I’ve been reading a book on the life of Charles Darwin, a contemporary of Joseph Smith. I can’t help but see many of the same thought processes, cognitive dissonance and ah hah moments in Darwin’s life that I have experienced in my life. It is interesting to see Darwin’s thought process “evolve” as he is presented with more and more information that conflicts with what he had been taught throughout his life. Somehow I relate.
Darwin was brought up in a somewhat freethinking family. His father wanted him to study medicine and be a doctor. He didn’t enjoy medicine so after a few years of medical study altered his focus to become a clergyman ... of all things.
At the time of Darwin, society believed that God created all life. Each living creature was His perfect creation. God being perfect , created each living thing to be exactly as it was, there was no variation...each was Gods creation by design.
But as Darwin was soon to discover during his voyage on the Beagle... reality did not support this long held religious explanation for the existance of life on the earth. Facts don’t lie. And as Darwin soon discovered, there was variation within the same species living on different islands. But how could this be? Did God Create different versions of the same animals and place them on different islands? Did Noah place these animals throughout the earth? And how did an original population of finches from the mainland migrate to the Galapagos and then change into several species? Yet there was no denying reality... Darwin could tell which island a particular bird or turtle or lizard lived on based simply on the variations each of these animals held from their cousin species living on different islands.
The light didn’t go on immediately for Darwin. It took months of study before he privately concluded that animal life evolved from one generation to the next through mutation and adaptation, “Natural Selection” and many more years before he took his evolution theory public.
Darwin’s theory of Evolution was heretical. It forever changed how we view the world. TRUTH and ANSWERS to DIFFICULT QUESTIONS drove Darwin irrespective of where they may take him. Society, religion, culture, reputation be damned.
As a former believer in Mormonism, my world was turned upside down as well. When I finally decided to examine the beliefs of my youth and subject them to the buffetings of reality. I placed the foundational claims of Joseph Smith on the “Scales of Truth” and found them out of balance.
Just like Darwin ... each of us has had or is seeking our ah hah moment ... our own epiphany of clarity, when the puzzle pieces of cognitive dissonance finally fall into place and the fog of confusion is lifted.
For those of you still in pursuit of this clarity ... stay focused on your desire for truth; know that there are answers to difficult questions. For those of you have had those puzzle pieces fall into place, well done, you have chosen correctly.