I love the Book of Ether. While I’ve often viewed it as a chore to get through, there’s nevertheless something profoundly spiritual about this section near the end of the Book of Mormon. I love the story of the Brother of Jared and Moroni’s insights on faith. This time through, I was really impressed by the doctrine of enlightenment. For the Brother of Jared, Abraham, Moses, Nephi, Moroni, John the Beloved, and surely many others, there was a point when their faith turned into knowledge, and they saw beyond the veil of mortality. And when this happened, they all seemed to have a similar vision. They saw everything. They comprehended the world’s history, the world’s future, and the cosmic designs and glories of God. It evidences that Plato may have been more correct than Aristotle after all, that this world is, in fact, a simulation, and a brief glance into the great beyond will enlighten us beyond any scope we could have before imagined. The paradox is that the only way to achieve this state of enlightenment is to, as Moroni put it, “doubt not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” In other words, we can’t reach this point through logic, only faith.
But why should we put our faith in something we can’t logically support? What’s wrong with doubting what we don’t see? Shouldn’t we start with a “witness” before we put our faith in something? To me this is the great mystery of the Gospel. How can I logically explain faith? I can’t. Notwithstanding, it seems that the Gospel has everything to do with this mysterious doctrine of faith. The Book of Mormon is a perfect example. Its very existence is the antithesis of Occam’s Razor. The simplest explanation for it is that Joseph Smith fabricated it. To believe the fantastic story of its origins, the fantastic stories contained within it, and to take every word of it at face value, when in so many ways it seems like a nineteenth century book, is an incredible leap in logic. And yet I believe in it. Very much so. I like to think I have many logical defenses for it, but when I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that my faith precedes my logic. And there you have it. I don’t know why it works this way, but I know that it does work this way, and I know that, for whatever reason, God wants it to be this way. He gave us the Book of Mormon in the most scientifically unsupportable way imaginable. And yet with supporting evidence from Hebrew writing styles, to horse bones, to DNA, I’m confident that it can’t be proven false either.
I think the whole world is this way. Until the veil is parted, we’ll never prove (or disprove) the existence of God. Supposing someone were to hack into the source code of this simulation and discover the truth, surely God could stop the system, reboot, clear the record, and leave this person to second guess his findings. Perhaps this sort of thing happens all the time, forcing us, the citizens of earth, to choose between logic and faith. And why is God so sold on this system of schooling? Again, I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll never be able to explain why. But I choose to believe, because it feels right, and the consequences fill my life with light and intelligence. And if not in my brain, at least in my heart, this method of obtaining truth makes a world of sense. I truly believe that those who choose a life of faith, rather than basing their life’s choices solely on empirical evidence, will have their minds expanded and, like the Brother of Jared, will eventually come to comprehend all things. This is my goal. It should be the goal of all Latter-day Saints. It is the essence of the Gospel.