The intellectual arguments in favor
are just as strong as the arguments against.
But the potential benefits are greater.
What are the benefits?
1. Jesus is the ultimate success story. We can follow him.
One man who has had more impact on the human race than any other. He was Jesus Christ. He Even a diluted and corrupt form of Christianity was enough to create Western Civilization as we know it - the most powerful force in human history. He died for you. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a restoration of the original knowledge and power, undiluted and uncorrupted.
2. All the benefits of science plus all the benefits of religion
You do not have to give up any scientifically discovered truth in order to be a member of the church. Indeed, your appreciation of and interest in science will probably increase if you embrace the restored gospel. And the added benefits are huge!
Are you tired of a world that does not make sense? Then study the restored gospel. Everything becomes clear: the purpose of life, the different belief systems, life after death, how to be happy, etc., etc. And unlike other belief systems, the more you learn of the world, the more it makes sense! (You might want to start by looking at the arguments against religion- do they make sense?)
3. Are you gambling on death?
You can prove that there is life after death - when you know that God lives, you will have your answer. But what if you don't want to believe in this? What if you want to believe there is nothing after death? If you are right, you gain nothing. If you are wrong, you lose everything by not being prepared. Is that the kind of gamble you want to take?
And if you do decide that there is life after death, how many churches teach that it is a literal reality rather than something metaphysical and unknowable? How many can tell you exactly what it is like, as taught by living prophets and apostles?
4. Solving political problems
Church organization - a lay priesthood based on personal revelation - is uniquely flexible, equal, and free. If properly understood, it allows people to be organized without confusing organization with power, it avoids the political problems of large nations, and it gives real freedom to the individual. This is a big topic, but in brief, the church provides a model for a better world.
5. Do you want to be happier, live longer, achieve more, etc.?
Numerous studies have shown that religion makes people happier, healthier, higher achievers, live longer, and so on. See for example "Religion and the Abundant Life" (in the Ensign, October 1994, p.32, which includes two A4 pages of references). I do not have the space to discuss this in depth (others have done so), but "Mormonism" scores highly in any such test you care to mention. I would say highest of all, but I do not want to descend into arguments over interpreting statistics.
Happiness is "the object and design of our existence". Nobody understands how to be happy more then the creator, so why not join his people?
6. Atheism is suicide
In all history, no predominantly atheist society has ever survived more than a generation or two. It seems that religion is essential to survival. Perhaps it is because mankind yearns to be rational. A belief in God is fundamentally rational.
are a child of God.
8. The world as we know it will end soon.
You may or may not be alive when it happens. But the ancient prophecies are being fulfilled. Even without them, technological change and environmental damage mean things will never be the same again. Which side are you on? The side that is fulfilling ancient prophecies concerning the kingdom of God, or somewhere else?
9. Eternal families.
Do you want to part of a loving family forever? Some things have to be started in this life, and by the right authority. If we "wait and see" it will be everlastingly too late.
10. You can know for yourself.
It makes sense that God would provide a way for you to find out for yourself. You can ask him and receive a definite answer. You can know for certain. Why not ask God?
Maybe I can believe because it seems a nice idea, but IS IT TRUE?
What is the evidence that a God really does speak to man?
Six pieces of evidence:
1. Logically, God must speak to man.
See the page on proof of God for details.
2. You can test the "Word of God" for yourself.
But what about all the conflicting claims? Well, most of them can be ignored. Only the Mormon church has a serious attitude to revelation. And are the Mormon teachings from God? Test them and see. All the teachings work. (See also the earlier point about the fruits of religion, and also the page on how the gospel gives freedom.)
3. First hand testimony
Many people claim special experiences with God. That is the number one reason for joining the church - prayers are answered. Some experiences are very powerful or dramatic - for example, near-death experiences, or the apostles' testimonies.
4. Widespread evidence
If God spoke to mankind, you might expect that almost every society on earth has stories about communicating with the gods. And you might expect religion to be one of the most powerful concepts on earth. That is just what we do find.
5. Powerful results
If God spoke to mankind, you might expect his message to be more powerful than anything else. And what do we find? The most influential person (Christ) and the most read book (the Bible) both claim to be the word of God.
If I believe, why should I come to church?
(Maybe I would rather do something else on Sundays?)
Ten benefits of church attendance:
How can a thinking person believe in God?
How can a thinking person NOT believe in God?
The critics of prophecy are not being rational.
For examples of this, check out some critical web rings. A web ring is a group of linked web sites on a common theme. For a long time there were two main web rings that dealt with general Latter-day Saint issues. One was the "LDS Ring", and is pro-LDS. The other is the "Mormon Ring," which includes some criticism of the church. The Mormon Ring is generally not as bad as crude "anti" stuff. Some of its sites are very good. But much of it has pages that say things like:
- "If the LDS church is true, what about...?"
- "God cannot do this or that, because..."
- "The LDS church is mostly good, but I do not like...".
- (For questions and answers specific to prophecy see the FAQs)
Many people have these attitudes. But these attitudes are logically self-defeating. In reality, there are only two choices where belief is concerned: revelation or despair.
Choice 1: revelation
God is infinitely more intelligent than we are. He also loves us. So if we are interested in truth, the only rational and logical approach is to listen to God.
In other words, the only rational and logical thing is to look for revelation and follow it. Naturally, we would expect to misunderstand it. Naturally, we would expect to disagree with God on many points. After all, he has a much better view of the facts. But revelation is the ultimate goal for any intelligent being.
Of course, you might argue that the Bible is no help here because people interpret it in different ways. Of course they do. That is why God has provided us with (a) the Holy Spirit, and (b) an organized church led by prophets. It is also why God has told us to be humble and obedient. This is not easy for someone who fancies himself as being intelligent. But it is the only rational approach once we find that God is real.
But which revelation?
But which interpretation do we follow? How do we know what is from God and what is from man? That is why God gave us each a brain. Do you know of any system apart from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that makes sense? I don't. Most of them don't even have a living prophet!
Choice 2: despair
So let us imagine you give up on looking for God, and rely on your own experience. How far do you think you will get?
Look at any of the big questions - where did I come from, what is the purpose of life, how to be happy, how to make the world a better place, etc. Has anyone answered them by rational means? Can they be? You try to prove any of them without appealing to metaphysics, feelings, religion, or "unprovable" axioms. It cannot be done.
"The ideas of man are always changing"
This was a line near the start of the missionary discussions (when I served a mission ten years ago). Since then I have studied a little. Rarely was a generalization so true!
- Scientific ideas have changed massively within just the last 100 years.
- Ethical ideas have changed just as much - so much that is considered "good" now was considered "bad" even 50 years ago, and vice versa.
- Political ideas also come and go - much of what was normal foreign or domestic policy a hundred years ago would not be dreamed of today. And whole world-conquering systems (like Communism) have risen and fallen.
- And so on.
But the big issue is: are these part of natural progression? Are these just stages, getting better and better?
- Progress toward what? Are most people happier now than they were 100 years ago? Is the world more secure? Does mankind even agree on a common goal?
- History says no. Ethical and political ideas have come and gone over the millennia. Why should ours be any different?
- Our scientific ideas are only improving by careful definition of what is meant by "progress." Most advances do no benefit the vast majority of mankind (what good is the Internet if you have no access to computer?) and often come at a heavy ecological cost.
- Logically, the idea of objective progress has no basis. Philosophers are not fools. They know that our human ideas are all relative, and based on unproven assumptions. Just study epistemology.
Plenty of people recognize this obvious fact. Without some external point of reference (such as God), there is no objective or fixed truth, no objective or fixed purpose to life, and no way to ensure you can get what you personally want.
Put bluntly, without revelation, life only makes sense if you ask meaningless questions.
A i m H i g h e r !
|A browse through the LDS hymn book|
"The morning breaks, the shadows flee" - (hymn 1) - there is more knowledge on the earth now than at any time in history. We are on the verge of the end of the world that we know, and the start of a glorious millennium of peace and happiness!
Zion's standard is unfurled" - (hymn 1) - the ensign to the nations, the church, is calling to the whole world - come and join us while you still can!
"Angels from heaven and truth from earth" - (hymn 1) - we live in an era of more angelic ministering than even the New Testament times, when buried records of past civilisations add their testimony to the voices of living prophets!
"The Spirit of God like a fire is burning" - (hymn 2) - the joy, the revelations, the miracles, all that was exciting and wonderful in past ages is here for the asking!
"No longer as strangers on earth need we roam" - (hymn 3) - You can know where you came from, why you are here, and where you are going after you leave this world!
"Burst the fetters of the mind" - (hymn 4) - all this seems hard to take, especially if you are raised in the rationalism of the modern west. But the most rational thing we can do is find someone who is infinitely more intelligent, infinitely more experienced than we are - to find God - and listen!
"For there we shall be taught the law... to govern all the earth" - (hymn 5) - When you have given up on man-made politics, here is a real alternative - God's laws for a perfect world
"Redeemer of Israel" - (hymn 6) - is it to difficult to make a perfect world? No! Someone else has already done the most difficult work, has paid the price - and literally redeemed us. All we need to do is learn of him and follow him!
"He speaks! and eternity, filled with his voice, re-echoes..." - (hymn 6) - The more I learn about world history, about the sciences, and about the human condition, the more I see the hand of God!
"Canst thou linger still in error's gloomy ways?" - (hymn 7) - isn't it time to change, while we still can? "Mark how judgement's pointing finger justifies no vain delays!"
"The dream of the poet... the glorious day only dreamed of by sages" - (hymn 8) - a perfect world is possible - it is real - it is within our grasp!
"Where so long has been the gospel? Did it pass from earth away?" - (hymn 11) - the New Testament church had something wonderful and life changing, but what happened to the Christian world in the Dark Ages? It lost that spark, that gospel, but now it has been restored!
"Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah" - (hymn 27) - Joseph Smith, a prophet of Jesus Christ, has done more for the human family than any man who ever lived, except of course for Jesus Christ. the Lord himself.
"Beautiful Zion, built above" - (hymn 44) - Heaven is not just a dream, an ideal, but a real physical place. A place, above all, of beauty. Whether or not we can go there depends on what we do in this life!
"This earth was a once a garden place" - (hymn 49) - and it will be again, very soon, whether you and I choose to be part of it or not!
"Sons of Michael, he approaches" - (hymn 51) - Adam is coming back. You are one of his descendants. Have you honored his legacy?
"O Lord My God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds thy hand hath made" - (hymn 86) - "then sings my soul, 'my Savior ...How Great thou art!'"
"I stand all amazed" at the love Jesus offers me - (hymn 193)
"Families can be together forever" - (hymn 300) - through Heavenly Father's plan, and not by just wishful thinking.
"Sweet is the work, my God, my King" - (hymn 317) - when you catch the vision of what Jesus has done, and what he wants for us all, when you feel the love that his true followers have, the work of following him becomes very sweet.
Babylon, O Babylon, we bid thee farewell!"
- (hymn 319)