1963: Richard T. Wootton - Thoughts on the Nature and Reality of God

 1963: Richard T. Wootton - Thoughts on the Nature and Reality of God

Richard WootonAs President of Church College of Hawaii at the inception of the David O. McKay Lecture series, appropriately Richard T. Wootton delivered the inaugural address. Interrupting his formal education to serve in the military during World War II, Wootton received his B.S. in 1940, his M.S. in 1952, and his Ed.D. in 1956, all from the University of Utah. A life-long educator, besides university level teaching, he worked as a consultant for national accreditation bodies as well as for Opportunities for the Disadvantaged; among Church callings he held are high councilor and stake mission president. An original faculty member at Church College, Wootton taught religion and history before serving a term as the College's second president from 1959 to 1964; Wootton also expressed early support for the establishment of the Polynesian Cultural Center. Wootton and his wife Helen have six children: William, Cynthia, Kathryn, Suzanne, Caroline, and Lisa.




Professor Georgi, Professor Andersen, other respected colleagues of the faculty, and beloved students of The Church College of Hawaii:

I realize that much is expected of me in this hour, it being the first of the annual David O. McKay lectures sponsored by the Arts and Sciences Division of the College. I commend Professor Georgi and his Division for initiating the lectures, in spite of their choice of first lecturer, of course.

As a subject I have not chosen my major research, because it is already in our library. This presentation discusses vital issues, contains a new insight, and has a bit of scholarship to it, so I trust it meets at least the minimum requirements of the occasion.

I have not concerned myself primarily with whether the subject would interest everyone. I know from hard experience as a college president that one cannot please everybody, so I have chosen a subject that appeals to me. There is no use in all of us being bored.

A mother saw her child intently drawing a picture. "What are you doing, dear?" she asked. "I am making a picture of God," he replied. "But, dear," said she, "no one knows what God looks like." Answered the boy, "They will when I get through with this picture, mother." I believe my address may seem just as presumptuous to some, for it attempts to draw word pictures about God.

It may appear that a talk on the reality of God at Church College is a very safe subject. But there will be opportunity for criticism, nevertheless, because the latter half of the presentation is proposed as a new way of knowing God based entirely on scientific fact and realistic reasoning. You may question, at least, whether it is a new way, whether it helps in knowing God, whether my facts are correct, and whether the conclusion is probable.

Through this way of knowing God, I will attempt to show a person of some intelligence, with only scientific facts and assumptions (that is, without any religious assumptions) can safely conclude that God is real. I believe it is difficult to conclude otherwise in view of the facts of the space age. Atheists are left with nothing but a naked wish to disbelieve, nothing but wishful unthinking.

This presentation is divided into two main parts, each is subdivided into four sections each.1 The first reviews four age-old ways of knowing God. The second part tries to paint four pictures in words to establish the new way of knowing God.

Most of you already believe in God. A summary of Freshmen and Seniors at six American colleges and universities showed that 88% of freshmen and 83% of seniors believe in God. The American Institute of Public Opinion found that 90% of Americans believe in God; with only one in one hundred calling himself an atheist.2 Most of you who believe in God may well have better reasons for believing than the new reasons which I will present today. Four Ways Of Knowing God

You now believe in God by one or more of four ways, (1) the way of the soul, (2) the argument of design, (3) the argument of cause and effect, and (4) the way of revelation. The Way of the Spirit

First is the way of the soul, the conscience, the intuition. You feel the subtle promptings of God to become a better person, to reach upward toward Him, to pray to Him for help in times of trouble and with thanksgiving in times of joy. As the astronaut in orbit receives guidance from small signals thousands of miles away, you sometimes feel the delicate inspirations of God to your soul. Your own lives are clean enough, and honest enough, to keep your souls' radio in repair and well tuned to God, and you yourselves are in delicate contact with His great loving power and intelligence. Nothing can replace this way of knowing God. All should live and pray for it. Anyone possessing it has a rich soul and a peaceful mind.

A poet has expressed it:

Who Thou art I know not

But this much I know;

Thou has set the Pleiades

In a silver row. . . .

But chief of all thy wondrous works,

Supreme of all thy plan,

Thou hast put an upward reach

Into the heart of man. (Kemp 211)

The Reasoning From Design

Second is the argument from design. The first is a way of the spirit. It is a reasonable way, because it is grounded on wide human experience, but it is not the product of reason alone. The way of design, however, is a way of the mind alone, without religious assumptions.

All that we truly know, and all with which we can truly think, has come from human experience, ours or that of someone from whom we learn. Most of our learning, if it amounts to much, comes from experiences of others as contained in their writings. We base reliable conclusions upon experiences by moving cautiously with as small and certain steps as possible from the known into the unknown.

Human experience, your experience, has seen acts of creation. You have seen complex, organized, functioning things designed and created. Raw materials, such as iron, silica, carbon, copper, oxygen, zinc are organized into a beautiful machine, say, a motion picture camera. The existence of the camera is taken as sufficient evidence to conclude that it had a designer, a creator.

We also experience the existence of complex, organized, functioning things which we have not seen being created. There is, for example, a camera which you ought to contemplate, if you have not, whose design is marvelous almost beyond conception. It takes motion pictures in full color, in bright light, or in almost total darkness, with a picture wider and higher than cinemascope or cinerama, a picture with depth so that distance is perceived. It automatically adjusts to the light available; you do not have to set the "F" stop. It automatically focuses on the object it seeks. It develops pictures automatically in full color or other tones and stores them for re-running at later times up to many years. It automatically wipes any dust from its eye piece. It can re-run the pictures in myriads of combinations to give totally new pictures.

If its pictures taken in one day were put on ordinary movie film, they would make the equivalent of about 12 miles of film, I am told. It can do this for many thousands of days and store most of it awesomely in a storage space no larger than your head. This superior, complex, organized, functioning camera is the human eye, assisted by a marvel called your brain. (Yes, there is no one here but whose brain is a marvel.)

We conclude that since we know from experience that it takes intelligent beings to design the things we see designed, that it is a justified step to conclude that awesomely superior, complex, organized, functioning things were created by awesomely superior, intelligent beings.

You have not seen the designer or manufacturer of your fine Japanese camera, but you know there were such creators. You have not seen, I suppose, the maker of your marvelous, complex, organized, functioning eyes, but you also may be sure that they had a creator or creators. Our creator we call God.

If man, in our age, is showing signs of becoming such a creator, one might say to an atheist, "If there never has been a God, there will be one; man will be one. But in the face of existing creations so awesomely superior to those of man, how can anyone possibly be so presumptuous as to say that man on this little earth is the first creator in the universe?" He was surely not. There is God before us.

There are a plethora of illustrations of this way of knowing, the argument from design, and you can think of many. Art As Godliness

However, there were not formerly, before this century, so many evidences of design by man's own creations. Man's designs once were mostly limited to art--architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, and crafts. These were rightly regarded as the essence of civilized man, because they were the evidences of his creative power over the raw materials of his environment. They represented his bit of godliness, the creativeness within him. Such creativeness is far more marvelously demonstrated in our day, not by a redundance of earlier arts, and certainly not by those travesties of art under the title "modern," some of which, while admittedly creative, testify more of satanic disintegration and ugliness than of godly order and beauty. Man's modern creative godliness, the great art of our times, is in the mathematical formulae of science, in the laboratories, and on the drawing boards of science and technology. Man's great creativeness today is symbolized not in a chalice by Cellini but in an atomic reactor by Fermi.

The relationship of art to creativity, and of creativity to godliness seems to me the very definition of true art. It becomes art partly by its creativity. It becomes art completely if it was done in love so that fellow beings might enjoy its beauty, have their lives made less tiresome, or be inspired toward perfection in themselves. An Inborn Sense of God's Designs

You may have been impressed by another aspect of the argument from design found in the nature of design itself, one which blends the perceptions of the soul with the argument from design. You may have noticed that some men whom we call artists have an intuitive grasp of certain proportions that are pleasing to the human eye and that are, therefore, called beautiful. Artists will unconsciously use these proportions in all they do--composing, planning, and building. This is not to say that some artist do not explicitly know the proportions with which they deal, but tests have proved that some people can detect them without formal training or explicitly knowing the proportions.

A noted artist in Hawaii, Maurice Kidjel, claims that a most important one of the proportions is the mathematical ratio of 1 to 5.33.3 It appears to be the key to some of the greatest Greek art. Why should this proportion seem so pleasing to us? Kidjel believes we intuitively recognize the work of God, since it appears to be a master formula used by the Creator. It can be demonstrated that it is the ratio on which the proportions of the human body itself are planned. It is also the ratio on which the complex spiral forms in nature are laid out. Why do such things strike us as being beautiful? Perhaps it is not only because we think of ourselves as beautiful, but also because they strike our souls as containing the eternal formula on which we ourselves were designed and which God Himself used in much of His designing. So we may know God by recognizing His working formulae, His designs. Life From Chance Implausible

A quite scientific aspect of the design way of knowing God derives from the implausibility that life could have occurred by accident. As the science motion picture you once may have viewed in this auditorium so dramatically pictured the question, can a dictionary accidentally fall together from an explosion in a printing shop? Gallup, the poll taker, says that he could prove God statistically, since the chance that the human body could come into being accidentally is a "statistical monstrosity" ("[Untitled]" 7).

The Swiss scientist, Charles-Eugene Guye, concluded that the chance that the simplest living thing occurred by accident on our world is 1 to 10243, revealing that it is utterably unbelievable that chance, rather than design, is the explanation of life on earth (du Noüy 34).

Yet, there are those teaching in our schools and colleges, not in this college, I trust, who give the impression that life came by chance through evolution. The renowned British writer, George Bernard Shaw, a modern, noted thinker, but not notably religious, said that the idea that life came by chance was "nineteenth-century rubbish" (238). But there seems to be a time lag between what is known and what gets into the schools. A few of your high school teachers were that far behind the times, teaching "nineteenth-century rubbish."

I was startled to learn that American instructors who teach creation by evolution through chance instead of by plan are more atheistic than some present Communist scientists, although Communism is officially atheistic. Soviet biochemist, A. Oparin, and Soviet astronomer, D. Fesenkov, in a recent book, Life in the Universe (1961), explicitly reject the idea that life came by chance simply as a "fortunate occurrence," or "fortunate chemical combination" (8). (And they do not mean that it was an "unfortunate occurrence"!)

I know that some of you reason wisely that there must be a Designer, because the marvels of creation could not have come by accident, [and] must, therefore, have come by design. The Argument From First Cause

A third and classic way of supposedly knowing there is a God may or may not be your way. Probably not. It is contained in the five arguments of St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps the greatest of the medieval scholars, in his [thirteenth]-century work, Summa Theologica. It is essentially the argument from cause and effect (12-13). I do not think I hurt it too much to express it briefly as follows: All effects have causes, but a series of effects and causes do not go on forever. There must be a beginning (a first cause). Therefore, there is a first cause. This is God. Close examination shows, I believe, that Aquinas begs the question. He assumes in the premises the conclusion he attempts to prove namely, that there is a first cause. Even at best his argument is highly verbal and abstract, not a realistic type of proof--unsatisfying, I believe, to both the soul and the scientific mind.

Whitehead, one of the great modern philosophers, emphasizes the barren nature of Aquinas' ways of knowing God by saying, regarding post-Newtonian religion, "God made his appearance in religion under the frigid title of the First Cause, and was appropriately worshipped in white-washed churches" (157).

St. Thomas Aquinas, a great and genuinely good man in his personal life, repudiated in his later years much of what he had written. He said that he had had such heavenly truth from revelation that what he had previously written seemed as nothing (Chesterton 113). Probably, in the light of sufficient revelation, all that any of us write or say about God will seem dispensable. Knowing God Through His Revelations

The fourth way by which you may know of God is through His revelations. You learn that Moses saw God (Moses 1: 2); that the elders of Israel witnessed God (Ex. 24:10); that the brother of Jared talked to God (Ether 2:14); that various other prophets heard the voice of God (e.g., Gen 5: 24, 1 Kgs. 19:12, Isa. 6: 8, Dan. 10: 6); that Jesus spoke to God, and ascended into heaven as a God before many witnesses (John 8: 28; Acts 1: 3); that Stephen saw God (Acts 7: 56); and that Joseph Smith saw God (JS-H 1: 17). Even as St. Thomas Aquinas apparently learned, God's direct revelation makes most abstract philosophizing seem foolish.

Having had your reasons for believing in God thus reviewed, you may feel that the new way I shall talk about is unnecessary. But I would appreciate your giving it a hearing; please be the judges of its importance. I believe that any new insight into God's nature is valuable. The Value of a New Way

There are people who were led to know God and afterwards find true religion through this space age insight. This way of knowing has appealed to people who have been impressed by no other evidence and would accept only a secular approach as a starting point. Some will accept to begin with only the realistic, the scientific, the smallest possible steps beyond logical positivism. Four Pictures To Reveal God

I shall present four realistic pictures to help one know there is a God and to understand His nature somewhat better. I would call it a down-to-earth way of knowing God, except that it involves such astral premises.

A Russian elementary school book to push atheism upon children pointed out that Soviet aviators had flown all over in the clouds and the sky and found no God or angels in the heavens!4 If you scarcely can believe that the Communists would place seriously such nonsense in a book, see the recent statement by Fadeyev, editor of the Russian journal Science and Life. In a radio broadcast he supported the official Communist atheism by saying, "Man's probing of space has neither met angels nor discovered a supreme being" "Space" 21). Surely the Russians did not expect to encounter angels in orbit! Who would expect it? Even so, they actually drew an atheistic conclusion from the failure of space probes to broadcast data about angels or gods. A Picture of Man's Progress

I will show that a picture of the nature of the universe, when placed in juxtaposition to a realistic picture of the future of man, will show the opposite of the Russian conclusion, will indicate both angels and God. Let us envision the future of man. There are no known bounds to what man can achieve in control of his environment by sincerely seeking truth in its broadest sense. With the keys to truth--scientific reasoning, creative thought, and inspiration--man is unlocking the secrets of the universe at an amazing rate.

Into a space the size of a baseball he can pack power to light and heat a great city for months or to destroy it instantly if wrongly used. He sends signals to the planets and back. He communicates with the sun and the stars. He listens to outer space and has more than once picked up what some believe were intelligent signals. He sends his image throughout the earth in an instant. He travels around the world, not in eighty days, which was the wonder of our grandparents, but in an hour. He creates a new heaven with Sputniks and Telstars, jet liners and Lasers, and who knows what is next. He creates a new earth, the high places made low and the low places high, as he shapes mountains and valleys into cross-continental super highways. He changes vast bleak deserts into gardens and pleasant dwellings. He creates new forms of plant life by cross-breeding and exposing chromosomes to special chemical and nuclear effects. He conquers death by rising from his bed in health though stricken by hitherto deadly diseases. Some causes of death he is making almost unknown. Who need die of diphtheria, smallpox, typhoid, or even polio any more?

Death from old age, hardening of the arteries and heart attacks, was once taken as inevitable, but atherosclerosis has been reversed in laboratory animals by diet and chemicals and can be controlled somewhat already in man. Ways in which death can be conquered already appear.

Man deals with the atom which is so small that if he were as tall as from here to the moon, the atom would be in comparison the size of an orange. He finds secrets in the nucleus of the atom which is so small that if he were as tall as from here to the sun, that nucleus would be the size of an ordinary pin head. But man has found and uses incomprehensible power from the unseen nucleus. ". . . And Knowledge Shall be Increased" (Dan. 12: 4)

Dr. James Killian, once corporation chairman of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and President Eisenhower's science advisor, said that human scientific knowledge is now doubling every ten years.5 That is, mankind has learned considerably more since I got out of college than in all the previous history of the world. (I shudder to think how far behind the times I am.) While you are in college, scientific knowledge will increase more than in all the world's history before I went to college. Ninety per cent of all the scientists there have ever been on earth are alive today. At this rate, for every 1,000 scientific facts known now there will be roughly 1 million available to our great-grandchildren.

We worry about man having the power to destroy himself by nuclear rockets, and even while we worry scientists and technicians are planning an ultimate defensive system that might instantaneously locate a threatening missile thousands of miles away, instantaneously plot its course, and instantaneously destroy it far above the earth. Such a defensive weapon built on the principle of the Laser is theoretically possible and has worked on a small scale. Used as a means of communication a single LASER beam (Light Amplification by Simulated Emission of Radiation) can carry communications equivalent to all the telephone conversations and television programs in the world at once. Little Lower Than the Angels

A psalmist in the Bible exclaimed almost 2,500 years ago:

What is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that thou visitest him. For thou hast made him little lower than the angels. . . . (Ps. 8: 4-5)

How far can man go in improving himself and coping with the universe? Brigham Young said,

It is the height of folly to say that a man can only learn so much and no more. The further. . . men advance in their studies, the more they discern there is to learn. . . . (qtd. in Widtsoe 25)

We might ask, when shall we cease to learn? I will give you my opinion about it; never, never. (JD 3: 203)

Even with our overwhelming need for humility, in view of all we don't know and cannot do, we must recognize that man is moving upward. Success in learning and self control are possible. As Ovid wrote 2,000 years ago,

Thus, while the mute creation downward bend

Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend,

Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes

Beholds his own hereditary skies. (I.107-110)

Given enough time, assuming that he stays on the track of truth and its observance, it appears he will have the power of a god--power over death, vast knowledge, power to travel swiftly in space, power to communicate his intelligence and influence instantly over vast distances, power to plant his offspring on other worlds and communicate his will on occasion to them.

As Shakespeare said over 400 years ago:

What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty, in form and moving! how express and admirable in action! how like an angel in apprehension! how like a god! (Ham. II.ii.315-319)

When President Brigham Young dedicated a telegraph line last century, he said,

In my heart I dedicate this line. . . to the Lord God of Israel. . . for the building up of His Kingdom; praying that this and all other improvements may contribute to our benefit, and the glory of God; until we can waft ourselves by the power of the Almighty from world to world, to our fullest satisfaction. (qtd. in Nibley 414)

From realistic observation we can see that man is going in the direction of obtaining powers usually attributed to God. If there is no God now in the universe, a few thousand years more like the last 100 years, and earth men will be gods. Christ did not futilely urge His followers, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father. . . in Heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5: 48).

You and I, provided with the discoveries of science, could do wonders with the appearance of miracles to primitive people. With men who didn't understand what was happening and inclined to believe the supernatural, consider the impression we could make by roaring to land in a jet plane, exploding an atom bomb, using penicillin shots to kill deadly blood poisoning, and proclaiming like deity through a powerful electronic amplifier. We might not be able to get a whale to swallow Jonah, but we could have a submarine rescue him and deposit him on a beach, and such an act would fit the Bible description well enough of what God did in that odd instance. Yes, man already has some powers of a god. And he is moving toward others to cope with the universe.

Knowledge of the laws of the universe and obedience to them gives man increasing power over his world, with no known fixed barriers to stop him. We perceive a picture of a man in a state of eternal progress through his love of truth and ability to live up to it. Thus, the first part of this new way of knowing God is to picture that there are no known limits to man's progress, if he will learn and live the truth. Intelligent Life in the Universe

Let us now move our eyes from the earth and sweep the heavens to form our second picture. We do not see angels flying about any more than did Fadeyev's astronaut, but perhaps they are there, if we could only probe far enough into the heavens! What is "out there"? Dr. Gerard Kuiper, Director of the Yerkes Observatory, believes that about ten billion of the 400 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way Galaxy, have seas of planets orbiting around them. Dr. Kuiper estimates that there are about 100 billion planets in our galaxy alone. In the entire universe there may be well over 100 billion galaxies like ours.6 Willie Ley, noted physicist and rocket expert, says that if we assume that only 1% of the planets with life have intelligent life, and that if only 1% of the intelligent beings in our galaxy have space travel, then the final figure is still staggering. According to his most conservative reasoning about 100,000 different races in our galaxy should have space travel. One hundred thousand different races should be ahead of us in knowledge and technology.7

Russian scientists Oparin and Fesenkov, in their book, Life in the Universe, stated, "It is obvious that there must be numerous inhabited planets in the Universe and, in particular, in our galaxy" (18). They refer to this as an "indisputable assertion" and conclude their book by saying, "Our infinite Universe must also contain an infinite number of inhabited planets" (245). And we might ask the Russians, "Might not the inhabitants be called angels?" This is assuming, of course, that the inhabitants would have progressed much beyond the present Russians.

As far as I have been able to determine, the idea that there are many worlds inhabited by living creatures is first expressed in Western literature by Giordano Bruno in the 16th century in his work, De l'infinite universe et mondi. Bruno wrote: "There are innumerable suns and innumerable earths, which revolve around their suns. . . . These worlds are inhabited by living creatures" (qtd. in Oparin and Fesenkov 8).

Mikhail Lomonosov in his Meditation (1751) wrote:

The men of wisdom do proclaim,

Myriads of worlds fly through space;

And countless suns pour forth their flame,

And time and nations run their race.

So natures powers in harmony

There glorify the Deity. (qtd. in Oparin and Fesenkov 12)

C. Flammarion, the founder of the French astronomical society, in La pluralité des mondes habités in 1860 developed the idea that life is the purpose of planet formation (Oparin and Fesenkov 12). Modern astronomers, Smart in Britain, Heyer in the United States, and Ch*venard in France, also interpret life in the universe as the result of a "'cosmic aim' achieved by a 'divine creator'" (qtd. in Oparin and Fesenkov 12).

The second picture thus reveals that there are most likely innumerable intelligent races in our galaxy, with untold numbers of others in the universe. Intelligence Far Beyond Ours

The third picture, which contains the key premise of the new way of knowing God, is that our earth is about middle-aged by celestial standards, that there are earths much younger and earths far older. Do we fully appreciate what it means if there are earths far older? Do the astonishing implications burst upon us like a photoflash of light?

Physicist Ley said that there would be probably 100,000 races in our galaxy advanced beyond us! There are probably earths millions of years older than ours, which means there are likely in our universe intelligent beings millions of years more advanced than we are! If man is showing signs of god-like powers, what Gods indeed these million-year-advanced beings must be!

The Final Insight: A Celestial Hierarchy

The fourth picture is that of a hierarchy of intelligences among these incomprehensibly advanced races in the universe, these angels. They would most probably have among them, by the normal curves of variety in individuals, some most advanced of all. It is probable that one or a small group would be leader of them because of incomparable intelligence and have thus achieved the position of rulership in our universe. Thus we may believe that the leader or group of leaders among these incomprehensibly advanced ones now rule in our universe.

Such an intelligent rulership, or Godhead, would very probably have communication throughout the universe, means of travel to our planet and others, therefore, knowledge that we are here. He likely placed us here on earth, having brought the first of our race from elsewhere, or has guided our development upward from the germinal beginning through His vast creative powers. Since He placed us here, He likely has concern for us, might indeed have a plan of salvation for His children on earth. His means of communication might well be an omnipresent spiritual wave length which we might contact through what we call prayer and from which we can receive inspiration and strength by obeying His laws. God's Supreme Mortality

The chief characteristic of the universal ruler would necessarily be the knowledge and control of laws by which power in the universe is achieved. Experience would indicate that this involves what we call intelligence. Obedience to known laws also involves much of what we call virtue. It is demonstrable among man as we know him that, in general, the more intelligent men are the more virtuous. Intelligence gives far-sightedness, and far-sightedness, character. Strong character and strong intelligence are usually associated even in this limited sphere.

Moral development is recognized by philosophers and scientists, such as Lecompte du Noüy in his book, Human Destiny (1947), as the highest and latest achievement in the progress of man on earth (142-154). It is most probable that the incomprehensibly intelligent and advanced gods also have comparably progressed in moral judgment and all of the best that underlies true wisdom. (Otherwise their scientific power might well have destroyed them, as ours threatens to destroy us, if wisdom lags too far behind power.)

The virtue, character, and moral powers of the incomprehensibly grand intelligences would be far beyond ours, would themselves be far beyond the best of men, and would merit our faith, hope, and infinite respect. God or the Godhead, ruling with oneness, would have as its glory and chief characteristic incomprehensibly great intelligence and virtue. A New Way To Know God

Here we have a new way to know God, a realistic composite of facts in the space age: (1) We have seen that Man on earth is moving toward Godliness, (2) that there are likely intelligent beings on hundreds of thousands of planets in our galaxy, (3) that some likely would be advanced a million years beyond us and, therefore, must be as God and Gods to us today, and (4) that the glory of the Gods would be the virtue of true intelligence.

Once, I presented this view of God to a professed atheist, and he said, "I never thought of things this way before. Yes, I believe such a God. Yes, there is a God, but He is not the Christian God you have shown me."

I replied, as you no doubt would, "You are right. This is not the impersonal abstract 'first cause' of St. Thomas Aquinas nor the vague, formless spirit of apostate Christianity. But He may well be the living God of the Bible who revealed Himself to the prophets, and the God who revealed Himself in these latter days to the Prophet Joseph Smith, restoring the Church of His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth." Mormonism Can Accept This Insight

The Prophet Joseph Smith had revealed to him that God is an exalted person of an incomprehensible glory and intelligence who resides on an actual planet in the universe (Abr. 3: 3, 19). The third president of Christ's church in the modern age, John Taylor, expressed the Church's inspired insight into the nature of God in the following aphorism: "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become."8; And Christ Himself said to His followers at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father. . . in Heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5: 48).

The First Presidency of Christ's Church has stated:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. God Himself is an exalted man, perfected, enthroned, and supreme. . . .

Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God. (First Presidency 81)

I believe in God. It must be obvious from the things I have said that I cannot escape this conviction. I also believe that any honest person can likewise believe. I have felt His Holy Spirit reach my soul in response to prayer to give needed knowledge and strength. I know there is a creator of the wonders of nature. I believe in the many testimonies of the prophets to whom He spoke, that He is my Eternal Father and your Eternal Father. I tell you he has the gift of eternal life, salvation, and exaltation for those who seek and live the truth. May God bless you in the sincere pursuit of your eternal progress and joy, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


1Ed. Note. Both the printed version of Wootton's lecture and a copy on disk which he kindly provided for editing purposes contain not the two parts he mentions here, but, apparently, three, the first two of which are subdivided into more than the four sections he notes. Back to Top

2Ed. Note. Although the "death of God" controversy raged apace during the early 1960s, as indicated by many articles in both popular and scholarly periodicals of the period, Wootton's information here suggests that the general public initially remained largely untouched by contemporary esoteric theological debate on the subject. Unfortunately, the particular sources Wootton employed for these percentages are no longer recoverable. Back to Top

3Ed. Note. While the specific source for Wootton's paraphrase of Kidjel's theory remains unknown, the artist's obituary confirms that his interests extended beyond portrait painting into "mathematics, mechanics and engineering" ("Portrait" M4). Back to Top

4Ed. Note. According to Wootton, the conclusion stated in the Russian textbook was "quoted from [a] secondary source now lost to [him]" (Richard T. Wootton to Jesse S. Crisler, undated letter received 19 January 1993). Back to Top

5Ed. Note. Killian's memoir of his years with Eisenhower, Sputnik, Scientists, and Eisenhower (1977), published nearly fifteen years after Wootton delivered his lecture, does not contain this statistic.
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6Ed. Note. Among the most eminent astronomers of the twentieth century, Kuiper (1905-1973) was quite interested in the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. When asked for sources for both Kuiper's statistics and those of Willy Ley in this same paragraph, Wootton responded that his "sheet with these quotes lacks the documentation. Life in the Universe, by Oparin and Fesenkov, contains similar material" (Wootton to Crisler, undated letter received 19 January 1993). See n. 7 for supporting information from Oparin and Fesenkov. Back to Top

7Ed. Note. The actual source of Wootton's citation of Ley's figures has not been located; however, data quite similar in purpose, if not in exact statistics, appear in Ley's Watchers of the Skies (1963), implying that Ley pondered this question frequently (503-504). Oparin and Fesenkov corroborate Ley's speculations:

Even in our Galaxy which numbers approximately 150,000 million stars, there may be hundreds of thousands of planets on which life is likely to originate and develop. Our infinite Universe must also contain an infinite number of inhabited planets. (245) Back to Top

8Ed. Note. Lorenzo Snow, rather than John Taylor, wrote this epigram, as recorded by Eliza R. Snow in her biography of her brother; the quotation correctly reads, "As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be" (46). Back to Top

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