God Created Man in His Own Image

Adam_and_Eve002So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)

Steven Peck (aka StevenP from BCC) is a BYU biology professor that has written about religion and evolution. One of his articles (based on the views of Henri Bergson) on his website (split into three parts: part 1, part 2, I couldn’t find part 3) was about how the process of evolution often causes certain forms of life to arise just by virtue of the fact that the evolutionary process must solve certain problems.

For example, the eye has evolved in relatively the same manner multiple times on entirely independent lines of organisms. And it is not mere coincidence that fish and whales get confused a lot. Despite being completely different species all together, the similar forces of evolution forced them to look quite similar.

Is it possible that there is some similar type of what we might call ‘directed evolution’ going on with humans? Here, the evidence is thin at best, but let’s play around and have a little fun with hypotheses: Continue reading

John Dehlin’s Comprehensive List of Reasons He Doesn’t Believe in the LDS Church

John Dehlin“Doubt those who encourage you to doubt your doubts” — John Dehlin on his Facebook page, attacking President Uchtdorf’s talk. Mar 25, 2014

John Dehlin recently put together a comprehensive list of what he sees as all the issues with the LDS Church. He of course titled it “A Comprehensive List of Reasons Why People Leave or Stop Believing in the LDS Church” so as to position it as a helpful attempt to teach the Church how to stop people from leaving. However, as I read through the list, it’s not really clear to me how this document could ever be helpful in that regard since it makes no helpful suggestions at all and simply reads like an anti-Mormon tract.

Consistent with my policy of not advancing anti-Mormon tracts – intended or otherwise – like this, I am not going to be linking with it. Normally I make an exception for John because I at least believe he is well intended in what I see as a desire to reduce pain in the church through reduced ‘exclusion.’ (I am intentionally using that term the way John uses it – which really means fewer people feeling uncomfortable and therefore making their own adult choice to no longer participate with the LDS church.) But I’m still not really in favor of collecting every potential faith-breaking issue all in one place like this. I do, after all, still believe in the importance of belief itself when it comes to religion.

Does John Encourage Disbelieving the LDS Church?

I know John claims he is not trying to get people to disbelieve. I think this is true in limited a sense. If you really want to believe, I have no doubt John will not push you personally towards disbelief. And I think John doesn’t really see belief as in-and-of-itself some sort of evil. Continue reading

The Value of Transparency? My Discussion So Far with Kate Kelly

Okay, I guess I set myself up for this. :-(

So I sort of waded into the discussion / argument on this post about Ordain Women. In those comments I mentioned that I have a dear friend that is believing LDS and has felt supportive of Ordain Women. She had asked me to contact Kate Kelly and ask her about her beliefs. (Presumably because I have experience with making the questions increasingly pointed until I either get an answer to my real question or the person refuses to answer.)

I made the mistake of mentioning this in the comments and attempted to run a middle ground between Hunter and Geoff’s points of views on Ordain Women. I have no doubt that a person can be a believing member of the Church — even in the most common and classic sense — and also support Ordain Women.

However, the big question we are asking here is if Ordain Women is actually being run by people that don’t believe the LDS church has a restored — through angels — priesthood in the first place. Nothing Kate Kelly has said to date has given me any reason to suppose she doesn’t and in fact she comes across very believing to me. But I also know that its easy to use misleading language and that many often do just this. So I really wanted to ask her directly, but I am prepared to take her word for it one way or the other.

I was actually live chatting with Kate for a brief moment. I wrote up for here my reasons for why I feel tranparency on her beliefs mattered as the leader of a public movement but did say that if she just wasn’t comfortable talking about her beliefs, I’ll accept that and leave her alone.

I wanted to show the argument I made to her, so I’m posting our conversation (which is like 99% me) here. [Edit: Kate made only three quick entirely public statements, so I felt there was not the slightest confidence being betrayed. The choice to show the conversation publicly was a choice to show my words publicly. But since I'm not being Bloggernacled on the fact that I made "Kate's prive words public" I am going to humor this very strange attack and remove Kate's words entirely and just summarized what happened for her side since this changes not a single thing in the post.] Continue reading

David Deutsch’s Four Strands

David DeutschIn a previous post I talked about Roger Penrose’s seven (depending on how you count them) SUPERB theories of science. Now I’d like to give you an alternative view that I think is equally fascinating, though it takes a completely different path.

David Deutsch, being a Popperian Epistemologist (i.e. Epistemology is the theory of how we gain knowledge), believes that what makes a theory one of our best theories is not its range and accuracy, but instead how much it explains. Based on these criteria, Deutsch believes our four deepest theories of science are the following:

  1. Quantum Mechanics
  2. Biological Natural Selection
  3. Popper’s Theory of Knowledge (Epistemology)
  4. Computational Theory

In fact, Deutsch believes that these four strands are the start of what he calls “a theory of everything.” Continue reading

Richard Bushman’s Views on the Book of Abraham

Joseph Smith PapyriProbably all of you have already read Richard Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, so this isn’t anything new to you. But I wanted to replicate his discussion and explanation for the Book of Abraham in its entirety here. If I merely summarize, I’ll run the risk of interpreting and I want to avoid that risk. Later on I’ll use this as the basis for future discussion that I can refer back to. So here it is: Richard Bushman’s take on the Joseph Smith Papyri and the Book of Abraham that it inspired.

The Abraham texts gave Joseph another chance to let his followers try translating. While working on the Book of Mormon in 1829, Joseph invited Oliver Cowdery to translate: he tried and failed. Now with the Egyptian papyri before them, Joseph again let the men with the greatest interest in such undertakings – Cowdery, William W. Phelps, Warren Parrish, and Fredrick G. Williams – attempt translations. … Continue reading