Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Materialism and a Finite God

Recently, BYU mathematics professor William V. Smith posted at the By Common Consent blog an interesting analysis, "Toward a Theology of the Material", in which he explores the implications of saying that all things (both 'physical' and 'spiritual') are in fact composed of matter, including God himself. It's a fascinating exercise, and Smith concludes that God could perhaps travel at about 90% of the speed of light and would have to position himself close to our planet during "potential communication episodes"; that God would have to govern the universe through an "established administrative network"; and that all things, including God, are ultimately mortal, even post-resurrection. Thus, our future and God's future are only "functionally infinite". God is not all-powerful, of course, and nor can he be 'omniscient' even in a relatively limited sense, since the speed of light sets limits upon the rate at which he could receive information. (Note: Smith himself, noting the drastic cost of these limitations, consequently does not take this level of materialist theology to heart. I don't happen to know what Smith substitutes for it or how he relates his own theological positions to LDS historical precedents.)

In light of Smith's case, must any modern LDS theology that remains true to its thoroughly materialist roots indeed accept all of these limitations upon God and ourselves?

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