Discuss your views of Satan's possible proposal

Share or discuss your views of what Satan may have been proposing as a means to 'save' all mankind.

[I am mainly interested in points of view which are different from or go beyond the traditional idea of forcing everyone to do what's right or forcing them to be righteous.]

1 comment:

  1. Good question. I’ve come up with me own theory. It starts, though with an understanding of LDS theories of intelligence. The two entries on the topic in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism are sufficient to see that there are two traditions within Moromonism. The first says that there is a big blob of intelligence out there, God takes an ice-cream scoop of it and creates living things out of it. This is a life-force theory. I don’t like it. Instead, I am partial to the idea that before spirit-birth intelligence, or really intelligences, existed as individuated, autonomous, and sentient entities with the capacity for enlargement. This was the notion of B. H. Roberts and Truman Madsen. They say that this is what Joseph Smith taught in his King Follet discourse. When speaking about human intelligence he said, “the soul—the mind of man—the immortal spirit… is a self-existing being.”# Now Joseph didn’t really say that but I don’t mind quoting it that way because it does logically follow from the discourse. What it really says is that the mind of man exists upon the same principles God does and that God is a self existing being. Now we can reason, if God is a self existing being (he doesn’t rely on any other being for his existence as an individuated being), and we are the same kind of being God is, then we are also individuated beings. The same follows for free will, feeling, and memory. So free will is intrinsic to intelligences and cannot be taken from them. This was my introduction to the question: if even before spirit-birth we had free will, what was Satan’s plan to destroy agency? I will now quote extensively from myself:

    I would point out that the scriptures which speak of God giving man agency tell us that it was given in the Garden of Eden.# This is our first clue that free will has a couple of meanings. The first definition is that we can make up our own minds about what we want. The second definition concerns our ability to change the world around us. The circumstances in the world around us usually are never completely determined by us but by the interaction of the other entities we find ourselves among, one of whom is God. Let me illustrate how free will can get confusing without this distinction. Let us suppose that I have just tied up and gagged my roommate in his chair so that he cannot move or speak. Is he free? Without my distinction things become confusing but with my distinction the answer is simple. He is free in the sense that he can still choose what he thinks about me. But he is not free in the sense that what he can now accomplish has been limited.# I believe that it is in this second sense that God gave Adam agency; Adam’s environment was altered from what it had previously been. As William James says, “We receive in short the block of marble, but we carve the statue ourselves.”# I also believe that it could only have been in this sense that “Satan sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him.”# Satan was not going to take away every individual’s free will using definition one, but he planned to coerce everyone to obey his every command by not allowing this life to be a probationary state. Perhaps, he thought that if the consequence of every choice were felt immediately then no one would choose to do a misdeed. If Kant was right then this plan could never work; “but because the disposition from which actions ought to be done cannot be instilled by any command, …most actions conforming to the law would be done from fear, only a few from hope, and none at all from duty, and the moral worth of actions… would not exist at all.”# So, although he could have brought everyone back to God’s presence we never would have developed in the way that this life was originally designed to give us the chance to develop. Of course we probably would have freely chosen to obey if Satan had had his way, but only a probationary state could allow us to develop character. God wants peers who will love Him in return, and it is the nature of love that it cannot be “instilled by any command.”

    One last comment that I would like to make is that I have toggled between thinking of free will and agency and synonyms and as having different meanings. Currently, I think they are unequal. I think free will is the ability to choose between alternatives and that, as Elder McConkie says, agency obtains when the follow four things obtain: there are laws given, there is opposition, there is a knowledge of right and wrong, and there is free will. So when the scriptures say that God gave Adam agency or that Satan planned to destroy agency, they could never touch Adam’s free will; but, they could change one of the other three.

    # History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:309.
    # See 2 Ne. 2:16 and Moses 7:32.
    # Here is an example of an argument where this distinction was not drawn and the result was an equivocation. Lamerson is arguing in favor of soft determinism, a compatibilist view of free will, and his argument fails because he supposes that he can force the libertarian into soft determinism.
    “The landlady asks the boarder to please refrain from his experiments at night because he is annoying the rest of the people who room there. That night, the renter gets a great idea, but instead of rushing downstairs to try out the experiment, he stays in bed until morning. He thinks that he has done the right thing of his own free will. What he does not know is that the landlady has locked the door from the outside so that he could not have gone downstairs if he had chosen to. Was the man’s choice free? I would say yes, because he did what he wanted to do. Bob would (I presume) say no because he did not have the ability to choose otherwise (let us presume that the door is the only way out of the room to preclude any talk of climbing out the window, etc.) This is the issue of the debate and how one decides what it means to be free will spill over into other areas of one’s theology.
    “Bob argues that this makes God guilty of sin (a cheating man could not have done otherwise) but this is to misunderstand the point. The cheating man does what he wanted to do, simply because he could not have done otherwise does not mean that he did not freely choose to cheat on his wife and is thus responsible for his actions.” Theology Online, “Openness Theology—Does God Know Your Entire Future?” http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21711.

    # William James, Writings 1902-1910, 614.
    # Moses 4:3.
    # The Special Religious Need of the Un-obtrusiveness of the Spiritual, http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/sus/chap24.htm. Read D&C 101:78 in this light.