Is God Bound by Natural Law?: Weekend Poll

By: wheatmeister
February 9, 2013

We recently had a discussion about this on another thread.

LDS Anarchist said:  “Now, we know that there is a law given in heaven and that He is the one who gave it. And we know that His law is based upon agency, not coercion. So, we have a law (created by God) based on agency, and a God that preceded the law (since He created it), who champions agency. And we also know that God is all-powerful (omnipotent.) To say, then, that there is a different law (a separate law) which preceded God, and which is not based upon agency, but upon coercion (the opposite of agency), to which God is subject, contradicts both His omnipotence, His rule of agency and His jealous nature.”

Hawkgrrrl quoted from this post on MormonTalk:  “In mainstream Christianity, God is considered an eternal being who created the world and the universe in which we reside. Furthermore, he is a perfect being who cannot be controlled by any part of creation. However, in Mormon thought, we see God not as this platonic ideal but as a being subject to the natural laws of the universe who does not have power to overcome free will.”

ji summed it up nicely:  “I really appreciate your characterization of your belief as speculation. I say that because I know that some Latter-day Saints would agree with you, but others wouldn’t, but they can all be good Latter-day Saints and find a place in the celestial kingdom of our God if all else works out. For me, in my present frame of reference, God is an eternal being who created the world and the universe in which we reside. Furthermore, He is a perfect being who cannot be controlled by any part of creation, but instead is One who speaks and creation obeys. . . when you say what you did, I can accept it as part of the diversity among us. When someone else says exactly the same thing but without the speculation caveat or some other note of personal belief, and paints a picture of speaking authoritatively for all Latter-day Saints, I sometimes have to disagree.”

It’s an LDS debate with a long and storied tradition.  What do you think?

What is the nature of God?

  • God is subject to natural laws. He just understands them, like a scientist, and knows how to use them to achieve his aims. (82%, 49 Votes)
  • God is omnipotent. He makes the laws. There is no natural law that binds him since he is the creator of the natural laws. (18%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 60

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Discuss.

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14 Responses to Is God Bound by Natural Law?: Weekend Poll

  1. shenpa warrior on February 9, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    While I chose omnipotent, given that is seems to fit my experience (for lack of a better term) with God better, being subject to natural laws makes sense as well, and certainly in an LDS framework.

    An aside, but LDS Anarchist was saying that God is jealous? What did he mean by that wrt this post?

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  2. FireTag on February 9, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    I believe that God’s nature converges on the sum of all natural law; there is simply nothing outside of God, which makes me a pantheist, and I think nature includes both personal and impersonal aspects.

    So, rather than saying that God is bound by natural law OR makes natural law, I’d say He IS natural law, and to answer LDS Anarchist’s view, God’s freedom is absolute in lying completely within His own nature. There is nothing outside Him to constrain Him.

    It also implies that as we understand creation better, we understand better the actual nature of God.

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  3. Douglas on February 9, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    This isn’t so easily resolved since there are hierarchies of “law”..ergo, some things can be overridden by a “higher” matter. Still, there is an order to all things, and Heavenly Father doesn’t contradict them. As the great religious (fictional) philosopher, one Archibald Bunker of 704 Hauser Street, Queens, New York, once said: “Gawd don’t make no mistakes…dat’s how he got to be Gawd”.

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  4. Jettboy on February 9, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Alma 42 can be interpreted either that God formulated a plan and must go through with it or that He has to follow a plan that already existed. Either way, not showing justice and mercy would terminate his God status showing some kind of law outside Self.

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  5. Jeff G on February 9, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    It’s posts like these that make me think the church should employ a kind of “American Idol” approach to the canonization process. We could start off with 12 candidate doctrines (after we all get a good laugh at the William Hung doctrines) and week by week eliminate a contender until there is one “official” winner.

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  6. dba.brotherp on February 10, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    It seems like we believe God is subjected to natural law but I tend to think that *we* are the ones subjected to natural law but God isn’t necessarily subjected to it.

    For example, we are subjected to sin/death. But God has a “cheat code” and provided a Savoir. We are subjected to being baptized but since everyone hasn’t been baptized, God has a “cheat code” and provided baptism by proxy. To me, this makes God omnipotent.

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  7. LDS Anarchist on February 11, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    #1 shenpa warrior,

    An aside, but LDS Anarchist was saying that God is jealous? What did he mean by that wrt (sic) this post?

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jealous

    I meant 1a, 2 and also 3, but mostly 1a (“intolerant of rivalry.”)

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  8. Hedgehog on February 11, 2013 at 4:12 AM

    I guess it depends whether God is inside or outside the universe as we know it, and how broad or narrow our definition of natural law. Are we talking laws of physics etc., or including concepts like justice, mercy etc. as well?

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  9. Mike S on February 11, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    The more I think about it, the less sure I am in any answer. So, I simply focus more on being a good person myself and figure everything else will just work itself out someday.

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  10. Paul on February 11, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    #9, Mike S, I’m with you.

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  11. Toni on February 11, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    God is bound by natural laws, but not necessarily the ones we understand, nor laws confined only to living inside of time, since He does not live inside of time. He lives outside, in eternity.

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  12. FireTag on February 11, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    Hedgehog:

    I think more the latter are also included. Space-time is only a single cross-sectional view of reality. Sometimes in rare peaks of worship, I get the impression of realms in which justice has the solidity of steel, and mercy flows like water. I think there are realms as dimly perceived by the angelic host as the spiritual realm is perceived by us, but I doubt my human mind will ever be able to suppose what’s there.

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  13. Hedgehog on February 12, 2013 at 1:26 AM

    FireTag
    I’m going to have to ponder on justice and mercy some more I think. I have tended to see both as arising from those things that we ourselves demand, as opposed to having any existence of their own… The steel-water simile is very compelling.

    Toni
    The outside, inside time is tricky to viualise. I view time as something that arises when a limit is imposed on the available spatial dimensions, though I don’t know if that makes any mathematical/physics sense. And I don’t quite understand whether what is meant by God being outside time means time doesn’t exist in the sense of things happening in a particular order – action followed by consequence, or whether it simply means God is outside our time, but their is a ‘time’ in the dimensions in which God resides, but that God is also able to move between it and our time, and indeed time in any other group of dimensions. Mostly I view our mortal experience as being a simulation of sorts…

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  14. Hedgehog on February 12, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    too many spelling errors:
    *visualise
    but *there* is

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