If the brain was so simple that we could understand it, then we would be so simple that we couldn't.
Poets ask only to get their heads into the heavens.
It is scientists who seek to get the heavens into their heads
It is their heads that split.
But where is the line to be drawn? When is enough, enough—and more too much? How can we tell if we are active enough, serving others enough, loving enough, home enough—or whether the balance needs to be readjusted? Aristotle once said:
“It is no easy task to be good. For in everything it is no easy task to find the middle … anyone can get angry—that is easy—or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble. (“Man and Man: The Social Philosophers,” The World’s Great Thinkers, volume II, edited by Saxe Cummins and Robert N. Linscott, New York: Random House, 1947, page 352a.)
Could a man be a better husband if he spent every evening at home with his wife? Could he be a better husband if he had no children, thereby having all of his spare time to dedicate to her? The answer is a resounding no! No one—husband, wife, children, or church—has claim on the full time of someone else. Children, given their parents’ full-time attention, would be overshadowed and become dependent. The Church, with full-time bishops, would have a paid ministry and become an end in itself rather than a divine organization designed to help perfect the individual children of God.
Brigham Young encouraged the people to dance, even while proclaiming, "Dancing [is] no part of our worship."43
He says, "I labor for my own dear self," and in the same breath adds that men have no right to work for themselves.44
We practice shrewd economics even while being told to take no thought of what we shall eat or wear.
We should constantly be storing our minds with knowledge, yet take no thought of what we are to say when we teach the gospel.
We are told to be provident and thrifty—but to ask and trust our heavenly Father for our daily bread.
We are told to be industrious and independent, yet "if the laborer in Zion labor for money, he shall perish" (cf. 2 Nephi 26:31).
We are told to go to with our might—and consider the lilies of the field who toil not neither do they spin.
We are told to hold the Sabbath most sacred as a day of rest, yet it is the day on which many of us work hardest.
We are told to acquire worldly learning and told that worldly learning is nothing.
Joseph Smith said he would have nothing to do with politics and ran for president!
The Savior, speaking with the woman at the well, was thirsty and asked for a drink, and even as he was drinking she asked him for a drink, because he told her that he could give her water of which whoever drank would never thirst again.
We could go on and on, but what is wrong here? Nothing. If we were to examine each of the above apparent paradoxes we would find them all falling into the pattern of Moses' declarations, both uttered on the same occasion and as it were in the same breath. First he said, "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed" (Moses 1:10). And then he adds: "But now mine own eyes have beheld God; . . . his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him. . . . I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten" (Moses 1:11, 13). Which is it? Is man nothing or everything? It all depends on which existence we behold him in, temporal or eternal.
In the long run, the truth is its own most powerful advocate. The Lord uses imperfect people. He often allows their errors to stand uncorrected. He may have a purpose in doing so, such as to teach us that religious truth comes forth "line upon line, precept upon precept" in a process of sifting and winnowing similar to the one I know so well in science.
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