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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : God, Agency and Me? » God, Agency and Me?

God, Agency and Me?

Don - May 2, 2006

The pre-mortal existence presents many thought provoking scenarios. I have wrestled with the idea of our agency and God’s omniscience. I know that God’s omniscience has been blogged before. I’m not sure what I’m going to say or my point, I just want to get some thoughts out of my head and hear what others think….so here goes.

Most of us don’t like the concept that God could know us so well that He can tell what we would do at any time and therefore knows which kingdom we’ll end up in. If we accept that concept then how does our agency fit into the situation?

I tend to be of the feeling that agency is supreme and trumps all.

Here’s a dilemma in my mind. God’s plan was to provide an earth. Provide bodies for us on that earth. He allow us to use our agency while on that earth. If we sin, then a savior would be provided. Satan wanted to fill the position, take away our agency so we’d all return and he would get the glory and power of God now. Numerous spirits used their agency to follow Satan. The rest of us followed Jesus.

It appears to me that God knew those who followed Satan so well that He condemned them to their eternal fate without the benefit of a body or an earth life. Doesn’t a body and an earth life subject us to a whole different set of circumstances, feelings, needs, desires, etc. than a plain old spirit body?

Could any of the spirits that followed Satan have changed, or made a different set of better choices if they were to have had a chance with a body and earth life? If the answer is “yes” then it would appear that God’s judgment wasn’t fair. If no, then it appears to me that God knew them so well from their spirit existence that His judgment was just, He knew their eternal fate and gave it to them.

Unless my logic is flawed, and it easily could be, then why doesn’t that same judgment idea hold true for us. God can condemn 1/3 of His children because He’s knows them so well that they couldn’t have become anything else than eternal damnation. It follows in my mind then that He can know me so well that He knows I’ll become a “____________” (fill in the blank, Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial) being.

That idea doesn’t really bother me. I think I can still have my agency, completely and fully, even if God knows where I’ll end up. Through the above logic it seems God has already used His judgment fairly for 1/3 of his children…so why not the rest of us?

I have more thoughts, but I’m “thunk” out right now.


  1. How do we know their state is permanent?

    Comment by Matt Bowman — May 2, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

  2. I think your logic is flawed, Don, but I couldn’t say how. I guess you’re not taking into account God’s perfection. Therefore, whatever He does is right. However we analyze it.

    Matt, my mind sort of works that way. I think life, existence, even in outer darkness, is static, not set.

    Which is one of the reasons I don’t celebrate the Celestial Kingdom. I figure I’ll get a million years of rest terrestrially, then move up.

    Comment by annegb — May 2, 2006 @ 5:29 pm

  3. Hmmm… You probably don’t want to get me started on all the reasons why I think you are right and why the notion MMP resolves these issues…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 2, 2006 @ 6:00 pm

  4. I’m becoming more and more warry of of the popular idea that Satan’s plan was to take away our agency and make us robots or Something. As I uderstand it, it is derived from the Moses account, which mentions agency as a side note.

    At Joseph Smith’s apex, just a couple of months before he died, he explained the two options as differing only slightly. Joseph states that Jesus “stated he could save all those who did not sin against the holy ghost.” Joseph explained that Satan “spake emediatey and boasted of himself saying send me I can save all even those who sined against the holy ghost.”

    Is this really in line with the popularized account?

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 2, 2006 @ 6:32 pm

  5. Don,

    They are good thoughts – and please don’t get Geoff started. I also agree with Matt. I believe that the fallen 1/3 may change their ways and recieve a physical body. How this could occur is up for speculation. I always enjoyed the digression argument – that those who failed their first estate will return to intelligence and have the choice to re-enter the progression process. That way agency remains the constant. For every action there is a consequence –

    I don’t think God “knew” the 1/3 well enough to proeclude them from progressing, but the consequence of their action, as determined by natural law, was that they could not continue in their progression. That’s the whole justice/mercy argument in BofM. For them, justice and mercy are the same – justice that they would not be allowed to progress as a consequence of their choice to follow Satan. Mercy that they would not be able to recieve a body when they would not be able to uphold the rudimentary covenants of earthlife.

    On a side note, perhaps the fact that they were “thrust down” to earth, is actually a way for God to “hope” that they might see the benefits of earth life and change their ways. I can’t see why a loving God would freely allow additional adverserial elements into the world (I’m not talking about the evil that human kind can
    create on its own) without their being a loving benefit in the end. Perhaps our own earthly experiences will influence those that followed Satan to repent, humble themselves, and choose to enter the process again.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — May 2, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

  6. Matt, if their condition isn’t permanent then neither would our judgement be either, and Geoff’s MMP would resolve the issue.

    Why are we so afraid to admit that God’s judgement, whether for the 1/3 or for those who don’t make exaltation, is permanent?

    What’s wrong with permanent judgement?

    It seems like we are all a bunch of “scaredy cats” looking for a way out of what we deserve.

    Comment by don — May 2, 2006 @ 6:58 pm

  7. Do you permanently judge your kids when they screw up Don? Will there ever be a time when your heart and arms are no longer open to your children? — When you decide to cast them off from your life for good? If not, then how can we imagine a Heavenly Father that loves us less than you and I love our children? That is the problem with the permanent judgment doctrine — it is at odds with our understanding of what a loving parent is like.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 12:26 am

  8. I think I’m with Geoff – not necessarily on MMP, but I do think that progression is an eternal principle, and that therefore repentance is always available.

    Comment by Matt Bowman — May 3, 2006 @ 9:52 am

  9. “He knew their eternal fate and gave it to them.”

    It is the “he gave it to them” supposition I disagree with. Intelegences are eternal, from what I uderstand. God did not do anything to them that they did not do to themselves.

    Lets try a thought experiment. Supose a master farmer could tell what kind of tomato plant would come up once planted by just looking at the seeds. Would it be farmer’s fault that the seeds, once planted, produced bad plants? No, it was a problem with the seeds.

    God’s knowledge had no bearing on the fate of these souls.

    We should also acknowledge things we don’t know. Geoff’s explanation could be true, but we also do not know what kinds of laws the casting out was carried out under.

    Moreover, we really do not know what a state of “omnessence” really is. It is so far outside the human experence we do not know how God’s knowledge works. Beyound a few clews in the scriptures.

    Comment by Nate T. — May 3, 2006 @ 11:12 am

  10. Geoff, it’s just like you to bring up the reality of what God’s love and our love for our children is like. Dang it! Ask Rusty if my judgments weren’t eternal…like the time I slammed him up against the wall and told him he couldn’t talk to his mom that way! He didn’t do that again. Do God’s judgements/corrections work the same way?

    Comment by don — May 3, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  11. Uh, yeah, the way I remember it you agreed with me that mom was wrong!

    Comment by Rusty — May 3, 2006 @ 1:49 pm

  12. Most of us don’t like the concept that God could know us so well that He can tell what we would do at any time…

    Some people think that if we have real agency then God can’t know the future perfectly. I disagree. My knowledge of the past doesn’t mean that the actors in the past didn’t have agency.

    I think that God is able to view Time differently than we do. I think he sees our future the same way he views our past. In this way, he has omniscience without destroying agency.

    That doesn’t answer the question about whether He can know what would have happened if we had made different choices. For example, does God know that Satan would have messed up if he had come to earth to get a body? Perhaps God doesn’t know with certainty the end result of every possible path, but I think he knows the actual path our lives with take with perfect certainty.

    Comment by Bradley Ross — May 4, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  13. Bradley,

    Your example of knowledge of past actions would only be effective if time moved backward. Since time moves forward it doesn’t help support your position. No one disputes that the past is set — lots of people dispute the idea that the future is fixed though.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 9:48 pm

  14. Ok to correct Bradley’s example. Economists can, at times, create fairly accurate models of various market phenomina. Doescreating a model with a fair degree of predictablity take away the economic agency of consumers, etc?

    Comment by Nate T. — May 5, 2006 @ 1:34 pm

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