This morning I was reading from The Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, and I ran across the following passage upon which I would like to comment:
Every spring the Christian world celebrates Easter in remembrance of the resurrection, when the risen Lord appeared first to Mary Magdalene, and later that day to the ten apostles, Thomas being absent. When the other disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord,” he, like so many then and now, said, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”Eight days later the apostles were together again, this time Thomas with them. “Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.” Singling out Thomas, He said: “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.”
Thomas, astonished and shaken, answered, “My Lord and my God.” Then Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:25-29.)
Have you not heard others speak as Thomas spoke? “Give us,” they say, “the empirical evidence. Prove before our very eyes, and our ears, and our hands, else we will not believe.” This is the language of the time in which we live. Thomas the Doubter has become the example of men in all ages who refuse to accept other than that which they can physically prove and explain—as if they could prove love, or faith, or even such physical phenomena as electricity.
To all who may have doubts, I repeat the words given Thomas as he felt the wounded hands of the Lord: “Be not faithless, but believing.” Believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the greatest figure of time and eternity. Believe that His matchless life reached back before the world was formed. Believe that He was the Creator of the earth on which we live. Believe that He was Jehovah of the Old Testament, that He was the Messiah of the New Testament, that He died and was resurrected, that He visited these western continents and taught the people here, that He ushered in this final gospel dispensation, and that He lives, the living Son of the living God, our Savior and our Redeemer. (“Be Not Faithless,” in Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983], pp. 14-15.)
The words which I have emphasized jumped off the page as I read this passage. A demand for empirical evidence is indeed the “language of the time in which we live,” to use President Hinckley’s words. And perhaps more especially on the Internet than elsewhere in the Church. I speculate that the reason for this is the preponderance of those saints on the Internet who are involved in math and science either professionally, or by virtue of their interest in computer technology. We are not an even cross section of the Church or even of our American culture. We are self-selected because of our interest in and knowledge of computer technology, the Internet, and its uses.
So what is one of the root assumptions underlying both math and science? It is that if it cannot be proven with empirical evidence, it must not be assumed. To assume the reality of things unproven, is contrary to both mathematics and good science. But does this not work against our faith? Does it not tend to make us doubters as Thomas was a doubter in the Upper Room? We want to see the evidence before we will believe. Our interest in math and science, and by extension in computers and computer science, works against the requirement of faith that we believe even though we have not seen. The Savior said, as recorded in the New Testament:
“Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:25-29.)
I believe this is the root of all the disbelief we see everywhere in the Bloggernacle. Because we are a modern, progressive society possessing a technological culture and proud of our scientific advancements, we tend to adopt the prejudices and biases of the science we so admire. We have a culturally induced distrust of anything that might be true which cannot be proven with empirical evidence. And as a result, far too many of us who profess to be believing Latter-day Saints have more trouble than we should believing in the literal occurrence of the First Vision as Joseph Smith relates it in Joseph Smith–History, Chapter 1 in the Pearl of Great Price. We tend to doubt that Gordon B. Hinckley was actually chosen by Jesus Christ to lead His church today. We tend to doubt the process of personal revelation by which the Twelve chose him to be President of the Church upon the death of Howard W. Hunter. We give far too much credence to human interpretations of DNA evidence concerning the literal reality of the Lehite colony in ancient America. Far too many of us just are not men of faith. Just like Thomas, we want to see the proof, the empirical evidence.
Well, perhaps if we were more into literature, history, poetry, philosophy, religion, music, art, drama, and the right-brained subjects and less “scientific” we would have an easier time of believing the unbelievable. What do you think?
I testify that Jesus Christ actually did rise from the grave in an immortal state after his crucifiction. Joseph Smith actually did meet the bodily Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove. These men actually did choose who would be our Church leaders today, and we are led not by mortal men but by Jesus Christ through his chosen representatives. The Book of Mormon is an actual record of an ancient people who immigrated from the area of Jerusalem to the New World hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. I cannot prove any of these things with empirical evidence, but unlike the Apostle Thomas, I choose to believe them. I am a man of faith, not a man of doubt. I am certain that all of these things will be “proven” with empirical evidence in the due time of the Lord. All I have to do, all anyone has to do, is wait upon the Lord for that empirical evidence to be forthcoming. It may not be for a hundred years, or even a thousand. But it will come even more surely than the rising of the sun in the east and its setting in the west.