I have always enjoyed contemplating the difficult questions regarding physics, our universe, creation, etc. In particular I have been fascinated by the infinite nature of space and time, both the infinity of the very large and very small and the infinity of time going forward and going back. My research area of artificial intelligence and machine learning forces me to ask fundamental questions about the nature of intellect and free will, and what life is. Though we still know relatively little regarding these questions, I am amazed at how well the Gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses so many of the possible answers.
Another thing that amazes me (though to a lesser degree) is how quickly many people grasp onto the latest theories (scientific and otherwise) and assume that they are correct. You would think that thousands of years of experience demonstrating that our past scientific theories have proven inadequate would suggest, by induction, that our latest theories are probably also not the final answer. (You may go to this reference for my thoughts on these issues.)
I know that God lives, and that he loves us. Because of this love he desires that we can be happy. He knows that our happiness is based on the kind of people we become. Our happiness is directly related to the extent that we can gain more of the types of attributes that he has. These attributes include kindness, love, discipline, knowledge, mercy, justice, etc. He has created a plan that allows each one of us to progress and gain these attributes through obedience, suffering, challenges, and other opportunities. We do not have the capacity to attain these completely on our own. Our Heavenly Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to atone for our sins and weaknesses. Through his enabling grace, combined with our efforts, we can be transformed into better (and happier) people than we now are.
How do I know these things? First, the Spirit of God has communicated (revealed) to my spirit the truth of these things. This is a necessary condition for a testimony of God. This communication and assurance is not a one-time thing, but continues to occur. Second, years of experience turn this belief into knowledge. This happens as I continually study the Gospel and see how its truths remain consistent as our scientific and other theories drift. Also, as I strive to obey, abundant and continual spiritual experiences demonstrate the reality of God’s love and plan.
I have found for myself that these things are true. I know that anyone who desires can attain this same knowledge through prayer, study, and obedience. I know that following the principles that our Heavenly Father has taught us will lead to our greatest happiness both in this life and in the next. I am humbly grateful for all that our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ have done and continue to do for us.
Tony Martinez received a B.S. in computer science at Brigham Young University in 1982 and an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science at UCLA in 1983 and 1986, respectively. He is a professor in the Computer Science Department at Brigham Young University (BYU), where he served as Department Chair for nine years. He currently directs the neural network and machine learning laboratory in the BYU Ph.D. program. He has published over 130 refereed journal and conference papers in the areas of machine learning, neural networks, and artificial intelligence, and has been involved in the organization of numerous international conferences in his fields. His vitae is at http://axon.cs.byu.edu/~martinez/vita.html.
Posted March 2010