Many Christians look forward to the literal return of Jesus Christ to usher in a thousand year period of peace called the Millennium. This is certainly a part of Latter-day Saint doctrine. Scripture says no one knows the time of this event but God the Father but that believers should watch for the signs of its coming so they can be prepared. The scriptures are replete with signs but remember that most were written by people who were totally unfamiliar with modern technology. Sure they were inspired and received revealed truth but they still struggled to express it given their lack of experience with today’s (let alone tomorrow’s) technology. I must have been like writing in a foreign language with which they were almost totally unfamiliar.
So let’s step away from scriptural interpretation for a minute to see if there is anything that a little logic and common sense can tell us about the possible timing of the second coming. I think there is and that it points to a date somewhere around 2045. Here’s the argument:
1. For thousands of years people have been born, lived and died without the need to be ruled directly by the Lord. It is reasonable to suppose that something must be going to change that will require a more direct intervention by God. If we can guess what the change is and when it is likely to occur it should give us a better idea for the time of the second coming.
2. The pace of technological change is exponential (2×2=4, 4×2=8, 8×2=16, 16×2=32) rather than linear (2+2=4, 4+2=6, 6+2=8, 8+2=10). The more time passes the more change that takes place over the same period. Experts predict that by the 2040s the pace of change will be so great that it will completely outpace our ability to adapt. Before we can make up our minds about what to do next, the options we were considering will have changed. Borrowing a term from physics they refer to this as a technological singularity. The period from now to 2045 will see more change to the way we live than has taken place throughout all of human history until now.
Some of this technology will enable us to enhance our mental abilities so that we can keep up with the pace of change. Many will, some won’t. Those who don’t will be as helpless in the world of 2045 as a deer in Times Square. Those who do will have almost godlike powers. To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, the technology of a sufficiently advanced civilization would be indistinguishable from magic. By 2045 most of us will be able to perform magic.
3. To have godlike power does not necessarily imply that one will have godlike virtues. To some degree I do believe that ethics is related to intelligence but not in direct proportion. It is easy to see that we are not progressing ethically at the same pace as we are technologically. By 2045 we may find ourselves in a situation analogous to unsupervised toddlers in possession of loaded weapons. As Uncle Ben said to Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. The power is coming. Are we ready to exercise it responsibly? To avoid using it to hurt ourselves and others? perhaps some are, but are all of us? By 2045 most of us will not have developed sufficiently godlike virtues to avoid exercising our godlike powers irresponsibly.
4. By 2045, with most of humanity possessed of the combination of godlike power but without godlike character, only direct divine intervention will prevent us from doing great harm to ourselves and others. Thus the second coming and the millennial rule of Christ.
I do not believe the millennium will see everyone sitting around learning to play harps. It would take a lobotomy or something like a drug-induced coma for me to be able to tolerate that for much more than 5 minutes. My gratitude and respect for God’s greatest gift to man, his reasoning mind, can not allow me to believe that he will destroy that gift and call it “salvation”. If I am to be saved, that which I refer to as “I” must not first be destroyed. Without a mind with which to reason, I am no more. Without the freedom to act according to reason, I would not wish to be.
I do believe that, crudely put, upon arrival the Lord will basically tell us that collectively we’ve done a good job using our minds to develop technology but that we’ve got a lot to learn about ethics. He will need to teach us as he has always taught us. First, that we need to be humble enough to be willing to learn. Second, we need to be obedient because we only learn (acquire a new skill, talent, ability, characteristic, etc.) by successfully imitating an expert, not by trial and error as many people mistakenly believe.
The third thing we need to learn is really the first substantive thing as the first 2 just make learning possible. This third thing incorporates everything else that he’s ever taught us. Technological progress comes to us naturally, as we require it to have power to act in accordance to our reason. But this third thing does not come to us as easily. We do have the capacity to develop it, it is a part of our nature, but so many of the challenges and distractions of daily living tempt us to neglect its development.
What I am speaking of is the capacity to love. Not just the family members from whom we receive so much obvious return for our emotional investment, but everyone. Christ taught us that we have the capacity to so identify with our fellow beings that we can experience their happiness as our own. The emotional state associated with our awareness of this is love – a biochemical motivation to pursue what is best for someone else in order to share in their resultant happiness.
Without developing our capacity to love our happiness is severely confined to just that which benefits us directly. With a fully developed capacity to love we expand our potential for happiness perhaps infinitely. In scriptural language this is a “fullness of joy”.
To bring this full circle, godlike power will maximize our ability to achieve whatever ends we pursue. A godlike capacity to love will motivate us to pursue the best interests of all our fellow beings and share in their resultant happiness, which thanks to our power, will all but inevitably be achieved.
To substitute a fullness of joy for a miserable world of power without ethics is why I believe we can anticipate His return sometime around 2045.
There’s a few things I’m fairly certain about. I believe I have an accurate, though imprecise, appreciation for the degree of uncertainty we have to deal with. (So I’m fairly certain about uncertainty.) The claim to possess absolute knowledge is a fairy tale. The claim, “I am absolutely certain that this (any) statement is true” is either naive, an exaggeration, or a lie. The only source of information about the external world our brain has is what it gathers from our five senses. We are all to familiar with the many maladies that can interfere with the functioning of the senses as we are of disabilities, temporary or chronic, that interfere with the brain’s ability to process sensory information. Hallucinations are real – they are real hallucinations.
It is the nature of a hallucination that we are tricked into believing what we hallucinated to be as real as that which we accurately perceive. Therefore, there is no way, no absolutely foolproof way, of distinguishing what is real from what is imagined. I could be hallucinating the experience of typing these words, or indeed, of having truly experienced every single one of my memories. But giving serious credence to that is no way to live. Indeed logic and experience tell us the opposite is true and that we should always trust the evidence of our senses as the basis for rational judgment. That our senses may sometimes be tricked, or that our judgment may sometimes not be all that rational, just remind us that we are not perfect and that absolute certainty is not a part of the human experience.
As usual, that was simply a long preamble to provide the context for stating that I am sure that there is life after death. I am convinced, for reasons I have written about, that our identities will survive what we experience as physical death and will continue to enjoy an even broader range of experiences hereafter. I base that belief not on blind (hence irrational) faith, but on a rational judgment informed by the evidence of my senses. The evidence of things hoped for, the substance of things unseen which are true. I am not absolutely sure, but I believe it to be true. If it turns out that I am right, I can then say that I knew it. Anticipating that I am right, I can now say that I know it (but I just don’t absolutely know that I know it).
I have always liked Roger Whittaker’s version of The Last Farewell. Some of the lyrics are:
“I have no fear of death, it brings no sorrow.
But how bitter will be this last farewell.”
These words express my feelings very closely. The process of dying may be quite unpleasant but that is different. I am speaking of death itself. I don’t fear it. But interestingly, not for the reason of my very strong belief in (anticipatory knowledge of) an afterlife. Many years ago, albeit when my belief in an afterlife was not so strong, I admit that I did have a fear of death. What if there were no afterlife? I certainly had to acknowledge the possibility then and still have to now. Then, if I were to die, I would no longer be able to enjoy all the things that bring me happiness. I would miss them.
It was roughly 20 years ago that it suddenly occurred to me that I was mistaken about this and implication has eliminated all fear of death. I can truly say that I have never experienced the fear of death since that time. I don’t understand why anyone would, as the logic is surely unassailable. Without an afterlife I would not miss my family, my friends, or the pursuits I enjoy because I would not be and in order to miss these it would be necessary for me to be. But if I were to be, after I had died, that would constitute an afterlife.
So, in death devoid of an afterlife, it is not as though I will be somehow aware of all that I was missing and would never again experience. I would not be aware at all because I would cease to exist.
This might sound morbid but this realization should actually be a welcome relief to any who have a lingering fear of death (remember I distinguished “death” from “dying”). If I were to die, I would do so convinced that I would imminently be experiencing an afterlife but also knowing that if that confidence was misplaced, I would never know it. I would simply cease to be and never be aware of it.
Now it occurs to me, in the interests of thoroughness, that I ought to address the alleged possibility of an unpleasant afterlife – one in which one experiences endless sorrow. The pain to be inflicted on the infidels by a god who rewards terrorists for blowing up buses full of children, or the eternal flames inflicted by a god who would punish those who never had an opportunity to know him, seem to me to be so far outside the realm of possibilities as to warrant no attention whatsoever. I would put it this way – I have no fear that God is my moral inferior, as such a god as these would necessarily be.
I know myself enough to know that I am far from perfect, but I am also far from being deserving of eternal suffering by any rational code of morality. Thus, I have no fear of death, it brings no sorrow.
What can and does bring sorrow is life – and because of this it is life that ought to be feared. In the song, the bitterness of the last farewell is the emotional consequence of actions taken by the living and experienced by the living. But despite occasional tears of sadness, life affords more occasions to shed tears of joy. It is this that makes life worth living. One ought to fear the consequences of a life based on incorrect principles. By consistently applying correct principles in making life’s decisions this fear can be dismissed and the love of life can determine one’s attitude.
I don’t get a chance to update this much as whenever I sit down at the computer, which is most of the day, my present circumstances dictate that I should be working, not typing for pure entertainment. But, as this is my online journal, I wanted to record my brief notes on a portion of one of my favourite books by one of my favourite philosophers, Defending Immortality by John Leslie.
Leslie says we have reason to anticipate an afterlife in at least one of the following forms:
1. As Einstein proved, the universe has a four dimensional existence. The past and future is every bit as real as the present since time is relative and there is no way for distant observers to agree upon a single “now”. Therefore, one who, to us, has lived or will live, is living now from the point of view of some observers (potential or actual).
2. Leslie spends most of his efforts presenting his case for the origin of existence, suggesting it lies in the reality of a creatively effectual ethical requirement. I believe he argues his case successfully. The result is that the best way to conceive of the cosmos is as the thoughts of a “divine mind”. We then are the complex thoughts of God, who considers our lives worth thinking about in intricate detail. Leslie suggests that, having thought through our lives to our deaths, God may very well consider it equally worthwhile thinking about an afterlife for us.
3. Leslie’s third option is based on the premise of the existential unity of the cosmos. If we consider ourselves to be the same being over time, despite important changes to our physical and psychological makeup (the body replaces its cells, the psyche undergoes personality changes), then why can’t we think of surviving our death in that the container of our thought patterns, this cosmic existential unity, continues to exist?
While all his scenarios have merit, and are not mutually exclusive, I pick door #2. Now back to work.
Sacrament Meeting talk delivered in New Glasgow on 21 November 2010.
A recent sociological study entitled American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us had some particularly interesting findings. I am going to quote a passage from the report of the study.
The study … reports that Mormons are among those most friendly toward those of other faiths. …While data suggest that Mormons are among those viewed least positively by many American religious groups, they themselves hold relatively positive views toward members of other faiths, including those outside of Christianity.
Of all American faiths, Mormons are most likely to affirm that there is a “true” faith. However, in what might seem a paradox to those unfamiliar with Mormonism, study data also indicate that while many Mormons believe that there is a “true” religion, Mormons are also the most convinced of any group that those outside their faith — including non-Christians — can “go to heaven” or gain salvation. While this belief is general among American believers, it is, according to the study, strongest among Latter-day Saints.
It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with our doctrine that we hold two superficially inconsistent beliefs. First, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the single true and living church upon the face of the earth; and second, that even those who die without sharing our faith may yet gain eternal salvation.
When we see, hear, touch, smell or taste something we believe that what we have thus perceived is real. Everyone is aware of illusions and other tricks which can fool us from time to time but by and large these are exceptions and, in the absence of reasons to doubt, we accept the evidence of our senses as positive proof. In other words, usually “seeing is believing”.
Now what about the time we do not see or hear for ourselves but only hear about something from someone else who claims to have witnessed it. This happens so often, and the information we obtain in this manner is so often, so valuable that it is entirely reasonable for us to accept the testimony of others and to act on the assumption that there testimony is true.
Again there are exceptions. When someone with a history of lying or exaggerating speaks we take it with a grain of salt. When someone with something to gain by persuading us speaks, prudence requires that we get a second opinion before taking action. However, when someone tells us something, even though it may cause him harm, we take it seriously. When that person has lead an exemplay life and sticks to his story to his dying breath, we have cause to believe the story is true.
Consider the ancient prophets. The books of the Old Testament are replete with accounts of their warnings, and how those who heeded their warnings were saved while those who rejected them perished. Noah and the flood; Abraham and Sodom and Gomorah; Jonah and Ninevah, Moses and the plagues, Jerimiah and the captivity – all these repeat the pattern of good men saying unpopular things which later came true. Those who believed them were saved and those who rejected them were lost.
Consider those whom Jesus called as his apostles. Many were fishermen. In that time fishing was a profitable business but one with a large initial capital requirement, i.e. the boat, nets and gear. At his call they left all this behind and became, as He put it, “fishers of men”. They spent the rest of their difficult lives as full time missionaries and eventually they were martyred. They had nothing to gain and much to lose from following Jesus – unless what they testified about him was true.
They testified of what they saw and heard. They saw Jesus perform many great miracles. They heard him teach uplifting precepts full of love and hope and saw him live those precepts. They heard him testify of His Father and of His plan of happiness for all his children. They heard Jesus declare himself to be the Son of God and promise that if we follow him there would be a way in which we could be joint heirs with him to all that the Father has. They saw Jesus suffer and die but miraculously rise again and promise to go and prepare a place with the Father for all those who believe in him.
The apostles saw and heard all this first hand. They lived and died true to their testimony.
Consider a latter-day prophet. A boy who was confused about which church he should join. Having faith in God and in the Bible he put James 1:5 to the test:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
When he asked God which church he should join it became clear that God had a great work for him to do. Joseph Smith became the first modern prophet. Like his ancient predecessors he too was persecuted for declaring what God had told him and eventually paid for it with his life. Just days prior to his assassination he said:
I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I SHALL DIE INNOCENT, AND IT SHALL YET BE SAID OF ME—HE WAS MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD.
Like the prophets and apostles of old, with nothing to gain and everything to lose he testified to what he heard and saw and gave us reason to believe.
Among that which God revealled through Joseph were the writings of ancient South American prophets, including the prophets named Alma and Moroni. Alma taught that there was a way for us to discover for ourselves whether the testimony of the prophets and apostles were true.
But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, … and ye will begin to say . . . the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
I suggest that Alma’s “experiment” can be broken down into the following steps:
1. Pay serious and careful attention to the testimony. Read it. Study it.
2. Decide whether it would be desirable if the testimony were true.
3. Start acting as if the testimony were indeed true.
4. Consider how this makes you feel.
Here again is how Alma describes how you should expect to feel if the words are true:
- It begins to enlarge your soul
- It begins to enlighten your understanding
- It begins to be delicious to you
Does it make you feel as if you are a part of something great? Do you have a better understanding of the purpose of your life? Do more things make sense to you? Do you feel happy? Content? Peaceful? Even when trouble comes, do you feel a comforting feeling that things will be all right as long as you live true to these words.
Moroni taught a similar principle. Speaking of the testimony of the prophets and apostles he said,
… when ye shall receive these things, … ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Just as Alma tells us to awake and arouse our faculties, Moroni tells us to ask with a sincere heart and real intent. And to ask in faith, but remember that Alma told us that the mere desire is the beginning of faith. So if we truely want to know if the words of a prophet are true, and we hope they are, the Holy Ghost will give us the feelings that Almoa spoke about and we will know for ourselves that their testimony is true.
In 1820 a 14 year old farm boy wanted to know if the words of the apostles were true. He hoped they were, he read them, he pondered them and he acted upon them. He asked God if they were true and found out for himself. He said:
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
Joseph Smith’s prayer was answered. He discovered that the testimony of the ancient prophets and apostles were true but that the full truth, and the authority to teach it, was lost and had to be restored to earth, and that he would be the instrument by which the full truth would be restored.
Since then millions and millions around the world have heard the testimony of Joseph and have put his words to the same test and received the same answer – that they are true. That God lives and that he has once again established his church, with the full truth as well as his divine authority to teach it. That is why we declare the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint to be the only true and living church upon the face of the earth.
But what is the purpose of this church? Is it only to save the several millions who belong to it and to cast away the countless billions who do not. The Lord has declared his work, and the work of the church, to be to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, all men, and women. To that end we are engaged in a great missionary effort, in literal fulfillment of ancient prophecy that in the last days the Lord would gather Israel from out of all parts of the earth. To that end as well we are engaged in another great work, the geneoligical record extration program by which all those of God’s children who died without the gospel are identified and for whom saving ordinances such as baptism can be done performed.
Church members collect the records of deceased ancestors and thake those records to holy temples where they act as proxies and are baptised for their ancestors. Jesus taught that baptism was essential for all those who would enter the kingdom of heaven and so we are baptised for all those who did not have that ordinance performed in life. They are then free to accept or reject that work but modern prophets have declared that there are very few who do not accept it.
Joseph Smith said, “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.” The church employs modern technology to help us fulfill this responsibility. Members as well as non-members are encouraged to register on new.familysearch.org where the largest geneological database in the world is freely available to all. There we can discover family members we were not aware of and we can also add new information that the database may grow.
The work of seeking our dead builds family ties that extend from this world to the next. Performing temple ordinances for those unable to do it themselves helps us become more like the Savior who did for us what we could not do for ourselves regardles of how much good work we do. Through this great work we strive to unite all of God’s children, living and dead, into one eternal family unit and give effect to the prayer of Robert Burns who wished that whether in good times or in hard we would remember,
That man to man the world o’er would brothers be for a’ that.
There are some who subscribe to the view that faith and reason are diametrically opposed, mutually exclusive concepts. There is another view.
Paul defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I am not going to investigate the original Greek as it is this common English translation that many accept as the basis for their own understanding of faith. I am not concerned with what Paul actually thought about faith, or what those who have closed their minds to the subject think of faith, but whether there is a way of reconciling faith with reason persuasively. I think this quote is a good basis for such a discussion.
The terms “substance” and “evidence” should strike those of the initial view as properly associated with reason rather than faith. “Substance” very much implies the stuff of this world with which we interact in very familiar and ordinary ways. “Evidence” is a legalistic term that refers to a fact, the truth of which makes another fact more likely to be true. For example, the fact that I am married is evidence that I live with my wife. We could be separated but common experience suggests that most often married couples do live together and so, it is more reasonable to believe that since I am married, I live with my wife. It is a reputable presumption. If I have signed a separation agreement it becomes reasonable to suppose that I do not live with my wife.
Neither the fact that I am married, nor the fact that I have signed a separation agreement, will provide absolute proof that I live, or do not live, with my wife. Only if someone stakes out my house, or hires a private investigator, and applies the ensuing concrete observations to a criteria he establishes as constituting the condition “living with” will he be justified in concluding with reasonable certainty that we do, or do not live together. Any indirect evidence, circumstantial evidence, is only suggestive and not conclusive.
Paul’s wording refers to this. “The evidence of things not seen” could be rendered “facts which we perceive directly which suggest that other facts, which we do not perceive directly, are nonetheless true.” This is faith. We are driving along an unfamiliar highway winding through the mountains. We see a sign indicating that there is a sharp turn ahead with a reduced speed limit. What do we do?
One course of action would be to pull over, get out, carefully walk to the turn and look around to see if whoever erected the sign got it right, or even whether there is a road there at all rather than simply a cliff over which we would have driven to our doom. That is not reasonable. What is reasonable would be for us to act on faith. The sign, plus all we know about criminal negligence, personal injury claims, insurance premiums, etc., plus our previous driving experience, plus the previous driving experience of others, all give us ample evidence, albeit circumstantial, to reasonably conclude that the sign is correct and we can proceed safely to navigate the turn at the recommended speed (or even a little higher depending on our assessment of our own driving ability, the condition of our vehicle, the weather, etc.) We are not certain, based on our own personal knowledge, that it is safe to proceed but we proceed nonetheless. We have assessed the evidence of the unseen, made a reasonable judgment call to proceed, and hope that we are correct.
The point is that it would be ludicrous (i.e. incredibly unreasonable) for us to insist on direct personal knowledge of every relevant fact before making a decision. In other words, not to exercise faith, not to base decisions on the evidence of the unseen, would be unreasonable. Therefore, the exercise of faith is reasonable.
There do appear to be some who insist that if you have any reason whatsoever to believe something is true, you are not exercising faith. It is only baseless, unreasonable belief that satisfies them. I do not know what faith these people espouse but it is not that of Paul. If that is what those who take the view of which I initially spoke decry then let us all joint them. A faith that rejects reason is unreasonable. A view of rationality which rejects faith would produce psychosis.
The Athanasian Creed says:
“Now this is the catholic faith: We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being. . . .
“What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit. . . .
“For this is the true faith that we believe and confess: That our Lord Jesus Christ, God”s Son, is both God and man.
“He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father, and he is man, born in the world from the being of his mother — existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body; equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity. . . .
“Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ.
“He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity.
“He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures.
“For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.
“The ”Athanasian” Creed boldly uses the key Nicene term homoousios (”one substance”, ”one in Being”) not only with respect to the relation of the Son to the Father according to his divine nature, but that the Son is homoousios with his mother Mary, according to his human nature.
It might be foolish to even try to apply logic to this alphabet soup of self-contradiction but if Christ is one in being with God and Mary is one in being with Christ, then is not Mary one in being with God. Doesn’t this mean there ought to be a quaternity rather than a trinity?
Brigham Young, August 24, 1872: Journal of Discourses
“How much matter do you suppose there is between here and some of the fixed stars which we can see? Enough to frame many, very many millions of such earths as this, yet it is now so diffused, clear and pure, that we look through it and behold the stars. Yet the matter is there. Can you form any conception of this? Can you form any idea of the minuteness of matter?”
“Dark Matter“, Wikipedia
“The first to provide evidence and infer the existence of a phenomenon that has come to be called “dark matter” was Swiss astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky, of the California Institute of Technology in 1933. He . . . obtained evidence of unseen mass. . . . Assuming that the visible material makes up only a small part of the (galaxy) cluster is the most straightforward way of accounting for this (his findings). Galaxies show signs of being composed largely of a roughly spherically symmetric, centrally concentrated halo of dark matter with the visible matter concentrated in a disc at the center.
“… the Milky Way is believed to have roughly 10 times as much dark matter as ordinary matter.
“. . . In 2005, astronomers from Cardiff University claimed to discover a galaxy made almost entirely of dark matter, 50 million light years away in the Virgo Cluster, which . . . does not appear to contain any visible stars.”
Pie chart showing that the bulk (96%) of the mass (matter and energy) in the universe is invisible.
It is impossible to believe God to be omnipotent, omniscient and all-loving and yet to have created nothing more than pets, forever unable to understand him let alone to become like him. We can, and must know him (John 17:3), become like him (Matt 5:48), and share everything he has (Rom 8:17) . Anyone who denies that we are literally his children abases Him by denying to Him at least one of those three characteristics of godhood – omnipotence, omniscience, and an all-loving nature. To think that there are some who think we diminish God by suggesting that we can become like him when the opposite is true. A god who would choose to create pets rather than children does not deserve the appellation “Father”.
I just read the preface and introduction of The Physics of Immortality, by Frank Tipler. This is going to be an interesting book. He points out that where the Bible quotes God as referring to himself as “I am that I am” it is really a mistranslation of the Hebrew which actually uses the future tense and should be “I will be that I will be”. Interesting in light of LDS doctrine that eternal life = eternal progression. Even God is in the process of becoming.
Interesting to compare this with a literal and absolute characterization of God as “unchanging” and all that implies for his ability to experience, perceive and feel. It requires that every instance ascribing emotion to God be taken figuratively or that any temporal context be disposed of. The latter is not hard to accept. But God told Moses that it his work and his glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Does his glory not then increase as he accomplishes his work? Maybe he doesn’t change but his power increases.
That’s an interesting thought. Being omnipotent he can do as he will. But he chooses to restrict his power to allow us our freedom. We thus become a means by which his will/work is accomplished. As our efficacy increases so does his – albeit only due to this self-imposed limitation. So again, he remains unchanged though important characteristics/attributes such as his glory/power do change.