I want to say something to you. I want to say it in as non-confrontational a way as I can, but I do feel strongly about it. So regardless of how I'd like it to sound, this may come out more Jeffrey R. Holland than Richard G. Scott....
My little children--my chickens, my fairy children--you must know something about me, with utter and complete finality: I believe we have a prophet. Here. On the earth today. And I believe--absolutely believe!--that he is the mouthpiece of the Lord.
So I begin to get nervous... then agitated... then a little hot-tempered.... then back to nervous... when I see members of the church begin to follow the tricky trends I see outside in the world in regards to how knowledge is got.
Here, let me expound. I am a smart person. The truth is that I am probably smarter than most people I know (oh boy, sorry to everyone I just pissed off with that comment. There goes my whole readership...of six!). My IQ is really high. I'm logical. I figure things out quickly and easily. I thirst for knowledge about everything. Everything! I want to know how, why, what for, where from, which way, etc, etc, etc. I do not like not knowing. I am my father's daughter. I am smart and I want to know. I have to know! So I seek truth everywhere. I seek it in books and literature, in textbooks and classes, on internet sources and in discussions. I ask questions. I study. I research. I learn. I talk to people. I change my opinions. I correct myself. Sometimes I correct others (heh heh). I want to know, and I want to understand, both. I am book smart, and I am world smart--not world-experienced, necessarily, but world-smart. I can see situations fairly clearly. I can deduce things logically. I can remove myself from emotion and see the big picture. I can empathize and argue. I can disagree and concede. I can explain motivations and situations rather accurately. I can be unmoved if need be.
But there are some things that I know I will never know or understand. not in this lifetime. Not yet. And I have learned to be okay with the not-knowing. I have learned that I will not--I cannot--know everything right now, and I am secure. And this, my chickens, is what I want to teach you.
We are to seek knowledge--"by learning and by faith"--and yes, it means what it says: both avenues are crucial! Seek your knowledge in books. Find out your whys and wherefores and howcomes in the vast library of sources so advantageously available to us in this age of information. Study all about how the world works, how the earth moves, science and math, language and history. Discover how people interact, what the brain/body is capable of, why/how people fall in love, how cultures shape us (personally and globally), why some stories end happy and others don't, and where your place is in this wide world. "Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: And with all thy getting, get understanding." So yes, with all your important, beautiful world-learned knowledge, get understanding. Seek wisdom from the source as well. Learn from scriptures and prophets and prayer and the Holy Ghost. Do not let the world convince you that this deep, spiritual wisdom is any less important or verifiable or valid than scientific facts and equations. Do not let the world persuade you that believing in a higher truth somehow sells your own brainpower short; that in following a higher knowledge you follow blindly. Do not let the world undermine your faith--a gift we carry into the world, that we are not meant to lose as the world intrudes on our childlike wonder. Do not believe the world when it declares that faith is ignorance or deception or naivete or some form of buck-passing.
They are wrong! Absolutely wrong! Faith is a living, growing, breathing thing. It is foundations and climbs. It is seeking answers and making choices and recognizing human limitations. It is marrying truth with action. It is a vital tool in our becoming. And, by its very definition, it grants limitations: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." "I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."
This is faith: The combination of knowledge and limitation. The testimony and the questions. The understanding and the security that, quite simply, we do not understand everything. And that's okay. That's normal. That's real.
The world has largely forgotten this. In this age of intolerance and political correctness and blogging (and yes, the three are connected), people all too often discount their faith. They nitpick, they attack, they get offended, they criticize, they belittle.... and all of it masked beneath "a quest for knowledge." Do not allow yourself to jump on a bandwagon full of negative knowledge-hunters and spiritual bridge-burners. Do not let groups of angry or offended or insecure people cloud your understanding of the foundations of the gospel with their dissatisfaction with the fuzz on the caterpillars....on the leaves....on the twigs...on the branches... of the tree that is gospel knowledge. You either believe in the gospel or you don't. You either believe it was restored or you don't. You either believe we have a prophet or you don't. You either believe that he speaks for God, or you don't. The rest is distraction, white noise.
So quest for knowledge. Take your journeys to the ends of the earth for wisdom both earthly and spiritual... which truly are not so far apart. And with all thy getting, get understanding. Understand that you are human and that there is a Divine. Understand that some things don't make sense. That following a prophet's words even if you don't completely understand is faith, not ignorance. Not mindlessness. It is faith. Get the understanding that you will understand in time. And get the understanding that the world in its frantic-ness to challenge and disprove all that it cannot understand is not wisdom. It is arrogance. It is insecurity. It is fear. My beautiful, divine, curious, wonder-filled children, do not live afraid of untapped knowledge. Seek all that you can; and lean upon your foundation of faith for that which you cannot. Recognize the difference between what is real and what is the white noise. Be secure in your answers. And know that I know where I stand. Always. Forever. I will always want to know more. Always! And I will always stand behind the prophet of God. Always! That is where I have found security in my thirty years of trials of faith. That is my foundation. That is where my faith and wisdom connect. That is where I am unbroken.