I am amazed at how the Book of Mormon is set up for us. The modern issues that mankind is struggling with (see my happiness post from earlier), concerning pride, racism, and monetary inequality, are all addressed in the text of the Book of Mormon. We also live in a secular time when evidence is considered the paramount sought after commodity when it comes to religious experience. I am reminded of this as I have studied John 6. Right after Jesus miraculously feeds 5,000 people, he is asked for a sign (see John 6:30-31). I find this portion of John’s narrative ironic. It seems that man is never satisfied with signs!
Dean L. Larsen had this to say about this:
“[The Savior] had great power that he could have used to compel people to follow him and to be obedient to his word. Occasionally he demonstrated this power in miraculous ways, but never with the intent to command a following…It was almost as though he feared that men would follow him because of his power rather than as a result of having learned his truths and having valued them because they were true.
“In no incident in the mortal ministry of the Lord is this concern made more manifest than in the case of the feeding of the multitude with the loaves and fishes…Their reaction to this demonstration of power was to attempt to force him to become their king. The benefits of yielding subservience to one who could care for their needs so easily were obvious. Their intentions alarmed the Savior. He left the crowd immediately, and during the night crossed over to the other side of the sea of Galilee near Capernaum.
“…Obviously the truths that Jesus had taught these people had not penetrated their hearts and their understanding. They were untouched by the influence he had wished to effect…It would not have been difficult for Jesus to continue to command the following of these people. Their welfare and their salvation meant more to him than his own life. A few more public miracles could have held them and augmented their numbers. It would have been an easy thing to do. But the essential parts of the equation were not coming together. He did not wish a following on that basis. It must have been a terribly disappointing, frustrating experience for the Master. If they would not follow him because they believed and valued the truths he taught them, he would not have them follow him at all.” (Dean L. Larsen, “Let Your Light So Shine,” Ensign, Sept. 1981, 23-24, emphasis added)
To me, I see this quote as applicable on many levels. But for today, I want you to think about this: the evidence for the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is in the Spirit you feel when you commune with God. He will confirm its truth. Also, following its counsels will be proof enough. You can see it in the lives of people who heed its precepts. I know it is true because I have felt the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost and I have tried to live in such a way that I am true to the spirit of that book. There is power in this book, and it is from God. The Spirit is the greatest evidence of its truthfulness.
That being said, the Lord did give us secular evidences and outside corroborating witnesses. But there will always be evidence both for and against truth. That is because we live in a fallen world. We must needs have an opposition in all things, (2 Nephi 2:10-11) and to me, that includes evidences. If all of the evidence were stacked on one side of the equation, that would be the equivalent of God holding a gun to your head, demanding that you believe. We would be intellectually compelled to believe. And I do not believe in that kind of God. I do not think that you do either. My testimony is that there will always be enough evidence for both, for faith and for doubt, because it is in the presence of doubt that our faith will become stronger. It will grow and flourish, and we will continue along in our spiritual growth.