Sunday, February 01, 2004

Is there more than one "right choice" for any decision?

As long as knowledge and experience remain changing, I don’t think we can ever get away from relativism. Unless everyone’s frame of reference is the same, events or decisions will always be interpreted differently. Thus I don’t think any thing we do will ever be “perfect” unless we have perfect knowledge and experience (hence the focus on grace leading to good works for some religions). So perhaps the question boils down to what is “perfect knowledge and experience”. Will any decision I make be less than it could have been if I had been more aware of the spirit, or more knowledgeable of the consequences? Thus Logan’s comment do “differences come from one person being more spiritually developed, or is it just an equally correct but different choice”?

I think I would tend to say what is best for us depends on what we are trying to accomplish. With limited knowledge and experience no decision can ever take into account all the possible consequences. While many people would say the spirit is there to direct us to the best decision possible, I am not sure this solves the problem. Is it the best possible decision based on our personality, our level of spirituality, some abstract level of perfect righteousness, etc? I think a couple of these options are more probable than others.

If the spirit directs our decisions to an abstract level of perfection, it may take us so long to figure out (ie recognize, verify and apply) the intricacies that we never end up accomplishing anything. Perhaps the conditions have changed enough in the meantime, that the answer has now changed. In other words, our ability to interpret the spirit is so poor that we will always be playing catch up, never being able to act. For example if it takes me 3 years to figure if I should marry, the other person may have gotten so frustrated that the option is gone. Personally though, I think the biggest critique of this view is in terms of self actualization. As individuals, we need to figure out the reasons behind righteousness. As God facillitates this process, we then become righteous. We also become fully in tune with the spirit, because our desires, motivation, and reasoning are the same as that of the spirit. This is much different from an avoidance of sin. It is also stronger than the usual position where we are righteous agents following the spirit. I think we have to become one with the spirit, and this doesn't happen just from a typical view of obedience.

I tend to think that the spirit is usually there to help us accomplish our righteous desires. Being imperfect, not all my desires are completely righteous, so obviously the spirit won’t help me with everything. As far as the spirit is able, I will get help in accomplishing what I feel is important. Thus the original question now becomes more of what do I want. Are there several different paths from a given decision which can lead to a possible increase in righteousness? I think most people would agree that lots of things can lead to an increase in righteousness. This is especially true if we always strive to learn from our experiences. Confusion typically enters when we assume that the spirit must always direct us to the path that will lead to the “most righteousness”.

Now I think it is fairly obvious that our background, talents, and personality will customize this path for us. Large things like being baptized are, I believe, pretty universal. Other things like what books and ideas I need to be exposed to, may be more personal. Personally I think the only things we “need” are the essential ordinances of the church. Everything else is pretty much up to us. While it is possible to say that when more than one path exists, one route will always be the shortest, I have a hard time saying that in this world of greys, there isn’t more than one route from our current state. If this wasn’t true, we would live in a deterministic type world, where the type of tuna we buy is part of the decisions needed to remain on the path