Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Intellectualism is a Danger to the Church

Response to Chapter 19: "Dissenters and Exiles

In the 19th chapter of the PBS Frontline program "The Mormons", it confronts the issue of intellectualism that is currently happening in the church today. The question is as follows: Is too much intellectualism is a danger to the church?

Adam and Eve in Mormon Doctrine

Let me first point out something very important in Mormon Doctrine. According to Mormon doctrine, it was necessary for Adam and Eve to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, even though it was disobedient to God. The lesson that we are taught in the church is that if Adam and Eve never partook of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil, they would have remained in a state of innocence like little children, not knowing good from evil. Remember that when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they discovered their nakedness and as a result, they were cast out of the garden of Eden and the beautiful paradise they once knew was transformed into the lone and dreary world we live in today. However, it was still necessary for Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they never discovered their nakedness, they never would have produced any offspring, and they would have remained like innocent children, not knowing good from evil.

In Mormonism, education is highly valued. Most members are encouraged to study hard, get good grades in school and go to college. The church has many programs that encourage the study of the scriptures and church doctrine. That is, of course until what you are studying contradicts claims made by the church. At that point, the church leadership considers intellectualism a "great danger to the church".

Statements made by church leaders regarding Intellectualism

It was reported that Boyd K. Packer, a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles for the LDS church said years back in a meeting with other church members that one of the greatest dangers to the church were Homosexuals, Feminists, and Intellectuals. When asked about it in an interview for the PBS Frontline program, he responded with the following: "I suppose uh...I...I think I remember saying those things (laughs to himself)...If it's in print, I said it.(laughs again)"

Dallin H. Oaks, also a member of the Quorum of the 12 said the following: "I think all the leaders of the church are conscious of an obligation to warn the people when there is a danger...Intellectualism is a danger to the church."

Hypocrisy in the Mormon Church

One of the greatest contradictions in the LDS church is on one hand, you value education and stimulating thought. On the other, if what you discover disproves some of the claims made by the church, then if you entertain those questions, you are an apostate and a heretic.

In our own Mormon Scripture, D&C 9:8 it says that we should study things out in our mind before we pray about something, not the other way around. D&C 88:118 says that we should seek out and read the "best books". Finally, D&C 130:19 says that the more we learn on this earth, the greater advantage we will have in the life to come. In other words, we will have to learn everything there is to know about science at some point, so we would be better off by learning as much as we can while we are here.

To say that Intellectualism is a danger to the church contradicts our own scriptures. Why was it necessary for Adam and Eve to partake of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil, even in disobedience to God, to obtain knowledge, but it is dangerous for us to test the waters of science and philosophy if those thoughts do not conform with the teachings and claims made by the church.

What we can learn from the story of Adam and Eve

The story of Adam and Eve is a metaphor. The garden of Eden represents the church. When you are young and innocent, the church is flawless, perfect and beautiful. However, the garden of Eden was not flawless and perfect, Adam and Eve were naked, they just didn't know about it. The tree of knowledge of good and evil represents intellectualism. When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, they discovered their own nakedness. Their nakedness represents flaws in the claims and history of the church. When people get involved with intellectualism and start to study the history of the church, they discover their own nakedness, in that they realize that many of the things they have always believed in are simply not true. At least many of the claims made by the church turn out to be inaccurate. And thus, because they discover their own nakedness, some are cast out of the church, just as Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden of Eden.

Skeptical Mormon

1 comment:

NateDredge said...

I too have long been puzzled why so many church members, particularly in leadership, can not seem to get their minds around the obvious application’s suggested by the Adam and Eve story. It’s like they have blinders on, this most basic and in fact innovative of Mormon theological tenets, has become to the membership at large something to be feared and shunned for its inconvenience. I mean it’s the very first principle taught in the Bible, its at the hart of the Endowment ceremony, yet it is continually hidden under a bushel. Also I think Elder Packer’s dismissive remarks about his infamous statements about intellectuals, homosexuals, and feminists, must be profoundly hurtful for those who have suffered because of them.