This came in response to my Mormon friends asking me to read and pray over the Book of Mormon…
In the days to come in my life I will run into other faithful Latter-day Saints who will ask if I’ve prayed over the Book of Mormon to know the truthfulness of it. I will be told to listen to my feelings and it will be reaffirmed to me that the Holy Ghost will cause a burning in my bosom as a witness to the truthfulness thereof. But this I will have to reject. Allow me to explain why.
First of all, my bosom burns all the time because I drink entirely too much coffee and therefore have heartburn constantly. But more importantly is what I like to call the Jacob Marley Theory.
The Jacob Marley Theory can be summed up by the himself who posed the question: What evidence do you have beyond that or your own senses?
Allow me to explain.
In Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” the no nonsense miser Ebeneezer Scrooge is haunted by his old business partner Jacob Marley. Jacob comes to Scrooge to warn him that an unpleasant afterlife awaits if he does not change his ways. Scrooge refuses to believe that the ghost of Jacob Marley even exists, disarming the apparition as a humbug. Jacob simply asks, “What evidence do you have beyond that of your own senses? Why do you doubt your senses?”
In this scene from A Christmas Carol, author Charles Dickens presents the reality of how the world functions. On authoritative statements rather than observable scientific facts. And he does this quite simply with Jacob Marley’s question.
As a child I sang “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.” I sang it and I believed it. I didn’t believe it because of any observation on my part but because all my life I had been told the Bible was the word of God and God was the Ultimate Authority. But what physical evidence did I have to confirm this love? Which of my five senses could observe and know this love was real? I could not embrace and touch a body for hugs, nor could I hear the words “I love you” coming from the Divine Son. I could not see eyes looking into mine, nor smell another persons skin; neither could I feel skin on my lips with a kiss – none of the physical things that confirm the feeling of love could be observed. But as a child I accepted it simply because I was told so by authority.
But now: That which I can observe, I know to be true.
To the faithful Latter-day Saints who would ask me to pray to gain knowledge of the Book of Mormon I must ask: What evidence do you have beyond that of your own senses that the Book of Mormon is true? Can I see the ruins of the cities from the Book of Mormon peoples? Can I touch the tablets they wrote upon? Can I taste the wines the Book of Mormon peoples drank? Can I hear the language the Book of Mormon people spoke? Can I smell charred wood from the bellows where Nephi made tools of the ore from molten out of rocks? Can I physically observe anything for myself from the Book of Mormon story? The answer is no.
If my five senses cannot observe for themselves then how can my intelligence come to know something is true?