A Fairy Tale for Unwitting Adults, Part 2

My idea going into this study of the Book of Mormon, especially the section dealing with evidence for and against its historicity, was if the Book of Mormon is true, then it has to stand up to the most rigorous assaults and critiques that skeptics and nonbelievers can make. So I made every effort to honestly, fully investigate every criticism, every objection that's ever been made to the historicity of the Book of Mormon. One has to suspend judgment in a number of cases, because it's hard to say when the evidence will all be in, but at the present there are still a number of unresolved anachronisms and problems and ambiguities in the text.

But I felt satisfied that there was in every case a corresponding weight on the other side of the equation, which actually led me to, I think, some very important insights into the nature of faith and how faith works. I came to the conclusion, in large part through my study of the Book of Mormon, that for faith to operate, and for faith to have moral significance in our lives, then it has to at some level be a choice. It can't be urged upon us by an irresistible, overwhelming body of evidence, or what merit is there in the espousing of faith? And it can't be something that we embrace in spite of overwhelming logical rational evidence to the contrary, because I don't believe that God expects us to hold in disregard that faculty of reason that he gave us.

But I do believe that the materials are always there of which one can fashion a life of belief or a life of denial. I believe that faith is a revelation of what we love, what we choose to embrace, and therefore I think [it] is the purest reflection of the values that we hold dear and the kind of universe that we aspire to be a part of. And so it comes ultimately as no surprise to me that the evidence will never be conclusive on one way or the other. I think that there's a purpose behind the balance that one attains in the universe of belief. ...

This quote from Terryl Givens (taken from an interview for the PBS FRONTLINE "The Mormons" found here) presents an interesting view of faith. Givens distills faith down to a choice - a choice to believe in something that has not been proven nor is based on any tangible evidence; or in Alma's words, the choice to "hope for things which are not seen, which are true." The crux of spirituality is being able to reach beyond this human body which demands proof, and attain a higher level through positive thinking. This is the emphasized by Christ himself: "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29)

Religions are based on faith. If it were not so, religions would be no more than service organizations or social clubs. Yet it seems that in our attempt to prove the "only true church," some may lose sight of this principle. Those against the LDS Church claim that we are "unwitting" for following a religion that has so little evidence - the fact that religion is founded on faith (not requiring evidence) is somehow disregarded. Those Latter-day Saints who take up arms against other religions claim that those religions are the "whore of all the earth" - the fact that only those who "fight against Zion" are considered such is somehow shoved to the side. The point of my other post (which I didn't portray very well) was that the two above parties represent two extremes on the spectrum - those who actively engage in discrediting the Church and those who actively engage in discrediting those who discredit the Church. I mentioned a "delineation" in my last post - I meant the delineation in question which, to me, is the invisible line that is constructed by these two extremes, when really there's more common ground than not.

I love the idea of faith because it's so all-encompassing; I can have faith in Jesus Christ as my Redeemer just as much as I can faith that the sun will rise this morning. One I've seen everyday of my life and one I haven't seen even once, but that's the beautiful of faith - seeing is not necessarily believing. When it comes to evidence, well, say what you may but I have my evidence for everything I've ever believed to be true. That evidence is in my heart.


Sara said...

Yay! I've been waiting for the follow-up post :)

I remember when I was investigating the church that I wanted my "proof." I was my father's daughter in the truest sense (he's a scientist). But eventually, I learned that the proof of something in the gospel sense is conveyed through the Holy Ghost, which encompasses and exudes all reason and logic even when my mortal eyes can't see that. :)

Thank you for your post--exploring such great topics like faith is a good way to spend an evening :)

Sara said...

Also, thanks for sending me the link to your Faith Blog (Baith? Flog?). I can't wait to read more posts!

travel log
  • 02.13.08 - to the temple with Luan and his mom, good to be back
  • 02.14.08 - Mẫu's alive! and staying for the weekend
  • 02.15.08 - floor hockey and Thái food makes for some strange dreams
  • 02.17.08 - frisbee and swamp monster at the park: fun but I'm pooped!
  • 02.19.08 - just read Triết's response to my last post - game on!
  • 02.20.08 - raining and expected to continue through Sunday - thank goodness!
  • 02.21.08 - 3-hour nap is a bad idea right before bed
  • 02.23.08 - to the beach to watch kites, a baptism @ 5pm, and homemade bulgogi - what a day!
  • 02.25.08 - just gave myself a haircut - woo, cold head!
  • 02.26.08 - 75° and spring cleaning - couldn't feel better
  • 02.27.08 - fed the elders bún đậu tonight - think it's their first time
  • 03.01.08 - working on new background...
  • 03.02.08 - finalized javascript to change background without muffing up my other scripts
  • 03.03.08 - fhe: "In his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12)
  • 03.07.08 - some decisions are harder than others, but some are downright excruciating
  • 03.08.08 - there is life after work... i almost forgot
  • 03.11.08 - the distance between good and bad is much shorter than between better and best
  • 03.12.08 - conversion is sometimes a gradual process, so much so that we don't even notice
  • 03.14.08 - for some reason everything was a little harder today, looking forward for bed!
  • 03.15.08 - last night after blog reading, I missed OnlyBlue, today I find she's back
  • 03.16.08 - best day of my life!
  • 03.19.08 - "Pray for the answer that they've been looking for"
release notes v1.0 - FINALLY DONE!
  • 12.07 - first thought of starting a new blog
  • 01.08 - busy with election stuff but blog design still on back burner
  • 01.13.08 - first idea to imitate jk rowling with the "desk" theme
  • 01.28.08 - start sketching current design, breaking down development into phases
  • 02.02.08 - election only days away but still drafting final plans
  • 02.04.08 - v0.6 LAUNCH
    • main components (blog body, sidebar, header, etc) designed and implemented
    • styling for font, links, drop caps, etc. finished
  • 02.07.08 - v0.8 LAUNCH
    • image style to imitate polariod
    • moveability - post-it notes and static clings can be repositioned by drag and drop
    • release notes styled and written
  • 02.16.08 - travel log (beta) added in hopes of catching the mundane
  • 02.22.08 - lightbox 2.03 reinstalled and working fine (hopefully - let me know otherwise)
  • 02.26.08 - v0.9 LAUNCH
    • travel log seems to be working, so I'll keep it
    • lightbox also seems to have passed the test, so it's a keeper
    • some credits/info added to bottom (will expand)
    • keeping old Viet terms in archive for future viewing
  • 03.18.08 - v1.0 LAUNCH
    • installation and testing of time-sensitive background completed (for now)