Truth

Like Brigham, I also have a friend struggling with the question of whether or not God exists. This has caused me to think about faith as well, but most of my thoughts have been about the even more general topic of truth. I have a few friends who have for some reason decided to make their “beliefs” field in their facebook profiles say “Truth”. This is probably partly to create conversation, partly to make themselves come across as somewhat pretentious stoic philosopher-types, and partly because that’s how they really feel, but every time I see this, it really gets me thinking: What do I believe in? Do I believe in Mormonism, do I believe in truth, or do I believe in both?

I think a lot of people are averse to religion because they think it asks them to believe in a preacher, a book, a story, a church, or a feeling. I also think a lot of people decide that they need a religion, a preacher, a book, or a feeling in their lives when really what they should be looking for (and probably are looking for, but without realizing it) is answers to their questions; they should be looking for truth. I think people have a lot of different methods for seeking truth. In a later post, I’ll share one of my methods (for a preview, see this chapter in the book of Alma from a book of scripture called the Book of Mormon), but what are your methods for seeking truth? How do you know if something is true false? Is truth something that is important to you, or do you think it’s something we can never really find?

To conclude, I’d like to share something a man named Ed Eyring told his son about the Mormon religion, to which he belonged, before sending him to college to eventually go on to become one of the most celebrated scientists in the world:

“This religion that we have is only truth. It is not anything else. So don’t get nervous. Don’t get worried about anything you learn. Go and study geology and biology and organic evolution and anthropology and everything else that you like. The more the merrier. If there is anything I have told you that will not stand up, it is not the gospel. We do not want it anyway. Let it go. The truth is all that we are standing for.”

This is the type of attitude we should have. We should be in search of nothing more than pure truth, in whatever form it may come. In response to the question I asked earlier about whether I believe in truth or in Mormonism, my answer is not that I believe in truth and in Mormonism. My answer is that I believe only in truth, but that fortunately I have found Mormonism to be truth, and I hope that in your search for truth, you can come to the same conclusion.

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8 thoughts on “Truth

  1. Melanie says:

    Natalie – I used to live right down the street from Wheaton College! It’s a beautiful campus! However, WC students would set up campus and eternally lounge in my favorite cafe every weekend – making M-F visits critical. :)

    Tim – your post (and the subsequent conversation) made me reflect on how grateful I am that God’s will is always based on truth and that nothing I learn in life (if it is true) will be wasted knowledge. When we say God is all-knowing, that includes everything from physics to economics to medicine. There is nothing I can discover that God doesn’t already know and thus seeking truth – regardless of the discipline – will always bring me closer to Him.

  2. Natalie says:

    Sure! I was thinking about this while I was at a work meeting at Wheaton College — an Evangelical school just outside Chicago. There, like at my alma mater Brigham Young University, students are gaining a secular education pinned with spiritual undertones. We all believe in God and are doing our best to glorify both the Father and the Son. We share mutual truth in believing in the Atonement and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We’re all doing the best we can to be good people and good Christians. We share mutual truth.

    That being said, Evangelicals and Mormons aren’t exactly the best of friends. One possibility for this is the difference(s) in the two theologies we both claim to be truth. If truth is absolute, and religion/science/people sit on top of it, how do you explain the differences that people claim to be true?

    This can be a rhetorical question but one I’m going to think some more on. I’ll hit you with a link to the post when I write it up!

    1. Tim says:

      This is a question that I’ve thought a lot about. This is what I’ve concluded: As an economist, I’ve studied a lot of math. Math deals only with absolute truth. You may think it is impossible to know if something is absolutely true, with no doubt at all, but I’ve come to learn that is false. Absolute truth of a proposition can be proven. The key is that most propositions require a number of assumptions in order to be true. Due to this realization, I believe different people can claim different propositions to be true quite easily. The disagreement is not in the truth of the propositions but in the validity of the assumptions required for these propositions to be proven. For example, I believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be the only true church. I believe this because I make the assumption that the feeling of certainty and comfort I feel when at church, when reading the scriptures, when praying, and especially when sharing my beliefs with those around me is God confirming the truth of the Church. On the other hand, someone else may believe that God does not exist because they make the assumption that if a God existed, he would stop bad things from happening to good people, and since bad things happen to good people, God therefore cannot exist. So, I guess the key to mutual truth is reliance on the same assumptions. Does this make sense?

  3. Natalie says:

    What I love about truth, and you begin to touch on in your post, is that it’s not exclusive to any religious group. People often think Mormons believe themselves the only owners of truth, and I try to correct this misconception wherever possible!

    “And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” (D&C 84:45–46)

    I feel truth when I feel the Holy Spirit in my heart or mind. If something seems right, or no “stupor of thought” clouds my vision I know that it’s truth from God. Anyone in the world can seek and find truth when they seek him in faith and righteousness. I love hearing my friends of other faiths talk about their faith and beliefs — because I feel the Spirit and know that we share mutual truth.

    A question for you though, how do we go about explaining the delta between mutual truth?

    1. Tim says:

      Thanks Natalie, I think that’s a great point, and one I should have discussed further in the post. There are many sources of truth in this world, and I think everyone should be constantly striving to find all of those sources.

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “the delta between mutual truth”. Could you elaborate a little? The topic sounds very interesting…

  4. Brigham says:

    I always took the following to be a tautology: I believe that what I believe is true. For me that holds whether I’m talking about economics, physics, or religion. But I wonder if for some people it doesn’t necessarily hold, especially regarding spiritual beliefs. Maybe some people suspend evaluative judgments about truth when it comes to their religion? I guess that would mean for some people their religious beliefs have value for them even if they accepted that they weren’t true. This runs counter to how I was taught growing up Mormon, but it might be how many people approach their religion.

    1. Tim says:

      Your tautology is an interesting point. I think I could probably get behind that. However, I think that when looking for something to believe, we often are not looking for truth, but something we like or something that other people like or something just something convenient. So I think my point is that whenever we’re looking for anything new in this life, our first priority is that it should be true.

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