Tuesday, May 19, 2015


In the revelation given to Joseph Smith, truth is defined as knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come. (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24). This knowledge of truth is absolute. Absolute truth is unchanging, fixed, and unalterable facts. Truth that is independent for all people, even if it is not recognized it to be true. 

The opposite of absolute truth is relative truth. To say that something is relatively true means that it can be true for one person and not for another. It is “true” according to differences in perception and consideration. 

When two well intentioned people see things completely different, conflict can arise, especially if one professes their “relative truth” as absolute truth.   

For example, one could define a "hero" as someone who doesn’t leave his village in its time of need. He stays to help and hopefully save his family. He does all that he can to make it a better place. He ministers for his love of the common people, not necessary for the mayor and city leaders. On the other hand, one might define a true hero as someone who bravely leaves his hometown to stand for truth. Which one is the hero?

I think everyone would prefer to be a hero rather than the coward. We would prefer to do what is right than to do what is wrong. To quote a recent apocalyptic movie, “Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves?”

We are all wanderers in this lone and dreary world. We are all in search of our better self.. but what is your better self? 

Our better self is one who forgives and repents. 

Part of forgiving is to say, I Love You.
Part of repenting is to say I am sorry.. I apologize. 

Hugh Nibley taught: “We don’t need to go on forever suffering the same nonsense in order to see the things we can be tested for, namely the two things and the only two things we are good at: we can forgive and we can repent. These are the two things the angels envy us for…..What defines a righteous man? Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting he is a righteous man. There is hope for him. And no matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing. The man on the top of the stairs facing down is much worse off than the man on the bottom step who is facing up. The direction we are facing, that is repentance; and that is what determines whether we are good or bad.

Some of the Lord’s first words to Adam were: “Thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:8). When the Lord came to the Nephites, among his first words to them were these: “This is the gospel, that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent” (3 Nephi 11:32).

We all need to repent, we all need to forgive more. Heaven help us.

If I am in error, I want to be corrected. If I have been deceived, I want to be taught the truth. If I have been prideful, I want to be humbled. If I don't understand, I want to comprehend. If I am unkind,  I pray to have charity. If I get angry, I want to have more patience. If I have been wronged by someone, I want to forgive them. If I mess up, I want to apologize.


Gary Gibson said...

Brother, it was a good event. There will be more. I look forward to getting together soon.

Quanin said...

Truth is provable, Joseph Smith did not deal in truth, but lies, magical thinking, imaginary events, objects and people. He was good at getting people believe him. He was able trick people to believe he had magical power of seeing things that were not there and built a treasure hunting business around that model. He never deliver on his claims and made very little money off of the lies, he and gang dung huge holes in the earth. Some of Joseph Smith's are still visible. The Book of Abraham is a joke, it is not a translation of the papyri. The evidence against the BOA is considerable.

Joseph Smith is not a person to look to for truth.

Quanin said...

Religion begins with beliefs based not on observation, but on revelation, authority (often that of scripture), and dogma. Most people acquire their faith when young via indoctrination by parents, teachers, or peers, so that religious “truths” depend heavily on who spawned you and where you grew up. Beliefs instilled in this way are then undergirded with defenses that make them resistant to falsification. While some religious people do struggle with their beliefs, doubt is not an inherent part of belief, not is it especially prized. No honors accrue to the Mormon who points out that while there is plenty of evidence for evolution, there is none for the creation story of Genesis.

Some religious claims are untestable because they involve knowing about the irrevocable past. There is almost no way to show, for instance, that Jesus was the son of God, that Allah dictated the Quran to Muhammad, or that the souls of Buddhists are reincarnated in other humans or animals. (There could, however be at least some evidence for such claims, such as concordant eyewitness accounts of the miracles that supposedly accompanied Jesus’s Crucifixion, including the darkness at noon, the rending of the Temple’s curtain, the earthquakes, and the rising of saints from their graves. Unfortunately, the many historians of the time have failed to report these phenomena.) What science can do is point out the absence of evidence for such claims, taking them off the table until some hint of evidence arrives. When scientists don’t know something, like the nature of the mysterious “dark matter” that fills the universe, we don’t pretend to understand it based on “other ways of knowing” that don’t involve science. There is tantalizing evidence for dark matter, but we won’t claim to know what it is until we have hard evidence. That is precisely the opposite of how the faithful approach their own claims of truth.

In the end, religious investigations of “truth,” unlike those of science, are deeply dependent on confirmation bias. You start with what you were taught to believe, or what you want to believe, and then accept only those facts that support your prejudices. This is the basis for the theological practice of “apologetics,” designed to defend religion against counterarguments and disconfirming evidence. The fact of evolution, for instance, was once seen by many as strong evidence against God. As we’ll see, apologists have now decided that it is exactly what we’d expect from a good creator, who would, of course, allow life to blossom gradually instead of producing a boring and static creation ex nihilo. In contrast, science has no apologetics, for we test our conclusions by trying to find counterevidence.

The difference in methodology between science and faith involves several opposing practices and attitudes.

Ben said...

This was a wonderful post. I really found a lot to think about.

Quanin, you make some interesting points, though I beg to differ that truth is provable outside any means than divine revelation, and you’re kidding yourself if you really think we know jack shit about history (recent or ancient) or the cosmos. It’s impossible to muck through and prove the entire truth of what happened fewer than fourteen years ago with the whole Sept 11th fiasco.

Belief is just a belief. I’m finding that the scientific community or so-called modern agnostics/atheists are dead-set on bolstering themselves with “proof” for everything they choose to think, but I’m telling you these so-called truths are nothing more than beliefs.

Let’s be real here — you don’t personally “know” Smith’s translation of Abraham is wrong. You believe men who tell you this. Those men believed what other men taught. This is typical of academia (and humanity in general) that it’s more important to feel right than it is to be right. What makes you so sure we can really translate ancient Egyptian? What makes you so sure Champollion really cracked the language? What makes you so sure the original rosetta stone was accurate? Who wrote that stone? How on earth can you know he/she even knew Egyptian more than I know Spanish? Do you realize how shoddy our entire foundation for our so-called “knowledge” of ancient Egyptian really is? It rests on belief. There are millions or more other ways one could crack the rosetta stone and would give entirely different stories about ancient Egypt.

Do you want an example? I’ll refer you to the recent work of Ossama Alsaadawi. This Egyptian man — not a Mormon — has never been happy with Champollion’s poor template and claims he has a much more accurate way of translating Egyptian. This man’s translations are more complete and self-validating than anything the western world has come up with based on Champollion’s methodology. And here’s the kicker: he man claims our entire understanding of ancient Egyptian is flat-out wrong because of gross mistranslations. And Alsaadawi’s methodology has proven to be better in every way (except that you will likely find the content of what he discovered personally offensive because it clashes with what you’re preaching to us here).

I’m not claiming Alsaadawi is right. I don’t personally know. But at least his work is a reminder that those who have blindly accepted what the “experts” have told them is pure, unadulterated “truth” for 200 years have been pissing into the wind. It’s a reminder that we don’t “know” shit about anything. We make lots of guesses. We put faith in lots of men’s guesses.

I will freely admit I haven’t met Jesus Christ in the flesh. I believe he lives and is the savior of the world. Why can’t you admit you only believe Smith’s translation is wrong, and your belief is ultimately nothing more than faith in a bunch of other men’s words.

Divine communication is possible. When we truly repent, forgive others and have faith in the true God we will find: he really does give knowledge to everyone liberally, and we were *so* wrong about almost everything.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are in error. The Second Book of Commandments really is the word of the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Christ said that the definition of a 'righteous' person, or a 'true follower of Christ' is one who keeps his commandments. So if someone is repenting but doesn't keep Christ's commandments yet then they are 'striving' to be righteous, but may not be righteous yet. Christ said that only those who keep all of his commandments will receive Eternal Life and he said that will be very few, even his Apostles wondered who would make it then.

What is confusing is that most unrighteous people (those who don't keep the commandments) are very nice good helpful people most of the time, so it can seem like most people are righteous.

Christ also said to not believe anyone's claims to being a 'true prophet' if they don't keep 'all' of his commandments. Thus it's easy to see that Joseph Smith and all other LDS 'prophets' failed Christ's test, for they did not and do not keep those commandments, so to think them true prophets is to not believe Christ.

Christ taught that truth must be proven, based on his teachings, not on warm fuzzies or feelings, but on facts and things you can see. But men and false prophets tell people to 'pray about things' in order to gain confirmation that they are true, because that's the easiest way to be deceived, for most people will assume their good feelings about something or someone is coming from God. Few ever consider it could be coming from a wrong source.

But the truth is we can feel really good about really wrong things and really bad about true things.

Thus Christ taught us to base truth on his teachings. Only if a person, prophet, angel or the Spirit is telling us to do the same things Christ taught, should we believe it's true. Christ said to 'test the spirits' that give us revelation and 'test' the prophets that come professing to speak for God, by comparing what they do and say to his teachings, if anything they say or do is contrary then we know they are wrong.

Since no human can know for sure if God exists or not, or be sure their revelation, vision, visitation is from him, for no human has anything to compare such things with to know if such is true or not. That is why Christ said beware of false Christ's who might appear to us, pretending to be the real Christ. I believe he knew that would happen to many people and deceive them into thinking they have met God or Christ and are thus saved, when in reality they don't even keep his commandments.

The best anyone can say is that they 'hope' there is a God and that Jesus lived and was the Son of God. We can believe in and live Christ's teachings, for they do seem to be the best teachings ever given to produce happiness, peace and prosperity, for people and societies, but no one can know if Christ really existed or not. But we can test and live his teachings to see if they do in fact produce such peace and happiness.

LJn said...

Excellent reply, Ben. Thank you.

Rob said...

You write a post on teachability and everyone comes by to kick you in the crotch! :)

I'm not sure what the post refers to, but no worries.

In the meantime, I've thought a lot about truth being absolute vs. relative. I'm not sure it is ever absolute unless you constrain it to a "sphere" (used as in D&C 93:30) "All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it."

I wrote a pamphlet on my thoughts, though I really need to revisit it as I could easily double the content now. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6t-rQr3iLAsSXVkbmRrX05SSlU/view?usp=sharing

You may or may not find it useful, but I hope if you have time to read it you find it thought-provoking.

God bless.

hilda said...

What a comeback, Ben.

You wrote almost everything I would have written and you said it perfectly.

I am convinced if one has re-read the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham WITHOUT the traditions of the fathers ie religionists, scientists, restorationists etc, has no claim on 'knowing' anything.

After all i have read in decades of so called Mormonism, if you haven't read Daymon Smith's 'Cultural History of the Book of Mormon ' (every single volume) where he smashes the false traditions of everyone, both Mormon and anti-Mormon, then yes, you don't know jack shit and simply are a follower of someone you have made an idol.

The Book of Mormon is real and without parallel. All glory to Jesus, the very Eternal Father.

Susan Heinz said...

barerecord, thank you for the wisdom in this post. Your message taught me. I would love to see a followup post about truths that are absolute.

Anonymous said...

Truth or God, never changes, and is always absolute and constant, just as the laws of the universe, which are part of truth.

If truth were relative, or God was changing, or asked one thing of one person and an opposite thing of another, then it would be impossible to know what was truth, for we wouldn't have a sure and set standard to judge by. Thus it would be chaos, and God would be a God of confusion.

Everyone would claim to have the truth despite being totally contrary to each other, as we have today in all churches. No progress can happen in such a case. Only unity breeds progression.

So God sent his Son to earth to teach His 'standard of truth', which has never changed in all the history of the earth. Christ's commandments have always been the only path to Eternal Life, for Adam or for us. But man and false prophets have wrongly changed or added to God's simple standard, and thus we now have all the different religions and opinions and a world of confusion. But if we all obeyed Christ's command to use only His words as our standard and not any man's or prophets teachings, then we would all agree and be of the same mind and religion.

Christ taught us that the only way to know 'the truth of all things' is by comparing anyone's opinions, teachings or revelation, to the teachings of Christ, which are few and clear, even a child can understand them. Anything that is different or contrary to Christ's words is thus then wrong.

Christ's teachings can be condensed down to about 20 simple basis commandments, which if we studied and lived them we would gain Eternal Life. We mortals make it much harder and confusing then it has to be by adding in our own or other's teachings to His.

AndEva said...

I can connect with this post, thankyou my friends.

Robert said...

Ben thank you for the reply. I'll look up Alsaadawi.
Quanin brought up dark matter which has not been proven. There is also dark energy which has not been proven. Here is a scientist from the Electric Universe school saying that black holes, dark matter and dark energy are incorrect theories and that it is magnetism that holds the cosmos together. I find the Electric Universe thinking to my liking and it really does explain a lot, but most of them believe in God, so the atheist scientists scorn them. Which group is following truth?