Co-creators

 I feel strongly that members of the human race are co-creators of the Earth with God.  That we will be held accountable for the impact we have on this planet.  The creation was not a static event, but very much a dynamic event.  The earth is evolving even as I write.

 

 Mormon leader Lorenzo Snow famously stated that “as man now is, God once was, as God now is, man may become.”  Joseph Smith taught about eternal progression in his famous King Follett Discourse.  In this funeral address, he states:  “[God] once was a man like one of us and . . . God Himself, the Father of us all, once dwelled on an earth the same as Jesus Christ did.”  Not only was God once a man, but human beings can progress to become Gods.  And not only did God progress, prophets have stated that God still progresses.  According to Brigham Young:  “. . . the God I serve is progressing eternally, and so are his faithful.” 

 

This position was embraced and enhanced by such Mormon scholars as B.H. Roberts and John A. Widtsoe.  Some recent scolars have noted that the doctrine of eternal progression has become more controversial in recent years.  However, whether or not the doctrine is in ascendency or decline at the moment, Mormonism at its heart holds the seeds for radical environmentalism and transhumanism.

 

According to LDS doctrine, at least through the 1960s, we were not just stewards of the Earth . . . but co-creators with God.  Brigham Young taught that the role God give human beings is designed to test them, enabling them to show themselves, to their fellow beings, and to God just how they would act if entrusted with God’s power (Nibley, 1978, p. 90).  To rephrase it, we are here to work in conjunction with God on the continuing creation of the living Earth.  The creation is ongoing.

 

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24 Responses to Co-creators

  1. Roger Hansen says:

    Man’s impact on species can happen in real-time. The point was recently illustrated by Peter and Rosemary Grant, now at Princeton University. These are quotes from NG (February 2009):

    ” . . . modern Darwins can watch evolution occur in real time. In 1973 the Grants began annual observations of the finch population on the tiny Galapagos island of Daphne Major. They soon discovered that the finches in fact evolved from one year to the next, as conditions on the island swung from wet to dry and back again.” (p. 59)

    “Mid-1070 to present the Grant’s studies of finch populations in the Galapagos Islands demonstrated that natural selection can cause evolutionary change “in real time,” rather than only over the course of thousands of years as Darwin believed. The same phenomenon is later observed in other organisms.” (p. 55)

  2. Jess says:

    I find it interesting that as a LDS, I am taught that my physical body (which God created) is a “temple” that is for my enjoyment & use, but that I should take care of & preserve to the best of my ability.

    However, so many LDS (& other so-called “conservative” religions) seem to take almost the opposite view of the Earth, & the other life it contains, which God also created. I have often hear that “the Earth was created by God for man’s use”, to somehow excuse the way that humans have destroyed it.

  3. Roger Hansen says:

    Mormons also have a dark obsession with the Last Days. An interesting generic quote appeared in a “Dialogue” letter to the editor. It is an excuse that the letter writer said he has heard Mormon’s frequently use for ignoring the condition of the Earth. “Well, it’s the last days. The scriptures say things will get bad at the end. It’s just a fulfillment of prophecy.” This type of fatalistic thinking does not go along with the admonitions of some church leaders and is certainly contrary to a co-creator role.

  4. Roger Hansen says:

    A friend sent me the following: “There was an interesting article in today’s SLTrib (Sept 20, 2009) about a nun who grew up LDS, graduated from BYU, and then became a nun later. Her first doubts? That we can become Gods. I find it ironic that you embrace that concept, while I tend to think it is impossible.”

  5. Roger Hansen says:

    The Book of Genesis is not history and it is certainly not science. We Mormons need to stop pretending that it is. Mormons need to get past the mythology of the Creation, so we can start looking at ourselves and the Earth as a work in progress, not a finished product. As co-creators we have a strong theological reationale for participation in the development of science and technology as it relates to the continuing evolution of the Earth. I see the role of co-creator as intensely proactive, we become the progressive agents of the evolutionary change to our present and future world, both mortal and post-mortal.

  6. Roger Hansen says:

    The following was posted on transfigurism.org by Lincoln Canon on Aug 08, 2008:

    “At Sunstone today, one session asked: are we still gods in embryo? The presenter outlined the history of the doctrine of theosis in the LDS Church over the last couple of centuries. The respondent, Mormon historian Michael Quinn, stated that if, in our shame and efforts to conform with mainstream Christianity, we give up our doctrine of theosis, we have traded our birthright for a mess of pottage. The audience applauded viorously. I cheered, “Amen!” Yet I wonder, how many persons in the audience trust in theosis to the point of action? How many even have any idea how we might go about learning to create worlds? How many are content with appeals to magic? I wonder, even in the applause, how many of us are Mormon enough to make use of all the means with which God is now endowing us?”

  7. Roger Hansen says:

    Last night (November 1, 2009) I attended a presentation by Steve Beck at the Sunstone House in SLC. Steve is a BYU biology professor and he spoke on “Ecology and Reverence from an LDS Perspective.

    The points I enjoyed the most were:

    1. That the creation of the earth is an on-going process and was not completed in Genesis. On this point I would have liked to have heard from Dan Wotherspoon, who was in the small audience. Dan is writing a book on Mormonism and Process Theology. The latter, I think, would subscribe to an on-going creation model.

    2. That the “magical” process described in Genesis “cheapens” the creation. The “wave of hand” image of creation doesn’t do the creation process justice. Steve finds the evolution model a much more elegant and believeable description of the process.

    3. Steve likes the idea of the entire animal world evolving from the “same crucible.” That way we are all related, and hopefully that will enhance our respect for our fellow animal friends.

  8. Roger Hansen says:

    According to George B. Handley, Associate Professor of Humanities at BYU in an Internet article titled: “LDS Belief and the Environment;”

    “Christian doctines of the millenium and the eventual death of the Earth have caused many believers to view concerns of some environmentalists as frantic and unwarranted worries. While Mormonism believes in a literal end of the Earth’s life, there is no LDS scripture that justifies inaction in the face of evil, even when such evil has been prophsied. It must be admitted at least that it makes no logical sense to believe that if our bodies are destined to die, we ought to neglect our health. . . .

    The point . . . is this this: if it is inconceivable to justify pollution of the body since it will die anyway, why do Mormons and other Chrsitians give in to the faulty logic that the Earth’s prophesied death justifies our willing participation in killing it? Perhaps we have simply become indifferent to the spiritual life of non-human things. This is especially disppointing when we consideer that LDS doctrine teaches that, if we are worthy, we can return to the Earth, which will resurrect and become the site of the celestial kingdom, the highest degree of eternal glory in LDS belief. The Earth, in other words, is hopeuflly our ultimate destiny, not to be discarded in favor of some better place but to be prepared for the Savior’s return.”

  9. Roger Hansen says:

    According to an article in NG Dec 2009, p. 93:

    “We now have reason to believe that billions of such planets must exist (capable of supporting some form of life) and that they hold the promise of expanding not only the scope of human knowledge but also the richness of the human imagination.”

    “Scientists searching for extraterrestrial life must keep in mind that it may be very different from life here at home. . . Biological evolution is so inherently unpredictable that even if life originated on a planet identical to Earth at the same time it did here, life on that planet today would almost certainly be very different from terrestrial life.”

    “As the biologist Jacques Monod once put it, life evolves not only through necessity–the universal workings of natural law–but also through chance, the unpredictable intervention of countless accidents.”

  10. Roger Hansen says:

    According to Peggy Fletcher Stack (SLTrib Jan 7, 2009) in an article about the new book “The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young”:

    “According to an entry in the journal of Wilford Woodruff (the 4th LDS prophet), it was Young who first offered the couplet” “As we now are, God once was and as he now is, we shall be if we continue faithful.” That sentiment usually has been attributed to the fifth LDS president, Lorenzo Snow, who apparently learned it from Young.

  11. Roger Hansen says:

    Describing Chile’s Patagonia, Verlyn Klinkenborg (NG February 2010, p. 88):

    “No place on the planet is fully at rest. Only time–unimaginable stretches of time that conceal from human eyes the dynamic forces shaping the Earth–creates the illusion of stasis. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, you come upon a place where time seems compressed, where you can feel in your bones how kinetic even geology really is.”

    (p. 91)

    “The gravest danger to the Chilean fjords is, of course, climate change, which threatens to alter rivers that depend on these glaciers and upset the balance of salt and fresh water in the inner fjords.”

  12. Roger Hansen says:

    Ed Firmage Jr. writing in the SLTrib (4 Feb 2010) wrote:

    “Penance is the flip side of prayer, the sacrament of the morning after. I don’t pray much these days (for fear of success); I don’t dare. But I am repenting. My penance is working as an environmental activist in Utah.

    For instance, I recently met with an executive of one of the LDS Church’s commercial enterprises about ways (the Church) could help prevent climate change. My interlocutor told me that the church’s mission is limited to moral issues and that climate change isn’t a moral issue.

    I guess I missed that lesson in Sunday School, because I was under the impression that being good stewards of God’s creation was a moral issue, indeed a commandment. The church will henceforth invest only in things essential to its core mission, my interlocutor went on. . . .

    Modern Mormonism could find greatness, and even rediscover Zion, by showing society how to live sustainably, as our ancestors did. But where’s the greatness in beating the dead horse of “morality”? Any petty preacher can do that.”

  13. Roger Hansen says:

    Recently, ex-Senator Jake Garn (R-Utah) has been promoting a nuclear-weapons-free world. Hardly, the expected mission for an aging conservative Utah Republican.

    Garn credits his epiphany to his experience in space. In a recent interview on SLC Channel 2, he said that looking at the Earth from space reminded him that boundaries are artificial. That the Earth is just one big biosphere. I would very much like to know what this realization means to Garn in terms of immigration reform, global warming, foreign assistance, etc. But I very much welcome his current push to make the world nuclear-weapon free. If he can make progress in this arena, it will leave him a well-deserved legacy.

  14. Roger Hansen says:

    According to Jaron Lanier in his book ‘You Are Not a Gadget”:

    “Spore (simulation software like The Sims) is an example of the new kind of expression that I had hoped for, the kind of triumph that makes all the hassles of the digital age worthwhile.

    The Spore player guides the evolution of simulated alien life-forms. Wright has articulated–not in words, but through the creation of a gaming experience–what it would be like to be a god who, while not rethinking every detail of his creation at every moment, occasionally tweaks a self-perpetuating universe.

    Spore addresses an ancient conundrum about causlity and deities that was far less expressible before the advent of computers. It shows that digital simulation can explore ideas in the form of direct experiences which was impossible with previous art forms.”

  15. Roger Hansen says:

    According to Steven L. Peck in Dialogue (Spring 2010, p. 16):

    “Haught (John, Catholic theologian) . . . sees creation, not as a one-time event, but as an ongoing process in which God is continuously present. This unfolding is not interventionist. God is not prodding creation when it gets off-track. Rather His present permeates all aspects of the universe.”

  16. Roger Hansen says:

    According to John F. Haught in his book “Deeper than Darwin”, p. 42:

    “Theologically speaking, process theology suggest that we should logically foresee rather than be surprised, that God’s creation is not driven coercively, that it is widely experimental, and that it unfolds over the course of a considerable amount of time. To those who object that process theology is hereby illegitimately redefining the idea of God’s power in order to contrive a fit with neo-Darwinian theory, the reply is simply that no other conception of power is more consistent with the quite orthodox religious belief that God is infinite love.”

  17. Roger Hansen says:

    According to Steven L. Peck in Dialogue (Spring 2010, p. 30):

    “Evolutionary views of creation also steer us into a deeper engagement with the natural world, as we see ourselves quite literally connected to the creatures and ecologies around us. The idea that our world emerged from deep time through natural selection implies that the wonderful diversity we see around us is contingent, unique, and precious. They provide arguments for better stewardship of the natural environment, because its current state took an enormous length of time. The creatures of the Earth are not only there for us, but we are also there for them. A Darwinian theology argues that care for creation becomes an important aspect of God’s grace to the natural world through us.”

  18. Roger Hansen says:

    According to an article in http://www.yesmagazine.org titled “Village of Hope” (Spring 2010) by Seth Biderman and Christian Casillas:

    “Gaviotas showed us that there is not an orchestrated march toward a finished product–there is only the process, the unpredictable evolution of strategies and ideas.”

  19. Roger Hansen says:

    Writing in the SLTrib (5/1/2010), Robert Kirby, writing about the use of religion in diet programs, wrote:

    “Fluoridation, capital punishment, the metric system, welfare, the Academy Awards — we all have the things we believe in so strongly that we can see God in them.”

    “Seeing God in our personal biases is risky.”

  20. Roger Hansen says:

    The following is a quote from the website of Allen Leigh (www.mormonsite.org/earth.html):

    “Moses then asked the Lord to “tell me concerning this, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heaven.” The Lord responded by saying there are many heavens or worlds. Then He gave the following significant statement:

    And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words. For behold, this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:38-39)

    That is, God creates worlds to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of us, his children! Thus, the first relationsip between people and the earth is that the earth was created to assist in our becoming immortal and having Eternal Life.”

  21. Roger Hansen says:

    One of the conclusions of Allen Leigh in his website entry “The Relationship Between Man and the Earth (www.mormonsite.org/earth.html) is: “Man is to rule over the earth by tilling, protecting, and preserving it.” His scriptural backing for this is largely Genesis. Since I have all kinds of issues with the creation story in Genesis (and I suspect that Allen does too), I don’t buy this conclusion.

    Allen goes on further to state that he thinks environmentalist are wrong “if they say we are just another species of animal living on the earth and that we are be subordinate to the earth.”

    “I hope we will reduce pollution without going to extreme measures as some environmentalist would have use do.”

    Allen is uncomfortable with the “movement among some environmentalists and politicians to consider the earth as supreme and humans and just one species of animal that inhabit the earth.”

    But I’m uncomfortable with man in too lofty a position in relation to the earth and beyond. I feel we are on earth to learn (and possibly to be tested), not to exercise questionable dominion. If we are to be “gods,” then we need to learn how to create. That makes us co-creators of the earth with God. I think this position is compatible with scripture, and can justify a more radical view of environmentalism than Allen is confortable with.

  22. Roger Hansen says:

    Instead of talking about a Creation in regard to the Earth, we need to talk about a Creating. The Creation of the Earth is an ongoing event, not a one time event that happened in the past. And we as human being are an active part in the Creating, whether we are comfortable in role or not.

  23. Roger Hansen says:

    A quote from Turkish Sufi master Abdulhamit Cakmut as quoted from the “The World Without Us” (page 271):

    “We take care of our bodies to live a longer life. We should do the same for the world. If we cherish it, make it last as long as possible, we can postpone the judgment day.”

  24. rogerdhansen says:

    Adam S. Miller commenting in “Dialogue” (Summer 2011) on the book “Home Waters::

    “Mountains and rivers both wake [George B.] Handley’s mind to the “fundamental recognition of an ongoing creation” (130). They wake him to the recognition that creation must be ongoing because creation is compensation.”

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