Saturday 17 April 2021

Procreator or creator? God or deity? Father or mathematician?

From the ancient Greeks we have inherited the idea of God as a mathematician/ geometer deity; thus the idea that - ultimately - creation is abstract. This goes with the implicit understanding that apparently 'living Beings' on earth, are more truly seen in terms of abstract, spiritual, eternal and unchanging entities.  

This contrasts with the much older and more universal (but including Ancient Hebrew) idea of God as Parent/s; and a person or persons - the idea that ultimately creation is pro-creation. This goes with an 'animistic' creation, composed of Beings that are alive and conscious. 

One could consider both of these as metaphors, or as partial truths. And there are intermediate, or mixed states. Many Christians seem to believe a composite or half-way house between the Greek and Hebrew concepts - where God is a person but also an omnipotent deity defined in terms of abstract attributes; and creation is partly procreation (e.g. Men as God's children) - yet a procreation abstractly conceptualized. 

It was a conceptual breakthrough of the Mormon Restoration that - at least in theology - God became more fully parental, and creation became (more) fully procreative. 

Yet the Mormon Restoration did not take procreation through to a fully procreative understanding of creation; because Mormonism did not extend to an 'animistic' metaphysics of all creation (including the 'mineral' world) as living and conscious, purposive Beings.  

Because Christians regard Love as primary; we can see that the concept of Love must be very different in terms of the degree to which God is understood as a person versus an abstract deity. Both views of Love can be seen in the modern world: Love as something like a universal force/ energy/ vibrational-frequency or 'filed'; or Love as a personal relationship between Beings - where beings include all of creation.

And - in terms of the original, primary creation - Love can be seen as a quasi-mathematical state of eternalness - like a field-of-order including all-that-is; or as something relational that is-happening between specific living, conscious Beings.  


Northwest Alternative said...

"If God should withdraw himself from nature,
or should cease to act upon it, that portion of it which is without life or intelligence, (if there
be any such portion,) would immediately cease all action: and while thus apart from nature
no laws could be given to it which could be obeyed: no gravitative or cohesive tendencies
could be exerted upon it; no chemical combinations or organic operations could be
performed; or in other words, unintelligent nature would be entirely dead, and no voice or
power could awake it, or have the least effect upon it, without entering into it, and operating
upon it, and through it. It is only living and intelligent substances that hear, and understand,
and obey a law. And if unintelligent nature appear to act and obey a law, it is not in reality
the acts of nature, but the operations of a living, intelligent substance inhabiting nature.
Unintelligent nature could no more act than the body without the spirit could act. Therefore,
all the grand and magnificent movements of the universe as a whole, and all the minute and
imperceptible operations of its particles, are the continued effects of the living, moving,
all-powerful substance diffused through the whole."

Animistic Mormon theology from Orson Pratt, writing in the Seer during Brigham Young's day. Cleon Skousen's "Building Blocks of the Universe" continues in a similar vein more recently. So that strand of thought does exist in Latter-day Saint theology.

Bruce Charlton said...

@NA - Good to know. Shame it didn't survive! I never got round to reading the Pratt brothers except summarized briefly in more modern work.