Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mormon Scientists: Proper Questioning and Experimenting

I feel that what makes the LDS Church different that any other church is that its members are expected to question every doctrine. Now, when I say question everything, I do not mean doubt everything. There is a proper way to "study [principles] out in your mind." Proper experimenting and questioning should not be considered doubting and is never done through rebellion, contention or descent.

I try to question everything in the church by performing what Alma in the Book of Mormon refers to as a faith experiment (Alma 32: 27). The first step in this faith experiment is to desire to know the answer to your question and having faith in the principle (Ether 12: 6), I then try doing it (John 7: 17), and finally I try praying about it (James 1: 5). And, without fail, I have recieved the same inspired answers as the Brethern of the church (John 16: 13). That is because we are using the same "Spiritual Method" to communicate with the same God. In this way, God is able to bring believers to a unity of the faith (Eph. 4: 13).

Now I do not mean to say I have all the answers, because I don't. And, please do not misunderstand; I do not condone an attitude of, "I'm not gonna follow until I get my own answer." God has choosen a prophet and we should always follow with an attitude of "faith obedience." We should follow the prophet even when we don't know all the "why's" because we already have a witness of God, of Jesus Christ, or the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith, and the restored gospel. We should be expected to act upon that knowledge which God has already given to us. How can we expect to build upon our knowledge when we don't act upon that which we already have? Therefore, "Faith obedience" is the first step in the experiment upon the world. And only then , after the "trial of our faith," will the additional witness come.

It seems to the outsider that the LDS churches expectation of "faith obedience" is more "blind obedience" and "mindless conformity." However, what outsiders fail to realize is that LDS members already have a spiritual witness of the foundation principles (prerequisite for baptism). Therefore, the LDS church expects its members to act according to that knowledge. That is why it seems like our leaders expect unquestioning conformity, because we have already questioned and we have already recieved answers. Members don't need to keep on asking the same questions over and over. We are expected to live according to what we already know and to move on to higher questions. Ofcoarse, as we do this, our witness of the foundation questions are renewed and refreshed continually.

LDS Leadership has righly taught to beware of intellectualism. Intellectuals, as I have come to understand the term, tend to question but focus more on the lack of answers, defining what is not known, and value doubt. Simply defining what is not known is not true science. True science is about experimenting, evidence, discovery, and solving the unknown. Therefore, the process that the scriptures and LDS leadership describe to gain a witness/testimony/revelation of the truth is perfect science. Therefore, I think we could define a new class of LDS scholar who continually "experiments upon the word" through a process of "faith obedience", prayer, and revelation. All LDS members who follow this "Spirtual Method" and perform "faith experiments" could be considered an LDS Spiritual Empiricists or Mormon Scientists.

Mormon's aren't just expected to be spiritual empiricists alone. While proof does not exist, there is ample tangible, physical, 5-sense empirical evidence to support belief. Christ taught that "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7: 16, 20). Therefore, I am led to ask: "am I happy?", "am I more prosperous than I otherwise would have been?" And for me the evidence is in overwelming support of God and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The LDS theory or theology has empirical validation. According to the research, If I follow the program I can expect to be, on average: wealthier, healthier, happier, live longer, be more educated, and have a stronger family. For the LDS membership, these are the fruit/reward of true Christian faith and discipleship.

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