Monday Morning Theological Poll: Visionary time-travel edition

We all know Moroni’s most famous quote in Mormon 8:

Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. (Mormon 8:35)

Today, we speculate regarding what’s going on there.


I predict that you will justify your responses in the comments. It’s like I’m there with you, but I’m not.

Comments

  1. “Hath shown you unto me” indicates to me a vision. I believe that vision included me sitting at my desk typing this comment. And now he’s laughing that I’m writing about his vision as he’s having his vision. Now he’s not laughing, because how did I know he was laughing? Now our brains are exploding.

  2. The future cannot be shown to anyone since it doesn’t exist yet; if Moroni was shown a vision it would have to be of a likely future and not “the” future.

  3. Peter, we might not be able to see or know the future, but I think God has a more Quantum view of time. Your comment does not stand up to scriptural sources or to prophetic utterances. The scriptures are replete with visions and prophecies of the future. I believe that God is able to see all things, including the future. “All things are before [His] face” Now, of course not everything is determined, but the important things are. There can be individual changes to the future. I agree with you on that point,

  4. I believe he did have a vision and I think maybe that vision is made possible through some kind of Chronovisor (or time window) opened by the Lord.

  5. Maybe it was a TARDIS?

  6. There you go, Peter, thinking of time as linear again. When will you learn?

    But seriously… “as if ye were present, and yet ye are not” and “he hath shown you unto me” seems pretty clear that at the very least he believes he’s having a vision of the future. Maybe he is or maybe he isn’t, but I prefer to take him at his word, because I see no danger in it. The whole point of what he’s writing is that he wants us to know certain things, so he might as well be seeing us specifically.

  7. I think he saw a probable future. I’m not convinced yet on whether God actually knows the future, or is a master chess player that can determine many events of the future.
    Why? For a few reasons. First, many revelations of the future tend to be very specific on the near-future events, but then get vague going further out (see D&C 87 as an example).
    It seems God has a general sense of the future, because he will guide it along as a chess player. But it does not mean he actually saw Adam writing at his desk.

  8. I think that people are like particles. Any individual one is far too erratic to predict its future behaviors. But if you get enough people (like particles) you can predict group behaviors quite accurately, (Why yes, I did read a lot of Asimov as a kid. Why do you ask?).

    So while I highly doubt that Moroni was shown any individual person existing in the future I am rather comfortable with the idea that he was shown a very accurate vision of what the world would be like. I would even be willing to say that it was *the* future, not just a possible one.

  9. Brian, as an ardent sciolist I may have overlooked something in the scriptural and prophetic record, but I’m not aware of anything definitive on the existence of the future. I too believe that God can see all things that are available to be seen, but the future isn’t one of them. Insisting on a deity that can know the future creates, IMHO, more problems than it solves.

  10. @Starfoxy, I did too, Your point was kind of what I was getting to.
    @Peter, if what you say is true, doesn’t that diminish the omniscience of God, and thereby He ceases to be God? I think the foreknowledge does not negate agency or individual capacity to change.

  11. Brian, saying that the future cannot be known does not diminish the omniscience of God if, in fact, the future cannot be known. If the future can be known, then, yes, I suppose it would be pretty heretical to suggest that God can’t know it.

  12. When will you learn?

    I dunno; have you prayed about it? :)

  13. Assuming a vision, the question is, what did he see? There’s the problem of limited perspective. I was in London during the riots, but we never saw any. But people who saw coverage felt ALL LONDON was rioting, because of the limited perspective. Or take New York. You can watch bankers or titans of wall street show up at work and push numbers around a computer. Good? Evil? How would Moroni even know? At what level of Google Maps Zoom has he seen? Every level is problematic, which suggests that whatever he saw came with a strong dose of suggested interpretation.

  14. So I’m writing my journal with a view toward my children actually reading it in the future. I write, “I wrote this for you to read. And now you are. Yes, I do have eyeballs in the back of my head and I’m watching you and you better do what I said.”

    It’s not visionary. It’s a hope that, if it actually happens, doesn’t suffer from being phrased as a hope, but rather as a foregone conclusion. After all “I am prescient, therefore pay attention and do this” is a bit more authoritative than “I can only hope and pray one day you will read this in the future–and if you do, please do what I say.”

  15. Claims of visions of the future are merely ways to oppress the masses.

  16. it's a series of tubes says:

    Insisting on a deity that can know the future creates, IMHO, more problems than it solves.

    Only for those bound to the unscientific, perceptually-driven linear view of time. Been nearly a century since Einstein shattered that one irrefutably.

  17. He could be shown the future, just as easily as we could if we went back in time knowing we would have these responses in the future. Knowing the outcome does not invalidate the choice.

  18. Only for those bound to the unscientific, perceptually-driven linear view of time. Been nearly a century since Einstein shattered that one irrefutably.

    Einstein solved the problem of evil? Huh.

  19. it's a series of tubes says:

    Einstein solved the problem of evil? Huh.

    Perception != causality.

  20. There is an information problem here.

  21. Only for those bound to the unscientific, perceptually-driven linear view of time. Been nearly a century since Einstein shattered that one irrefutably.

    There is no hard evidence that the more exotic features of general relativity (curved space-time) are necessary to duplicate the empirical data. For one thing general relativity and quantum mechanics contradict each other – one of them is wrong in a fundamental way, and it is probably not the latter.

  22. He had a general vision of the people who would come forth in the future, who were then in the spirit world.

  23. I voted for “the future” only because “a possible future” doesn’t ring true for me at the macro level. I can see “the future” without seeing “all possible futures” – for the same reason mentioned already in the comments.

    That’s probably because I believe God macro-manages very rarely (at times when He needs to influence the course of history on a grand scale), micro-manages pretty much never and instructs to whatever degree we allow it and/or can perceive it.

    (Also, fwiw, since it is irrelevant to this post, I believe there are differences among us relative to our willingness to allow and our ability to perceive – that they aren’t the same thing – and that our collective failure to recognize, acknowledge and validate those differences lies at the heart of much of the trouble we have establishing and maintaining Zion.)

  24. I’ll stick with my interpretation of Alma 40:8–”all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.” I don’t believe God’s time progresses like our time. In fact, seeing that we ourselves can manipulate time (Einstein theorized, and we have since proven, that we can actually slow time down), I’m pretty sure God has control of time. I think he exists outside of our time, and can enter in at a specific point of our time when needed.

  25. Most likely future and future are the same thing, viewed broadly. Because this has been done innumerable times, and the results are always the same. Each pass contains sufficient variables to insure that results fall smack dab in the heart of the bell curve.

    I don’t believe God controls time. Time is only measured to man not because eternity is not made from time, but because eternity makes deadlines irrelevant.

    “If all time is eternally present, all time is irredeemable. Or is it redeemable? I can never remember.” Robyn Hitchcock quoting T.S. Eliot.

  26. “Knowing the outcome does not invalidate the choice.”

    Yes, it does. But golly this argument gets tiring.

  27. it's a series of tubes says:

    There is no hard evidence that the more exotic features of general relativity (curved space-time) are necessary to duplicate the empirical data.

    Mark, i’m interested on your take on a few things:

    1) Alternative theories explaining the extensive experimental confirmation of time dilation;
    2) Your opinion on how the universe would appear to an observer with a velocity of c. Or, considered differently… how the universe would appear to an observer who is “full of light” or “made of light”; and
    3) Whence your greater confidence in the standard model as opposed to general relativity. Can they both not be correct in their respective spheres?

  28. tubes,
    I’m no physicist and I’m not really qualified to comment, but don’t electrons travel faster than light when they move from one shell to another in quantum understanding? Because it’s instantaneous, right?

  29. Perception != causality.

    Just as I thought–we’re not talking about the same thing.

  30. Here is a question. If God goes back in time, does He see himself there? And if He does, is there two of Him? Possibly He could go back in time again and then there would be Three. Unless one of them made a choice to not be there … but wait! That is an alternate outcome. Or, possibly, He can only _see_ into the past. This is one thing, and not the same as saying He can see into the future. And, it doesn’t mean that time is eternally present, only that the past is fixed.

    Yoda is right. The future is difficult to see. “Always in motion is the future.” Although that is Empire Strikes Back Yoda. Happy Fun Ball Yoda that we saw in the Colon Wars probably could see the future perfectly.

  31. “The future is difficult to see”

    But viewed broadly it is not difficult to see. Each civilization ends in ruin. Mankind is ultimately neither morally nor intellectually equal to the compounding problems that face him.

  32. #31 – There is that.

  33. Knowing the outcome absolutely proves that there was no real choice to begin with. And yes, it does get tiring. I voted for most likely. I belive Moroni saw something, but that it was not absolute.

  34. Thomas and/or Eric,

    I am somewhat new to reading BCC and must have missed previous discussions on if God knows the outcome there is no real choice to begin with. Is there any chance either of you could briefly give the reasoning behind that? I am not saying that because I disagree (I’ve never really thought about it before)– I just want to understand the reasoning. If you don’t want to start a tangent here please let me know how I can get an answer offline. Thanks!

  35. it's a series of tubes says:

    tubes,
    I’m no physicist and I’m not really qualified to comment, but don’t electrons travel faster than light when they move from one shell to another in quantum understanding? Because it’s instantaneous, right?

    Thanks John – briefly, the answer is no. It’s unclear to me if you are referring to the valence state of an electron in an atom, or to the inability to simultaneously determine the position and vector of an electron (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) – but in either case, the answer remains no. c remains a limit on the transmission of information.

    Here is a question. If God goes back in time, does He see himself there? And if He does, is there two of Him?…

    Thomas, I think your reliance on the most well known “time travel” paradox is misplaced here – because it presupposes time’s arrow. Speaking for myself (others taking a similar position can clarify if they wish), I’m most definitely NOT arguing for a being that knows the future in a linear, time’s arrow fashion. I agree with you that if such were the case, true choice would not be possible. I’m arguing instead that time’s arrow as humans experience it is not a scientific absolute from a physics perspective; stated differently, that physics as we understand it allows for states outside of time / states where everything along the arrow of time appears to be “now”. For example, a mass traveling at the velocity c would be in such a state. The presence of such states renders foreknowledge and true choice to be simultaneously possible; thus God can “know the end from the beginning”, have “all things present” before him, and yet you and I can truly choose, make our own fallen state, and have atonement made on our behalf.

  36. it's a series of tubes says:

    I am the world’s worst user of block quotes.

  37. I think I’m referring to the valence state (except I don’t really know the linger). The shells surrounding a nucleus in which electrons reside depending on their energy level. Don’t electrons jump from one shell to another in quantum mechanics with no time lost moving from one to the next? That’s where I thought quantum mechanics and general relativity came to arms.

    In any case, Einstein certainly felt that quantum mechanics did awful things to general relativity. Perhaps knowledge has increased in the interim such that Einstein’s objections have been overcome. Could you explain that?

  38. tubes makes a good explanation.
    I try to explain it like this:
    If you, knowing that I wrote this comment, were to go back in time to some time before I wrote this comment (and could not do anything to alter my writing this comment), you would know that I would write this comment before I actually wrote it.
    Yes, you certainly can end up in two places at the same time, but you would be working from a perspective outside of normal time.

  39. Is there any chance either of you could briefly give the reasoning behind that?

    Realizing that you addressed your question to someone else, I will quote yet another: “exhaustive foreknowledge requires a fixed future and a fixed future is fundamentally incompatible with real free will.”

  40. John C., I _really_ look forward to these polls.=)

    How about the book of Revelation and the visions therein? It makes me wonder what exactly Moroni was shown. Like, did he see General Conference, or Temple Square in SLC, or a series of missionaries all over the world. I think you guys are all overthinking this (not that there’s anything wrong with that) Keep in mind that he was “shown” a vision, so I’m guessing he didn’t get to pick which things to focus on, like what the FURS shares were selling for or where the plates ended up.

    It would be more pertinent to the poll, I think, to speculate on WHAT the Lord would have shown him of the future.

  41. it's a series of tubes says:

    In any case, Einstein certainly felt that quantum mechanics did awful things to general relativity. Perhaps knowledge has increased in the interim such that Einstein’s objections have been overcome. Could you explain that?

    As to the valence state question you ask, the short answer is that the electron is not really ANYWHERE at any particular moment – rather, there are only areas (valences) where the electron is LIKELY to be. Only when an outside observer interferes with the system by observation does the wave function of the electron collapse to a known position at a known time.

    John, GR and QM both give wrong answers at certain scales. Relativity rules the macro world, quantum mechanics the micro world. As to quantum mechanics, you probably have Einstein’s famous objection to QM in mind: “God does not play dice with the universe.” QM will bend your mind unless one is willing to let go of the experiential Newtonian view of the world.

    Physics is still seeking a Grand Unified Theory – something that gives the correct result at all scales – something that integrates relativity and quantum mechanics. It’s not that relativity is “wrong”, and quantum mechanics is “right”, or vice versa; it’s that they are two incomplete theories – each applicable at different scales. For example, time dilation (time moving slower for one observer than another, depending on velocity) has been experimentally demonstrable now for nearly 70 years. It occurs, without question. With use of high-precision atomic clocks, we can see time dilation occurring even at speeds as low as a few meters per second.

    On the other hand, certain quantum effects, like the electron “tunnelling” that occurs in superconducting materials, are also experimentally verifiable beyond question. The trouble is, at the scales you and I live at, quantum effects are generally not visible. For example, you and I cannot join hands and jump cleanly through a solid wall by virtue of our pairing up. But electrons do it in superconductors, all the time.

    My .02 is that both GR and QM are partial, incomplete descriptions of true principles – and there is much more to be discovered. But we can extrapolate / reason by analogy from what we already know… and this can lead to a logically consistent resolution of the supposed foreknowledge / choice “paradox”.

  42. Comment #1 for COTW

  43. “I am somewhat new to reading BCC and must have missed previous discussions on if God knows the outcome there is no real choice to begin with.”

    It is actually uncommon on BCC, Sonny. It’s a staple on New Cool Thing, and some other places. Might go there and search for ‘compatabilism’ or just ‘free will.’

  44. Sonny:

    If the future is knowable, then it must be fixed. If it is fixed then there is no libertarian free will. Knowing the future is not some coercive act that takes free will away, it is simply evidence that there is no free will to begin with.

  45. Eric, how expansively we take Isaiah 55:8 might make a difference,

  46. It does not make any difference what expansions are made.

  47. How about OD1? Did President Woodruff see an alternate future or a hollywood-esque vision of what could happen. The alternate future version resonates with me for this, but not so much with Moroni for some reason.

  48. Brian F (#5). Of course it was a TARDIS. And how did you think Moroni dug the hole to bury the plates? With his sword?

    Please. And after you see that pic, just imagine a colorful scarf or bowtie in the picture.

  49. Flip. I messed up the link. Here’s the pic.

  50. @Rick H, that made my night.

  51. iasot (#27), Time dilation, as in special relativity, does not violate causality, so no particular problem there. “Seeing the future” (the exact future) requires that the world be deterministic. I reject determinism on a number of grounds, but the most important is it means the future really isn’t any different from the past, but rather just a different perspective on the same old thing. The Poincaire recurrence theorem is an excellent example of that.

    You may be aware that Aristotle that that evolution was impossible. He actually had a very good argument to that effect, with one serious qualification – Aristotle’s argument against evolution requires that the world be deterministic. And he was right, you know, evolution is impossible in a deterministic world. All deterministic worlds either repeat themselves like clockwork (if energy conserving), blow up, or collapse. Nothing new ever happens, no chance, no surprise, no liberty, no ability to change course, no repentance, no reform – at least not of the kind that wasn’t set in stone a billion years ago.

    In short, if the world is deterministic, it is certainly logically possible (and perhaps physically possible) to see the future, but it would be positively useless. What good is seeing the future if there isn’t any way to change it? To avoid a disaster? To warn someone off? A deterministic future, especially one that you can see, is the negation of meaningful personal existence. God in such a case would be completely powerless, as would we all.

  52. it's a series of tubes says:

    “Seeing the future” (the exact future) requires that the world be deterministic.

    Thanks Mark. As I noted in 35, I disagree with the premise you present here, as it presupposes time’s arrow. Remove the presumption, and determinism and absolute knowledge can be decoupled. The “past” and “future” collapse into an infinite “present”.

  53. iasot (#52), An infinite present is useless. Among other things it means that everything that ever has been and ever will be is a statistical accident (unless you adopt the position that God created the universe out of nothing of course). Without creatio ex nihilo, determinism is the theology of meaninglessness.

    In addition, determinism also means that (conditioned on the present state, if it were actually possible in a deterministic world, which I rather doubt) the fate of humankind is not eternal salvation, but rather eternal damnation. Ground hog day, except worse. The same thing over and over again. Progress no more likely from moment to moment than its opposite. No net forward progress, just an infinite number of cycles where you and I write these exact words over and over again, condemned to our fallen state or worse most of the time throughout all eternity. A more dismal version of the future I have never seen.

  54. “I knew (one day) you would betray me.” Is Jesus psychic? Or just understand the weaknesses of his disciples?

    How typical of the betrayer to obsess about when and how, whereas all that haunts the betrayed is who, what, and why.

  55. it's a series of tubes says:

    An infinite present is useless. Among other things it means that everything that ever has been and ever will be is a statistical accident.

    Mark, as an initial point, I am not arguing in favor of determinism. Quite the opposite. For me, D&C 93 shuts the door conclusively:
    “All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man…”

    Secondly, please note that I used the terms “past”, “future”, and “present”, in quotes. These concepts require time’s arrow for meaning and relation to one another. Remove time’s arrow, and they are no longer meaningful in any substantive sense. Considered differently: no matter where you are in eternity, things look the same in either “direction” – infinite.

    Sampling some of the scriptural statements regarding “time” and God’s perception/knowledge:

    He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him (D&C 88:41, cf also Alma 26:35)
    He knows the end from the beginning (Abraham 2:8)
    He knows all things (2 Nephi 9:20, bucketloads of others)
    All things are present with him, and he knows them all (Moses 1:6)
    All is as one day with God, and time is only measured unto men (Alma 40:8)
    At some point, there shall be “time” no longer (Revelation 10:6; D&C 84:100, 88:110)

    Though the above are short on specifics, it seems clear that, whatever the type of existence God has, it is qualitatively different from the linear way we experience life here on earth. As such, I elect to reason by analogy, using certain laws of physics as a guide. They expand my understanding of the concept that a “body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67).

  56. Tubes,
    There is yet a problem with your “eternal Now” and removing linear time. If all is “now”, then God’s decision at any point instantly affects all points. The past can be changed. God makes his decision at the same time or before or after the problem has occurred.
    Hezekiah was told by Isaiah to prepare to die, for the Lord was taking him that night. Hezekiah prays for a reprieve, and is given 15 years. Why did God change his mind, if it is all an eternal now?

    Even if all time is before God, that does not mean the future is before God as well. He may know just all there is to know, up to this point. I have yet to see a strong scriptural evidence (Neal Maxwell, notwithstanding) that shows that God lives in an “eternal now” that includes a determined future.

    For all things to be ever present, means that we are still in the Great Council, still are intelligences, and have already gained our final destination. All is determined, and therefore, there is no libertarian free will. Therefore, there really is no agency, but it is just an illusion.

  57. it's a series of tubes says:

    Rameumptum,

    I appreciate what you are trying to say here – but there remains a fundamental flaw in what you present. As several others have done above, the arguments you make retain time’s arrow. Remember – the concepts of “past”, “present”, “future”, “before”, “after”, “simultaneous”, “now”, etc all presuppose and are dependent on time’s arrow. Letting go of these concepts is hard, even for those with formal physics training. It very much runs counter to our perceived Newtonian existence.

    For all things to be ever present, means that we are still in the Great Council, still are intelligences, and have already gained our final destination.

    This is not what I said. I quoted various scriptures that indicated all things were present before the face of God – i.e., that they are perceivable to him – not that you and I and everything else somehow exist “simultaneously” (see, there is a word that presupposes time’s arrow again – human language is so fundamentally dependent on it) in multiple states of being that to us, exist in different locations along the arrow of time.

    I’ll return again to the physics analogy. As a massed body accelerates, time slows down relative to an outside observer. When the massed body reaches the velocity c (the speed of light), time for that body has “stopped” relative to an outside observer. Stated another way, there is a singularity in the equation at this point. (As an aside, it would take an infinite amount of energy to produce the necessary accelleration to reach c, but that is another matter.) From the perspective of the massed body with a velocity of c, the entire outside universe appears to be perceivable as a whole – NOT that the outside universe (where time still proceeds linearly, to observers there) was simultaneously in multiple locations along time’s arrow. A body that is filled with light comprehendeth all things

    Reading back over the above, I realize this is a kludgy explanation of a fine point. Let me try a higher level point: Einstein’s great realization, and the reason the concept is called “relativity”, what that the same event can look entirely different to two different observers, depending on their frame of reference. Broadly speaking, what I am saying is that you and I have one frame of reference where time’s arrow applies. IMO, God has a different frame of reference where time’s arrow does not apply – and the existence of that frame of reference does not imply determinism in our world or negate choice.

    If all is “now”, then God’s decision at any point instantly affects all points.

    Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, I can think of at least one event that fits the description you present here. What was it, again? Oh, that’s right… Atonement. :)
    Extends infinitely backward and forward along the arrow of time. Paid the debt for all sins, encompassed all pain and suffering. Unless, of course, you believe that Christ didn’t in fact suffer for your sins or feel your pain and sorrow, because you had not committed those sins yet and your sorrow was yet in the “future”.

  58. Doesn’t quantum entanglement mean that information can be transmitted faster than the speed of light?

  59. it's a series of tubes says:

    Potentially. Experimental results on entanglement indicate that the apparent propogation speed of the influence of entanglement is multiple orders of magnitude higher than the speed of light. There was a good article about it published in Nature a few years back, I recall. I wish my professional life left me with more time to read the copies of Nature and Science that are piled up under my desk.

  60. OK, perhaps this is a naive question, but if space and time are the same thing, and if we know that information can be transmitted over vast space-distances almost instantaneously, why could not information be transmitted over time-distances as well?

  61. As to the Atonement extending infinitely backward, I think there must be a limit to its reach, as we know (don’t we?) that there have been other Saviors prior to ours. The plan repeats, one continuous round. “The Son doeth nothing but what he hath seen the Father do”?

  62. it's a series of tubes says:

    As to the Atonement extending infinitely backward, I think there must be a limit to its reach

    I agree. I think the limit is defined in D&C 76:43. It extends to all the creations of the Father.

  63. IMO, God has a different frame of reference where time’s arrow does not apply

    So does this frame of reference limit God to the role of observer, or is interaction with those subject to time’s arrow possible?

  64. it's a series of tubes says:

    So does this frame of reference limit God to the role of observer?

    I don’t think he is limited this way, no.

  65. it's a series of tubes says:

    It’s important to note that I’m not attempting to make scientific pronouncements re diety here. Rather, I’m attempting to draw physics-based analogies as to why I think there is room for belief in both a truly omniscient God and true agency for his children.

  66. I still don’t get, though, how removing the linear time from God gives us agency within linear time. If God sees all things, whether in or out of time, and he interferes through miracles and revelations, then how is it that we still have agency or free will?
    If God has already determined outcomes, we do not have real choice in this linear time we live within.

  67. First, just to state my foundational principle with regard to this conversation, “We see through a glass, darkly.” There is almost nothing I reject as impossible, especially when we are talking about God.

    To avoid the technical aspects of a conversation like this. what if we vastly underestimate God’s power to actualize an “at-one-ment” in the end and over-value every little choice we make at each moment “along the timeline” throughout the process?

    With or without a mortal reincarnative element, what if what really counts is the growth and progression throughout all eternity – unbound by the time constraints we naturally envision?

    In that framework, God can know the eventual outcome without removing our agency in the slightest – since our agency doesn’t affect the ultimate outcome as much as it does the length and specifics of the journey to get there.

    All members might not agree with that, but it certainly isn’t incompatible with many of the scriptural pronouncements about God’s ultimate purpose in creating us.

  68. it's a series of tubes says:

    If God has already determined outcomes

    There you go again, with language dependent on time’s arrow :) “Already”
    You have to be willing let go of the concept.

    The observer with knowledge of the event does not cause the event to occur – the agent does. You are the agent. Failing to intervene to prevent != causing to occur. Perhaps this is a semantic difference, but a key one. Christ did not suffer for me because he made my choices for me or failed to stop me from making them; rather, he suffered for precisely the opposite reason; he paid a penalty for which he was not responsible. To me, arguing that God cannot or does not know the “future” (using that kludgy time-dependent word) negates the possibility of the Atonement.

    Also – is the time we live within actually linear, or is it just our perception of time that is so? I don’t have an answer, but it is an interesting question.

  69. it's a series of tubes says:

    Ray, I agree with a lot of what you have posted – but it seems to imply progress between kingdoms. Is it accurate to state that you accept this concept?

  70. Somehow God is outside of time and it folds for Him like origami-I figure it’s the holtzman theory or tesseracts…. He sees what happens..not causing it to happen. It’s more clearly explained by Charles in A wrinkle in time and that’s the theory that always sticks in my brain whenever this comes up.

  71. Tubes,
    If you read Blake Ostler’s volume 1 on this of the attributes of God, he generally explains that regardless of whether one says the agent or God makes the decision, if God already knows the answer, there is no real agency. God cannot step in and make changes along the way, excepting that it does not impact the final outcome that is already in place. And if God knows the final outcome for each individual, then he should know all events along the mortal timeline. In essence, either God is helpless in watching what has already been determined by his foreknowledge of OUR time, or he does not know it. Any way you explain God being outside of time, whenever God looks at our future, he is interacting with our time, and affecting it. This fits in with Quantum theory of the observer and Schrodinger’s Cat. There is neither a living nor dead cat in the box, unless someone observes it. Once observed, the concept of agency or change is done with, as it is now set in stone.

    It doesn’t matter how you fold space and time. If God interferes with our time in any way, including observing it, it has been affected. For this reason, we cannot go back and change the past (killing one’s own grandparent, for instance), without affecting all future outcomes. If God has given us agency, yet knows our future, then it affects us in our linear time by taking away libertarian free will.

    As for the progression between kingdoms, I keep an open mind about it. I see several scriptures that are conducive to that idea.

  72. “it seems to imply progress between kingdoms”

    #69 – Not really.

    I believe that we won’t end up in a kingdom with fixed boundaries until we’ve progressed as much as we’re able to progress throughout “time” and “eternity” (and, if you notice, the missing word in what I just said is really instructive, imo) – so our “final judgment” will take a whole lot longer than most people assume. I’m not quite at the “everyone will be exalted in a celestial state” extreme – but I’m closer to that end of the spectrum than the “exalted few” camp.

    Iow, I believe that the “time” between mortal death and entrance into a final kingdom is immensely longer than we tend to think – and that impacts our discussion of topics like this in a fundamental way.

    There’s more than just that bare-bones outline, but it’s the main aspect that impacts how I see this topic.

  73. it's a series of tubes says:

    Thanks – I’ve read the volume in question, as well as 2 and 3; I simply disagree with his reasoning in this instance.

    Note the abundance of time’s-arrow-dependent language in your summary of his position, and in the next paragraph of explanation you present, and it should be clear why I disagree.

    As Ray mentioned earlier, I think this is an issue we see through a glass darkly; that being said, I’m comfortable with my conclusion that I am a true agent, and that Christ could in fact atone for my many sins though I had “not yet” committed them.

  74. Let me add that I see the “kingdoms of glory” as much more “conditions of being” than “locations” – and that is the central principle that influences what I wrote in #72. I think our “glory” refers to the height of our progression – and I don’t believe God limits our progression in any way. I believe we grow and progress until we can’t grow and progress any more – and then, and only then, are we “assigned” a kingdom.

    Thus, God can see the outcome (collectively and, perhaps, even individually) without impacting our agency in the slightest. That is true at the absolute level IF there is “progression between kingdoms” (or, phrased differently, if all endure to the highest end, no matter how long it takes – and the “kingdoms” simply describe the process of growth though which all pass and not unique, limited destinations).

    I dont’ “know” any of this – but it feels and seems right to me at the moment.

  75. it's a series of tubes says:

    Let me add that I see the “kingdoms of glory” as much more “conditions of being” than “locations”

    I agree. Forgive my naivete, but is the prevalent view that the CK etc are actual places rather than states of being?

  76. Ray, I can agree with your premise that the final judgment comes much later. However, the concept that God “knows” that we’ll all eventually end up in his kingdom does not necessarily mean he knows the future, just how the plan itself is set up to save and exalt everyone. It is like the chess-master who plays against an amateur. He may not know all the moves, but basically knows he has the skills and plan in place to eventually mate the other person.

  77. #75 – I think the prevalent view is that the “kingdoms” are locations inhabited by Beings of that specific condition. I don’t argue with that, necessarily; I just am open to the “lower kingdoms” being “stages of development toward the ultimate end” (the “highest kingdom”) – especially given the fact that the presentation of our journey that currently is used in the temple has us progressing through kingdoms until our eventual “end”. We already believe in that process during mortality (with the general belief that we won’t reach it fully in this life), so extending the “probationary” period as long as is necessary doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to me – especially for those people who have no legitimate chance to grow and progress much in mortality.

    #76 – We tend to conflate “knowing the future” with “knowing every detail”. I don’t disagree with your comment; in fact, it’s consistent with what I’m saying.

    Oh, and I probably would change the final wording in your chess analogy. Just saying. *grin*

  78. #75 – Let me say it this way:

    If we change “locations” to “destinations” (like I used in the 2nd paragraph of #74), it will be closer to the problem I see in how the kingdoms are seen. I think they are seen as final destinations that are assigned relatively soon after death; I’m saying they might be portions of progression, instead (paths on the Path, if you will) – and they might be ultumate destinations, if some simply can’t progress further no matter how long they are given througout time and eternity. I’m fine with either version, but I lean toward the “portions” view.

  79. I think the “doings” that Moroni describes – in particular the sins he condemns – are quite broad in nature and could describe just about any group of people at any time who who were familiar Christianity, so whatever Moroni actually experienced he didn’t really need to to to make an accurate prophesy. Here’s a prophesy of my own: in several generations’ time, there will be great wickedness and upheavals – many will deny the gospel and the true believers will face great trials.
    Now, unless we manage to sneak into some millennial state in the mean time I’m pretty much guaranteed to be right. Maybe that’s a bit of a flippant attitude toward prophesy in general, but less so if you view scriptural prophesy as a means of encouraging moral and spiritual reform now (“now” being flexible, of course, the Bible can be a moral guide as much today as 400 years ago) than as a means of predicting the future.

  80. I have found it interesting how we (as humans) can finitize infinite things simply by assigning them a word or mathematical symbol. I’m glad so many people have put in good time thinking through the philosophies of time, and very much look forward to learning the exact truths about them. I do hope there is a “time manipulation 301″ we get to take some time after “planet building 101″.

  81. StillConfused says:

    When I first read it, I thought that he may be talking about people of the past. He doesn’t say in there that he is speaking of the future

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