There Shall Be Time No Longer

by H. Clay Gorton

Reprinted from Latter-day Digest, Volume 2, Number 4, August 1993

Time is a concept of which we are totally and intimately aware. It is so fundamental, so common and pervasive in our consciousness that we seldom pause to ponder its meaning or significance. Yet it is spoken of in the scriptures in various contexts, and the serious student may well ponder what time is and how we are to interpret such phrases as "the time of the end," (Dan. 12:4,9) "in time and in eternity," (D&C 39:22; 72;3; 132:1-9, 18) "in time ye shall have no king nor ruler," (D&C 38:21) "they were brought near even to be carried out of this time to meet their God," (1 Ne. 18:18) "and the devil... shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time," (Luke 4:5) and "the seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer." (D&C 88:110, see Rev. 10:5.)

We feel comfortable with the concept of time until we are called upon to explain what it is. There seems to be no simple answer. Our awareness of time, however, is impressed upon our consciousness by three concepts— simultaneity, sequentially and duration. When two or more things happen together, we understand that they occur at the same time. When one event occurs before another, we understand the concept of an interval of time. Further, we are comfortable with the concepts of past, present and future, concepts which denote the passage of time.

However, consideration of the "present" seems to be imponderable. We understand that all consciousness, all reality, exists in the present. The past is but a memory. All that was yesterday is no more, unless it has been transported along the pathway of time into the present, where in reality it exists. The future is but a hope that has not yet been brought into existence. Therefore, all reality exists in the present. But is there a duration to the present? If there were, we could divide it into two parts: that which has already transpired—the past, and that which is yet to occur—the future. Therefore the present has no temporal existence. It is only an interface between the past and the future, one of which has ceased to exist and the other of which has yet to occur. Thus, existence must somehow transcend the concept of time

We are innately aware, however, of the passage of time. Things grow old, change, wear out, disappear; as these changes are perceived, we are aware that time is passing by. The passage of time, itself, is an interesting concept. What is the speed of the passage of time? Sometimes it seems to drag by with agonizing slowness, and at other times we feel that it is fleeting. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, recorded his impressions on the passage of time in these words:

And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old;... [and] I conclude this record... by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passes away like as it were unto us a dream. (Jacob 7:26)

The rate at which we perceive time to pass seems to be inversely proportional to our enjoyment of the moment. When we are engaged in an activity or when our interest is drawn to any given thing, our mental and physical involvement is on the activity of the moment rather than on the anticipation or contemplation of the activity. Since we are not thinking about time, its passage goes by unnoticed, and when we are brought to reflection, time seems to have moved swiftly. There is a tendency to regret the termination of a pleasant activity, and as we wish for its prolongation, we feel that it has not existed for a sufficient time, or that time has gone rapidly. When we are involved in unpleasant activities—the enduring of pain, sorrow, mourning, remorse—their very unpleasantness causes us to wish them away. We anticipate their disappearance—wait for the change, and time seems to progress slowly. The more attention we pay to time, the more slowly it appears to move. If we concentrate on the second hand of a clock, for instance, we find that a minute is a rather long time. On the other hand, if we concentrate on a game of chess, we are surprised at the conclusion that some hours may have passed away without our notice.

Age seems to have something to do with the perception of the rate of the passage of time. In early childhood, the school year seems to be interminable; we feel as though childhood will last forever. When we are young, we count our age in years and months. Our attention is focused mostly on the things of the moment. Time, indeed, passes slowly. As we grow older and perceive the broader scope, we are involved in activities that are more extensive in time. Our awareness, and thus our present, expands to the total project rather than to a single component activity; and since we are dealing in larger chunks of time, time seems to move more rapidly. Thus, the greater our awareness and the broader our activity, the more rapidly time seems to pass. Perhaps this relates to the Lord’s statement to Abraham:

And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. (Abraham 3:4)

Does the Lord perceive the passage of a thousand years of our time as we perceive the passage of a single day?

There are, however, more objective concepts of the notion of time. The concept of sequence can be used to provide objective and communicable measures of the passage of time. The periodic rotation of the earth on its axis has divided time into the relatively equal increments of days; and the relative position of the sun in the heavens, marked by the shadow cast by the gnomon of a sundial, has divided the day into hours. The moon’s periodic revolution about the earth marks a useful increment of time we call the lunar month, and the earth’s periodic revolution about the sun, with the attendant repetitive seasons, has divided time into the larger increment of years. The periodic motion of a pendulum or the escapement of a clock provides cyclical motions of equal duration, thus dividing time into the smaller increments of seconds, minutes and hours.

Objects in the heavens have been calculated to be at such vast distances that their light, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, takes several billions of years to reach the earth. On the other end of the scale, the transit of electrons in semiconductor materials has been measured in the billionths of a second. The extension of our awareness of and our ability to measure increments of time is indeed vast.

For many peoples, especially those in earlier agrarian societies, sundials and calendars were adequate timepieces. However, as societies became more industrialized, the need for more precise and more communicable measures of time became more important. Sundials were replaced by water clocks, hourglasses, pendulums, and then by escapement clocks and watches, and finally by atomic clocks with ultimate precision. In today’s complex society, we depend on time when we schedule and coordinate virtually all activity.

Apart from the time that is the common experience of every person, time exists as a mathematical and physical concept and, indeed, is one of the fundamental a priori concepts that lie at the core of all the physical sciences. Sir Isaac Newton, (1642-1727) who founded the basis for the study of the mechanics of macroscopic bodies, built his theories upon three fundamental a priori postulates—mass, length and time. As a priori postulates, these concepts were assumed to be true and not subject to verification. In his definition of time, Newton state, "We conceive time or absolute time, to flow uniformly in an unchangeable course, which alone serves to measure with exactness the changes of all other things."

Newton’s notion of an absolute time began to encounter difficulties as physics progressed to the measurement of phenomena approaching the speed of light. In this realm, Newtonian physics gave only approximate, rather than exact, answers. These discrepancies were accounted for in the relativity theory formalized by Albert Einstein.

According to Einstein, time itself is relative to the velocity with respect to the observer of the object being measured. The faster the velocity of recession from the observer, for instance, the slower ticks the clock. The limiting velocity is the speed of light. At this velocity the relative mass of the object being measured would increase to infinity and the rate of the passage of time would decrease to zero. It is to be noted that the results of the observations or calculations of bodies approaching the speed of light are relative to the position or the frame of reference of the observer.

As an example, let us assume we have two observers traveling away from each other in identical spaceships. The velocity of separation is near the speed of light. Each observer has the means to observe the running of a clock in the other spaceship. Observer A notes that the clock in observer B’s spaceship is running slow and he or she calculates the error by this formula,

(t2 - t1)B = (t2 - t1) A (1 - V2B/C2)½

where V is the velocity of the spaceship and C is the speed of light. As V approaches C, the fraction V/C approaches 1, and the argument in parentheses approaches zero. Thus, as the relative velocity of B’s spaceship with respect to the observer approaches the speed of light, the passage of time in B’s spaceship slows to zero.

When observer A measures the mass of spaceship B he or she finds the mass to be greater than the mass of his or her spaceship by the amount

MB = MA(1 - V2B/C2)

In this equation, since (1 - V2B/C2) is in the denominator, (note the exponent "minus 1/2") as the argument in parentheses approaches zero, MB approaches infinity.

It is interesting to note that observer B calculates the same results for the time and mass of spaceship A! Each observer thinks that the other spaceship is heavier and that its clock is running slower than his or her own. It is obvious these concepts of mass and time are not intrinsic properties of the systems being measured; rather, they are properties of the measurement system.

They are useful mathematical expressions that help to predict with a precision equal to the accuracy of our measurement ability the properties of rapidly moving bodies, but they in no way pertain to any ultimate reality.

It is beyond the scope of this paper to explain yet other concepts of time that could also form the basis of a workable physics. Suffice it to say that all of these concepts of time are theories or inventions of men, rather than discoveries of objective reality. They were developed by observation and experimentation in a telestial environment and cannot be expected to apply in higher glories, completely foreign to the experience of telestial beings. Perhaps Paul’s statement that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1 Cor. 3:19) and Jacob’s declaration "O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not" (2 Ne. 9:28, 29) imply something of the paucity and the limitation of man’s telestial scientific knowledge.

What is the meaning of Alma’s statement, "All is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto man"? (Alma 40:8) It appears that time as we know it began when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and will continue until the end of the millennium, or until the end of the "seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence:" (D&C 77:6; emphasis added). The scriptures are unequivocal in limiting time to the duration of man’s mortal existence. The New Song, to be sung by all the righteous after the Lord shall have subdued the earth at the beginning of the Millennium includes the phrase "And Satan is bound and time is no longer." (D&C 84:99-102)

At the time of the coming of the Savior to usher in his millennial reign, seven angels will announce the progressive happenings of that momentous occasion, and then six of the seven angels will reveal the secret acts of men in each of the six thousand years of man’s mortality. Following these declarations the seventh angel…

…shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer. (D&C 88:110)

This declaration states that at the beginning of the millennium, six thousand years after the advent of Adam and Eve into mortality, there shall be time no longer. Doctrine & Covenants 77:6 speaks of the seven thousand years of the earth’s temporal existence. Apparently, those who are resurrected at the beginning of the millennium and who may visit or dwell on the earth as immortal beings during the millennium will not be subjected to the constraints of the one-dimensional time frame, which appears to be a restriction of mortality. For them, the shackles of past, present and future will be removed, and there shall be time no longer.

However, a mortal strain will then propagate itself throughout the millennium. We are taught that at the coming of the Savior, the Saints who are still living on the earth shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. (D&C 88:96) This quickening will enable them to withstand the presence and the glory of the Lord but will not alter their mortal natures: "For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God." (D&C 67:11) Thus a strain of mortals will continue to live, propagate and die throughout the millennial period. The Lord has revealed that…

…he that liveth when the Lord shall come, and hath kept the faith, blessed is he; nevertheless, it is appointed to him to die at the age of man. Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old, old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of al eye. (D&C 63:50-51)

President Joseph F. Smith stated, "It is revealed that the great work of the millennium shall be the work in the temples for the redemption of the dead." A thousand years is provided by the Lord for mortals to perform and complete the saving ordinances of the gospel, both for themselves and vicariously for those who did not have the opportunity during their mortal sojourn. Brigham Young said, "We have at least one thousand years, counting three hundred and sixty-five days, five hours, forty-eight minutes and fifty-seven seconds to the year, if I recollect right, wherein the elders of Israel will enter holy temples of the Lord and officiate for just such persons as you and me, that have done the work we were called to do in our day, whether it was much or little. There will be hundreds of thousands of the sons of Jacob to administer in these temples for you and me." Thus time will continue to exist for the mortals living in the millennium, for by their nature they are not equipped to perceive the broader horizons open to those who are no longer fettered by the shackles of mortality.

What about the concept of time in the spirit world? Prior to mortality, we lived as spirit entities begotten of celestial parents. We lived in the presence of God our Father and partook of that celestial environment. Before the earth was formed, Abraham and many others, as spirit children of God, were selected for the roles they were to play in mortality. Alma, addressing the unbelieving Ammonihahites, taught that those ordained to the priesthood were "called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God." (Alma 13:3) The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was."

At first glance it may appear that those callings and ordinations may not have been perceived in any different way from those we experience in mortality in that the details of the activity involved are revealed to us only as they unfold. However, in the spirit world we were in the presence of God, in his environment, and since time is measured unto man only in mortality, the concept of time was not part of our spirit world environment. President John Taylor set the concept to poetry in the following verse:

The glorious plan which God has given

To bring a ruined world to heaven,

Was framed in Christ ere time had birth,

Was sealed in heaven ere known on earth.

As the Savior introduces himself in Doctrine & Covenants 38:1-2 he declares,

Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes. (Emphasis added)

This perception of all things being seen continually at one time is not restricted to the Lord alone. It appears to be according to the nature of the environment in which he lives. In Doctrine & Covenants 130:7-7 we learn that the...

...angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; but they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.

Apparently, in the Grand Council, we, too, saw into what we call the future. We understood the implications of our decisions. We saw the difficulties, the temptations, the failures and the successes, the pain and suffering; and we understood the great value and blessing of accepting our callings and fulfilling our commitments. Undoubtedly, it was not an easy choice, for we saw and knew the dangerous consequences of disobedience and failure. In the words of President Lorenzo Snow,

"I daresay that in the spirit world, when it was proposed to us to come into this probation, and pass through the experience that we are now receiving, it was not altogether pleasant and agreeable; the prospects were not so delightful in all respects as might have been desired. Yet there is no doubt that we saw and understood clearly there, that, in order to accomplish our exaltation and glory, this was a necessary experience; and however disagreeable it might have appeared to us, we were willing to conform to the will of God, and consequently we are here."

Seeing how difficult it would all be, not all of us accepted the challenge. Some forfeited great blessings because of their unwillingness to pay the price. These hard-hearted souls...

...rejected the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great a privilege as their brethren. (Alma 13:4)

Obviously, in the spirit world, "before time had birth," we were equally sensitive to what we call the past, present and future. We saw the extension of our own beings and the vista of the plan of salvation which, when it was revealed "we sang together with the heavenly hosts for joy," said President Joseph F. Smith.

Even during mortality the vista outside of time has been opened to some. We read in Luke 4:5 that Satan took the Savior "up into an high mountain, [and] shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time." When Moses was caught up into an exceeding high mountain the Lord declared to him:

All things are present with me, for I know them all. And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee. And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created. (Moses 1:6-8)

Following mortality we return to the spirit world to await the resurrection. We do not return to the home we left prior to mortality, but rather to a temporary residence associated with this earth. In the words of President Brigham Young,

"When you lay down this tabernacle, where are you going? Into the spiritual world... Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of the organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it to all eternity. Where else are you going? Nowhere else, only as you may be permitted."

Brigham Young stated that good and evil spirits go together and inherit the same kingdom, but they do not remain in the same place nor share one another’s company. President Joseph F. Smith taught,

The spirits of all men, as soon as they depart from this mortal body, whether they are good or evil... are taken home to that God who gave them life, where there is a separation, a partial judgment, and the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they expand in wisdom, where they have respite from all their troubles, and where care and sorrow do not annoy. The wicked, on the contrary, have no part nor portion in the Spirit of the Lord, and they are cast into outer darkness, being led captive, because of their own iniquity, by the evil one. And in the space between death and the resurrection of the body, the two classes of souls remain, in happiness or in misery, until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works. This is the final judgment.

Although we return to a different location in the spirit world following our mortal excursion, we are nonetheless in the spirit world and have the same faculties and abilities and live the same order of existence as we did in the premortal state. We are no longer fettered by the materials of mortality or the constraints of time. President Brigham Young revealed,

The brightness and glory of the next apartment is inexpressible. It is not encumbered... They move with ease and like lightning. If we want to visit Jerusalem, or this, that, or the other place—and I presume we will be permitted if we desire—there we are, looking at its streets. If we want to behold Jerusalem as it was in the days of the Savior; or if we want to see the Garden of Eden as it was when created, there we are, and we see it as it existed spiritually, for it was created first spiritually and then temporally, and spiritually it still remains. And when there we may behold the earth as at the dawn of creation, or we may visit any city we please that exists upon its surface. If we wish to understand how they are living here on these western islands, or in China, we are there; in fact, we are like the light of the morning.

In the spirit world we may look across time as in mortality we look across space. It is all there before us—the past, present, future, and the expanse of creation.

Neither shall we be bound by time in the celestial kingdom, where the righteous are destined to eternally dwell. The scriptures emphatically differentiate between time and eternity as mutually exclusive domains, as attested by the follow scriptures:

And he that receiveth these things receiveth me; and they shall be gathered unto me in time and in eternity. (D&C 39:22)

And verily in this thing ye have done wisely, for it is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity. For he who is faithful and wise in time is accounted worthy to inherit the mansions prepared for him of my Father. (D&C 72:3-4)

Then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity, and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things. (D&C 132:19)

Having developed the theme that time is measured only unto man, we return to Doctrine & Covenants 130:4-7 and read,

In answer to the question—Is not the reckoning of God’s time, angel’s time, prophet’s time, and man’s time, according to the planet on which they reside? I answer, yes. But there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it. The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; but they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.

Here we have "God’s time" and "angel’s time" coupled with "the past, present and future are continually before the Lord." The implication of the scriptures is that the one-dimensional Newtonian time frame, which is a constraint of mortality, is removed in the other spheres of existence. There, we perceive across time.

The Prophet Joseph Smith had a vision of the celestial kingdom on 21 January 1836 in which he saw not only his older brother Alvin, who had died in 1824 at age 25, but also his father and mother, both of whom were living at the time. Joseph marveled that Alvin had obtained an inheritance in the celestial kingdom when he had passed away prior to the restoration of the gospel and had not had the opportunity to participate in its saving ordinances. Undoubtedly, Joseph saw things as they were—an extension of his parents’ and his brother’s existence into the eternities, where there is no future and no past, only the eternal present. Similarly, we read in Doctrine & Covenants 132:29 that...

...Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.

Apparently, Abraham achieved his celestial glory before the earth, which is to be the eternal residence of all those who belong to it, has received its celestial glory. This would represent an inconsistency only if time were measured outside of mortality.

"Time is measured only unto man" does not mean that in the eternities there will not be rotation of planets or sequence of events. In fact, we read in Abraham 3:9,

And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come night unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time; which Kolob is set night unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.

Apparently, the Lord’s time is measured by the rotation of the planet Kolob, which rotates on its axis once for every 365,000 rotations of the earth. But although planets rotate and revolve in their various spheres and orbits, spirit and immortal beings continually and simultaneously experience the broad continuum of existence.

If we are to render an account of our stewardship in eternity (D&C 72:3-4), we of necessity will be accountable in eternity, "where all things for [our] glory [will be] manifest, past, present and future" (D&C 130:7). Although we will know the future, we will still be accountable for our decisions that will dictate the future.

This concept presents serious problems of logic when viewed by the rationale of man’s knowledge. Principal among these is the question—"Does foreknowledge imply predestination?" The scriptures clearly teach that man is a responsible agent, controlling his own destiny by the choices he elects to make. We were free to choose in the preexistence and were responsible for our choices. In that realm, where we perceived the future, not all of us made the same choices. Alma tells how some spirits accepted and other rejected the callings they received to be ordained to the priesthood after their birth into mortality:

And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son... And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling; yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such. And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren. (Alma 13:2-4)

Even seeing into the future, some were not willing to pay the price of promised blessings and exercised their agency in refusing the call.

The freedom of choice was given to mortal man by God in the Garden of Eden. To Adam and Eve, the Lord said,

And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Moses 3:16-17)

Lehi reiterates the freedom of men to choose:

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself: (2 Ne. 2:27)

How, then, if the future is known, are we at liberty to make choices that will affect our future? Since the past continually exists and the future continually exists, then we continually exist in the past and in the future, as well as in the present. However, in mortality we have a loss of memory and a loss of vision. Our consciousness is constrained to the present. But in actuality we exist as eternal beings—beings in eternity—outside of time. We are there in the future and we are there in past because "future" and "past" are mortal terms which only apply to us now and which describe the restrictions of vision placed upon us. The continuum of self is acting on its environment in all phases of its existence, and the choices made in each part of the continuum affect the quality of life in all the other parts. Lucifer, who was a son of the morning, in authority in the presence of God during that premortal existence, made choices there that eternally influenced the nature of his being.

Some may assume that if what we call the future is known to God, it is therefore fixed and we can do nothing about it. However, we cannot assume that we roll through time down some predestined path without volition or control, following a predetermined course. The term agency, one of the great gifts of God to man, implies responsibility. We are told in Doctrine & Covenants 29:35 that man is "an agent unto himself." An insurance agent, for example, is empowered by the insurance company to sign documents in the name of the company that commit the company to policy provisions. The company is bound by his actions. As self agents, we legally represent ourselves before the Lord. We are empowered to commit ourselves by our decisions to the course we pursue. And we are legally responsible to the Lord for those decisions we make. Whether the future be known or unknown, we are responsible for our own decisions and actions which mark the course of our continuing existence.

Although as mortals we have no idea of the nature of the environment in which the concept of time is not a fundamental postulate, we can imagine the existence of some added dimension that would obviate the need for such a concept. As an example, we could consider some differences between a two-dimensional world and a three-dimensional world. Consider a man living in a two-dimensional world. His world is the surface of the ocean. He is incapable of perceiving anything in the air above the surface or in the water below the surface. Part of his environment is the spontaneous generation and dissolution of matter. When a ship sinks, the matter of which it was composed no longer exists in his experience. If something floats to the surface or lands on the surface, it suddenly comes into existence. Fish always occur in pairs. He is only aware of a fish as it cuts through the surface while jumping out of the water, and as it cuts the surface again while falling back in. The two-dimensional man can predict the second fish from the appearance of the first. By observing the angle of the fish with respect to the surface, its length, and the amount of time that is exists, he may predict with precision when and where the second fish will occur. However, he has trouble with ducks. Ducks occur with complete spontaneity. He can never predict when they will occur or when they will disappear. One day, as he is rowing along, he chances upon a three-dimensional man who has been shipwrecked and is clinging to a plank in the water. He invites the 3D man into his boat, and they enter into a discussion of the 2D man’s environment. When the 3D man hears about the spontaneity of ducks, he replies, "I can predict ducks. Watch and I’ll show you." Presently he sees a flock of ducks circling as if to land. As they approach the water, extend their wings and shove their feet forward for a landing, he says, "When I count to three, there will be ducks. One, two, three!" And sure enough, at that moment the ducks land in the water and come into the consciousness of the 2D man. He is amazed: "You must be able to see into the future," he exclaims. What appears to be the future to the 2D man is only the extended vision of the 3D man.

We have no understanding of the physics of a nontime environment, and so no explanation can be made of how things operate in that environment. That which we do know is revealed in the scriptures. We may rationalize concerning scriptural facts, but in that rationalization we must not alter or change the facts. Any deductions we make must be consistent with revealed truth, and since we cannot experiment in an environment foreign to our present existence, we are required to accept on faith the truths that are revealed. If they seem illogical with the knowledge we presume to have, the only true course is to hold in abeyance our presumed knowledge until it concurs with revealed truth.


1. Sterling D. Allen, "Split-Second Timing," Ensign, 22, Aug. 1992, p. 69.

2. Colin Maclaurin, An Account of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophical Discoveries, London, 1748, pp. 100-101.

3. P. W. Bridgeman, The Logic of Modern Physics, Macmillan, New York, 1927.

4. Improvement Era, 5, (Dec. 1901): 146-47.

5. Journal of Discourses, 6, (April 8, 1953): 308.

6. Abraham 3:23.

7. Documentary History of the Church, 6 (May 12, 1844): 364.

8. John Taylor,Gospel Kingdom, 383.

9. Millennial Star, 56 (Oct. 6, 1893): 49.

10. Joseph F. Smith, JD, 25 (Feb. 17, 1884): 57.

11. Brigham Young, JD, 3 (June 22, 1856): 372.

12. Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era, 7 (June 1904): 621-234.

13. Brigham Young, JD, 14 (Sept. 16, 1871): 230.

14. Doctrine and Covenants 137.

15. "This earth is our home, it was framed expressly for the habitation of those who are faithful to God and who prove themselves worthy to inherit the earth when the Lord shall have sanctified, purified and glorified it and brought it back into His presence." Brigham Young, JD, 17 (July 19, 1874): 143.

16. Doctrine and Covenants 76:25-27.

17. "A member of the Church ought always, particularly if he is pursuing extensive academic studies, to judge the professions of man against the revealed word of the Lord." Boyd K. Packer, The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than The Intellect, BYU Studies (1981).