Monday, November 02, 2009

Is Intelligent Design Science?

This post is to directly debate Steven Peck and company from the Mormon Organon on the merits and premise of ID versus Evolution. Needless to say, I do not like debating people on this subject in their territory when they keep barring your opinions from their site. Do you want a real debate? Lets have one. I promise I will not bar your opinions or call you a troll as you have done to me. I debate fairly. You want a fair debate, I will give you one.
To start with, it would be nice to really distinguish what science really is and what it is not. As far as I see it, science, as it applies to this debate topic must be defined by what it proposes to do, not necessarily if some group, or body of people think otherwise. ID theory, is a scientific theory that sets out using scientific methods -the same tools, principles, etc. that evolutionary biology uses in their theory. By "their theory" I am mostly speaking of the "origins of life" and how it evolved in an unguided, random process.

I am not here to debate "theistic evolution" as that itself is not science (by Steves own standards). But if you want it to be, we can also include it as a philisophical debate. Nor am I wanting to debate the creation versus evolution debate as that is a separate issue from Intelligent design versus Evolution.

Besides the scientific basis of "theory", I also wanted to clarify a few points here-

1. ID is not creationism that labels who or what the intelligent cause is.
2. Id theory deals with the challenging the origins of life and major macro-evolution theories as presented by typical Darwinian evolution.
3. The "origins of life" is covered by both Evolutionary theory and ID theory regardless of certain evolutionists who say that the origins of life is not covered by evolutionary theory.

With that, let the debate begin.

I challenge Steven and like company to debate me in this fair online debate.

Bring it on (all in good fun, eh)!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Missionary Work, Salvation, & Scare Tactics!

I haven't posted in a while as I have been very busy with baseball but at church yesterday something was said that really struck me with an off beat. I thought about it all day and into the night. This morning I woke up and decided to post on it nad see what everyone else thinks.

We have all heard the great missionary sermons in sacrament meetings that tell us what we need to do to help the missionaries and their work progress. Along with these great sermons we sometimes get the "scare tactic" aproach about missionary work and salvation. Yesterday was one of those scare tactic moments when the speaker gave the seemongly all to familiar " just think of what will happen when you get to the other side and meet your neighbor and he will come up to you in tears and cry out saying why didn't you share the gospel with me, you were my neighbor!" Other scare tactics I have heard fall on the lines of "Just think of how you will be held responsible for all the people you were supposed to teach the gospel to and didn't because you did not go on a mission". There are other scare tactics we use also to literally scare us into forcing the gospel on others in fear that they will die tomorrow without their salvation being secured.

This leads me to think that we are somewhat programmed in scare tactics as children and youth into believing that a lack of preaching the gospel to our neighbors will somehow damn us and damn our neighbors in the process. So in fear we are always trying to push the gospel on others so that we can justify ourselves with our folley ways. Do we find true joy in saving others, or are we just too concerned about the "fear factor" of sitting idly by while the neighbor is partying on Sunday out at the lake?

I think the real truth od it is that our neighbors are already aware of our religious beliefs and that in all reality, building a good neighborly relationship with them is actually more important than pressing the constant peer presured need to share the gospel with them. Chances are they will join the church based more upon your actions and deeds rather than what you say to them at the BBQ when you slip in to say something about your religion. It will also be the case that when that unconverted neighbor does run into you in the spirit world they will fall upon your shoulders in pure joy and say- "wow, your religion really is true and I now want to be converted, and thankyou so much for alway being my neighbor and friend in Christ".

Leave the scare tactics out of missionary work as far as your good neighbors and friends are concerned. Chances are they are not evil people that need a good sermon anyway! Let our actions speak louder than our words so that when we do speak our words become more powerful than a rushing river!

Salvation is open to all including those dear loved family members and friends who depart this life either in rebellion or truthfully not knowing God's will concerning them. And also let it not trouble our hearts to think of what could of or should of been on those dear loved ones who pass without their salvation secure for we shall meet again and then shall our joy be full knowing that finally they too have accepted the gospel on the other side, Amen!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Creation Controversy: Man's Advent on Sixth or Seventh Day?

In this post I would like to address the age old controversy of when Adam and Eve actually appeared on the scene. Was man formed from the dust of the earth (physical creation) on the sixth day as the "crowning event" of the creation, or was he reserved to come forth on the seventh day as the "first living creation" and thus have true dominion over the animals?

In our doctrine we know that there are at least 4 separate accounts taught concerning the creation. They are- The Old Testament (Genesis), Moses & Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, and of coarse the Temple account. Each one has a slightly different take on what happened and the order on which things were placed or created. This can cause a lot of confusion to us Saints when trying to figure out how it all really came down. In this post I will just concentrate on a few scriptural passages with my own interpretation to show that things may not be as they really seem.

Let's start in Moses 3:1-

1 THUS the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
(Pearl of Great Price Moses 3:1)
"And all the host of them", this to me refers to all beings- all mankind. But does it also include Adam and Eve in their physical form? We shall see, let's read on-

2 And on the seventh day I, God, ended my work, and all things which I had made; and I rested on the seventh day from all my work, and all things which I had made were finished, and I, God, saw that they were good;
3 And I, God, blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it I had rested from all my work which I, God, had created and made.
(Pearl of Great Price Moses 3:2 - 3)
We are now informed that this creation event in this chapter is just a continuation of the events spoken of in the previous chapter. Some have mistaken this chapter to be a different account but we shall see that it is really only the continuation of the creation event. Let's read on-

4 And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth,
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;
(Pearl of Great Price Moses 3:4 - 5)
This is where things really get interesting. God now informs us that all of these things he had created were not yet on the earth- they were only created in heaven "spiritually" and were not yet "naturally" found on the earth. This means that there was not yet anything physical on the earth. God further explains the he had not yet caused it to rain. Now we know that it is not only the seventh day when he is saying this, but also- no plants could possibly grow from seed form without water- no life is sustainable without rain. God also informs us here that there was not yet "flesh" (physical bodies) on the earth, or in the water, or in the air! He is specifically saying that there is not yet any living creature of any sorts on the planet! Let's read some more-

6 But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.
(Pearl of Great Price Moses 3:6 - 7)
Verse 6 now tells us that there went up a mist and watered the ground. This is a first event for the purpose of making plants grow. Then the Lord forms man from the dust of the earth and he now becomes a living being with his spirit now inside of a physical body. To not create any confusion, the Lord informs us again that the prior creation spoken of in the previos chapter took place in heaven not the earth. He also reinforces these seventh day events as to mention that Man (Adam) was now the "first flesh upon the earth", this means that he was the first creature to be housed with a physical body. Some have mistaken this to mean that this only means that he was the first to fall and become mortal. This is a very conjective approach though because it must then mean that God created man in his already fallen condition. Not to be so. God himself was just creating a person after his own likeness- namely- that of flesh and bone- a true physical being.
This all sets up the most intriguing of all scriptures. The one scripture that seals the deal as to when this all took place. Many do not even know this next scripture even exists, and when some read it they even try to ignore it or discount it as "error" in the transcriptions. I say no it is not. Let's read it-

12 Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 77:12)
Notice the sequnce of events that unfold- God made the world in six days, then he- finished his work on the seventh day, and then he- sanctified it (the seventh day/ earth) , and then he formed man from the dust of the earth. Some could argue that God really means that he caused man to fall, or even say that it is just a mistake or anomaly. The truth of it is however that man truly wasn't formed from the earth and made a living breathing creature until the seventh day. The further implications are that all of the animals followed after Adams physical creation thus truly making Adam the Father over his dominions to rule over them.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Atonement and Agency

Agency has been on my thoughts recently over the past several weeks and things seem to be coming together. I would like to present an alternate thought regarding agency that maybe we have never before comprehended or overlooked. Because agency has so much to do with (actually everything to do with) the plan of salvation we must look at the very basic fundamentals of God's plan.

In order for us to advance and become like our heavenly father with a tangible body we had to come here to this earth. Our purpose for coming here is to learn how to control the "natural man" or the natural carnal nature of man. The problem is however that the natural man is an enemy to God. We call this "natural man" a sinner. Sin causes us to fall short of godliness. Sin also keeps us from our heavenly fathers presence. Before we came here we all understood that once we came to earth and experienced our bodily passions and desires we would all inevitably sin. Eternal justice would then demand that because of our imperfect states (fallen condition), we would be eternally consigned to be shut out from the fathers presence in a spiritual death condition forever. We would also experience mortal death and that nothing we did on our part would enable us to become alive again.

As part of this plan, we perfectly understood that a savior would be required in order to redeem man from his fallen condition. But why? This is where I would like to introduce you to a knew idea. Agency can only happen if one is free to act and choose between opposites. As this applies to the plan of salvation, one must be able to freely act and choose between "eternal life" or "eternal death". Because we would all sin though in mortality, we cannot act or choose the path of eternal life on our own. This path is made unreachable without a perfect savior. It is only because of the atonement that mankind has agency. In other words- It is only because of the perfect atonement by Jesus Christ that man is free to act and choose for himself which path he will take once he has fallen in the world. Now let us discuss another equally important idea- that of Satan's plan.

Satan is the great imitator, he is the father of lies. His plan from the beginning was not to force us to be righteous, nor was it that he would remove our divine ability to think for ourselves. His plan was to lie and convince others that he should be the savior and that he would not lose any of god's children. He also sought the power of god through wicked means- something impossible to do. His real plan- take away his lies- was that he would save no one in the end and that all would become subject to eternal banishment from heavenly father and become slaves to sin and be bound down with those everlasting chains of guilt. Because he could not of offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to eternal justice, (and Satan knew this) once we were fallen in the world, there would be no means of redemption- no opportunity for us to freely act and choose for ourselves. We would of been forced to eternal doom iregardless of our wanting to repent and be reclaimed. This is how Satan was going to destroy man's agency. He would not offer a means of redemption from man's fall and therfore nullify agency.

So it truly is because of our Savior that we are "free", by this I mean that because of the perfect atonement made by Christ, we are free to choose which path we will take. Truly, only through the atonement, mankind has his agency!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Baptism Paradox?

One of the more startling doctrines in our church is doing temple work for the dead. Amongst everything done, is the great baptismal work we do for our dead. We do this because they cannot do it for themselves in the spirit world. We call this "baptism by proxy". One of the interesting things to think about when doing this work is wondering where that spirit individual is at and if he is accepting the work done in his behalf.

We all know that unless a man is born of the water and of the spirit he cannot be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is called baptism of water and baptism of fire by the holy ghost. Now to introduce the paradox.

Suppose two men are in the spirit world. One of them lived a righteous life but never knew anything about the gospel. The other individual got caught up in the vain ambitions of the world and ended up getting drunk one night and had an accident with his car that took his life. This second man had also known about the church and the gospel but figured it wasn't for him. So there in the spirit world, these two individuals are met with reality and both see the importance of the gospel and are taught the gospel. Both individuals are basically living the same there and living up to the statutes of godliness. They both accept baptism done for them by proxy so that they receive a full remission of their sins and Christ remembers tham no more.

Now according to our gospel, eternally they will not both go to the Kingdom of God in heaven (Celestial Kingdom). The first will go to the Celestial while the second goes to the Terrestrial. But why? They are both showing obedience to the same gospel. Both have been properly baptized. Both have received a remission of their sins. Both will go on to receive a reward according to their good works. Do we say that the second individual will be unable to go to the Celestial Kingdom based upon his sinful life? We certainly can't as all those sins are completely erased through the atonement. So what is it then? Are they just not good enough? Was baptism really not the ticket for the second to be saved like the first? Was it that he just waited too long to make up his mind?

Nothing seems to add up. We all know that those who people and inhabit the Terrestrial world will all accept the gospel and be baptized. But I thought baptism was only the ticket for the Celestial Kingdom? So does their baptism mean nothing then?

I believe that both men will be saved into the Celestial Kingdom. All that is required to enter the Celestial Kingdom is obedience to the gospel- living or dead! However, disobedience to the gospel leads to the eternal death, the path that all sinners are on. There is a bridge however from that path. It is through Jesus Christ by showing faith and then believing in him by doing the required ordinances for salvation. There is no other way mankind can be saved from the devil! Will God save the repentant outside of his eternal kingdom? NEVER!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Eternal Life or Eternal Death: Reading Between the Lines

Agency enables one to choose between the way of "eternal life" or of "eternal death". The scriptures plainly teach that there are only two paths we can take. The coarse we choose will either lead to the right hand of god or the left hand of god. All people, including the dead, are by choice of their own free will, on one of these two paths. This post is to study more in depth what "might" lie inbetween those two states or if there even is such a doctrine. We must first go over what each of the two terms mean in order to try to read inbetween the lines. First I would like to discuss "eternal life".

What is eternal life, and who gets it? Eternal life some might say is the type of life god enjoys. But what exactly is that? There are two main characteristics of eternal life. They are- 1. Immortal physical life. and 2. eternal spiritual life. Put together then, eternal life consists of living righteously and eternally in God's presence with an immortal body.

Who will be able to enjoy this type of life? All of god's children who kept both their first and second estates will enjoy this most wonderful gift. In simpler terms this means that all those who believe in Christ and repent and then endure to the end (last great day of judgment) will be able to enjoy this eternal life. Eternal life is only to be found in the Celestial kingdom of our God though. The tree of life spoken of in the Book of Mormon, The Old Testament and the New Testament is all the same exact tree and to partake of the fruit is either a symbol or an actuality of having "eternal life". The fruit of the tree is sometimes represented also as by the waters of life. Those who are "saved" will be able to have access to the fruit on the tree of life in the Celestial Kingdom of our God (Revelations 2:7, 22:2,14, 1 Nephi 15:36).

So then what is eternal death? Eternal death is eternal banishment from the presence of God, plain and simple! This eternal death is called the "second death". All mankind will in a sense be redeemed from the first spiritual and physical death and be brought to stand before the judgment bar of God to be judged (Helaman 14:15-19). This is the redemption of the first spiritual death for all. For those who at that point are found unclean, they will be cast out into the lake of fire and brimstone(2 Nephi 9:16). They will then die again as to the things of righteousness (Alma 5:41-42) and also be outside of the redeeming power of the atonement(Alma 11:40-41). They, through their own decision, will not be found worthy to come into the holy city (Celestial Kingdom-Revelations ch. 22) to partake of the tree of life which is the greatest gift that god can give to us. These will perish forever from the Lord their god. They will be eternally dead.

So now that we have described these two opposite states, can we, or should we, try to read between the lines and perhaps find other groups of people that are either not consigned to this eternal death, but yet who are not able to partake of the waters of life either in the Celestial Kingdom? Let's look logically at it for a moment outside of the box.

Would this group of people be saved from the devil? And if so, on what terms are they saved from satan's power? If they are saved from the devil, then certainly they are no longer under the bondage of sin- which is satan's grasp. So if they are no longer under the bondage of sin, we could call them righteous, couldn't we? And if they are righteous, by what means did they become cleansed from their sins in order to receive that remission? Was it perhaps- baptism! It certainly couldn't be because they suffered and payed the price themselves could it? Only in and through Christ can one become clean and be forgiven. Now, back inside the box-

What I have just presented is what I call the Bermuda Triangle of Mormon salvation. By this I mean that we teach that there is a third category or place for most of mankind to dwell that is neither part of the "eternal death" category, nor the "eternal life" category of souls. We teach that although one can be saved from perishing the second death, they may not be able to partake of the tree of life either which is in the midst of God's kingdom. What is so unclear about this mystery group of people is what exact state are they even in? What I am trying to describe is a mystery group (and very large at that) that is both repenatant but unforgiven and yet saved but also damned! This mystery group of people is what we as LDS call the Telestial and Terrestrial Kingdom groups of people. What is so interesting in our doctrine about these two groups is that we teach that they are saved from the devils grasp without obedience to the gospel and at the same time (although in another breath) teach that it is impossible to be saved from satan's everlasting grasp without strict obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

The bottom line is- I believe on very careful scrutiny of our scriptures that there is no such mystery group. It doesn't exist, it cannot possibly exist. To do so goes against every principle of the saving gospel and doctrine of Jesus Christ found in every book of our scriptures including the Testamony of Jesus Christ himself! There is no reading between the lines. "All people" will either perish in their sins in outer darkness, or be saved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel and be able to enjoy eternal life back in our heavenly fathers presence within his heavenly kingdom!

Though this may seem like a strange doctrine, it is the very foundation of the LDS faith. Have we waivered from that foundation? Maybe so, maybe not, it is not my call as a servant under the prophet to make. But do try to understand that every word I have wrote in this post is supported by scripture and is very sound. May God bless you too with the intellect to read and understand!

Friday, January 19, 2007

The "True" Gospel of Christ: Discerning Doctrine!

There has been much talk across the blogs lately on what doctrine is and what it is not. My focus with this post is to identify what is the true doctrine of Christ and what maybe is not the true doctrine of Christ. Short of spelling it out though, I will let you decide.

We know that gospel means "good news". So the gospel of Christ is the good news of Christ. And what is that good news? That he came into the world to bear the sins of the world on all those who believe on his name that they might live eternally with him. All other doctrine in the church hinges off of this doctrine. The Book of Mormon contains the "fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ" (D&C 20:9, JS-H 1:34). This to me means that in the pages of the Book of Mormon, we can find the fulness of his gospel. We can find the things that save us or damn us- it is that simple. All other doctrine hinges off of it. Hinging doctrines include recent revelations such as D&C 138 concerning the gospel being preached to the dead. The dead are taught the same exact gospel over there as we are taught here.

Let us now examine what is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It is found in 3 Nephi 27. The 12 Apostles were struggling to know by which name they should call the church. Christ appeared and gave a simple but perfect set of instructions that included a summary in it's fulness of his gospel. Let's start in verses 5-6.

5 Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;
6 And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.
(Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 27:5 - 6)
Here we are told that the Church must be called by his name. He also tells them that whoso takes upon his name and endureth to the end shall be saved at the last day. So now we have the foundation of his doctrine- we must take upon us his name. But how do we do this? Let us read further-

16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
(Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 27:16)
Here we are taught that taking on his name requires repentance and baptism, and then endurence to the end (last judgment). If we do this we have the promise that we shall be held guiltless before the Father at that great last day of judgment. So then what happens if we refuse to repent and be baptized in order to take upon his name? Read further-

17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
(Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 27:17 - 20)
If we do not repent and get baptized, then we are hewn down and cast into the fire. This fire is the second death which befalls the devil and his angels. This summarized doctrine is the gospel of Christ in it's fulness! All other doctrine can be judged against this doctrine, and all either stands or falls against these words that Christ himself spoke of. This leads us into modern times where we have added doctrines that may not stand up under careful scrutiny against Christ's gospel. One of these added doctrines is that man can be saved from being hewn down into the fire without obedience to Christ's gospel- that of repentance and baptism. We sometimes call these people Telestial or evn Terrestrial heirs. We say this because everyone knows that when a person is baptized, they are born again "into" the Celestial Kingdom. Some even say that when we get baptized, we are initiated into the Celestial Kingdom.
So how is it then that a person can be saved from the second death if they obey not the gospel of Christ? They can't, it's that simple! A person "must obey" the gospel in it's fulness. By fulness I am talking about being found "spotless". Even in section 138 of the D&C we are taught that even the wicked and rebellious in spirit prison must repent and be baptized- even if they rejected it in mortality. Here then is the answer fulfilled- if one repents and is born again, whether here or in death, he becomes again a son or daughter of God and is entitled to all the blessings that God grants to those who hear and obey his voice!
So is it a true doctrine of Christ concerning those who are saved from eternal death without repentance and baptism? It certainly can't be a true doctrine of Jesus Christ. Otherwise either Christ is not telling the truth, or the Book of Mormon really does not contain the saving gospel of Christ in it's fulness. What do you think?