I have a very good atheist friend in my World Religions 100 class. A kind fellow. We talked very deeply about different religious beliefs and the multiple gods from Hinduism, the lack of any gods in Buddhism, and some Christian-Judeo beliefs, among other things.
I really liked talking about Mormonism and Mormon history too. So, naturally, we talked about Mormon history quite often. I told him about the Second Great Awakening and religious revivalism, the First Vision, the life of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and a number of other things regarding Mormonism. He could tell that I was quite informed about the history of the Church.
One day I arrived about thirty minutes early for class. There was one other person in the room studying for the test we had that day regarding Islam. I was a bit excited about that days quiz and lesson, and told her that I brought my Qur’an I purchased a while back at a bookstore. She asked me if I was a Muslim and I chuckled and told her no. Then I added, “But I still have a great appreciation for ancient religions that aren’t my own!”
We shared a few words, then I asked her what her religious beliefs were. She said she was raised in the Catholic Church. I expressed my love for the Catholic Church and the beauties and similarities that it has with Mormonism. She seemed a bit more hesitant to express love or joy for religion or the existence of a deity in general. Basically, she was only a Catholic because her parents were. She expressed her confusion with the Holy Bible and how she believes religion jars with science, namely the Big Bang Theory.
I explained to her that there was a lot of ambiguity when looking through the lens of the God vs Science debate.Then I told her that it was actually Pope Pius XII (I just said “a Pope,” I could remember which one exactly) who endorsed the Big Bang. Dispite popular belief, it was actually a lot of Christian scientist who brought forth a lot of the sciences we have today.
I then told her that the latest interpretation of the history of science suggest that science grew up, interestingly enough, not in China, not in the Islamic world, not in India, technologies did. Science grew up in Christian Europe, why? Probably specifically because of attributes of Christian culture in Europe. Look at the works of Stanley Jaki or Pierre Duhem, the other people who are writing on the subject of the history of science, this is pretty much the consensus view right now. Christians have always had a natural curiousity to discover how God does certain things (very much in line with Theosis thinking).
After this discusion on the history of Scientific developement, I then proceeded to invite her to read some of the scriptures in the Book of John. I challenged her to read through the entire book and pray about it, sharing James 1:5 with her. She wrote this down and said she would read it. At about this time, my atheist friend walked in as I was teaching her.
I then proceeded to tell her about the Book of Mormon and shared Moroni’s promise with her. I invited her to read the Book of Mormon and bore my testimony about it’s witness of Jesus Christ. She protested taking the Book, thinking I was being over generous. I joked and told her they were a dime a dozen. She thanked me and said she’d read it. I expressed my love for the Book of Mormon and told her how it has brought peace and comfort to my heart, burried my testimony of its truthfulness, of the Savior, and ended with a great big “In the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” She smiled and seemed pretty excited about it.
Back to my atheist friend who, again, just walked in. He seemed shocked at what I was sharing. Apparently he was unaware that was a devout Mormon. He asked me if I recently converted to the Mormon faith. My other friend, who had just walked into the room and was well aware of my Mormonism, joked and said, “He was only born into it!” (which isn’t exactly true, but I let it slide anyways).
I couldn’t help but notice the expression on my frineds face when he found out. He told me that I hadn’t told him. I then added, “well, you didn’t ask.”
Much like life, when we ask questions, we generally find answers.
Life is a giant library of information. There is enough information to teach anyone just about anything in almost every subject we can imagine. The information has always been there. One who discovers this information for the first time might ask themselves, “Why aren’t we sharing this information with everyone! This is pretty fantastic stuff. Everyone should have this information!”
What this person may fail to realise is that infromation has pretty much always been there. Information about different ideas, history, religion, social structures, government, and a number of other things have always been around. So why don’t we know about it? It is because we are not curious, or don’t care to know, or we don’t ask enough questions.
I love asking questions. Questions lead to answers. And answers lead to Godhood and a more perfected and exalted state. It was questions that brought forth the glorious reality of the Restoration. And it is questions that will lead us to finding God. So when my lovely friend asked me questions about the Gospel, I was able to share with her the Good News. Its these kinds of questions that lead us to seek out the answers in life.
I would encourage everyone to ask questions. And remember, your answers will likely differ than others. That’s ok. Smart people have the right to disagree. In fact, smart people often do disagree. There are smart atheist, Buddhists, Hindus, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and Mormons. Smart people come in all different shapes and sizes.
Doctrine and Covenants 88:118
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teachone another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the bestbooks words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
In this light, I would encourage everyone to continue gaining knowledge, keep asking questions, and find answers from the “best books” (scholarly material) coupled with an eye for truth and a convicted heart for faith.
And, it only feels natural, I say these things in Christ’s sacred name. Amen.