On being wrong


What does it feel like to be wrong? Please take 20 minutes and watch this excellent talk by Kathryn Schulz as she dissects what being wrong feels like, and why it’s important to know the answer to that question. And don’t think that reading this post can substitute for watching, because I will be going way off topic. I didn’t see this video until just recently, but I feel it describes well parts of my experiences in the last year. I used to be so sure that God was in his heaven and that I knew who his prophets were. Now, I don’t. My wife, my father-in-law, and many other people have asked me in on one form or another “What if you’re wrong? What if Joseph Smith was right all along? What if Satan has deceived you and is dragging you down to hell?” I think I may have responded with something along the lines of “What if you’re wrong?” If I didn’t, I’m sure whatever I came up with in that moment was equally as compelling. So, how can I be sure that where I stand now is right and where I stood before, where my wife stands, is wrong?

The plain fact is I can’t. That is the great truth here: I don’t know. I didn’t know. I probably will never know. But that’s not a bad thing, and it certainly needn’t be a scary thing. I could dilute myself into thinking I have it all figured out for certain and I am right and my wife is wrong, or I can accept that I don’t know, and just focus on being good and trying to approach an answer.

If I die, and come to stand before a god to be judged, will I regret how I lived my life? I hope not. I hope that a god responsible for the creation of all the universe, who cares for our actions here, will actually care more about how I lived my life than whether or not I offered him my oblations. I do not believe in God any more. So what? I believe in doing good. I believe in honesty and integrity and curiosity and inquest and discovery and improvement and security and human kindness and community. I am opposed to cruelty and arrogance and tyranny and selfish hedonism and complacent ignorance. And I believe in raising my children to believe in all that too. And if there is no God, or if there is but it does not pay much mind to us small bipeds who have lived for a fraction of a moment on a small speck of rock in some small pocket of its creation, then so what? Our live spans are measured in years and our domains are measured in kilometres. Let’s all do the best we can with the time we have and let the chips fall where they may in the end.

But I digressed into a small rant. Please forgive me. Am I right? I don’t know. Do you?

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