do not share the same stack of lumber. Similarly, no circle is a square because these shapes are diverse.

Distinction of two requires that one of the two lacks what the other has. If you say “two things” you imply distinction, obviously. But since “existence itself” can lack nothing, then there cannot be two things which are “existence itself”.

Therefore, there can be only one thing that is existence itself. And this, all (or at least “many”) call God.

This insight will give us yet another reason for contending that we cannot become creators. I will argue that only existence itself can be creator.

Three Mormons and I

Part 6

Now, if each of these Mormons must admit that we will not become True God, then none can confess that we will be Creators. But that is what these three do confess. For, only the True God can create. Why can only the True God create?

When a man “makes” something, he does not create it. Rather, he presupposes that it already exists in some way. He presupposes that the clay exists when he “shapes” it. He presupposes that the wood exists when he builds a house. He presupposes that the electron exists when he speeds it round the accelerator. Man does not create anything. To create is to produce “from nothing”. Rather, man arranges and rearranges things that already are.

A key question is, how can there be anything at all?

If man only shifts and arranges things, how came that which he shifts and arranges? None of these things needs to exist. Each of them has existence but none of them is existence. Thus, they receive existence but are not existence itself.

If anything was existence itself, it could not cease to exist. It would be impossible for it not to exist. But we are of the firm conviction that it is possible for any thing within our effecting power not to exist. We are of the conviction that it is not impossible that it not exist. And that means, we are convicted that it is possible that they not exist.

Someone might object. Someone might say that the energy that is there must exist; it just shifts from form to form. (This is a modern conception, which itself could be critiqued, but we will run with it.) Well, my response is that if some item of energy were existence itself, there would be nothing about it which was lacking in any respect.

Why?

Existence itself is not a limited mode of existence. Being cold, being square, being rough, being tasty, being unstable, are limited modes of existence. Each lacks something of perfection possible to existence.

Now, clearly, any item of energy – call it what you will, electron or quark, etc. – does lack something of the perfection of existence; none is an unlimited manner of existence.

Why is it lacking? Why is it limited? If it were existence itself, why should it only reach so far? Give itself only so much reality? Be able to deprive itself of reality? And only at this time? And why should another be able to move it, change it, arrange it?

These many limits on each thing coming before us tell us that none of these things can be existence itself. (Therefore, that they are, that they exist, is a gift they receive. None is identical with being. That anything is is a matter of another’s doing.)

Three Mormons and I

Part 5

But before getting to the infinite chain, I had to get concrete and practical.

I asked them again whether they thought they really could become gods. Two answered that it did sound ridiculous. The earnest one repeated the bit about “faith”. But the older one, the kindest of the three (and all three were kind), said “It’s not that we will be Creator God immediately. We will have the potential to become Creator Gods.” So, he posited that the saved will have the possibility, the potential, the wherewithal to become God.

This raises a number of questions. Again, Christians believe in True God.

Now, True God does not “become” god. True God does not “receive” blessings. Why? True God is not one thing and his divine excellence another thing. True God is not like clay that is “shaped” into something lovely. Clay is one thing. Its shape is added to it. It receives its shape. Thus, clay is not identical with its shape. True God is not like this. He is not a substance that acquires the characteristic “deity”. Otherwise, he would be like clay that waits for the sculptor. True God, if he were not identical with his being-God (deity), then he would need to await for the work of a higher God to craft him into deity. But then he would not be True God!

So, as Christians rightly conceive him, True God Just is his own Deity! But if we say that, then we immediately see that no one can “become” True God. That alone can “become” something which is not identical that which it shall become. In all things that become, there must be a distinction between the receiving principle that becomes and the perfection that it receives. The receiving principle and the perfection it receives are in a way “one thing” in the end: For the clay is truly shaped, and the man is truly musical. Yet, the man is not identical with his musicality. He can forget it and still be man. The clay can be shattered or melted in great heat. Thus, even when the receiving principle has received its perfection, there remains two principles of that one thing: The clay and the shape, e.g.

So, one thing we need to get straight on right away is that when a Mormon says that we will “become God” they cannot mean that we will “Become True God”.

Three Mormons and I

Part 4

In examining their beliefs, I first took up the infinite chain of gods. I argued that an infinite chain of gods is not possible. This is the reason.

The True God is not dependent upon anything. In proclaiming that the chain of gods is infinite they essentially proclaim that there is no True God. They in fact have to concede this. Because, in their belief, for any god you posit, you must posit another god anterior to (before) him. Therefore, there is for them no True God. For, when a Christian says “God” he means True God, and True God is God who depends on nothing – who never depends on anything: not now, not yesterday, not tomorrow.

Thus, the casual Christian critique of Mormonism — if what these three say is what Mormons are held to hold — hardly goes deep enough. The real problem is that they have no True God at all. There is for them no True God. The casual Christian critique is that Mormons do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. Clearly, this hardly goes deep enough. The problem is that they have totally destroyed all deity.

But again, why is an infinite chain of gods absurd? Next post.

Three Mormons and I

Part 3

I asked my three friends whether this infinite chain of gods appears in the New Testament. They said “No.” I asked whether it appeared in the Book of Mormon. They said, “No.” Then where? “Only in the revelations after the translation of the book.” That is, some Mormon prophet since Joseph Smith had pronounced that there is an infinitely long chain of gods. And, as my friends said, all Mormons are supposed to believe this in faith. Because, as they said, in Mormonism prophecy is alive and continuing. Unlike the Pope, the Mormon Prophet – the chief one among the counsel – can speak under inspiration from God. Thus, they said, all Mormons are bound to believe that “God the Father” was himself once as you or I, lived a pilgrim life, was righteous and saved, then grew into his divinity, and then started creating. And that while he was a pilgrim, he had another “God” above him. And that one also lived as we do, and he became God, yet had another God above him while he was as we are. And so on, infinitely, in the backward direction.

I submitted that reason could prove that it was impossible that there be an infinite chain of gods. The earnest one said, “That’s why it requires faith.” He implied that what reason could demonstrate to be impossible faith could declare to be possible.

At this point, I presented them with the Catholic teaching on faith and reason, pronounced at Vatican I but embedded in the Tradition. Vatican I teaches solemnly that faith and reason cannot be in conflict, because the maker of all things is the author of the human mind, to which he reveals himself. This same God is the author of the revelation which is received by this human mind as it is lifted up by the further gift of faith. Thus, the true faith cannot be in conflict with  real truths of reason. Of course, there can be the appearance of conflict. But appearance is not the same as reality. This harmony of faith and reason is bedrock for Catholic faith. Absolute bedrock. It is what Catholics to engage in all the pursuits of right reason without contradicting or abandoning the faith. Also, it is a signal to them that their faith is not that of a secret cult that must shelter itself from anything that is really human. (Pornography is not really human; filth and entrenched, deceptive error are not really human.) Thus, while a Catholic must wisely judge of the purported truths of reason, ever clinging to faith and thereby sometimes ferreting out deception among the purported truths of reason, yet she can rest confident that there is no real conflict between any truth of Catholic faith and any really demonstrable claim of reason.

The three Mormons agreed that reason was important but insisted on faith, regardless of the absurdity. The earnest one especially insisted on faith at the expense of reason. The other two, however, remained uneasy about the possibility of a conflict between faith and reason.

That the Catholic is convinced that reason and faith cannot be in real conflict is, I submit, one mark of the non-falsity of the Catholic religion. That, so it seemed, these Mormons insisted that faith must be held even at the expense of reason was, for me, a mark of the falsity of what they presented to me as their religion.

But why is it absurd to hold onto an infinite chain of deities? Next post.

Three Mormons and I

Part 2

So our conversation took off. I asked them whether God the Father, when he sojourned upon some planet, looked up to another God (the Father). They said, “Yes.” I asked whether that one also lived on some planet and grew up to become God. They said, “Yes.” I asked, does this line of gods go on forever in the backwards direction? Yes, they said. Forever, in the backwards direction.

I asked, “Do you really think you too can become God, upholding a universe by your word of power?” They said, “No, not really.” They agreed it sounded crazy. “But it is a matter of faith,” said the earnest one, standing in the middle. The two others said a number of times that it (and other things) sounded pretty wild and hard to believe. When I pressed them on this, they said, “We don’t concern ourselves with this deep stuff. This is really deep. We don’t relate to these prior gods. Only to our immediate god, “God the Father.””

I asked, “But isn’t it the most important thing in the world for you to know who the True God is? To know the Truth?” They answered, “We are only concerned with the God of our world.”

 

Three Mormons and I (In 17 Parts)

Part 1

I mentioned during my vacation that I met three Mormons at my vacation rental. We had an engaging conversation, the contents of which I wish to communicate with comment.

Among the positive elements of their world view that I noted were the following. They believe that the world is more than just appearances, more than just money and honor and success. They put value in religious experience, or in the things of the mind and heart. They are obviously quite dedicated, having taken their afternoon to talk over these higher things with a lapsed Mormon – thinking I was he!

During our conversation, I recalled some things told me by my good Catholic friend from Wyoming. He had said that Mormons believe that God the Father was once as you or I. That he once lived a pilgrim life on some planet, was saved, grew perfect in his own afterlife, and then became a creator and sent Jesus to be our Savior. I remember thinking to myself that this sounds so outlandish that no Mormon could believe it.

So I asked my kind interlocutors whether this was in fact their belief. Their answer: Yes, we do.

 

Three Mormons and I – Upcoming topic

In a few days, I will begin a 17 part series on the worldview of three Mormons I met while on vacation.  Whether their worldview matches that of official Mormonism is another question.

The most familiar Christian objection to Mormonism is that Mormons do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. Well, the objection is mistaken. But not for the reason that one will often hear in defense of Mormonism. A number of Pop-Up ads for Mormonism state that Mormons believe Jesus is divine. Well, just what does “divine” mean anyway? I found some very interesting remarks on this from my Mormon friends. More in a few days.  But first, two more posts on “Uncreated Energies”.

Three Mormons and I

We returned to our vacation home, and three men with ties and white dress shirts were waiting, with name tags. I thought we were in trouble. Not so. They were Mormons, waiting to speak with the former resident who was lapse in his Mormon activities.

We had an engaging exchange. Very objective; nothing personal; incisive; no beating around the bush; and a friendly departure. Before departing, they asked me whether they could pray over me.

Our conversation and this request shall form the part of a series of posts upon my return. I am grateful for these three men and their honest and frank dialogue, and I pray for their conversion to the One True Faith, away from the dark errors of what they presented to me.