Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I'm at the start of new semester, enrolled in two classes: statistics, and probability. Both classes are currently discussing probability, which has caused me to think much on the topic lately. I customarily deal with probabilities on a daily basis regarding the weather and the likelihood of rain (20% today), all because I commute by bicycle and want to know what's in store for me.

These thoughts have caused my mind to wander back to my undergraduate course on probability. In a discussion on the topic, the instructor challenged us to come up with an event for which the probability is one, meaning the event is going to occur. The typical sun rising was given, which was promptly shot down. Even the rising of the sun cannot have a 100% probability. Because it was at BYU, I offered an answer that the professor had to admit (contrary to his lesson plans) has a certain probability: resurrection.

We know that all will be resurrected, "both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous" (see Alma 11:41-45), but I want to explore supernatural probabilities further.

Resurrection is an amazingly wonderful gift, but what gift is greater? Eternal life (see D&C 14:7). In fact, the referenced scripture gives an indication of what is required to qualify for this "greatest of all the gifts of God": We must keep the commandments and endure to the end. It is essential to note that this is made possible only in and through Christ (see Articles of Faith 1:3 and Mosiah 3:17).

Returning to probability: With the sure knowledge of resurrection to all, what is the probability of exaltation? Of course this is a personal matter, but I wonder how many faithful believers actually believe that they will be exalted—and I mean the highest state of happiness and glory in the presence of God.

If belief influences action (and I believe it does), then the higher confidence one has in personal exaltation will influence one to do the things that qualify for the gift. How, then, can one increase their confidence in exaltation? The brief, surface answers may include: actually believe Christ (instead of simply believing in Christ), and apply the infinite and eternal atonement to your life—both by improving actions (keeping the commandments) and truly repenting of sin.

Related thoughts:
Pew Placement
I recall a discussion I had with our good friend and neighbor where he stated his belief that a person's preferred sitting location in a chapel is an indication of their feeling of worthiness (or confidence in exaltation). He argued that those near the front are confident with their standing with God and personal progress, and those near the rear have guilty consciences.

Of course the validity of this claim is uncertain, but I liked the idea and related discussion (probably because I sit near the front!).

Pew Poll
The results of a survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life were explored in a Time article (click here). Part of the results show that only Latter-day Saints and Jehovah's Witnesses had a majority vote that their faith was the sole means of obtaining eternal life (I add: through the merits, mercy, and grace of Christ, of course (see 2 Ne. 2:8)).

Sure, this may only be slightly related to my question of confidence in personal exaltation, but it is interesting nonetheless.

As you may have guessed, an LDS author explored the results of the Pew poll related to the LDS belief that persons of all faiths can find exaltation—providing they did not have the opportunity in this life and accepted the gospel in the next life (article is here).

[Any thoughts on these articles? Feel free to comment.]

Rhetorical and Direct Questions
I asked myself the following: "How much confidence do I have in exaltation?" which translated into, "To what degree do I believe Christ?" and then, "If I really believe Him, am I doing all that I should?"

Unfortunately, I didn't like my truthful answer to the last question. Nevertheless, I'm happy I asked, for how is progress to be attained without measurement, analysis, and truthful introspection, followed by course correction?

I am confident (probability = 1) that Christ provided the way, means, and example of how we can be made clean and receive exaltation. At the same time, though, I want to work on my confidence that I can/will do what is necessary to become clean.

1 thought:

Maryann said...

I think it is interesting to think about how many LDS people think they will obtain the highest degree of glory or even make it to the Celestial Kingdom. I remember when I was growing up hearing people say things like "if" I get to the Celestial Kingdom, and I think a lot of us don't have much confidence in ourselves. We should remember that Heavenly Father didn't intend that only a few people should finish well, but that we all can. We need to trust in Him and his plan for us, that Christ made it possible through repentance. We can all make it together!