American History, Columbia University and Claremont Graduate University
Why then am I always interrogating my own faith? I am always asking why I believe. What do my beliefs mean? How can they be explained and justified? I have sympathy for questioners because I am a questioner too. Settled as faith is in my own life, I understand why people doubt. I see in questioning something deeply religious as well as deeply human. A Doctrine and Covenants scripture speaks of “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” and then goes on to explain itself: “in the wilderness because you cannot see him.” That is the human plight. We live in a wilderness where we cannot see God. We must believe in him in his absence. The scripture goes on to further explicate itself by explaining “my voice, because my voice is Spirit” [88:66]. We live in a wilderness and listen for the voice of a person we cannot see, coming not by sound waves to our ears but as a spirit voice. If that is our situation, as it truly seems to be, how can we not sympathize with bewildered questioners? Under those circumstances, I too question God.Read more »
I had my first visit in February 2004. God bless those missionaries! I sure gave them a run for their money! I knew we were in the “last days”, and the the Bible says,”Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). I did not trust them; I knew many false prophets would arise in the last days, but I gave them my word that I would not make any decisions until I had read the Book of Mormon.Dr. Lawrence L. Poulson
A funny thing happened as I started reading the Book of Mormon-I recognized my beloved Bible on every page! It didn’t start in First Nephi,either…it started with the introduction to the Book of Mormon and then the testimonies of the witnesses. I recognized God’s numbers, His “set” way of organization; I started pulling out God’s numbers-3,8,12-from the very first pages and I knew that this book was lining up with my Bible. As I read on, I decided that the Book of Mormon was either written by God or by Satan, but it could not have been written by any man! The wisdom was too deep. It lined up too well with the Bible, on so many levels. I knew that it was just not possible for man to have written this book. As I realized this, at first, I feared in my heart that the Book of Mormon was a counterfeit. Was this the strong delusion sent by Satan in the last days that my Bible had warned me about? Were these missionaries the false prophets that I knew would arise in the last days? I was sure in my heart that the Book of Mormon was a supernatural book, but to which end? I also knew that “ol’ smutty face” was a master of imitation and forgery. If anybody could make a “copy” of the Bible, yet twist it, he could! But the missionaries kept telling me to pray about it, and ask God if it was the truth. Satan wouldn’t advise me to ask God about anything! The Bible says in Isaiah 55:11 that God’s word will not return void and it didn’t. I had not memorized all that scripture for naught.
Biochemistry, University of Texas at Austin
As a youth I was always interested in chemistry and, after returning from my mission, I managed to get a position as a research assistant in a plant biochemistry laboratory at the Salinity Laboratory, a part of the United States Agricultural Research Service, where the third love of my life was born, the first being my wife, with Book of Mormon geography in second place. It was there that I began my career in biochemistry. Through the good help of the people at the Salinity Laboratory and the National Defense Education Act, I obtained a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry and went looking for a permanent position. Unfortunately, there were no jobs for plant biochemists, and I ended up at the University of Texas as a research scientist in drug metabolism and disposition. As I studied and did research in the biochemistry of living plants and animals, I became more and more convinced of the reality of God and Jesus Christ and the reality of a divine creation of this world and the creatures that abide here. Through the research in our laboratory we were able to establish and get acceptance for a theory that helps to explain how the delicate ecological balance between plants and animals is maintained. This theory, though based on evolutionary concepts, only strengthened my testimony of the hand of God in the creation process.Read more »
Peter M. Johnson
At the start of the fall semester I was instructed by my academic advisor that I needed to take several religion courses to graduate from BYU–Hawaii. For my first semester I decided to take a New Testament course, and for the first time I began to understand in part the importance of a Savior. While living in New York I had been a converted Muslim. The Islamic faith regards Jesus Christ as a great man or prophet, similar to Moses or Abraham. I had not realized the importance of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice until I read about His life in the Gospel of Luke. I studied how the Savior healed the sick, raised the dead, and made the blind to see and the deaf to hear.Read more »
As the fall semester progressed, I was introduced to the missionaries. They visited my dorm room on a regular basis...The missionaries continued to teach me the remainder of the fall semester. It was fun and I learned a lot, but I had no desire to join the Church.
The next semester I again met with my college advisor and was again instructed to take a religion course. I decided to take the Book of Mormon course. I had no doubt about the possibility of additional scriptures because as a Muslim I had studied the Holy Koran.
It was near the end of winter semester. I completed my finals and was preparing to return home to the other side of the island. My scholarship did not cover the spring term, and I was prepared to work for the spring and summer to save some money for the fall semester. On the day I was prepared to leave campus, I received a note in my mailbox from Brother Gary Smith, my Book of Mormon teacher. He wanted to see me. I returned to my dorm room, where I received another note stating Brother Gary Smith wanted to see me. I thought to myself, “Why would he want to see me? Will Brother Smith give me an F grade for religion? No one ever fails religion.”
I dropped by his office, and the secretary mentioned that Brother Smith was at the Seasider, a mini-café on campus. I found him, and, as we talked, Brother Smith proceeded to tell me how I knew the Church was true and that it was time for me to join the Church. I looked at him amazed, and I wondered what he had been drinking.
He continued and said, “From what I’m about to tell you, either one of two things will happen. You will join the Church right away or it will take you awhile.” He quoted a scripture in Ether that states:
And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. [Ether 12:6]
I thought, “What does this scripture have to do with me?”
Brother Smith explained that he believed I was waiting for some type of miracle or vision to take place before I would join the Church. He said, “You need to act upon what you already know to be true before you will receive a greater witness. ‘Wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial [or exercise] of your faith.’”