Posts filed under ‘Science and Theology’
A few weeks ago I spent a supper hour (it took that long) reading an article called “America’s Ruling Class – And the Perils of Revolution” by Angello Codevilla.
The overall article is well worth reading to better understand current political debates, but that wasn’t what called my attention to it as a possible subject for this blog. Rather, the following paragraph toward the end of the Article startled me:
“Nothing has set the country class apart, defined it, made it conscious of itself, given it whatever coherence it has, so much as the ruling class’s insistence that people other than themselves are intellectually and hence otherwise humanly inferior…”
CROSS-POSTED TO MORMONMATTERS.ORG 5/29/10. JOIN THE DISCUSSION THERE!
Distinctly Mormon doctrines relating the physical appearance of humanity to God’s own “preferred” form grew gradually in early Restoration history rather than springing forth full form. Although there are references in the Book of Mormon (the earliest recorded of Joseph Smith’s prophetic writings) to the Brother of Jared seeing the “finger” and then the full vision of Christ, even the earliest published accounts of the First Vision do not feature descriptions of two personages appearing as does the “official” version eventually recorded several years after formation of the church. This doesn’t mean that later descriptions were contradictory to the first version; it does suggest that certain features of the encounter took on greater significance in light of subsequent experience.
The emphasis on the “physicality of God” even in the spiritual realm grew in concert with notions of the Eternal Family and its role and function in achieving and living in Celestial Glory. The elaboration of this theology is natural as the early church leadership began to push, at first secretly, new forms of marriage and family life, but it was not an inevitable evolution of the theology of the 1830 Restoration. For example, no one in the Community of Christ expects that the afterlife is about progressing to populate new worlds with our own spiritual offspring, as Heavenly Father populated our own world. In one denomination, it is THE Heavenly Father; in the other it is Heavenly Father, with the seldom spoken inference that there may be Heavenly Mother lurking in the theology as well.
Scholarly theories that place the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica define the “small neck of land” that separated the “land northward” from the “land southward” (see, e.g, LDS Alma 22:27-34 / CofChrist Alma 13:68-80; LDS Alma 50:6-16 / CofChrist Alma 22:6-16) to be some portion of the Isthmus of Tihuantepec. This immediately raises questions about the geographic correlation for modern readers and makes many Mormons look for alternative locations because that isthmus separates what we would consider “east” (Yucatan) from “west” (Central Mexico).
In his book, An Ancient American Setting for The Book of Mormon, John L. Sorenson spends some time explaining that the directions we use are cultural artifacts that are not universally shared. For example, modern Western nations define east to be the direction of sunrise, and west as the direction of sunset. In fact, though our cultures did that long ago, we actually transitioned to defining north and south once we had compasses and then laid out a global system of four cardinal directions for the entire planet even though the direction of sunrise and sunset varies throughout the year and by how far we are from the earth’s equator.
If we consider the DNA evidence of the peopling of the Americas, I think there is a way to build a better solution to the directional problem on Sorenson’s framework.
Genetics influences the formation of basic personality types, and these basic personality types seem to be readily correlated with modern political party preferences. Before we conclude that our political opposites are foolish or stubborn, perhaps we need to spend some time figuring out why God and/or evolution found it advantageous to design our species with such a property.
After several serious posts on climate, I thought it was time for something on climate that — I sincerely hope — proves entirely whimsical.
I remembered seeing something about ice as a teenager while reading the Doctrine and Covenants cover to cover. Sure enough, I found it in what is LDS D&C Section 133 (The Community of Christ version is numbered Section 108). So, if any of you reading this from the “north countries” should observe that the snow doesn’t entirely melt next summer as it usually does, please feel free to draw the appropriate prophetic conclusions. (And don’t buy property too near the shoreline of Salt Lake — Lake Bonneville was much larger.)
Recently I was requested by Mormon Heretic to prepare some posts about the process by which the Community of Christ adds to its Doctrine and Covenants that would be of interest to an LDS audience. MH has now posted the first of these at Mormon Matters.
UPDATE: MH has now posted a second, follow-up post on Mormon Matters that discusses some of the “headlines” from the proposed CofChrist Section 164 that will be most notable to LDS readership.
Michael Mann, one of the chief protaganists of the climategate scandal, has an op-ed piece in the Washington Post this morning that attempts to obscure the scientific issues in a cloud of misdirection. Sometimes you should just know you’re in trouble and take the 5th.
Earlier this week the UN World Meteorological Organization published a press release that shows the bewildering subtlety of the statistical arguments that climate policy needs to consider. The press release notes that 2009 is on pace to be the 5th warmest year on record (i.e., during the industrial age) and that this decade (2000′s) will have been the warmest decade on record, with the 1990′s the second warmest decade. The press is largely reporting that this data implies global warming is continuing.
Given my recent post on the inconsistency between the professed environmental concerns of the Community of Christ and its responses to environmental issues, and given also my personal experience in giving scientific advice to government agencies, I feel an ethical obligation to comment on something being reported as “climategate”.
In the past few days, either hackers or whistleblowers have posted numerous e-mails on the web which have been obtained from Britain’s most prestigious climatic research center in East Anglia. This is the custodian of one of the most important models and climatic data sets that the international community (and the United States government) is relying upon in its plans for development of a “green economy” and greenhouse emissions regulations.
These e-mails appear to show, at minimum, a scientific establishment at East Anglia that has closed its mind to flaws in its own analyses, errors in its computer models, and to new data that might modify its previous conclusions or lead governments or citizens to support different policy preferences.
That increases the chance for policy errors. And hiding that fact from policy makers and the public opens the door for some of the most important decisions this generation of humans will make to be corrupted. I can’t imagine a more important case of possible scientific misconduct to be investigated.
I am an avid reader of Morgan Deane (see his listing in the Science and Theology section of the blogroll) who studies the Book of Mormon from the perspective of an infantryman who is also a military historian. He recently produced a tactical analysis of the battle for Nephihah (as described in Alma) that induced me to spend time last week extending Morgan’s ideas on Nephihah to the operational and strategic level. He has graciously published my comments as a guest post.