Tuesday, May 29, 2018

President Howard W. Hunter on the divine plan of faith in God and the Savior

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
"There is no tangible, concrete evidence of the existence of God or the divinity of the Master in the legal sense, but not all inquiry for truth results in proof by real or demonstrative evidence. It is fallacious to argue that because there is no demonstrative evidence of the existence of God he does not in fact exist. In the absence of evidence often thought necessary by the scientific world for positive proof, our search may take is into the realm of circumstantial evidence. We could spend hours describing the wonders of the universe, of the earth, of nature, of the human body the exactness of the laws of physics, and a thousand things, all of which dictate to the conscience of a truth seeker that there is a creator and one who rules over the universe.
"What would be the situation if the existence of God could be proven by demonstrative evidence? What would happen to the element of faith as the first step or principle of the gospel? One of the burdens of the teachings of the Master was to emphasize the importance of faith. Faith is the element that builds the bridge in the absence of concrete evidence. This is exactly what the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews was talking about when he referred to faith as 'the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' (Heb. 11:1.) In other words, faith is the assurance of the existence of a truth even though it is not evident or cannot be proved by positive evidence.
"Suppose that all things could be proven by demonstrative evidence. What then would become of the element of faith? There would be no need for faith and it would be eliminated, giving rise then to this query: If faith is the first step or principle of the gospel and is eliminated, what happens to the gospel plan? The very foundation will crumble. I submit that there is a divine reason why all things cannot be proven by concrete evidence."
- Howard W. Hunter, "Faith—The First Step," General Conference April 1975
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Can we truly prove the existence of God, using traditional scientific means? President Hunter suggests that there is abundant circumstantial evidence for that understanding, including "the wonders of the universe, of the earth, of nature, of the human body the exactness of the laws of physics." but no concrete physical proof. And that aspect of faith in God is necessary for His plan for us in this life!

Faith builds the bridge for us in this life. The divine plan for our mortal experience requires that we learn to live by faith, and receive the blessings that follow. President Hunter's talk gives excellent suggestions for that most important process of mortality!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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