Why are there so many doubters in the Bloggernacle?

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.

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16 Responses to Why are there so many doubters in the Bloggernacle?

  1. Paul D Harvey says:

    I’ll tell you what pal, You’re about the stupidest there is. What i have read may get you exed and soon.

  2. annegb says:

    I have loved the bloggernacle because it validates my thought processes. I’ve always put myself down for asking questions or wondering and thought maybe I wasn’t really worthy to be a member of the church. I see myelf more now as a faithful, worthy member who just thinks about some things more than others. I don’t think it’s doubt.

    I have noticed criticism, of course. Sometimes I’m the one doing it. But if we are not allowed to explore our own thoughts and feelings, why bother to have an earth life at all? Aren’t we all here to learn and grow?

    Doubt is not the correct word for what we do here, mostly. I believe.

  3. Zerin Hood says:

    Nice post.

    I have to agree that the bloggernacle is self-centered, whoops, I mean self-selected– or is there any difference?

    I’m not sure profession and/or education or even an inclination to skepticism is why we so so many doubters in the bloggernacle. I think it is largely a product of the medium and human nature. It is much easier to share doubts and receive reinforcement in those doubts from other doubters via a little digital murmuring than it is to exercise faith and experiment upon the word as Alma outlines in chapter 32. Also, controversy brings visitors to the site, thus discord flourishes.

    As for the list of good and better sites — I’m just happy to be on the list at all — any publicity is good publicity.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Just wanted to note that I felt it very touching that the dvd Finding Faith in Christ (one of my favorites that I like to share) features Thomas speaking about Christ and the gospel and his resurrection. It is very tender as Thomas speaks to another who is having trouble believing, someone just like Thomas. How fitting for our age and your post.

    If anyone is interested in viewing the DVD, you can get a free copy at
    http://www.mormon.org/freeoffers/1,17785,3337-1-5,00.html?src=tv

    C.

  5. dp says:

    John,
    Thanks for your explanation – I understand now where you are coming from with those links. Forgive me, I thought you were using the term ‘good’ as in “saw that they were good”. 🙂

  6. For years I have used the tag line: All my opinions are tentative pending further data. And I really believe that and try to live by that. But faith, according to my understanding, is something that one assumes to be true in the face of insufficient evidence, a sort of working hypothesis. And the longer the hypothesis holds up, the more certain one becomes that it is correct. I believe that science is basically the same. One speculates and theorizes until he arrives at an explanation for known phenomenon that seems to best explain observations. He then adopts that hypothesis and designs and carries out experiments to test his hypothesis. One test is not sufficient. Two tests are not sufficient. But the more tests that tend to confirm the hypothesis, the more certain the scientist or the scientific community becomes that the hypothesis is correct or true. This is faith, something one assumes to be true as a working hypothesis. It isn’t the same as knowledge, but it becomes closer and closer to knowledge as the hypothesis is born out by the observed evidence over and over.

    The scriptures tell us that if we want to know correct doctrine, we are to try it out and see what happens. Only by actually practicing a religion can we test its claims. As we keep commandments we learn more and more that they “work” in our lives. We can design a negative experiment. One of the claims of the gospel is that wickedness never was happiness. So we can try out wickedness and see what happens. If it leads to happiness over the long term, we know that this claim of religion is false. But if we find that wickedness leads to trouble and misery, then we learn something from that too.

    Clark suggests that a person has no control over his doubts. Well, some people cannot control any of their thoughts and emotions. But others will testify that thoughts and emotions can be brought under conscious control. If we think of “faith” as a working hypothesis, it is obviously a decision that we make. We decide to use this or that as a working hypothesis. I decided years ago to test the gospel to see if it was true by living it. So far it has worked out very well. The longer I practice this religion we call Mormonism, the more certain I become that it is true. But it was I myself who decided to perform this experiment. I could have easily decided something else. I could have decided to doubt. I could have decided to use some other working hypothesis.

  7. Clark says:

    Mark, I don’t think faith and doubt are opposites. So while I agree that faith (in part) involves will I don’t think that means that doubt also involves (direct) will.

  8. Clark says:

    Like Jeff said, I think think there is a kind of self-selection at work. Those who question tend to join mediums that involve questioning and answering. Therefore those without doubts (or interests in questioning) tend not to read blogs. Why would they? They have different hobbies.

    I’d add as well that I don’t think doubt is under conscious volitional control. That is we can put ourselves in situations that may raise doubts but we don’t get to choose whether to doubt or not. Doubts (and beliefs) simply happen.

  9. splitbamboo says:

    Have archeologists found physical evidence that The Iron Rod even exists? 😉

  10. Dear DP, I have decided to list all the blogs that I occasionally read as good, better, or best. Rather than lousy, OK, wonderful. I see no reason to be deliberately insulting. And the truth is, I am a strong advocate of reading both sides of an issue. The truth is never more clear than when contrasted with falsehood. For this reason, I read blogs over the whole spectrum from atheistic disbelief to theistic faith unto perfect knowledge. Some writers are not particularly interesting for a variety of reasons. Some do not post often enough to pay any attention to. Others are simply poor writers and cannot use the English language well enough to communicate effectively. When I categorize a blog as “good,” I merely mean that I read it, not that I endorse what it says or that it represents my views or point of view. When I categorize a blog as “better,” I am saying that I admire and have more respect for that blog than I do those in the “good” category. Finally, if I should ever become so enamored of a blog that I stand in awe of its excellence, I will list it as “best.” So far, I am not sufficiently familiar with the various blogs available to designate any in this category, not even my own. Also, I generally link to anyone who links to me. And their default designation is the lowest of these three categories.
    In this way, my blogroll can be a kind of running critique or commentary on the various blogs I read.

  11. Jeff G says:

    I disagree with the post on two accounts:

    1) I don’t think that the profession of bloggers has too much to do with their doubting nature. Instead, I would argue that it is more likely that it is the doubting nature of these people that has led them to their professions. I think there are so many doubting bloggers, because they are the ones you go to the internet to find resources and answers to questions which they cannot find elsewhere. In other words, bloggers tend to be doubters, because they are oringally exposed to blogging because of their doubts.

    2) “Don’t doubt, just believe”? Is this supposed to be an argument of some kind? Is somebody simply telling me to believe really a good reason for me to believe them, or is it rather a reason to doubt what they say when this is the best they can offer by way of justification?

  12. Eric Nielson says:

    Interesting.

    Does not D&C 93 suggest that we all should be seeking to see the Lord?

    Is not the fact that Thomas was granted a vision of the resurrected Lord evidence of his faith, not the lack therof?

    I just feel that poor Thomas gets a bit of a bumb wrap on this. He was called as an apostle by the Lord, and saw him face to face. Is this not a grand thing?

  13. Rob Osborn says:

    Good post. I agree with you 100%. It is sad that many people want to see evidence before they will believe. On my blog I sometimes post on the flood, and hardly anyone believes in it anymore even though it really happened.

    People will only believe what they want to believe and especially will only believe that which is absolutely necessary for their salvation.

  14. dp says:

    Thanks for this post John, I agree with your sentiments. I’ve enjoyed your staunch comments in the past, and now here at the Iron Rod blog.

    I must admit that I was surprised at some of the websites you linked to in your ‘Good Blogs’ list on the right, some of which regularly make statements that fly in the face of much of what you have to say here. I wonder whether anyone will take your ‘good’ designation as a literal recommendation.

  15. Awesome post. I agree with your sentiments, and think it refreshing to see somebody testify about what they believe. Thanks.

  16. JKS says:

    Thank you. I love this except that you shared. Thomas is a great example of believing only with empiral evidence, when we could be far more blessed if we believe because of faith.
    I especially love the final paragraph telling us simply to “Believe in” Christ, and the gospel.
    Hmmm, maybe I ought to pick up a copy of the book.

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