Many people have found it difficult, if not impossible, to defend their religious beliefs or the existence of God against the liberal world that tries to divorce us from our faith. One thing I have found to be true: If argued on a purely logical or rational level, liberalism almost always wins the argument, whether it be about the existence of God Himself or about the validity of His laws, commandments, and blessings. Why is that true? Is it because religion and God are unexplainable? Could it be that there is no proof of God's existence? I contend that it is explainable and there is proof to be found. I believe the answer comes down to two things: 1) personal conviction, and 2) the ability to articulate that conviction.
1. PERSONAL CONVICTION - Before you can begin to defend your belief in God and in His gospel, you first must embrace it and believe it. Further, you must know why you believe it. Doctrine & Covenants 11:21 says,
"Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men."
Here, we must have a testimony of what you believe, and know why we believe it, before we will have any chance of successfully expressing our convictions to others, particularly to those who are trying to invalidate our beliefs.
In much the same way that a missionary for the church should not go into the mission field without first gaining a testimony of what he will preach, we must gain a conviction of why we believe and live the way we do.
2. THE ABILITY TO ARTICULATE OUR CONVICTIONS - This takes practice, if not divine help. Again, referring to the scripture in the D&C, as well as many others, the Spirit will accompany us and tell us what to say when we need it.
I have a little bit of an advantage. My patriarchal blessing says I that my tongue will be loosed, and that I will never lack for words in defending the kingdom of God. Admittedly, when those who know me well hear that 'my tongue will be loosed, and will never lack for words...', they laugh because it is so true. I am much like old Foghorn Leghorn with a testimony (perhaps you remember Foghorn Leghorn, the big, boisterous chicken from the old Warner Brothers cartoons). I truly will never lack for words! So I try to use this gift (or curse, depending on whose ears are hearing me) to build the kingdom of God.
One key point about expressing our convictions is to not try to do this on a purely intellectual or logical/rational level. For those who are firm in their testimony of the gospel, we can stay on our own 'playing field' for this debate. The liberals will want you to argue and defend your belief in God, the afterlife, and so on, without referring to non-scientific evidence. Many people fall into this trap and lose the argument. This is the primary reason why people lose the argument, and where a lack of real personal conviction fails in the effort. What we must remember is that to us, there is no dividing line between religion and science. They are inseparable. This is why people who are religious but not of our faith cannot sustain this argument - because they lack the deep conviction, which truly is based on evidence. Their position is based purely on the reading of the Bible.
More to come in part 2.