We come from the heavens, we are made from the heavens. Science and Religion need not be at odds.
My beloved brothers and sisters, my dear friends, it is a joy to be with you today. We are saddened by the sight of three empty places here on the stand. We miss President Packer, Elder Perry, and Elder Scott. Death is a reminder to all that this life is a temporal time and that we should use that time well.
Not long ago I saw a quote that made me stop and think. It went like this: “Tell a man there is an invisible man in the sky, and he’ll believe you. Tell him there’s wet paint on the wall, and he’ll touch it just to be sure” -Anonymous . We are the guardians of people’s faith. We are trusted by millions to teach correct principles about the man in the sky as well to warn against touching the wet paint. It is an awesome responsibility and not one any of us who stand as witnesses of the name of Christ take lightly.
When I go to my medical caretakers, I go to individuals trained in science. They spend years learning the methods of skepticism to ensure that when they find an answer, it is the only answer. I am a man of faith. When I try to approach ailments and infirmities I view it from an eternal perspective, with a lens of faith. Of course, researching things for ourselves is not a bad idea, and viewing things with a lens of faith is valuable, but I still go to the doctor. Even I rely on skepics.
Sometimes, we want the truth to seem straightforward, plain, too simple because we of what we have experienced and know to be true through faith, that we disregard those who spend years learning precise mechanism to pursue more mysterious or complicated information. Hopefully, we will never think those who spend lifetimes becoming experts in scientific fields are merely chasing after shadows or pursuing matters that have little substance and value simply because we have the gospel.
Let me be clear: there is something noble or impressive about being cynical. Skepticism is difficult—but anyone can do it. However, the faithful life that requires moral strength, dedication, and courage is also valuable. Those who hold fast to both faith and can still ask questions are far more impressive than those who live by either alone.
In the Church, we learn that we are children of our heavenly parents, placed lovingly in mortal bodies. Science teaches that stars that exploded billions of years ago formed the planets and stars we see today, and that the very elements of our bodies are constructed of “star stuff”. These two ideas give individuals hope from two angles. The idea that we are the culmination of events that mounted on top of each other taking amazing amounts of time and circumstance to come to where we are today does not require one sacrifice skepticism for faith, nor faith for skepticism.
When it comes to spiritual truth, how can we know that we are on the right path?
One way is by asking the right questions—the kind that help us ponder our progress and evaluate how things are working for us. Even if we do not take the skeptical approach to our spiritual lives, self-evaluation of our faith is important. We cannot grow in faith if we never doubt.
I wonder if we as Church members might also benefit from asking ourselves from time to time: “Is my experience in the Church working for me? Is it bringing me closer to Christ? Is it blessing me and my family with peace and joy as promised in the gospel?”
Many members will answer with great warmth that their experience as a member of the Church is working exceptionally well for them. They will testify that whether during times of poverty or prosperity, whether things are pleasant or painful, they find great meaning, peace, and joy because of their commitment to the Lord and their dedicated service in the Church.
But I also recognize that there are some who have a less-than-fulfilling experience—who feel that their membership in the Church sometimes isn’t quite what they had hoped for.
I hope to answer some of the more difficult questions today by revelation. As such, I will be turning the rest of my time at conference into a Question and Answer session. Understand that most questions will come from the Skeptical point of view. Most answers are likely to come from faith. However, I will try to answer honestly and put to rest some of the most frequently asked questions by members whose experience in the church may be causing heartburn withing them.