A witness from the Spirit is not proof.

Published on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 By lelliotthauge

For almost as long as I can remember, I was aware of certain inconsistencies or gaps in logic in the doctrines of my religion. But I learned not to worry about it, because I had a testimony, based on personal spiritual experiences. I felt the presence of the Holy Ghost fairly frequently, when I prayed, when I was in seminary, and more than anything when I sang or listened to music. It was a warm, peaceful feeling that seemed to emanate from somewhere inside my rib cage, and I interpreted this feeling as a witness from God that I was doing his will.

I remember a couple of analogies that I read and heard as I was growing up. One was: “The Gospel is like a big jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes when you’re working a puzzle, you can’t see how to make all the sky pieces fit right away. That doesn’t mean that you throw up your arms and say, ‘This puzzle isn’t true!’ Sometimes you have to fit in other pieces first before you can see how it all fits together, but if you just have enough faith and keep trying, eventually, it will all fit.” The other was: “Well, I don’t have the slightest idea how a computer works, but that doesn’t change the fact that it does work.”

The message was, “Don’t fret about the stuff that doesn’t make sense. We can’t possibly understand everything about God.  As long you feel the Spirit, you know it’s all true.”

I’ve noticed something interesting since I’ve stopped believing in God: I still “feel the Spirit,” or at least, I still have the feeling that as a Mormon I called “feeling the Spirit.” I feel it when I’m holding one of my children, when I’m out in nature, sometimes when I’m doing yoga, and frequently when I’m creating or listening to music.

I do believe that it’s a real experience. I don’t believe that religion has a monopoly on it. And if I can have that experience in circumstances that are unrelated to God or religion, then this experience can no longer hold validity as proof of the truth claims of any particular religion.


  1. Kim says:

    I completely agree that Spirituality has nothing to do with religion. Personally, I think feeling the Spirit apart from religion is evidence that God is not inextricably bound to religion.

  2. Phil says:

    I love when people talk about spirituality without religion. Reminds me of a great passage in stuff white people like-

    White people will often say they are “spiritual” but not religious. Which usually means that they will believe any religion that doesn’t involve Jesus.

    Popular choices include Buddhism, Hinduism, Kabbalah and, to a lesser extent, Scientology. A few even dip into Islam, but it’s much more rare since you have to give stuff up and actually go to Mosque.

    Mostly they are into religion that fits really well into their homes or wardrobe and doesn’t require them to do very much.

  3. Chris says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this. I just came to this site and randomly chose this entry at random and was thrilled to see it is by a former Mormon, as I was. Brilliant I couldn’t put it better myself. The feeling that LDS members think is the spirit can be felt by anyone feeling high emotion and ex members know this as they have felt it whilst in both belief and disbelief.

  4. prairie says:

    You should read some brain science. It has nothing to do with the ‘spirit’ or a soul, which are as unlikely as god or the tooth fairy. Dogs and chimps share certain ethics with us because those ethics of protection of children and of others in the species have survival benefit. That warm fuzzy feeling makes us feel closer to kin and to the natural world and therefore make us treat it better. It is brain chemistry and we evolved to feel it and it is not ‘spiritual’ at all. Spirituality is as much a myth as other forms of religion.

  5. Leah Elliott Hauge says:

    Well, I don’t believe in spirits, but I still use the word “spirituality” because we lack a better one. Whether the experience of peace and connectedness is caused by some external force or simply by a chemical reaction in the body, it’s still a real experience, and one that I personally think is worth cultivating.

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