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Dear Gramps,

Is there a doctrinal, spiritual, or scriptural basis for the so called “Murphy’s Law,” which says “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong?”  It seems to happen more often than what random chance would predict.






The story of Murphy’s Law is rather interesting, and will help me answer your question.

in 1948 the US Air Force was conducting a research project called MX981. Among other things, it was examining the effects of G-forces on the human body. Captain John Stapp was head of the project, and even participated in the tests himself. They involved strapping a man into a rocket sled, accelerating the sled as quickly as safely possible, then decelerating, again as safely as possible.

At some point during the tests, the accuracy of the instruments used to measure the forces was called into question. Edward Murphy was one of the engineers on the project and he proposed using a new type of strain gauge. He designed the new harness, then had an assistant build it. The new harness was tested on a chimpanzee, however the harness gave no reading at all, much less an accurate one.  Murphy examined the harness and realized that every gauge had been wired in backwards, thus making the whole thing useless. In reference to his unfortunate assistant he said this; “If there’s more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then he will do it that way.​​

Edward Murphy redesigned the harness, built it himself, and re-ran the test. The harness was successful, and the project continued.

Now, as to your question, the idea of Murphy’s Law is far older than these events. A couple examples can be found as early as an engineering society report in 1877. Others view it as being in harmony with the Second Law of Thermodynamics of physics. This essentially states that everything in the universe, left to its own devices, moves to higher and higher levels of entropy, or disorganization.

As far as the scriptural basis, there absolutely is one. Whenever we are free to choose for ourselves, we can choose poorly. The very conditions of this mortal life we are living gives us opportunity to ‘go wrong’. We have agency, or the freedom to choose for ourselves. However we have the veil over our minds. Limiting what we know before we make the choice means odds are good someone, somewhere, will make the wrong choice.

This leads us to the core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need a savior because we’ve all ‘gone wrong’. The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found in the principle of repentance, and the opportunity to make good on our errors, as much as we can at least.

Just as Edward Murphy was given time to examine the problem, correct it, and re-run the test, we too are given time and opportunity to recognize the errors in our lives, correct ourselves as much as we can, then re-take the test.






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