Sunday 31 August 2014

Why were we born in particular times and places, to particular parents?

How can this question be approached? The question of why I personally was born in a particular time and place and set of circumstances?

The question can only legitimately be asked after the religious and metaphysical questions have been answered in principle (what might be termed the 'metaphysical set-up') - I mean questions such as how 'I' am constituted (what combination of factors went into me); the nature of God, the purpose of reality, and so on.

In other words, to some extent this question answers itself - and the degree of specificity with which it answers itself is also a part of the metaphysical set-up.

So, my conclusion is a matter of establishing bounds, each of which constrains the answer to come extent.


1. The specificity of my situation is not random - it is inconceivable that the situation into which I was born could be a matter of indifference to the God in which I believe; therefore my circumstances do - in some way and to some extent - embody divine providence.

2. I chose, or consented to, the circumstances - in some way and to some extent. It is inconceivable that my situation would have been forced-upon-me by by loving Heavenly Father. At the most basic level I chose to be born - chose mortal incarnate life (this is part of Mormon doctrine) when I could have remained an unincarnated pre-mortal spirit.

3. Yet, I did not choose everything that happens to me in life; because my life is open-ended, it is not a mere unfolding of pre-determined, pre-destined events. For example, other-peoples' choices and how they affect me was not fore-known, and therefore the consequences of other people's choices could not be chosen by me. I could choose and consent to only some aspects of the basic situation of my life - not all the microscopic details of life.

4. Also, I could not choose the specific consequences of my own choices - especially since my own choices are often sinful. But even if they were not, choices are made on the basis of incomplete information and have many unanticipated consequences and interactions.

I also chose, therefore, to deal-with in-principle the unknowable unfolding consequences of my own choices - rather than choosing the specific details of what will, in fact, contingently happen to me.


In sum, there are bounds that indicate to each of us some idea of the extent to which 'my particular life' has been chosen and is meaningful.

We know that on the one hand Life is not random, and on the other hand that life is not determined.

Beyond that there is need for a guidance system to deal with the specifics and unanticipated aspects of life as it actually unfolds.

No matter how much we do know about the original and primary reason for our life and its purpose, this cannot be enough for the actual living of life.

This 'guidance system' to navigate through unknown and unknowable contingencies - is certainly one of the most important things in life: it is, indeed, pretty much indispensable.

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