Our Spiritual Theories


Disagreeing with my older sister was not unusual for my nine-year-old self. As with most brothers and sisters, our disagreements were more for the challenge of being the winner than for the subject of the argument.

This time, however, it seemed vital to my intellectual esteem that I be right. We were arguing about the clouds in the sky and the earth’s rotation. I had learned in my science class that the earth revolves in constant motion so I just knew that it wasn’t the clouds we saw moving across the sky, it was the earth rotating beneath them.

Since my sister and I couldn’t come to an agreement, we took the problem to our fact source: Mother. “Mom, do the clouds move or do they stay in one position and the earth moves beneath them,” we asked in unison, each anxious for her theory to be the correct one.

To my sister’s delight and my disappointment, mother explained that although the earth is constantly revolving, the clouds moved as the wind blew them across the sky. My understanding of earthly laws was incomplete and I had to alter my thinking process. There was more I needed to learn.

Fifteen years later I see how silly my idea was. I thought I could base all my observations of the physical world on the partial knowledge I had of it and be accurate in those observations. That is, until they were corrected by a more knowledgeable source.

Many times in our progressing spiritual lives we make the same premature assumptions because of the partial knowledge and understanding we have of the gospel. We feel despair for a sister who has been paralyzed in an accident and has a young family to raise. We say there is no justice in the world when a drunk driver kills an innocent man.

In time, as we learn the purpose of trials and suffering, we witness the growth and strength the injured sister gains from her new lifestyle. In time, as we understand the plan of salvation, we realize that if the world were free of wrong acts, a wise Heavenly Father would be taking away the free agency given to His children.

Like my incomplete scientific theories, our spiritual theories often need completion and correction. The increased knowledge and understanding we seek will come as we humbly and prayerfully consult our spiritual fact source—Heavenly Father:

“My grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, … of things both in heaven and in the earth.” (See D&C 88:78–79.)

[illustration] Illustrated by Rob Colom