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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Evolution and God: Why can't they get along?

Although the main focus of this blog is regarding Mormonism, I thought I would broaden the topic to the whole idea of God in general.

Let me first point out that I believe in evolution. There is so much overwhelming evidence that evolution isn't a debate in the scientific community anymore. Darwin's theory of evolution has been verified by fossil records, carbon dating and DNA. To deny that evolution exists today with how much evidence exists is like denying that the Earth revolves around the sun.

Let me also say that I believe in God. What I don't understand is why it is supposed to be either or. Why can't it be both? Why not? Perhaps God created evolution so that life can adapt to the ever changing environment here on Earth. I don't see how the concept of evolution diminishes the existence of God in any way.

However, I do have one problem and that is the origin of life. Scientists can explain how a single celled organism evolved to what we can see today, however how that single-celled organism is still a mystery. According to the theory of spontaneous generation, somehow life arose from non-living matter. The problem with this theory is that it isn't science. Nobody has been able to explain or reproduce how non-living matter becomes living matter.

Scientists have been able to take inert matter and make amino acids, the building blocks for proteins which construct cells. However, they have not been able to take those amino acids and construct proteins in order to construct living cells. To believe in spontaneous generation, one must have "faith" to believe it since there is no evidence or data that supports it.

Don't get me wrong, scientist have been able to explain a lot more about life than any religion has. However, the exact origins of life still remain a mystery. To add more insult, we now know that even a single celled organism still has amazingly complicated DNA strands. To look at the odds of how an organism came into existence without any assistance from some kind of outside source seems pretty irrational to me when I look at the scale and the laws of probability.

It is like when I look at a Rubik's cube. There are over 43 quintillion possible combinations in a Rubik's cube, but only one of those combinations is the correct solution. The odds of a blind person solving a scrambled Rubik's cube are so astronomical that even if this blind person moved it one move at at time every second of every day statistically, you would need over a billion years until that person would solve it realistically. The fact that people can solve a Rubik's cube in 20 seconds repeatedly tells me that there is some intelligence behind it, and it isn't just random chance. And we are talking about a Rubik's cube. Life is much more complex than that.

I look at the sun that seems to be the right temperature, size and distance to support life on Earth, it is amazing enough. Then I see a moon that is in a position to keep the Earth anchored on its tilted 23.5 degree axis to prevent wild swings and extreme weather and I can't help but be struck in awe. I see Jupiter that is so massive in size that its gravitational pull deflects meteorites that could potentially destroy Earth like big brother out there. Then I look at a strand of DNA, which is complicated instructions found within each cell of every living organism. I can't understand how all this can come about without some kind of creator behind it, at least in the time frame we are talking about.

Perhaps if the Earth was around for octillions of years before life came into the picture it might be more plausible, but the Earth is only 4.5 billion years old. The first microorganisms are believed to have existed between 3-4 billion years ago. It is truly amazing how the Earth is created and suddenly life is spawned from non-life within such a relatively short time frame, when you are talking about the odds it would take to create said living cells by random chance.

However, once the cell is created, scientists have been able to demonstrate how life evolved to more complex organisms. I just don't see how any of it disproves the existence of God in any way. My question is why don't religions in general accept evolution? Why does it have to be either or?

Disillusioned Mormon

86 comments:

Jeremy said...

Recently I read an article on Yahoo News found here about a fossil that was found several years ago but are now saying that it "pokes holes" in the theory of evolution. This is because they have found a second specie of our "human ancestors" that lived at the same time. It appears that it's still early to try and discredit the theory.

Also, Something that I consider a representation of evolution is the reproduction of humans. We all started out as a single cell, joined a second then developed over a short period of time... Okay maybe it's a bit of a stretch but have you ever thought about it?

Chaim said...

First let me start off by saying that I have enjoyed your blog very much since I discovered it about a month ago. There was a post you made deconstructing the mormon "testimony of faith" that prretty much blew my mind.

Anyway, I agree pretty much with what you are saying here. I think the problem is that most evolutionists tend to use evolution to explain *everything*. By extension, we get the Big Bang, the primordial soup, and so on and so on. Theistic evolutionists are outcasts from both sides of the debate. The creationist side seems to feel that evolution leaves no room for God (even when it clearly does), whereas many evolutionists feel that a belief in God goes against science. This may be because religion has historically assaulted science, and pitted itself as its opposite.

Personally, I look at the world around me, and at evolution as we understand it right now (I don't think we understand it very well yet at all) and can't imagine any of it happening with no God. It just defies all reason.

Belief in a universe without a "God" is perhaps the biggest leap of faith there is.

I wish that the biblical literalists would lay down their arms and accept science into their worldview. I think that evolution actually presents a strong case for their God, and the creation account can be inaccurate without invalidating the entire book.

God's bigger than a theory, and bigger than a book.

But I don't think people will get it. Humans have been fighting over who's right wince the beginning of time, and the people on the most extreme sides of the spectrum are the ones least likely to budge.

Elder Joseph said...

I think Evolution scares me a bit .Despite my opposition to the Mormon Church I still tend to believe in Adam and Eve as a logical explanation of the origin of the human race .

There is a bit of hypocracy in me because I have been reading Simon Southertons book 'Loosing a lost Tribe ' about the Dna confirmation of the origin of the American Indians and yet at the same time this same Dna evidence seems to confirm we are descended from a multitude of ancestors originating in Africa and not from one Adam and Eve .

So really if one is correct then so is the other and its plagued my mind for some time now.

The only part of evolution which makes it problematic to me is that there are no bones to show our transition from simple life forms ( missing links). Where are all the species who haven't quite become human yet ? Our Intermediaries ..Of course we could claim the monkey as a close associate , but where are the transitionary ones that eventually became human . It still seems that we appeared suddenly as we are like an act of creation as recorded in Genesis.

Do not all animals reproduce to their own kind as stated in Genesis also.

Bishop Rick said...

EJ,

Check this site out. It can give you alot of the missing information you are looking for.

Anonymous said...

Here are some links that you might find helpful on this topic:

The Earth and Man by James E. Talmage

Mormonism and Intelligent Design by Richard Sherlock

Eyring-L page

Seek Ye Dilligently by Elder George R. Hill III

Anonymous said...

Most of my links didn't work, though I'm not sure why, so I will try them again.

Mormonism and Intelligent Design by Richard Sherlock

Eyring-L page

Seek Ye Dilligently by George R. Hill III

Anonymous said...

I give up. You can just cut and paste them for yourself if you're interested.

http://www.lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menuitem.b12f9d18fae655bb69095bd3e44916a0/?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=42849209df38b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/pdf.php?filename=MTIwMzI5NTcxNS0xOC0wMi5wZGY=&type=cmV2aWV3

http://eyring.hplx.net/Eyring/faq/evolution/

Anonymous said...

Okay, so the Mormonism and Intelligent Design link doesn't work with cut and paste unless you download and save it. So just go to maxwellinstitute.byu.edu and search for Mormonism and Intelligent Design and it will bring it right up. Sorry for the trouble.

Zelph said...

Jeremy,

Thank you for that article, it is very interesting.

Chaim,

Thank you for those comments, it is interesting because I feel like a religious outcast as my skepticism has not stopped with Mormonism. I have become skeptical at everything, including all religions and even science.

However, when I compare science with religion, I am starting to lean more towards science in general, just because of the track record. I am looking at religion in general and in days that religions were in control, those were times when it was taught the sun revolved around the Earth. Scientists have gotten many things wrong, but the entire idea of science intrigues me. What I admire is a different approach to find out what is true than just obtaining a belief. In science, things are tested, weighted, measured, examined by instruments. In science, it doesn't matter how strongly you believe in something, it doesn't make it true unless you can provide evidence to support it. Science should be reproducible.

That is why when I talk about the origins of microorganisms on this earth, to say that they were created by non-living matter spontaneously is not science, it is faith. It has not been re-produced, nobody has ever seen it done and there is no explanation on how it happened other than it happened, so it must have just happened by chance. That sounds like faith to me.

For me, when I look at the complex DNA, which are instructions, I can't fathom how it could be created by random chance only 500 million years after the Earth was created. Remember the blind Rubik's cube guy still hasn't solved the 3x3x3 puzzle, and yet the odds are so much greater for the Rubik's cube and yet here we are.

Scientists have been able to clone animals, and perhaps could clone humans if there weren't ethical problems with that. However, that is because life is already set up to make copies of itself. They have not at this point been able to take non-living matter and create living matter.


EJ,

I understand your plight. Since my disillusionment of Mormonism, I have become very skeptical of all religions. I still believe in God, but am starting to feel that religions are all man-made institutions.

I know exactly the cognitive dissonance you are going through as I think we have all experienced it.

NM said...

Would you guys be interested with this? It's a formal debate between Professor Anthony Flew from Oxford University, England (a once ardent atheist) and William Lane Craig (also a university professor and Evangelical Christian. (You might need to download VLC player to be able to view the avi file)

Neither of them are scientists, but I think Craig does a good job at presenting some excellent scientific principles pro-Creationism...

As a side note: Creationism and Evolutionary theory cannot go hand in hand from a 'gospel' perspective. The genealogies can be worked out of who begat who all the way to Adam and Eve from specific books in the Bible...and if worked out - it only seems that life on Earth has existed for thousands and NOT millions of years...

So, from a 'gospel' perspective:

There could not have been ANY death or any type of suffering before Adam and Eve, as it was they who first introduced the concept of 'sin' into the world...It was through them that disease, sin, sickness and death exist entered our world today...

If death existed before them (i.e. survival of the fittest), then what is the point of Jesus' death and resurrection? It would be void.

Failing this, I thought Michael Behe's book on Darwin's Black Box was a good read to promote 'Intelligent Design'...

NathanielMacrae

Zelph said...

Nathaniel-

Thank you for that link, there are some interesting points made.

I see your point- from a strictly literal view of the bible, evolution is not consistent with the teachings of the bible.

My point is that even if the bible isn't literal, it doesn't disprove the existence of God.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Earth is more than 4-5,000 years old.

I had mentioned before how people like to point out that DNA has 'proven' that native Americans are from Asia and are not Israelites. However, this DNA also shows that their Asian ancestors were from 25,000-30,000 years ago, which completely goes against a 4-5,000 year old Earth teaching.

Scientists have been teaching the same thing regarding the Native American origins well before DNA came into the picture. DNA has now confirmed what scientists have already discovered.

I guess the problem I have is the hypocrisy when people use DNA evidence to 'disprove' the Book of Mormon, yet fail to see that the same evidence 'disproves' certain biblical accounts, like the creation.

Still, none of it disproves the existence of God. Even if all scriptures were made up, it doesn't disprove the existence of God. If anything, I see evidence for a creator not in reading some antiquated text, but from looking at the sheer awe of nature.

This is what I don't understand. God didn't write the Bible, men wrote the bible. Men didn't create the Earth, God, or nature created the earth. Therefore, to trust in the Bible over what we can see in nature is putting more trust in Man than God.

It goes back to my original question as to why most evolutionists are atheists. I think perhaps it is because people can not differentiate between religion and God.

NM said...

Zelph,

You make some excellent points. I have a friend who used to be a devout Christian but due to a few major life tragedies, it made him seriously doubt God's goodness - then as time progressed - His existence.

First of all, I am not a scientist. I can almost get my head around the scientific principle from a philosophical perspective - but not a scientist. If you can, take the time to watch the debate between Professor Flew and Professor Craig?

As a mental health professional, I do find people's motivations for believing what they believe an interesting subject. I don't know, like why does a specific person dislike males in certain situations? Later on, one might find out that it was because when this adult was 5 years of age was raped by a 43 year old male...simple psychoanalysis I know - but you get the point.

Again, I need to stress that I am not a scientist; I just don't know enough about it to even start talking in scientific terms. Science is not my cup of tea. But what I do find interesting when I talk to individual 'scientists' who refute the idea of creationism is that usually there was a significant point in their life (usually something in their pre-teens) to push them away from the idea of God.

Generally, human beings behave by normalising their experiences and the more extreme experience of life that a person has a way to gauge where they 'fit' into normal modes of society. Look at Richard Dawkins for example, an ardent atheist, but he openly states that he became an atheist at the age of 15. 15?!? - because of a few significant personal experiences he encountered...and from then on, well one can only assume, that he might have spent the rest of his life within this 'atheistic paradigm'.

There's an interesting talk over at BeThinking.org (sorry for the overt use of Evangelical Christian sites) about 1) the psychological barriers to belief and 2) the correlation between painful childhood experiences such as child abuse and atheism...

...sorry if this comment does not correlate with your original post =/

NathanielMacrae

Zelph said...

NM,

I think your comments directly relate to my post regarding evolution and creationism. That is my original question on why is it that most people that I know of that believe in evolution come from an atheistic paradigm. Why is that? Why aren't there more theists that believe in evolution? It seems I am in a minority, like some kind of religious outcast.

The funny thing is that I believe in intelligent design by my own definition, that is that all the plant and animals have been intelligently designed to evolve in order to adapt to the environment on earth. I believe in survival of the fittest, because it can be seen just by observing nature. However, I believe that is the way God intended it.

Chaim said...

Zelph,

Thank you for your long and thoughtful response to comment.

I was raised in a rather strict religious environment. Though not LDS, it was a rather fundamentalist Christian atmosphere. Once I realized that the stuff that was making me the most angry was, in fact, not true, I had a knee-jerk reaction and went in the opposite direction. Total cold atheism. I saw science as being the opposite of religion.

I've come back around again and am seeing a balance to things. I don't think that "faith" should ever mean "belief in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary". That is not faith. The Latter Day Saints call it faith when defending the Book of Mormon against attackers. They say "we don't need evidence, we have testimony." I've even heard some Mormons say that it goes against God to rely on human logic for anything.

That is ridiculous.

But that is also not faith. All of the thoughtful religious people I know will go one for hours about all of the REASONS that they believe what they believe. The faith comes in, because there's always a leap you have to make in the end. We don't know for sure many things in this life. Almost all religions believe in an afterlife. That requires faith. I would say we have a lot of edivence, but it's impossible to prove scientifically at this point. However, it also takes faith to believe you are going to make it to work on time when you leave your house.

Some may disagree, but I see a lot of religious faith falling into that category.

I am still in the process of discovering my place in it all, but I have never seen my spiritual "faith" as being any different from the faith I employ in the rest of my life. Almost everything we do is based on things we cannot absolutely prove.

I hope that a dialogue continues to grow in our world, and given the rise of the internet, there is great hope for it. We as a species must decide eventually to disconnect our idea of God from our idea of religion. To many fundamentalists, if I tell them that the Earth was not created in six days, they will take me for an atheist. There's no room for any middle ground. Similarly, people view one as either believing in science or believing on God.

Everyone's spiritual experience is different. It's time to view things in the shades of gray that they really are.

I hope that you continue your search and find whatever it is you are looking for, but also that you continue to reach out to people along your way. I see and talk to Mormon missionaries often (there's a chapel on my corner and I pass it every day) and it seems as if many of them are completely uneducated about most of the criticisms you have brought forth in your blog (especially the ones who just made it out here).

I ought to cut this short. I am rambling on.

As a final note, please consider shortening the main page to about 10 posts or so. People can see the old ones in the Archive if they need to. As you have it now, it takes forever to load your blog when I want to read it, and sometimes it freezes my browser. Too much going on.

I assume I am not the only one who has made this observation.

Anyway, have a good week.

Zelph said...

Chaim, Thank you for that tip, I didn't even think about it slowing down people's browsers. It is late, so I am off to bed.

I appreciate your comments and as I ponder religion and science I think one of main problems scientists have is that what they can observe seems to contradict what religions are teaching.

I agree with you regarding faith. Faith shouldn't be something that you believe in even if there is tons of evidence pointing in the opposite direction. It also doesn't matter how much you believe in something, it doesn't make it any more true, except in your own mind. The mind makes it true.

Jeremy said...

While reading Chaim's last comment my mind started to wonder on the topic of people who find fault in their own religion on then run off to find a new one. Thinking about that at this moment struck me as being rather silly. Why do we (as humans in general) feel the need to be apart of a religion? Is it the thousands of years of various religions coming and going that teach pretty much the same thing that makes it part of our existence? Why is it so culturally unacceptable to think there is no need for religion or even a god?

Anyway, I ask these questions in hope to start more discussion and not so much for myself.

Jeremy said...

Did everyone go on vacation?

Bishop Rick said...

Jeremy,

It's back to school week. A lot going on.

Zelph,

You seem more of a Deist than a Theist to me, but I could be mistaken. I consider myself a Deist. I too think there are way too complex of things going on to just have happened by random chance. That said, I think all revealed religions are man-made and nothing else. That is the only logical conclusion. The more I study about the parallels of Jesus and other religious figures that preceded him, the more I am convinced that he never really existed, at least not as taught in the NT. Religion just doesn't make sense.

The beauty of science, however, is that it is flexible. Nothing is absolute with science as it is in religion. Science is the pursuit of truth, not the harboring of faith.

tatabug said...

BR,

Science, in some ways, also requires faith. There are many theories in science. Theories are only plausible or scientifically accepted general principles offered to explain observed facts. They are not proven facts themselves. They are basically just interpretaions of facts, which are subject to change when we gain more facts or information.

To be a Deist or a Theist also requires faith. A higher power cannot be proven scientifically. It may make sense from a logical standpoint, but it cannot be proven. So I just don't understand why you are so critical of faith. Some people do rely heavily on their faith when they don't have enough intellectual understanding to do anything else. But there comes a point where there just isn't enough knowledge in the world to understand some things and we just have to theorize or have faith in something. Let me add however, because in spite of these statements, I still firmly believe that we must be careful about the faith and trust we put in science. Science is good, and it contains important facts, but it is far from perfect or complete, and there are many interpretations of facts which could be wrong. Fortunately, I haven't found any serious conflicts between science and my religious beliefs.

Deism and Theism are also man-made religions. Some man thought them up. They may not be organized religions, but nevertheless, whatever beliefs you subscribe to can be considered religion. An organized religion is nothing more than a way for people of similar belief systems to come together in support of one another. I think we all have a need to have our beliefs justified and reinforced, and not feel like we are alone in them. It just seems ironic to me that you critiize religion, when in fact, you too have a religion or set of beliefs. We all have a religion.

In response to religion being inflexible, you and many others might be suprised to know that it is probably a lot more flexible than you want to believe, at least the LDS Church is. There is actually very little true doctrine in the Church, and so many things are left open to interpretation, theorizing, and speculation. That's sort of how it works in science. There are some things we know for sure, but many more that we don't, and so we are left to theorize or hypothesize until we gain more information. Not every utterance by every general authority constitutes 'official' doctrine. All official doctrine is canonized, and new revelations are subject to a vote by the body of the Church in order for it to become binding. I believe that this was done by design so that there would not be so much disputation on the doctrines of the Church as is found in the Bible among the Jews.

Zelph,

I know you may feel in the minority, and you are probably right about that, but I bet you would be suprised how many people actually do believe in God and in evolution as well. I believe in Intelligent Design. But I also believe in the creation. I don't know how much of the biblical account is literal, but I do believe that it took much longer than 6 days to create the earth. I think that the problem is that most religious people don't concern themselves too much about the details. They have faith in the creation, however it came about, and they see evolution as contradictory to the creation. If they were given information in which the two concepts could coexist, then they would be more likely to accept some of evolution's theories. I think you would find people within the Church being more open to this possibility than anywhere else, given the nature of our beliefs. I know that as a youth, I took a strict creationist view, since that is what is taught in Church being that there is no revelation outside of that, but as I was gradually exposed to theories within the Church about things like the Earth being 'organized' rather than created from nothing, the concept of the term day in the Bible actually meaning a much longer period of time, and other things, I was able to see how many scientific theories regarding the Earth's origins could actually fit quite well with my belief in the creation account. I'm not particularly concerned with what to take literally or not, as much as I am with the fact that Adam and Eve were our first parents, regardless of how they actually came into being, and that the Lord did create the Earth, however it was done. Many things would be interesting to know, but they are not essential to my salvation.

Zelph said...

Tatabug, I am glad you have dropped in as the discussion is always very interesting.

You bring up some good points and I would like to talk about faith. I don't discredit the concept of having faith. At some point faith enters the picture because as you said, I think we have a very limited knowledge of things.

However, for me faith is to bridge the gap between what we do know and what we don't. Faith doesn't mean a belief in something no matter how much evidence is pinned against it, or regardless of how far-fetched it might be. To me faith means look at all the evidence, listen to both sides and draw a conclusion that is the most reasonable based on what we know.

This method still requires faith, but it also relies on knowledge, and together one can use faith to bridge the gaps, but does not require someone to rely on blind faith alone.

One think I have observed is that some issues are very troublesome for some people, like evolution, but it doesn't bother other people. For me, the idea of evolution doesn't disprove in any way the idea of God. So what if God used evolution, or perhaps set it up so that we would evolve? That would not diminish God or our own self worth in any way.

Other people find evolution very threatening to their beliefs. I remember being told to "ignore" what my school teachers taught me in school. I was instructed to give the answers on the test regarding evolution the way the teacher would like me to give them, but that we really know in the back of our minds that it isn't correct. How is that for brainwashing?

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Zelph,

You wrote about complex DNA strands, "I can't understand how all this can come about without some kind of creator behind it"...

If DNA must have come from some kind of creator or God, where did God himself come from? Did another being create him? Did that being originate from nothing or another creator? Where is the actual BEGINNING?

Zelph said...

SML-

That draws a good question and one that I have often wondered about. I am actually surprised it was not brought up earlier.

I see the point, if something as small as a single-celled organism needed a creator because the odds of it just appearing spontaneously are too astronomical, you could say that the creator behind it must be much more complex and therefore would also require a creator.

Yes, there is a dilemma as you have to ask yourself where did it all begin.

However, the same dilemma is faced by scientist when you try to explain how living matter was created by non-living matter.

The paradox is that when talking about the origin of life, there is a dilemma no matter which way you look at it.

However, I don't have to know my entire ancestral line to comprehend that I have a father and a mother that gave me life.

I don't know when or how the beginning of all things happened, but I don't think the first single-celled organisms on this planet was it.

I am still open to the possibility that there was no creator, but so far, I have not seen any evidence or facts that can back up that claim. One must rely on faith that it just happened spontaneously, because there is no scientific data that can explain or reproduce such an event. Until such data exists, it isn't scientific, it is speculation.

What it comes down to is that I don't think anyone really knows. Was there ever a beginning? To say that life has always existed is the same as saying that God has always existed. To say that life just happened spontaneously on this Earth from non-living matter is the same as saying that God was created spontaneously. To say that life was created on this planet is the same as saying that someone created God.

You can see that thinking about all this can make one's head spin.

However, based on the information and observations that we do know and can see, it appears that life is created by life.

tatabug said...

Well, I've had a chance to "get over it." I still continued to check in and see what was going on. However, this time, I am going to try to do things differently and hopefully not get so wrapped up in it all. So if I don't respond as consistently as I previously did, then you'll know it's for a reason.

I don't remember where I heard/read it, but I heard/read about the idea that we have always existed; that there was no beginning to our existence. That got me to thinking that perhaps we've always existed, but maybe in a different form than our spiritual form when Heavenly Father 'created' us. Maybe He elevated us to a higher state of being and that we will continue to progress in such a manner (heavenly evolution?:). I don't know. I'm only speculating. I only suggest this because of SML's comments about the origin of God/Gods.

Consider also the Law of Conservation of Mass Energy which states that matter is neither created nor destroyed; it merely changes form. If this is true, how is it possible that there is no beginning to matter? How can we comprehend that all matter has existed forever in one form or another? That something has no beginning is such a foreign concept to our minds. That is something that I certainly cannot comprehend. I can comprehend something not having an end, but I can't comprehend that something doesn't have a beginning. If matter truly has no beginning, then I can see how there could be no beginning to intelligent life or God/Gods and that it has existed forever. But if all things have a beginning, I think there would be room to doubt the existence of God, else how did God come into existence? Perhaps my logic is flawed, but those are my thoughts.

Then, if you think about the Big Bang theory, well even if there was one huge planet that exploded, which resulted in the universe and all its planets, stars, etc., how long did IT exist before it exploded, or has it existed forever? If it had a beginning, it would have to have been created out of matter which already existed, or would it? There's a lot to think about with this issue alone. Then you have to consider the universe itself. Is there an end to the universe, meaning how far do I have to travel to get to the edge of space? If there is a beginning or end, what's on the other side of its borders? I can't comprehend there being NO beginning or end to space, but I can't comprehend there being a beginning or end to it either because if there is an end then there would have to be something beyond the end, like a wall or something, but then what would be on the other side of the wall? Does any of this make sense, or do I just sound like a rambling idiot?

Elder Joseph said...

tatabug

I've been waiting to pounce on you ! :) lol

You said that the only things which are church doctrine are canonised ?

So where is the teaching of God was once a man in the standard works ?

Also where is the teaching that all the single LDS women will be given a chance to find a husband in the next life etc .I hear this alot from them in church when I remind them they are destined to be servants to the married polygamists in CK !

This is an Interesting statement from you
"Fortunately, I haven't found any serious conflicts between science and my religious beliefs."

I was thinking about DNA/Indians , BofM plants , animals , horses , chariots etc .No Hill Cumorah Artifacts etc.

Are these not a serious conflict of science ?
And also if we have always existed why did Brigham Young try to replicate a supposed polygamous order of marriage on earth believing that in heaven it was the means of producing spirit children..

There was no need then because the spirit children have always existed . So in Mormonism there is no God the creator only God the arranger/reorganiser and user of bits and bobs he bumped into while treking the universe .

If future Mormon Gods and Goddess spirit children already exist and always have,where are they now ?

There is a simple to answer to all this which some of us have discovered :)

Zelph said...

tatabug,

Celestial evolution- I like it.

I have pondered those things as well, and these are things I find difficult to comprehend-

The law of conservation of mass and energy states that mass and energy is never created nor destroyed, just changes form. So then how can you get matter from non-matter?

To say that matter and energy have just always existed is the same as saying that God has always existed, although at least one can back up the law of conservation with scientific data.

The universe is expanding, and it is constantly expanding at a faster rate. That means if you go back in time, the universe reverses course and starts to shrink. If you go back far enough, the universe gets smaller and smaller, until one can theoretically see when it all came together.

The calculations have dictated that the universe is about 12 billion years old. However, according to the stellar evolution theory, the oldest clusters of stars are calculated as being 15-18 billion years old. How can we have stars in the universe that are calculated to be older than what we calculate as the age of the universe?

I think what it comes down to once again is that as much as we would like to think we know it all, we really don't know much.

Also, according to newton's first law of motion (law of inertia) states that if the forces acted upon an object are balanced, the acceleration of that object will be 0. According to Newton, an object will only accelerate if there is an unbalanced force acting upon it.

Therefore, according to the law of inertia, there must be an unbalanced force acting upon the universe, because it is expanding and is constantly expanding at a faster rate.

Also, according to the law of gravity, every particle in the universe is attracted to each other. The bigger the mass and the closer the proximity, the greater the attraction. However, you could have 2 single particles each at opposite ends of the universe and there would still be a very faint attraction between the 2 particles.

The fact that the universe is expanding not only implies an unbalanced force according to the law of inertia, but this force is also working against gravity, and according to newton's third law of motion, something external must have pushed it.

Or perhaps the universe will keep expanding until the energy from the initial big bang is exhausted, then gravity will bring the entire universe together and it will collapse on itself until it "rebounds" and the process starts over again. Perhaps the current universe expansion is simply one of an infinite number of expansions and collapses of the universe.

That still begs the question when did it all begin. To say that it never had a beginning and it was always that way is the same as saying that God has always existed.

If life didn't exist, would the universe exist at all? Even if you had all the matter and energy in the universe, and all these planets hurling through space uninhabited, if nobody is around to comprehend it, how can it exist? It is like the tree falling in the woods.

And if nothing existed, no matter or energy, what would exist? Even outer space is something, so how could you have 'nothing'?

These are all crazy questions that people ask themselves that probably have no answer. However, we do exist. We can observe matter and energy and comprehend that it exists.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Perhaps we are simply living in a Matrix-style dream. When we wake up, we'll know what is real and what is not. This could all be a dream, and that's why it makes no real sense.

tatabug said...

Elder Joseph,

Why would you pounce on me? That seems very rude. You seem to think that you can say something that will shake my faith as though that's what you would like to see happen. I didn't want to respond to you because I know it will do no good, but I decided to do so anyway.

So where is the teaching of God was once a man in the standard works ?

There is no such teaching in the standard works. But there are teachings in the scriptures which make allusions to the concept of man's divine potential and a plurality of gods. The King Follett Discourse is not official doctrine, nor is President Snow's teachings on the issue. These teachings have been given credence by some if not many Church leaders, and they may very well be true, but such teachings have not been revealed as doctrine.

Also where is the teaching that all the single LDS women will be given a chance to find a husband in the next life etc .

There is also no official doctrine on this issue that I am aware of. However, there is official doctrine on baptism for the dead, so I don't see why other ordinances, such as marriage, after death wouldn't also fall under the same category.

I was thinking about DNA/Indians , BofM plants , animals , horses , chariots etc .No Hill Cumorah Artifacts etc.
Are these not a serious conflict of science ?


No. As far as DNA goes, follow this link for a video on the issue. I personally think there hasn't been a thorough, much less scientifically accurate test to prove this issue one way or another. As for all your other claims, I know I sound like a broken record, but lack of evidence is not evidence. To try to say that the Book of Mormon isn't true by this standard is ridiculous.

And also if we have always existed why did Brigham Young try to replicate a supposed polygamous order of marriage...blah, blah, blah.

If you had read carefully, you would realize that I was stating an opinion. I realize I could be completely wrong. But if you look carefully, you'll see that I made a way for there to be a possibility for "producing" spirit children. I won't point it out for you, but will let you try to find that yourself if you're interested.

So in Mormonism there is no God the creator only God the arranger/reorganiser and user of bits and bobs he bumped into while treking the universe .

I'd like to see you take "bits and bobs" and try to make an Earth with all its complexities and all its intelligent life. I don't think it diminishes God in any way if that is how he "created" the universe, the Earth, and us. His intelligence and power would still be far beyond man's capacity.

tatabug said...

BTW, in the video I linked to in my previous posting, there is a short reference to evolution as it relates to DNA which I found interesting as it relates to the issue of this particular blog post. Sorry, the video is pretty long (about 45 minutes), but in the meantime it is interesting and demonstrates how careful we must be when we apply science, especially us amateur scientists. When we think we know a lot, but we really don't know enough, we can be dangerous in how we apply and evaluate scientific information.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Tata~

"I'd like to see you take "bits and bobs" and try to make an Earth with all its complexities and all its intelligent life."

Is this comment pure cutting sarcasm or is it alluding to the fact that according to your religion, Elder Joseph CAN someday do just that?

Zelph said...

Tatabug,

I agree with you that many times we draw conclusions based on limited information. I think that is just human nature.

I think it could be dangerous sometimes as well, especially when we think we know everything.

I brought up the example of how scientists calculate the universe to be about 12 billion years old, yet have found star clusters that have been radio-dated to be much older than that. It demonstrates that we might think we know everything, when we really know very little.

However, at some point one must connect the dots, if all the evidence points to the same thing, at some point one must come to a conclusion based on what we do know. This still requires faith, as I said, I do not diminish the importance of faith, but faith is to bridge the gap between what we do know and what we don't. Faith doesn't mean to ignore all the facts that we know.

I will watch the video when I have the chance.

Zelph said...

SML-

Now that draws an excellent point. According to Mormonism, at some point we will have the ability to create complex worlds. Also, according to our own scriptures, the process for learning how to do this will not be like God waving a magic wand and *poof* we have this knowledge. No, no no, the process according to D&C is the same as it is here-one must learn line upon line precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. According to D&C, by acquiring more knowledge in this life, we will be in a better position in the next life. Therefore, the greater the understanding we have about the elements and nature, the better we will be in the next life.

I think according to D&C, all Mormons should be scientists.

tatabug said...

SML,

In all truthfulness, I wasn't being sarcastic nor was I making any allusions. I was merely trying to illustrate a point. But your comment seems a bit provocative to me. Was that your intent?

Zelph,

Yes, we should all be scientists, and if you believe that God is involved in our lives, there's a whole host of other things we should be as well. But we have to start somewhere, right?

The example you bring up about the age of the universe vs. the age of the stars made me start to think. First, it makes me think, how is that possible? Such a discrepancy gives me pause to wonder what do we really know? We (that does include me) put a great deal of faith in science. Should we not be even more skeptical when we learn about such discrepancies? I also think about time. If the universe had a beginning, however many billions of years ago that was, is that when time began? Did nothing exist and then all of a sudden, something was created out of nothing by no one? That seems utterly impossible and even ridiculous to imagine. It seems only logical to me, given what we know (or think we know) scientifically, that there is no beginning.

I'm puzzled. Given your understanding of the limitations of science, and the faith you must use in order to come to certain conclusions based on limited knowledge, how do you justify not giving the Church equal treatment? Why do you apparently demand more stringent standards by the Church and its leaders with regard to your exercise of faith? I guess what I am trying to say is, why is it okay for scientists to make mistakes and not have all the answers, and you don't turn your back on science, but if the Church's leaders make mistakes, many of which are minor, some of which are more serious (depending on your point of view), you feel justified in turning your back on the Church? It seems you are more forgiving of scientists than you are of Church leaders, who are as much men and subject to weakness as anyone else. It seems you are inconsistent to me, but perhaps I am wrong. Maybe my bias gives me that perception.

I'm sure I will regret bringing this up, but just as a general curiosity, and as an example, it seems to me that there is stronger evidence pointing to the validity of the Book of Mormon than of its fraudulence. The strongest arguments against the Book of Mormon are based on lack of scientific evidence to verify its authenticity, but the Book of Mormon is not a scientific record, nor does it claim to be such. For that matter, the Bible isn't a scientific record either. It doesn't seem fair to subject either to scientific scrutiny, when neither has claimed to be a scientific manual. I can look at the Bible and know that Moses was wrong when he classified bats as birds, but should I disregard its religious value based on apparent scientific inaccuracies? Evolution is based on theory, and some of its theories go against established scientific principles. As far as I know, there has been no replication or observable evidence of genetic mutations resulting in evolution rather than deterioration. Should I reject it entirely when it obviously has some serious flaws? I think there is strong evidence against much of it, however I can subscribe to parts of it, particularly if there is divine intervention involved in the process. But it seems that people who reject religion or God but accept evolution do so at the risk of being hypocritical. It takes a lot of faith to believe in evolution, that is unless you are ignoring a lot of science in the process. God's existence cannot be proven or disproven, but if you want to look at available evidence, it seems there is more evidence that God exists than that He doesn't, even if the evidence is only tradition. I'm not sure these two issues are truly related or that I've made my point understandable, but it just seems like a big disconnect to me which perhaps exists on both sides of the religious debate, but maybe more so in my mind with those who are non-religious.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Tata ~

Provocative? No. Here's how I interpret your comment, caps added for emphasis had you spoken your comment aloud, giving it two meanings which I questioned previously.

Sarcastic: "I'd like to see YOU take "bits and bobs" and try to make an Earth with all its complexities and all its intelligent life."

Alluding to his ability to someday be a God himself: "I'd LIKE to see you take "bits and bobs" and try to make an Earth with all its complexities and all its intelligent life."

Written communication has its drawbacks. I wasn't trying to provoke you. Either meaning could be placed on your words alone. If you didn't mean either meaning, what point WERE you trying to make? I think you meant the first sarcastic one.

tatabug said...

SML,

I suppose, in all fairness, you could take my comment as sarcastic, but that really wasn't the tone I had in mind. The emphasis you applied was correct, but I wasn't trying to be cutting or contemptuous. It just seemed to me that EJ's comments about God relegated Him to something ordinary or less God-like by saying that being an organizer-of-matter rather than a creator-of-matter-from-nothing gives Him less credibility or authority or power. I tried to point out that even if God is more of an organizer, his capabilities are still far beyond man's capabilities. Does that make things clearer? I thought my point was clear previously and that you may have just been looking for a point of contention with me on a personal basis.

Also, I stated previously that I wasn't trying to be sarcastic, but you still seem to think that was my intent. I would really appreciate it if you would not automatically assume the worst about me or my comments.

Zelph said...

tatabug-

I absolutely agree with you that science SHOULD be subjected to the same, if not MORE scrutiny. However, that is exactly what science is. Science is all about scrutinizing every possible explanation. In science, you are encouraged to prove a theory wrong. Scientists never claim to have all the answers.

Let me say that even if there was one true church on Earth, I agree that I would not expect them to have all the answers, because even if it was directed by God, it is still run by humans. However, when so many claims are made that are easily refuted, it is disappointing. However, it isn't just that, it is the fact that within the church, one can not bring up these criticisms or even correct people. Some of these claims include the Native Americans being Lamanites, the Book of Abraham being a literal translation, the white-washed version of church history to name a few. I guess what I am saying is that in the church, it is wrong to criticize openly even if the criticism is true.

With that said, I agree that science has been wrong in the past as well, but it is much more open about its mistakes, meanwhile, I see a church that claims to be directed by God only makes it that much more stubborn in making changes, like blacks and the priesthood for example.

I do see contradictions in science. In science, you are supposed to provide evidence and facts to support a theory. However, I see many theories that have no evidence or facts to support it. The big bang is one that comes to mind. How can you create matter from non-matter? There is no evidence to support it, and in fact according to the law of conservation of matter and energy, all matter and energy was never created and will never be destroyed.

Another contradiction I see in science is the idea that live was created spontaneously on this world. There is no evidence or facts to back it up, scientists have not been able to re-create it, so therefore until one can reasonably demonstrate or even explain how it happened, it isn't science, at least not my understanding of it.

Finally, the other big contradiction I see in science is when they define the nature of mankind. We are taught that we are simply animals. However, there is also a distinction made in science about what is natural vs. artificial. Anything man-made is considered artificial and anything made by 'nature' (including animals) is considered natural. How can that be? I thought we were animals and part of nature. Therefore there shouldn't be any distinction between natural and artificial, unless you admit that we as humans are different and distinct creatures.

If we are only animals, then constructing the Hoover dam is just as natural as a beaver's dam. Or how about a bird constructing a nest? How is that different than building a house, other than the use of much more advanced technology and a larger scale. Point is that if you classify humans as just being another animal, it is hypocritical to draw a distinction between natural and artificial.

Point is that I DO scrutinize science just as much as I do religion. But going back to what I said earlier, at some point we have to draw certain conclusions, otherwise we would never get anywhere in life.

Finally, when I look at the track record between science and religion in general, religions have a habit of keeping people in the dark, provoking violence, oppressing ideas, whereas science has brought us everything we have, from the homes we live in, to the cars we drive, to our inexpensive ipods, to the food we eat, we wouldn't have any of these things without science.

Going back to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, the same arguments made for the Book of Mormon can be made to authenticate Santa Clause.

The problem I have regarding the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is that there is no control group. The only reason people have found some similarities in central America is because that is the only place they have been looking. If they dedicated that much time, energy and money into other locations that have nothing to do with the Book of Mormon, I would venture to say that it is reasonable that they would find just as many, if not more parallels in those other locations.

Jeremy said...

I've been quite intrigued by everyone's posts and it's great to see what everyone thinks. One thing I wanted to respond to is:

Tata said "why is it okay for scientists to make mistakes and not have all the answers, and you don't turn your back on science, but if the Church's leaders make mistakes, many of which are minor, some of which are more serious (depending on your point of view), you feel justified in turning your back on the Church?"

Zelph did explain his reasoning, however I wanted to be more generic. No matter what the religion is they all claim to be directed by some type of god in what ever form (Scriptures, Inspiration, HG, whatever). Once that inspired leader interprets god wrong one should really question everything else they have taught previously. In Science that's exactly what is done, the facts are double and triple checked and a new conclusion is made when an acceptable theory has been generally proven. If you do that in religion you are considered a heretic because what "God" says, is (period). That's how every religion is and teaches. Yes you can say but humans make mistakes, and that's why I say you should question EVERYTHING someone tells you no matter if it's ol' Gorden B. or Zelph.

Can you see the difference?

tatabug said...

I appreciate that you treat science carefully and with scrutiny. I completely believe that you do. What I don’t understand is the disparity of treatment you give to religion vs. science when either of them are wrong. You believe that science isn’t perfect because it admits it is constantly in the pursuit of truth whatever the evidence my show it to be, and when it is proven wrong, it accepts it and moves on. And you remain faithful to it because of its potential and its supposed high standards. The leaders of the Church have equally stated the very real imperfection in its leaders and members, but that it is also in search of truth wherever or whatever it may be. The ultimate source of truth in the Church is through revelation from God. But for some reason, that isn’t sufficient justification for your faithfulness. I see a double standard here. Here is a quote:

“I have trouble understanding why people drift away from the Church. I'm sure the reasons are different and varied. I can understand if a person wants to misbehave and has to rationalize to himself. He has to think he's all right. But I also understand that people who think they have to be as smart as the Lord, understand everything, and have no contradictions in their minds may have trouble. There are all kinds of contradictions that I don't understand, but I find the same kinds of contradictions in science, and I haven't decided to apostatize from science.
“In the long run, the truth is its own most powerful advocate. The Lord uses imperfect people. He often allows their errors to stand uncorrected. He may have a purpose in doing so, such as to teach us that religious truth comes forth ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ in a process of sifting and winnowing similar to the one I know so well in science.”


Henry Eyring (Father of apostle Henry B. Eyring and famous Chemist)

You portray the two as, yeah, science isn’t perfect, but it is so open-minded, and willing to change, always on the look-out for truth, but religion is a strict, stubborn, closed-minded, oppressive organization. Here are a couple more quotes which show that science is not always as open-minded as one would like to think, nor is the Church as closed-minded as you've suggested:

“In 1953 at a meeting of the Geological Society of London, the famous Piltdown Man was shown to be a hoax. It was not only a hoax, we are now told, but it was such an extremely clumsy hoax that it is hard to see how it ever fooled anybody. Only one thing can explain the solemn acceptance and high honors accorded this battered skull by the highest authorities for over half a century, and that is an overpowering desire, a fierce determination to accept as genuine whatever looked promising in an area where evidence was badly needed. The news has now leaked out that the November meeting "broke up into a series of fist fights, so strong was the feeling on both sides of the question. The fracas resulted in the expulsion of several members of the dignified scientific body." "Strong feeling," says the news dispatch. It was wishful thinking that saw priceless evidence in the Piltdown skull and then defended it with a passion that did not draw the line at bloody noses and black eyes. Where is the cool, impartial, objective detachment which we have been taught is the badge and authority of science? Well, there is nothing wrong with behaving as average human beings—unless, of course, one claims, as these men do, to have risen above that sort of thing. I recall to mind certain professors of natural science who could not give a lecture without taking potshots at foolish and gullible people who accepted things on faith. These men with monotonous persistence fire millions of rounds at the opposition, but when the opposition proposes to present a few of their duds for our inspection, they instantly appeal to our humanity and insist that it is not sporting to advertise the chinks in their armor.”

Hugh Nibley, The Prophets and the Open Mind from The World and the Prophets, Ch. 15.

“I would dispute the notion that the principles of science can be freely questioned without social consequences. Attempts to question fundamental scientific theories have been met with derision, hostility, and personal attacks…In practice, scientists do not always encourage and foster skeptical thinking, and the church does not necessarily resist or punish such thinking. It depends on the forum and the attitude.”

Robert R. Bennett, Science vs. Mormonism: The Dangers of Dogmatism and Sloppy Reading.

After a past discussion with you about Galileo, I was very surprised to learn recently that it wasn’t the church at that time which suppressed his discovery, but it was in fact he himself which insisted that the church not take an official stand on the Copernican theory, because heretics could use such knowledge to cast doubts on genuine religious doctrines. (Glen M. Cooper, Appendix, On Aping Aristotle: Modern-day Simplicios.) It’s no wonder religious people are so defensive. They understand how imperfections can be misunderstood, taken out of context, distorted by “heretics” who, though perhaps well-intentioned in some cases, to prove religion to be false, man-made institutions, interested in getting gain. If that’s the case, I could suggest that science has a similar basis with similar intent. After all, there is money to be made in science, is there not? There is also the possibility of fame as well. It also has the potential (if not in reality) to be agenda driven.

You said: I guess what I am saying is that in the church, it is wrong to criticize openly even if the criticism is true.

I have only ever heard of this statement being applied to Church leaders. If you dig further and read all that Dallin H. Oaks has said with regard to this issue, you might be able to see the actual wisdom behind it. Doesn't mean that when serious issues arise that there is no means to discuss or try to reconcile them, it just means there's a proper way do go about it. Trying to stir the pot during Sunday School certainly wouldn't be appropriate or conducive to the spirit or unity which should exist there.

The Book of Mormon cannot, and perhaps will not ever be proven true scientifically. The Book of Mormon is a religious text whose authenticity can only be determined by a spiritual witness. “In matters of faith, what constitutes an independent critical observer? One that has no faith? If faith is a necessary part of obtaining a witness of the spirit, can one without faith conduct an independent assessment?” (Robert R. Bennett, Science vs. Mormonism: The Dangers of Dogmatism and Sloppy Reading.)

I had never thought about the issue you brought up regarding natural vs. artificial. I can see your point. Very interesting.

Jeremy,

I am unaware that any Church leaders ever interpreted God wrong, whatever that means. Please explain. But anyway, we are encouraged to pray about things when we have doubts as to the truthfulness of anything, even if it comes out of the mouth of the prophet.

tatabug said...

Oh, and one more quote I really liked:

Because science as a whole is also a human activity and more than just the scientific method per se, it is subject to human foibles; scientists disagree with one another and compete with each other, and sometimes even commit outright fraud. They often have agendas of their own and it’s difficult for laypeople to judge what’s a scientific consensus and what isn’t." Marc A. Schindler, Eppur Si Riconciliano

Zelph said...

tatabug,

Thank you for those quotes, I found them very interesting. Believe me when I say that I really do listen and read every comment and take it very seriously. I suppose I am basing my opinion on my own experience with people I run across on a daily basis. I agree there are contradictions in science, as well as every religion in general. What it demonstrates to me is that it puts into question what we think we really know. This is why it is important to be open to the idea that we could be completely wrong about everything we know.

I like the idea that one doesn't have to turn their back completely on science either.

I have never claimed I have all the answers. Getting back to your original question on why I have pretty much given up on religion and why I still believe in science if they both have the same flaw-the human element, I think what it comes down to for me is a shift in how to determine what is true. I think that is what it breaks down to. I no longer believe that feeling good about something makes it true. I have also come to grips that it really doesn't matter how much or how strongly you believe in something, it doesn't make it true.

In science, it doesn't matter how strongly you believe in something, it has to be tested, studied and duplicated.

One thing that religion is also lacking in determining what is true is the control group. When someone is reading the Book of Mormon to know if it is true, why not also read the Qur'an and dianetics and pray about them also?

When finding evidence to authenticate the Book of Mormon, there really is no control group, because they are only looking in one place. Suppose they look in Africa or Asia for parallels. They would probably find just as many parallels between those civilizations, if not more. I can already tell you right away that in Africa, there are tribes of Hebrew decent, and that Asian cultures used metallurgy, including steel, during this time period. I can already see 2 strong connections that are absent in Mesoamerican cultures during the time period of the Book of Mormon.

I suppose what it comes down to for me is that I believe more in the scientific method at determining what is in fact true.

tatabug said...

If you ever want to know God, you have to do it on His terms. He is in control and knows better than we do. You cannot know God using the scientific method. In the same way you cannot prove anything scientifically through prayer. You may be able to find the truth about something from God, but you will not be able to convince most people that it's true without first applying the scientific method. Throughout your life, you will likely discover many truths while looking through the lens of science. Those truths, for the most part will be things that are good and useful and interesting, but they are not the important, fundamental, eternal truths of God and His plan for us. You will never find God through the lens of science. You will, at some point, have to change lenses in order to truly find God.

I know you have a distrust in spiritual feelings. You believe that they are misleading. You chalk them up to merely feeling good. I, of course, disagree. We've had this discussion before, and so I don't want to rehash it again to any great degree as before, except to say that it is so much more than just feeling good (or indigestion, as some are so funny and clever to suggest). I know this for myself and there is a way to discern.

I completely agree that it doesn't matter how strongly you believe something or want it to be true, it doesn't make it so. But outside of evidence (whether physical or spiritual) there is no other way to know or even come close. All we can do is make our choices the best way we know how, and after that, let the cards fall where they may. I sometimes worry that my choices, or my beliefs may be completely wrong, but I feel like I am doing the best I can to make sure that I am doing what is right. If that ends up damning me, then so be it. What else can I do? I believe I am following God properly. I know I'm not perfect, but I'm working on that. But if all that isn't enough, then I will live with the consequences.

You said, In science, it doesn't matter how strongly you believe in something, it has to be tested, studied and duplicated.

The process of determining spiritual truth is very similar. But its results are not manifested physically. They are manifest spiritually. It's results can be shared but never truly known or understood by others without going through the process themselves.

I think it is a great idea for people to test out different religions and religious texts. That is often the process that many truth-seekers go through in order to finally come to the truth, whatever they determine it to be. Perhaps in your search for truth, you might be your own control group. It wouldn't be much of a group per se, but at least you would have a better sense of having weighed all your options intellectually and in searching for spiritual confirmation you might feel more confident in the answer you receive.

I'm not sure why you keep bringing up physical evidence for the Book of Mormon when I keep saying that scientific proof is not the true test of the Book of Mormon or the Bible. If it were, they will both undoubtedly fail. They don't claim to be scientific writings. They are strictly religious in nature and the human element eliminates the possibility of perfection. It is great to know that there is even a shred of physical evidence for either of them and even more evidence would make it better, but there is a very small likelihood that they will ever be perfect in that respect and those who don't have a testimony of their truthfulness without physical evidence backing them up, will not likely receive a true testimony of them with physical evidence.

As for me, I too have a lot of faith in the scientific method, but I am also not afraid of my feelings. Logic, reason, and intellect may at times be superior to feelings, but there are times when feelings are superior to logic, reason, and intellect. Sometimes we just need to be able reconcile them in conjunction with one another.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I find it admirable that scientists don't further their money-making agendas by telling all people that if they choose to not believe in scientific conclusions, or if they refuse to pay 10% of their gross earnings to the scientific institutions, then they will be doomed to suffer for eternity.

tatabug said...

SML,

No, they just find a way to get research money through taxes, whether we think it's a worthy endeavor or not. Then, if we refuse to pay our taxes, we go to jail. At least in the Church, you have a choice. As the old saying goes, only two things in this life are certain--death and taxes.

Jeremy said...

Tata, If you don't pay tithing isn't it said that you go to hell? I would consider that about the same as not paying your taxes.

Out of the two... I think I'll stick to the taxes.

Elder Joseph said...

Non tithe payers will be burned !
In our ward they call it Fire Insurance .

Sure its a great way to fund a church if you believe .But to be threatened with fire is a bit much and also all the so called blessings and you will be better off financially if you pay tithe are in fact false .

The only blessing is a well funded church and not a more materialistic proseprous personal life .

tatabug said...

Jeremy,

Actually, the only ones who will go to hell are the sons of perdition. Non-payment of tithes does not qualify one as a son of perdition. I'm sure one's chances of exhaltation will be severely limited by not paying tithing, but hell--not even close.

But anyway, you would prefer hell over jail? Sounds like you would also cut off your nose to spite your face, or in this case, the Church.

EJ,

The burning to which you refer is the burning when Christ returns and the Earth is cleansed of all wickedness, not to be confused with hell. See Malachi 3 & 4. These two chapters go together. Was it a bit much when the prophet Malachi threatened that the wicked and the non-tithe payers will be burned? Or could it be he was just giving us fair warning?

Jeremy said...

Tata, wouldn't you say not being in the presence of God in the "afterlife" be considered a form of hell?

tatabug said...

Jeremy,

I honestly couldn't say for sure, but I certainly do want to live in His presence. However, people who consider God to be a tyrant might be happy to live elsewhere.

Jeremy said...

I don't see your God or your Jesus as a tyrant, I just don't believe in your version of God. Why not? because I've used my "feelings, logic and reason" to know that the believers of your god are being taken for a ride. Which you will undoubtedly give me some kind of return response, maybe quoting a scripture or something but no matter how many of your scriptures or leaders you quote I just won't believe in your version of God and the church that he supposedly guides through 15 apostles.

Bishop Rick said...

Tata,

To be perfectly honest, scientists don't claim that their theory is the only true theory and that all other theories are false.

Science is much more flexible than any organized (key word - organized) religion.

You make good points on faith, but I have to agree with Zelph on when it makes sense to apply faith.

Regarding the beginning of the Universe and the age of stars:

There is a new theory regarding a multiverse which could easily explain how the matter that makes up stars is older than the universe.

In this case, the big bang would not have occurred from a single highly dense mass spontaneously exploding. (The single-universe big bang theory breaks down when you approach singularity - or absolute zero from a time perspective).

In the multiverse, the big bang would have occurred with the collision of 2 universes that resulted in an entirely new universe, but from existing matter. In that way, the matter can be older than the universe, and this theory does not break down as you approach singularity.

When you step back and reason what makes the most sense. I would have to say that creating life from non-life is the easiest to explain. In this scenario, you only have to figure out where all the matter came from. You don't have to figure out the never ending "who created God" question, and where did the matter come from.

I choose Deism because I choose to cling to the possibility of a higher power. I don't think we were put on earth to prove ourselves worthy, or to prove that we can guess better than the next guy. I think that line of thinking easily breaks down upon serious reflection.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Good points, BR. Although I'm not really leaning toward deism. You make a lot of sense here.

Elder Joseph said...

tatabug

Where does it say in Malachi , no tithe payers will be burned ?

It says in Chapter 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the dproud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor gbranch.

NO MENTION OF TITHE

and in 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not dopen you the ewindows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

NO MENTION OF BURNING .

Jeremy said...

Wow, EJ... I've read those two scripture versus over and over in conjunction with Sunday School lessons and I've never noticed that they don't really relate to each other.

They call him James Ure said...

I believe in the big bang but also in a "Divine Power." I don't believe in a physical "God" but I do believe that a "Divine Force" set the big bang in motion. Thus, I Believe in what some call "theological evolution."

tatabug said...

EJ,

Well sure, if you take those two scriptures alone, they really don't seem to relate, which is why you really need to read the entire chapter and not just read each verse independently. You quoted verse 10, but if you read verses 8 and 9 and verse 11, it says:

8-Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9-Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

11-And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground;...


Even if there is no clear connection, think about this--early on in the chapter it talks about the wicked being burned as stubble. Then it talks about those who don't pay their tithes as having robbed God. Could robbing God be considered wickedness?

The references for devourer will lead you to scriptures which speak about fire and burning. You will also find references in the topical guide for devour in the context of fire and burning throughout the Old and New Testaments.

However, you of course are free to interpret it all in whatever way makes you feel comfortable.

Bishop Rick said...

Malachi is rebuking the Israelites for a multitude of sins. Tithing is mentioned, but is not the main focus. The main focus is that Israel has turned away from God.

Hebrews, on the other hand also mentions tithing, but later mentions that Jesus's atonement ends the old law and commences a new law. Nowhere in the NT does it mention that tithing is a law or commandment, but preaches free-will giving.

tatabug said...

BR,

Tithing may not be the main focus, but it certainly is part of the topic. I agree that the rebuke they received was a result of numerous things, but there is a lot of emphasis on tithing in those chapters. Evidence that they have turned from God stems from the fact that they have robbed Him in tithes and offerings. If they loved God, they would not rob Him.

Tithing is mentioned in the NT twice. Matt. 23:23 and Luke 18:12. It isn't expounded on as it is throughout the OT, but that doesn't mean it is any less valid as law. If you have any evidence that the law was actually changed in some way, I would be interested in it.

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

My understanding is that Jesus's atonement did away with mosaic law. This would include the law of tithing as well as the law of sacrifice, working on the sabbath, etc.

The 2 instances you give were both prior to the atonement, and in both cases, Jesus was rebuking pharisees (Jewish Sect) for touting the paying of tithes. Jesus doesn't tell them not to pay tithes, but again, that was pre-atonement.

My stance is that the atonement (as mentioned in Hebrews) fulfilled the Mosaic law. And, nowhere in the post-atonement NT is tithing mentioned.

tatabug said...

Well, if the mosaic law were done away with completely, it seems to me that the ten commandments would be done away with also, but I see them still used widely in Christian society. My understanding is that the mosaic law was not done away with entirely but that changes were made due to the atonement which made certain aspects of it no longer necessary. Animal sacrifices were done away with, but were replaced by the sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit. The law of Moses was done away with to make way for a higher law, but I don't think that necessarily meant that some of the requirements were not still in force. However, the issue you bring up is very interesting and one that I will have to investigate further.

Zelph said...

Tatabug- That is correct, or at least that is what I have come to understand. In fact, the law of consecration is supposed to be the higher law above tithing. Obviously communism didn't work in the LDS church either.

Some Mormon Fundamentalists still practice the higher law of consecration. They argue that according to the Doctrine and Covenants, an organization of the priesthood that is living a lesser law like tithing has no authority over those living a higher law, like the law of consecration. Therefore, the Fundamentalists make a claim of authority over the LDS church since they practice the higher law.

tatabug said...

Zelph,

It's always so nice when we can agree on something.

You bring up an interesting point about the law of consecration. I don't know very much about it historically, but I would be interested to know when it began to be practiced among the Saints, when its practice ended and why. My understanding, though I may be wrong, is that it began in Nauvoo. Did its practice end with the death of the prophet or the exodus from Nauvoo or later even?

Also, it isn't really relevant or important, but I'm curious about your interest in the Fundamentalists. Is this a recent development or is it just coincidence that you've mentioned it in both of your most recent comments?

Zelph said...

Tata-

Regarding the law of concecration, I believe the first revelation was given in Kirtland, OH as we can read in D&C 42:30-39

http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/42/30-39#30

I don't know how long it lasted, but needless to say, it didn't work and at some point, the church changed to the lesser law of tithing.

Regarding Fundamentalists, I think it is just a coincidence that I brought it up a few times, as I have spoken with a few over the internet. I wanted to get their side of the story, as I know often times they are labled as an "apostate group" I come to realize that they actually have a little more crediblity because they are correct when they say that they try to maintain the same teachings as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

Bishop Rick said...

The Law of Consecration was a dismal failure. It affected the church in two ways.

1. It eliminated the influx of tithes into the church coffers.

2. No one was willing follow it because hard working Heber was not willing to give up his hard-earned corn so the lazy L Tom Harry.

The church had nothing coming in. This is why it was abandoned.

Bishop Rick said...

The church will tell you that the people weren't ready for the higher law yet, but that it will be re-instated during the millenium.

I'm not sure the people will ever be ready for it...maybe tata, but no one else.

tatabug said...

BR,

I'm smiling right now but I'm not sure whether to take this statement, I'm not sure the people will ever be ready for it...maybe tata, but no one else, as good or bad. Either you think I'm am very foolish or a very good girl.

Back to the topic of tithing and the issue you brought up about it being a part of mosaic law. I submitted the issue in question to askgramps.org to see if he could help me out with that one, and I just got his reply as follows:

Dear Tara,
It's amazing to me the weird ideas that some people come up with. Your "someone" appears to posit that the law of tithing was part of the law of Moses. That is not so. Tithing was instituted as a practice of the gospel long before Moses ever lived, and was probably was taught from the very beginning. We first hear of tithing in Genesis 14:18-20—
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Next your "someone" states that there is no evidence in the New Testament of the post-atonement practice of tithing. This only means that he has never read Paul's letter to the Hebrews, in which Paul says, concerning Melchizedek—
Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises (Heb 7:4-6).
The author of Hebrews is here stating that the sons of Levi have a commandment to take tithes of the people. Both the author and the date of the writing of the letter to the Hebrews is somewhat uncertain. But there is absolutely no doubt that it was written some years after the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. And in this letter to the Hebrews the commandment to the sons of Levi to take the tithing of the people is given in the present tense, not in the past tense.
So also is your friend in obviously complete error in stating that the law of sacrifice and the law to keep the Sabbath day holy were done away!
Gramps

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

I was stating that you were a good girl. I knew you would wonder what my meaning was.

Now as you put it, back to tithing.

It would seem that Gramps gives out criticism a little to quickly. Amazingly, he uses Hebrews 7:4-6 as his defense and claims that I have not read it. Actually I have read it several times.

What Gramps writes sounds really good on the surface, but he is either intentionally misleading you, or he doesn't know what he is talking about. I'm not sure which.

If you don't take things out of context (like Gramps does) and you read the entire chapter end to end, you will realize that what Paul is saying backs me up perfectly. (read 12-19 in particular). Paul is teaching the people about the old covenant of tithing using Melchizedek and Abraham as an example. Then he goes on to state that the new covenant (brought on by the atonement) replaces the old covenant because the old covenant is no longer needed.

Please read it for yourself. Don't leave things like this up to Gramps. He is biased and will only give you enough information to back the viewpoint he wants you to have.

Oh, and I never said that keeping the Sabbath day holy was done away with, at least not by the atonement. What I said was the old covenant of not working on the sabbath was done away with. There is a difference. Remember when Jesus was challenged for healing people on the Sabbath? Jesus stated that it is ok to do the lord's work on the Sabbath.

As long as we are on the topic of the Sabbath, Mormons break the Sabbath every single week of the year. You see the Sabbath is sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. This didn't change due to the atonement. This was changed by the Romans hundreds of years after the atonement to make it easier for the slaves to serve them. Instead of the real Sabbath which took up the better part of 2 days, it was changed to just be Sunday (a single day).

A question that I have is why wasn't the true Sabbath restored by Joseph? The answer IMO is because he was not a prophet. It would seem that something as sacred and simple as keeping the Sabbath day holy would have been an essential component of the restoration.

tatabug said...

BR,

I read Hebrews 7, but I will need to study it more carefully. The issue I see is that, as Gramps pointed out, that the law of tithing didn't originate with the law of Moses. It was around long before Moses. But, then you have the issue of circumcision, which didn't originate with Moses either and it WAS eliminated after the atonement. So I suppose the issue for me now is, in verse 5 of Hebrews 7, whether or not Paul was talking in present terms or not. I still, of course, disagree with you, but I will continue to study the issue. Even if there isn't proof according to the Bible, I can't trust that it wasn't left out due to the "as far as it is translated correctly" clause, or the "oops, did we cut that part out of the Bible?" excuse. I know, I know, how convenient, right?

You also bring up an interesting issue with the Sabbath. Will need to check that out as well. You sure are keeping me on my toes.

Bishop Rick said...

Whether verse 5 is in present or past tense is not an issue to me when you put it into the context of the whole chapter. It is pretty clear what Paul is talking about when he says the old covenant is replaced with the new. This is irrespective of tense. I understand why tithing not being a law is an extremely tough sell, but I believe it is no longer required nonetheless. There have been thesis papers written on this that go into much greater detail than I have here, using examples throughout the bible.

I never understood the Sabbath problem...even when I still believed the mormon church was true.

tatabug said...

BR,

Having had an opportunity to study Hebrews 7 more thoroughly, I've come to understand that Paul was using the principle of tithing to teach that the Melchizedek Priesthood was greater than the Aaronic (Levitical) Priesthood, not that the law of tithing was being changed or done away with. Even the great patriarch Abraham had to pay tithing to Melchizedek, and though it gets a little difficult to follow, it seems as though Paul is speaking metaphorically, and in verse 7 it says, "and without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better," meaning the lesser priesthood and the better or greater priesthood. Jesus (verses 10 and 11) came with a greater priesthood than the Levitical and brought the higher law of the gospel. The rest of the chapter talks about some of the important differences between the two laws and the two orders of the priesthood.

I don't doubt you will continue to disagree with me on this one, and I can understand that. It wasn't all spelled out very clearly, and there is much wiggle room for interpretation. Hence, in my opinion, such a diversity of beliefs throughout the world with regard to interpretation of the Bible. That is why I am grateful for continuing revelation to make such matters a little more clear for our understanding.

About the Sabbath, it seems that there is evidence, from Paul (Acts 20:7) once again, that even then, the change was made from Saturday to Sunday, since Christ rose from the dead on Sunday. As Christians, and in order to better distinguish themselves from the Jews, they honored the day of Christ's resurrection as the Sabbath. Notice that they had been in Troas for seven days, but they chose the first day (Sunday) to break bread (sacrament).

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

Read verse 46 of the same chapter of Acts. It states they broke bread every day of the week. It just happens that in Acts 20:7 that particular instance happened on Sunday.

You have to admit that there is no doctrinal evidence that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday. The weak excuses that you get from LDS sources "like we worship the resurrection now" don't hold water. The change didn't happen until around 300 AD by those that supposedly ushered in the apostasy.

The "resurrection" excuse is applied post modicum (I made that phrase up, but you know what I mean). There just isn't anything anywhere that can explain why the true Sabbath wasn't restored.

If Paul was already holding Sunday to be the holy day instead of the Sabbath (which I have already shown he wasn't) why would there be a need to make this change in the 300s? There wouldn't have been a need, because the change would have already been made.

The Sabbath was and still is sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

No amount of revisionist history can change that.

tatabug said...

BR,

There isn't a verse 46 in Acts 20. I think you meant chapter 2. That verse doesn't clearly state that they were breaking bread daily. It does, however state that they were in the temple daily, followed by breaking bread from house to house, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were doing it daily. But I won't argue that point. Chapter 2 precedes chapter 20, so it is still possible that the change to Sunday began taking place after chapter 2, and it probably wasn't official until around the second century, according to my understanding. Regardless, the Church holds that the particular day we choose to set aside as the Sabbath isn't nearly so important as it is that we observe it. I know of instances where people who regularly work on Sunday choose another day to set aside as their Sabbath. I can understand this. It was important in Mosaic times to require a strict and stringent law in order to exact obedience from the hard-headed Israelites. Since many laws were changed or removed all together after the atonement, it would only be natural that a change of sorts be allowed regarding the Sabbath.

It is easy to get caught up in believing that everything we need to know is contained in the Bible, or that everthing must be proven by the standard of the Bible. But that isn't a practical or wise approach. The Bible may be the most widely accepted standard, but it isn't the only or most reliable standard, at least by LDS beliefs. You know what we believe. We love the Bible, but it isn't inerrant. That is why it is so important that there is continuing revelation. Having said that though, I think that while there are some of the teachings of the restored Gospel which can't be proven or disproven conclusively through the Bible, there are many things which can be, and I think the similarities are very important.

Bishop Rick said...

WOW!

Its incredible to me how easily things that were once punishable by death are simply pushed aside today...and then justified by made up excuses.

Absolutely incredible.

BTW - I wasn't going to mention this before, but breaking bread means eating a meal together, not the sacrament.

Still shaking his head, BR could only mutter the word, "Incredible."

tatabug said...

Sorry to be such a disappointment to you, but we do come from very different perspectives on the issues. I too shake my head in disbelief at times, but I can kind of see where you are coming from, believe it or not. I may not always have the best information to back up my beliefs, but the core of my beliefs aren't backed up by scripture or physical evidence. They are based spiritually and if I based my beliefs only on what is provable by any other means, I would likely have no real firm beliefs other than in what I could see or touch. Even then, who could be sure. Any kind of historical or scientific proofs of things are not always reliable, so then I would still be left without any sure knowledge or understanding. I find that very disconcerting and not I path I wish to pursue. Not that I don't value knowledge or evidence, it's just that they aren't the final authority.

Perhaps if this world were a perfect world, inhabited by perfect people, things wouldn't be so confusing and messed up. But it isn't and we don't, and we should be glad that we don't, because there would be no growth or learning for us here.

BTW, breaking bread can have either meaning.

tatabug said...

In addition, if I am going to appeal to you or anyone else, I have to do it on your terms and in ways that you might accept, just as I know you do in your appeals to me, which I appreciate. I can't just bear my testimony and expect it to resonate with you or anyone else who doesn't share similar beliefs. Nor do I expect it to. I don't come here because I am confused. I come here out of interest, and out of concern as well.

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

Then where is my motivation to discuss these topics with you if ultimately your response will be that you don't need tangible proof because you have a testimony?

That means I am either wrong or I can't prove I'm right, and you are always right.

Doesn't sound like a good foundation for an honest discussion to me.

tatabug said...

BR,

We can always hope that our efforts to share our beliefs with others will be fruitful eventually or that they will have some kind of benefit. I don't think that completely converting someone to our beliefs is the only good we can do. I have learned so much through the discussions here. Some of it productive, some of it not so much. My view of the Church has changed in some ways and my view of people such as yourself has changed for the good.

If "converting" me is your only goal, then perhaps you should stop wasting your time. But if you enjoy the discussions in any way, then please continue. You make me stop and think, and I like that. I am impressed with your knowledge of the scriptures and Church history. I will likely continue to disagree with you, but I can discuss the issues based on evidence, and I think I have for the most part. I just think you need to know where I stand. You may be right about there being no evidence of tithing or work on the Sabbath in the Bible after the atonement, but as a TBM, nodern-day revelation trumps the Bible. It trumps the Book of Mormon. It trumps Joseph Smith. Proof of the need for prophets and revelation comes from the Bible.

Bishop Rick said...

But what if there is no modern-day revelation? In this case all you would have is the Bible. Truth should be able to pass the Bible test even if it is new. I don't like the term "trump" because it means all things previous should be thrown out. I just can't accept that as a sound philosophy. There is no guarantee that the trumpeter is valid...and sorry, the warm feeling doesn't work here either as it can result from too many influences to be reliable.

I just can't accept that the only way provided for us to discern right from wrong is a feeling that can be experienced whether we are right or wrong. Certainly there could be a better way than this.

tatabug said...

But what if there is no modern-day revelation? In this case all you would have is the Bible.

If that were the case and there was no modern-day revelation, then how would I know the Bible is true? Because someone said so? Because the Bible is old and has been around a long time? Because millions or more accept it as God's words. What about the Quran? Couldn't those same arguments be used for it?

Truth should be able to pass the Bible test even if it is new.

That is assuming that all truth is contained in the Bible. That is a foolish assumption. Even the Bible itself makes references to books and prophets whose writings are not contained in it. Who's to say for sure that they don't contain some valuable truths not contained elsewhere in the existing Bible? None of the translations were done by prophetic means either. That leaves more possibility for error. That the Bible contains errors is a concept not only supported within the Church but by non-members as well.

I don't like the term "trump" because it means all things previous should be thrown out. I just can't accept that as a sound philosophy.

It doesn't mean that all things previous should be thrown out, unless all those things previous are related. It means that any particular prophecy or doctrine can be over-ridden by a more current prophecy. If Moses prophesied that the Sabbath day was from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and then Paul, as a prophet with authority, comes along and changes it to Sunday, then by his authority as a prophet of God, he has just trumped the previous revelation on the Sabbath. Ezra Taft Benson said, "We should never set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence." However, when the prophet makes new revelation, it is declared as revelation from God, it has to be accepted by the twelve, and has to be sustained by the body of the Church in order for it to be binding. That is how all revealed doctrine has been issued in the Church from the beginning. It's not as though the prophet can just have free reign.

That warm feeling you refer to is not the only thing we are expected to go by. We start by learning and studying, then we pray and ask if those things that we have studied are true. Do you not recall that that is the process by which Joseph received many, if not all the prophecies he received. He would study the Bible and questions would arise in his mind, and he would ask God about those things, opening the door for revelation. The process is think first, do all you can on your own, then ask God for help in understanding and confirming what you have learned. It is a very effective teaching process and one I use on my children as much as possible.

I just can't accept that the only way provided for us to discern right from wrong is a feeling that can be experienced whether we are right or wrong.

The problem is that if we listen to other people say that they received confirmation of the truth of some matter, which we know can't be true because it contradicts with what we have receieved confirmation of, and we trust that they know whereof they speak and begin to doubt our own feelings and believe they are misguided or conjured up by our own desires. Another problem comes when we don't have a clear understanding of the difference between mere feelings and the Spirit. Anyway, the Bible is replete with examples of the Holy Ghost, prophecy, revelation, the Spirit of prophecy, etc. If the Bible is the "gold standard," then whether you like the concept of revelation through the Spirit or not, it is, without doubt, a Biblical principle that is necessary for us to utilize.

Anyway, I didn't take you as a firm believer in the Bible. If you aren't, then why are you, as one who isn't a firm believer in it, using it against me, who doesn't believe in it as the ultimate source of truth or the final word on anything? It just seems to be a very non-productive approach on both sides.

Bishop Rick said...

Tata,

Everything you just said supports an atheist point of view.

Why believe JS? Because he said so?
That is exactly what you are doing. You are believing something because someone said so.

You say that the warm feeling is not all that you go by, but it really is what it all boils down to. Without that you have nothing.

You say that you study, come to an understanding, pray, etc. to lead up to the warm feeling.

What you are really doing is making up your own mind and then looking for confirmation. It is easy to get a warm feeling about something when your mind is already made up. That is why the church teaches it that way. It is foolproof (or foolworthy, depending on your view point).

You are correct in thinking I don't believe the bible to be the holder of all truth. I think it is nothing more than the writings of men, just like the BofM, D&C, and PofGP. There are great teachings in all of those, but they are not from God, they are from man, and all are fraught with error, contradiction, and confusion despite the good part.

An all powerful God would not be the author of confusion. This is why I know this stuff is simply not true.

New prophets trump old prophets is just another way of saying I'm smarter and more important than the guy before me. That is crap and just an excuse for changing doctrine.

Again, God would not be the author of confusion and wouldn't change his mind every other prophet.

tatabug said...

BR,

I don't take Joseph Smith's word, or at least not when it comes to my testimony and the personal revelation I've received. By modern-day revelation, I also mean personal revelation. If there were no revelation, ie, no Holy Ghost, then how would I discern the truth? Just because I grew up in a culture that believes the Bible is the word of God versus another book of scripture, doesn't mean that the Bible is true. If I have no other means than my own intellect and cultural influence to guide me, then I could end up being completely wrong. You and others here are very skeptical even of the Bible. Perhaps you believe it has some truth in it, but how do you know? If it doesn't make sense, or if it contradicts science, or perceived standards of morality, then do you just ignore those parts? If that is the case, were I to go by that method, then that would exclude a lot of the Bible, and once you start making large exclusions like that, where do you stop, and how can you believe anything else in it if it's that messed up? That is just nonsense to me.

I guess since the Church's primary recruitment tool is so foolproof, it sure is a good thing that it is a well documented technique in the Bible, or else the Church would've been doomed a long time ago. Apparently that same method was used by Christ when he built His Church.

If the scriptures don't contain God's teachings, then do you believe that God has given us His teachings some other way? Or have we just been left here to our own devices to try and figure out what all this means, if anything?

I agree wholeheartedly. God isn't the author of confusion. But I'm not confused. I don't see confusion in the Gospel. I don't understand it all, but I see great order and simplicity in the overall picture. Unfortunately, we humans have a tendency to make mistakes which muddle things up, sometimes resulting in confusion for others.

Bishop Rick said...

So many questions.

Q:
If there were no revelation, ie, no Holy Ghost, then how would I discern the truth?
A:
The same way you already do...you study, ponder, and come to a conclusion that you feel good about. This is not the HG, this is you.

Q:
Perhaps you believe it has some truth in it, but how do you know?
A:
See response above.

Q:
If it doesn't make sense, or if it contradicts science, or perceived standards of morality, then do you just ignore those parts?
A:
I disregard what doesn't make sense. No one should accept something that doesn't make sense. That is blind faith which is dangerous at best.

Q:
If that is the case, were I to go by that method, then that would exclude a lot of the Bible, and once you start making large exclusions like that, where do you stop, and how can you believe anything else in it if it's that messed up?
A:
Now you are starting to get my point.

Statement:
That is just nonsense to me.
Response:
That is because you have already made up your mind that all this is true in spite of everything that makes no sense.

Q:
If the scriptures don't contain God's teachings, then do you believe that God has given us His teachings some other way?
A:
No I don't

Q:
Or have we just been left here to our own devices to try and figure out what all this means, if anything?
A:
This is the only thing that makes sense to me.

tatabug said...

Okay, then, tell me again why we are using the Bible to verify truth?

It seems you were displeased that there wasn't a basis for an honest discussion because I wouldn't accept the supposed "tangible proofs" provided in the Bible. Apparently you don't either, so it seems there is no common ground for us as far as I can see. It seems that your beliefs are determined based on your subjective conscience, and according to you, so are mine. I can at least claim a religious standard. Since you apparently don't, how is that fair to me? I'm not upset, it's just turnabout. But it would be nice to know how to appeal to you.

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

We use the bible because it is the only constant in a religious discussion.

I accept tangible proofs, but reject intangible ones.

I guess the way not to appeal to me is through intangibles like the HG or testimony, or faith. I don't accept those as valid answers or explanations.

Just being honest here about how I feel.

tatabug said...

Then I suppose my real question is what do you consider tangible proofs about God, religion, life, etc., if you don't put any real stake in the legitimacy of the Bible? It may be a constant in religious discussion, but does it hold any constancy for you, or is it just a means of debate to prove Mormonism or religion in general wrong?

I may be basically asking you the same questions over and over, but I am just a bit confused right now, so I apologize if it is annoying to you. I'm just trying to reword my questions so that they are clearer to try to understand better where you are coming from.

Bishop Rick said...

tata,

What I think about the Bible:

To be honest, I don't have much use for the OT. I don't find anything there that edifies, but instead find much that confuses, contradicts, and concerns me.

I find that the NT, on the other hand, is full of great moral teachings. I am often fascinated at the wisdom contained within it, especially since it was written nearly 2000 years ago. I think that the books in the NT would be better served if they were arranged in the order that they were written. This would give a much better idea of Christianity's beginnings.

My studies of the NT have led me to believe, that it too is not what it claims to be, but unlike the OT, its words are well worth living by and I have a great deal of respect for its teachings.

I don't have this same respect for the BofM. To me it is nothing more than a repetitive military journal with a few bits and pieces of religion thrown in, that were obviously taken from the Bible. I won't post why I think this way here, but if you like, I'm happy to elaborate.

tatabug said...

Thanks,

I think I understand a little better now.

No need to elaborate about your thinking on the BofM. It probably has to do with the parts that are obviously straight out of the Bible, which I can understand. No doubt you have other reasons as well. But I obviously feel differently about it and in my opinion there are many parts that do contain religious teachings that are most definitely unique. Perhaps there aren't any new doctrines, but there are some very powerful teachings which are expounded upon in greater detail than in the Bible. And yes, there is a lot of history, but history of any kind provides lessons and opportunities to learn from past successes and failures. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, as the saying goes (I think).

As confusing and difficult as it often is, I have come to love the language of the Bible, but am thankful for the BofM and its simplicity. While the OT is difficult and somewhat disturbing, or just plain tedious and boring at times, it is a wonderful book that I have come to love. But one has to use a proper perspective and search for a deeper understanding to see its beauty. I only wish you could see it.

markii said...

well, it's been a long time since this post was started, and it looks like the discussion went far far away from the original question posed: evolution and God: why can't they get along".

by now you have probably come to a better understanding of this than when you initially posted, but my understanding is as follows (i'm agnostic leaning towards deism/leaning towards atheism depending on the day).

evolution and god can't get along (for most people) b/c the acceptance of evol. then gives rise to the problems cited above in the comments: what of the fall? what of the creation? what of the atonement?

basically, nothing died before the fall? what about all of those dinosaur fossils out there dated to be hundreds of millions of years old? plants didn't die? i've heard some argue that the garden of eden was just that: a small location or garden where death still did not touch (hooray apologetics!).

creation of man? well, we're animals now (evolved from less intelligent life forms), and humans have been around for at least 100k years! that pre-dates adam and eve by a long shot. so was god just waiting around with his arms folded for 95k years until he decided to reveal his gospel to an uneducated people in an uneducated part of the world (leaving out china, etc.)? weird.

so i think it comes down to that people have an issue with it b/c they're not deists like you. they need/want to hang on to christianity or islam and it doesn't work with their doctrine as laid down by the prophets of old.

deism works though. for many "god did it" is a cop-out and doesn't explain much. plus you now have a more complex beginning of the universe than before (now the beginning includes a complex super-human). extremely improbable that we'd exist on a planet in "the goldilocks zone" (not too hot, not too cold, etc.)- well as improbable as it may be, it's still plausable. with as many stars as we believe to exist in the universe, we can then assume an aproximate number of "suitable" planets for life to arise on. out of these planets, even if just one in a billion, life arises spontaneously, there would be a billion planets with life out there.

thus, the anthropic principle is a suitable explanation for many. i tend to let my wonder in awe of the same things that make you believe that a god may have done it and that is why i have not made up my mind against the idea of a god (out of the billion planets with life, how many would house intelligent life?).

IMO, any mormon scientist (henry eyring for example) that can make evol. and mormonism or christianity work have issues with cognitive dissonance, for the reasons i listed above.

that is my take and understanding to the question you posed in this post. like i said, however, you may see things differently now that some time has passed.