Mormons and science is one year old.
I started this site because I wanted to share my ideas with others and gain a better understanding of the relationship between science and the gospel from others. I believe that we can enrich our understanding of both by integrating them. This integration is largely inspired by the Prophet Brigham Young’s mandate for Lattery-day Saints to gathering in truth and bring it to Zion. By bringing scientific truth to Zion, we enlighten our understanding of the gospel and increase our appreciation and knowledge of the handiwork of God. Bringing scientific truth to Zion also enlightens our understanding of scientific principles and facilitates our quest for truth in science.
In an attempt to bring scientific truth to Zion, I have written posts covering the physical sciences, social sciences, health sciences, and quantum mechanics. There are also a few posts on political issues and the history and philosophy of science. So far, for the most part, the response from readers has been positive. I thank you all for your thought-provoking comments.
Sometimes we agree and sometimes we disagree. Disagreement is welcome when it is done in the right spirit. There are many different perspectives in science and there are different viewpoints on gospel teachings for which we lack certain knowledge (i.e., things that God has not yet revealed). By fostering an open and amiable exchange of perspectives, this site provides members with the opportunity to “try out their views” in the marketplace of ideas and discover new viewpoints.
Over the last year there have been a couple of unexpected surprises. One came a few weeks ago when I posted an article on the homosexual community’s efforts to redefine marriage. Several non-members and even some members posted comments in direct opposition to the church’s stance on same-sex marriage. Why someone favoring same-sex marriage would want to read a conservative, Mormon-themed blog and post comments contrary to the teachings of the LDS church is beyond me.
Another surprise is the response to my evolution posts from members who are theistic evolutionists. Now I have no problem with theistic evolutionists sharing their views on the creation on mormonsandscience.com and at BYU where I teach. A willingness to explore theistic evolutionary ideas is a sign of good scholarship. What is surprising, however, is the undercurrent of arrogance and dogma that currently exists among some within the macroevolutionary community.
This recent comment, posted by Mike, expresses my concern very well. He wrote:
The evolutionary world is in a twist about their pet theories, they love to style their struggles as backwoods religionists (we poor pathetic rubes) vs. intellectual heavyweights (the smart, superintelligent evolutionists). They seem to portray Darwin as a demigod, and his theory as absolute fact, and don't seem at all capable of applying critical thought to their own theories. They laugh, they sneer, they condescend, they kick out from their midst anyone who dares question them. It's not peer review anymore, it's peer pressure.
The bottom line is this: in our post modern evolutionary world, there is no room for dissent, no room for questioning fundamental tenets of macroevolution which, it is claimed, have been “proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” This attitude is reflected in the following statement on recent challenges to the well-accepted theropod dinosaur-to-bird hypothesis. James and Pourtless observed that, among evolutionists, “Criticism [about the hypothesis] has usually been dismissed, often with the [misleading] claim that no more parsimonious alternative has been presented” (James, F. C. & Pourtless, J. A. . Cladistics and the Origins of Birds: A Review and Two New Analyses, Ornithological Monographs, 66, 1-78).
The same dogmatic adherence and arrogance has, I believe, fueled personal attacks against those who oppose macroevolution. While there is nothing wrong with being committed to one’s favorite scientific theory, it is unscholarly to personally criticize scholars who hold opposing viewpoints.
Why has it come to this? I think that evolutionists’ aggressive posturing may have something to do with the backlash against unreasonable challenges from creationists who have tried to get biblical creation in the schools and evolution out of the schools. These challenges (in particular, the 2004 Dover Trial Of Pandas and People debacle, and the 1912 Scopes Trial) have the evolutionists circling the wagons and standing guard with plenty of ammunition to keep the wolves away, and understandably so. Unfortunately, they’ve grown trigger happy. Instead of just keeping the wolves at bay, they are now taking shots at anything that moves, at anyone who opposes macroevolution.
Anyway, I look forward to more informative discussions and novel ideas from readers. I hope you are enjoying the posts and will continue visiting on a regular basis.
According to the prophet Joseph Smith, the spirit world is not on some distant planet or star, nor is it millions of miles from earth. The world of spirits is right here, around us. He also taught that many of the righteous spirits in the spirit world are able to observe our actions and hear our thoughts. Sometimes they are saddened by the things they see us do and think.
The best scientific explanation for two entities being in the same location where only one is able to view the other is dimensionality. Dimensionality is a Euclidian concept that refers to the number of specific points needed to define any location within space.
We live in a 3 dimensional world where we are able to define any point in our space with 3 spatial dimensions (up or down the y-axis, left of right on the x-axis, and in or out on the z-axis). In our 3rd dimension world we are able to view 1 and 2 dimensional space because they are lower than our 3rd dimension. Yet, an entity restricted to 1 or 2 dimensional space would not be able to experience our higher 3rd dimension world.
Know where this is going?
Could it be that the spirit world is in a higher 4th dimension of space? If this is true and we apply the same logic, then spirits in the 4th dimension would be able to see our 3rd dimension world, but we would not be able to see their world. All the while our two worlds could be in the same location because the 3rd dimension exists within the 4th dimension.
Here are a couple of short video clips that describe this process in greater detail. The videos describe a fictional 2 dimension world called Flat Land and its relationship to a 3 dimension world. The denizens of 2-D Flat Land are unable to “see” our 3-D world but we are able to see them because we are in a higher dimension. The first video is a comic description of Flat Land by Dr. Quantum (may be skipped). The second video is a more sophisticated but easy to follow presentation of Flat Land by Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan also gives some insight into the mind boggling essence of the 4th dimension, the possible location of the spirit world.
Are we like the Flat Landers, living in a lower dimension than the 4-D world of spirits, unable to see their world, yet being visible to them? Or is the world of spirits in a dimension higher than the 4th, possibly the 5th or 6th? These are interesting questions to ponder.
Time is wasting
Time is walking
You ain't no friend of mine
I don't know where i'm goin'
I think I'm out of my mind
Thinking about time
- Hootie and the Blowfish
These lyrics from the 1996 hit song Time sums up the influence of time in our modern world - we are obsessed with time! There are pros and cons to this obsession with time. Modernity’s productivity and efficiency is largely a product of our ability to agree on deadlines and start and stop times. Yet when we view time as an unavoidable objective entity that influences every aspect of our lives, then, as Hootie points out, obsession with time can result in a sort of mild neurosis, created no less, by something that is not real.
Time is not an objective reality, it is a human construction. Humans “create” time to make sense of change in the world. For our ancient ancestors, time was attached to changing seasons because an understanding of the seasons was important to their survival. Seasons dictated when to plant, hunt, harvest, and prepare for drought and cold weather. For example, in ancient Egypt time was tied to the rising of the Nile River, which, the Egyptians noted, occurred when the star Sirius arose above the horizon just before sunrise.
Because the ancients used time to represent reoccurring events, their understanding of time was cyclical. For them the planting and harvest seasons were not events that came and went; they were events that continually repeated themselves. A classic example is the way in which Egyptians returned to “year 1” every time a new pharaoh came to power, a practice that has created angst among more than a few modern Egyptologists trying to figure out when one kingdom ended and another began. By using time to prepare for important cyclical events, the ancients made time conform to natural events.
Things are much different today. Rather than viewing time as change, time is now viewed as a linear sequence that drives change. Linear time, as it is sometimes called, is the modern belief that time is a causal force that flows in a linear fashion, like an arrow. There is the past extending behind us and the future extending in front of us. In between lay the present, the knife point representing the here and now. We are locked into the present, never able to move forward into the future and never able to retreat back into our past.
Linear time is so commonplace in our society that we have reified it, which is to say that we have characterized it as a real entity. With reified time, we make our lives conform to time rather than making time conform to our lives. This modern view of time has us locked into the present, determined by an unchangeable objective past, and ever moving forward into an unknowable future! Is it any wonder that this state of affairs creates anxiety for Hootie and others!? To make matters worse, because time comes and goes in a linear fashion and is real, when it is gone, it is gone for good, so we should not waste it.
If this modern concept of time has created some angst in your life, here are some thoughts to consider.
Time is not real. It is a human construct built to make sense of change. It is not the final arbiter of when events should and should not occur. You do not have to eat lunch at noon; you can eat when you are hungry. There is no such thing as an objective past determining your present circumstances, and there is no such thing as an objective unknowable future. The past is merely a conscious perception of what was, and the future is merely a conscious perception of what may become. In a manner of speaking, the past, present, and future simultaneously exist in the here and now, in your conscious experience.
When we de-reify and de-linearize time in our minds, time becomes less of a disinterested task master and more of a way of representing change. De-reifying and de-linearizing time may also help us more fully appreciate our agency and the importance of living and delighting in the here and now. It may also help us gain somewhat of a godly perspective on things. God’s work is not driven by time schedules; it is driven by His infinite goodness and wisdom. And God does not have an objective past and future. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “The past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal now” (Joseph Smith and Modern Mormonism).