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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Answering the Futurist. Question 1

There is an article written by someone called the Futurist Speaker that I found recently who posed 10 of what he termed as "Unanswerable Questions".  To the atheist community perhaps they are unanswerable, but anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I may just be the farthest thing from an atheist within at least 100 miles of where I live, so if you are an atheist, no disrespect intended, but this article probably isn't for you, unless of course you have any interest in exploring faith based answers to questions posed by the Futurist Speaker.  He claims that religion can't answer these questions either, but there is one religion that can and it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I'll spend 10 entries outlining answers to Mr. Frey's questions from my extensively LDS perspective and, to be fair, I'll do my best to cite scientific sources as well so as to make the "playing field" as even as possible.

So here we go.  Question 1.

Why are there exceptions to every rule?

Mr. Frey stated, in part: "On the surface this seems like a rather trite question, and if you ask the average person on the street, most will simply smile, shrug, and move on. But in a world where scientists have spent countless billions to research and understand such topics as the relationship between matter, energy, particles, and waves, everything has to make sense, except it doesn’t.

Even with our basic understanding of math, 2+2 does not always equal 4. It depends on what type of measurement scale you are using. There are four types of measurement scales – nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio. Only in the last two categories does 2+2 = 4."

To address this matter, I'll start out by going to the reason for rules in the first place.  Whether it's rules and laws based on the divine, mankind's legal systems or nature and the cosmos, all of them are based on the principle of keeping order and keeping existence as stable and balanced as possible.  This concept is further explained by Elder Tad R. Callister, "[Justice and mercy] are certain laws of the universe that are immutable, that are without beginning of days or end of years.  They were not created by an intelligent being, nor are they the product of moral thought, rather they are eternal, coexistent realities with the intelligences of the universe.  These laws are immutable in that they cannot be altered or modified in any form.  They are unchangeable from eternity to eternity.  They are self-existing, self-perpetuating laws to which even God himself is subject."

This is not to say that God is not all powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.  It is to say that He is all of those things because he has mastered the laws of justice and mercy.  He knows that any rule or law of the universe and eternity must fall under the broad expanse of  justice and mercy to keep things balanced.  If it doesn't it must be applied differently.  Similar to what Mr. Frey stated about 2+2 equaling 4 only in interval and ratio scales, there are circumstances where certain laws must be applied toward each other in different ways in order to be both perfectly merciful and just.  Take for example the Book of Mormon where Nephihah was given power to enact laws as he pleased provided they fell within the confines of the laws which he was given, similar to the way state law can be different from state to state as long as it agrees with the constitution in the U.S.  Sometimes choices are made or events occur that warrant a different application of justice and mercy in order to keep things as orderly as possible.

A few examples of this include the Lord's command to Nephi to kill laban (1 Nephi 4:10-18),  Abraham Lincoln's pardoning a soldier sentenced to die for his mothers sake (can't find the original source), Mormon polygamy being commanded only at times where it was needed and could be practiced justly and safely.  In each of these and in all other cases, the reason for exceptions are there are circumstances what would normally satisfy the eternal laws of justice and mercy didn't accomplish that purpose.

If Nephi didn't kill Laban, we wouldn't have the Book of Mormon today and the glorious restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If Abraham Lincoln hadn't pardoned that soldier, his mother would have suffered a great injustice of losing her son, merely because he fell asleep!  If many of the early Latter-day Saint men hadn't taken on the responsibility of more wives, many women, including widows, would have been left homeless, helpless and likely dead.  Today we don't practice that because justice and mercy don't require it.  There are more than enough means for every woman to find a worthy priesthood holder for an eternal companion when the time is right.

Many things in life are always constant.  Principles of faith, patience, service, humility, charity and virtue are eternal and unchanging in nature.  How they are applied, however, often varies from one situation to the next.  Something that is completely edifying to me, just the thing I needed to hear, may cause more damage than help to someone else.

So how do we know when something will satisfy the laws of justice and mercy?  Thankfully God is omniscient and omnipotent and, as pointed out earlier, is God because He has mastered those laws and knows each life, each situation and each perspective perfectly and flawlessly.   If we look to Him and His prophets we will be able to eventually discern what is right for each and every situation and that takes practice.  As Elder David A. Bednar said "Discernment is so much more than recognizing right from wrong.  It helps us distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, the important from the unimportant and the necessary from that which is merely nice."

Nephi was so in tune with the Holy Ghost that when he got the command from the Holy Ghost to murder, he wasn't unsure or confused, just shocked.  Of course he didn't expect a command like that, but he as at least in tune and familiar enough with the Still Small Voice to know when it was speaking to him, even to give him a command as drastic as that.

 There may very well be exceptions in some circumstances to even some of the most rigid laws or commandments, but in order to know what they are and when they apply, look to Jesus Christ and His prophets.  He has promised He will never let them guide us the wrong way.