I have been lightly exploring the issues involved in Mormon epistemology (our methodology for arriving at truth). We emphasize the importance of spiritual experiences, of communicating with God and creating situations in which the Spirit of God is invited to bless us.
There are some pretty tough philosophical challenges that arise against this methodology. One of the most common is the issue of “subjective vs objective evidence.” I doubt I will ever be well enough informed to be able to debate with the “pundits” on this issue. But, as I study this issue I have thoughts that I think are worth sharing. This is one such thought.
This morning I went out to our car to discover that the hood and windshield were covered in bird droppings. It was very gross. We normally park our car under a big tree, and I have never had this problem before. For some reason the birds have targeted our car this week.
I needed to take the car down to get it inspected (I actually am doing it on time this year!). Because the windshield and hood were so disgusting, I wanted to clean it off before getting it inspected (not that it matters to the inspection guy, but it is a little embarassing). We don’t have a hose or a spicket at our home (apartment) and so I went out looking for one of those gas station drive-thru car cleaners. I haven’t used one of those in a while and so I was shocked at how expensive it was. I determined not to pay for it so I would just go to the inspection place and ask them if I could borrow their hose.
Upon arrival, I asked if I could borrow their hose and the young man said it wouldn’t be a problem but that I could just wait until after they were done with the inspection (darn). The young man took my keys and began the inspection. He drove it around a bit, honked the horn, and did all sorts of tests. When he was done he replaced the sticker on my windshield for me. I payed him for the inspection and then he showed me where the hose was.
The hose was rolled up and hanging on a hook inside their garage, nowhere near the closest spicket. He pulled it off, unrolled it and hooked it up to the closest spicket for me. After spraying down the hood and windshield of my car (it was so dirty that it took me a few minutes) I then had a decision to make.
My car had already been inspected, I had payed, and my car was clean. I had no further business to do with this company. I wondered to myself if I really needed to turn off the water, unhook the hose, roll it up, and hang it back on the hook. I was done with it, and it would have been easy for me to just leave it there on the pavement and drive away. Logic told me that I would have gained absolutely nothing by doing all that work, because it would not benefit me in any way. Logic told me that my fortune would be exactly the same no matter how I acted, and so I might as well save myself that extra work.
But, I didn’t follow logic. I didn’t bother to do what all the available evidence said was the most beneficial to myself. Instead, I chose to turn off the water, unhook the hose, roll it up, and hang it back on the hook. I chose to demonstrate my gratituted by doing all of that and thanking the young man for lending me a hand. That choice defied logic. It defied reason. I gained nothing by doing it.
There are certain things that we simply do and know that are taught to us from a higher power. We do them because they just seem right, even though we can’t explain why.