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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) has taught that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings.

Thus, there currently are at least three separate and distinct beings to whom the term God applies within the context of our world and within the sphere of our knowledge. Additionally, in the future there will be an as yet unspecified number of Gods when certain individuals achieve exaltation and become equally divine.

Another official LDS teaching is that God knows all things, i.e. God is omniscient. The Book of Mormon teaches:

20 O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it. (2 Nephi 9:20)

Of the many times in the book of Isaiah alone where God declares Himself to be the only God there is one particular passage where, in addition to the claim that He is the only God and that He declares the future, He also says that He knows of no other God:

Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. - Isaiah 44:6-8

According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, why doesn't omniscient God, who declares things that are and that will be (future does not limit His omniscience), know about the existence of any other Gods?


A point of clarification: This question is not about God's declarations of singularity and how LDS interprets them--that has already been addressed here, here, and here. This question asks why omniscient God does not know of the other Gods that LDS claims exist.

In defense of non-duplication: Here is an extended explanation detailing why this question is not a duplicate and why answers given thus far to this question and other related question do not answer this question.

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    Does this answer your question? How does the LDS Church handle verses that imply there is no one like God?
    – depperm
    Commented May 3 at 13:18
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    @depperm That question does not answer this question and I have edited to explain why. Both God's omniscience and the multiple God doctrine can be found in official LDS literature. Commented May 3 at 18:11
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    My 2nd comment was about you linking 'official teaching' to an SE answer that doesn't reference any LDS sources, later on you do link to an LDS source, just a bit misleading (you won't find henotheism referenced on lds-I haven't been able to find one)
    – depperm
    Commented May 4 at 17:50
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    @alec Thanks for the link. Like the others this is only slightly related as it deals with God proclaiming singularity rather than not omnisciently knowing of no other Gods. Commented May 6 at 11:57
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    @MikeBorden I could not find the wording anywhere for the first citation you had listed (with the broken link); I offered a citation to a statement that is likely to cover the ground you're looking for. I understand it can be confusing when religions use the same words to mean different things - in the interest of common understanding I removed a sentence that used terminology that's probably standard for trinitarian faiths but is not the way God is described by Latter-day Saints. Commented May 11 at 3:45

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The short answer to the OP’s question is God does know about other gods, and there is thus no violation of Omniscience.

How then does this not contradict Isaiah? Context is key.



Before we dive in to the details, though, this flowchart may help clarify what this post is/isn’t, and whether it’s worth your time to read it.

enter image description here

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Set/Scope/Sphere

One can correctly look at this set

{1,3,6,8}

and say that there are no 5’s. An omniscient observer can correctly look at this and say I know of no 5’s, and such a statement would be entirely correct.

This does not mean there are no 5’s anywhere. It means there are no 5’s in this set. There are no 5’s here.

The analogy of a student walking into a classroom is helpful.

The student expects that there will be two teachers for the class. Upon entering the classroom and finding only one teacher, the student asks “where is the other teacher?” The teacher replies “I am the only teacher; there is no other teacher”. The teacher’s statement is entirely correct. The teacher could even (in our hypothetical) be omniscient and reply “I know of no other teacher” and still be correct.

This does not mean there is no other teacher anywhere, it means there is no other teacher here.

In order to understand these comments, and others like them, it is necessary to know the set/scope/sphere of discussion.

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Isaiah’s contrast

The verses cited in the OP are a chiastic poem1 by Isaiah. In fact, they are a chiasmus within a larger chiasmus (this is Isaiah, he does cool things like that), and the center (most important point) of the chiasmus is to show the futility of worshipping man-made gods. Isaiah does this by sharply contrasting them with Yahweh. (For more on the chiasms in chapter 44, see Ludlow, Isaiah – Prophet, Seer, and Poet pp. 376-379)

This context is critical – Isaiah is comparing the God of Israel to the false gods his people are tempted to worship. This theme began before chapter 44 and will extend well beyond it.

Isaiah gives us the scope/sphere he is discussing. In chapter 43 Isaiah alludes to Sinai, the parting of the Red Sea and/or Jordan, and wandering in the wilderness. The Lord speaks of His ability to foretell the future and the prophecies He has given His people. False gods of wood and stone have done none of these things. The context is God’s dealings with the children of Israel, and His demonstrated total superiority to “competing” man-made deities.

As published by the FAIR organization here

The question here is: Who has revealed himself to the world? Which God has ever communicated with man? Who has revealed the future? Who but He who brought up this future? The answer is: None. There is no one, and neither the Israelites nor God knows any other god that had revealed himself but the God of Israel. Again, this says nothing about monotheism. It just talks about revelation, and wholeheartedly we recognize Isaiah's argument as valid.

Isaiah’s message is that there is only one God who has given Israel any reason to worship Him. There is only one God doing miracles for Israel, and Isaiah highlights Israel's history to prove it. There is only one God who offers salvation to Israel. There is only one God here.2

Anything going on in other worlds, or other galaxies, or other universes (if they exist) is entirely outside the scope of Isaiah’s message.

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Support from other Biblical passages

If we take Isaiah out of context we’re going to run into some challenges.

Isaiah vs. Obadiah

Obadiah speaks of saviors (plural) on Mount Zion (see Obadiah 1:21); Isaiah says there is only one savior (43:11). Do they contradict? No. Isaiah is not denying the existence of others who save (from something), rather, in highlighting what Yahweh has done for Israel he is saying that there is no other savior who will do for you what Yahweh does. Nobody else can save you in that way.

Isaiah vs. Genesis & Psalms

Old Testament passages which speak of the divine council, or of gods, or of Deity speaking in the plural (e.g. Genesis 1:26, Genesis 3:22, Psalm 82:1, Psalm 86:8, Psalm 89:5-8) are not contradicted by Isaiah (I am aware that these passages have been interpreted many ways, but the changes scholars have picked up on in the nature of monotheism over the course of the Old Testament is not a minor issue). Whatever other divine beings there may be besides the God of Israel, none of them are the God of Israel, none of them save Israel, and none of them merit Israel’s worship.

Isaiah vs. Paul

Isaiah is clear that God has chosen Israel (e.g. 43:10); Yahweh is the Holy One and Creator of Israel (e.g. 43:15). Does this mean He did not create other people? Does this contradict the New Testament’s teaching that salvation is offered to all? (e.g. Romans 1:16). No. The special covenant relationship God has with Israel neither precludes the existence of other people nor God’s ability to have a relationship with them. Isaiah’s scope is recounting what Yahweh has done for Israel. No one else has done these things for Israel.

Isaiah vs. Hosea

In the connected passage in Isaiah 43:11, Isaiah is quoting his predecessor Hosea:

Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me (Hosea 13:4)

The context & scope is also clear in Hosea. Hosea is condemning the worship of idols of silver, Hosea highlights what God did in liberating Israel, Hosea identifies Yahweh as Israel’s only Savior, and commands them to worship the God – the only God – who merits their worship and has done these things for them. Is Isaiah taking Hosea’s words out of context? No, Isaiah takes these ideas from Hosea and builds a masterful chiasmus from them, but the core message and scope is the same. This is a message about the God who has done wonders for Israel versus the gods who have not.

Absolutist readings of Isaiah are unnecessary and unhelpful – we just need to read his words in context.

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Summary

As already noted by Mason Wheeler here, God told Moses that He would reveal an account of this earth. God is defining a set/scope/sphere.

The scope of Isaiah’s message is narrowed further - it's what God has done for Israel, and his message that there is one God who has blessed Israel is clearly correct.

Verse 8 simply answers the question that was asked in verse 7 – who has done these great things for Israel? Only One has done these things for Israel.

There is one God here.



Appendix 1 - Omniscience

Merriam-Webster defines omniscient as:

having infinite awareness, understanding, and insight

possessed of universal or complete knowledge

(source)

"Omniscient" is not a term found in the Bible (or the Book of Mormon), but this passage from the Book of Mormon should get the message across:

For he [God] knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it. (2 Nephi 9:20b)

The OP proposes 2 mutually exclusive propositions:

  • P1: God is Omniscient
  • P2: There are gods that God does not know about

However, there is no contradiction between 2 Nephi 9:20 and Isaiah 44:8, because P2 is not given by Isaiah (or anyone else in scripture). Isaiah indicates in verse 8 that God knows of no other gods who meet the criteria given in verse 7.

God knows of other Gods, but He knows of no other Gods who have done these things for Israel, because there aren't any.



Appendix 2 - clarifications to the OP

The teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on theosis were not referenced in the original question but are referenced now.

If the OP is asking why Omniscient God doesn't know of people who will be exalted in the future...He does know. But those people are not the God of Israel and haven't done the things Isaiah describes in 44:7 (or the divine things Isaiah describes throughout chapters 43 & 44), so God can know of them and still quite correctly state that He knows of no one else who meets the description given by Isaiah.

The same reasoning applies if the OP is asking about Gods of other realms (about whom we know almost nothing).

Does one member of the Godhead know of the other members of the Godhead? Of course! The Book of Mormon teaches that they are One (see 2 Nephi 31:21), just not in the trinitarian sense. Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance (source).

In contrasting the God of Israel with fake man-made gods, Isaiah makes the point that nobody is competing with the God of Israel. If the members of the Godhead are One in the way Latter-day Saints understand it2, they are One in their interaction with the world, and one cannot get a different answer from one member of the Godhead versus another. Thus, any member of the Godhead can say that He knows of no one competing with Him.



1 - The objection might be raised “wait, you’re going to bring up poetry, that’s such a cop-out!” Isaiah is indeed a master poet, and if we are not willing to acknowledge this and take the time to unlock his poetic devices, we’re going to run into real trouble when we get to passages like Isaiah 55:12.

2 - For a discussion of monotheism and Latter-day Saint views about Deity, see my post here.



Disclaimer - these thoughts are products of my own study and do not constitute official statements by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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    Did God banish His wife from this universe? Are not their spirit children "gods" who are then given fleshly bodies? Your argument relies on an absence (throughout time, Isa. 43:10), of any "revealed" "god." The Bible also points out that there are other powers out there that do reveal themselves to be as "gods." Examples: Egyptians performed miracles, witch at Endor, etc. God clearly outperforms the "other gods," but for Him to say there are no others as a form of unique revelation is odd here, especially if it's also explicitly revealed that there are more with or "competing against" Him. Commented May 12 at 5:26
  • @NathanWheeler re your first question, the same argument in Appendix 2 relevant to the Godhead applies here. Re God's children & theosis, this is also addressed in Appendix 2. Re competition, a snake oil salesman is not a competitor to a legit pharmacist, but a cheap fake. Isaiah acknowledges the existence of theological snake oil salesmen and shows throughout chapters 43 & 44 that they cannot compete with the Lord. Commented May 12 at 18:14
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Like virtually all other questions of this nature, the relevant doctrine is Moses 1:35:

But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you.

All the revelations we have are scoped to this world, and within that scope, they are completely accurate. We don't need to know about the "cosmic mysteries" because 1) they have no bearing on our salvation and 2) we're having a hard enough time living up to the light and knowledge already available to us!

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In my mind, I make a distinction that I like to designate with upper-case and lower-case "G"s. There's God, such as Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, working for my salvation and a worthy subject of worship. And then there's god, one who can perform such a role but not necessarily the one specifically filling this role for me, and so not a subject of my worship. So, the general concept of god, and then God, the one who is filling that role in my own life. Both concepts exist in latter-day saint scripture, as I believed is pointed out links @depperm has shared.

I would interpret the verse you share

... Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. - Isaiah 44:8

as being a reference to capital-G God in both uses of the word, and not just because the KJV translators happened to have made that grammatical choice. It is God saying "Is there any one who can be God (capable of providing you salvation) in your life beside me? There is no other God; I know not any (capable of providing you salvation)." With an a footnote I would mentally insert of "Not saying that's there's not other gods out there, but they're not God in that they're not the God of Earth, there's only one God for you."

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    What about Gods mind? God only has to speak once for it to be the truth. So, God says, "Is there a God besides Me? yea, there is no God; I know not any." He says at Isaiah 44:6, "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts; I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me." So why are you adding to Gods word by saying "God is saying that's there's not other gods out there etc." It is true, there ARE NOT other gods out there because there is only one God, period, He just said so. Why do Mormons not take God at His word?
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented May 4 at 14:26
  • A difficulty with this interpretation is that the qualifier you suggest, "capable of providing you salvation" doesn't appear in the text. There is already a qualifier included in God's proclamation here that has to do with God declaring what will happen and then it does happen (v.7). It's a reaffirmation of His omniscience regarding the future wherein He knows no other Gods. Immediately following is a passage on the folly of idolatry (vs 9-20) and later still ( v.24) He says He is both redeemer and maker of all things so I don't think it's accurate to isolate v. 8 to mean just His role. Commented May 6 at 12:19
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Any record holding human could make a similar claim:

  • Usain Bolt could say "Is there a faster man beside me? yea, there is no one faster; I know not any"
  • Mike Powell could say "Is there a longer jumper beside me? yea, there is no one greater; I know not any"
  • Javier Sotomayor could say "Is there a higher jumper beside me? yea, there is no one higher; I know not any"

A father could make a similar claim:

  • He could say "Is there a different father [of my child] beside me? yea, there is no other; I know not any"

None of these statements, or similar, would indicate they know of no other athletes/fathers in the world or even other great athletes/fathers in the world. None of these statements, or similar, indicate stupidity/ignorance but facts/reality. All this type of statement means is that one knows they are without peer in their field or in the latter case they are the sole father of their child (as that is how biology works).1

There are records (world records/birth certificate) with these facts that can be referenced. In the OP reference, that source is the scriptures, we know who our God/Heavenly Father is and He knows who he is. Other gods don't compare(or come into the equation), like the examples provided earlier.

This isn't a statement of ignorance, but of knowledge. As stated Gospel Topics: God the Father

God the Father is the Supreme Being in whom we believe, whom we worship, and to whom we pray. He is the ultimate Creator, Ruler, and Preserver of all things.

There is no other God that we/man can gain salvation through. There is no other Father of our Spirits, there is just the one.

1 I think Mason Wheeler's answer does a great job here. Even if you want to make implications about LDS theology and how man might become god, or there are other gods, this is all a matter of scope. Then take in Pysgosceles' on how god is seen as a relationship specifier, God is our Heavenly Father. Another god/God won't ever replace our own God, as "He is the ultimate object of [our] worship."

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God knows His Son.

God knows His Father. He knows His Mother.

I have no doubt He knows His Grandfathers and Grandmothers.

God is a relationship specifier. It is a title. "Beside me there is no God" is equivalent to saying, "You have no Heavenly Father but me." This is exactly correct and it states the case in a way that it cannot be misunderstood. This is easily understood by our recognition that each person born has exactly one physical father of his body.

As for the omniscience claim, all denominations endeavoring to interpret this verse face the same issue, it is by no means unique to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"I know not any" could just as well be translated "I know there is not any other".

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    Help me out here. The Creator of all Life had no beginning. He has no end. How then can the Creator God Christians worship have a Father and a Mother?
    – Lesley
    Commented May 4 at 7:32
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    " all denominations endeavoring to interpret this verse face the same issue". Incorrect. By a plain reading of the Bible omniscient God knows of no other Gods because there aren't any. If there were other Gods He would know of them because He is omniscient. Commented May 4 at 14:35
  • @Lesley The same is true of people who are born children of God. The Scriptures say they existed before they were born. Apostate Christians have come to view being born as some kind of a limitation and a curse. The opposite is true: Having parents and being part of a family, and being married and having children is the ultimate blessing. Our spirits are literal children of God. Since we will exist forever, it only makes sense to say that we have always existed in some form, but were not always children of God, by the same token that we existed before we were born in the flesh.
    – pygosceles
    Commented May 6 at 15:44
  • @MikeBorden "This question asks why omniscient God does not know..." based on the way this is phrased in the KJV, the statement appears to be an expression of ignorance. "I don't know" contradicts notions of omniscience on its face, regardless of what one's theology is concerning the descent of God. God has a Son, and the Son is just like the Father. What would be absurd therefore is if God did not have a Father. God is infinitely greater than limiting sectarian views try to make Him appear, erroneously claiming that such limitedness somehow makes Him more powerful, but the opposite is true.
    – pygosceles
    Commented May 6 at 15:47
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    @pygosceles A statement of ignorance is an impressive twist on an otherwise plain statement. He has just stated that He knows and declares the future ... omniscience... and then, having established His omniscience, He declares that He knows not any God other than Himself. This means that even in the future (which He has just declared that He knows) there is no other God. He is either not omniscient or He is God alone. Commented May 6 at 18:43

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