Should we spend time discussing speculative matters?
August 1976

“Should we spend time discussing speculative matters?” Ensign, Aug. 1976, 28

Sometimes in our church discussions we spend a great deal of time trying to resolve such questions as, “Was God the Father a redeemer of another world?” Since our salvation doesn’t depend upon our knowing all of our Heavenly Father’s works, should we spend time discussing such matters?

Arthur R. Bassett, assistant professor of humanities, Brigham Young University I was present when a question similar to the sample one above was posed to Elder Matthew Cowley of the Council of the Twelve. His answer was, “I don’t know and you can quote me.”

I have a whole file of questions that fit Elder Cowley’s answer. One is a favorite of my third son, “Where did God come from?” Others include those that we often hear raised in priesthood meetings and Sunday School classes: “Is God progressing?” “How can there be no beginning?” “Is it possible to progress from one degree of glory to another?” “Who are the sons of perdition?” to mention a few.

These are interesting questions. They might even be considered vital questions if one is attempting to form a completely logical model of the cosmos. Most of us would like to know more about such matters.

We are the heirs to questions such as these which have been asked for centuries, and perhaps it is natural that we should want this information in order that we might have all the pieces of the cosmological puzzle neatly fitted together. Even Moses, who had spent forty years in the courts of Egypt with some of the learned astrologers of his day, was interested in such matters. Later, after forty years of pondering the heavens as a shepherd following his expulsion from Egypt, he was shown a vision of the eternities by God. In the vision he was shown the multiplicity of God’s creations, and he was led to ask of God: “Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?” The Lord’s answer was terse and to the point:

“For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me. … And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose …

“But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you.” (Moses 1:30, 31, 33, 35; italics added.)

I think the wisdom of the Lord in this matter is evident to all of us. Currently, we need to apply ourselves, our energies, and our best thinking in our Church meetings to the problems of this life and this phase of our existence. I suspect that far too much time is spent in our meetings toying with questions that have no obvious application to our present setting, time that could be far better spent in wrestling with questions of much greater eternal significance.

For example, I have a question that would probably defy a simple answer—one that could not be fully answered in a page, an issue, or even several years of the Ensign. My question is: “What is involved in learning to truly love my fellowmen?”

This spins off a whole multitude of other queries: “How does one come to love those whom he does not even know on a personal basis?” ”How does one come to know another, let alone love him?” “How does one come to love those who do not ‘merit’ our love—our enemies?” “How does one help an unloving personality to develop love?” and hundreds of other related questions. I would submit that these questions may not be as fascinating to ponder, as far as some of us are concerned, but that they are far more worthy of our attention in an eternal sense.

Ultimately God is not going to ask us why we didn’t find out whether he was a Savior on another world or not; I think he is going to ask us why we didn’t make more of an effort to learn about this world, about its problems, and most especially about the challenge of loving our fellowmen.

I further submit that our time spent dealing with the important questions—those which really matter—might yet yield some results which would not only enhance our own understanding of the beauties of the gospel, but which would also make our system of worship far more attractive to those outside of the Church than any logical explanations of the cosmos will ever do—and at the same time make our own lives more interesting.