By Jesse Fisher
Although it doesn’t appear to have helped my career much, studying Mathematics at BYU did actually benefit me — I learned deductive reasoning. “If all frogs are green” and “Johnny has a frog”, then we can deduce “Johnny’s frog must be green”. Simple logic.
Now let’s apply the same deductive reasoning to the topic of this column, Zion, and see what happens.
President Benson said that “Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion.”
And Elder D. Todd Christopherson said, “The antithesis and antagonist of Zion is Babylon”, which we’ll simplify here as “Babylon is the opposite of Zion.”
It should also be obvious that the opposite of a stumbling block is a stepping-stone; one limits progress, and the other assists it. And, the opposite of pride, of course, is humility.
So, if we assume that:
- Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion,
- Babylon is the opposite of Zion,
- The opposite of a stumbling block is a steppingstone, and
- The opposite of pride is humility…
Then, we can deduce the following:
- Pride is the great steppingstone to Babylon.
- Humility is the great steppingstone to Zion, and
- Humility is the great stumbling block of Babylon.
The tricky thing about deductive reasoning is that just because a deduction follows logically does not necessarily mean it is true. It may only be a valid conclusion. It may also be false if one or more of the given assumptions upon which the conclusion is being made is false. For example, our first deduction above, “Johnny’s frog must be green” may actually be false, given that all frogs, in fact, aren’t green. In short, if we make false assumptions, our conclusions are likely to be false as well.
I first made these deductions about 5 years ago, and have yet to find anything that contradicts them in the writings of the prophets and apostles, ancient or modern. I believe that both my assumptions and the deductions that spring from them are both valid and true.
If you want to try your hand at applying deductive reasoning to the subject, you may learn a few interesting things. Sit down with a copy of President Ezra Taft Benson’s landmark talk, “Beware of Pride.” Extract from it simple statements concerning pride, such as, “Pride is essentially competitive in nature” and “Pride leads to national destruction.” Then, substitute an even number of terms in each statement with their opposites and ask yourself if the results are true.
For example, “Pride is essentially competitive in nature” turns into “Humility is essentially cooperative in nature.” Does that ring true? Does it fit with the scriptures? What about, “Humility leads to national prosperity.”? This exercise brought me to a greater understanding of both pride and humility; I believe it will do the same for the reader who makes the effort.