I have always been a big believer in the right to choose. And I’m not talking about abortion. (As a sidenote, as an extension of my belief in choice, I also happen to be pro-choice pro-choice. Glad we cleared that up.) I see so many people claiming to have made a choice in one way or another, when really they’ve hardly considered the other options at all. Being unaware or ill-informed about one side of an issue does not lead to choice – it leads to dogma. Continue Reading
I have read many blog posts about the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado that have discussed gun control, the level of violence in American entertainment and what America needs to do about it. I’m not going to get into that here. It’s a conversation that needs to happen but I have to say I’m not overly optimistic that it’s going to happen in a productive way.
Here is something I am going to talk about. For those of you who don’t want to read the whole article, here is a sample:
Wowzers – I was going through my external hard drive tonight (it’s full of old documents, pictures etc…a real time suck!) and came across this document. I wrote it in early 2001 when Brian and I had recently started dating. Religion was clearly weighing heavily on my mind:
This recent video made by the newly formed Brigham Young University USGA (Understanding Same Gender Attraction) made me mad. And sad. And so, so frustrated.
Ok, first, read this.
Here is my favourite part of the article:
“If a student prays and they think that the tight ‘formfitting’ clothing is accepted by the Lord, they have not asked, or have not asked the right question, or they have chosen an answer for their own gratification. I don’t believe the Lord would give approval to anyone to be disobedient to the CES Dress and Grooming Standards.” Continue Reading
We received a frantic phone call on Friday night from my MIL informing us that my little BIL (who is serving his mission in Arizona) “blew out his knee” and might have to be released from his missionary duties in order to come home and recuperate. She was upset for a few reasons; she is a mother and of course, she wasn’t able to speak to her son directly, she was surprised and didn’t have all the information she wanted and above all, she was upset about his mission experience being jeopardized. My BIL is loving his mission experience so far and part of the appeal for missionaries and their families is that it is such a long stretch. Two years is a long time to do anything consistently. It is a long time to not see loved ones, only talk to them on the phone 4 times and to commit yourself as a servant of the Lord. Doing the time is part of what makes it such a huge deal, so cutting it in half would have been very upsetting for everyone involved.
My MIL wasn’t totally sure what had happened but was told by the missionary President’s wife (who apparently is responsible for keeping other Mother’s informed of their kid’s accidents/injuries etc.) that they would call back on Monday with more information. There was much concern and worry and discussion about what this would mean.
We called today only to be referred to an email that she had forwarded to us. Basically, my BIL is the proud recipient of a genuine miracle of God. You can only imagine my frustration upon hearing his version of events. He hurt his knee playing soccer and knew right away it was bad. They took him to a doctor who felt it and told him that he thought he may have torn his MCL and to stay off of it for the next few days until he could get an MRI. The bishop came and did a blessing on BIL’s knee. The pain did not subside and it was still pretty bad. On Monday the Bishop came and did another blessing after which my BIL’s knee started to feel a bit better. At the very least, he felt better. When they got the results back from the MRI it showed a small tear in the MCL but there is no need for surgery and his mission won’t be affected. I could hardly stomach reading the email as he launched into his testimony and assurances that he has re-committed himself with even more fervor into bringing the Gospel to the people and that he knows this and that is true and how blessed he is to have been a witness to the glory and power of God’s miraculous love. Blah, blah, blah.
Here is what I would like to say but will not:
1. Your first doctor? Yeah, he misdiagnosed your knee. Not difficult to do when you’re just feeling around someone’s inflamed joint.
2. If the blessing was so effective, why did it take two of them?
3. Maybe the looseness that you attribute to a torn ligament was just loose ligaments that tightened up after you followed the doctor’s suggestions to ice and rest your knee.
4. And perhaps my biggest complaint with all claims of miraculous healing…who do you think you are?! Let me get this straight. This omnipotent and benevolent God who has the power to heal the sick and dying skips over the truly needy only to fix your knee? While you were receiving a priesthood blessing in Arizona, countless women were cradling dying infants and children in their arms, begging and pleading for their lives. Terminally ill people begged for mercy. Innocent babies lay in the dirt, listless from starvation and dehydration. By morning, thousands of people have died painful, agonizing and wholly undeserved deaths but God fixed your knee. Are you kidding me? This to me is the height of egotism.
I thought about saying something but this boy has
drunk bathed in the kool-aid and is now handing out free samples, so he’s beyond reasonable debate at this point.
I recently read “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution” by Richard Dawkins. Being a neuroscientist, I obviously believe in evolution and need no convincing of its reality (or splendour for that matter) but I was curious to read how Dawkins would present it. It was an incredible book and if anyone you know has doubts about evolution or questions about the theory, I would recommend they read this book. Dawkins did a good job of staying away from the whole “angry atheist” persona he displays so beautifully in some of his other works, which is probably a good thing. For a believer it can be intimidating and it wasn’t the point of the book. The book outlines hundreds upon hundreds of sound scientific reasons why evolution is true and creationism or intelligent design theory is not. I’m not going to get into them here because Dawkins does it so much better.
However, I will venture to say that the growing trend of religions claiming that evolution and faith are not mutually exclusive is really starting to tick me off. The Catholics tolerate and now largely accept evolution, or as they call it, “theistic evolution” and according to my sister-in-law who is currently studying at BYU Idaho, she has been taught that evolution is true. The Mormon church, as far as I know, has not taken an official stance of the subject (they know not to touch this one with a ten foot pole) but there does seem to be an increasing tolerance towards evolution, at least anecdotally.
Faced with the overwhelming evidence for evolution, many churches are being forced to do back flips and have come up with all kinds of compromises to somehow allow for evolution within a religious framework; God used evolution as a tool, the belief of inner-species evolution but not inter-species evolution, and the general “evolution lite” that allows for some natural selection among lower vertebrates and invertebrates but denies any real connection between humans and any other species.
I’m going to say this plainly so that there is no room for confusion. One cannot be a believing Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jew, etc. and believe in evolution. Despite what ill-informed religious scholars and terrified atheists will tell you, faith and evolution are mutually exclusive.
I could get into all the scriptural inconsistencies, the carbon dating, the age of the earth, the problems with genesis and other creation myths and the fossil record but I won’t. The thing is, it is much simpler than that.
In order for religion to exist and to hold any power over the human spirit and consciousness, it must place us as separate and unique among all creatures. There is no religion that treats humans the same as dogs. In every religion, humans are precious, created by God in his image and chosen above all other living creatures.If this wasn’t the case, people would never have bought into it in the first place. We like to be prized.
Since evolution maintains that humans are in no way special, and despite our grandest of hopes, not the final outcome of the evolutionary processes, it is incompatible with any religious faith. There is no clear line between humans and those that preceded us. There is gradual change over time so that no scientist could ever pinpoint the one point or line in the fossil record where say, Home Erectus became Homo Sapiens as we know it today. So, if that is true (and to believe in evolution you must accept this as truth), did God love Home Erectus in the same way he loved us? How about the neanderthals? They were more human-like than the early Homo Sapiens were in many ways. Were they created in God’s image? What about their ancestors? It really all just starts to fall apart when you realize that we are living fossils on a continuum of life that goes back a very long time and (God willing – ha!) will continue for a very long time.
When things like this get too tough and believers are faced with having to make a rational jump into the abyss of non-belief or stay safely quaking on the ledge of faith, they usually sputter that “There are things that have not yet been revealed”, “Only God knows the truth”. And then we come all the way back to the beginning.
Much like the neanderthals that preceded us, believers are being faced with a changing world and more information than their brains can handle.