Something peculiar about the infinite regression of LDS Gods

There are some peculiar consequences that flow from the LDS doctrine of “an infinite regression of LDS Gods.” As I understand it, “God the Father” is the God of “this Earth,” but comes to us from another Earth, who was a faithful LDS follower on that other Earth. That other Earth had a different LDS God who also came from yet a different Earth. And so on, and so on, and so on… for an infinite number of regressions (or iterations).

To understand one of the most significant consequences, I need to talk about the “family tree” of LDS Gods. Family trees have two dimensions – generations back in time, and generations across time. On this planet, for example, there are a few billion people. The family tree of humanity has only so many “generations back in time” before we reach our first human parents (Adam and Eve). But, today, the billions of people are “generations stretched across time.” The tree has a “height” back to Adam and Even, and a “width” across all the billions of people alive today.

The LDS God family tree is both infinitely high and infinitely wide. Consequently:
[list]there are an infinite number of “Earths” in existence today.[/list]

If the LDS teachings are true, then we know that some percentage of the Earths will have active LDS temples. Consequently

[list]There are an infinite number of active LDS temples.[/list]
[list]There are an infinite number of LDS weddings taking place.[/list]
[list]There are an infinite number of LDS people entering the spiritual world.[/list]

But, the question becomes – how long does it take for there to be an infinite number of LDS people entering the spiritual world? Since there are an infinite number of Earths, in only requires the smallest instant of time. Any tiny fraction – no matter how small – when multiplied by infinity – results in infinity. And, when looking at a process – if some number are produced over a period of time – if the amount produced is infinite, then each division of time also produces an infinite quantity. Thus, an instant might be only one second. Or, it might even be a tiny fraction of a second. Regardless, in each instant:

[list]The LDS God Family Tree grows by an infinite amount of new LDS Gods.[/list]

How many instants have flown by since the time you started reading this post? A whole bunch!!! And, in that time, the ranks of the LDS God family has grown by a difficult to comprehend amount! Even if each atom in the Universe were to be counted – it would be nothing compared to the number of LDS Gods that have been created in just this very instant!

How long has this been happening? Since we are talking about an LDS God Family Tree that goes back into time for an infinitely long amount of time – the proper answer is:

[list]An infinite quantity of LDS Gods have been added to the LDS God Family Free for each instant of time for ***an infinitely LONG amount of time!!***[/list]
The one thing that I find most peculiar is the consequence of the teaching that each new LDS God is given “an Earth” by their previous LDS God. Maybe I have this wrong. But, even if a tiny fraction of new LDS Gods are given an Earth, the results are the same. Namely:

[list]an infinite number of new Earths come into existence each and every instant.[/list]
[list]this has been occurring for an infinitely long period of time[/list]

If you thought the Universe was big – that is (literally) nothing when compared to the reality of an infinite quantity of Earths – if the LDS teaching is true. That is what I find most peculiar about the Infinite Regression of LDS Gods.

Apparently this is an ongoing issue, so this Mormon tries to address it here:

en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_the_nature_of_God/Infinite_regress_of_Gods

It is true that the “infinite regression” idea blows up when looked at with any kind of rational thought.

I pull this quote forward from your link because I think it does the best job of addressing the issue.

It should be noted too that the problem of an infinite past** is also an issue for any believer in God**. Anyone who believes that God has existed forever, and created the universe ex nihilo out of nothing must also confront similar difficulties about infinite past, infinite regression, and the like. An improper or unsophisticated approach to infinities could also make the idea of a God that existed “forever” seem illogical. Critics are often quick to see their own stance as “reasonable,” while believing that the Latter-day Saint view is incoherent.

Sadly, this response fails to see that the Christian understanding of God is very different than the LDS understanding of God. We do not see that God is an entity that existed an infinite amount of time ago. Rather, God exists “in eternity.” Time is something that exists in our Universe. Time is something created by God. God is eternal. The LDS answer tries to insist that one must view God as existing IN TIME.

I also am unhappy with the way that the article at that link tries to insist that the concept of infinite regression isn’t really believed by a large number of LDS followers. Well - what’s the truth??? Is it a teaching of the LDS Church or not? Is it possible to know one way or the other???

My take on it is the leaders avoid getting into the details because it sounds too much like scientology or some other strange idea, which will alienate many members.:smiley:

Thank you, SM! Glad that someone here understands that there’s diversity of belief among mormons on this issue and that the King Follett Discourse, a sermon by Joseph Smith given at a Funeral and based on his early studies of Hebrew (i.e. uninspired translation) is not official LDS canon.

Naw. Most mormons believe in it and most of those that don’t, don’t see it with outrage. It’s just that if you look at the actual canonical scriptures, the Bible as well as the D&C and BoM, that deification and oneness with God seems a more correct reading.

I’m not outraged. But, I do find it peculiar that the teaching on the infinite regression of LDS Gods leads to an infinite number of Earths being created every instant of time - and this has been happening for an infinite amount of time.

Very peculiar.

If “most mormons believe in it,” then why do they not stand up and defend the belief? Rather, there is this dodge that any belief in any God somehow requires the same kind of belief. That is false.

So, I’ll ask you directly, Sabacthani. What do you believe? Continual infinite Earth creation? Or… something else?

I used to believe in the continual infinite Earth creation, but when I was a missionary, and was studying the LDS standard works (which includes but isn’t limited to the Bible) for hours a day, I put it together and realized that what you call deification is the most reasonable interpretation. I also read the King Follet Discourse and was surprised that at the degree that JS is relying on his very elementary study of the Hebrew language, and also at how tentatively he lays out his theory; it’s clear that he’s speaking as a beginning student of Hebrew rather than as prophet. I also read the Lectures on Faith and found them quite disappointing, and was relieved that the church had rejected them as scripture.

I have now concluded that “as Man is, God once was & as God is, Man may become” means nothing more or less than what Anasthasius said, “God became Man so Man might become God.” In other words, a reference to Jesus Christ who was Jehovah, taking on a mortal body in order to become acquainted with our griefs and to grind the serpent under his heel, victorious over death and sin.

When I read the Bible, it’s quite clear that JS isn’t the only prophet to have misunderstood or had issues with his own prophesies.

If “most mormons believe in it,” then why do they not stand up and defend the belief?

Oh, they do! I’ve had massive fights with Mormons over that issue, on my mission, at BYU, and on the internet. In fact, when Church President Gordon B. Hinckley disputed that the theory was official doctrine, and that we didn’t precisely know what “as Man is, God once was & as God is, Man may become” meant, (in a Mike Wallace interview) many church members expressed confusion and outright anger with the Prophet. But if you mean, why don’t they argue for those beliefs HERE, that’s because the sort of Mormon that believes that and vigorously argues it as the sole possible interpretation of scripture, isn’t the sort who finds common ground with Catholics and hangs out on Catholic blogs.

Thank you for asking. Hope that helps.

Mormon author Orson Scott Card, in his partially autobiographical (and partly fantasy!) book “Lost Boys,” describes feeling horrified and embarrassed by a new member’s discussion of the “godhood” doctrine.

“Do you really think he’s in heaven?” asked Lee.
It was the first thing he had said in Sister Highsmith’s house after the
initial greeting, and the question just hung there in the air for a moment, as
Sister Highsmith tried to discern whether he was challenging her assessment of
her husband’s righteousness.
“Brother Weeks here is new in the Church,” Step explained. “I don’t think he’s
suggesting that Brother Highsmith isn’t in heaven, I think he’s asking a
doctrinal question.”
“Oh, yes,” said Lee. “I didn’t think of it that other way-no, of course he’s
in heaven! I mean, even people who open hot dog franchises can still go to
heaven, right?” He laughed, and Sister Highsmith and Step politely laughed
along, though Step was meanwhile thinking, OK, let’s get this boy out of here.
Apparently Mommy hasn’t given Lee much chance to learn what you do and don’t
say, and what you do and don’t joke about.
“What I was asking,” said Lee, “was whether you think your husband is a god.”
Step cringed inside. What had the LeSueurs taught this boy? Step loathed the
way that some Mormons bandied about the idea of godhood as if it were first
prize at the county fair and really good Mormons would bring it home like a
giant stuffed bear.
“I mean that’s what first attracted me to the Mormons,” said Lee. “Was the
idea that human beings can become gods. I’ve always felt that. And then I saw
this movie about how that’s what you Mormons all believe and so I phoned up
the church here in town and the missionaries came by.”
“What was the movie?” asked Step. “Was it by any chance called The Godmakers?”
“Yes, that was it,” said Lee.
“That’s an anti-Mormon film,” said Step. “It distorts our doctrines beyond all
recognition. And the answer to your question is no, Sister Highsmith does not
believe that her husband is a god. He’s a man, and a good man-am I right,
Sister Highsmith?”
“The very best sort of man,” she said. “He became a colonel before he
retired.”
“Yes,” said Step, “and now his spirit has left his body behind and he lives on
with those of his family who died before him. But Lee, becoming holy and
perfect enough to fully share in God’s work is very rare and when it does
happen it would happen only after long development and a long, long time after
death and to most people it never comes at all. It’s not like becoming a
colonel.” And then, to help Lee realize that the discussion should now end,
Step added, “And it’s not a doctrine that we discuss much.” Or at least, if we
have any sense of proportion we don’t discuss it much. We don’t even
understand what Joseph Smith meant by it, for heaven’s sake! Much better to
concentrate on things like loving your neighbor and trying not to screw up
your life and the lives of everybody around you than to get into mysterious
doctrines.

Apparently mysterious doctrines were all that Lee wanted to talk about. “I
think about becoming a god all the time,” he said. “I think it would be neat
to design planets and stuff. I could sure do a better job than this world.”
Sister Highsmith blanched, and Step knew that she would not be reluctant if he
now got Lee out of the house. “Well,” Step said, “it was wonderful to meet
you, Sister Highsmith. Can we have a word of prayer before we go?”
“Oh, do you have to go already?” she said.
Step cringed again, waiting for her to say the obligatory Don’t go, wait
awhile, it’s early yet.
But she didn’t say it. “Well, how sweet of you two to come by. And I’d be glad
if you’d say the prayer, Brother Fletcher.”
Yes, Lee had really put the stamp of strangeness on this evening. Sister
Highsmith was glad to see them go-not exactly the best finish for the evening.
Out in the car, Lee seemed oblivious to the idea that he might have said
something wrong. “That was neat,” he said. “To be able to talk like that about
things that I’ve just kept bottled up inside for years. I mean, that’s the
best thing about the Mormons, I can tell my secret thoughts and people
understand. Not like Mom, I can’t tell her anything or she just analyzes me to
death.”
I can understand that, thought Step, if you talk very much about becoming a
god. To a psychologist, no less.

Orson Scott Card is not only an LDS author in good standing, but he’s also the main text author of the “Living Scriptures” for children series popular among Mormons. And in his own book he describes feeling *embarrassed * by the planet-God theory and those that focus on it. That last sentence even suggests that fixating on it is an indicator for mental illness.

Where I and Card and most well-read Mormons differ from most Catholics I know on deification is that we believe that Heaven is a place of reward and pleasure as a place where the faithful and trustworthy receive additional responsibility.

Consider the parable of the talents.

"The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your talent has made ten talents more.’ 17"And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’

I don’t object to brother Joseph’s theory of people being put in authority over planets, but it would still be in God’s name. Not for our own sake.

Mormons depart from CS Lewis in that they believe that there is sorrow as well as Joy in heaven. I’d strongly recommend the book “The God Who Weeps.”

I understand “as Man is, God once was & as God is, Man may become” to be completely different from Christian teaching. I’m not familiar with what Anathasius said. However, we can become something “god-like” only in that we can be with God in Heaven. Or soul is eternal, and in that way, it has “god-like” qualities. It can’t be destroyed, for example. Man can’t become what God is now (in all ways). There is a big difference.

Oh, they do! I’ve had massive fights with Mormons over that issue, on my mission, at BYU, and on the internet. In fact, when Church President Gordon B. Hinckley disputed that the theory was official doctrine, and that we didn’t precisely know what “as Man is, God once was & as God is, Man may become” meant, (in a Mike Wallace interview) many church members expressed confusion and outright anger with the Prophet. But if you mean, why don’t they argue for those beliefs HERE, that’s because the sort of Mormon that believes that and vigorously argues it as the sole possible interpretation of scripture, isn’t the sort who finds common ground with Catholics and hangs out on Catholic blogs.

Thank you for asking. Hope that helps.

The link provided at the start of this thread from “fairmormon” doesn’t fight for the concept. Rather, it backpedals - and then says something about how the mormon thought of infinite regression is no different from any other thought on God. So, that is what I mean.

I was not talking about why it is that LDS apologist do not come here and defend their teaching.

Thanks for your responses. I find them interesting.

I find it frustrating that the LDS Church would put this idea forward on the one hand, and then, at the same time, say that it shouldn’t be something to think about.

If what the LDS Church is teaching is true, then the understanding of who God is changes radically over other Christian teaching. To sit back and say that it’s silly to consider the ramifications for our eternal soul when thinking about this infinite regression of LDS God is very … well - it’s very peculiar.

There is a huge difference between the LDS doctrine on Theosis, and the Catholic/Orthodox doctrine about the same thing.

The C/O doctrine posits that humans can come to share in the energies of God, but not the essence of God. IOW humans can’t become gods. And that God is one and infinite.

As I understand it (and I am an ex-Mormon) that the LDS doctrine on this is that there are many gods and humans can become gods.

All the confusion about this and other matters is the main reason I left the COCOLDS and returned to Catholicism.

Oh and which heaven are you speaking of? The Celestial kingdom, or the Terrestial kingdom or the other one who’s name has escaped me at this time?

Well, Sabachtani, I’m glad you’re realizing that the things you find to be true are found in the Catholic faith. But I must take issue with the part of your statement I bolded.

This idea that God the Son, before He became human, did not understand human suffering drives Christians absolutely over the edge, and is one of the major reasons why Christians don’t consider LDS to be Christian.

I think that Catholics and LDS can agree that the God of the OT, who created everything, was God the Son (later known as Jesus). If Jesus created us, body, soul and spirit, do you really think there is anything about us that He does not know and understand?

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts

  • 1 Chronicals 28:9

6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?

7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

  • Luke 12:6-7

These are but two of many bible passages where the Holy Spirit inspires the sacred authors to reveal to us that we can have confidence that God (both before and after His incarnation) knows and understands us in our innermost being. Because He created us!

I hope you will think long and hard about this.

Paul (formerly LDS, now happily Catholic)

Yes, even in the ancient symbol for God, the All-seeing Eye, humans saw and understood that there isn’t anything God does not know.

The Christian understanding is, God knows our every need, and our need is like St. Thomas. To see God; to have God among us in the flesh. God became Man to fill our need, not to fill God’s need. God has no need.

Ah, exactly! Well said.

Yes - there is a huge difference between us on this issue.

A place of reward - well, that sounds some people somehow have “earned” their place of additional responsibility and their pleasurable reward.

As a sinner, I really hope that I do NOT get what I deserve. Rather, I hope that God, out of love, shows mercy upon my soul.

As an example, let me discuss my own son. He, after graduating high school, didn’t “deserve” any of the assistance that I gave him for college. But, that was a gift that I gave him out of love.

The contrary - saying that one as “earned” what they get in Heaven - it will be like presenting a bill to God. “I did the service, now it’s time for You to pay up.” Taking rather than receiving.

I started to write an angry response to what I thought was a misrepresentation, when I realized that the error was mine. Major typos here.

I said

Where I and Card and most well-read Mormons differ from most Catholics I know on deification is that we believe that Heaven is a place of reward and pleasure as a place where the faithful and trustworthy receive additional responsibility.

What I meant to say was:

Where I and Card and most well-read Mormons differ from most Catholics I know on deification is that mormons believe that Heaven is LESS a place of reward and pleasure THAN a place where the faithful and trustworthy receive additional responsibility.

As a sinner, I really hope that I do NOT get what I deserve.

That’s entirely consistent with LDS teaching. See King Benjamin’s speech in Mosiah.

A place of reward - well, that sounds some people somehow have “earned” their place of additional responsibility and their pleasurable reward.

Yes, it does. And it’s not what I meant to say.

The point of the parable of the Talents regarding the Ten Cities is that it isn’t a reward, but a trust. To the degree that we obey and zealously serve God, we become one with him.

This idea that God the Son, before He became human, did not understand human suffering drives Christians absolutely over the edge, and is one of the major reasons why Christians don’t consider LDS to be Christian.

I doubt it. I think rather that you’ve just proof-texted my wording to create some new supposedly longstanding “issue” to justify that old unjustifiable canard about mormons not being Christian. I’ve never seen that framed as an issue, and what you describe not even an LDS church teaching. “Acquainted with our suffering” simply borrows the wording from Isaiah. If you don’t like that wording, take it up with Isaiah. The point wasn’t that God wasn’t all-knowing prior to the incarnation. That’s silly, Paul.

You say you used to be LDS, then you should know very well that Mormons teach that Jesus is Jehovah, and that his omniscience pre-dates his mortal sojourn on earth.

Thanks for clearing that up.

That’s entirely consistent with LDS teaching. See King Benjamin’s speech in Mosiah.

I’ll take your word for it.

I doubt it. I think rather that you’ve just proof-texted my wording to create some new supposedly longstanding “issue” to justify that old unjustifiable canard about mormons not being Christian. I’ve never seen that framed as an issue, and what you describe not even an LDS church teaching. “Acquainted with our suffering” simply borrows the wording from Isaiah. If you don’t like that wording, take it up with Isaiah. The point wasn’t that God wasn’t all-knowing prior to the incarnation. That’s silly, Paul.

You say you used to be LDS, then you should know very well that Mormons teach that Jesus is Jehovah, and that his omniscience pre-dates his mortal sojourn on earth.

I do think that the differences between what the Catholic Church teaches about God and what the LDS Church teaches about God are very far apart. For example, I believe that God not only created matter - but also designed it before creating it.

Just as I can know something about the mental workings of my coworker when I see what they design - so too can I know something about God simply by looking at Creation. And - this works for so many things - even the nature of photons and atoms tells us something about God.

As I understand it - not so with the LDS God. Photons, gravity - none of that is a manifestation of the LDS God’s creative hand.

Therefore, I think it matters greatly if everything visible and invisible was created through Christ or not. Maybe I’m wrong. But, the LDS Church does not teach that everything visible and invisible was created through Christ. That is a difference at a very fundamental level.

I do think that the differences between what the Catholic Church teaches about God and what the LDS Church teaches about God are very far apart. For example, I believe that God not only created matter - but also designed it before creating it.

Yes! We believe that design before creation occurred with creatures and plants and structures, but we do believe he created it out of some original building blocks. That’s where we differ.

Just as I can know something about the mental workings of my coworker when I see what they design - so too can I know something about God simply by looking at Creation. And - this works for so many things - even the nature of photons and atoms tells us something about God.

To me, looking at the Hubble telescope pics was quite a religious experience.

As I understand it - not so with the LDS God. Photons, gravity - none of that is a manifestation of the LDS God’s creative hand.

We don’t know what God’s building blocks were. The D&C teaching is that God cannot create matter from nothing, but can convert it from one form to another.

Therefore, I think it matters greatly if everything visible and invisible was created through Christ or not.

Genesis says only that God create everything that was created.

Maybe I’m wrong. But, the LDS Church does not teach that everything visible and invisible was created through Christ.

Neither does the Bible. But neither does the Bible nor the LDS church deny the possibility that everything visible and invisible was created through Christ. Simply that anything was created from nothing.

That is a difference at a very fundamental level.

More important than the Atonement and the Resurrection? The latter are, I think, the beating heart of Christianity.

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