Alma and why God is in Hell

I wrote this in August 2007

In the Book of Mormon, Alma chapter 42, an interesting theological discourse is given. The summary is that if God did not act in the most right way, He would cease to be God. God is therefore constrained to be perfect. Or in other words God is good because he acts good. It is not the opposite–which would be that good is good because it comes from God. God’s actions are not good by default but only good in as much as they are intrinsically good.

God is also omniscient. He can thus see all of the consequence of any of his action. Where you and I are oblivious to seemingly unrelated or trivial consequence of our actions, God is not. God would be aware of every chain of event through the eternities.

In order to not cease being God, God must always choose the course of action that is the most good and just à la Alma 42. Otherwise He would be choosing the course of action that, even in a tiny degree, would lead to evil or injustice. God thus has no free will in any sense of the term because He is imprisoned by always choosing the most correct path.

The last dimension of this prison is that in Mormonism, merely thinking the wrong kinds of thought is a sin. Alma Chapter 45 verse 16 tells us: “the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” This means that God cannot even entertain the though of taking an action other than the most perfect.

This describes a being that is perfectly deterministic, no different than a simple state machine, an existence that can be described as nothing else then hellacious.

As a last note, traditional Christians do not have this conundrum because they would define good as whatever God says it is. Mormons cannot do this because, since God was once a man, Goodness must pre-date God and be independent of God’s will.

1 thought on “Alma and why God is in Hell

  1. Hammerheart

    I hit on this problem a long time ago, when I was a teenager. (It took some years to do a lot of reading & thinking before the question was properly formulated.) I guess John would say I wasn’t a “traditional Christian”, because the problem did indeed occur to me, & fairly early on (I made the Plato’s Euthyphro connection on my own, & then was dumbfounded to actually find it in Plato, ie I had formulated my own crude version first). Perhaps why American Protestantism has been quite alien to me from beginning to end.

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