Most of us were raised with the idea that even amidst all of life’s confusion, if we live in a certain way and follow clear steps to put ourselves in the right frame of mind and heart, we have the right and ability to know for certain God’s will and wisdom for us through communication via the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit. For many of us, however, as we grow older and encounter various findings in science and psychology about biological and sociological biases, or as we experience disappointments and other types of complexities, our confidence in this simple formula for recognizing and hearing the Spirit, and sometimes even the very existence of this promised Comforter and Guide, begins to wane. Can we ever truly “know” what is true, or what is best for us? If so, how? If not, how can we still live richly and with confidence in the choices we make, as well as our decisions about what life means?
In this two-part episode, Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Kristine Haglund, Scott Holley, and Michael Ferguson explore these questions and much more.
In Part 1 (Episode 77), they introduce and discuss findings from brain science and other academic disciplines about how “experience the world.” It might be considered the more “educational” half of the podcast–lots of fascinating information to take in and consider, but until near the end not a lot of direct consideration of the Holy Ghost dilemma.
In Part 2 (Episode 78), they add in an overview of LDS teachings regarding the processes of receiving “personal revelation” and about whether or not we can truly have certainty when we are experiencing a prompting or message from the Holy Spirit versus something more mixed up with our emotions, hopes, dreams, and various cognitive biases. In the final section, the panelists also all share some about how they personally work through this challenging issue of knowing when/if they are experiencing “Spirit,” why even in awareness of all the complicating factors they still don’t move into full-on skepticism, remaining alive to the possibilities for rich and deeper living that are there for exploring in what might be considered the “realm of Spirit.”
We would love to have you join in the conversation in the comments section below!