So how many people do we think will exist in the whole of humanity throughout our history?
Abraham was told his descendants would be as numerous as the sands of the sea and the stars of the heaven, both of which are finite but incredibly large quantities. (For a clear and haunting depiction of unimaginably large numbers, see Steve Peck’s excellent novella A Short Stay in Hell.) Of course, those descriptions given to Abraham may be more akin to poetic license than actual numbers.
What I’m curious about now is the total number of spirit children of our Heavenly Parents. We learn about them (us, really, although we cannot remember it) in the plan of salvation lessons, those multitudes who took part in the grand council in heaven. We lost a third of those brothers and sisters, so that must be a third of some particular number, right?
I clearly remember being told as a teenager that we were a choice generation, reserved especially for these latter days (reinforcing the idea that there is a certain number of spirits who have been all queued up waiting to enter mortality, and we’re getting close to the end of the line). Stories were passed around in testimony meetings and firesides about people, older than us, even, who were blessed that they would see the return of Christ in the flesh.
We have an obligation to provide physical bodies for spirit children (within the bonds of marriage, with the timing and quantity of children being the result of prayerful consideration by husband and wife). The command to multiply and replenish is still in effect, according to the Proclamation on the Family.
So do we think that at some point every spirit who is waiting for their chance at mortality will be born? And a related question: Are we still an end-of-times religion?
I’m very curious as to
1) What the range of faithful LDS opinions is on the subject (I expect it to be a mix of doctrine and folklore, which I’m finding describes most of the personal beliefs I grew up with. It’s interesting to me to go through and attempt to untangle the two, even while recognizing both as valid parts of my LDS heritage. But I could be wrong about the entire thing, and in that case, I’m more than willing to be corrected)
2) Whether anyone even thinks about these things.
In some ways, it doesn’t matter. It’s all a matter of faith or speculation, depending on your point of view. But in other ways, even small aspects of our faith will have an important influence on the choices we make as we live our lives (For example, a strong belief in Saturday’s Warrior may be a factor in the number of children a couple chooses to have.) What do you think?