Man as Co-creator with God

As I was thumbing through by BYU Magazine (Summer 2013), I came across an article by David Rolph Seely, a professor of ancient scripture. In the article titled “Apprentices in the Master’s Workshop,” Seely states the following after quoting from the Book of Moses:

These passages remind us that creation as described in the Bible is not just an event but is a process that continues to this day.  This was eloquently stated in a BYU devotional years ago by one of my good friends, Professor George S. Tate:

“Wasn’t the creation completed a very long time ago?  Yes, in a sense it was . . .  But in another sense, creation is ongoing, since its aim has not been fulfilled.  If it is God’s work and [His] glory” to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”  (see Moses 1:39), creation is not complete until we have fulfilled the measure of our creation.”

While I strongly agree with the above statements by Seely and Tate, I find the article by Seely frustrating.  He doesn’t really discuss the ramifications of his observation that the creation is a process.  For example, if we are co-creators of the Earth with God, what are our real responsibilities?  Shouldn’t we be respecting the Earth and its inhabitants?  But this issue is never discussed.

After making the “process” declaration, his article degenerates into your standard Mormon discourse with little new information.  Seely talks about some of our responsibilites:

Latter-day Saints are familiar with the gospel of doing:  we do good works, we do our home teaching and visiting teaching, and we even call temple worship “temple work.”  The scriptures are repete with commandments of doing or not doing.  The Savior simply said, “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:22).  By imitating the life of Jesus we learn obedience, compassion, love how to treat our fellows:  “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:50).

The above ways of being a co-creator are pretty sparse.  Why can’t we get a strong endorsement for protecting the Earth?  Why can’t we get a stronger endorsement for helping the poor.  After all, over half the members of the Church will soon be living in developing countries.  Don’t we have a strong obligation to our fellow church members and their neighbors?  And by neighbors, I mean all our fellow travelers on this Earth.

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This entry was posted in Creation, Environment, mormonism, Religion, Social Justice, transhumanism. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Man as Co-creator with God

  1. Allen says:

    A few years ago, I wrote an essay on our being stewards over the earth, and that essay gives counsel to us from the Lord about the earth. The essay is at https://mormonsite.wordpress.com/earth/

    As explained in the essay, the scriptures say four things about our relationship with the earth.

    The earth was created to assist us in our progression toward Eternal Life.
    The earth provides plants and animals for our food.
    The earth provides for our needs, such as energy and beauty.
    We are to manage the earth by tilling, protecting, and preserving it.

    Notice that the Lord said “what” we are to do, but he didn’t say “how” we are to do those things. This business of the “how” is a gray area that is subject to interpretation, and we all have different ideas of how we should manage the earth. Some people say, that if we are the true church, the Lord would inspire his prophets with the “how”. Unfortunately, the Lord doesn’t work that way. He gives the “what” and lets us figure out the “how”. Doing that is part of our growth in mortality. Some of our church presidents have been quite conservative and steered the church away from our responsibilities as members of society. Others have been more liberal and have steered the church toward more environmental-friendly and people-friendly activities. An example of this is the resources the church is putting into countries in Africa and other places to provide clean water to communities and medical treatment to people in need. Church presidents are human and have weaknesses and strengths, as we all do. I believe that all of our church presidents have been inspired prophets, but the Lord has allowed them to chart their own way, so to speak, in guiding the church.

    The work you are doing, Roger, in providing playgrounds to children in Africa is a good example of people doing things on their own initiative to help others. Another example is my mother-in-law’s family doctor. He spends several weeks each year in providing free medical care to people in need. I don’t have a dollar-amount of the cost to the church to do its humanitarian work, but it’s my understanding that the church is doing an awfully lot to help the poor, and I believe the church will do even more in the future. In the meantime, we need to do what we can to protect the earth and to leave it in a better state than it was when we were born.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      I’m an engineer. I have no problem with the four things you have listed. And you are right, the “how” in many cases is (and should be) left to us. The problem I have with the Seely article is his lack of any kind of vision. His observation of being cocreators is largely undeveloped and devolves into a rather banal Sunday School lesson. Since the mag is called “BYU Magazine,” it should have a rather educated readership. Why can’t he explore new ideas instead of regurgitate old ideas.

      As for the Church’s humanitarian work, we are simply not doing enough. What we do is a drop in the bucket compared to what we could be doing.

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