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Signs Or Proof


skenderbeg

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So, the following thought occurred to me the other night while watching an evangelical show on cable this last Friday called "The Heart of the Matter" here in Salt Lake City. This is an Anti-Mormon show designed to spread the 'truth' about Mormons, etc., and the need for Mormon's to 'prove' that the Church is true. I can't tell you number of times that I have heard from my Protestant friends, "Prove it to me!", "Prove that Joseph Smith saw an Angel!", "Prove that he didn't make up the Book of Mormon.", etc., etc.

So, as I was listening to this guy say, "Show me proof and I will believe!", the following scripture (Matthew 16:4) popped into my head.

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign...

So, in todays 'scientific' and 'logical' world, would it be comparable to say that those whom seek after proof are, in a way, seeking after signs? Something incontrovertible?

It just seems to me that those who state that they will not believe until every last item, question, and concern can be answered and proven, they will not, and cannot, believe. Sounds very, very close to 'seeking after signs' to me. I just get the feeling that in todays world, a desire for heavenly signs has been supplanted with a desire or need for worldly proof.

Please don't get me wrong, I whole heartedly believe that studying the evidence to support a hypothesis is necessary for better understanding. As a classically trained scientist, I firmly support the idea of constantly seeking for knowledge and truth. However, those people who clamor for 'proof' sound an awful lot like those who, in the scriptures, clamored for a 'sign' - the comparison is just too close for me.

Maybe I'm just thinking out loud. What do you guys think?

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[quote name=get me wrong, I whole heartedly believe that studying the evidence to support a hypothesis is necessary for better understanding. As a classically trained scientist, I firmly support the idea of constantly seeking for knowledge and truth. However, those people who clamor for 'proof' sound an awful lot like those who, in the scriptures, clamored for a 'sign' - the comparison is just too close for me.

Maybe I'm just thinking out loud. What do you guys think?

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Some rise up for proof to satisfy or "consume it on their lusts," in other words, they aren't asking because they want to exercise faith, they are asking to mock, to demand immediate knowledge, etc. Keep in mind signs can damage as much as they can benefit. The greater the knowledge the more responsibility. Signs don't seem to be consistent tools to conversion. Laman and Lemuel saw angels, but never repented. the scriptures are full of examples like that.

Why are they asking for a sign, what kind of sign are they asking for? Are they like the mockers who told Jesus to prove he was the Son of God by coming down off the cross, or are they like the humble man who wanted faith that his daughter would be healed, and pleaded that the Lord would help his unbelief?

What is the purpose of "signs"?

D&C 46:9

"For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts."

*edited to add this link.

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So, the following thought occurred to me the other night while watching an evangelical show on cable this last Friday called "The Heart of the Matter" here in Salt Lake City. This is an Anti-Mormon show designed to spread the 'truth' about Mormons, etc., and the need for Mormon's to 'prove' that the Church is true. I can't tell you number of times that I have heard from my Protestant friends, "Prove it to me!", "Prove that Joseph Smith saw an Angel!", "Prove that he didn't make up the Book of Mormon.", etc., etc.

So, as I was listening to this guy say, "Show me proof and I will believe!", the following scripture (Matthew 16:4) popped into my head.

So, in todays 'scientific' and 'logical' world, would it be comparable to say that those whom seek after proof are, in a way, seeking after signs? Something incontrovertible?

It just seems to me that those who state that they will not believe until every last item, question, and concern can be answered and proven, they will not, and cannot, believe. Sounds very, very close to 'seeking after signs' to me. I just get the feeling that in todays world, a desire for heavenly signs has been supplanted with a desire or need for worldly proof.

Please don't get me wrong, I whole heartedly believe that studying the evidence to support a hypothesis is necessary for better understanding. As a classically trained scientist, I firmly support the idea of constantly seeking for knowledge and truth. However, those people who clamor for 'proof' sound an awful lot like those who, in the scriptures, clamored for a 'sign' - the comparison is just too close for me.

Maybe I'm just thinking out loud. What do you guys think?

I think you are absolutely right and the generation in which we live is "a wicked and adulterous generation" that seeks for signs. I think we are very close to the culture of some of the people of the Book of Mormon, a few quotes about the classic sign seeker Korihor:
(Alma 30:12-18) And this Anti-Christ, whose name was Korihor, (and the law could have no hold upon him) began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach, saying: O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.

Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.

How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.

Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so.

And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms

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I think you are absolutely right and the generation in which we live is "a wicked and adulterous generation" that seeks for signs. I think we are very close to the culture of some of the people of the Book of Mormon, a few quotes about the classic sign seeker Korihor:Notice how he begins by belittling their beliefs calling them foolish and vain. Then the attack on revelation and answer to prayer. Then appealing to so-called science "how can you know of things which you cannot see?" Then he tries to call them crazy that it is all in their minds that they got it from their parents. Then he teaches the "law of the jungle" everyone fared according to the managment of the creature, appealing to the "natural man." Then denyng that sin even exists. When he is brought before the high priest this is how it goes:Next he attacks ordinances and authority of the priesthood. He claims these leaders do this to "keep them down" to take away their "rights." Then claiming priestcraft where none exists. Finally his tirade is aimed again at revelation and visions and finally claiming they are worshiping a God who has never been seen and then seems to be doing some prophecing of his own when he states:"a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be." Case closed as far as he is concerned.Then they decide to send him to Amla where he continues his rant:Notice how Alma turns the tables and says that he knows what he has said against the Church is false, then he tells him (much as all Anti-Mormons) that the only evidence he has is his word only. Next it is Alma's turn:This is a wonderful example of how to deal with those who deny the Gospel and demand a sign. What better sign to give than to strike him dumb! Notice the cowardice when he tells him if he denys again he will be struck dumb he says "I do not believe that there is a God" trying to backpeddle a little. Then he gets his sign...much to his distress. Then after the fact the truth comes out:This is quite a self indictment he admits that he knew all along that there was a God and that the devil had appeared in the form of an angel...now this part is hard to get...an angel appears and says there is no God! But wait the answer is:" I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true." I believe this to be the case with many apostates and anti-Mormons they teach it so much they believe their own delusions. Sorry for the mega-post but it seemed to fit so well into the OP and I think it should give us some food for thought.

Nicely done.

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How is Moroni's promise any different? You're still seeking a sign, even if it is a spiritual one.

Those of you that have received a witness via the spirit are no longer operating on faith, right? You KNOW that it is true because you've asked for a sign and been given it.

Also, why is it that religion is the only thing in most of our lives that we gladly suspend any skepticism? If someone came to my door asking that I give 10% of my earning for the promise of some HUGE reward to be paid out years later, you better believe I'd do some homework on this guy. But if we do homework on religion, we are now suddenly "sign seeking". Doesn't make much sense.

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LOP,

I would like you to put yourself in the shoes of a con artist for a minute. If you were trying to scam someone into believing something, wouldn't the first step be to somehow make it so they didn't investigate your claim using any kind of real life data? Either keep them from questioning at all, or make it so the questions are all based on feelings rather than hard evidence.

If someone were to tell you that UFO's existed and there is a TON of advanced technology and he has used it extensively, wouldn't you want him to prove it to you by showing you some of the technology? When his response is, "Oh, but the aliens don't let me show anyone. Just keep asking if you can see it, and if you do it right, eventually they will take you to see it!" wouldn't you be VERY skeptical? Especially if you kept asking for years to see it and no aliens ever came to get you?

It's really not much different. Stories of miracles and signs and wonders are abundant in todays life, so for us to ask to see one isn't sinful. It's just smart.

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I prophecy to you in the name of My Dog Chiggy:

"Thus sayeth The Chiggy, that whosoever shall doubt that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists as master and overlord of this universe, that same soul is a wicked and adulterous evildoer."

Now, who among you guys does not believe that the FSM is the master and overlord of this universe? I suspect that it's the lot of you.

Now, doesn't that make you wicked and adulterous evildoers? If not, why not?

For extra credit, who can explain to me what this whole thread has to do with "the scriptures are true, because the scriptures say they are true, and because the scriptures say that anyone who doubts that they are true are evildoers."

Scottie hit the nail on the head. If I come to you asking you to pay $100 for a pint of fluid to add to your car that will boost its mileage by 20% for the rest of the life of the car, I'm betting you're going to want some kind of evidence that this actually works. I'm betting that you guys don't buy into every scam and financial pyramid scheme that comes around (although look at Utah - apparently plenty do exactly that).

You guys demand, and receive, and evaluate, evidence of all kinds of things in your daily lives, and does that make you wicked and adulterous?

Religion isn't special, and I, for one, have simply stopped treating it as some kind of special "hands off" category that must be respected simply because it cannot be believed on the same terms as everything else I concern myself with in my daily life. When, to me, it appears as if the scriptures contain a lot of mythology, I'm going to require some kind of good evidence that the rest of the whole proposition is really true.

I'm sorry, but a "prophet" who apparently "translated" a book of scripture from an Egyptian Book of Breathings scroll, claiming it was the story of Abraham, has earned his rightful place in my list of things I'm going to require some evidence for when considering his other claims. Particularly if this guy did bizarre things like marrying other mens' wives claiming God commanded him to do it, and then lied to almost everyone about it, both publically, within the church, and even to his own wife. I'm sorry, but it's assanine, ridiculous, and absurd to try to claim that requiring evidence of this man's divine appointment indicates one's own sinful and wicked nature. That's just garbage, bunk, hokum, and, yea verily, even complete doggy doo.

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I'm sorry, but a "prophet" who apparently "translated" a book of scripture from an Egyptian Book of Breathings scroll, claiming it was the story of Abraham, has earned his rightful place in my list of things I'm going to require some evidence for when considering his other claims. Particularly if this guy did bizarre things like marrying other mens' wives claiming God commanded him to do it, and then lied to almost everyone about it, both publically, within the church, and even to his own wife. I'm sorry, but it's assanine, ridiculous, and absurd to try to claim that requiring evidence of this man's divine appointment indicates one's own sinful and wicked nature. That's just garbage, bunk, hokum, and, yea verily, even complete doggy doo.

Thanks for the eloquent post and I enjoyed the FSM analysis as well.

My laundry list of the 'negatives' of Joseph Smith is rather long and I've heard all the explanations from apologists and I'm not even coming close to accepting his story as "faith promoting."

Now my LDS family and friends may have better luck in showing the BoM as a possible true historical event. I haven't seen the evidence that convinces me yet, but I hope I will be able to keep an open mind about it all. I don't believe being cautious when LDS missionaries, family and friends share their testimonies is unreasonable approach. Obviously I have reservations in regards to Joseph Smith, but I hope I'm not as critical about "signs or proof" in regards to BoM issues.

Sorry, but the LDS approach of "praying" about it all seems to be a joke IMO with the "elephant" issues I have with Joseph Smith especially with him marrying other men's wives. But the bottom line is that the elephant will probably walk out of the room with "reasonable" BoM evidence.

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Oh, mercy! The sign seekers hate the concept of sign seeking with impure motives being wrong. I'm stunned.

I'm sorry, but unless you acknowledge the FSM as master and overlord of this universe, you're just a wicked and adulterous evildoer.

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you're just a wicked and adulterous evildoer.

This I already know, b[note: you added 'evil-doer,' that isn't part of the equation] but can I be forgiven of these things by the FSM? How? Why? Can I overcome my tendancy to behave in ways that lead to my unhappiness? Who has beheld in reality and testified they have literally seen and spoken with the FSM? Do you literally believe the FSM exists? If you don't, I'm not sure why you're bringing up something neither of us believe in.

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This I already know, but can I be forgiven of it by the FSM? How? Why? Who has beheld in reality and testified they have literally seen and spoken with the FSM? Do you literally believe the FSM exists?

If you had been touched by His Noodly Appendage you would already know. That you ask betrays that you are not ready for such sublime truth. With apologies in advance, you cannot ask me to cast my pearls before swine.

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If you had been touched by His Noodly Appendage you would already know. That you ask betrays that you are not ready for such sublime truth. With apologies in advance, you cannot ask me to cast my pearls before swine.

This statement answers none of the questions I asked; you're being a jackass for the sake of being funny, and you may end up reaping the east wind.

Here's me searching for a non-condescending sethbag and not finding him: :P

In short, your FSM parallel amounts to nothing more than you calling someone a poo poo head. It's enlightening.

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I prophecy to you in the name of My Dog Chiggy:

"Thus sayeth The Chiggy, that whosoever shall doubt that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists as master and overlord of this universe, that same soul is a wicked and adulterous evildoer."

Now, who among you guys does not believe that the FSM is the master and overlord of this universe? I suspect that it's the lot of you.

Now, doesn't that make you wicked and adulterous evildoers? If not, why not?

For extra credit, who can explain to me what this whole thread has to do with "the scriptures are true, because the scriptures say they are true, and because the scriptures say that anyone who doubts that they are true are evildoers."

Scottie hit the nail on the head. If I come to you asking you to pay $100 for a pint of fluid to add to your car that will boost its mileage by 20% for the rest of the life of the car, I'm betting you're going to want some kind of evidence that this actually works. I'm betting that you guys don't buy into every scam and financial pyramid scheme that comes around (although look at Utah - apparently plenty do exactly that).

You guys demand, and receive, and evaluate, evidence of all kinds of things in your daily lives, and does that make you wicked and adulterous?

Religion isn't special, and I, for one, have simply stopped treating it as some kind of special "hands off" category that must be respected simply because it cannot be believed on the same terms as everything else I concern myself with in my daily life. When, to me, it appears as if the scriptures contain a lot of mythology, I'm going to require some kind of good evidence that the rest of the whole proposition is really true.

I'm sorry, but a "prophet" who apparently "translated" a book of scripture from an Egyptian Book of Breathings scroll, claiming it was the story of Abraham, has earned his rightful place in my list of things I'm going to require some evidence for when considering his other claims. Particularly if this guy did bizarre things like marrying other mens' wives claiming God commanded him to do it, and then lied to almost everyone about it, both publically, within the church, and even to his own wife. I'm sorry, but it's assanine, ridiculous, and absurd to try to claim that requiring evidence of this man's divine appointment indicates one's own sinful and wicked nature. That's just garbage, bunk, hokum, and, yea verily, even complete doggy doo.

Your post is plain rediculous; Live the teachings and you will know, whether they are of man Or God.

If you have the time to post nonsense, then you should have the time to live according to the scriptures and its living principles, and then prove to yourself whether they have power or not. You are searching whether you are consciously aware of it or not, your position wreaks of a lack of stillness in your life.

Other than that, keep up the good work, you are proving the prophecy of They will call good evil, and evil good.

son

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Sethbag, on behalf of the LDS community, I'm highly offended by your infantile mockery of Mormon belief by comparing it to belief in a flying spaghetti monster. Your comments were insensitive and hurtful, and a complete misrepresentation of sincere faith. Now, if you're quite through going out of your way to offend LDS sensibilities, we can continue discussing the wickedness of unbelievers in a polite and sensitive manner.

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Sethbag, on behalf of the LDS community, I'm highly offended by your infantile mockery of Mormon belief by comparing it to belief in a flying spaghetti monster. Your comments were insensitive and hurtful, and a complete misrepresentation of sincere faith. Now, if you're quite through going out of your way to offend LDS sensibilities, we can continue discussing the wickedness of unbelievers in a polite and sensitive manner.

Gee, how odd to see MC make an appearance here...

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The truth hurts doesn't it?

(1 Nephi 16:1-3) "And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.

And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken ahard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.

And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might awalk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us."

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How is Moroni's promise any different? You're still seeking a sign, even if it is a spiritual one.

Those of you that have received a witness via the spirit are no longer operating on faith, right? You KNOW that it is true because you've asked for a sign and been given it.

There is a major differenc here, we are directed to ask, and it is not for our amusement or curiosity.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the btruth of all things.

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There is a major differenc here, we are directed to ask, and it is not for our amusement or curiosity.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the btruth of all things.

So, basically what you are saying is that the BoM contradicts the Bible.

The Bible tells us that we should live on faith alone and that to seek a sign is wickedness.

Then the BoM comes along and tells you to ask for a sign?

In the purest sense of the word, is this not what you are doing when you ask God to know if the BoM is true? Other than the fact that it's in the form of the still small voice and not in the form of a lightning bolt, how is it any different?

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So, basically what you are saying is that the BoM contradicts the Bible.

The Bible tells us that we should live on faith alone and that to seek a sign is wickedness.

Then the BoM comes along and tells you to ask for a sign?

In the purest sense of the word, is this not what you are doing when you ask God to know if the BoM is true? Other than the fact that it's in the form of the still small voice and not in the form of a lightning bolt, how is it any different?

Yeah, you hit the nail on the head....[read: looking past the mark.]

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So, basically what you are saying is that the BoM contradicts the Bible.

The Bible tells us that we should live on faith alone and that to seek a sign is wickedness.

Then the BoM comes along and tells you to ask for a sign?

In the purest sense of the word, is this not what you are doing when you ask God to know if the BoM is true? Other than the fact that it's in the form of the still small voice and not in the form of a lightning bolt, how is it any different?

As the person who started this thread, let me respond to this, in the hopes of adding more light to what I was thinking when I started this discussion, before things go sideways any further.

At no time does searching for spiritual confirmation and/or direction from God amount to signs in any way. We have been commanded to pray - to pray always, to pray over our fields, etc. Prayer has been and always will be the fundamental pathway by which we commune with God. Seeking answers to our questions through prayer is not only correct and good, but to not do so it to reject the opportunity to develop a personal and intimate relationship between ourselves and our Father.

This is, however, very different from the spirit presented by those seeking after proof/signs.

When I was debating the comparison, it came from the paradigm of "How many times in my life have I heard the old cop out of 'show me proof and I will believe!'? I have heard it over and over when having congenial discussions with my friends. Then, while watching this television show which presents itself as an unbiased and honest presentation of my faith, and to hear this man, again, state that the only way he would change his mind that my faith is a cult, that I have been brain washed, and that I am not going to hell, was only based on if 'proof' could be presented. This spirit of contention, of "show me, and I will believe" just screams of those who sought after signs during the ministry of the Savior, or those who sought for signs in any/all periods and dispensations.

I think, it comes down to the spirit by which you seek. Are you challenging God to prove you wrong? Are you, in your arrogance, requiring that God take you by the hand and drag you to salvation? Or are you seeking His guidance and direction? Are you full of your own pride and knowledge that you are write, and until someone can show you to your own satisfaction that they are right, you will disregard and mock them for their beliefs?

The Jews saw the Savior. They listened to His voice and to His teachings - and yet, how many actually heard him? The humble? The poor? The meek? Whereas, the rulers of the people, those lifted up in the vain imaginations of their hearts, rejected and killed the Son of God. It is that spirit that I speak of. It is that spirit that looks for and strains for reasons not to accept the Book of Mormon and/or the modern day revelations of God that I speak of.

Is there anything wrong with seeking after light and knowledge? Absolutely not! I wish all men would fully study the scriptures, that they would seek after Christ - for we have been promised that whose who seek will find! But, the spirit of contention, of anger, of "I know better than you - and until you can prove to me bla, bla, bla" - that is not the spirit by which one should be seeking after God - for you will find a god, but it will not the God of Heaven and Earth that you will find - but the god of this world.

Demanding 'Proof' before one will believe, demanding that every question be answered, every concern be resolved, every worry be erased before you will believe anything is the modern day equivalent of saying, "Show me a sign, and I will believe!" If God showed himself to everyone who asked, where would faith come into play? As quoted above, we are sent to rely on faith alone, but there are many people who have commented on this thread about "there being nothing wrong about seeking after proof!" Well, you can't have it both ways - you can't have all proof given to you, and then be expected to rely on faith - instead, if you are truly seeking for the truth of God, and are willing to be humble and accept that God can and will direct you to where the truth is, then seeking out for knowledge and understanding - examining the evidence, and asking God for guidance and direction - is the absolutely correct path. But will you accept that path if and when it does lead to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

However, being unwilling to exercise faith, and standing flat footed and childishly demanding that evidence be handed to you, without any work being done by yourself, is contrary to the designs of a loving Father. He requires that we work for it, that we seek for it, that we search for it. Search your hearts, and ask yourselves, honestly, "am I searching? or am I arguing? am I convinced that I am write because to believe otherwise is stupidity?" Or, do you 'know' what you know because God has revealed it to you by the Holy Ghost? That my friends is, what in the end, is what matters. If you base your arguments on science, on reason, on our feeble understanding of past histories and interpreted actions of those who have come before, and if we remain unwilling to seek for God's direction on our decisions, we are turning our backs on a loving Father who wants each and every one of us to return and live with him after this life.

Please, search the scriptures, please read historical books and seek for the truth, and then, instead of asking , in pride, that God, or anyone else, 'prove' to you it is true, ask God in prayer, if the things you have read, studied, and believe are true - in the end, when we have humbled ourselves enough that we can truly say, "Thy will, not mine be done" we will know the truth - it is by that that I stand as a firm witness that Jesus is the Christ, that there are prophets on the earth today, and that the Book of Mormon is in fact the word of God.

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