The purpose of my giving these quotations is not to prove that I am right,
when I suggest that God created what we think of as Natural Law, but rather
to suggest that there are a great many people who agree with me in that
concept.  Read particularly the conclusions of a paper at the end of the
email message.  Much of what is quoted by Sis Black is from a paper by LaMar
Garrard, "God, Natural Law, and the Doctrine and Covenants"  A work that is
quoted many times in various places in the sources I found in Gospel Link.

1.  The great stumbling block to acceptance of the crucifixion and the
resurrection, seems to be that they are thought opposed to natural law. But
what is natural law? Who established it? It is conceded on almost all sides
that there is a supernatural law operative in this universe. Who is to say
that in effecting the purposes of God it may not transcend natural law? If
you grant God at all, does it seem consistent to suppose that He set laws in
motion which froze Him outside of them and rendered Him impotent before the
works of His own hands?

(Albert E. Bowen, Conference Report, April 1944, Third Day-Morning Meeting

2.  I believe with all my heart that natural law is the handiwork of a
Loving Father in heaven, ..."

(Robert L. Simpson, Conference Report, April 1963, Second Day-Morning
Meeting 52.)

3.  "All kingdoms have a law given: and there are many kingdoms; for there
is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in
which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. And unto
every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds
also and conditions."

(Brigham H. Roberts., Conference Report, October 1917, Outdoor Meeting 101.)

Note that Bro Roberts did not say that there is a law that is given for all
kingdoms, but rather that there is a law for each kingdom, and there are
many kingdoms.

 4.  "..conveys to us the splendid thought, I think, that we live under the
reign of law. Nothing is going to happen in this world but what shall be
under the dominion of law. Even the destructive forces themselves have their
bounds and limitations fixed by the decree of God-the law."

(Brigham H. Roberts., Conference Report, October 1917, Outdoor Meeting 102.)

5.  Which came first, natural law or God? It is my thesis that God came
first, for natural law in our universe has its origin in the mind of our
God: he thinks and plans ahead according to his wisdom as to how he wants
the elements to behave and then has the power to command them to behave in
that prescribed orderly and consistent manner. That prescription is a
natural law. The orderly and consistent manner in which the elements obey
these commandments is not natural law itself but the product of God's wisdom
and power. Sometimes God commands the elements to change their behavior from
that which they have consistently done in the past to a new behavior which
we are not used to observing. We call that a miracle. Sometimes Christ
intentionally performed these miracles during his earthly ministry as
evidence to the Jews that he had power over the elements, that he was indeed
the Lord God over the universe.

Some have taken the position that natural laws existed before any God. If
such were the case, these natural laws would be self-existing: they would
not have originated in the mind of a God according to his wisdom and
knowledge and would not have depended upon his power for their enforcement.
Proponents of this theory feel that because God would then not be the author
these self-existing laws, he would not have the power to change or revoke
them. His role then would have been similar to that of a scientist who
merely discovers these self-existing natural laws and then works with them
rather than creating them. Miracles would be explained away as God's
manipulating the elements in a manner with which we are not familiar: he
would be using higher natural laws that he had discovered and worked with
but of which man was not yet aware. It is proposed that such views have
risen in the minds of some because they have unwittingly accepted some of
the premises of the philosophy of naturalism without critically examining
this philosophy itself and what it implies. To understand why some began to
believe in natural laws that are self-existing, it is necessary to trace
historically the rise of this philosophy, as science also rose and
developed. Of necessity, our discussion will cover such subjects as God,
man, physical matter, and spirit matter, since they are all interrelated
with the subject of natural law.

(Susan Easton Black et al., Doctrines for Exaltation: The 1989 Sperry
Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co.,
1989], 55.)

6.  Furthermore, the Doctrine and Covenants depicts Christ as a divine
monarch sitting upon his throne, who not only created the universe but
continues to command or govern the elements through the Light of Christ:
"The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is
the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth
upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all
things." (D&C 88:13.)

God is depicted as the author of natural law for he is the one who has given
the commandment or law to the heavenly bodies that causes them to move in
definite orbits, thereby resulting in conformity and order. We should give
God credit for this conformity and order, for it is a result of his majesty
and power

(Susan Easton Black et al., Doctrines for Exaltation: The 1989 Sperry
Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co.,
1989], 63.)

7.  Conclusion

An examination of the Doctrine and Covenants and the teachings of Joseph
Smith indicates that natural law is not self-existent. It is eternal only in
the sense that "Eternal Law" is God's law for he created it and "Eternal" is
his name: fn it has a beginning and it may have an end, depending upon the
circumstances. It is a command, or prescription, that has its origin in the
mind of our God, who is motivated by certain purposes and goals. (Moses
1:39.) He is a thinking, planning, and intelligent being who has the power
to cause that prescription to be fulfilled and later to be changed or
revoked. Natural law in our universe, or realm, did not exist before our
God, it is not above our God, and is not the sovereign power in our
universe. In the sense that it is a created thing (since God originated, or
created, it) without body, parts, or passions, we should be careful not to
worship it, the "created," but instead worship God, the "Creator." fn

In the teachings of Augustine and Aquinas, physical matter, the spirit of
man, and natural law were all considered to be in the same category in the
sense that they were all brought into existence ex nihilo through the power
of God. When the discoveries in science gave evidence that matter cannot be
created nor destroyed and when the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed that
fundamental physical matter (element) and fundamental spirit matter
(intelligence) coexisted with God and are self-existent, some have assumed
that "natural law" was in this same category and was therefore also
self-existent. Once we begin to believe in the self-existence of natural
law, however, to be logical and consistent we begin to accept many other
beliefs associated with the philosophy of naturalism that are contrary to
the revelations in the scriptures and the teachings of the Prophet Joseph
Smith. E. A. Burtt, in his book The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern
Science, traced historically the rise of naturalism from medieval to modern
times. He points out that many in our day-even though they are not
philosophers or scientists-have unwittingly accepted a "naturalistic"
outlook that has affected their thinking and outlook on life:

"How curious, after all, is the way in which our moderns think about our
world! And it is so novel, too. The cosmology underlying our mental
processes is but three centuries old-a mere infant in the history of
thought-and yet we cling to it with the same embarrassed zeal with which a
young father fondles his new-born baby. Like him, we are ignorant enough of
its precise nature; like him, we nevertheless take it piously to be ours and
allow it a subtly pervasive and unhindered control over our thinking." fn

Joseph Smith explained that "happiness is the object and design of our
existence," and it is God who has planned and "designed our happiness-and
the happiness of all His creatures." fn But "the great principle of
happiness consists in having a body," and life is not possible without a
body. fn If God had not planned and then used his power, unorganized spirit
matter or intelligence would have remained in that state forever and there
would have been no premortal life and, consequently, no happiness there with
spirit bodies. fn Similarly, without the wisdom and power of God,
unorganized physical matter or element would have remained in that state
forever and there would have been no mortal life and happiness here without
physical bodies to house our spirit bodies. So also, without the wisdom and
power of God, all the physical bodies of dead animals and men would remain
in that corrupt state forever, and there would be no happiness, which
results from obtaining immortal bodies in the resurrection. The Doctrine and
Covenants summarizes this concept by indicating that "the happiness of man,
and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of the fowls of the air" in their
spirit, mortal (temporal), and spiritual (resurrected) states and "the glory
of the classes of beings in their destined order or sphere of creation" is
made possible by the wisdom and power of God, so that eventually all living
things will share "in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity." (D&C

The revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants and the teachings of the
Prophet Joseph Smith indicate that all things exist as they are now as a
result of two things: one, the self-existence of matter and the wisdom of
God, and two, God's power acting upon self-existent matter. There may be
other self-existent qualities or principles associated with matter of which
we are not yet aware because they have not yet been revealed. fn
Nevertheless, that does not justify our taking the "naturalistic" position
by saying that if we knew them and understood them, then God's wisdom and
power would not be needed to account for things as they are now and as they
will be in the future. To do so would not fit the scriptures, for God has
said that he made the spirits and physical bodies of men, animals, and
plants. fn He also said that he organized, or created, the earth, sun, moon,
and stars, and he takes credit for the existence of all these things as they
are now and as they will be in the future.

Let us not deny the wisdom and power of God, by attributing things as they
were, as they are now, and as they will be, to the operation of
self-existent natural laws. Rather, let us acknowledge that God organized
this earth and all things upon its face through his wisdom and power. Even
though God has given man enough agency to hold him accountable for his
actions, fn let us acknowledge that He still ultimately controls what has
happened, what is happening, and what will happen on this earth. fn Let us
not offend him or kindle his wrath against us by not acknowledging his hand
in all things. fn "And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is
his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and
obey not his commandments." (D&C 59:21.)

(Susan Easton Black et al., Doctrines for Exaltation: The 1989 Sperry
Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co.,
1989], 69 - 70.)

8.  Much ethical discussion today revolves around whether there are any
external and binding sanctions for ethics and morality. In the theological
context, there is the classical dilemma of whether God's will is right
because he wills it or whether he wills it because it is right. Latter-day
Saints are not committed to certain theories of natural law. Modern
scriptures suggest that ethical laws and "bounds" and conditions exist
independent of God (D&C 88:3-40; see Law: Divine and Eternal Law). They also
teach that God both institutes laws and adapts them (TPJS, p. 320). Both the
meaning and the application of law in changing circumstances require
revelation of the present will of Go

(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York:
Macmillan, 1992), 467.)

As you can see it is not automatic that God is subject to laws that
supersede His power and his creations, rather the opposite is a real
possibility that is believed by more than just one or two crazy people on
this list.


George Cobabe, CLU, ChFC
Ogden, Utah

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