The Cosmos as Imagined in the Beatitudes
IMAGE: PHOTO OF JESUS CLASSICAL PAINTING
I more than once have learned that "Blessed" in the Beatitudes is a word that implies the happy state that the Gods are in. What if one were to take this meaning very literally, and set the Sermon on the Mount in the context of the Mormon and Transhumanist ideals of humanity actually approaching or achieving Godhood? Where our Heavenly Father and Mother had parents of their own and went through the same process we are now experiencing? Then the Beatitudes would begin:
The beatitude goes so far as to say that heaven will belong to the the poor in spirit. The Book of Mormon makes an interesting addition here: "blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me." We are blessed to be in the state of the Gods if we are humble AND come to God. Now iterate this thought -- who did God come to? Could it be that to be a God, God was humble and came to his own God? Is this chain of connectedness a necessary part of godhood?
I'm not sure what exactly poor in spirit means. One possible translation is "those living in uprightness, or 'perfection.'" A chain of reasoning could be followed from this back to claiming that those who do what they covenant to do (here and previous to this life) will become Gods, and this integrity between word and deed comes up specifically later in the sermon. But humility is an idea that is here, and is frequently repeated in the scriptures in various contexts. Gods are humble. In what cosmos is humility an advantageous trait? Humility in the face of what?
Mourning as a sign of empathy and imagination
The sermon continues:
How does mourning make one like God? Equally importantly, how does mourning make God God? What evolutionary advantage could it give? One answer to that seems obvious to me: a strong sense of empathy is a characteristic of humanity, and it has likely contributed to the vast societal accomplishments of humanity. Mourning is a sign of empathy and imagination. The God of Mormonism is one who weeps at the suffering of his children (Moses 7:28-32). We know of one universe where empathy and imagination engender evolutionary success, so it isn't such a stretch to imagine a cosmos where these same traits are beneficial to flourishing. On the other hand, insects are extremely successful, and many microorganisms are extremely successful, and I am unaware of a highly developed sense of empathy or imagination in them. But they also aren't on the brink of driving biological expansion beyond the Earth. The importance of mourning has interesting possibilities for constraining our view of the cosmos.
Earthly meekness projected into the heavens
God is meek. This is rather remarkable, and seems to me good reason to throw out a variety of absurd, stereotypical assumptions about God both within and without Mormonism. However, it does lead to some new problems. We clearly can't apply every common definition of meek to the Gods. Whatever definition we use must be one that can be applied to the rulers of worlds. Somehow meekness must be possible while also wielding immense power. One way this can be explained was shared by Christ himself when he said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." This meekness is at least a willingness of God to share with us the work that has to be done to become Gods ourselves. This isn't a God who says, I'm past that stage, and now it's up to you to sort things out yourselves. Here are the physics and chemistry labs, with all the equipment, supplies, and instruments. You've got brains. Good luck -- and by the way, if you blow everything up, including yourselves, you've got only yourselves to blame. I gave you all the tools. It's not my fault if you didn't take the time to figure out how to use them right!
I know this idea of an involved God is a big sticking point, for many, but I believe it is an essential part of understanding the Mormon Transhumanist cosmos. In this cosmos, we aren't talking about a God that does things because they are arbitrarily good, or punishes things because they are arbitrarily evil. We are talking about Gods who have arrived at what is good and evil through an evolutionary process, themselves. Good things are the things that lead to cosmic evolutionary success. Evil is what interferes with radical flourishing. This may be a flawed picture, and is almost certainly an incomplete picture of good and evil, but I don't know how to avoid it as a minimum. So it appears we have a cosmos where Gods in later stages have greater reproductive success when they are involved in the lives of their offspring and relatives in earlier stages of godhood. But God must be involved meekly. Somehow the invitation to share a yoke is the most effective way.
I also see an additional way God is meek. He allows that the meek will inherit the earth. I think for years I read that as the meek will get to live on this earth in a future, more perfect state, while the proud aren't going to have a place on it. The problem with that is I can't think of another time we use the word inherit to mean something so passive. When you inherit something, it is yours. It is your responsibility. It is yours to dispose of as you will. In this case, the meek aren't going to inherit the earth because God dies. So God plans to willingly relinquish something he created and ruled over to another group of people. Once again I have to ask, in what kind of cosmos is this advantageous?
Gods who hunger and thirst
The Gods hunger and thirst after righteousness. Perhaps an intense, ceaseless, primal drive to devour truth can be claimed as a characteristic of the Gods. This is an uncomfortable idea for anyone who believes that all righteousness can, at least theoretically, be obtained by God. Gods who hunger and thirst eternally -- as part of their very being, or state -- reveal quite a different cosmos. If this hungering and thirsting is truly the state of the Gods, then it isn't something with an end. Something out there is so vast that even the eternal, unimaginably powerful Gods only ever obtain a portion. If some absolute sum of all righteousness, or even some absolute understanding of all laws that govern all of the cosmos could be achieved, given enough time and mental capacity, then there would be no need for a God to continue in a state of hungering and thirsting after more. This state would not really be the state of the Gods, but only a preparatory state. The Gods would not hunger and thirst in this way.
Accepting that God does hunger and thirst implies some mind-boggling things about the cosmos. There must be more possible laws governing worlds that can be than any God or group of Gods can fully explore and understand. But we can make a claim even stronger than that. Not only is it a cosmos with so many dimensions of complexity that the Gods can't comprehend it fully, it is so complex that the Gods must continue to learn about what they don't know or they will be eclipsed reproductively. It is not possible to become the fastest reproducing Gods in the cosmos by finding a single strategy that works best and then ceasing to experiment. If Gods could figure out the best way to reproduce, all possible Gods would converge on that method, and they would not need to hunger and thirst after more knowledge. In fact, hungering and thirsting after more knowledge -- beyond what is needed to run this optimal reproductive scheme -- would potentially be a waste of resources that could be better spent on other parts of the scheme, and at best would allow Gods who don't hunger and thirst to reproduce equally as quickly as those who continue to hunger and thirst. The cosmos implied by hungering and thirsting Gods is possibly of infinite dimensional complexity -- at least of greater dimensional complexity that the learning capacity of the Gods.
IMAGE: PHOTO OF COSMOS GRAPH
If you are having troubles visualizing these dimensions of complexity, I offer a mathematically imprecise analogy (you mathematicians can insert your own analogies, but you already know this principle is correct, so I'm not writing to you). Think of all of human experience, influence, and knowledge, including the knowledge that we will have and that we have lost, as a single dimension -- a line headed out toward infinity. If Gods are able to experience or influence a class of things that are beyond any possibility of humanity (in our current state) ever knowing -- some examples might be Gods possessing some additional sense or living in dimensions of space or time that we do not experience -- then Gods could appear unlimited (or selectively unlimited) within our single dimension. Even if humanity could partially access this second dimension, the Gods could still know, do, or be infinitely more, but this totality would still be limited to two dimensions. If all that was, is, or might be encompasses even one more dimension that is inaccessible, or only partially accessible, to the Gods, then it is fairly trivial to conceive of Gods that are infinite and all powerful (relative to current human perception), unchanging (if they have optimized certain traits for reproductive success), and eternally progressing (if there is greater knowledge or other traits that have not yet been or can never be optimized).
This is only the beginning of what one could learn about the Gods and the cosmos from the Beatitudes. I don't really imagine that these sayings were intended with the kind of literal interpretation I have given them. Yet in reading them in this way, I find a God -- or a Heavenly Family -- that is
- and never ceasing in their journey of making Heaven.
As I project the God I wish to become, I hope I can hang onto these traits as a guiding light. And I hope the cosmos really is such that these Gods are its rulers.