Tuesday, March 6, 2012

some things are just fun to think about...

Occasionally, it's really fun to follow a train of thought that just makes your head spin - in a good way...

In Ether in the Book of Mormon, chapter 3, verse 1, the brother of Jared obtains 16 small, clear stones by melting rock. The estimated time for these events in around 2200 BC. According to archaeological information, glass was initially bead created by grinding the melted material, and the first evidence of a blown glass bead is from India dating roughly 1730BC. When you start thinking about it, it's pretty interesting. Did the Jaredites introduce the basis for glass-making to Asia as they journeyed overland to the eastern coast of the continent? Did they already know how to melt silica to create glass, or was it something the Lord revealed to them? It was the early to mid-bronze age after all. They possessed the skills to create tools and smelt ore. And in portions of the sub-Sahara, the iron age technology was already beginning.

It always makes me wonder about the origin of innovation. Who really creates the innovations? Our religious doctrine indicates that all knowledge is a gift from God for mankind to use in discharging our stewardship over the earth. So our development of culture and technology is ultimately under the Lord's direction, isn't it? Which makes it sort of pointless trying to determine the chronology of scientific advancement throughout world culture. If we receive the knowledge necessary to cure a disease through revelation, it's not really the accomplishment of the scientist/doctor/researcher that gets the credit for it, is it? A lot of scientists would be very uncomfortable with such an idea. History is essentially a list of who did what over time, and if man is merely the conduit, doesn't that change the significance of events drastically?

Yeah. Kind of a weird thing to think about. But comforting too. Because if you believe that the Lord is omniscient, then He possesses all knowlege. He can teach us anything we could possibly need to know via revelation. That doesn't mean He doesn't expect us to work for our solutions. I believe he does. In fact I think we often earn the solution by the work. The brother of Jared certainly did. It takes a lot of heat to melt rock to the point that it will produce glass. About 3000 degrees fahrenheit, in fact. Not your average bonfire. And he had to know what kind of rock/material to melt to produce glass. He didn't just find some quartz and figure it would do. The verse says he,

"did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass; "

No small feat. And glass was obviously a reality in their lifestyle and had come up in conversation with the Lord, because in chapter 2, verse 23, the Lord says,

"What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces;"

There is an implication there that windows would be made of a breakable substance, like glass. And earlier in the chapter, their group prepared a vessel capable of transporting fish for their travels, not to mention figuring out a way to transport bee colonies as well. They had ingenious technology for their era. And their society had been created because they pled with the Lord to preserve a common language for them. It's all very remarkable and humbling at the same time.

We like to think our society is so advanced, that technology and science is exploding forward all the time. And for the most part it is. But sometimes I like to realize that none of it is new. The Lord already knows all of it, and is still portioning out that knowledge as He feels we can use it. That's pretty exciting, because it means that if we can imagine it, it's probably possible with a fullness of that knowledge. Teleportation may be a reality for us someday. See what I mean about fun to think about?