Alma & Korihor

We just read Alma 30 yesterday, so I’ve been thinking a bit about how we usually talk about Alma’s confrontation with Korihor. I really like what Alma does here. Rather than “proving” that God exists, he calls Korihor on his own arguments, and also adds his testimony as well. I think it’s a great move. Korihor says that no one can know of things to come, yet, in order to know that Christ won’t come he would have to see the future to confirm that. Korihor says no one can believe in something they can’t see, and therefore there is no God, but in order for Korihor to prove that there is no God, he’d have to see into Heaven himself and see that. So regardless of who’s “right,” Korihor’s argument can’t hold up on its own. I think Alma’s right on when he says, “And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.” It’s a good point. The only “evidence” that Korihor has is his word only, one person’s word. And Alma can counter that with his own testimony that he believes (even knows) that God is there and Christ will come. The part about the earth etc being signs is intriguing. It doesn’t hold up on its own as “proof” or “evidence” but, I think on Korihor’s own terms, they are signs. He wants a “sign” that God is there, but what does a “sign” actually prove? If you have a hint of belief already, then a sign might push you the other way. But if you were absolutely convinced that there was no God, what good would a sign do? It can’t force belief; you still have to choose to see the sign as something from God. So in that sense, I think Alma is right to say that he sees the earth, its motion, etc. as signs from God. They are no more or less a sign than anything else that Alma could “produce” as a sign, since anything he could do would also require some amount of faith. On a strict, definitional level, the earth is just as much a sign as whatever else we might think Korihor has in mind, be it lightning crashing down or whatever. The fact that he knows his dumbness must be from God shows that he already had some, even tiny, amount of faith. And, as soon as he writes, we learn that he “always knew that there was a God.”

Alma’s smart. Very smart. I don’t think we should, as is sometimes done, take Alma’s argument as somehow proof we can use to convince someone. It is a specific argument with a specific person. I think what he does is to un-do what Korihor has said, so that the possibility of faith still remains.

Just some thoughts for this mid-Wednesday morning. 🙂

3 responses to “Alma & Korihor

  • Kim Berkey

    From Mike:

    Would you say, then, that choosing to interpret signs as from God is faith? At any rate, I think Alma has Korihor in mind in Alma 32:16 when he talks about those who are “compelled to know.” I don’t think Korihor ever made the choice to interpret the sign of his dumbness as from God. I think he was compelled to know that it was from God. And of course, Alma asks “is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.” And so, to the original question about reading Alma 30:44, I think you’re right to see this as a sign that he expects Korihor to choose to believe, but that’s not to say that there aren’t signs that, when evaluated by the objective observer, do tip the scale, even if they don’t want to believe. In other words, there are signs that are capable of compelling belief.

  • Karen

    Mike: I remember the passage you are talking about from Alma 32 – thanks for bringing it up & I am going to go take a look at that this morning! Briefly, though: I still wonder if any sign could force faith. Alma knew that Korihor was lying to himself, and so did God and so did Korihor. Does that make a difference in our story here, or the story in Alma 32? (Such is my question as I go into my study of Alma 32:16 – 22 or so.)

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