Looking for Planets Through a Microscope
May 24, 2011 5 Comments
In the film version of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, the main character, a marine biologist, finds his prize microscope broken and unusable. The responsible parties, a band of well-intentioned but uneducated, down-on-their-luck citizens, order a new microscope from a catalog. On the day of its arrival, the band throws a party to surprise the biologist with the brand new, state-of-the-art microscope. When the gift is revealed, he is surprised indeed. They had purchased a telescope instead of a microscope; great for viewing stars and planets, not for viewing the cells of marine life. (Cannery Row. Dir. David S. Ward. Perf. Nick Nolte and Debra Winger. MGM 1982)
Though they have the same last syllable and are constructed in similar ways, it is absolutely impossible to see stars with a microscope. No matter how determined one is to discover the wonders of the cosmos, they will remain hidden until a telescope is used.
Discovering spiritual truth is very similar. When it comes to matters of faith many employ the scientific method or try to understand spiritual truth through the physical senses alone. Though clearly a part of deepening our faith (D&C 9:7-9), we often depend exclusively on the wrong method; we try to discover stars with a microscope.
The scriptures teach us to not trust in the “arm of flesh” (2 Nephi 4:34, Jeremiah 17:5, 2 Nephi 28:31) but to trust in a loving Heavenly Father who “will give liberally to him that asketh.” (2 Nephi 4:35) I have visited a number of persons, struggling believers and non-believers alike, who simply cannot accept faith because they trust exclusively in the wrong process. They won’t believe because they can’t see it, hear it, taste it or measure it. They trust themselves over God, their guesses and conclusions over revelation, their physical senses over spiritual feelings. In short, they trust a microscope to show them the entirety of the universe.
Until we are willing to approach matters of faith using the process that reveals faith, until we are willing to try the telescope, we will “err because [we] are taught by the precepts of men.” (2 Nephi 28:14)
The steps to discover spiritual truth are simple yet we often overlook them “because of the easiness of the way.” (Alma 37:46) They are taught to every child in primary and every investigator in the first discussion.
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:3-5)
Read, study, pray and act with sincerity. This is at least part of a formula to become acquainted with spiritual matters, to discover truth and develop faith. If we find ourselves doubting, if we find ourselves unconvinced we must ask, “Am I using the correct process?” When we do, when we finally trade a telescope for the microscope, we will find the universe even bigger and more beautiful than we ever supposed.
(Another great scripture teaching this principle is Alma 32 1 Cor. 2:14)