Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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Dialogues on Science and Religion I 117 Dialogue article while you were on the telephone a few moments ago, and I noted the beautiful sketches of old Italian homes and I recalled the story you told me about your family home and I have wondered since if that was an important factor in your feelings toward the Church as an organization or if it was incidental. You mean the fact that the Church obliterated my ancestral home after purchasing it for a parking lot? It could have happened to any of the property owners adjacent to Church property. I would love to have a home that I could return to, but long ago Utah ceased to be that kind of home for me. Wolfe in Look Homeward Angel showed we can never go home again. It just is not possible. The city of my youth is itself just a gem of a city. But a city is not a home without people to return to. And people who return there are not our own home people but are former graduate student friends who are now colleagues. So that it would be like any other beautiful city, not a home, but one where lots of friends can be found. One of the recurring questions which I had to face as I returned to Utah was, "Do you still have a testimony?" I had to ask myself, "What is the nature of my testimony? What do I believe?" These were the recurring questions. Obviously to admit to yourself that you don't have a testimony, after having had one, is devastating—an identity crisis. One's religious development may be captured by the ebb and flow of his testimony. Now how does a scientist respond when he faces the query, "What do I know?" He can't go through a set of catechismic rituals that are implied by the eight year old or the twelve year old who is giving a testimony before a group—something approximating the memorized statement. He must make sharp, relative distinctions between "I would like to believe" and "I believe," and between "I had a past belief" and "I know." Now a testimony in the fullest sense seems to be introduced with the assertion, "I know." That is the most frequent rhetoric, "I know that," "I know that," "I know that," and "I know that." The characteristic of an educated man, on the other hand, is marked by the qualifications he puts on what he knows. Agnosticism is more compatible with education than is absolute knowledge. Growing religiously, instead of ebbing and flowing with respect to a fixed testimony of "I know," may consist of expanding the horizons of discovery of things that you know not well. And the goal of religious development might not be the serenity of certainty, an absolute acceptance on faith, but the capacity to sustain the tension of not knowing. To be able to live with uncertainty, to be able to cope with the insecurities of an exceedingly complex world in order to control it would be a higher achievement religiously, I think. Now this is the description of a different kind of religion, but it is a religion that is consonant with progress, growth and development. An old friend of the family never failed, when I visited her in Utah, to ask me the question, "Do you still have a testimony?" She was the wife of a senior apostle. We traveled in Europe together when I was district president in Belgium. She was concerned about my shift from chemistry into sociology and she never failed to ask me the same question, and I resented it. I have started to redefine what a testimony is, and I now think that the testimony that I had in the mission field was not good enough—that it represented the best that I was capable of at that particular moment, but there was very little reflection in it. It represented my commitment to the mission field and to the Church. It represented my loyalty, but that is not what you are asking. I now differentiate between "I want to believe" and "I do believe,"