(July 23, 2014)
I have spent the better part of my lifetime thinking about the nature of reality – most specifically, why there is something rather than nothing. In the terminology used by philosophy, I have been considering the cosmological argument (before I knew what that was) – contemplating infinite regress into eternity, infinite extension into eternity, causality (and how our understanding of it cannot be right), and so forth.
That is why this chapter fascinates me so much. I don’t claim to be a philosophical genius by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel I am just now (at almost 40) coming to grips with some of these questions. This chapter, though, was written by Joseph Smith when he was about half my age, and it has more depth in it than I have been able to plumb in my life. I feel like I could easily get lost in verse 13, and spend a lifetime just considering that one particular verse.
That is a great testimony to me of the translating role of Joseph Smith. Joseph couldn’t have written this chapter at his age, packing it with the depth and wealth of information and ideas which it has (especially not in such a short period of time). Lehi, on the other hand, could have. This chapter is a work of such genius and such depth, that Joseph (no matter how clever) couldn’t have worked these things out over a lifetime.
With 25 years of thought on these issues (I really started considering them at around 14 or so), and with a few months to work, I think I could write something of consequence on the subject. At 23, and with only a day to complete, my writings on the subject would be garbage. And yet, what we have here is a masterpiece. There is no earthly way Joseph Smith could have written this short of Divine intervention, and considering his assertion that the Divine intervention was an assist to translation rather than authorship, I am left with no choice but to believe him.