Reality, Sin, and Commandments

This post is belongs to a series of posts on Reality and Mormon theology.

"Sin is not harmful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is harmful."

—Benjamin Franklin

This quote assumes the absolutism of reality. Certain acts are harmful regardless of what any consciousness wants (including God). These acts undermine happiness and we simply call these acts "sin". Wickedness is consistently choosing sinful behavior. According to LDS scriptures, "Wickedness never was happiness." (Alma 41:10) This verse implicitly defines wickedness as that sort of lifestyle that consistently makes people unhappy in reality.

The commandments of God show what will make people happy in reality.  According to D. Todd Christofferson, "[God's] Commandments are the voice of reality." (April 2010 General Conference) They are instructions for how to navigate reality. When one obeys God's commandments he/she can see reality more clearly, because reality will give them positive feedback. This is the reason that Christ said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." (John 7:17)

If one believes that the commandments are burdensome, he/she does not understand the relationship between the commandments and reality. Consistently following the counsel of any religion will show whether or not that religion corresponds to reality.

The Zeroth Article of Faith

This post is belongs to a series of posts on Reality and Mormon theology.

The first 4 articles of faith of LDS theology logically depend on the previous article. Faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost (Article 4) are brought about by the Atonement (Article 3) which was necessary because of our sinful nature and the fall of Adam (Article 2) which we must overcome to live again with Heavenly Father (Article 1).

If there were to be an even more basic article to precede article 1 what would it be? It would describe those things that are more basic than the God. What is more basic than the God? Reality with its eternal laws. God's power comes from his knowledge of these laws (D&C 93:36).

If LDS theology did have a zeroth article of faith then it would be something like: "We believe in reality (that existence exists)," or, "We believe in eternal laws," or, "We believe that reality has primacy over consciousness." This assumption distinguishes LDS theology from all other religious organizations in the world. self-evident axiom

But is their anything more basic than reality? No, the existence of reality is the most basic premise. All other beliefs ultimately rest on a belief in reality. It is a self-evident axiom. A belief is self-evident if one must assume the belief in order to try and deny it. Any argument trying to denying reality would be self-refuting. Axioms cannot be proven because "proof" is a concept that presupposes reality.

Ontological Frameworks

This post is belongs to a series of posts on Reality and Mormon theology.

Aristotle said, “A small error in the beginning will lead to a huge one in the end.” If this is true, then the starting point of any belief system is the most important point to identity and examined. The study of the ultimate starting point, or most fundamental belief of any belief system is called metaphysics. Ontology is the central branch of metaphysics which is an investigation into the fundamental categories of existence and their relationships to each other such as the relationship between reality and consciousness. Ontology provides a framework for understanding theology.

Western religions can generally be divided into 2 different ontological frameworks concerning the relationship between God and reality.

The most common ontological framework asserts that God comes before reality. This ontological framework is called The Absolutism of God. Since God comes before reality, God created reality out of nothing. Traditional Christianity, Islam, and Judaism begin with the absolutism of God and develop their theology with that starting premise. This ontological framework asserts the absolutism of God represented as follows:

 

absolutism-of-god
absolutism-of-god

A less common ontological framework is the absolutism of reality which asserts that reality exists and God is subject to that reality. This view is held by the Mormon Theology and can be represented as such:

absolutism-of-reality
absolutism-of-reality