According to Mormon theology, ‘God’ was once a man (presumably human with basically human DNA, capable of breeding with us as a species), qualitatively like us, who somehow achieved Godhood on a different world (or perhaps a different natural universe) and then went off with His wife to establish our Earth–maybe including, if I have understood the claim correctly, this evident natural universe in total.
(Note: Or, more precisely, this is according to one agreement among Mormons concerning their theology–the actual tenets for this notion are, to the best of my knowledge, found only in two sermons, one each by Joseph Smith and Lorenzo Snow, which sermons are not regarded as canonical authority per se by the LDS church.)
I have a number of problems with this proposal (presuming I have understood the Mormons correctly): for instance, I think it is untenable to claim that natural properties can somehow develop into previously nonexistent supernatural properties. But more to the point of this chapter, I think such a philosophy is technically, at bottom, some type of atheism, insofar as it distinguishes itself–not theism.
Naturalistic atheism would not, in principle, exclude the possibility of a naturally produced creature eventually attaining massive natural power and then doing many of the things attributed to God by the Mormons (or by any traditional theism, actually). God would be a naturally produced entity; He (or, rather, he) would be ‘a god’, not God.
(Note: Insofar as proper names go, it might be sufficient to say that he is ‘God’ if he is unique; but then one of the points to Mormonism is that any of us can attain exactly the same kind of development, and be exactly the same kind of entity as ‘God’–and purportedly this happens on a fairly regular basis. The superiority of God to exalted humanity would only be the superiorities of a father to any of his natural descendants within a species.)
He would still be, admittedly, the most interesting thing Nature (or some Nature somewhere in reality) has produced (or anyway has produced so far, since again one of the main points to Mormonism is that any of us could become just the same sort of entity); and it would admittedly be prudent to obey such a powerful creature, in the same way that it would be prudent to obey King Arthur–or Stalin.
(Note: I don’t think such an entity can be the proper ground of morality, although I will have to defer this topic until much later when I discuss the question of objective ethics. Without a proper ground of ethics, we would have just as much survival prudence to obey a powerful fiend. Of course, neither would there be anything wrong (per se) in loving and obeying a benevolent god of this type, any more than in loving and obeying a good father. But this gets back to the question of ethical grounding again.)