All through out my Mormon career, I was always told that a witness of the spirit is a more powerful and lasting testimony than actually seeing god, Jesus, or an angel. Naturally, this is why so many LDS people continue believing in their faith despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Robert D. Hales, in his article "How You Can Know", states that a testimony "makes a deep and lasting impression on the soul." New Era, August 2002, page 40. To see the entire article, please click here.
Richard G. Scott states, "A testimony is fortified by spiritual impressions that confirm the validity of a teaching..." and he later goes on to say, "...a testimony is not emotion." Ensign, November 2001, page 87. To see the entire article, click here.
It is statements like these that the LDS take to heart and repeat to each other. I heard it countless times. According to these articles, and many others like them, a testimony is a powerful witness of the "truth" and is more potent than evidence or even an eye-witness.
However, I have to question this idea of "lasting impression" because while they trump up a testimony on one hand, saying how powerful it is, on the other hand, they warn that a testimony, in spite of the fact that it is so powerful, can easily crumble. Consider these statements:
"Testimony isn’t something you have today and you are going to have always. A testimony is fragile. It is as hard to hold as a moonbeam. It is something you have to recapture every day of your life.” (President Harold B. Lee, Church News, July 15, 1972, p. 4)
"When a testimony is not growing, it is in danger of becoming weaker." (O. Leslie Stone, “Testimony,” New Era, Jul 1979, 4)
So is a testimony strong or isn't it? If a witness of the spirit is capable of leaving a "lasting impression", then why is it "as hard to hold as a moonbeam"?
As I stated above, I was often told that a spiritual witness is more powerful than actually seeing a heavenly being. Now, if I saw a heavenly being, I'm pretty damn sure that I would never forget it. There are certain things that are forever burned into my memory and I am quite sure that such a heavenly visitation would be one of them.
Now, if a witness of the spirit is even stronger than the memory of this heavenly visitor, then that must be a pretty damn strong testimony.
So that is why I am left to question. If testimony is so strong, why do church leaders constantly warn about how easy it is to lose your testimony? If a testimony is the only reliable source of truth, then why is it so weak and shaky? Only by constantly emersing yourself into LDS propaganda does your testimony not fade.
I have certain events in my life that are forever engrained into my memory. Even if I don't think about them very often, when I do, I can recall them with perfect clarity. I don't have to constantly struggle to remember it. I just remember. There is no need to visualize it on a daily basis for fear of losing it. It's there permanantly and it ain't going anywhere, even if I don't think about it every day. In fact, if I only think about it once a month or even once a year, it can still be recalled as clearly as the day it happened.
So if the "spirit" is even more impressionable than an actual memory of a life-changing event, I again ask the question: "Why is a testimony so fragile?"
If it really was as strong as they say it is, then there would be absolutely no danger, whatsoever, of losing it. But an LDS testimony, is either growing or shrinking. If you stop engaging in LDS practice, your testimony fades. It almost seems that in order to keep believing, you have to constantly remind yourself that you believe.
If believing something requires so much effort to gain and maintain, can it really be the truth?
Truth is truth and does not need to be constantly reinforced. If a certain fact or statement is true, than it shouldn't have to be constantly rehearsed in order to stay true.
The only real evidence of the truthfulness of the LDS gospel is their testimony gaining process. If all reason, evidence, and experience suggests otherwise, then the testimony is the fallback. It is the one thing that can't be proven false. In the LDS mind, since it can't be proven false, then it must be true by default.
Obviously, this is extremely flawed logic. I can't actually prove that Santa Claus doesn't exist either, but does that make him real by default?
In the game of Sorry, once you're in the safe zone, nothing can send you back to start. An LDS testimony is the "safe zone". Once everything else has failed, you can fall back on your testimony and be infallable.
The idea of testimony is the one thing that keeps the LDS church together. It keeps the members inline and paying. It debunks any and all evidence that Joseph Smith was a lying fraud.
So, despite their claims that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of their religion, it is actually the concept of testimony.The Book of Mormon can be proven false and a member can still believe in the divine mission of Joseph Smith by means of their testimony. Therefore, remove the element of testimony and the church has lost it's safety net.
Since this is the case, if it can be demonstrated that a testimony is not reliable evidence for the truthfulness of the church, then they have nothing to fall back on. I have done this by showing how the church requires people to constantly brainwash themselves into a testimony by repeating it again and again. If this was the means by which truth is learned, then it would be easy to "forget" that the sky is blue unless we repeat it over and over and over.
A testimony is nothing more than self brainwashing. Read the articles I have provided above and see if that is not the case. In order to have a testimony, you need to completely immerse yourself in LDS lifestyle. If you don't, it won't come.
You would think that the creater of the universe would make it a little easier to learn the absolute truth about his restored gospel. Not only that, but you would think that this absolute truth would be easy to keep believing. But the mere fact that if you stop the inflow of "I know it's true, I know it's true, I know it's true," then it goes away, says something. Something powerful.
Anything you have to keep reminding yourself to believe, isn't really worth all the effort! As I stated above, truth is truth and needs no justification. But an LDS testimony requires a ton of justification and continual input in order to stay alive.
An LDS testimony is like a balloon with a hole in it. As long as you keep blowing into the balloon, it will stay inflated. But as soon as you stop blowing, it will automatically deflate. Does truth really require you to constantly blow? Or should it stand on it's own?
Answer that question honestly and you will find your truth.