Monday, January 16, 2012

What don't I know?

There are many cute ways parents explain where babies come from.  From mommy's tummy, from a stork, from the hospital, or even from Sears.  Past all the silliness is a basic message that you don't really want to know it wouldn't do you any good yet, give it some time and maybe I'll explain when I stop going into cold sweats at the thought your going to grow up some day.

I think God's word to us is a little like that at times-simplified to the point of incomprehensibility because reality is, to us, incomprehensible or at least undesirable that we should understand.  The most frustrating scripture in all the Holy Word to me is D&C 19:6-12.  On the one hand it is a beautiful scripture that cracks the light open on the LDS doctrine of a benevolent afterlife in which the torments of hell aren't a corporeal torture but an extreme disappointment in which you only have yourself to blame.  On the other hand, it is a clear indication that God sometimes allows himself to use plays on words that we can't expect to understand because it wouldn't be good for us to understand it yet.  This play on words, hinging on whether "endless punishment" and "punishment without end" mean different things, demonstrates that the whole continuing revelation doctrine isn't about just adding more information to what was good information.  It shows that sometimes in continuing revelation, we have a "stork moment" where God tells us to completely throw out what we thought we understood and replace it with something better.  And not just minor details, occasionally God completely revolutionizes a doctrine or a practice.  The New covenant following the Old, priesthood eligibility (think of all those supposedly almost as good as scripture talks given in General Conference before and after), and freedom of religion (change in practice from Old Testament to D&C) are all subjects where things sometimes change more than you would expect if you assumed all the information given was completely right and complete the first time.  That isn't to say that there is a contradiction in what was said at different times that couldn't be explained or synthasized in some way, but that the fundamental shifts can be of surprising magnitude that show everything we had assumed before to be false or "only for then, not for now"

I don't mind the get better information part.  Its the fact that when something doctrinally confuses me I don't know when to stop giving myself a headache and say to myself "I'll ask in the afterlife, this might be more "stork" information.

Just for example, I've been following several announcements recently of findings of human type behavior and artifacts occurring in an earth history timeline that simply doesn't make sense by the biblical account.  I'd looked around enough to find the explanation that the translation of "creating the earth in 7 days) may have alternate interpretations available to help avoid any problems, however when you start finding jewelry, fishhooks, and bedding mats showing a basic  mechanical prowess that we normally only associate with humans. happening tens of thousands in the past.   Does this disprove anything?  Not particularly unless you try to stick to a rigid interpretation of the entire 7000 years of earth's temporal existence statement from the D7C.  I could give myself a headache trying to put it all together, but I could also blow it off as potential stork material where I don't have to figure out anything because anything I figured out might be "continuing revelation" deleted by changes in the future.  The main thing for me is to maintain trust that it does have an explanation, even if I'm not entitled to one or capable of understanding now.