I’ve always thought that the proportion of spirits cast out of heaven for rebelling against the Plan of Salvation was 1/3. To give you an idea of how much this is in relation to the whole, it is like cutting a blueberry pie into 3 equal sections and tossing one piece into the garbage. Just as I cringe at the thought of so much good blueberry pie being tossed out, I cringe at the thought of so many souls losing their first estate and being cast into hell.
Last week I discussed this issue with Craig, a member of our HP quorum. He said that it wasn’t 1/3 of the hosts of heaven; rather, it was a “third part” (D&C 29:43) which, in all likelihood, is much smaller than 1/3 of the whole. In other words, he claims that 3 groups were present during the war in heaven: (1) the noble and great ones who are leaders; (2) those who kept their first estate; and (3) those who rejected God’s plan. According to this viewpoint, these 3 groups were NOT equal in size. Those who did not keep their first estate in group 3 were likely much smaller than 1/3 of the entire whole.
To put this theory into blueberry pie terms, there are three slices of pie: a very small piece representing the leaders; a very large piece representing those who kept their first estate; and a smaller piece representing those who did not keep their first estate. The last small piece is taken out and thrown away. I’d feel better knowing that just a small piece of the yummy pie was tossed out.
So which is it? 1/3 or a third part?
The Bible Dictionary (BD) says it is 1/3. It reads: “The war broke out because one-third of the spirits refused to accept the appointment of Jesus Christ as the Savior.” However, the BD is not canonized scripture and the introduction even states “It is not intended as an official or revealed endorsement by the Church of the doctrinal, historical, cultural, and other matters set forth.” Also, the scriptures never say one-third; they say “a third part”.
I’d like to think that those who did not keep their first estate were a third part smaller in size than 1/3 of the whole. Yet having been taught for so long that it was 1/3, I tend to think that it was one-third of the whole.
In 2008 the Pew Research Forum released the results of their survey on the religious landscape in America. (http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=392)
One of their survey questions was: “Do you believe that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth?”
This question addresses a belief in common descent which claims that humanity evolved from lower life forms.
Here are the percentages of people answering yes to that question, stratified by religious affiliation.
If the Pew Forum’s sample of Latter-day Saints is representative of the larger Mormon population, then it appears that 22% of us believe that humanity evolved from lower life forms. This result is in line with my expectation that about 2 out of every 10 Latter-day Saint accepts that Adam and Eve’s bodies evolved. Note that the national average for accepting common descent is 48%.
It is not surprising to see Catholicism above the national average (58%) because the Catholic leadership has formally endorsed evolution. However, I was somewhat surprised to see Jewish (77%) and Protestant (51%) above the average. Any ideas on why they are above the average? How do you feel about where Mormons are relative to other religions
I've included a similar survey question below. It will be interesting to see what kind of results we get on mormonsandscience.com. Of course this survey is not scientific. (It lacks random selection [representativeness] and does not control for multiple responses, although I hope you vote just once.)
(In a previous post I presented reasons for accepting entropy as a rational explanation for the existence of God. In this post we’ll consider whether the same can be said for the Anthropic Principle.)
The Anthropic Principle (AP) concerns the relationship between the laws of nature and the presence of life. A general definition of the AP is as follows: The laws of the universe are fine-tuned to allow life to exist. If the laws were changed ever so slightly, life would not exist.
Here are some examples.
Example 1. “If the nuclear force were only a few percent weaker, then a proton could not combine with a neutron to form a deuteron. If this were the case, no deuterons would be formed in the sun and hence no solar fuel would exist. As a result, the sun would not shine (‘burn’), but would merely be a cold ball of inert gas—precluding the possibility of life on Earth.” (http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/anthropic-principle)
Example 2. A slightly stronger gravity force would result in “a smaller universe of larger, brighter, shorter-lived stars, that will eventually collapse in on itself again in a Big Crunch. Most, if not all stars would be binary, trinary, or larger systems. Any planets orbiting these stars would have to go very fast to avoid a fiery demise inside their parent stars, and would be slung around wildly by their multiple suns. Any planetary system in this universe would be devoid of a stable, safe harbor for life, and relative stability is a vital prerequisite for the evolution of complex life forms. Life here would probably get to no more than amino acids, much less true life, before one of the planet’s parent stars went nova or the planet was torn apart and swallowed into one of the stars. It would not be a place to develop living creatures as complex as ourselves.” (http://www.physics.sfsu.edu/~lwilliam/sota/anth/coincidence.htm)
There are different forms of the anthropic principle. The one form that most scholars agree upon is the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP). This principle claims that conditions in the universe are such that they allow life to exist. If this statement did not create a “eureka moment” for you, you’re not alone. We already know that the conditions of the universe are such that they allow for life by virtue of the fact that we exist. Thus while everyone agrees with the WAP, it is a tautology (a necessary and unproductive truth).
Are other anthropic principles more substantive? They are, but they are also more controversial. Here they are.
Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP) - the universe must have the properties it has for life to exist.
Participatory Anthropic Principle (PAP) - the universe needs conscious observers to bring it into existence. (There are philosophical and quantum mechanical reasons for this claim.)
Final Anthropic Principle - because the universe is fine-tuned, intelligent life forms must come into existence, and once they do, they never become non-existent.
The main point of this post is that some believers like to invoke the SAP as evidence for the existence of God. If the universe must have certain properties for life to exist, and we exist, then we may conclude that the universe was specifically designed for the purpose of sustaining life. As a latter-day saint, I wholeheartedly accept the SAP premise, but it lacks rigor. I advise against using it as a rational argument for the existence of God.
The problem with marveling at a fine-tuned universe (and invoking God as the first cause) is that we could not do otherwise. Imagine that there are 10 multiverses (10 multiple universes) in existence. If 5 of those universes are fine-tuned to allow human life, then people in those 5 universes will necessarily marvel over the fact that their universes are fine-tuned. Some of them will even propose a god as the designer. If the other 5 universes are not fine-tuned, then there will be no one to question why their universes are not fine-tuned.
IMO, for an argument to be considered rational, it must win out against less rational opposing arguments. But if just one argument is possible (in this case, concluding that it is amazing that our universe is fine-tuned), then there is no way that the argument can win out over other competing arguments. Without a competing argument, we cannot declare a winner.
Moreover, just because there are no competing arguments, it does not mean that the one argument we have wins by default. Under these circumstances, the argument we have is a tautology – nothing more than a statement that is necessarily true. Tautologies do not carry much weight in scientific and philosophical debates.
In sum, we know that the natural laws in our universe could be different, and we know that if they were different, life would not exist. However, if the laws of nature were different, then we would not exist to ponder these issues. Thus we can entertain just one possibility – that it is amazing that our universe is fine-tuned to support life.
Being limited to just one position does not result in a rational argument. We must be able to acknowledge and refute counterpositions in order to make an argument rational.