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The Evidence of Things Not Seen

I wasn’t planning to write this today, but I want to.


It was two years ago today that my brother David left home. We thought he had run away to start a new life or something. Then last fall, we learned he had passed away.

I feel melancholy thinking about my brother today. However, I also feel a sense of peace that I will see David again. I actually feel very assured about that.

That raises a question: Why should a rational person feel assured of something he can’t see or demonstrate, such as life after death?

The five senses are considered our inputs for rational thinking. However, I’ve learned I can know things outside of my five, traditional senses. There are other, finer senses that give us knowledge about spiritual things. We can cultivate these finer senses and trust them. They contribute to rational thinking. For me, faith and religion help cultivate these finer senses.

Traditional thought is that religion is at odds with science; it’s religion versus science. However, we can think about it differently, as religion plus science. Both are methods for learning truth.

In fact, religion may sometimes know things before science knows them, especially at a personal level. In that way, religion is sort of “indy” truth — truth before it goes mainstream. Eventually religion and science will be reconciled as separate views of one great whole.

In the meantime, religion and faith appear “supernatural” or “magic” to outsiders. Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The Subject of faith seems supernatural because we don’t understand it fully, but I think it’s more natural than we know.

As I come to understand spiritual things little by little, they seem less foreign, less “magical”. What is “supernatural” now will eventually just be “natural”, because our understanding will have changed. As Tim Berners-Lee said, “Everything you don’t understand is magic. When you understand things, there’s no more magic.”

On a day like today, I’m grateful for the possibility of knowing additional truths by faith.

I really enjoyed this 5-minute clip from Professor Clayton Christensen discussing science, religion, and the pursuit of truth (starting at 2:55):

There’s also a great interview with John Lewis, a scientist discussing religion and science as being like two lenses in a pair of glasses:

Update, Aug 2, 2014: Here’s a recent, related quote from Elder Russell M. Nelson: “Truth is truth! It is not divisible, and any part of it cannot be set aside…. Whether truth emerges from a scientific laboratory or through revelation, all truth emanates from God. All truth is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

9 replies on “The Evidence of Things Not Seen”

While reading your post (excellent by the way) I thought of this scripture, where Alma is challenging Korihor:

“The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” (Alma 30:44)

All things do indeed donate there is a God.

Thank you for sharing. I too know that you will see David again and I am grateful for the “finer senses”. I am going to share these videos with my friend is a member of the church and a science major. She struggles with church and science and maybe this help her understand a little better.

That was a sad and scary time a couple years ago. One of the other benefits of the non-five senses is that the interaction can grow stronger over the years (in comparison to forgetting the smell, feel, etc.)

As for the “eventually religion and science will be reconciled,” I remember reading a talk from Heber J Grant in the 1926 conference. It was the first one going live over radio and he was excited to report in the later sessions that family members far away were reporting back that they heard conference on the radio. Then he mentions this story:

“I remember being ridiculed because I believed in the Book of Mormon, because an alleged absolute impossibility was recorded in that book, namely that the Savior’s words were heard all over the land. I remember saying to the professor, that I believed in a God who could arrange, if he saw fit to do so, that the words of Jesus Christ could be heard all over the world. I remember reading recently of a man who heard a song nine thousand miles over the radio. He was in a house with the doors closed, and the song was sung in a house or station with the doors closed, nine thousand miles away. Thank the Lord for faith as a boy, in the truths that are being demonstrated, which were miracles beyond all belief in early days!”

Thank you for sharing this Richard. Helped me to understand in a new way the connection between religion in science that I’ve struggled with. I’m sorry for the loss of your brother, but grateful for our shared faith in a future reunion.

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