Sunday, August 18, 2013

And the Gods saw that they were obeyed

I thought I would share some things I've been pondering on regarding the Creation story in the Book of Abraham (chapters 4-5). While much of the story is similar to the Creation stories in Genesis and the Book of Moses (Pearl of Great Price), there are some significant differences.

First, the BoA account not only mentions God, but the Gods as being involved in the creation.  This ties in perfectly with the ancient Jewish (and early Christian) concept of the Divine Council.  God and his divine children (sometimes called angels) work together to accomplish God's great work. Margaret Barker, an Old Testament scholar and Methodist preacher, stated that Jesus was considered by the early Christians to be the Messiah, the Angel of the Lord's Presence.  In LDS theology, many of God's children (including some/many of us were involved in the Creation.

From this Creation event, we learn some possible things about the divine council, and our premortal existence.  First, we see that the Gods go down together to form the earth. In several ancient texts, such as the Ascension of Isaiah, we see angels and Christ ascending up and descending down through the various layers of heaven  to get to/from the earth.

The earth is described as "empty and desolate" and was dark.  These are descriptions of ancient Semitic stories of the Creation, where the Gods create order out of Chaos.  In this scenario, God even must fight the water dragon, in order to keep Chaos (water and darkness) at bay.

Once brought under control, the Spirit was left to "brood over the waters." The Spirit may have been the Light of Christ, which penetrates all of space (see D&C 88, 93), as a controlling force.  One thing to consider is that instead of being a controlling force, the Spirit may have been an influencing force. In such a scenario, the Spirit would not force things to occur, but gently guide them to the final goal.

Interestingly, in commanding or pronouncing their divine will, the Gods were able to command the light, earth and waters.  However, when it comes to living things, such as plants, after the command goes forth, we read, "and the Gods saw that they were obeyed" ( 4:12) or in the case of animals, "and the Gods saw they would obey" (4:25).  In other words, the Gods did not have full and absolute power over all their creation, or chose not to impose their will over all of creation..

This suggests a few things.  First, the Gods had to await things to obey their command.  Second, some things (such as humans) would disobey along the way.  Third, this may have been a trial and error learning event for the lesser or younger Gods.

Imagine the patience it would take for Gods to form the earth, and then await billions of years for the particles making up the Earth to cool down and become solid.  Then, to await the first life to form about 2.2 billion years ago. It would take another 2.3 billion years of trying different life forms until mankind is formed.  During those billions of years, the Gods would find out how to put DNA together to form creations that could adapt and survive in varying ecosystems and disasters. Giant destructions would open the door for new species to rule the earth. 250 million years ago, a destruction would wipe out 90 percent of all life forms, opening the door for the reign of the dinosaurs. A destruction 65 millions years ago would wipe out dinosaurs, and open the door to mammals.  The last Ice Age would leave us with one species of human-like beings, removing the failed versions from the genetic pool and prepare the earth for us today.

So, now that we are mortals and trying to learn to be creators, even as God and the divine council, what can we learn from this? First, that God is very patient.  If it takes billions of years to accomplish his goals, then he is willing to wait for it to naturally come to pass. If this is so, then why are we so impatient with ourselves, our children and others?  We are all works in progress. 

Second, God avoids forcing his hand unless he has to.  Instead, he guides, influences, and leads by example.  I find the more control we attempt to force upon others, the more they tend to reject what we do.  Control is usually imposed because we either lack patience or there is an urgency to get something done. Perhaps we create too many emergencies that require control, rather than patiently working things through.
Third, as with God and his divine council, we are in a constant struggle against Chaos and entropy.  There is opposition in all things (2 Nephi 2), which puts us directly in the path of Chaos. Our work here is to do God's work, and that is to create Order out of Chaos.  It is a process that takes time.  Children are not born as a finished product.  It takes a lifetime for each of us to begin to understand who we are and why we are here.  The key is to create order, even as God does, a little at a time, and not increase the amount of chaos instead.

Interestingly, the over-use of control can actually increase chaos. Doing nothing or little also increases entropy and chaos.  In a universe that tends to move towards entropy, only God and his divine children have the ability to hold it at bay, and perhaps increase order in the universe.

So, what do you get out of Abraham's Creation story?