A presentation by Chauncey C. Riddle, 7 April 2017, Firm Foundation Expo held at Utah Valley University. (Originally a Powerpoint presentation.)
Thesis: We know little but believe much
Note: I suggest you not take notes but just concentrate on comprehension.
For further detail, see my book Think Independently
Ways of Human Knowing: We will examine 7:
Perception: using the senses of the human body
Reason: using logic to produce conclusions
Experimentation: trial and error pragmatism
Authoritarianism: forming ideas by communicating with others
Imagination: creating ideas, hypotheses, theories
Knowledge of good and evil: The Light of Christ
Personal revelation: The Gift of the Holy Ghost
Perception: Using the senses of the human body to form ideas about the universe.
Key point: We perceive in our brain
Vision: We see in the occipital lobe
Hearing: We hear in the temporal lobe
We taste, touch and smell in the parietal lobe
Walking, writing, balance we control in the cerebellum
We think plan and speak from the frontal lobe
In the left brain (yellow) we think, control language, do science and math, control our right hand
In the right brain (blue) we do art, imagine, have intuition, 3-D forms, music, left-hand control
Sensations are the nerve stimulation of our approximately 25 physical senses. (Yes, we have more than 5 senses.)
All sensations go from the sensing organ to specific brain locations.
All sensations traveling along the nerves from the sensing organ to the receptor part of the brain are of exactly the same type.
They are interpreted and differentiated by the location to which they travel.
These we have shown are not all the parts of the human brain, but they are major components.
No one has yet satisfactorily scientifically explained how we see.
But we do see.
Somehow we put all the sensations together and form a world in
our imagination. Imaginations are most vivid when we are
actually sensing something.
We have the illusion that when we are sensing, we touch reality.
But reality is also a figment, a creature of our imagination.
To call something real is simply to say we are quite sure of it.
But we make enough mistakes that it pays to be humble.
When we are humble, we say “It seems to me that . . . “
When we are not humble we say “I am sure that . . . “
Sometimes our life depends upon being sure enough of our
sensations that we are able to avoid trouble, as when we step
out of the path of a speeding automobile.
Where we live
So we each live in the world of our imagination, inside our heads.
We form images of where we live and the surroundings of that place.
We form images of the people we know, ascribing to them various
character traits, personalities.
We form images of the rest of the world we do not now see.
We form images of the rest of the universe we do not now see.
We form images of the past, which we cannot see.
We form images of the future, which we cannot see.
And thus we live, move and have our being and doing in the world of our images.
But, you say, there really is a reality out there that is not just our imagination. Let me prove it to you by punching your arm. Now, doesn’t that hurt? See, there really is a reality out there.
I must agree with you that there is a reality out there. It is just that we see that reality only through a glass, darkly. That glass we see through darkly is our flesh, our physical bodies. We thus know we are in a real world. But we are really sure about only some things, and those are not the most important things.
Example of an illusion: The Necker Cube: Which is the near corner, upper or lower?
The world is full of Necker Cubes
Every person we meet is like a Necker Cube. We imagine a character for them. We tend to believe our imagination about them is the truth.
The future, the past, and everything we are not now sensing exist in our imagination, and we determine and control what we believe about them.
Most of what we think we know we only imagine. And a lot of what we perceive is like Necker Cubes where we must choose an interpretation.
Conclusions about perception:
Perception is absolutely necessary to relate to the real world around us.
Perceiving accurately and surely is done only in environments where we are very familiar with what we are sensing and doing.
If we are not familiar with what we are sensing and are unable to do anything in the situation, we need to be humble about what we believe we are sensing because we are only guessing.
Only what we can do over and over is sure to us. But we have no guarantee the future will be like the past. If we think we are sure about the future, we need to realize that that surety is only a hope.
- Reason as a source of knowledge
There are three basic forms of reasoning:
Deduction: Drawing justified conclusions from given premises.
Induction: Drawing possible or probable conclusions from given arrays of data (observations, perceptions).
Adduction: Inventing premises for a conclusion we already have.
Examples of Deduction:
Given the premises:
All men are mortal.
James is a man.
We may surely conclude that:
James is mortal.
Thus deduction makes explicit the relationships of ideas we already have.
When you add up all your checks and deduct that amount from your bank balance, you can find out (become psychologically aware of) how much money you have in the bank.
If you know the weight of an object, you can calculate the energy required to lift it 10 feet.
Examples of Induction:
Given that your back yard has been visited by skunks the last four nights, you may reasonably conclude that skunks will visit again tonight. But you cannot be sure that they will.
You friend has lied to you several times about what he has been doing for the past month. You may reasonably conclude that he is lying to you now about something else. But you cannot be sure he is lying just because he lied before.
Your friend has remembered your birthday every year for the past ten years. You may reasonably expect him to remember again. But you cannot be sure he will.
Examples of adduction:
Given the conclusion that your friend is acting very strangely, you might think:
My friend has suffered the death of a beloved sibling.
When people suffer the death of beloved siblings they act strangely.
Therefore, my friend is acting strangely.
Or you might think:
My friend has been drinking too much.
When people are drunk they act strangely.
Therefore, my friend is acting strangely.
Conclusions about the three ways of knowing by reasoning:
Deduction is always sure but produces nothing not in the premises.
Induction is always guesswork, never sure, but can be very useful, producing ideas that often work.
Adduction: There are always an infinite number of reasons that can be invented to justify any given conclusion.
To use our power to reason is good, but it does not produce sure knowledge. It’s main help is to allow us to be consistent with ourselves.
Conclusions about reasoning:
It is usually good to be rational (consistent) in trying to know.
No one can be said to be totally rational about what he or she thinks they know. All reasoning begins with premises we cannot prove.
Anyone who claims to be totally rational about what they think shows a lack of understanding of what reason is and can do.
Since we cannot be totally rational about knowledge, we all live by faith. Faith, the things we believe but cannot prove, is where we get all of our initial premises for reasoning.
- Experimentation as a way of knowing.
Doing is a form of knowing.
Doing what we can do, and doing it over and over, gives us surety that we know what we are talking about.
Experimenting is trying to do something for the first time.
When we experiment, we usually have a goal in mind, something we are trying to achieve.
If we achieve our goal, we think we have an understanding of one of the ways the universe works.
As we repeat the experience, we become settled in our confidence about what works. This is experimentation, or “pragmatism.”
A Human life is actually one big experiment:
A human baby lives by trying first one thing, then another.
First, it learns to breathe, and then to eat and sleep.
It looks around and begins to form images and expectations out of the sights and sounds and feelings and odors it experiences.
The baby learns to experiment to produce more of what it wants and less of what it doesn’t want.
The baby’s attempts to produce what it wants and avoid what it doesn’t want become habits.
Habits become a character, a personality, as the individual shapes himself or herself.
Personality (character) is the fruit of human living.
Every human life is a chain of successful and unsuccessful experiments.
The successful experiments lead us to repetition, which is the mother of learning.
As we learn to cope with the universe, we develop ideas: structures and sequences which we think are the reality of where we find ourselves.
The more successful is our coping with the universe to fulfill our desires, the more sure we become of the structures and sequences we have built as our understanding of the universe.
We turn our ideas of structure and sequence into what we call “knowledge.” This knowledge becomes part of our personality, our character.
The core of human knowledge is the result of successful experimentation.
What we really know in this world is the ideas we find help us to fulfill our desires, a core of ideas that “work” over and over.
We then add to that core of ideas, ideas formed by communicating with others. This is not knowledge, but rather belief.
If we can fit what others tell us is consistent with our core of knowledge, we tend to believe. If the things we are told don’t fit, we either accept those ideas as blind belief, reject those ideas, or experiment with them to see if we can make them fit with our core knowledge.
Until we have tried an idea for ourselves, it is not knowledge to us.
We humans are quite capable of being irrational:
When we have great respect or affection for persons who tell us things about the universe, some of us tend to believe those ideas, even when they do not fit with our core knowledge.
Some persons are “hard-headed,” “from Missouri,” and refuse to believe what does not fit with their experimentally produced core knowledge.
Gullibility, the willingness to believe others persons without experimenting on what they tell us, afflicts most human beings.
Gullibility makes propaganda a social force used to control populations.
We live in a sea of propaganda (lies and half-truths). Examples:
Much of the “news” we are given by media sources is propaganda.
A lot of what is taught in schools is propaganda.
A lot of the substance of gossip is propaganda.
A lot of what is taught in churches is propaganda.
A lot of history is propaganda.
A lot of so-called “science” is propaganda.
What politicians tell us is often propaganda.
What we tell ourselves is the real truth is often propaganda.
One cure for propaganda is personal experimentation, being “pragmatic.”
If someone tells us a certain medicine works, we can try it for ourselves to see if it works for us.
If someone tells us there is a formula for making money, we don’t have to believe them, we can just try it for ourselves.
If someone tells us a certain political expediency is what is best for our country, we can look for where the idea has been tried to see if it worked.
If someone tells us a certain religious practice is helpful, we can try it for ourselves to see if it really works that way.
Experimentation is a great help in knowing
Sooner or later, most humans learn that it pays to take what others say with a “grain of salt.” In other words, it is not usually useful to be gullible.
As we build up a store of ideas that really “work,” we begin to have confidence that we really are figuring things out.
Our store of ideas that “really work” is the basis of our life accomplishments. As we implement those ideas, what we do becomes our “works.”
- Authoritarianism: Gaining ideas from other human beings.
As we watch what other humans do, we gain ideas as to what we might do ourselves. Example: We watch others ride a bicycle, then experiment ourselves until we can also ride a bicycle.
But most of our ideas from others come from verbal communication. We learn a “mother tongue,” and that becomes our major link to the world of people.
As others speak to us, we are busy in our imagination inventing meaning for the noises and gestures they display, and often find great pleasure in listening to them. Communication becomes a major part of our human living.
There are four parts to every communication:
If we really understand someone who is communicating with us, we must fix on four things:
- What is the intent or purpose of the speaker.
- What is the message of the speaker.
- The power of this message: It’s truth or importance.
- The consequences of accepting or rejecting this message.
But most humans do not carefully sort out these four things. We tend to be gullible and just accept as so what the speaker says. Because of this, most human minds contain a lot of garbage.
Conclusions about Human Communication:
We are flooded with communications from others.
That process of receiving communications often keeps us from thinking for ourselves and is always a mixture of good and bad.
It is difficult for humans accurately to sort out the good from the bad.
Any idea we accept from another person is always belief or faith. It may be their knowledge, but it is not knowledge to us, even if true.
We live in a communication jungle that helps or hurts us at every turn.
- Imagination as a source of knowledge
We synthesize our sensations into a world we imagine, and fill in all the blanks with our imaginative inventiveness.
We look at the body of a person and imagine to ourselves what goes on inside them, their thinking and feeling, desires and future.
We see the present moment, and with the aid of memory and what others tell us, we invent all of the past and future in our imagination.
We hear of events in distant places, and imagine them.
We live in the world of our own imagination. And we tend to believe ourselves.
And our imagination is very useful:
We do all of our planning in our imagination.
We do all of our remembering in our imagination.
We do all of deciding in our imagination.
The universe we grasp only in our imagination.
We decide we have or do not have a Heavenly Father and a Savior in our imagination.
If we did not have an imagination, we would not be a human being.
Imagination makes Science possible
Science is man’s collective attempt to understand the universe using only perception, reason, experimentation, and imagination. Most scientists specifically try not to include any information from a spiritual source. Thus science is the delight of the natural man.
Being blind to all of spiritual existence, science does better when dealing with material things such as physics and chemistry.
But science stumbles when it ignores all spiritual existence, as in psychology, sociology, political science.
But social scientists do not think they stumble. They tend to think they are “emancipated” by pretending spiritual things do not exist.
Imagination makes History possible:
History is the imaginative invention of a story of the past. It is based in documentary evidence about the past, but its creation is always a controlled by the beliefs and imagination of the historian.
History is rewritten in every generation to satisfy the changing prejudices of historians.
In a real sense, all historical accounts are fiction. The word “fiction” comes from the Latin “faceo” which means to make or do. All historical accounts are made up by historians taking the beads of ideas gleaned from documents and stringing those beads on a narrative string of their own prejudices.
Shall we then discard Science and History?
No, we should not discard science and history. Both are interesting, often useful, often helpful, though sometimes disastrous.
Science and history should be taken with a grain of salt. That salt is the skepticism we should attach to all human endeavors.
In all human endeavors we are dealing three kinds of people: 1) the natural man who knows not God, 2) the natural man who thinks he knows God, and 3) the man who does know God. Each produces different beliefs, actions and societies.
Science and history are at their best when invented by men who know God.
- Knowledge of Good and Evil:
Knowledge not only relates to what is true and false, what works and what does not work, but also to what is good and bad: values.
Some think that all values are environmentally stimulated by the persons who influence a given person.
But we see examples of people who are different from the persons of their environment.
Within each normal human being there is what is called a “conscience.”
Conscience is the Light of Christ, which lightens every person who comes into this world.
The Mission of Conscience:
Conscience gives us feelings about what is good and bad to do and say.
But the voice of Satan is always with us to give us a choice agency.
Choosing good over evil is what separates the sheep from the goats.
Conscience seems to be the key to all further spiritual knowledge.
When humans ignore their conscience often, it stops functioning. They are then “past feeling.”
Possibly those who are “past feeling” cannot escape being “the natural man.” Examples: Laman and Lemuel.
- Personal Revelation as a way of knowing:
Personal revelation is communication of God to mankind through the Holy Ghost.
It comes in many forms: To heart (feelings); to mind (ideas), to strength (health), and to might (prospering). But illness and bankruptcy can also be revelations from God.
Those who really understand revelation see the hand of God in all things.
Different forms of Personal Revelation:
- New understanding of a scripture.
- Confirmation that what someone else is saying is true or false.
- Feeling that something we plan to do needs more planning.
- Understanding what unusual thing will happen next.
- Confirmation that someone we are asked to sustain is the Lord’s choice.
- Help with preparing a talk or a letter.
- Help teaching a class.
- Guidance as to what to say when speaking and praying.
- Seeing a vision, having the heavens opened.
The Holy Ghost is the Pearl of Great Price
If we desire to be righteous (to bless others as God does), there is no greater aid than receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Having the Holy Spirit as our constant companion should be our Number 1 priority. We should try with all our heart, might, mind and strength to have the Holy Spirit as our constant companion.
Attaining the companionship of the Holy Spirit is what turns a Latter-day Saint (a member of the LDS Church) into a saint (a holy person, one who is forgiven of his or her sins and does only righteous acts).
”And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)
How to gain the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost: The Precious Gospel Formula
- Faith in Christ: Put our whole trust in Him. This is what makes it possible to become whole, holy.
- In that trust in Christ, repent of all of our sins.
- Make a covenant with God to keep all of his commandments by being baptized.
- Receive the right to the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, then working until we actually receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Why Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost is not the End but the Beginning of Salvation.
Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost is entering the gate.
We must also endure to the end.
The end we should all endure to become like Christ.
As we obey God through the Holy Spirit in all things, we become a new creature, remade in the image of Christ’s character.
But remember, there are three voices in our minds: Satan, our own ideas, and the Holy Ghost. Deciding which one to follow is our agency. Learning to follow only the Holy Ghost is the key to enduring to the end.
To become as Christ is the goal, the end to which we may all endure.
The Gospel of Christ is the Good News
The precious Gospel five-step formula is the greatest message on earth. No other compares with it in importance.
Part of that good news is that every normal human being can complete the precious five-step formula.
No one can complete the formula without help. That help is called the “grace” of God.
God is willing and able to bless us to complete the process of changing us from a natural man to the stature of Jesus Christ himself.
Summary of the ways of human knowing:
Through the ordinary human ways of knowing the truth about the universe in which we live, we see through a glass, darkly. We see enough to live our human, animal lives with some success.
This is a possible rank order of the ordinary ways of human knowing, most reliable to least reliable:
But if we add ways of knowing from God
If we first pay attention to what is good and what is evil, and choose to do the good instead of the evil through the Light of Christ, then:
God will eventually, in this world or the next, make the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the “good news” available to every human.
Then, if we so choose, we can receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which makes God our Senior Companion in all that we want, feel, say and do.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost then leads us to perform the best experiments, perceive truly, reason wisely, know what other persons to believe and who not to believe, and to imagine wisely and fruitfully.
Only using the Gospel of Jesus Christ can we fulfil our human potential.
When are you an expert witness, one whose testimony really counts?
- Your are an expert witness when you are bearing testimony of something you can do, do do, and have done over and over.
- When you are bearing testimony of something you have personally and often experienced: Seen, heard, touched, smelled or tasted.
- You are not an expert witness about the things you hope for, desire, or dream about unless others want to know what you hope for, desire, or dream about.
- When you bear testimony as an expert witness, you bless your hearers: They then have access to truth through you.
Conclusions about Human Knowing:
We human beings really know only two things:
- That which we can do, do do, and have done many times.
- The perceptions we have had about very familiar things.
Someone who has either of those two things is an expert witness.
Everything else we have in our minds is not knowledge, but rather belief.
We humans know very little, but believe a lot of things.
We would do well to treat all the statements of expert witnesses as something to be tested by our own experiments and experience.
“Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Part Two: Applications of what we know about human knowing:
We will concentrate on four applications:
- Organic Evolution as a theory of science.
- Adam and Eve as the first human beings (history).
- The attempt to solve human social problems.
- The location of the Book of Mormon lands.
Organic Evolution is the scientific theory that life came to exist on this earth an by spontaneous generation (chance), and that all present living animals and plants are descended from that spontaneous generation as shaped by environmental forces.
Science is ideas about the universe consisting of:
Facts: Things sensed, perceived.
Laws: Generalizations of observed facts.
Theories: Ideas invented to explain laws and facts.
There are always and infinite number of theories possible to explain any given set of facts and laws.
Organic Evolution is one of many possible theories to explain the universe.
No scientific theory can be proved to be true because all theory consists of things which are purely imaginary, not perceivable.
Scientific theories can be falsified if their logical consequences are not observed.
Choosing among possible theoretical explanations of observed facts and laws is a personal choice of the persons choosing.
Every one who chooses to follow Darwin and to believe in organic evolution does so because they want to, not because any evidence makes that choice necessary.
Major problems with the Theory of Organic Evolution:
- The theory depends upon the idea that life formed spontaneously. There are no examples of spontaneous generation of life known to mankind. (This is a major problem.)
- The theory depends upon one species of life form changing into another species. There are no examples of one species changing to another species known to mankind. (This is a major problem.)
- The theory depends upon there being an immense amount of time in the past since life on earth began to be: Millions of years. The age of the earth is a theory itself. (This is a major problem.)
- The theory defies the Law of Entropy: Natural systems disintegrate (run down) as they lose heat. (This is a major problem.)
Why are some people willing to believe in the spontaneous generation of life?
Some believe that because so many other people believe it.
Some believe that because if it is true, there is no need for God and therefore no need to repent, and they don’t want to repent.
Some believe that because they think (mistakenly) that scientists are never wrong.
Some believe that because they do not think very carefully.
Why do people believe that species beget other species? (Speciation)
Some believe this because speciation is absolutely necessary to the theory of organic evolution, and they desperately want that theory to be true.
Some believe this because they are shown different animals and plants in the fossil record that resemble one another, and they want to believe that the change represents the natural emergence of a new species. But there is no way to know that one form is ancestral to another.
Some believe because so many other persons who they respect believe in this idea.
Why do people believe life has been on the earth for millions of years?
Some believe because they have been told this idea all of their lives.
Some believe in an earth millions of years old because it is necessary to the theory of organic evolution, and they desperately want the theory of organic evolution to be true.
There are many theories as to how long life has existed on earth, but there are no proofs of any of these theories.
Why do people disregard the Law of Entropy?
Some disregard it because they believe in evolution and use organic evolution as a proof that the Second Law of Thermodynamics (The Law of Entropy) is not true.
Some disregard it because they have limited experience with the natural world and suppose that order can naturally come out of disorder.
The watchmaker objection seems trite to some. To find a running watch on the beach and to suppose the winds and the waves put it together seems perfectly logical to some people.
Conclusion: The Theory of Organic Evolution is built upon other pure theories, not on facts or laws. It is wishful thinking.
Notwithstanding the theory of organic evolution is widely taught and believed, especially at universities, it remains suspect and unprovable.
There are no expert witnesses who can give evidence that the theory of organic evolution is true. (Though some would like to claim to be such expert witnesses.) No one can do evolution or has seen it.
The main present-day argument for the theory of organic evolution is that so many people believe it.
A great many people also believe in Santa Claus.
- Adam and Eve as the first human beings (History)
To write history is to invent what happened in the past on the basis of evidence available in the present time.
To write prophecy is to invent what will happen in the future on the basis of evidence available in the present time.
To write history is much safer than writing prophecy, because the future will become the present and we will all know which prophecies are correct.
But history will never again become the present, so historians can say anything they want to and not be found out.
The story of Adam and Eve is automatically rejected by most historians.
To accept the story of Adam and Eve as the ancestors of the human race would be to accept the Bible a historical record, which almost no scholars are willing to do.
So historians fall in with the theory of organic evolution and postulate that human beings are one fruit of a long evolutionary process, having descended from some ape-like creature. The fact that there is less evidence for that evolutionary theory than for the Biblical account does not bother them. They of course reject the evidence for the Biblical account because the Biblical account has God and a supernatural spiritual realm as part of it, which things are anathema to the natural man.
Some people try to marry the story of Adam and Eve to the theory of Organic Evolution
Some postulate that Adam and Eve were ape-like creatures to whom God gave a conscience and superior intelligence and they then became human beings.
That postulate flies in the face of three things we are told about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden:
- There was no death in the Garden (on earth?) until Adam and Eve fell. Adam became mortal because he transgressed. All nature became mortal with him.
- Before the fall, Adam and Eve were celestial beings and had spirit matter in their veins, not blood.
- Adam and Eve were literally of the race of the gods. (Otherwise, Mary could not have been the mother of Jesus.)
The Fall of Adam and Eve is central to Faith in Jesus Christ
There are three things about the story of Adam and Eve that are crucial to faith in Jesus Christ.
- Adam chose to disobey God and therefore fell.
- In his fallen state, Adam and all his posterity are dead to the spiritual existence around them.
- Being fallen, therefore becoming carnal (trapped in a physical body), sensual (sensing only with the physical body), and devilish (subject to the temptation of Satan through the flesh), Adam and his posterity were in need of a redemption to spiritual life and the presence of God.
Redemption from the Fall of Adam comes only in and through Jesus Christ.
It takes supernatural power to restore humans to spiritual life and to be able to abide the presence of God.
It takes supernatural power to put humans beyond the power of Satan to continue to tempt them.
It takes supernatural power to rescue the physical bodies of mankind from mortal death.
These three things are principal features of what Christ does through his work of Atonement.
Conclusions about Adam and Eve:
Unless men and women have a correct idea of where they came from and what they are supposed to be doing in mortality, they will not accomplish what God sent them to do.
God tells men where they came from and why they are here in the accounts of the Fall of Adam and Salvation through Jesus Christ.
The world rejects both the correct understanding of Adam and Eve and the mission of Christ.
Part of coming out of this world and not being of it is to gain a true understanding from the Holy Ghost both of Adam and Eve and the Fall and of the Redemption made possible by Jesus Christ.
- How can men create heaven on earth?
If there was no fall of Adam, there is no need for redemption.
If there is no need for redemption, there is no need for a Savior.
If there is no Savior, mankind must save itself.
The main salvation naturalistic thinkers envision is socialism.
Socialism is humans appointing themselves to be the saviors of mankind.
Socialists have only one goal: Total control of human society, using guns (force).
Socialists seek total control of human society because they theorize they can then solve all human problems:
Poverty, through government redistribution of wealth.
Ignorance, through government control of all education.
Disease, by government control of scientific endeavor.
Crime, by government control of all neighborhoods.
Opposition, by government control of all media.
Christian values (which they see as an enemy) by government control of the upbringing of all children.
Total Government Control is another name for Hell, the implementation of Satan’s plan
Satan proposed in the pre-mortal existence to save all of mankind.
Satan proposed to save all mankind by taking the power of God to force all mankind to live in a force-centered Utopia.
Satan has tried ever since Adam and Eve to set up a Utopia on earth.
Every attempt of Satan to establish Utopia has failed.
The advocates of socialism want to keep trying to establish Utopia because they see no alternative.
Present socialist half-measures are stepping stones to total control.
The proper alternative to Utopia is Zion.
Zion is a people who are pure in heart because of their own agency (choice) and the grace of Christ.
In Zion, people have one heart: They all have pure, unselfish hearts.
In Zion, people believe the same truths: they are of one mind.
In Zion, people voluntarily work righteousness: every man seeks the interest of his neighbor.
In Zion, there are no poor: those who have more voluntarily share with those who have less.
Zion has been created on earth many times, so it is a real possibility.
To make possible the establishment of Zion today is one of the main reasons the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in the latter days.
Why do we not have a Zion today?
We don’t have a Zion on earth today because so many Latter-day Saints are not willing to keep their covenants.
Latter-day Saints are working hard on the other reason for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: To teach the Gospel to every nation, kindred tongue and people.
But Latter-day Saints will never fully witness the value of the Restored Gospel to the world until we establish a Zion.
We now say to the world “We have the wonderful, true Gospel of Jesus Christ to share with you. We can’t live it, but it really is true.”
When there is a true Zion on earth, the world will have its second witness of Christ.
The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is the one and only formula for saving mankind, both temporally and spiritually.
The Holy Ghost bears witness to everyone who will accept that witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of all mankind.
Those who are saved by the Savior are different from those who are not saved. If they live the whole Gospel, they will establish a Zion. The existence of a Zion will become a witness that the Restored Gospel really does work and save people.
Until we have a Zion, we Latter-day Saints, as a people, are “Mene, mene, tekel upharsin,” weighed in the balance and found wanting.
But are there not some LDS people who live the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Yes, there are some members of the LDS Church who live the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you put all of those people in one stake, they would establish Zion there.
But then the rest of the Church would fall apart.
The Authorities of the LDS Church are trying mightily to establish Zion.
When we members begin to fully implement what they ask us to do, we will have a Zion.
The engine that will finally create a Zion is the ordinances of the Temple.
There are two keys to the establishment of Zion:
Key #1: To study the Book of Mormon until we truly understand how to come to Christ and be perfected in Him. The Book of Mormon is the manual of instructions as to how to come to Christ and be perfected in Him.
Key #2: Because knowing how to come to Christ is not enough, we must also have the power to come to Christ and be perfected in Him. That power is only obtained through the ordinances of the New and Everlasting Covenant, focusing particularly in the blessings and covenants of the temple endowment and sealings.
Blessed are those who use these to keys unto perfect Faith in Christ.
What will it take to get LDS people to use those two keys?
God protects human agency above all else. Because he knows that only if his children voluntarily create Zion can they avoid creating Hell on earth and going to hell afterwards.
We will establish Zion only when enough LDS people freely choose to keep all of their covenants.
The Savior will never force anyone to create or live in Zion.
When we Latter-day Saints want Zion more than anything else, we will establish it. Right now, too many of us are overcome by worldliness. At most, only half of the LDS church members will overcome the love of the world before He comes again.
When we start loving our God and our neighbor instead of ourselves, we will have Zion.
Selfishness is the great enemy of our souls.
Selfishness is the gospel of Satan.
Jesus Christ would have us live “outside ourselves in love.” And that love must be pure, the gift of charity from Christ.
Therefore, seek after charity, for charity, the pure love from Christ, never fails.
Charity is the gift of God to all who seek to make their eye single to his glory with all of their heart, might, mind and strength.
If we gain charity, we will save our own souls and establish Zion.
The inhabitants of Zion are all expert witnesses to the truth of the Restored Gospel
Imagine if the world were flooded by expert witnesses who could say to the fallen people of this world: “Jesus Christ has come again and restored his true Gospel and Church. Look to Zion, and you can see that Gospel in action. It really does work. I know it saves mankind because I have participated in Zion and have there seen the Lord solve all human, mortal problems by helping them to have charity. You also can be part of a true heaven on earth by accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior and fully living His Restored Gospel in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unto having this pure love from Christ.”
What a powerful expert witness that will be. Then the powers of hell will be shaken forever.
- We turn now to the fourth application, the location of Book of Mormon lands.
This discussion has full meaning only to those who have received the witness of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is the work of God. Otherwise the discussion is purely academic.
Knowing the Book of Mormon is a true record of ancient peoples on this, the American Continent, we might then profitably wonder just where it all took place.
Joseph Smith’s statement about the Book of Mormon:
(Wilford Woodruff journal, Nov. 28, 1841, Church History Library, Salt Lake City).
Notice that he did not say that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of the Church. He said it is he keystone of our religion. Our religion is our way of life, the habits of character we foster to endure to the end in our faith in Jesus Christ. That goal or end is to “come to the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13)
The first business of an LDS person is to make our calling and election sure:( See 2 Peter 1: 5-10)
Our calling is to become the children of Christ, become new crearures remade in His image, and to then inherit all he has and is.
We can receive this inheritance only as we build spiritual muscle that will enable each of us NEVER to give in to the temptations of Satan.
The commandments of God are given to us to build that spiritual muscle so that we could be trusted with godhood.
The Atonement of Christ makes forgiveness of breaking the commandments of possible, but until we stop sinning, we cannot receive full forgiveness.
Repentance is stopping sinning. Is that possible? Only in Christ.
Don’t be taken in by those who say one cannot become perfect in this life.
To become perfect means to become complete, whole, holy.
To say we cannot become perfect in this life is to say Christ cannot save us.
What he saves us from two things:
- The weakness of our character that allows us to sin. He gives us the knowledge and power to learn to keep all of his commandments, thus to build the spiritual muscle necessary to be able to stand godhood.
- Christ also saves us from the penalty due for having sinned.
Satan will try every way to divert us so that we will not fully repent.
Satan will fill our minds with lies (like: you can’t become perfect).
Satan will fill our hearts with lusts (like: you deserve to pleasure yourself)
Satan will try to destroy our physical tabernacle (like: you ought to try using tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs)
Satan will try to abort our mission in life (like: I’ll wait to have children until it is convenient)
The solution? To love God with all of our mind, heart, strength and might, first and foremost.
When our calling and election is sure:
When we as a people learn to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ as given in the Book of Mormon we will be able to know everything we need to know and do everything we need to do.
We will receive the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon plates. (This blessing is to the children of Lehi when they become faithful.)
We will receive the full record of the Jaredites. (This blessing is to the Gentiles when they become faithful).
Perhaps we will again have the Book of Lehi (the lost 116 pages)
And we will be able to establish Zion again on the earth.
In this setting, What about Book of Mormon Geography?
Book of Mormon geography is a fascinating subject.
I appreciate the scholarship of John Sorensen in his study of the archaeology of Meso-America and his contention that those are the Book of Mormon lands.
I also greatly appreciate the work of Rod Meldrum and others in bringing to our attention the remains of ancient civilization in North America, urging us that they are the Book of Mormon lands.
I find both of them giving interesting and compelling evidence and reasoning. But I honestly have to conclude that Book of Mormon geography is a red herring to me.
A Red Herring is a diversion. Be not diverted.
I lean towards the Heartland theory of Book of Mormon lands. Knowing where they are is important.
But there is something that is 100 times more important.
The priority of Latter-day Saints should be to:
- Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.
- To establish His Zion.
When we have done those two things, we will not only know what are the true Book of Mormon lands, but a lot of other precious things also.
So let us be about doing those two things, first and foremost.
Conclusions about Human Knowing:
Humans know best what they can do. So treasure the testimony of the expert witnesses: the doers.
We humans know least about the things we cannot now experience. About those things we invent theories. Appreciate the ideas of those who talk theory. But take it all theory with grains of salt.
Remember: All human supposing of the past is theory. All human supposing of the future is theory. So learn about the past and the future only from God, for whom they are not theory.
The greatest doer is Jesus Christ himself: He lived a perfect life, He fulfilled his mission completely, he wrought the Atonement to reconcile every child of God who will receive it to come back to be with and live the life of God the Father, and brings about the best possible eternal happiness for each human being.
Joseph Smith was a great doer. He was able to bridge between God and man to restore the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth and to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth for the last time.
Other great doers:
Brigham Young was a great doer. He was the down-to-earth doer who was able to secure the continuation of what Joseph Smith established, to help the Latter-day Saints continue the Kingdom of God in the desert, to meet with good sense the challenges of every-day life.
Thomas S. Monson is a doer who shows the way to love God by loving our fellowmen. As our leader-doer at the present day, he and the other General Authorities would have us reach out to all others in the pure love of Christ.
Recommendations for the writings of doers:
Dean Sessions is a doer who has learned to make fossils. I commend to you his Universal Model of science. His proofs of the Universal Flood are most impressive. If you want a fresh look at science and geology and to see good reasons why organic evolution is a false hypothesis, take time to investigate the Universal Model. See at https://universalmodel.com/
David Allan is a doer who has learned to measure and calibrate time. I commend to you his book It’s About Time, wherein he tells you how to measure time and to establish simultaneity. His work with time was a critical factor in establishing GPS and other navigational aids. And as a disciple of Christ, he tells you much about living the Gospel. See at http://itsabouttimebook.com
Stephen Covey, our deceased friend, had much good to say about doing our human life. His book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a good manual for living life as an intelligent human being. It is great terrestrial wisdom.
But the greatest doer of all time is Jesus Christ. He create the heavens and this earth and all of us, and is our Savior. I commend to you all of his words about how to come to Him and to our Father in Heaven to become an eternal doer of righteousness. Please don’t accept any human being as your Savior.
My plea to you today: Come unto Christ
The best thing any of us can do for this world is to come unto Christ, all the way, until we are filled with and show His pure love.
Then we will establish Zion, get the rest of the scriptures that are promised to come forth, and each fill our missions.
Please show love and tenderness for those who do not believe in Christ, and for those who do believe in organic evolution, that Adam and Eve evolved, and that the solution to our political problems is socialism. And treat them that way even if they don’t treat you that way.
Above all, let us be humble before Christ and our Father in Heaven, that their will, not our will, be done on this wonderful earth.
I bear my witness that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives and answers prayers, and that He tempers the elements for his sheep who are shorn of pride. There is no more intelligent thing to do for any human being than to search out a knowledge of this Christ. And then we can waste and wear out lives out in loving and serving Him with all of our heart, might, mind and strength by tirelessly sharing all we have with our neighbors in His pure love.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.