A Cosmic Atonement



In my previous post I wrote about how the infinite diversity and independence of Mind could be considered one of the most valuable things in the universe. Something which can help us address the rhetorical question posed in Psalms:

“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

If God could consider Mind to be of great, even prime, importance then another question to consider is: what threats does Mind face and how might God address these threats?

The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy, a measurement of disorder or chaos, in a system ultimately increases. In other words, matter tends towards disorganization (more entropy). Matter decays, stars burn out (taking with them any ecosystems of their planets), black holes evaporate, and galaxies eventually cool. Isaac Asimov's favorite personal short story was 'The Last Question', in which he imagines mankind's struggle against the increasing tide of entropy in the universe playing out over trillions of years.

Indeed, anyone who has owned a home or a car is intimately aware of this cosmic principle. Despite our best efforts, windshields crack, wood rots, tires run bare, furniture breaks, etc--often at the worst possible time. We expend great time and resources to repair these fits of entropy only to be doomed to inevitably do it again in the near future often on the very thing we previously repaired. Indeed, much of transhumanism can be framed as a fight against the entropic forces in the universe that threaten life.

The same holds true for Mind as well. Left without hope, light, knowledge, love, or guidance, Mind/Intelligence deteriorates into self-destruction. One way to frame the concept of sin is that it can be seen as a spiritual or mental form of entropy; it leads to chaos, disorder, degeneration, destruction, and separation or isolation from God and other Minds.

A child, isolated from others and without any human contact, will become emotionally and physically maladjusted. Their behavior becomes irrational, disorganized, and chaotic. Societies which allow hate and intolerance to rule quickly find social disorder, chaos, war, and destruction. Marriages strained by unchecked relationship entropy dissolve into divorce, often tearing the family apart. And human relationships or communities are often destroyed by shunning or ostracization.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (<a href="https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/nt/rom/6?lang=eng&id=23#22" target="_blank">Romans 6:23</a>)

This is why the Atonement of Christ and transhuman efforts must both have a dual nature. They must provide an anti-entropic power to overcome the degeneration of both body and Mind. And it's this anti-entropic power that becomes the means for God in Mormonism to accomplish the stated "work" and "glory" to "bring to pass" "immorality and eternal life" (Moses 1:39) (note the dual-nature purpose there -- physical and relational/mental).

Jacob, in the Book of Mormon, explains how the Atonement is an anti-entropic force for the body of mankind:

"For I know that ye have searched much, many of you, to know of things to come; wherefore I know that ye know that our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God.
"... it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him.
"... there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.
"Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more." (<a href="https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/9?lang=eng&id=4-7#3" target="_blank">2 Nephi 9:4-7</a>)

Peter also taught of the incorruptible nature of the Atonement -- again, note the dual nature of addressing both physical deterioration and relational/mental deterioration:

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
“ But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
“ Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
“ For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
“But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (<a href="https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/nt/1-pet/1?lang=eng&id=18-19,22-25#17" target="_blank">1 Peter 1:18-19,22-25</a>)

Alma, in the Book of Mormon, explains how the Atonement provides a spiritual anti-entropic power through an infinitely intimate comprehension of the Minds of man:

“And he (Christ) shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
“Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.” (<a href="https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/alma/7?lang=eng&id=10-13#9" target="_blank">Alma 7:10-13</a>)

A "power of resurrection", "being born again, not of corruptible seed", "[enduring] forever", "without blemish", "incorruptible", "without spot", "purified", "abiding/endiring forever", overcoming "death", "afflictions", "temptations", "sicknesses", "infirmities" all become anti-entropic powers realized here in scripture through the abstract idea of the Atonement of Christ. And this is done both for Mind and body.

Now, these are draped in religious language. And if these only remain as abstract passive aspirations they are ultimately pointless. These must become powerful active aspirations with tangible goals for them to truly transform our world. Transhumanism is capable of framing these in tangibles: immortality, cryonics, mind uploading, disease eradication, augmented intelligence, genetic improvements, organ and limb restoration, etc. When approached ethically and equitably in ways respecting individual freedom and autonomy, these things become forms of fulfillment of the religious aspirations of atonement and resurrection. And to the degree they can create a flourishing and compassionate society they can be part of the means of creating eternal life.

It should be no surprise then that much of Christ's focus during his earthly life was exercising this anti-entropic power through preaching the gospel to Minds/souls as well as healing the sick, infirm, and even raising the dead.

“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (<a href="https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/nt/matt/9?lang=eng&id=35#34" target="_blank">Matthew 9:35</a>)

An important question to ask is how do we create and use technologies towards these goals?

In Mormonism, God is not just the God of the physical universe. God is the God of individuals, the God of Souls and Minds. God has an eternal desire to connect with, cultivate, and comprehend each and every one. And to realize that desire, God provides a way for the soul, Mind and body, to escape these entropic deaths. God provides a Savior through which an Atonement is made.

This calls and challenges us to be co-participants in realizing the blessings of restitution, rejuvenation, reconciliation, reunion, and resurrection; not as things God imposes on us while we passively wait but as something that God trusts us to work towards as we share Godlike aspirations both physically and mentally. And efforts like transhumanism can play an important role in the realization of those aspirations.

This brings up an often overlooked aspect of the nature of the Atonement. Not only is the Atonement a way to reconcile man with God, but it provides a way for God to know humanity, a way for God to realize God's greatest desire -- to know us as we come to know and become like God. It becomes a kind of Grand Cosmic Relationship which is what I'll write about next.