When we moved into our current house, the previous owners the Smiths, had put in a nice alarm system. We used it for a little while and then decided to stop paying the monthly fee. We were left with all of the equipment but no service from the company. The alarm controls were at one entry to the house, they still glowed and appeared to be working but without the service there was no way to actually engage the alarm. It was just a glowing wall decoration. Fast forward a couple of years...One night after a long week day in the trenches of parenthood and after finally having gotten all the kids to bed, a random beep started to come from the alarm. It was loud enough to keep parents from falling asleep but not loud enough to wake up the 4 sleeping children. Too tired to want deal with it that night Sara and I actually tried to lay down and fall asleep for about five minutes until we realized something had to be done that night. Without service from the Alarm company the best idea I could come up with was to force open the alarm and try to disable it myself. I got a flat head screwdriver and pried off the plastic covering exposing a mess of colorful wires. Green wire, yellow wire, red wire, black wire… I told Sara “I guess I’ll have to cut one of them and see if that stops the beeping.”
“Are you sure that you should cut those, it doesn’t seem like a very good idea.”
“I don’t really see any other choice.”
“Maybe you should google it?”
“Nah, It’s not like its gonna blow up.”
I snipped the green and nothing appeared to happen… the screen was still lit up I waited for a minute to see if maybe the beeping would stop but it didn’t. So I snipped the yellow and the same result followed. Only the black and the red wires were left. I’ve seen enough bomb defusing movie scenes to know not to cut the red wire, so I decided to go with the black wire. I snipped the black wire and instantly the screen turned off, for one split second I thought I had fixed my problem, but the very next instant the full fury of the house alarm went into what I can only describe as “ full nuclear mode.” It wasn’t only loud enough to wake up all four of our peacefully sleeping kids but on “full nuclear mode” it was loud enough to wake up people all over the neighborhood.
“Are you kidding Rangi? I told you I didn’t like that Idea.” Sara was justifiably heating up.
“Don’t worry babe I’ll hurry and splice the black wires back together.. the kids probably won’t even wake up.” I worked quickly to get the wires back together. When I did the screen turned back on but the alarm did not turn off. By this time we had two of our waking kids starting to cry. It was about this time that my wife went from a little hot to what I can only describe as “full nuclear mode!” The next 20 or 30 minutes it took me to figure out how to get the alarm
off felt like an eternity. I had to get into the attic and break into the box where the actual ringing was coming from and snip some more wires. Finally the alarm was silenced, but as soon as everything was starting to calm down again, I heard the original beep again. I went back down to the original control panel. The wires were still hanging out. Knowing I had permanently disabled the alarm in the attic I confidently cut the black wire again. The screen went black and there was silence. I walked away triumphant over the alarm at last. I was halfway up the stairs when the alarm beeped again. Not possible I said to myself I must be imaging it. I walked back to it and sure enough within seconds I heard it again the same beep that had started this mess an hour and a half ago. In total bewilderment I stared at the box and tried to figure out how it could still be making noise. There wasn’t even power going to it. Then I heard the beep again but this time it seemed to come from a different direction. I looked up at the ceiling just above where the control panel was and noticed for the first time a smoke alarm and suddenly I was enlightened. Enlightened to the fact that I was an absolute idiot. The house alarm wasn’t beeping. It never had been beeping, the smoke alarm was simply giving its warning beep that its batteries were low and needed to be changed. Yes I started a full nuclear war in my home because I misinterpreted what a 9-volt battery was trying to tell me.
This story though somewhat humorous now, shows the danger of jumping to conclusions based on limited information, we are all human and we all make bad decisions. Often these decisions are based on what we believe is the truth but often the “truths” we tell ourselves are merely fragments of the truth, and sometimes as was the case in my story they’re not really the truth at all.
Today my talk is based on a talk by president Uctdorf titled “What is Truth?” If I say anything intelligent it is credited to him as most of this talk is paraphrased from his if not completely plagiarized.
Because of the internet we have access to more information than any other time in history. Much of the information is true, much of the information is false and much of the information is somewhere in between.
Consequently, never in the history of the world has it been more important to learn how to correctly discern between truth and error.
Shared a story that illustrates how some of the errors of men originate.
Well over one hundred years ago, an American poet put to rhyme an ancient parable. The first verse of the poem speaks about:
Six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
In the poem each of the six travelers takes hold of a different part of the elephant and then describes to the others what he has discovered.
One of the men finds the elephant’s leg and describes it as being round and rough like a tree. Another feels the tusk and describes the elephant as a spear. A third grabs the tail and insists that an elephant is like a rope. A fourth discovers the trunk and insists that the elephant is like a large snake.
Each is describing truth.
And because his truth comes from personal experience, each insists that he knows what he knows.
The poem concludes:
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!1
We all know what an elephant looks like so the story seems silly but it resonates with us because we can see the qualities of the blind men in people we know, but if we are honest and look a little deeper, can’t we also see these blind men in ourselves?
In some ways we are all susceptible to such strange thinking. Each of us have our own unique personal experiences and they shape our beliefs and make us who we are, and it is really hard to convince us of anything else.
I know whenever I have found myself involved in missionary work I always am saying to myself “If these people would just give this a chance, it would change their life.” But this error in thinking is not just on potential investigators, we as members are also guilty of it when we hear truth that would require us to make changes in our life but we write it off because we simply don’t want to make those changes.
President Uctdorf explains it like this:
Part of the reason for poor judgment comes from the tendency of mankind to blur the line between belief and truth. We too often confuse belief with truth, thinking that because something makes sense or is convenient, it must be true. Conversely, we sometimes don’t believe truth —because it would require us to change or admit that we were wrong. Often, truth is rejected because it doesn’t appear to be consistent with previous experiences.
When the opinions or “truths” of others contradict our own, instead of considering the possibility that there could be information that might be helpful and augment or complement what we know, we often jump to conclusions or make assumptions that the other person is misinformed or even intentionally trying to deceive.
A tragic example of this tendency is the story of Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician who practiced medicine during the mid-19th century. Early in his career, Dr. Semmelweis learned that 10 percent of the women who came to his clinic died of childbed fever, while the death rate at a nearby clinic was less than 4 percent. He was determined to find out why.
After investigating the two clinics, Dr. Semmelweis concluded that the only significant difference was that his was a teaching clinic where corpses were examined. He observed doctors who went directly from performing autopsies to delivering babies. He concluded that somehow the corpses had contaminated their hands and caused the deadly fevers.
When he began to recommend that doctors scrub their hands with a chlorinated lime solution, he was met with indifference and even scorn. His conclusions contradicted the “truths” of other doctors. Some of his colleagues even believed that it was absurd to think that a doctor’s hand could be impure or cause sickness.
But Semmelweis insisted, and he made it a policy for doctors in his clinic to wash their hands before delivering babies. As a consequence, the death rate promptly dropped by 90 percent. Semmelweis felt vindicated and was certain that this practice would now be adopted throughout the medical community. But he was wrong. Even his dramatic results were not enough to change the minds of many doctors of the day.
The thing about truth is it exists beyond belief, It is truth even if nobody believes it.
And also true, if something is false, even if the whole world believes it, it is still false.
Truth is different from belief. It is not dependent upon public opinion or popularity. Polls cannot sway it.
For this reason we should not give value to popular beliefs without close examination.
Satan loves to use popular beliefs of the times to confuse us.
He offers the belief that truth is relative; appealing to our sense of tolerance and fairness, he keeps the real truth hidden by claiming that one person’s “truth” is as valid as any other.
Some he entices to believe that there is an absolute truth out there somewhere but that it is impossible for anyone to know it.
But satan’s favorite attack on us as members of the church who already embrace the truth is
to spread seeds of doubt. For example, he has caused many members of the Church to stumble when they discover information about the Church that seems to contradict what they had learned previously.
If you experience such a moment, remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything, at any time and every place.
You will find even those who still claim that they have evidence that the earth is flat, that the moon is a hologram, and that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet. And it is always good to keep in mind, just because something is printed on paper, appears on the Internet, is frequently repeated, or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.
Sometimes untrue claims or information are presented in such a way that they appear quite credible. However, when you are confronted with information that is in conflict with the revealed word of God, remember that the blind men in the parable of the elephant would never be able to accurately describe the full truth.
Now allow me to draw a gospel parallel to my alarm story that I started the talk with
When Satan’s tactics to deceive and confuse are getting the best of us there is nothing he would like better than to take a small thing, possibly a piece of doctrine that we doubt or a perceived mistake that we believe a church leader made, We start with something small and then satan who is the great deceiver works on us to become so annoyed by this small thing that we make it out to be a big thing and we let it bother us and bother us until we cant sleep and we decide we must act and satan would like nothing more that to make us feel that our best option is to cut the power wire to our membership in the church and in turn start a full nuclear war when really the control panel was never the problem at all in fact it was functioning fine, but now that our screen on our spirituality has gone black we have a much bigger problem on our hands, We may think cutting the power wire was not that big of deal we can always come back to the church if we decide, but when we splice the wires back to the way they were does the alarm actually turn back off. And when you finally do silence the alarm what damage has been done to your posterity. Have your kids been awakened to a different life style that is outside the standards of the church, you may find that you want to return to the fold but it is not so simple to bring your posterity back. And in the end you realize you tried to fix something that wasn’t broken. You thought your whole alarm system was to blame when really all you needed to do was replace the batteries on the smoke alarm. And take it from me although you figured it out eventually when the story ends you do not feel smart, regardless of what your name is.
Now this gospel analogy may seem like a bit of a stretch but we all know many people that have left the church for something we perceive as small. And I would bet that many of us know someone who has later in life decided to come back but has not been able to convince their posterity to do likewise.
Our world is full of confusion, The Apostle Paul said that in this world the light is dim and we see only part of the truth as though we are looking “through a glass, darkly.”2
We simply don’t know all things—we can’t see everything. What may seem contradictory now may be perfectly understandable as we search for and receive more trustworthy information. Because we see through a glass darkly, we have to trust the Lord, who sees all things clearly.
Eventually all of our questions will be answered. All of our doubts will be replaced by certainty. And that is because there is one source of truth that is complete, correct, and incorruptible. That source is our infinitely wise and all-knowing Heavenly Father. He knows truth as it was, as it is, and as it yet will be.14 “He comprehendeth all things, … and he is above all things, … and all things are by him, and of him.”15
I close by sharing my testimony that I believe this to be true, I know that we have an all knowing heavenly father and his plan requires faith on our part and if we had a perfect knowledge of things there would be no need for faith.