Mormon Media Observer: A take on the atheism debate

Published: Monday, Jan. 24 2011 4:30 a.m. MST

Like Brigham Young, I find the unique combination of order and diversity in nature compelling. While I can immediately tell that an aspen tree is an aspen tree, I also know that no two aspen trees are alike. This order amid uniqueness impels me to think there is a God, but, alas, this sense of order is not Mormonism’s last evidence.

When I walk to Terraced Falls in Yellowstone, I feel a profound sense of beauty and peace, that I am not alone in the universe, and this sense impels me to think there is a God, but, alas, this is not Mormonism’s last evidence.

When I experience great art and great architecture and the creativity of the human spirit, this experience impels me to think there is a God, but, alas, this is not Mormonism’s last evidence.

Mormonism’s last evidence sits in the power of the Holy Ghost that comes to the hearts and minds of those who seek God through earnest, submissive prayer and faithful action. It is an "experiment" successfully repeated millions of times around the world.

Those who have done so know what they have experienced, and as they nurture that spirit, genuine joy grows. So, faith, to Mormons, is not a willy-nilly belief in whimsy, but a belief in only those things that are true and only in those things that, over time, pass the evidence test through the Holy Ghost. It is about growing certainty and knowledge, not just belief.

Faith and prayer would be science because scriptures provide a pattern to follow — they provide an experiment, if you will. As with science, this pattern has repeated and replicated itself for many people in many circumstances. Indeed, this faith and prayer might qualify as a partial science were we mortals the scientists in charge of the parameters through which answers to prayers come. We are not, so it is absurd to call this experiment a science.

Gervais’ demand that the existence of God be proven through science means that God must be subservient to mortal means and methods. Such sits in opposition to God as the builder and the scientist and the gardener of our souls.

God uses his agency to faithfully answer our prayers — when it is best for us and as we exercise faith — in his way. It goes without saying that such timing and method cannot be replicated nor measured in a laboratory.

That our Mormon evidence for God doesn’t emerge in a laboratory under full human control doesn’t make it any less of an evidence. Indeed, it is the most compelling evidence of anything I have ever known.

Millions of Mormons, including me, would say that God answers prayers because of their own experiences with the Holy Ghost and prayer. Therein lies our evidence that God lives. I assume other religious believers feel much the same way.

I have wandered in awe through some of the most beautiful buildings and parks in the world, and I am grateful for those experiences, but when I enter into the Mormon temples and then experience the contrasting, unusual, startling peace that surpasses understanding, I know.

I study great symphonies and have attended stirring concerts, but when I hear “Ye Elders of Israel” sung loudly in an awkward key in priesthood meeting and feel something deeper than Beethoven, I know.

I study Shakespeare and have many books that have inspired me for years, but when I read the Book of Mormon for the 30th time or so and experience a deep, almost mysterious reassurance no other book has come close to giving me amid trial, I know.

I have experienced many joys of human interaction at holidays and in evening activities, but when I experience the quiet, soul power of priesthood blessing called down on a dark night, I know.

I am only one flawed journalist, but in the midst of the atheism debate that Gervais and others continue in our public space, I must say something. I know.

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