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In reading some of the posts involving crimes [sexual assault], allegations, [Kavanaugh, President Russel Topic], or even controversial subjects such as Climate Change, Book of Mormon Geography, etc.. I have thought to myself there are a lot of faith based concepts juxtaposed up to scientific method and actual evidence. I'd like to discuss both and how it might affect our concept of that topic and what we take away.
Personal belief systems can take root at a very early age, sometimes as a part of our cultural or ethnic identity. As a result, they are almost impossible to remove without eroding the soil of substance that gives one both a sense of identity and purpose. However, also true, as a consequence, most will not surrender a deeply held personal belief for fear it could lead to their spiritual loss or death. There is nothing wrong with personal beliefs. I, for one, am deeply faithful and active in church. Each person finds meaning and purpose in their own way and that is how it should be. There is a difference between faith and scientific method and reason. Personal faith is not a problem unless it gets in the way of objective forensic investigation and examination.
For example; using faith based reasoning (let's say using the Bible to prove a point), the premise of an argument and the conclusion are a matter of personal belief and subsequently often considered above criticism. Those who question the premises of such beliefs, religious and otherwise dogmatic, are labeled heretics or worse. I have been called an apostate for not subscribing to a heartland theory, a racist for objecting to a safe-place policy, a climate denier for even questioning global warming (which I know there is climate change, my interests is, is it really all just man made?), a racist and a bigot for disagreeing about kneeling as a protest, a chauvinist pig for thinking men and woman are different and we should use the appropriate public bathrooms.
In faith and personal belief, there is little room for critical thinking and no place for doubt. As a consequence, the nature of faith runs contrary to knowledge building. My faith tells me men and women are both children of God and are different from each other, science also tells me there is a biological difference too. We still have debates to how we should act and even appropriate ways to speak. For example is refusing to bake a cake with a message one does not believe in compelling speech?
Questions, questions, questions... When is testify via faith and testify via science appropriate and acceptable and when is it not?
I enjoy reading Catholic thought and I wanted to share. I believe the call for SSM and many other criticisms of the CoJCoLDS (primarily from those who still hold to some sense of its being “true”) is a product of lack of rigorous thought. An emotionalism where we substitute how we feel about things for sound principles derived by seeking God with faith and reason.
First two links:
Article by Archbishop of Philadelphia:
Faith and Reason by JPII:
I will admit that I have only read parts of Faith and Reason, but I hope to rectify this.
I think the Catholic Church is in crisis partially because its highest leaders have left behind sound thinking on issues for a hoped pastoral love of all. This is from First Things:
More poignantly from an interview with Bishop Chaput:
It is my opinion that there are many very concerning things coming for the Pope and the leadership around him. I fear he has forgotten (and I think it likely that many around him have forgotten) the second half of: “Truth without love is imperious self-righteousness. Love without truth is cowardly self-indulgence.” With an organization so committed to preserving the “truth once delivered,” how (with or without God’s supernatural guidance) can such a thing happen. How can it happen to the CoJCoLDS?
Somebody who wrestles with issues like advocating for or against SSM will become a general authority (not me). In my personal life, I feel the desire to embrace love without the restraining influence of truth. In the name of love sometime not just self love, I can stray from God’s path. As my attempt at my best self online, I feel the desire to embrace love without mentioning truth to those with whom I dialogue even though I do not face the same issues they do (I like to not speak of their sin or emphasize that I too am a sinner to eliminate or soften the truth). How much tougher will this be for the future bishop who can clearly see the pain in those he loves and knows that speaking truth to them will make him a lone voice in a world that has ceased to care about truth.
There are two things about the difficult and recent declaration concerning children of same sex couples. First, is that it would be somewhat cruel to ask a child to explain the reason his/her parents have embraced a way of living out of alignment with God’s teaching. The second is having not been cruel, those who likely believe that SSM is a wonderful institution that has blessed their lives will continue to grow and learn and progress in the church.
As I said in a recent thread, I think it quite possible that one day our church will embrace SSM in many and perhaps all ways. IMO today this would be the love without truth result. If this happens in the future, it will not be the end of the church, but too much of this love without truth could be (I have faith that God is in control and can steer away from this). But, one of the ways God steers away from this is by calling us to THINK correctly.
I believe that wrong thinking after Vatican II has lead to the place where the Catholic Church is today and while some of the things Pope Francis is doing may briefly increase the number of folks in the pews, I believe ultimately it will further water down truth and lead to more indifference to the things of God.
I do not think the highest leaders of the CoJCoLDS have succumbed to the thinking Pope Francis has embraced. And I believe that the highest leaders of the CoJCoLDS receive revelation and inspiration to guide God’s church. That being said, I have little doubt that Bishops and Stake Presidents struggle with these issues. Without a commitment to have both TRUTH and LOVE, I think errors can happen. As these error permeate the church AND society, there may be one day when our God (who I think is pragmatic) will recognize that it does more harm than good to continue to teach the truth in certain ways. Someday, the pain caused by the truth and the prevalence of societies tolerant arms willing to offer an ultimately cold loveless embrace, could make it better for the church to water down the gospel in certain areas (no more United Order comes to mind). Alternatively, if the gospel understanding of these issues is correct and discussion and dialogue helps folks to find ways to love in truth, perhaps pragmatic solution will not be required.
Anyway, there is great value in learning from wise folks like JPII and Arch Bishop Chaput. I believe God is in charge. I believe the CoJCoLDS passed through its first 200 years in a way far more remarkable than the years 33-233AD were for New Testament Christians and evidence God’s continuing inspiration and revelation for the whole body of the church. That being said, God’s hand is occasionally the wise and intelligent council of our brothers and sisters. The society into which President Nelson held his first press conference is hostile to God’s truths. I believe that the church is guided by God through President Nelson, but ALL of us imbibe inappropriately of the ideas evidenced in this press conference hostility (in the name of love or in the name of self-indulgence or in the name of …but we imbibe). May right reasoning and truth from God provide a counter force to societies pull!
P.S. In case it is somehow veiled by what I say above, I do not think I am superior in my thinking to all others. I offer the above because it is what seems true to me. If it didn’t seem true to me, my best self, would find something else to embrace that I think is true. I desire to align my beliefs with what God believes to be true!
This also means I want to read and discuss thoughts about the above.
Heaven & Earth
Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation and Faith
February 22nd - 23rd, 2018
Classroom Building, Room 511
Utah Valley University
click here for a pdf version of the program
The relationship between science and religion has been among the most fiercely debated issues since the Copernican revolution displaced traditional wisdom regarding the nature of the cosmos. Some have argued for a sharp division of labor while others have sought to harmonize spiritual and empirical truths. From its beginnings, Mormonism has wrestled with the implications of modern science and has produced a variety of theological responses. This conference will explore the landscape of Mormon thought as it relates to the relationships between science, theology, scriptural narratives, and LDS authoritative discourse. It will also examine abiding questions of faith, reason, and doubt and the reactions against the intellectualizing forces that bear on the truth claims of Mormonism.
Assistant Professor of History
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
author of Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism Eugene England Lecture
Steven L. Peck
Associate Professor of Biology
Brigham Young University
author of Science the Key to Theology Conference Participants
Philip L. Barlow
Leonard J. Arrington Chair in Mormon Studies & Culture
Utah State University
author of Mormons and the Bible: The Place of Latter-day Saints in American Religion
Brian D. Birch
Brian D. Birch, Director, Religious Studies Program
Utah Valley University
series co-editor, Perspectives on Mormon Theology
Online Professor of Bible and Jewish Studies
Utah State University
author of Reading the Old Testament: Genesis - Deuteronomy
Matthew Bowman, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Henderson State University
author of The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith
Deidre Nicole Green
Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
author of "Becoming Equal Partners: Latter-day Saint Women as Theologians”
Jamie L. Jensen
Associate Professor of Biology, Brigham Young University, author of “Influencing highly religious undergraduate perceptions of evolution: Mormons as a case study”
Boyd Jay Petersen
Program Coordinator for Mormon Studies
Utah Valley University
author of “One Soul Shall Not Be Lost': The War in Heaven in Mormon Thought"
Jana K. Riess
Religion News Service
author of The Next Mormons
David W. Scott
Professor of Communication
Utah Valley University
author of “Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?"
History of Christianity & Religions of North America Program
Claremont Graduate University
author of “Truth, Scripture, and Interpretation: Some Precursors to Reading Genesis”
Co-Sponsors & Partners
Religious Studies Program, Utah Valley University College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Utah Valley University
I’m finishing up War And Peace this week, and first off want to recommend this book. It’s a long read (started reading it last January) but it’s a work that makes you think deeply about the human condition both individually and collectively, which goes to my OP discussion. As I’m reading the second epilogue, Tolstoy seems to indicate that as human beings our free will is actually more limited then we’d like to believe, as we are subject to political, cultural, and other currents that powerfully influence our behavior. This got me thinking about the LDS concept of agency. Even though I think Tolstoy has some good points about how we are influenced by our environment, I think Tolstoy underestimates how much the acquisition of knowledge can cause us to go against what some would consider fate or destiny and act more freely for ourselves. This causes me to think part of the blessings of Grace is that we are more aware of our sins and shortcomings and can choose to be changed.
So what do you all think? Are there limits to our free will? If so why? If not why not?
Here's a story of Courtney and Rachelle. Courtney grew up in the LDS Church and "did everything [she] was supposed to". During her enrollement at BYU, she met Rachelle. Courtney moved to Oregon to be with Rachelle and they got married. Courtney said her soul was torm into pieces as she was gau but knew the Church was true. Courtney found lots of happiness with Rachelle and at a picture session, Courtney's father apologized for previously, by his choice, not ever meeting Rachelle; and that began a healing process. The LDS missionaries showed up to Courtney and Rachelle's door. They both agreed to listen to their message and after feeling the peace brought into their home by the missionaries and by reading the Book of mormon and knowing it was true, Rachelle agreed to join the church they both filed ofr divorce in order for Rachelle to be baptized.
I think this is a miraculous story. It shows how through the love of Christ anyone can change. It also shows how the most effective way to bring the love of Christ into the lives of ithers is through charitbable service. Not preaching, not condemnation. Though those do have a place in the gospel, it is through personable loving service that Christ's love is most likely felt by others. Jesus knows His own and does not forget them.