Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Part 6: Where We're Going with All This

Having established that scientific inquiry is the way to understand how our physical world works, I want to consider ways to understand how the spiritual world works. What? You may ask: A spiritual world? And I answer, Yes, for sure, a spiritual world. And I'm not one of those people who says, "I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual."

I believe in God. (Follow that link to see some others of my beliefs, which all go with the initial one, believing in God.) Since many people think one can't believe in God and still be a scientist, or even be rational, I want to explain how this is possible.

I believe there is a spiritual realm that scientific experiments can't discover, let alone explain.

Yet I propose that all people, including rational people, can apply a method, similar to the scientific method, to establishing the reality of spiritual matters.

In the LDS Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) we call this a testimony. As explained on one of the Church's websites, a testimony is:
...a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior's true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel.
 And here's how one obtains this testimony, again quoting from the same Church website:
The quest for a testimony begins with a righteous, sincere desire. Speaking to a group of people who did not yet have testimonies of the gospel, Alma taught: “If ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words” (Alma 32:27).  
So, Alma says, you conduct your search for a testimony of the truth just like you would conduct a scientific inquiry to find the truth of a scientific principle:

First, "...rouse your faculties," i.e., think about it, seriously, not just like an idle question, like, I wonder why the sky is blue. Really use your brain to think about it.

Second, perform "an experiment upon my words," that is, just like Francisco Redi did with the jars, some covered and some not, with rotten meat in them, to see where the maggots came from. (Here's another great reference about that experiment.)

Third, let the results of your experiment influence what you do next, that is, desire to believe, show some faith that what you're experimenting on will have some results: And this of course is where our spiritual experiment differs from scientific experiments: The results of our experiment will not be anything visible or even immediately obvious, but will have to develop over time and with continued practice.

Then, for the rest of your life, you keep re-doing those other steps of the scientific method:

Steps of the Scientific Method

Does praying work for this part of your life? Do you get answers that help you for that part of your life? Is the procedure working? If not, troubleshoot your procedure. If so, analyze the data and draw your conclusions.

Then, as you see your results aligning (or not) with your original hypothesis, these results, your experimental data, become background research for the next part of your life. And, as we mentioned above, quoting the Church's information on testimony, "With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel."

1 comment:

Jeff Wynn said...

Wow. BINGO. TRIPLE Bingo.