A Life at the Improv

October 3, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 1:57 pm   Category: Foreknowledge,Theology

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…)

32 Comments »

  1. Another interesting point to bolster your metaphor is that improvisation has rules in order for it to be successful. Just as these rules help comedians in their reactions to each other or the jazz player in his/her reactions to the drummer (or whatever), we have our rules that help us in our decisions and ultimately our reactions to those around us as well.

    Comment by Rusty — October 3, 2005 @ 2:54 pm

  2. Geoff, this is a poistion statement of sorts. What do you have to bolster your conclusions over those of others?

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 3, 2005 @ 3:17 pm

  3. Good point Rusty.

    J – In this post I am just recasting positions I have previously hinted at in a clearer light. I think that the recasting reveals that my position on this subject fits our intuitions about life quite well. In addition, I wanted to show how an open future could still jibe well with ancient prophecies about modern events. I know you (and others) have tried to claim that without exhaustive foreknowledge there cannot be any accurate prediction about even major future events at all, but rather the course and end of this world would be completely obscured even from God. I am trying to show that God could know “the end from the beginning” while not having exhaustive foreknowledge of all details in between. This preserves a real free will for us while explaining how God (as director of the great improv play) could still know the entire story arc of our world.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 3, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

  4. Oh, and the other thing I think this recasting sheds light on is what some of the more interesting parts about being a God are… This also helps explain why we believe in a God that weeps for us. It is moving because He actually loves us and it is all happening LIVE for him as well.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 3, 2005 @ 3:48 pm

  5. Geoff, let’s think about the implications of this idea for a moment. I’m going to propose a different metaphor: quantum mechanics. Particles have roles assigned to them, but they are free to alter or revise those roles. We outside observers see that revision as random motion which obeys statistical laws–different from human decision-making, probably. Okay, fine, but let’s metaphorically think of them as similar for a moment.

    But, now, here’s the kicker. Because each particle is free to revise its role in small, unpredictable ways, the overall structure of macro-reality sometimes (very, very rarely, but sometimes) becomes quite strange and unexpected. The Big Bang would be a leading example.

    Here’s the payoff, then. If individuals are free to improvise and refine their roles, then it is possible (perhaps unlikely, but possible) for individual improvisations to line up in ways that send the macro-plan of existence well off the rails.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — October 3, 2005 @ 4:32 pm

  6. different from human decision-making, probably

    I’m not convinced it is different from human decision making actually. I like the macro application of the indeterninacy priciple.

    It seems to me that the story going completely awry is logically possible, but not practically possible. That is because the Director of each play (God) not only assigns original roles but also has the power to write any individual or group out of the play at any time. Therefore, if individuals or groups got momentum veering out of the original plot through their improv they could simply be removed from the play immediately. Their agency is not compromised — they simply are placed in a different sphere in which to act freely. (See 3 Nephi 8-10 for examples of characters being witten out of the play by God.)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 3, 2005 @ 5:28 pm

  7. Geoff, so what if everyone on Earth decided to become righteous and the prophesied and planned final destruction of the wicked before Christ’s second coming were thus obliterated? I mean, I’m sure God would be thrilled if this were to happen–but the tension between divine knowledge and individual freedom persists. If people are free to rewrite their own personal roles, then it could happen that everyone suddenly gets really good and the divine plan for Earth gets totally sidetracked. This would only be impossible (in practice or in logic) if people aren’t free to be good–which is Calvinist predestination at its finest. But if this could happen, then prophesy is uncertain and God’s knowledge is contingent and (to some miniscule degree) unreliable.

    Obviously, the scenario of mass righteousness is highly, highly unlikely. But do you agree that it ought to be possible? If so, what do you make of the implications for divine knowledge?

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — October 3, 2005 @ 5:42 pm

  8. Well, that is also logically possible, though I’m not convinced it is practically possible. God knows who he is assigning to the various roles in this world after all. He knows the pre-existing character of each actor and thus already kows their “improv” tendencies. That leads to remarkably good predictive abilities. I have already expressed the opinion that unless people exert great effort in freely and actively choosing to do good then they are under the influences of something like causal determination.

    Further, the ancient scriptural prophecies about the distant future are very vague and leave a great deal of room for interpretation to begin with. You are assuming one narrow interpretation of how things must happen in the last days. I think there is more leeway in the details than you appear to be allowing for.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 3, 2005 @ 6:02 pm

  9. Geoff, if you think that prophecy is indeterminate about how the second coming will happen, that would resolve the specific paradox I just posed. (Doesn’t have to be ancient propecy, though; Joseph Smith did end-of-the-world stuff, as well.) But any other specific prophecy would work. If people can exert great effort and hence act how God doesn’t expect, and if it is possible that they all could do so at once, then any given divine prediction about collective outcomes could be exactly wrong. Is that a conclusion you’re willing to accept?

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — October 3, 2005 @ 6:12 pm

  10. Yes. And hence we see few or none highly specific prophecies. Joseph prophesied the starting place of the Civil War and apparently God backed him on that (God can influence still — just not compel. See section 121). The most specific prophecy I know of is Peter’s thrice denial. I dealt with that in this early post.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 3, 2005 @ 6:58 pm

  11. Geoff,
    I can’t remember how you dealt with Peter’s denial of Christ. I remember it being discussed somewhere though. Is this where we got into the translation of “thou shalt” from the greek. It could either be interpreted as a prophecy, or as a command.

    Comment by Craig Atkinson — October 3, 2005 @ 8:59 pm

  12. I thought that was a pretty good potential explanation, Craig. If that isn’t the case I had an alternative take in this post. The basics model I proposed was that God knew Peter well enough to know he was a highly practical man and would do the most expedient thing in order to continue to serve Christ. If that meant fibbing to the mob in order to stay close to Christ he would do that. Therefore Christ made the prophesy and then the Holy Ghost prompted three accusuations… Nobody’s agency was violated and yet it was a prophesy that Christ and the Godhead could still cause to come to pass (based again on what they knew about Peter.)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 3, 2005 @ 9:17 pm

  13. Geoff,

    I agree with your premise that God could be directing an over-arching play and keeping it generally in line with what needs to happen and that idea would explain why God was so interactive with Lehi and his family, but less explicitly interactive with the vast majority of His children. I don’t think God necessarily needs to have perfect foreknowledge to bring about a victory. However, (you knew there would be a however) the evidence of God’s omniscience is ubiquitous.

    This is still a LIVE performance, not a coreographed play, we’re not following a script, though many believe we did prepare for this life in the pre-existence. God’s omniscience allows this infinitely complex play to be successful and allows “all His judgments to be just.” Knowing the ending does not control the ending.

    Comment by Heli — October 3, 2005 @ 10:53 pm

  14. Geoff, how then do you deal with the propecy to Nephi, a thousand years in advance, of the destruction of his followers due to their own wickedness? Was this a best guess, or did it involve real foreknowledge? If the Nephites were free not to be wicked, could this prediction not have turned out to be false? (And if it was a contingent, conditional prediction, wasn’t it sadistic of God to inflict it on Nephi?)

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — October 4, 2005 @ 7:45 am

  15. More generally, it isn’t just specific predictions that could go wrong, but also broad, overall plans. Maybe the latter-day church will go apostate, maybe the priesthood will be taken from the Earth again, maybe the gospel will never be taken to all nations, etc. If these things aren’t possible, then there are specific curbs on agency; we aren’t free, as a people, to make those choices. (Just as, apparently, the US wasn’t free in your view not to have the Civil War.)

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — October 4, 2005 @ 7:54 am

  16. Geoff, how then do you deal with the propecy to Nephi, a thousand years in advance, of the destruction of his followers due to their own wickedness?

    In a couple of ways. One is the quantum mechanics model you mentioned earlier. In that model group behavior is very predictable but the behavior of individuals is not. You are referring to a prediction about a group so I have no problem with that. (This assumes my “natural man = causally deternined man” theory of course.) In stickier situations than that I generally favor Blake’s expansion theory.

    These things in combination also answer your comment about more general plans derailing. While I can see that happening for individuals, behavior of groups in general can be predicted (especially by God). When you combine that with the fact that God can remove actors from the play at any time (either through destruction like the flood or through translation like the city of Enoch) then it seems that there is little or no risk of overall story lines derailing.

    As for the US not being free in the case of the Civil War — I disagree. That prediction came to pass as predicted, but the scriptures are replete with examples of predictions that apparently did not happen quite as predicted. I see God as the ultimate predictor of the choices of free beings, but that is not the same as exhaustive foreknowledge of a fixed future. This post is about some of the structures in place that I believe are utilized by God to pull that off.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 4, 2005 @ 8:59 am

  17. Geoff, I think your point on the quantum mechanics model may not be quite right. Highly bizarre macro-level events are extremely unlikely and hence extremely rare, but quantum mechanics relies on the proposition that they do occur. Indeed, in an infinite range of universes as in string theory, such near-zero-probability events necessarily happen all the time. Hence, predictions about large groups may be incorrect.

    You think God acts to make sure things stay according to His plan by putting the right people in the right place (and the wrong people in the wrong place–Hitler wasn’t there by accident, either, I guess), and by selectively removing those who behave in ways that would upset the overall plan. Especially the first of these two strategies seems semi-coercive to me, but that’s another conversation. My point here is that, if all individuals are free, then even with these two proposed divine strategies, there is always a nonzero probability that God’s plans for the Earth will completely fail. After all, everybody could suddenly decide to do the opposite of what they’re supposed to do–and God presumably can’t remove everybody.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — October 4, 2005 @ 9:41 am

  18. A fact I think influences God’s direction of his earth play is His knowledge of the players from His experiences with them in the pre-mortal life. We random particles making random choices. We are individual personalities whose character has taken thousands, maybe million of years to develop. God knows that character. Since He places individuals in His play where and when He wants and can take them out where and when He wants, I think the outcome can be accurately predicted in very minute detail without thwarting our agency at all.

    I like your model Geoff. I have many times considered this earth life like a piece of cardboard. We are a bullet from a high powered rifle shot from the pre-mortal side of the cardboard. The trajectory of the bullet was determined in the pre-motal existence, the cardboard really won’t do much to change that trajectory. If not, then how is it fair that an infant dies and gets the Celestial Kingdom without passing thru the trials the rest of us are subject to?

    Comment by don — October 4, 2005 @ 11:00 am

  19. Your points are well taken, RT. My reponse about the Quantum Mechanics model is that it is only being used by analogy here. So while near-zero-probability events necessarily happen all the time in quantum mechanics, with God directing events here they will not happen with the events on this planet.

    Now you are also right that accepting the notion of libertarian free will does leave us with a “nonzero probability that God’s plans for the Earth will completely fail.” Maybe the probability of failure is something like 10^365 for instance. I’m ok with that.

    BTW- My carefree attitude about that is admittedly bolstered by my leanings toward the Heber C. Kimball model of the eternities (aka MMP). It allows for potential planet do-overs even for God I suspect…

    Comment by Geoff J — October 4, 2005 @ 11:07 am

  20. Don,

    Thanks and I agree. You better be careful though… You are starting to sound like Heber C. Kimball too… ;-)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 4, 2005 @ 11:10 am

  21. Geoff, in terms of fully making sure that I understand how radical you are being, let me point out that your position as explained here seems to make divine foreknowledge similar in kind (although different in degree) to social scientific predictions.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — October 4, 2005 @ 11:44 am

  22. I don’t know enough about social scientific predictions to respond to that, RT. I can say that I believe God can make incredibly accurate predictions — even on distant events. But if we really do have free will in the libertarian sense then they remain that — accurate predictions. There is no exhaustive foreknowldege of the choices of persons with free will.

    I don’t know how radical that idea is. I think it is true, though.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 4, 2005 @ 12:07 pm

  23. In a Christian theological context, your idea of God’s future knowledge as limited to quite accurate prediction is indeed pretty radical. Note, though, that there’s a difference between “radical” and “false.”

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — October 4, 2005 @ 1:37 pm

  24. Nice… I’m a radical (that’s rad!). I’ve been posting on this subject since January so it doesn’t feel too radical to me — mostly feels like good sense at this point.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 4, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

  25. Could it be that our free will was to accept the Plan of Salvation in the pre-mortal life, and now live it wholeheartedly? Then, accepting the plan was to accept the role and events associated with the entire chain of events in this life, and not so random, or even improvised? The veil would allow us to experience the events as though it were the first time, and since, as King Benjamin teaches, no matter what we do or think we could do, only equates to giving our will to God, to truly endure to the end, with a perfect brightness of hope, and then we will still be unprofitable servants.
    Then, as Alma tries to explain to his son, in reference to the justice of God and the punishment of the sinner, that the plan of happiness is simply that, a plan of happiness for everyone, no matter how vile a sinner they are, because, no one could attain more here than what they were in the premortal life, everything restored to what it was, and should be, no matter what your place here in this life. You receive, in all fairness, a chance to experience mortal life cut off from the presence of God, even the Savior, something we hadn’t ever experienced before. A time to prepare to meet God again, having been enticed one way or the other.
    Lehi seems to try to tell Jacob this, that man could really only be free to choose good from evil and be enticed, if he were to be cut off from God’s presence. Now, for justice to be satisfied that this opportunity be given, to live imperfectly, and then return, required an atonement, which the Lord agreed to provide. Satan had a different idea, one that would accomplish the same means, to allow us to come to earth, but not be tempted, just have the experience, everyone saved. This was enticing…because it was scary that some, while experiencing this life would not want to have a higher mentality. Two thirds the host of heaven voted for that. A poor/miserable attitude. You don’t have to be happy and accept what is just, some don’t, it is still just. I wonder if my temptations do or don’t really effect what happens, but I know they affect my thoughts. Sometimes they seem related, but sometimes not, and that life goes on no matter what I think. It is true that we can be judged for our actions, but maybe we already were, and now our thoughts govern progression. Thus, faith, rather than perfect knowledge, allows us to feel manifestations from heaven when we want them, or need them, or choose them, a confirmation that things are right at the right times, but really only after the trial or experience. Once we have enough of these experiences then we, like the bother of Jared, just know, and the veil is gone, because it is unnecessary to protect us from the perfect knowledge of God in an unclean state, casting us off.
    Some argue that this takes away agency, but I wonder, how many good or bad choices in a row does one need to make, to show their intentions and be judged. Sometimes it only takes one choice. This explains to me how there can be such horrific things in life, and that no matter when, where, or how, someone enters the world, they get the same chance. Because, that is the way the plan was written, and agreed upon, in the council of heaven (not taped delay, real, but written). There were some in the presence of God who did not want this, and some still, that may not. But also explains somewhat how, outer darkness is only reserved for a very few who are born to the world. At judgment God will not assign us a degree of glory, we will that degree. It will radiate from us and we will have attained what we ought to have. Like the concept of eternity, hard to comprehend, but maybe not, only because we are in mortality, and veiled.

    Comment by undefined — November 1, 2005 @ 8:46 am

  26. Undefined,

    First, welcome to the Thang and thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    Second, here are the reasons I think you are out to lunch (The thing we would never say in Sunday School right? welcome to the ‘nacle)

    The veil would allow us to experience the events as though it were the first time

    The problem is that you are proposing that we ar unwittingly going through the motion here? Why bother? If free agency (and it couldn’t be in your proposed scheme) isn’t real then how is this life a probationary state at all?

    no one could attain more here than what they were in the premortal life, everything restored to what it was, and should be, no matter what your place here in this life

    Again, you are proposing a non-probationary model of life. Not very convincing to a Mormon audience.

    Some argue that this takes away agency, but I wonder, how many good or bad choices in a row does one need to make, to show their intentions and be judged.

    They need to make some at least. So if some, then why not all?

    If I am missing your point please set me straight. That is the other good thing about blogs — we get to vigorously defend different ideas and learn in the process.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 1, 2005 @ 2:28 pm

  27. You posted this elsewhere:

    Let’s imagine God knows that you will murder an innocent person in cold blood at 10:37 PM, October 10, 2007. God knows this just like he knows the past (since we will assume the future is fixed like the past is). Now let’s say he decided to tell you about it (either through a prophet or direct revelation). What good would it do you? Absolutely none. No matter how much you don’t want to murder someone in cold blood today, God knows it will happen because the future is fixed. He doesn’t want you to do it, you don’t want to do it, but since the future is fixed as the past neither of you can do anything about it.

    I suggest this:

    Let’s imagine both you and God know that you will murder an innocent person in cold blood at 10:37 PM, October 10, 2007, because, for whatever reason, the POS was decided that way in the premortal council. God knows this just like he knows the past (since we will assume the future is fixed like the past is). Now let’s say he decided to send you to earth, but couldn’t tell you anything, to destroy the agency you had already exercised, except at the level of spirituality you were able to attain (either through the still small voice, a prophet, or direct revelation). What good would it do you? Not, absolutely none. It would allow you to be enticed to kill, one way or the other, without being in the direct presence of God, the experience of choice, alone. No matter how much you don’t want to murder someone in cold blood today, is irrelevant, because you are unknowingly living your life, and God knows it will happen because the future is fixed, and so did you, but you chose life, because this life, the killing life, was what you, as a premortal spirit, had an unbiased, fair chance to participate, rather than go with Satan. God doesn’t want you to do it, but do you, right then, not want to do it? Now, you may think that you would not want to do it but that is assuming you are a person who has remorse, doesn’t kill, and has a relationship with God enough to receive that revelation, right then, in mortality. Since the future is fixed, as the past, neither of you can do anything about it, because that is how it happens. Because in the millennium, after you have lived life, when all things are reconciled, you see the past, the present and the future and know that this is how it unfolds. You offer up a broken heart and contrite spirit (from the same book as you quote in 2 Nephi 7), and Christ has offered atonement in equal portion, maybe not Celestial, the sacrifice for sin, or you don’t accept it, and are judged. Whatever you choose, to accept Christ or not, is a restoration and confirmation of the level of happiness you could, and do attain.

    I am not very good at supporting thoughts yet, and I don’t have the knowledge base or scripture to quote from, but, line upon line…

    Comment by undefined — November 1, 2005 @ 4:08 pm

  28. You are describing a version of predestination that works great if one is a Calvinist but is very at oddds with Mormon doctrine (2 Nephi 2 especially).

    My question is why would we want to believe such a thing? It sounds like an awful doctrine to me. It means I have zero control over my own actions, thoughts or words. It means I am not really free to choose anything here, that I don’t really have free will, and that this life is not really a probationary state at all. What is the upside of such a doctrine? Why would one even want to stretch our scripture to fit that mold?

    Comment by Geoff J — November 2, 2005 @ 1:03 am

  29. This comment is off topic, but I didn’t know where else to put it. I’m still reading through these foreknowledge posts, and the links from the Nature of Reality post. I’m not convinced yet, though! Here’s a link to something I ran across a while ago and saved because it comes fairly close to describing the way I’ve come to think about the time vs. out of time issue. I’m sure the science aspect is dated, but I still like it, and thought you might at least like the music analogy.
    Link

    Comment by C Jones — December 9, 2005 @ 10:53 pm

  30. Hi C,

    The best work on why God must live in time and why the idea of “timelessness” real does make no sense is the book I’ve mentioned by Blake Ostler. He deals in great detail with most every variation on this theme including the attempts to use the theory of relativity to show how God can live outside of time (even though that all got too technical for me.)

    The basic problem is very simple, though. If God know the future then the future must be as fixed as the past. If that is the case then we are not really freely choosing, we just think we are. “Hypothetical free will” is what the concept is called by those who believe free will (sort of) is compatible with exhaustive foreknowledge. But if the future is fixed then we are all predestined to our fate. Further, a fixed future is totally useless to God because if it is fixed he can’t affect any of out fates either. We discussed much of this in a reignited conversation at that monsterously huge thread. See those last 20 or so comments for an interesting exchange (starting here).

    Comment by Geoff J — December 12, 2005 @ 12:07 pm

  31. Man, Geoff J, I cannot hang in the ‘Naccle. You are all over the place and I cannot find time to even think I would be involved nor have a blog. I say this here because you are an “Archipelago OG”. You are everywhere I visit and I am always a couple weeks behind on keeping with posts. Usually, if I even exert any effort to post a comment it is well after a fire is out and 101 of 100 posts have already cooled the blaze.

    Anyhow, here is my biggest conjecture, after being overtly rebutted (you say “vigorously defend”) by one of my own favorite bits of doctrine 2 Nephi 2. Why would Christ suffer for any more than one sin than he had too, (justice says he shouldn’t anyway) without knowing precisely what sins he would be atoning for to begin with? Justice demands no more, and mercy provides no more, than exactly what is required. It could seem that he would just do it in the end, yet he does in the meridian.

    I have read plenty of the foreknowledge debate, you defend a real time improve like existence. With as explicit as God is about everything else, allowing his Only Begotten Son to suffer for a fixed-past/foreknowledge-based future is not clear to me. So I still search for other alternatives to replace foreknowledge and then end up short, when I try to integrate true free agency/will.

    Does this mean that our existence, then, on this earth is being extended or shortened because of the choices of the world? The instant of the second coming is not known? Then, Joseph may have been right when he predicted things that didn’t come true (in the D&C)…he wouldn’t have known, and the course of the world was changed before it could happen, but then, I guess there have been a lot of visions seen. What, really, was in those visions of “our day” for Moses, Isaiah, Noah, Enoch, Moroni, Nephi etc…foreknowledge assumed visions, or real ones? Was Samuel the Lamanite, really seeing Jesus, Mary and Joseph? Did John not see the real end of the world in his dream when he wrote the very symbolic Revelations?

    Comment by undefined — January 10, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

  32. undefined,

    Sorry for the delay.

    Why would Christ suffer for any more than one sin than he had too, (justice says he shouldn’t anyway) without knowing precisely what sins he would be atoning for to begin with? Justice demands no more, and mercy provides no more, than exactly what is required. It could seem that he would just do it in the end, yet he does in the meridian.

    Interesting question. Of course my objection is that you are making a lot of assumptions about the atonement that I question.

    a. I don’t think Christ suffered any more or less than he had to
    b. Who says he suffered for any precise sins? I think this is a fallacy. He did not suffer specifically or individually for every cuss word I have ever muttered, I think he it is more likely he suffered generally as an over “picking up of the tab to appease Universal Justice” for all humankind.

    Does this mean that our existence, then, on this earth is being extended or shortened because of the choices of the world?

    Yes.

    The instant of the second coming is not known?

    Correct.

    Then, Joseph may have been right when he predicted things that didn’t come true (in the D&C)

    Right.

    What, really, was in those visions of “our day” for Moses, Isaiah, Noah, Enoch, Moroni, Nephi etc…foreknowledge assumed visions, or real ones?

    I’m suggesting they were general visions of the roles to come and the souls that had been chosen to fill those roles.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 11, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

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