In 2013, Elder Uchtdorf gave a wonderful and rare talk at a CES broadcast discussing some of the nuances, pitfalls, and challenges in discovering truth. I reproduce some of it below.
Can anyoneknow the truth? Some of the greatest minds that have ever lived on this earth have attempted to answer that question. The elusive nature of truth has been a favorite theme of history’s great poets and storytellers.
We have so many examples of things that mankind once “knew” were true but have since been proven false.
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 or reject it—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, mentally challenged, or even intentionally trying to deceive.
The thing about truth is that it exists beyond belief. It is true even if nobody believes it.
I believe that our Father in Heaven is pleased with His children when they use their talents and mental faculties to earnestly discover truth. Over the centuries many wise men and women—through logic, reason, scientific inquiry, and, yes, through inspiration—have discovered truth.
What to do when confronted with doubt?
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.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.
But how can we know that this “truth” is different from any other? How can we trust this “truth”?
The invitation to trust the Lord does not relieve us from the responsibility to know for ourselves. This is more than an opportunity; it is an obligation—and it is one of the reasons we were sent to this earth.
As you accept the responsibility to seek after truth with an open mind and a humble heart, you will become more tolerant of others, more open to listen, more prepared to understand, more inclined to build up instead of tearing down, and more willing to go where the Lord wants you to go.