Id like to close this letter (my last from the MTC before heading to Japan) with a memory and a thought. I love science. Some of my favorite memories are from Science Bowl, Science Olympiad, AP Chemistry and AP Biology. I remember learning in Chemistry about how to conduct experiments. Imagine my thoughts when I read this verse in Alma 32:27: “But behold, if ye will make 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.” You dont really see the word “experiment” a lot in scripture, but I love it.
We can learn from scripture through something like the scientific method. Identify your question. Is the Book of Mormon true? Are we really led by living prophets? Is the law of fasting really necessary? Hypothesize. Study it out in your mind, then you must ask me if it be right.” (D&C 9:8). Do your research. Study the scriptures. Read the words of living prophets. Use the direct source. Seek guidance from God. Then, conduct your experiment.
Designing good experiments is especially difficult, but thankfully, God is no respector of persons. He offers “experiments” to us all in the form of promises. Moronis promise (Moroni 10:3-5), promises associated with commandments (for example, Malachi 3:10, or as Alma says, “exercise a particle of faith.” A particle is so small! Smaller than anything we can see. But thats all were told we need. Trying out the scriptures is our experiment.
Experiments are no good if we dont record results. Too often though, we pray for promptings or knowledge and dont write down what happens. Imagine if a scientist were so lazy! In Experimenting upon the Word we must have a notepad.
I will divert for a moment. The difference between science and religion here lies in observation. In science we use our physical senses to make observations. In religion, we must use our spiritual [senses]. This can be hard because we often neglect those senses. Just as eyes or ears take time to adjust when not used, we may have to exercise our heart and spirit more as we try to observe impressions from God.
Back to the experiment. Do you move forward? No! Any good experiment involves multiple trials. We learned in Experimental Design to do as many trials as we could in the time allotted. The time given to us for learning spiritual truth includes our entire life (Alma 12:24). We keep on performing trials.
After performing many trials and gathering much data, we analyze that data and draw connections. Personally, after personal trials and impressions received, I must conclude that God is real, Jesus Christ is His son and my Savior, and He has restored His gospel on the Earth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and it is led by Christ through Prophets and Apostles. This is my conclusion based on the data.
Now a word about faith and knowledge. Alma has such a unique and effective way of putting things, so Ill continue to quote him. Alma 32:17-18: “Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show us a sign from heaven then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.”
They say “knowledge is power” and this is true. The proof is easy enough to see. Knowing the word for “politely receiving” in Japanese makes my speech more powerful. But if Ive learned anything in the MTC, its that there is power in faith as well. Its through faith in Christ that we act, not knowledge. I dont know whats going to happen on my mission. I dont know if anything will come of it. But I have hope and belief that it may. I believe in Christ.
Alma 32 teaches us: “And now as I have said concerning faith-faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold it will begin to swell within your breasts and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves-It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”
I invite all to try this out. Experiment upon the word for yourself. Good experiments can be repeated by anyone. Test the words of the scriptures. They are true. I write this thought in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Dallin Albright