Facts are More Important than any cherished, Mistaken Beliefs

The honest investigator must be prepared to follow wherever the search of truth may lead. Truth is often found in the most unexpected places. He must, with fearless and open mind insist that facts are more important than any cherished, mistaken beliefs, no matter how unpleasant the facts or how delightful the beliefs.

Hugh B Brown, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency, General Conference, October 1962
Facts are more important than any cherished mistaken beliefs – Hugh B Brown

Hugh B Brown was a veteran of WW1 with the Canadian Cavalry, an accomplished lawyer, and BYU Professor and Oil Executive. He was also an outspoken Democrat, and in favor if granting Blacks the Priesthood, but was blocked by President Harold B Lee. He was the first to be “demoted” by a new president of the church, when Joseph Fielding Smith was sustained as church president in 1970, Hugh B Brown was not retained in the first presidency. He was the first. Uchtdorf knows that that feels like. Why are these among the only instances when a church leader of such high office “demoted”? Brown was open minded and expected the same of others.

Hugh B Brown taught that we must be prepared to go wherever the search of truth leads us. We must be fearless – as in don’t be afraid of questions or doubts. Research everything, and have an open mind and search for facts. Facts are more important than beliefs. The beliefs even if cherished may be mistaken. Trust the facts, don’t ignore the facts because we have positive feelings about our beliefs. The facts may be unpleasant. The unpleasant facts are not the power of satan, they are the realization that what we’ve believed is not what we thought it was. Even if our beliefs are cherished and delightful! The facts have precedence. What we’ve been raised to follow is not something we must continue to follow.

This was true and rare wisdom spoken from the pulpit in General Conference in October 1962. Hugh B Brown is known for being liberal and intellectual. This advice is very wise. The church leaders today do not stand behind his thoughts, nor do they offer such wisdom. The church today tells us that research is not the answer, to give brother Joseph a break, that if we study we are merely lazy learners who don’t understand or appreciate the gospel, that we must doubt our doubts and stay in the boat, not to be distracted with church history whack-a-mole. They teach us to fear doubts, avoid questions and to fear anything other than the church.

Such unhealthy and Orwellian messaging from church leaders! If the church were what it claims to be, it would not fear examination. It would not gas-light and whitewash church history. It would invite members to continue investigating the church even after they are baptized. They would align more with the few church leaders who speak wisdom. Here’s another similar message from Hugh B Brown:

I hope that you will develop the questing spirit. Be unafraid of new ideas for they are the stepping stones of progress. You will of course respect the opinions of others but be unafraid to dissent—if you are informed.

Hugh B. Brown, Brigham Young University, March 29, 1958

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