This is written as a response to an interesting blog post I read on an atheist website. This grew too long to leave as a comment to the post so I am instead publishing my response here and will later link them together. The atheist’s post is found here:
To the blogger known as Serotonin Wraith,
My latest bumper sticker design says this: Question Everything.
If I may, it appears to me that you need a more-informed Mormon friend to help you understand what we understand. Someone to ask hard questions of and get an unvarnished intellectual response from. Perhaps, for a start, feel free to read my other blog posts and comment.
It has been 5 years since your post so I hope you are still out there.
Over my life, I have questioned every interesting question that you bring up in your post. I have thought every interesting thought posted there. Well, okay, maybe not exactly, but pretty much. And, yet, I am still a Mormon. Mormonism makes theological sense, logical sense, and, curiously, scientific sense.
I don’t have space or time here to answer every detail you bring up but many of the answers I might have presented can be summed up by the ancient phrase “God helps those who help themselves.” To understand how that works, however, can be difficult, and it is often misunderstood. You see, belief in God is a test of faith, not a test of fact. That is the whole point of this Earth. That is the test all of us are taking right now on this planet.
Some may call it a paradox and, well, so what if it is? Aren’t tests often paradoxical? The more you have faith, the more you see how faith works. You, however, must take the first step – God rarely proves himself to unbelievers (asking for such proof is called tempting God). Besides, evidence is that those who ask for such proof don’t change after receiving such proof anyhow.
Now, more to your points. First, the Mormon who told you to “ask God to let you know the Mormons are right” is just plain silly. The more obvious first step is to seek the existence of God regardless of any faith. Then, once you’ve found that communication line to the Holy Spirit, then ask God what’s what. Don’t just ask him about the Mormon Church – we are not so narrow minded to really want to seek new members that way. Ask him about all churches; ask him about the Bible; ask him about the Book of Mormon; ask him about the Koran; heck, just talk to him like the father he is and ask him anything. Then, once you’ve opened your soul to his voice, you will hear him and you will then know it is nothing like any trick your brain can play on you. This experience is somewhat like discovering a whole new dimension in the universe, and it saddens me that many of my friends, family, and coworkers cannot touch it like I can. Some people are better than others at exercising this gift, all are capable of receiving it.
I explain this because I completely agree with the analogy of imagining scraping your fingernails down a plate and experiencing shivers. That is, I agree that if the brain can do this then it can also create other waves of emotion when looking for a god. I agree that “these waves of emotion are no indicator of a god being real at all.” Yes, I see many who do indeed experience belief in God in a similar brain-induced manner. Yes, even other Mormons. My point, however, is that when you receive the gift of looking at the world through God’s dimension (for lack of better words) you will then know the difference between your Heavenly Father versus other gods. (And you will also know why Mormons have trouble finding words to describe the dimension we call the Voice of the Holy Ghost.) This new view of things makes it much easier to tell the charlatans (followers of religions made by man for man) apart from the saints (followers of the religion made by God for his children).
Yes, we brainwash our kids. But you seem to have overlooked that brainwashing kids doesn’t really work that well, and that kids tend to grow up… and even rebel. I have yet to meet another adult Mormon who was successfully brainwashed as a kid into being a Mormon. They don’t exist. Satan persecutes us too hard. We all experience tough trials of faith and many go astray. Yet, somehow, many come back. I, myself, completely wrecked my life once because I thought I was too smart to need to take everything I knew about Mormonism as seriously as I should have. Had I not been given good intellectual tools during my “childhood brainwashing” to use to seek a broader enlightenment, I may not have made it through those troubled times as well as I did. Remember my mantra? Question Everything. This, of course, includes your faith… and, especially, God himself.
The church where I live consists primarily of converts in the adult population and not people born into the church. I believe this is where most of our growth rate comes from worldwide. From what I understand, most people find us because something was bugging them about another religion and/or about life in general. People come to us seeking answers to difficult questions. Yes, a few want blind faith, but not many in my estimation. You see, something is telling them in their soul that something may not be right about the teachings of another religion. Often, they are correct that something smells funny – as you and other atheists well know!
Most religions offer some truth. Mormons admit that easily. Those truths being taught in those other religions are a good thing for society. Mormons, however, know they offer more truths than any other religion on the planet – not because we have made up better answers – but because when we don’t have an answer, we ask God for it. Sometimes he gives us the answer, sometimes he makes us wait until we deserve the answer. This is why Mormons have more scriptures than just the Bible alone. We seek more answers, more guidance. Some things in life get more difficult as society progresses with newer and better technology. What kind of God would not continue to guide us through these hard times?
This brings me to the biggest challenge to your logic: How can you know something doesn’t exist if you haven’t looked for it? You appear to have done exactly what you accuse religious people of. You accuse us of not looking for the natural cause of events. Yet, have you seriously tried looking for God’s hand in all events? When you were asked to pray about Mormons (as silly as I find that wording), did you? Were you open about it? Perhaps you have tried some searching trough other churches, but have you met with our missionaries (or chatted anonymously at mormon.org/chat) and tried the Mormon way?
I can tell you that I have seriously tried explaining all events in my life through known science and circumstance alone. I HAVE TRIED THIS… I CONTINUE TO TRY THIS… AND I ALWAYS FAIL TO EXPLAIN IT ALL BY SCIENCE ALONE AND ALWAYS LAND BACK AT MORMONISM! You, have tried no such thing in the reverse as far as I can tell. From my perspective, your world is flat and mine is round. To me, it appears, you fear the discovery of God exactly like the old Catholics feared the discovery of a round planet that circles the Sun… and will likewise persecute those who search otherwise. Proving the world is round was no easy task while fighting the church; finding the one true God in today’s society isn’t easy either. I have dared to take that leap of faith to discover what else is out there. Have you? Please, I beg you, do so now! Your Father is waiting for you.
True, I have not dug into all other religions like I have dug into Mormonism and thus, I too, could be accused of unfairly excluding them from my life after bashing them. But, I have dug into many of them and continue to do so (a hobby of mine) searching for truths wherever they may be found. And when I find an untruth in one, I leave it alone and move on. How many others can say this? Have I really been too unfairly biased towards Mormonism if I am honest in this quest? Find an untruth in Mormon doctrine (not words of Mormon men—all men are fallible—but Mormon doctrine) and I will leave the Mormon church.
The vast universe, as Joseph Smith described it in the early 1800s, is what scientists later found. Kind of reverse of the old Catholics ain’t it? Mormonism is not a new religion. It is the oldest. It is Christianity in its purest form. It is a restoration of things Adam and Eve knew. It is what Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew. It is what Jesus knew. It will always be proven correct by science. I don’t just believe these things, I know them. That astounding knowledge is precious.
Regarding other points you brought up:
Waiting for resurrection for perfect eyes does not hinder scientific advancement on the Earth. Resurrection occurs after death. It is not some singular point in Earth’s timeline like perhaps the rapture is. Thus, all Mormon eye scientists are just as impatient as anyone else to find answers to better eyesight on this mortal Earth. Remember, God helps those who help themselves: God won’t help us advance eye science unless we first look for advances ourselves.
I believe in the science of evolution. The real answer to the origin of the species is much more complex – with many details we do not yet know – but that’s another conversation. Again, God helps those who help themselves: God won’t help us answer the evolution-versus-creation question if we don’t try to understand both evolution and creation ourselves.
As far as I know right now, I do have a disease you call Losgalasin and you may indeed have the cure which you call Mentatone. I cannot know otherwise until I check the evidence. Common sense says it is not likely I have Losgalasin, but it does not disprove it. Why then, do you tout common sense as a definitive answer? If God exists, then Satan also exists. If Satan exists, then he is surely playing with your sense of things common when it comes to belief in God. And, yes, the playing field is tilted against you.
All men are fallible. Therefore, testimonies are fallible. Not all men, however, face the same challenges as each other. Some have strengths where others have weaknesses. What is a bigger sin for one, may be a lesser sin for another. Thus, what looks meaningful from one man’s perspective can be bunk from another’s. Yet, both views can still be correct. We do not know the challenges of the man who lost his wife. Maybe he was a workaholic that never got sick and neglected his wife too much. Maybe God had reason to slap him around a bit to try and wake up his inner soul before it was time to take his wife from the Earth. Or, maybe this man really is just one of the delusional fanatics, the timing of his illness really was coincidence, he didn’t really need to hear anything more from his wife before she died, and he is just a sorry person trying to comfort himself. All I really know here is that it is not our place to judge his understanding of these events – even if he may be wrong.
Just because a supernatural explanation is not needed for an event does not prove that one does not exist. Dig broader and deeper.
God knows your heart. He will only help you find Him if you truly are looking for Him. He doesn’t necessarily punish you if you ignore him – he just won’t help you when you might like him to if you continue to ignore him. What God cannot do is take away anyone’s free agency – that is, he cannot help you cheat the test your are currently in – or anyone else’s test around you – but he can help ease the burdens others may place upon you.