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Mormons and Science


Daniel Peterson

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I have been thoroughl;y enjoying your site Dan and enjoying the ideas and themes the scholars are sharing, and I think the parody is simply stupid. But then I am a bias Mobot ya know - GRIN! By the way, if no one ever does so, let me say "thanks" for the site. It's really FUN to learn so much about so many fascinating LDS scholars.

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DCP: I would like to invite anybody interested to take a look at the relevant testimonies and bios (as I write, thirty-nine testimonies and bios currently appear on the site, altogether, listed on two pages) at "Mormon Scholars Testify" and ask themselves whether the anti-Mormon parody claim seems plausible:

Of course its not plausible, as stated. Your question presumes that that the website made a serious charge, when it was obviously was engaged in hyperbole. The more relevant question is do they have a point.

I am just guessing here, but I think the authors of the website, may have had this in mind:

evolution.gif

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The more relevant question is do they have a point.

Well, do they?

Is a nineteenth-century view of science a "strict requirement" of Mormon faith? A "requirement" at all?

Are the bishops and stake presidents and mission presidents and temple ordinance workers represented at "Mormon Scholars Testify" complying with it?

Is the claim nonsense?

Did Charles Darwin live in the twentieth century, by the way?

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Well, do they?

Is a nineteenth-century view of science a "strict requirement" of Mormon faith? A "requirement" at all?

Are the bishops and stake presidents and mission presidents and temple ordinance workers represented at "Mormon Scholars Testify" complying with it?

Is the claim nonsense?

Did Charles Darwin live in the twentieth century, by the way?

Of course it is not a "strict requirement", it is not a requirement at all. 19th century beliefs however, are interspersed into the cultural and doctrinal teachings of the church, making them impossible to ignore.

How would the church respond if an Elders quorum teacher taught that Adam was NOT the first literal man, nor did he literally introduce physical death into the world? What about teaching that a worldwide flood has so many evidences against it to render such a belief utterly impossible?

Even if the church allowed alternative allegorical or figurative interpretations, it sure would make for a contentious meeting contending against the literalists of the ward.

Ultimately, Mormonism is about actions (following the teachings of the church and the savior) and attitude, and less about belief...as long as a person does't actually voice that sentiment out loud to the wrong person. However, if one's belief diverges too radically from the norm, it would be best to keep it to oneself.

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Of course its not plausible, as stated. Your question presumes that that the website made a serious charge, when it was obviously was engaged in hyperbole. The more relevant question is do they have a point.

I am just guessing here, but I think the authors of the website, may have had this in mind:

evolution.gif

All this indicates is that LDS, in general, do not except evolutionary theory as the ultimate origin of organic life, and this means no more than that they do not accept the metaphysical powers of "randomness" given to evolutionary theory by the priests of scientism who are among its most vociferous advocates.

As an explanation for the mechanical processes of life's development, I don't think most LDS would disagree (although the question of the degree of divine intervention and control of evolutionary processes, as well as the fact that evolution can occur at all, and the conceptually mind numbing mathematical improbability of life existing in any case is, of course, well beyond the purview of empirical science).

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Is a nineteenth-century view of science a "strict requirement" of Mormon faith? A "requirement" at all?

No. Of course not.

Is the claim nonsense?

Again you are focusing on the specific claim, which is clearly hyperbole. Instead of addressing the "point" that they were trying to make by the claim.

To undertake that analysis would require that you to understand the point they were trying to make.

The claim is nonsense, if the point they are trying to advance is nonsense.

BTW, do you see any relationship between the survey results, and your websites assertion that the LDS Church emphasizes education and scholarship?

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Ultimately, Mormonism is about actions (following the teachings of the church and the savior) and attitude, and less about belief...as long as a person does't actually voice that sentiment out loud to the wrong person. However, if one's belief diverges too radically from the norm, it would be best to keep it to oneself.

Pap. This is Anthony Hutchinson's game, a game of allagorization and mythologization in which gospel doctrine evaporates and all that is left is ethics.

The flood was a literal event, and no Apostle or prophet has ever taught otherwise. The only question is in regard to its geographic dispersion, not its historic reality. There is gospel doctrine, implications of gospel doctrine, theory, hypothesis, speculation, and gospel hobby horse riding. We need be concerned with only the first, when we are discussing what we know to be true and what we understand constitutes the core of Church teaching.

TChild2's tendentious propositions regarding what the Church "is" can be safely dismissed as the rather obvious self rationalization that it is.

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Pap. This is Anthony Hutchinson's game, a game of allagorization and mythologization in which gospel doctrine evaporates and all that is left is ethics.

The flood was a literal event, and no Apostle or prophet has ever taught otherwise. The only question is in regard to its geographic dispersion, not its historic reality. There is gospel doctrine, implications of gospel doctrine, theory, hypothesis, speculation, and gospel hobby horse riding. We need be concerned with only the first, when we are discussing what we know to be true and what we understand constitutes the core of Church teaching.

TChild2's tendentious propositions regarding what the Church "is" can be safely dismissed as the rather obvious self rationalization that it is.

Well, I guess a friendly interaction is going to be met with an openly hostile reaction.

It seems we have our first real example. So, Dr. Peterson, with the quoted statement by Droopy above, do you think 19th century beliefs are "strictly required"? Obviously not in obtaining a temple recommend or living the gospel, but try expressing a non literal interpretation and look at the reaction.

Mormonism doesn't require 19th century science, but it sure makes being a member difficult if one doesn't embrace the beliefs and doctrines formulated from 19th century thinking.

Oh, and Droopy, the church teaches a global flood, the "geographic dispersion" rationale is a concoction by you, of the church's position.

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Mormonism doesn't require 19th century science, but it sure makes being a member difficult if one doesn't embrace the doctrines formulated from 19th century thinking.

The poll of Jaybear notwithstanding, I just do not see this caricature reflected in the modern church.

Yesterday the topic of creation was discussed in detail in gospel doctrine class. The teacher quoted Nibley extensively. The bishop himself spoke about Henry Eyring the scientist and how the scientific worldview of 19th century mormon leaders is not doctrine. I piped up on theistic evolution. The whole class seemed to nod in agreement. Not one person had anything but a progressive view that sought to harmonize and hybridize the science and the faith.

I have never in church seen how modern views on science and evolution "make it difficult" to be a member.

I live in a middle class, average-educated, suburban ward in Las Vegas.

So where, exaclty are these "19th century magic worldview" tribunal wards that are openly hostile to science and bring up gospel galileos on charges of heresy?

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The poll of Jaybear notwithstanding, I just do not see this caricature reflected in the modern church.

Yesterday the topic of creation was discussed in detail in gospel doctrine class. The teacher quoted Nibley extensively. The bishop himself spoke about Henry Eyring the scientist and how the scientific worldview of 19th century mormon leaders is not doctrine. I piped up on theistic evolution. The whole class seemed to nod in agreement. Not one person had anything but a progressive view that sought to harmonize and hybridize the science and the faith.

I have never in church seen how modern views on science and evolution "make it difficult" to be a member.

I live in a middle class, average-educated, suburban ward in Las Vegas.

So where, exaclty are these "19th century magic worldview" tribunal wards that are openly hostile to science and bring up gospel galileos on charges of heresy?

Like I stated. I don't think adapting 19th century science is a requisite for the members.

Now you have made a caricature of my position. I don't believe that members would be openly hostile (well, excepting Droopy of course), nor would a member be brought up on "heresy", but certain doctrines do lend themselves to scientific deconconstruction with the introduction of 21st century science. An example would be a literal God with a literal body fashioned in the shape of man (rather, man fashioned in the literal image of God). That doctrine was introduced before the knowledge of evolution and the long geological time frames of the earth.

Why...and how would God have a body that looked like man if evolution is random and not directed? I don't ask that to pose a critical challenge to you, but as an example of addressing doctrines along logical lines introduced by our knowledge of science in the 21st century.

Do you think it would be difficult to be a member if you found a God of "Flesh and bone" to be a logical absurdity? I don't think disagreement with that core belief would serve the member well. Do you?

Oh, and you could check out Consig's ward to find more of those literalists. From Consig's thread:

"I don't mean to throw a monkey wrench into everything, but don't you think you are overly intellectualizing all of this? I mean, isn't the only important thing that we believe that God created the world?"
:P
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Now you have made a caricature of my position. I don't believe that members would be openly hostile (well, excepting Droopy of course), nor would a member be brought up on "heresy", but certain doctrines do lend themselves to scientific deconconstruction with the introduction of 21st century science. An example would be a literal God with a literal body fashioned in the shape of man. That doctrine was introduced before the knowledge of evolution and the long geological time frames of the earth.

But isn't just about every religious doctrine, of every faith, ultimately subject to this same problem?

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Why would God have a body that looked like man if evolution is random and not directed?

This sentence illustrates the error of your thinking.

I grant you that, if the development of life on this planet was "random and not directed" that the conception of and argument for an anthropomorphic God becomes more or less untenable. However, I don't believe that the majority of Latter-day Saints who accept evolution as a component of the development of life on this planet share your assumptions about the processes involved. I know I don't. And it has nothing to do with a residual 19th century world view. In my judgment, it has everything to do with a galactic view that places such faithful Latter-day Saints in something resembling the 25th century, where the understanding of God's powers and capabilities, and the scope of his works, will be far better appreciated than it is today.

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This sentence illustrates the error of your thinking.

I grant you that, if the development of life on this planet was "random and not directed" that the conception of and argument for an anthropomorphic God becomes more or less untenable. However, I don't believe that the majority of Latter-day Saints who accept evolution as a component of the development of life on this planet share your assumptions about the processes involved. I know I don't. And it has nothing to do with a residual 19th century world view. In my judgment, it has everything to do with a galactic view that places such faithful Latter-day Saints in something resembling the 25th century, where the understanding of God's powers and capabilities, and the scope of his works, will be far better appreciated than it is today.

Will - Sure, we may want to cede 21st century science for a more enlightened 25th century version, but ultimately isn't that still bending science to fit our beliefs and doctrines -- by just pushing an explanation out to the future?

As for your "galactic view", I have never heard it taught or proposed in a church setting, but I do like it. It has promise. Problem is, I don't have four centuries to wait for answers, if there are answers that satisfy today.

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Given the insufficiency of most views of causation, ever since Kant and Hume, it is hard to distinguish what is "magical thinking" and what is not.

As usual, it tends to be all in the definitions of the terms.

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Given the insufficiency of most views of causation, ever since Kant and Hume, it is hard to distinguish what is "magical thinking" and what is not.

As usual, it tends to be all in the definitions of the terms.

Magical thinking is just another term for "I think you are an idiot".

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