On Tuesday I was listening to the Michael Medved Show on conservative talk radio. Because the date was 6/6/06 Mr. Medved was discussing the biblical number 666.
One person who called in to the program identified himself as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The caller said he’d researched a particular type of numerology (A=6; B=12; C=18; etc.) and discovered around 25 words in the English language dictionary that equal 666. “The Adversary has infiltrated the American language,” he said, because all the English words that equal 666 are negative, evil or bad.
Perhaps anticipating a question from the show’s host, the caller explained that the numerology theory was not popular in his church; but because Mormons believe America is the Promised Land, they understand why the devil would pay special attention to America in choosing this language for his nefarious work.
I haven’t checked the math, but the caller provided a few examples of the evil 666 words. They include “computer,” “slaughter,” “disguiser,” and “genetics.” Mr. Medved asked, “What’s evil about genetics?” The caller responded with a reference to genetic engineering and said that more and more we humans are “acting godly.” I believe he meant to say that genetic engineering is “playing God,” but by using the term “acting godly” it got me to thinking.
Mormons are taught that worthy human beings will one day become Gods. The LDS Church Student Manual Achieving a Celestial Marriage says on page 130,
MEN ARE GODS IN EMBRYO
“Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of our 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 of aeons, of evolving into a God.” (The First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund], “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, p. 81)
On the same page of the LDS Student Manual is this teaching from Joseph Smith:
“Here then is eternal life — to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves…”
Ensign Magazine, the official magazine of the LDS Church, contained the following teaching in the January 2005 issue:
“We are the children of God, and as His children there is no attribute we ascribe to Him that we do not possess, though they may be dormant or in embryo. The mission of the Gospel is to develop these powers and make us like our Heavenly Parent.” (quoting LDS President George Q. Cannon)
So in the context of the LDS worldview shaped by Mormon doctrine, why would “playing God” be a negative thing, as the caller to the Michael Medved Show indicated? For a Mormon whose earth life is to be used for developing his powers and attributes of Godhood–learning how to be a God–wouldn’t “playing God” be exactly what’s called for?
Perhaps the caller’s use of the phrase “acting godly” was what he meant to say after all.