Posted by: blackfootsmj1 | June 24, 2011

How can we know the purpose for life? What does the Book of Mormon mean to an Athiest?

Since the beginning of time man has pondered the meaning to his existence and the purpose in life. Man has forever wondered about the destiny of his soul and the final question: “Where will I go when I die?” Eschatology is the  study of the end of things, whether the end of an individual, end of a society, or the end of an age. Broadly speaking, it is the study of the destiny of man. This eschatology has been the endless pursuit of many philosophers and millions who currently walk the Earth. The final question for all of us is; How do we answer that great and terrible question? Is this all there is?

I’ve heard many agnostics and atheists say regardless of if the Bible is true or not, whether it is fact or fiction, it doesn’t matter. The Bible still has great lessons for each of us to learn. It’s a book about how to interact with others, live a good life, how to persevere through trials, it’s about family, love, and humanity. While the Bible and the Book of Mormon may have great stories about love and morality the main question has always been and will be “is it true?”

No anthropologist or archaeologist, nor really any human being will ever come to know truth through the evidence. God will never force anyone to believe the teaching of prophets or His word. Because, after all, angels are anything but scientific. Eschatology will not be proven by science. It can’t be. It won’t be. We aren’t going to get very far with evidence when it comes to answering the terrible question are we?

Unless the Bible and the Book of Mormon are true what is it doing? Entire libraries are devoted to philosophical studies. The studies include: Morals, ethics, aesthetics, principles for life, spiritual things, and great stories. Philosophy teaches all about how to interact with fellow man, families, love, and finding meaning in life. But we don’t need the Holy Writ to answer those questions. The only purpose for religion and the Book of Mormon is to answer one question: “What is the purpose for life?”

If being born and dying is all we have, if our existence is solely this short time, if this is the be all, end all then our whole way of life and thinking is going to be arranged differently. I love the story of Korihor in the Book of Mormon.  “Alma 30:18 And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms–telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.” Why did the people suddenly become wicked? They could sin! There would be no day of accounting, no judgement, absolutely nothing! The Nephites loved that teaching because it meant there was no reason for them to be obedient. Understanding our purpose in life will determine our behavior. Consider Alma the Younger. Once he was rebuked by the Angel it changed everything. He went from destroying the church to building it up and becoming one of the greatest missionaries in the Book of Mormon. These answers change our destiny.

Alma the Younger Visited by an Angel

Alma the Younger--Rebuked by the Angel

The real question any of us needs to answer is this: “Is the Book of Mormon true?” It is my objective as a missionary to help others answer that question. Because with it comes the answers to the great and terrible question: “Is this life all we have to look forward to?” It makes all the difference in the world where Joseph Smith got the plates and if the  Book of Mormon is a true, historical record. Visits from angels make all the difference. It’s the answer! There is more! More than an of us have ever fathomed, more than we have imagined or dreamed! This is only a fraction of our existence. It’s barely the beginning. If we don’t have the answers to that one question: “What is the purpose to life” we’re going through life aimlessly. With no direction. No purpose. No meaning. Nothing! With the Book of Mormon comes angels, visions, and prophecy. With it comes all the answers.

One of my favorite verses in the scriptures is in Moses 7:62–in the Pearl of Great Price. It reads:

And arighteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear btestimony of mine Only Begotten; his cresurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to dgather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth…

The righteousness sent down from heaven is the Angel Moroni and the First Vision.

The first vision
The Sacred Grove and the First Vision
The Angel Moroni

Moroni's Visit














The truth out of the Earth is the Book of Mormon.

Moroni Burying the Plates
Moroni Burying the Gold Plates; On which the Book of Mormon was written.

The Lord says the Book of Mormon will be the way that truth will fill the Earth. It’s destiny is to convince all men of Jesus Christ and his divinity as Savior of the World. The purpose of the Book of Mormon is to answer the questions of the soul: What is the purpose for life? Why am I here? Where do I go when i die? How do I find meaning? All the questions of the soul can be answered with the Book of Mormon.

What does the Book of Mormon mean for an Athiest? The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith make all the difference. The whole game is changed if Joseph saw an Angel and if the Book of Mormon is in fact a historical record. We’re all living life under completely difference circumstances if the Book of Mormon is true. And no one can escape it. Ever. The mere existence and purpose of the Book of Mormon puts our whole life in a different light. Men may accept it as “moral principles and doctrine” others may even say “well, it’s a good book.” Some may even say it’s crazy. But that isn’t it at all. Moral teachings are more prevalent and common than ever before. However, only one book can fully answer the questions of our existence: The Book of Mormon. Why? Because the Book of Mormon has divine origins and every person on Earth can gain an individual testimony of its truth and divinity. Its story and its purpose is to answer that great and terrible question. We are all entitled to the answers, and they can be easily attained and known. How? By reading its contents then praying and asking God if the Book is true. I testify that it is. And each of us can have the knowledge confirmed and reaffirmed as we continue to read, ponder, and pray.


  1. Elder Johnson: I appreciate this post. With many atheist friends, this is something I’ve thought about a lot. I like your comment “moral teachings are more prevalent and common than ever before,” as it’s very true. And I think having purpose in life, desiring to make a contribution, changes one’s perspective quite a bit. Connecting that with life after death and a relationship with Jesus Christ changes it even more. And connecting all of that with a relationship with Christ’s Church and the reception of saving ordinances and a lifetime of service changes it even more.

    I don’t know if the big deal with the Book of Mormon is just its divine origins, as the Bible, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price all have divine origins. Furthermore, general conference talks are generally taken to be inspired by God. None of this are word-for-word transcriptions of the divine: we’re all limited in our processing of spiritual things, and Mormon and Moroni were pretty clear about that. I think the Book of Mormon is a big deal because developing a testimony of it helps one develop a testimony of the truth that God is always reaching out to us, that Christ’s ministry is for everyone, and that Joseph Smith had the responsibility & authorization to re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ. Also, being a recording of so many men’s relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, it helps us understand the everyday dynamics of building that relationship, just as the Bible helps us see what Jesus did with his mortal ministry.

    Finally, a less important but still important point: might I suggest “people have forever wondered . . .”, etc.? “Man” there and in the other places sounds very stilted and 19th century and makes one wonder if God’s daughters have ever wondered about these things as well.

    Thanks again for all your posts, including this one.

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