Posted in Theocosmology by Mike Stay on 2007 June 15

Agency and intelligence

So much of LDS theology is focused on agency:

  1. the premortal war in heaven over agency in mortality
  2. the purpose of earth life, a probationary state in which we are “free to choose”
  3. the promise of exaltation, being completely free and empowered to do anything

Lehi, during his sermon on opposition to Jacob, spoke of agents:

2 Ne 2:13,16 … There could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon… Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

as does section 93:

D&C 93:29-30 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

Elder Nelson treated these verses in the October 1998 General Conference. He follows B. H. Roberts in interpreting the phrase “intelligence… was not created” to imply some portion of our being that God did not create and is the part responsible for our actions; the argument being that if God created the whole of us, then He would be responsible for all the wickedness in the world.

Webster on intelligence:

intelligence \In*tel”li*gence\, n. [F. intelligence, L. intelligentia, intellegentia. See Intelligent.]1. The act or state of knowing; the exercise of the understanding.

2. The capacity to know or understand; readiness of comprehension; the intellect, as a gift or an endowment.
And dimmed with darkness their intelligence.

3. Information communicated; news; notice; advice.
Intelligence is given where you are hid.

4. Acquaintance; intercourse; familiarity. [Obs.]
He lived rather in a fair intelligence than any friendship with the favorites. –Clarendon.

5. Knowledge imparted or acquired, whether by study, research, or experience; general information.
I write as he that none intelligence Of meters hath, ne flowers of sentence. –Court of Love.

6. An intelligent being or spirit; — generally applied to pure spirits; as, a created intelligence. –Milton.
The great Intelligences fair That range above our mortal state, In circle round the blessed gate, Received and gave him welcome there. — Tennyson.

Intelligence office, an office where information may be obtained, particularly respecting servants to be hired.

Syn: Understanding; intellect; instruction; advice; notice; notification; news; information; report.

Source: Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

With respect to God, then, intelligence is the act or state of knowing God; the capacity to know or understand Him; an endowment; information communicated from God, prophecy (advance notice) and advice; acquaintance, intercourse, and familiarity with God; knowledge imparted to man by God or obtained from Him, whether by study, research, experience, or direct revelation; and finally, an intelligent being or spirit.

The phrase “otherwise there is no existence” is intriguing: what does “existence” mean? My brother Doug takes a stab at it here, but in math there don’t seem to be “things to act,” only “things to be acted upon.” Even Penrose never dares to suggest that our actions aren’t deterministic.

I’m guessing that agents are the root of existence: agents constrained by physical law but free to choose within those constraints is what “existence” actually means. I’m inclined to follow Skousen to a certain extent in allowing intelligences to govern something like an electron. (See also this thread for some related references.)

Bounce a photon off a semisilvered mirror and place a detector on only one of the two paths. If the detector clicks, murder someone. At the judgement day, is your soul in a superposition of heaven and hell? The elegance and simplicity of the many worlds theory is very compelling, but it seems to conflict with what we’d expect here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: