I learn new things about myself all the time, thanks to the wonders of the Internet.
I’ve learned, for example, that I reject evolution and believe the earth to be only six thousand years old.
This came as a shock to me, because, for as long as I can remember, I’ve thought the evidence for evolution overwhelming, and I’ve assumed — or, maybe more accurately, imagined that I’ve assumed — the earth to be roughly 4.5 billion years old.
I’ve learned that, in fact, I reject science and believe it to be satanic.
This was news to me, as well, because I’ve always liked science. Or thought I did. Growing up, I was passionately interested in astronomy. (My eyes were bad, though, and that hurt.) I came to the university as a mathematics major, intending at first to go into cosmology. I’m still very interested in the subject — curiously, my dissertation was on an eleventh-century Arabic Neoplatonist cosmology — as well as, particularly, in geology. On Maui, in Rocky Mountain National Park, at the Grand Canyon, at Yellowstone, in Zion and Bryce, along the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, I almost invariably buy a local geological guide and drive those with me to distraction as I call out passing geological features. And who can travel very far in an automobile without a copy of the Geological Guide to Utah, the Geological Guide to Wyoming, and etc.? Not me.
I’ve also learned that I believe all doubters and disbelievers of Mormonism to be either weak minded, less intelligent, less valiant, or less spiritual, or under the influence of dark forces while trying to justify their disbelief in order to do what they really want, which is to wallow in the pleasures of sin. I’m assured that there can be, in my universe, no legitimate grounds for doubt, no sincere lack of conviction.
Here, too, this was stunning to learn. While I don’t question for a moment that weak mindedness, stupidity, disobedience, lack of interest in spirituality, dark forces, and a desire to sin can and do interfere with faith, I had always imagined that there were legitimate grounds for questions and that, in this life, at best, “we see through a glass, darkly.” (See 1 Corinthians 13.) I have plenty of unbelieving friends and relatives, and I had always thought that I loved them. But, it turns out, I actually hate and despise them all.
The Internet is a marvelous thing. Google, for example, puts an entire world of knowledge at our fingertips. But who would ever have believed that anonymous comments from total strangers on message boards could be the principal source of self-knowledge, replacing introspection? Yet another surprise, I guess.