Kate Kelly Excommunicated

Kate Kelly, one of the founders of the Ordain Women movement in the Mormon church was formally excommunicated today. For those unfamiliar with excommunication, it severs all ties between the Church and the individual. All ordinances on behalf of the individual are no longer valid, including the sealing ordinance by which husbands, wives and their family are sealed to each other for time (this life) and eternity.

Unlike excommunication in the Catholic Church centuries ago, members of the LDS faith are not forbidden to associate with Ms. Kelly. “Disciplinary councils” which is the formal name given to church proceedings such as this, are often referred to as councils of love. While that is difficult for the average person, especially the ex communicant to understand, the reasoning is this. The excommunicated person has been found to have violated one of God’s laws. For Latter-day Saints, especially those (like Ms. Kelly) who have been through the temple and made sacred covenants with God, allowing them to continue in full faith and fellowship in the Church while in a state of transgression, would compound their error. It is much like when Adam and Eve, after having eaten of the forbidden fruit, were barred from the Tree of Life, first by cherubim and then by expulsion from the Garden, “lest they partake of the fruit and live forever in their sins.”

For Ms. Kelly her future is in her hands. If she sincerely repents, which will undoubtedly require her to stop agitating for the ordination of women and probably admit her complicity in trying to persuade others away from the teaching of the Church, she can be re-baptized and have all ordinances restored.

Contrary to how this might be spun in the media, this is not a human or women’s rights issue. It is a religious liberty issue that addresses the right of any religious organization to place certain responsibilities on those who wish to claim the benefits of membership. Right now Ms. Kelly seems not to grasp that distinction.

Back to Creation vs. Science

So the whole novel thing didn’t work out so well. I was taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and my last post (from November!) was the first chapter of my erstwhile novel. But November 30 came and went and I didn’t finish. Then the holidays came along and . . .  well we all know what the holidays will do to a routine. So since the whole novel gig didn’t work so well so I think I’ll go back to discussing religion.

The last post on the subject of the beginning of the universe looked at how the account of the creation in Genesis fits with what we know about the Big Bang and what it looked like. Science postulates that there was no “before the Big Bang,” that time and space began at that instant. Yet we’ve considered that God might be outside of the universe since, if He created it, where was He at that time? He couldn’t have been in the universe because it hadn’t been created yet.

Because string theory postulates an enormous number of possible universes, maybe an infinite number, we can speculate that God exists in another universe and that it was from there that this universe was created. Neither science nor scripture sheds any light on what these exo-universes might contain, so rather than engage in rank speculation, let’s limit our discussion to how this creation came about.

Genesis doesn’t offer a lot of detail other than to say God said “let there be light.” However, scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) have a more detailed description, though by no means complete. In the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, Abraham writes that God appeared to him and showed him “those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.” From this we can infer that the creation described in Genesis was not just of this earth but involved the entire universe, just as predicted by the Big Bang theory.

This inference is supported by an account given by Moses, also found in the Pearl of Great Price in the Book of Moses. Moses prayed to God and asked “why these things [the world and creation] are so.”  In Moses, Chapter 1:33-38, God responded to Moses in this way:

Worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is my Only Begotten.

                But only an account of this earth and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

                And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.

                And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.

These scriptures also align nicely, as does Genesis, with the Big Bang theory. “Worlds without number” as observed by Moses or Abraham, could well refer to the innumerable galaxies, stars and planets in the universe. Moses is told that “many worlds have passed away.” We know from physics that stars and galaxies have been created, lived and died. Stars burn out and become cold. We know that eventually the earth will fall into the sun and be burned to a cinder, thereby ceasing to exist, or passing away, in the words of Moses.

In the Beginning

Genesis Chapter 1 begins “In the beginning.” What beginning is Genesis (Moses, if we accept the common view that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible) speaking of? Is it the beginning of everything or the beginning of the world or the beginning of this universe?

Book of Genesis 1580
Book of Genesis 1580 (Photo credit: Frank DeFreitas)

It seems that Genesis refers to the beginning of the universe, as it goes through the creation of the firmament and the Earth:

And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said Let there be light: and there was light.

We have seen how the Big Bang created a sea of light. We have seen that the universe was empty (void) and without form for millions of years while it cooled and hydrogen and helium and eventually heavier elements formed. On its face, Genesis 1:1-3 appears to be a fairly accurate, if somewhat abbreviated, description of the Big Bang.

We have argued that one view of the string theory leads to a conclusion that there is a God and that He exists outside of this universe. Does scripture provide any support for this conclusion?

The word “heaven” or “heavens” has more than one meaning in the Bible. In one sense it means the earth and the universe around it. It is in this sense that Genesis speaks of God creating the heavens and the earth. In another sense it means the place where God lives. Consider, for example, Isaiah 66:1: “The heaven is my throne.” Acts 7:49 says the same thing, that God’s throne is in heaven. If God created this universe then this heaven must refer to some place outside of the universe, for how could God be in the heavens (this universe) before He created it?

The Revelation of John uses “heaven” in this latter sense. In Revelation 12:7-8, John sees a vision about a war in heaven:

And there was war in heaven: Michael [the archangel] and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels;

And prevailed not; neither was there place found any more in heaven.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceived the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Satan on his way to bring about the downfall o...
Satan on his way to bring about the downfall of Adam. Gustave Doré’s illustration for Paradise Lost by John Milton. Paradise Lost Book III, lines 739-742 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If “heaven” in these verses refers to the universe, as it does in Genesis, how could Satan be “cast out into the earth,” since the earth is part of the universe? One cannot be cast out into the same place from which he is supposedly cast. “Heaven” as used in Revelation must mean heaven in the same sense as it does in Isaiah and Acts: the place, outside of the universe, where God lives.

Scripture is consistent with the notion that the universe is not everything there is. God was outside the universe when He created it.