A friend of mine noted today that in a very small sense he is an atheist, because he does not know 100% that God’s exists, nor can God be so proven. On the other hand, he is also a strong believer because he believes God exists from all the evidences that he has experienced which he cannot deny. He allows this belief and faith to direct his life.
I agreed with him. God’s existence cannot be proven, just as we cannot prove Joseph Smith was a prophet or that the Book of Mormon is true. It cannot be done. Why is that? Why all the hassle? This is what I said:
It’s true that you cannot prove 100% that God exists, at least in this life, for to do so defeats God’s purposes, if He does exist. Proving God exists is therefore a logical fallacy, and is invalid. Some might argue if only God would show Himself, or give a certain proof of His existence, we could be done with all the questioning. But again, that denies what He is fundamentally, and what He wants us to be. In other words, you cannot prove something to exist which thing has the power to withhold itself from such proof. That thing will hold out its certain existence until it chooses otherwise. Some may hold this against believers as evidence of absence, and even proof of nonexistence. But, of course, absence of evidence, in this case certain evidence, is not evidence of absence. Quite to the contrary. How many other things do you not have certain evidence of, yet still believe or know to exist? Likely many.
I know with high degree of certainty (but not 100%) that the country Madagascar exists, even though I’ve never set seen it with my eyes nor ever set foot there. The abundance of evidence have tipped the scales, as it were, in favor of belief in its existence.
Another commentator replied:
To say that “to [prove 100% that God exists] defeats God’s purposes” is question-begging. It assumes that God’s purpose is merely for people to know his existence. But Christians should have reason to disbelieve this, because even the scriptures point out that “even the demons believe [that God exists].” That doesn’t really help them.
So, it doesn’t follow that proving God’s existence is “therefore” a “logical fallacy” or invalid (I don’t know how you would assert it to be a logical fallacy, anyway…)
For example, if we knew incontrovertibly that God existed, that would lead every person to answer the far more important question: do they agree with God? Will they follow God and trust in him?
In such a case, it wouldn’t be about whether God has shown himself…but whether God has shown himself to be good.
God’s purpose is not merely for people to know his existence, it is for them to NOT know incontrovertibly his existence, so that they might exercise and develop faith in Him, wisdom through experience if you will, a fundamental quality gained through God’s purpose. It is only through developing one’s faith through following God that one can come to know God, and He will reveal Himself (e.g. John 7:17).
It is a logical fallacy to prove God’s existence, because if He really does exist, He wouldn’t allow it to happen, at least not for those without the requisite faith. Attempting to prove something that refuses to be proven is a vain pursuit.
Additionally, if we knew undeniably that God existed, and was indeed our Creator, it would be sublimely presumptuous to look Him in the eye and disagree with Him. It would be like a sculpture disagreeing with its sculptor, or a song disagreeing with its composer. Most would agree with the hand that made them, for their own existence depended upon it. God’s will would rule. Hence man’s free will or agency is also lost in such a proposition. Free will can only fully operate when God is not fully in focus.
This is the reason why we needed this Earth life, sent packing from our heavenly home, to gain experience, to exercise our free will, to develop faith, and choose whether or not we would follow God (2 Nephi 10:23, 2 Nephi 2:27-29, Helaman 14:31). This is why we needed leave the immediate presence of our Father in Heaven, so we could do these things. Furthermore, a veil of forgetfulness was placed so that we cannot even remember having been in His presence. Here, left alone, we are given glimpses of God and allowed to choose for ourselves.
Do we seek evidence of God’s existence, or proof? What might help tip the scales in favor of belief and better certainty?
Is there proof for it? No. Is there plentiful evidence? Absolutely. Apologetics is not necessarily seeking to establish the absolute truth, as much as to elevate the validity of our position, which gives grounds in which the seed of faith may be planted (Alma 32).
Update: Our commentator replies:
I think you’re still begging the question. Knowledge of God’s goodness is not assured for knowledge of God’s existence, so therefore it does not follow that if one incontrovertibly knows God’s existence, then one cannot exercise and develop faith in him. The scriptures are actually full of folks who incontrovertibly know of God’s existence, but who still struggled to follow his commandments.
In fact, from some Mormon POVs (e.g., Cleon Skousen’s “intelligence theory” of atonement), the entire purpose of the Atonement is that God precisely MUST “persuade” intelligences of his goodness…in other words, the sculpture certainly CAN disagree with its sculptor, and the song certainly CAN disagree with its composer, if the sculptor and composer do not act appropriately with their stature.
So, I mean, your hypothesis is fine too…but you are far too certain about it when there are other hypotheses that could be true as well — and which, in fact, are more supported by scripture.
If one knows with absolute certainty that something is true, then how is there still room for a faith belief in that thing? For once you know, you’ve seen. If we return to Mormon theology, the Brother of Jared saw the Lord, after which it is said that “he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting” (Ether 3:19). Of course, he did not arrive at that state until he had acquired “such exceeding faith” as had not been seen before in man (Ether 3:9), unto almost a perfect knowledge (Ether 3:20). All that was left was for God to reveal Himself.
I don’t know if the scriptures are as full of people with incontrovertible knowledge of God’s existence as one might think. Yes, many of the prophets saw the Lord (i.e. Christ), but then again, many only saw an angel, or a burning bush, or a pillar of fire, or heard a voice. These are strong evidences of His existence, but not God Himself. It is often noted by the early rabbinic authors that it was Moses alone who spoke with the Lord face-to-face, and even then that seems to have been a rare occurrence, and, it should be noted, with God the Son, not the Father. Even Jesus did not reveal His ultimate glory while in the flesh except perhaps to a chosen few. Instead, he gave evidences of his divine nature, yet appeared to most as a simple Judean.
Yes, God must persuade intelligences of his goodness, because he has NOT revealed Himself to them. He does this in a myriad of ways, but not by certain knowledge. For it seems to me that certain knowledge would compel one to know of God’s goodness, for one’s own existence depends on it. If God is not good, then one should not exist, for God would not be God.
Update 2: This conversation is intriguing, and turning out to be quite a philosophical discussion.
Our commentator says, and this one’s long:
You’re confusing the point of faith. There is a difference between belief that a thing exists and belief IN that thing. Believing in God does NOT mean to believe that God exists, because even the demons believe (and tremble.) Believing in God means following God, trusting in him, etc.,
Even if we knew for a fact that God existed, we would still have to trust God on faith — we would have to trust that his ways (which are not our ways) and his thoughts (which are not our thoughts) are good ways and good thoughts. We would have to do that on faith.
Pay attention to the note on “faith” in the scripture for Ether 3:19…it points to Alma 32:34 — “And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.”
Emphasis added. If one’s knowledge is perfect in knowing that God exists, then yes, faith is dormant in believing that God exists…BUT Alma 32: 35 and 36 point out that just because you have knowledge in this one area doesn’t mean that you can lay aside your faith. You having knowledge in ONE thing does not give you knowledge everywhere.
Similarly, pay attention to the notes on “such’ for Ether 3:9…what is it that one expresses “such exceeding faith” in? It’s not in the EXISTENCE of God…but in trusting the commandments, power, and goodness of God. That’s what the goal really is. It’s whether you will follow God, not whether you will believe that he exists.
So, each of these scriptures makes a distinction that you as of yet have not made — there is a difference between knowing God’s existence and God’s goodness. Faith is the stuff of trusting and believing in God’s goodness — not in believing in God’s existence. The latter is a smokescreen.
I don’t think you have any support for the idea that God has NOT revealed himself to the intelligences. He has revealed himself to everything that is NOT behind the veil…intelligences, by virtue of not entering mortality as humans, are not behind the veil. Think about pre-mortal existence…God was not hiding himself there…and yet, still, a third of the hosts of heavens chose against the plan of salvation.
“For it seems to me that certain knowledge would compel one to know of God’s goodness, for one’s own existence depends on it. If God is not good, then one should not exist, for God would not be God.”
This is begging the question. It is not necessarily the case that one’s existence depends on God existing, or even on God being good. One could exist as a cruel joke of God…or one could exist in a universe without god. I would say that your faith is not in believing that God exists, but in believing that God must be good or else he is not God. And it is also not necessarily the case that certain knowledge[of God’s existence] would compel one to know of God’s goodness. Free will is not constrained by knowledge of God’s goodness…and that’s precisely why there are “Sons of Perdition.”
You’re probably right. Faith in God is a combination of believing He exists, and believing in Him (as in trust). But there is a connection between the two. It seems to me at present that if one knows incontrovertibly of God’s existence, it has a tremendous impact on our relationship with Him. How much easier would it be to trust God if one knew incontrovertibly that He exists, is omnipotent, omniscient, and is the Creator of the known universe (basic definition of God)? Little would be required on our part to test God’s truths to know if they are true, because God is truth, and God is light by most definitions. People could accept and trust His truths based solely on His existence alone. On the other hand, to know God, and not trust in Him is perhaps the worst known condition, with the worst punishment, as you note is the result with the sons of perdition. Where much is given, much is required. Therefore, a sure revelation of God’s existence pushes the extremes on both ends, something which I conceive God does not desire, and is one of the reasons why we are here to begin with, outside of God’s immediate presence. His purposes could not and would not be fulfilled by revealing Himself expressly. This is the reason why God stayed Adam’s hand from partaking of the tree of life which would have prevented this mortal experience (Alma 12:23; Alma 42:5). In order for God’s plan of salvation to be accomplished, we needed to live by faith, and not by sight. Hence, my original proposition that God refuses his own existence to be proven to those without faith first (both types), for to reveal Himself would either diminish their ability to gain faith by experience, or damn them for distrust. God wants us to gain faith (both types) by uncertain knowledge and experience first for a time before any sure witness. That is the probation spoken of in the scriptures.
I still think that knowing God is to know of His goodness, for He would not be God if He were not good. We could not be a cruel joke of God, because God cannot be cruel and be God. If God exists, then I exist because God is good.
Yes, the universe might exist without God (most are not 100% certain of his existence), which is the naturalist position, but the proposition I put forth is that you cannot prove God exists, because if He does, He would not allow it to happen because of who He is, the very definition of God. I agree it is perhaps a paradox, and begging the question, but I see no other way around it. One must believe in God to know He exists, and there is no way to prove His existence. I perceive He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Update 3: The commentator notes:
I agree that it if we knew incontrovertibly of God’s existence, it would change things considerably…but I don’t think it would necessarily make things easier.
After all, the scriptures tell us that God is not easily understandable. His thoughts are not our thoughts; his ways are not ways. Even more, we are naturally inclined to be enemy to him (natural man is enemy to god). So, even if we knew God existed, we wouldn’t know whether he was omni-benevolent, and that’s the crucial thing that must be tested…the crucial thing for which faith is required. If you are spiritually blind, or if you “see through a mirror, dimly,” then how can you know that “God is light” just from knowing that God exists? You can’t. If you do not have eyes to see or ears to hear, then how can you know just from the existence of light and sound?
You use the example of Adam’s fall to show that God must hide himself for us to have faith…but you have to remember: Adam and Eve had choice before they fell. And they chose to transgress…what was different before the fall and after fall is that before the fall, they did not have knowledge of good and evil…but after the fall, they did. Before the fall, they had knowledge of God’s existence.
Indeed, it may not make things easier; it may render them impossible or null and vain, because of the immediate limitations of our choices in that case, again, to the extremes (2 Nephi 2:11-12). The scriptures seem to describe things as they are in this fallen state, not in God’s presence. Being brought into God’s presence is to be redeemed from the fall, in which conditions are very different. I perceive we’d know that God is light solely by being in His presence, by beholding His glory, feeling His matchless power and Spirit, and witnessing Him (Moses 1). Indeed, the very light that would accompany Him would destroy us if it were not for God Himself, which inherently manifests His goodness. Joseph Smith worried the very trees would burn with fire at the First Vision. How can one deny the Light when they see it plainly before them? He exists, for there He is, indeed, the great “I am.” This is why I believe the condition of the son of perdition is so damning, because there are few who would so choose to deny existence itself, so their reward becomes a vacuum of existence, leaving them utterly devoid of sensory perceptions, aware of their consciousness only for eternity.
Did Adam & Eve truly have choice before they fell? Could they choose between good and evil before they knew what it was? Could they do any good or evil? Isn’t agency the ability to choose between those alternatives? If Satan had not come tempting, they very well might have continued in the Garden of Eden forever (2 Nephi 2:22-25). I think their choice before the fall consisted of one thing, and one thing only – the option to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or not. God commanded them not to, which they obeyed because they trusted Him who they knew. They trusted in God perfectly until they were tempted otherwise. Before the fall they had knowledge of God’s existence, but they were not yet in any gainful probation, and were not living by faith. They were still living by sight, for they walked and talked with God in the garden, and without the fall they could not obtain this faith experience for their own and their children’s salvation.
Update 4: Our commentator friend continues:
From Moses 1, keep in mind Moses 1:11 — Moses saw God with his spiritual eyes, and not his natural eyes…so there is still that dichotomy there. Notice the note on “beheld” — that points to D&C 63:10-13…verse 12 and 13 there point out:
“Neither can any natural man abide the presence of God, neither after the carnal mind. (13) Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.”
Again, so even if you are in God’s presence…that doesn’t mean you will necessarily accept God. Rather, you have to be perfected, you have to turn away from the natural man; turn away the carnal mind.
Adam and Eve truly could choose. Agency doesn’t require that you know the consequences of your actions. (If you are parched and there is an unknown substance before you…you have agency to drink it even though you don’t know if it’s water or a poisoned substance.) You say: If Satan had not come tempting, they very well might have stayed in the Garden forever…but the fact is (at least, according to the narrative) that Satan *did* come tempting, and therefore, they had choice among the alternatives.
What you have to reconcile is why, even though they knew God existed, they listened to Satan’s temptation. When Satan came to tempt them, he didn’t hide knowledge of God’s existence from them.
I think the reason Adam and Eve didn’t have faith wasn’t because they had knowledge of God’s existence, but because they didn’t have knowledge of good and evil yet. How could they “trust” that God would be good, if they didn’t know what “good” and “evil” were. So, they had a choice between God and Satan, but they couldn’t evaluate what each choice meant because they didn’t know good or evil.
…but after they fell, they still knew God existed. They just couldn’t speak interact face to face with God…only through sacrificial intermediaries.
Indeed, “ye are not able to abide the presence of God now… wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.”
We cannot abide the presence of God now, nor would God want us to, only until we have experienced what He wants us experience, and have perfected ourselves in faith. Then will He reveal Himself. And that is why I believe proving God exists cannot be done, for He does not allow it according to His will and purposes.
Paul E. Black
May I suggest another reason that God may withhold incontrovertible proof of his existence? Perhaps absolutely knowing of God AND not obeying him is an unforgivable sin. We are shielded from God’s full glory so that when we falter, our lack of faith is forgivable.
@Paul, absolutely. Thank you. How can one deny the sun while it shines? Of course, by so doing, one cannot be forgiven (D&C 76:30-38). Again, this allows for a probation in which our free will and agency is tested, tried, and we gain experience tasting good versus evil, and choosing to following God or not, allowing the Atonement to work when we falter.
It seems to me there are two different issues. The first are the classic proofs of god’s existence. Those are really about a necessary being with certain characteristics Mormons might not agree with. Often, in philosophy, such a being is called the “god of the philosophers.” While sometimes the proofs are interesting on their own terms (I rather like Anselm’s Ontological Argument myself) none of them are technically proofs. More importantly I don’t think such a being lines up with the typical Mormon view of God – especially not if you take the traditional reading of the King Follet Discourse and Sermon in the Grove seriously.
The issue of divine hiddenness is a bit more of a tricky issue. I think Mormons should be sympathetic to this for several reasons. For one our theology of mortality tends to see our presence before God in our pre-mortal life as inherently problematic to our development. In most Mormon theologies the typical view is that we have to have a veil of forgetfulness so that we could be tried and progress. A natural corollary to that is that God has to be hidden in a serious way. I also think that our theology (in places like D&C 93) indicates that we learn line upon line and we move from very vague knowledge of God into a deeper and more fulfilling one as we come to be like him. Put an other way you only get sufficient knowledge of God when, in a certain sense, you don’t really need that knowledge for belief. Instead we are to work and develop out of ignorance with the ignorance having a pragmatic role.
How does knowing God 100% refute the meaning of our lives? This is completely illogical considering Joseph Smith’s First Vision. He KNEW (provided he was telling the truth) that God existed, but did that destroy his free agency, or wipe out the meaning of life for him, or make it so his life’s test was over? Not a bit.
If it is true that God is so concerned that we know Him, why doesn’t He simply do the obvious? Just show Himself to his children and then we can proceed. Obviously, based on the lack of evidence, God apparently isn’t all that concerned about the world or how it is treated by us or how we treat each other. He sure doesn’t come and help strike a balance back so famines don’t exist anymore and millions suffer. He obviously doesn’t tell everyone who claims they have burnings in their bosoms the same truths, so that there is more confusion now than ever before about what God wants, who he is, etc. Politicians and advertisers certainly KNOW how to get the word out, but God apparently doesn’t. And if he does and chooses not to, then obviously it doesn’t appear to be critical to understand him much. I am just sharing some of the logical ramifications with you about the logic here.
Hi Kerry! You are right. It’s a difficult question. Why does God withhold Himself, and not just show Himself? I perceive it has to do a lot with preparation. Perhaps a correlation (a good one that that) could be made with the temple ordinances, where President Packer notes that they are “kept confidential lest they be given to those who are unprepared. Curiosity is not a preparation. Deep interest itself is not a preparation. Preparation for the ordinances includes preliminary steps: faith, repentance, baptism, confirmation, worthiness, a maturity and dignity worthy of one who comes invited as a guest into the house of the Lord.” Perhaps it is these same reasons that God does not simply show Himself. We aren’t ready for it. Those who are sufficiently prepared may step into the Lord’s house, and have that witness.
In the majority of cases I think our knowledge of God comes very slowly, line upon line, as it were. We don’t come to know God exists in one fell swoop, but piece by piece, as God is willing to grant us.
As far as the prophets go (such as Joseph Smith and the First Vision), who knows. Maybe there is an exception to the rule in the calling of a prophet. There must be a starting point for the declaration of God’s word (Amos 3:7). Even so, Joseph prepared himself through reading the scriptures, and sincere faithful prayer, before receiving the First Vision.
“If it is true that God is so concerned that we know Him, why doesn’t He simply do the obvious? Just show Himself to his children and then we can proceed. Obviously, based on the lack of evidence, God apparently isn’t all that concerned about the world or how it is treated by us or how we treat each other. He sure doesn’t come and help strike a balance back so famines don’t exist anymore and millions suffer.”
I wonder if this might not be the right question to ask. As a humanist and a believer in God, I find this prayer of R. Israel of Ruzhin much more helpful.
“Dear God, I do not ask You to explain to me why the world was created, or why the good suffer and the evil prosper. Only, please tell me: What am I doing in this world of Yours?”
Chris in Virginia
Wonderful, very personal post.
Random question I pulled out – you bring up Moses and his vision in the first few chapters of Moses. Bryce you state that Moses had a personal visit, but that it “was with God the Son, not the Father”.
I have always found it interesting those that say it is the Son and not the Father. I take the first chapters of Moses as a direct communication from the Father to Moses. Some could say a depiction of Moses receiving his higher priesthood ordinances/a fulness.
Be interested to know additional thoughts.
Hi Chris! In nearly every case I’ve read about, the appearance of God in the scriptures is likely that of the Son, since He is the intercessor with man. Sometimes this can be difficult to determine because the Son can speak with divine investiture of authority, as if He is the Father. That’s what makes the First Vision so spectacular since they both appeared, yet it was Christ that did most of the teaching. Whenever the Father has made an appearance (or His voice is heard), it is usually solely to introduce the Son. At least this is what I perceive from my studies. I’d be interested to learn more on the subject.
Chris in Virginia
That’s what I always hear/have heard, but I have to admit, the older I get, the more I visit the temple and listen to who is talking to me, I have become more and more interested in this subject.
I understand the premise behind divine investiture of authority (DIA), but in this case – with Moses – my thoughts as to why it would be the Father as opposed to the Son comes from many things, but probably the key for me is in D&C 84:19-25, especially verse 22. I think it’s a wonderful point about the priesthood, it’s functions, covenants, our potential, and what had ACTUALLY happened to Moses. Verse 23 makes it seem that the previous information we are reading (at least verse 22, if not more) is what Moses taught to the people; and the reason Moses could teach the people how to “see the face of God, even the Father, and live” is because he had done it. But they weren’t ready for it. They were not ready, as Moses had been, to see the face of “the Father”.
Does/can the Savior/Son speak for the Father…yes, I have no doubt. But when one reads the first few chapters of Moses as it is written, without trying to fiddle with DIA, it’s beautiful and I think very instructive, and opens up other scriptural meaning (i.e. D&C 84:19-25).
At least that was my experience.
Interesting thoughts Chris! Thank you for sharing. I think it is also interesting to ponder Christ’s words that “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:8-9).
Chris in Virginia
Very interesting to ponder…good scripture. Seems Philip wanted, for lack of a better way to put it, a sign, and Christ was trying to help them understand that they needed the foundation (i.e. Christ) and that would suffice, because he is one with/leads to/is like the Father.
I still believe there is room for the Father to visit. As you mentioned above, that’s what makes the first vision so special.
For one, I think that atheism is not to doubt God’s existence the way any believer has room for a little doubt from time to time. Atheism is to deny that God exists, to say that there can be no incontrovertible proof for an imaginary character. I’ve had plenty of atheists say either or both of those things.
Then, I also think that an incontrovertible proof of God would frustrate God’s plan. It is based on faith, not knowledge.
While many people say they “know” that God lives or Jesus is risen, or something–and I have said it more than once–that knowledge is more based on a gut feeling and experience with prayer or indeed visiting the temple or hearing a heart-touching testimony. Usually a mixture of all those things.
This is different from the kind of knowledge, that is, for example, that 2+2=4. It is a formula that is always the same, that works the exact same way no matter whom I give it to. But if I give a Book of Mormon to someone, share my own experience with it and suggest they try the same, I have no right to expect that it works with a 100% reliability (this I have learned by experience, too).
Because what happened to me, didn’t happen during those 21 days that it took for me to go from my first contact with the Church to my own baptism. I was ready, I had been thoroughly prepared, and when the switch was turned, the light went on. That’s just how it is. Some people start their journey from the first contact, for me it was the final step in a way that is difficult to fully explain. And these 30+ years since, there have been plenty of challenges, dark days and sleepless nights.
If you could turn God and religion to a 2+2=4 kind of formula, you’d take away any need for faith. And also, you’d take away any excuse from the millions who want to follow their own reasoning, regardless of God, who have been blinded by those who are sometimes so convincingly able to make error look like truth in the best Orwellian fashion.
Now, we have agency, and we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. I am grateful for it, because God knows I have made at least my share of mistakes, and hopefully learned a little.
And all of the above is in a way very logical with the idea that we came from the presence of God to learn what it is like to be out of it. I think that has something important to teach us, and I think by now I’ve learned some of it. We’ll see.
I actually think, or am persuaded by scripture, that many have seen the Father…many more than we might think or that are recorded in scripture, and that we do not hear of it because of it’s sacred and special nature. For example, consider John 14:23, D&C 84: 19-23, JST 11:27, Acts 7:55, (there are others, but I’ll be brief), McConkie’s Ten Blessings of the Priesthood (#10) http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1977/10/the-ten-blessings-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng, JST-Gen. 14:30,31, and the testimony from the minutes of the School of the Prophets, OCT 3, 1833. In most cases, it seems, the manifestation of the Father is to testify of the divinity of His Son in order to fulfill His law that by the mouth of two or three witness shall the truth be established.
Concerning Moses, we know better than to limit his heavenly manifestations to just one experience. In the NT, Jesus clearly claims that he is the Old Testament Jehova (I AM) that spoke with Moses on the mount and modern prophets and scripture make that clear. In the creation of the earth visions that we have in the Pearl of Great Price, could it be the Father himself? Why not? Jesus speaking under DIA…possibly. Remember that Jesus said, “he who hath seen me hath seen the Father” so the experiences must be very similar and just as overpowering. However, I am persuaded that the Father must have appeared at least once to Moses in order to testify of His Son, as it seems He has done in other cases.
An aside, the Apocalypse of Abraham has an interesting depiction of Abraham being taken (fig. 3-20) by his guide (Yahoel) by the right hand (always the right hand) up to the throne of God who sits behind multiple veils (fig. 3-23). I think you’ll enjoy this reading: http://www.fairlds.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2010-Jeffrey-Bradshaw.pdf
Very interesting arguments. I agree with both in certain ways. I don’t agree with Cleon Skousen’s “Meaning of the Atonement” theory. This is not doctrine, it is just his opinion and it doesn’t make sense because it says that God is subordinate to the will of his creations/intelligences. That somehow they have control over him or that God has to appease them somehow. God is a god because he obeys the same laws and ordinances that His Heavenly Father obeyed. Skousen’s argument nullifies that part of this argument because it’s not doctrine.
Chris, I agree with Bryce, Christ is the one Moses saw, and it sounds like it was Heavenly Father, but Christ is acting with the DIA in those chapters. I’ve taken classes on that idea. Joseph Smith and Stephen are the only ones in history, that we know of, that have seen both the Father and the Son, Jehovah is who Moses saw. We know that Christ is the veil of the temple (Hebrews 10:20) and it is through Christ that we are introduced to the Father. Christ is the gatekeeper so seeing Heavenly Father in the temple is represented in the Celestial room, not at the veil.