Ask no man

No More Contention is the pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding. Contention arises from the compulsion to have others agree with us. Seeking understanding in an environment of clarity and charity produces no more contention. As Joseph Smith said, "I will ask no man to believe as I do."

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Three broad categories

In a sense, contention is inevitable and unavoidable because every individual is unique, and no two people agree on everything.  Ideally, we...

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Compelling evidence

In a devotional at BYU Hawaii on April 26, 2023, current Church Historian Kyle S. McKay spoke about “A Sure and Certain Foundation.”

At one point (5:41) he asked, "Is your knowledge and testimony of truth strong enough that you can stare down compelling reasons to doubt and choose to believe?"

This is a profound and useful insight. 

We can all look at the same facts and interpret them much differently based on our assumptions and inferences. This is why I write so much about the FAITH model.

Everyone who is well-informed deals with the same fact pattern; i.e., we can all look at the same historical documents and the same scientific evidence. Yet based on the identical facts, we reach different, and often completely opposite, conclusions. 

There are lots of reasons for this. We all have unique life experiences that help form our worldviews. We have different interests, different priorities, different objectives, different preferences, etc.

That's why so much of the debates are subjective, and that's why contention about these things is futile and simply stupid. 

What is a compelling reason to doubt for one person is no reason at all for another, and what is a compelling reason to believe for one person is no reason at all for another.

McKay's point argues from the perspective of a believing worldview. Presumably his audience wants to believe. But that desire to believe should not preclude recognition that there are compelling reasons to doubt.

Just as those who desire to disbelieve should not ignore the reality that there are compelling reasons to believe.

It's a choice, both ways. At both extremes, and everywhere in between, people are choosing what to believe.


Alma explained that having "cause to believe" but not knowledge is a benefit for everyone.

 15 Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty.

16 Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.

17 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.

18 Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.

19 And now, how much more cursed is he that knoweth the will of God and doeth it not, than he that only believeth, or only hath cause to believe, and falleth into transgression?

 20 Now of this thing ye must judge. Behold, I say unto you, that it is on the one hand even as it is on the other; and it shall be unto every man according to his work.

(Alma 32:15–20)

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