Bryce’s recent post has reignited a small discussion about God’s foreknowledge. I thought I would make a few comments that tie some of my former posts together on the subject.
One of my early posts here at the Thang was a discussion of a paper Hugh Nibley wrote late in life on the concept that the world literally is a stage and were are the players in this cosmic play called human mortality. I think this is a very important concept. It seems to me that it is very likely that each inhabited planet is a staging of the Great Play. Each staging starts with the same script – you know the script well (our temples and scriptures help teach us about this script after all). It starts with a long prelude where the earth is prepared, and then it gets very interesting when the stars walk on stage – first Adam, and then Adam and Eve as a couple. The play continues with characters filling the roles of spiritual heroes and villains up until the meridian of time when the ultimate hero comes and sacrifices himself for all of humankind. Then comes a falling away and finally a great winding up scene where the hero triumphantly returns to rule.
But the part that many people get wrong is the idea that this is all taking place on taped delay. That the details are all worked out and we are just watching the fixed conclusion unfolds like we do a movie (where we happen to be actors and spectators all at once). What they don’t understand is that we are all improvising our parts here! The details of this play are yet to be determined even though the overall story arc was scripted before the foundation of the world.
God is still the director, but this is LIVE folks. It is like live TV or other true improvisation. Sure, we are cast into certain roles beyond our control (we are born to certain parents in certain circumstances with certain physical glitches/strengths etc) but after that we make up our own parts on the fly. We can decide to be villains or heroes. We can decide to be funny or sad characters. We write our personal part as we go.
Have you ever seen great improvisation? — Maybe in comedy or in jazz or rock or sports or other mediums. It can be astonishingly beautiful. The experience can be powerfully moving for the performer and audience at the same time. So it is with us here on earth. The story arc of this world is set but we are improvising our own solos. And God and angels are the spectators to this spectacular play. It must be beautiful and joyous and tragic for the observers all at once – just as it is for us performers. Those who think exaltation will be boring must not understand this part about the universe…
(Radioblog song: Summertime by Miles Davis. A great piece of improv…)