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I used to believe in the Hindu concept of karma. In that concept, a person’s actions and experiences in previous lives are what form his/her talents, abilities, circumstances, appearance and everything that differentiates one person from another in this life. I would like to know, in Mormon doctrine, why are some people smart or not, athletic or not, retarded or not, handicapped or not, prone to criminality or goodness, destined to fame or obscurity? Why do they have the physical features and mental and emotional make-up they do? Why are they born to a certain set of parents in a certain country, etc, etc?
Barry, from Detroit, Michigan

Dear Barry,
In the first place, Mormons do not believe in the concept of reincarnation–one trip through mortality and that’s it! However, we were first born as spirit children of our Father and Mother in heaven. The only beings in eternity that have the power of procreation are the Gods. And as the scriptures declare, there is more than one god.

For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him (1 Cor 8:5-6).

The spirit children of our Heavenly Parents are infinite in number, with a range of intelligence (as well as a range of righteousness) that varies from God to Satan.
And the Lord said unto me:

These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all (Abr 3:19).

In the spirit world the spirits were taught and instructed by God the Father, and undoubtedly by other spirits called of God. Each of those infinite spirits has its own level of intelligence, degree of righteousness, proclivities, inclinations and abilities. Each one is a unique individual. Although the spirits were taught righteousness, God endowed each one with his free agency–each person, each spirit, is responsible for his own actions, words and thoughts. So when various spirits inhabit mortal bodies they come with their own unique characters, abilities and interests well formed. Hence we account for the many differences between different people in proclivity, ability and degree of righteousness. The purpose of mortality is to hone the good and eliminate the bad. How we as mortals perform during our mortal sojourn will determine where we will end up in the eternities. God the Father has revealed to man all of the information necessary to become so perfect as to live with God and inherit all that He has—

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Rom 8:16-17).

The potential of man, as he journeys through the eternities, is indeed great!

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