President Uchtdorf spoke about finding truth on January 13 in the first CES fireside of 2013.
He opened his talk with two anecdotes, the first of which was the story John Godfrey Saxe immortalized in his poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant,” which tells the tale of six blind men who each feel a different part of an elephant and then describe the animal to their blind peers. The man who feels the leg describes the animal as tree-like. The one who feels the trunk says it is like a spear. The one who feels the tail compares it to a rope, and so on.
“And so these men of Hindustan disputed loud and long, each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong. Though each was partly in the right and all were in the wrong,” President Uchtdorf quoted.
“Today I would like to speak of truth,” President Uchtdorf said. “As I do I invite you to ponder a few important questions. The first question is, ‘What is truth?’ The second is, ‘Is it really possible to know the truth?’ And third, ‘How should we react to things that contradict that which we have learned previously?'”
He spoke of the ongoing struggle to find and understand truth which has been a theme in poems and literature since the beginning of time.
“Never in the history of the world have we had easier access to more information: some of it true, some of it false and much of it partially true,” he said. “Consequently, never in the history of the world has it been more important to learn how to correctly discern between truth and error.”
President Uchtdorf discussed false assumptions that shaped human history such as believing the earth is flat or that tomatoes are deadly if consumed.
“In some way, we are all susceptible to such strange thinking,” he said. “The truths we cling to shape the quality of our societies as well as individual characters.”
According to President Uchtdorf, humans often confuse truths with beliefs that are often based on assumptions and limited information. When confronted with information taht contradicts convenient beliefs or requires one to change, humans tend to reject it and assume that those who give such information are misinformed, mentally challenged or deceitful.
“To make matters worse we have an adversary, the devil, who as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour,” he said.
According to President Uchtdorf, Satan uses many tactics to deceive and lead mortals from the truth, including offering the idea that truth is relative and inspiring doubt in those who have already received truth.
“Because we see through a glass, darkly, we have to trust the Lord who sees all things clearly,” he said.
He said that the Lord offers us the truth of Christ’s gospel which, if accepted, will lead to peace and happiness.
“But how can we know this truth is different from any other truth?” President Uchtdorf asked. “How can we trust this truth?”
According to him, members of the Church are not expected to follow these teachings blindly; rather, they have a responsibility to receive personal confirmation of the truth of the gospel and the teachings of our ecclesiastical leaders.
“Yes, we do have the fullness of the everlasting gospel, but that does not mean that we know everything,” he said.
President Uchtdorf advised that disciples continually seek knowledge from all good and wholesome sources.
“My young friends,” he said, ” as you accept the responsibility to seek after truth with an open mind and a humble heart you will become more tolerant of others, more open to listen, more prepared to understand, more inclined to build up instead of tearing down, and you will be more willing to go where God wants you to go.”
He continued to say knowledge seekers are not alone in their search because God gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit to give promptings and confirm truth.
President Uchtdorf spoke briefly about contention and its ability to confuse and offend in its use as a weapon against truth before closing with his testimony.
“I add my witness as an apostle of the Lord that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God,” he said. “I know this with all my heart and mind. I know this by the witness and power of the Holy Ghost. I ask you to spare no efforts in your search to know this truth for yourself, because this truth will make you free.”