My testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is very simple.
I know that there is a living God and that He is the father of our spirits, that we lived with him in a pre-mortal existence, that we are here in this mortal existence by choice, and that we have the opportunity to return to live with him as immortal and eternal beings.
I know that Jesus Christ lives, that he suffered in Gethsemane for my sins and disobediences, and that through this suffering and atonement I have the opportunity to be forgiven and receive eternal life, that he died on the cross and was resurrected and that said act provided me and all humanity with immortality.
I know that the Holy Ghost, the comforter, is the third member of the Godhead and that through his power and gifts I can receive personal revelation that gives me direction not only for my spiritual needs but in my endeavors in the secular and scientific arena.
I cannot think of any time in my life when I have not known these things to be true. I am a fifth-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and have never doubted the truth of the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the Book of Mormon is a true history of two ancient cultures that existed on this continent and that it was translated from a real ancient record by Joseph Smith by the gift and power of God.
As a young man I had the privilege of serving a mission for the Church in Mexico, where I came to love the Mexican people and the Spanish language. As a result I have been an avid student of the Book of Mormon both for its spiritual message and for the insight it gives about the cultures whose history is recorded on its pages. While serving in Mexico, I had the privilege of visiting the ruins at Teotihuacán, and it was there that my lifelong interest in Book of Mormon geography was born. Although more recent analysis of the actual text of the Book of Mormon has convinced me that these ruins are not directly related to the cultures described in the text, I still have the hope that future studies will uncover a link to the Nephite culture.
As a youth I was always interested in chemistry and, after returning from my mission, I managed to get a position as a research assistant in a plant biochemistry laboratory at the Salinity Laboratory, a part of the United States Agricultural Research Service, where the third love of my life was born, the first being my wife, with Book of Mormon geography in second place. It was there that I began my career in biochemistry. Through the good help of the people at the Salinity Laboratory and the National Defense Education Act, I obtained a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry and went looking for a permanent position. Unfortunately, there were no jobs for plant biochemists, and I ended up at the University of Texas as a research scientist in drug metabolism and disposition. As I studied and did research in the biochemistry of living plants and animals, I became more and more convinced of the reality of God and Jesus Christ and the reality of a divine creation of this world and the creatures that abide here. Through the research in our laboratory we were able to establish and get acceptance for a theory that helps to explain how the delicate ecological balance between plants and animals is maintained. This theory, though based on evolutionary concepts, only strengthened my testimony of the hand of God in the creation process.
Although there were many, over the years, who questioned my ability to be a good Latter-day Saint and still do good science in a life science field, in the end my belief in the gospel and my ability as a scientist were both confirmed. In 1998, based on both my scientific contributions and my activities in the Church, I was selected to have my biography published in the Marquis Who’s Who in America.
After retirement in 2000, I had more time to dedicate to my love of the Book of Mormon and my interest in Book of Mormon geography. As I studied the text of the Book of Mormon and compared it to the three-dimensional geography of the American continents, the many convergences between the text and the real world supported and strengthened my testimony of its truthfulness and historicity as a real document that describes a real people in a real place on this earth. Some of my thoughts and conclusions based on these studies can be found at www.poulsenll.org/bom/index.html.
Posted January 2010 on FairMormon.org
Dr. Lawrence (Larry) L. Poulsen is a retired research scientist from the University of Texas at Austin. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with honors, and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Riverside. While earning his doctorate he received an NDEA fellowship for three years and an NIH fellowship for the final year. He served one year as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University, after which he was hired as a postdoctoral student in the Clayton Foundation at the University of Texas at Austin. He served three years as an NIH Fellow in the Clayton Foundation for Biochemistry at the University of Texas and was then hired as a research scientist in the same foundation. While working as an associate to Dr. D. M. Ziegler, an associate editor for the Journal of Biochemistry, he reviewed numerous scientific papers for that and other scientific journals. He is an author on numerous scientific papers, including several chapters in Methods in Biochemistry. His work is extensively referenced in numerous scientific publications. For the last five years before his retirement, Dr. Poulsen served as a lecturer and as Manager of Computer Services in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been a biographee in the Marquis Who’s Who in America since 1998. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, where he has served in numerous Church callings, including bishop, high councilor and other stake and ward responsibilities. He is, at present, first assistant in his ward’s high priests leadership. He is the husband of Maclovia Poulsen, and they have six children, twenty-one grandchildren and three great grandchildren.