Saturday, April 12, 2014

Witness and conversion by real intent and desire with faith

How do we know when it is truly the Holy Spirit we feel and not only an internal desire that springs forth emotion in us that makes us feel good? Can anyone claim truth on the merit of strong internal feelings and desires?  Is there a verifiable way to discern truth and know what is right?
Matthew chapter 7: 13 ¶Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
 15 ¶Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Truth cannot merely be declared because you feel strongly it is right and aligns with your view points. It must be tried and tested! There are those who feel that people of all religions want their religion to be true so badly that they convince themselves that their religion is true. They feel that any spirit or feeling or power felt by an individual is caused by a strong internal desire to feel something to solidify their belief. What is the Mormon opinion on this subject and what is a good way to refute this argument?   
This theory of “convincing themselves” is a view point common among people who would claim to be agnostic or atheist, and we would agree with them to a point that it does and can happen that way. As human beings we do have the ability to excite our own mental state resulting in a desired effect. An example could be reactions such as crying or getting really excited or overwhelming feelings, especially in those people who seemed to get emotional more easily than others. (we see this among all humans and Lds in different scenarios). However, it is also true that me may react in these ways by influence of being touched by the spirit as well. So how do we discern and differentiate?
We are taught that in order to know something, or in order to receive a testimony we must first “desire” to know truth and then experiment upon the word of God as read in (Alma 32). Also we must consider the essential and precise wording from Moroni 10:
 3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
 4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
 6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
 7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.

We do not agree with the statements of generalization that it is the same for “all religions”, or that all people “convince themselves” through a false sense of internal desire and emotion. Desire is necessary for any knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge. Without a strong internal desire our life would be very different as human beings. Desire is necessary for progression. Nephi explains his personal desire to know if the words of his father were true as shared in 1 Nephi 10:17-19.
 17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
 18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
 19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.

When we are opposed with this kind of objection that our spiritual feelings are false and internally made up, we should try to learn more about what they mean regarding “strong internal desires, or mind created emotions.” I would ask for examples of what he/she interprets as a falsified witness through a person’s personal desire to know something to be true. Once this is discovered I would then share the First Vision. The appearance of God the Father and God the Son would not have been some random experience. This experience is either true or it is false. You may also share the Book of Mormon.  Again, it is either true or false. I would share the importance of having living prophets. I would then share examples of how the Holy Ghost has influenced the lives of people, and how it has blessed their lives. You might find it helpful to share a personal experience where you felt the spirit in a way that was outside of just raw emotion, perhaps a prompting that lead you to do something that blessed you or someone else, or a miracle of healing or change in thought and enlightenment.

As an example I would like to share a personal story that happened to me a couple of years ago.
One dark winter night while driving home with my family after a baptism we stopped in at a gas station to refuel. As I pulled into the lot I noticed that all station slots were open. Normally in such a case I would pull through to the farthest gas pump to make room for those who may come in after me from behind. In just a second of a moment I heard the still small voice and received a very distinct prompting to stop at the first pump. Without thinking further I listened to the prompting. After stopping and getting out to start refueling everything seemed fine and I gave it no further thought. However, within less than a minute something very drastic happened that may have changed my life. Just then a car came speeding down the street very fast and out of control heading towards a busy intersection. The gas pedal had somehow got stuck and the driver had little time to react. The driver chose to steer off the street away from the other cars and into the station lot and within 2 seconds crashed his car into the gas pump right where I would have been standing had I pulled through as usual. The gas pump was destroyed and his vehicle totalled. Miraculously, besides being shaken up and some minor injuries the driver and passengers were all okay. I am glad I don’t have to know what might have happened to me had I not heeded the prompting and pulled ahead as normal, as it is very likely I would have been killed or at least seriously injured. Also of note, was the attendant inside blessed with the insight to react quickly to shut the pumps off at the point of impact immediately as he heard the vehicle come racing onto the lot. It was later mentioned that his quick thinking possibly had saved a devastating fire. Besides a bruised knee from a reactionary dive away from the action, I drove home that night very thankful to my Father in heaven for keeping me and my family safe from harm’s way. I offered many prayers of thanks that night and the days following. It was comforting to know that my Heavenly Father was close by and I was thankful to be worthy of the influence of the Holy Ghost. This event strengthened our family as we saw in a very real way God’s hand at work in our lives.

Another example is a story as given by Wilford Woodruff:
“I drove my carriage one evening into the yard of Brother Williams [a local member of the Church]. Brother Orson Hyde [of the Quorum of the Twelve] drove a wagon by the side of mine. I had my wife and children in the carriage. After I turned out my team and had my supper, I went to bed in the carriage. I had not been there but a few minutes when the Spirit said to me, ‘Get up and move that carriage.’ I told my wife I had to get up and move the carriage. She said, ‘What for?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ That is all she asked me on such occasions; when I told her I did not know, that was enough. I got up and moved my carriage. … I then looked around me and went to bed. The same Spirit said, ‘Go and move your animals from that oak tree.’ … I went and moved my horses and put them in a little hickory grove. I again went to bed.
“In thirty minutes a whirlwind came up and broke that oak tree off within two feet from the ground. It swept over three or four fences and fell square in that dooryard, near Brother Orson Hyde’s wagon, and right where mine had stood. What would have been the consequences if I had not listened to that Spirit? Why, myself and wife and children doubtless would have been killed. That was the still, small voice to me—no earthquake, no thunder, no lightning; but the still, small voice of the Spirit of God. It saved my life. It was the spirit of revelation to me.”

I would then ask, by what “strong internal desire” did Wilford Woodruff convince himself to move his wagon in the middle of the night? What strong emotion did I create in my mind to avoid an accident? I would then bare testimony that by the same spirit Wilford Woodruff’s life and family was spared is by the same spirit God witnesses to His children the truth of His gospel. However, it is more likely this witness will not come until an individual has a strong desire to know and then act upon the witness received. In essence, there are times, due to our desires, that we may convince ourselves that something is true that is in reality false. This, however, doesn’t prove, that “all” witnesses would be false. This again would be a generalization, which can be more easily refuted by speaking with people who didn’t have a desire to know truth, actually persecuted it, and then received a witness that caused them to join the Church (Saul who became Paul is a great example of this from our scriptures). We also have modern examples of people who persecuted the Church, had no desire to join, and received an experience that changed their hearts and minds.
One will find that applying the principles found in Alma 32 speaking of the “Seed of faith” is the “Great Key” to truly gain a testimony and become converted. The spirit is neither a loud voice, nor one of confusion but it speaks clarity and peace when one knows they have felt and heard it. It is in the application of desire and faith that we see the fruits of the spirit and are able to recognize it for what it is and is not.

I want to bear my witness to all that I know through the spirit that Jesus the Christ lives and his gospel is true. I know the scriptures are true. I know that, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church restored on the earth by the prophet Joseph Smith and other latter day prophets. I have with desire tried and tested the word in faith and have tasted of the sweet fruits of the spirit and it has blessed my life immensely. I look forward with an eye of faith and am impressed by the spirit that one day we may return to our Heavenly parents and live forever in their presence.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter - A time to remember

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.- John 11:25

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.     - 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

Friday, March 22, 2013

Everything starts with faith

With a deeper study of the theory of life evolution, I can no longer see how it can fit into the gospel properly. Mix this with a deeper LDS understanding of the nature of God, and all the creation accounts in the scriptures and the things learned in the temple and the two just can't seem to correlate for me. There are too many gaps in the theory and a lot of the evidence is based on circular reasoning's and without observation. Too many things are presented as facts that really are being misrepresented. Within it, I don't find the proper scientific method applied. It maybe the best they have, but it's no theory, just a set of ideas based on assumptions of fossils, rock record formations and some observable facts. Of course there is more to it than that, hence their reasoning, and it can get quite complicated. But within that complication is very much the lack of evidence to fully support this theory. I have found that a lot of what is used as evidence is shady at best. It is the explained starting point of life that is really the biggest problem for me. We can only observe reproduction after our own "kind" just like it says in the bible. Sure, people make different people, dogs make different dogs and so on, with tons of variation and mutation, but no evidence shows that rocks and water can produce life even over billions of years.  They have even tried to reproduce it and they can't.  This is the part where the theory leaves science and enters the realm of faith or opinion. Evolution to some degree does happen but more in the form of variation. It is important to point out though that in this form there is a loss of  genetic information not an increase and not really any form of evolution is happening though some refer to this form as micro evolution.

One of the troubles we are sometimes faced with is deciding how to interpret scripture without clarification from God himself or a prophetic voice on each individual matter and especially when the prophetic voice only belongs to it's own religion. Different interpretations have led to thousands of denominations within Christianity alone. What is literal and what is figurative and what is the context and how does it apply? Science has an excellent built in guide and method but often misleads itself as well when it strays into unknowns. Nevertheless I think as believers we must use the scriptures as the foundation to help us understand science and not the other way around. I believe there is a perfect correlation somewhere to be found. True science is pure religion.

I have been doing a tremendous amount of research into these types of subjects based on the fact I have been faced with questions from members. There is a lot of information out there to discover. There are many discussions and debates out there similar in topic and they can be found online, in science journals and other places.  Some are between believers of an old earth vs. young earth,  some purely scientific and others from an atheist point of view. I think it is important to listen and try to understand the differing views. It is unfair to assume what you believe is the only possible or plauisble explanation when it comes to things like creation or age of the earth / universe, evolution or other scientific and/or theological ideas. Although I may not agree with any one side completely and maintain fully the LDS faith, for me it at least pulls many things into question making it incredibly clear we still don't have all the information and data, to know all the answers.

However, we do have enough for faith to exist. My opinion is, that where there is any lack of absolute truth and knowledge (D&C 93: 24), faith in something must be required. In our supernatural views faith can be applied and tested (Alma 32) just like we apply the scientific method to the natural order. Both require facts, evidences, hypothesis, theories, etc. or you could use language as hope, belief, faith, experience, revelation, knowledge of results, etc. To me, anything unproven to be anything but absolute truth is a form of belief in something whether, religion, evolution or something else. All knowledge that is not absolute is faith based. 

If we at least assume we exist ( I think therefore I am), then science has shown some absolute truths in the form of some laws of physics, mathematics and such ( 2+2=4) and I would also say that so has religion/philosophy with time tested principles (like love) and that all these we can accept. All schools of thought eventually lead us back to the same point of the beginning of creation as we know it or (Big bang). What started it all or if it is truly beginningless or what lies beyond that can only be left to theological and philosophical discussion. In other words, only humble faith is left as a starting point for either creationist / evolutionist, believer or non believer or anything else and in between, until something is revealed and or discovered as absolute truth.

I don't like to discard fully many ideas or theories and I always hold the right to change my mind and I do so carefully. I like to take all the evidence presented before me and then make the best descion for myself. I let interpretation guide but not determine, then at the end I am guilty of following my heart. To me, it is easy to conclude that discarding faith would be illogical and I choose to place my faith in God based on what I have learned and what I hope for. This especially, given the evidence of our experiences, testimonies given, and the already established revealed word of God through prophets and the hope to receive the promises contained in it. My hope is that one day we will know all things. Until such a time, it is up to the individual to carefully decide where to best place their faith and to make sense of it. The overall advantage to our LDS faith is, if we are right, we have an eternity of possibilities. If the atheist is right, he will have nothing. In my opinion, that is an easy decision to make. Some food for thought!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Testimony Recipe

There are no big secret ingredients in making and building a true testimony. True principles have been tried and tested and have withstood all that can be thrown at them. For an example there is the principle of charity and that it never faileth. The simple faith builders we learn in primary make up the majority of the recipe. How many of us underestimate the simplicity but importance of daily scripture study, taking time to ponder and personal fervent prayer? Are we really doing it to search for answers, are we searching for direction from the spirit? Are we yearning for insights and personal revelation? Have we been healed by the atonement and carry its strength with us? Have we truly experienced the change of heart and been moved apon by the Holy Ghost with a disposition to do no evil, but to do good continually.

Mosiah 5

1 And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them.

2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

3 And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.

We believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but have we really followed what we've been taught? Do we put it into practice? Are we doers of the word or hearers only? Have we followed the counsel of our latter day prophets? We live in a crazy world with so much evil all around us. Many would have us believe we are crazy to believe in God, that our beliefs are made up stories and are morals outdated and unreasonable. I declare that God lives, his plan is real, Christ truly suffered for us and his kingdom is setup on the earth today and Christ guides his church by the hands of holy prophets, seers and revelators. They have warned us over and over again to prepare ourselves physically, temporally, and most of all spiritually for the present and for tough times ahead. Have we heeded the warning voices and obeyed the counsels? They have not warned us without reason. Are we truly committed 100% and have we set our priorities in line?

There is a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Helaman 5

12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

There is a great key in Alma 32, read it and follow it to find success!

Do we have family prayer and scripture study, do we read and pray with our spouses everyday? Do we discuss the gospel in our homes and what we need to do to prepare and improve? Are we honestly having family home evening every week and putting effort into it?
Are we serving and giving charity? Are we attending church, and going to the temple? I hope we can answer these questions yes! If not, repent quickly and get life in order. Let's ask ourselves, "What do we truly desire most?"

If we want to taste eternal life we must prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. Follow the simple recipe we have been taught and it will turn out right. Strange ingredients will only damage and make bitter the final product.

If it is true, what else matters?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Neither believe nor disbelieve

I neither believe nor disbelieve... but ponder and wonder in amazement of the possibilities.

Recently during a discussion with some members of the church, a few of them made it very clear of their disdain and opposition to the Big Bang and the Theory of Evolution as a whole. They were actually making fun of scientists and others who would believe such non sense, proudly stating that such things are false doctrine. These individuals seemed to indicate the only possible stance was creation 6000 years ago, done over a period of 7 days. I held my tongue for the most part passing off a "who knows exactly how it all happened" and then left it at that. I didn't wish to offend and realized these individuals were not yet ready to fully understand this more complex matter of the gospel as well as considering it's unimportance to personal salvation. It still remains in my mind that it's true no one does know for sure and maybe what they believe is a possibility. Some are still receiving milk while others are now capable of introducing some meat along with the milk. But it got me thinking more about the subject. When it comes to these types of truths that are merely still in theory form it is fun to discuss and debate the possibilities and how each can or can not apply to the pre-established truths and doctrines.

To set the record straight, I neither believe nor disbelieve the Big Bang or Theory of Evolution. I maintain the stance that it may be a possible explanation for creation and continuance. As I see it, if it does not contradict completely the pre-established revealed knowledge than I can not discard it as hokum. The same goes for other schools of thought on creation and timelines etc. I find many compelling views and opinions on the differing sides. The fact is, we do not currently know exactly 100% how it all happened as we have theories mingled with revealed truths and to state otherwise with a surety is the only hokum that exists. I do believe we need to look at both science and revealed religion to help us understand and put together the mysteries of which we may or may not figure out or get right. As I have stated I maintain a stance that what we have discovered thus far via science is a fair possibility of creation explanation and I think there is fair argument for it within the church as I see how it may fit nicely in explaining and bringing harmony of the two studies. What we know is, that God created the heavens and the earth and he created us in His image. How he did it we do not know. He gives us hints and insights throughout scriptures and science but this is where it ends. What we have left is speculation based upon the best information we can find. Some may lean one way and some another. This is completely ok with me. For now I don't think we need one stance or another but more of a middle ground of possibility, it is up to God to reveal to us in His own due time these certain mysteries.

One of my favourite books of all time is "Earth in the Beginning" by Eric Skousen. Many of the things he presents in his book do make a lot of sense to me as well. I can't say I align completely with his point of view, but he makes compelling arguments and tries to back things up with scriptural interpretation. He discusses such things as "Prophets providing the overview and science helps fill in the gaps". He talks about God's possible chronology, cosmology, earth's spiritual and subsequent physical creations. He delves into forms of evolution and possible future of our globe as well as many other things including a possible explanation for dinosaurs. I love how it tries to make sense and harmonize all information we have before us and theorise the possibilities. That is what I am all about. This is exactly why I love this book and recommend it as a must read, regardless of whether or not I agree with everything it purports.

I have including the following article just to show how there are some within our church who can look at a more non traditional view point of creation and be ok with it. The point I would like to make by all of this is we should not judge or put down another who may tend to side with one stance or another. Although I take the stance to not lean strongly one way or another at this point in time, I offer the freedom to others to believe and worship how, where or what they may. So some may choose to believe that evolution is not compatible with there religious beliefs while others do. Interesting to note that according to a 2004 Gallup poll, 45% of Americans stated that human beings had been created by God in their current form less than 10,000 years ago. In 2009, on the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, Gallup found that only 40% of Americans "believe" in evolution. It's funny how we choose to accept some theories of science over others without a second look, like Gravity, etc., while others are hotly debated. We need to remember that pure religion does not contradict true science and that true science does not contradict pure religion. This article is by BYU scientist Steven Peck, who can explain far better than I can possibilities that Mormonism is not only compatible with evolution, but why Mormons have unique theological reasons for embracing it. He does this with wit, humour, and style. His reasoning may not be doctrinal but it displays to me reasons enough to accept a possibility of this school of thought.

"We can not make what we find fit our interpretation, we must make what we find develop our interpretation" - Kent Wentzell

Why Mormons Should Embrace Evolution: BYU Biology Professor Steven Peck
By Steven Peck

I am a Mormon. And an ape. This pairing is not customary, notwithstanding most Mormons, as members of the human race, are. There is nothing terribly exceptional or unusual about my apishness, but I thought it necessary to point out, because I want to talk about this a bit. Like many Mormons, I am big on genealogy. Although, I must admit, my recent ancestry has captured me less thoroughly than my deep heritage. Still, let's not go too far back, I don't want to talk about my invertebrate, fishy, or even reptilian past. I want to natter about two of my ape-line grandmothers.
One of my grandmothers was a small thing, with a head about the size of a chimp. But here is the incredible thing--she walked upright. Her hands thus free allowed her to fashion rocks into a slightly more useful form. Take a chip off a stone here. Flake off a bit there. And voila! You have just the thing needed to hack open a bone with a little more panache. My grandmother was a lovely woman, and even if she and I are not in the same species, I owe much of what I am
My other grandmother, a little more recent, looked a lot like me. I've got her eyes and nose. And her braincase. This woman's ancestors, fully human for about 600,000 years, made remarkable stone tools. A stunningly brilliant act of functional craftwork and tool manufacture compared to my, and her, more distant ├╝ber-great grandmothers. Even so, sadly, nothing had changed much for a few hundred thousand years. Same old same old stone paraphernalia. Then about 50,000 years ago something astonishing emerged. My grandmother's folk, living sometime around then, invented art! Her people started decorating things. Gear was made without a practical day-to-day function; fashioned just because it looked elegant. Her people painted cave walls. Established Rituals. Made music and likely danced (dancing has not fossilized well). The dead were honoured in new and elaborate ways. Grandmother's peeps suddenly were wildly inventive! What a woman.
Her tabernacle, I think, was almost ready for something extraordinarily special that God had in mind for his spirit children.
Mormon theology is uniquely positioned to embrace an evolutionarily-based theology. The first reason is that we believe in continuing revelation. We believe in updating our text. God continues to expand our views, deepen our understanding, and reshape and even radically change our current understanding. In an early revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed: "Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding." D&C 1:24. Therefore, we are open to new thoughts and views, because we believe God varies the manner of his message to our circumstance, understanding, and perspective. In addition, Mormonism has a history of being friendly to science.
In fact, Joseph Smith was called by some of his most thoughtful followers, "a scientist." Evolution by natural selection is the most important scientific discovery of modern times (I am stoically unapologetic about the lack of equivocation in that statement). The evidences for it are staggeringly abundant, detailed, and scientifically undeniable. Our perspective of an open canon allows us to accept this new revelation from the book of nature without getting stuck in past pre-Darwinian quagmires. Mormons are all about continuing revelation. It's what we do best.
Some will undoubtedly point out to me that there were apostles who once said that evolution was of the devil and all that. These men were, of course, the children of their culture. Anti-Darwinian fervor swept through America at the time they were living, and Christian fundamentalism waged a war on science that continues today. That they were caught up in this distraction is neither surprising nor disturbing. We are all the victims of our times. Hello! That is why the Lord speaks to us in our language (as broadly construed). I suppose if the apostleship had been, counterfactually, filled with scientists, the business-savvy mavens now would trace out how uninformed they were about modern corporate practices, and the tale would be about how, say, the church was driven into inefficiency, or even bankruptcy. You know scientists. But this needn't worry us. Things are getting straightened out now. Evolutionary thinking is on the way in, and static old creationism on its way out. Adieu. What about Adam and Eve? The Fall? Yes. We will keep all our essential doctrines. It will take some sorting out. Of course. But we are a patient people.
The second reason Mormonism is evolutionary theory friendly, is that it is deeply materialistic--in the respectable sense. Meaning there is something wonderfully essential about matter. We came to Earth from a preexistent, materialism-lite, to be made of this kind of matter--the kind of matter that we now see shuttling about the universe. There was something wildly vital about our connecting with this proton-neutrony stuff; necessary even to the point that we wanted to be hooked up with it eternally. Like God. We, as material . . . somethings, have the opportunity to change, grow and become something new and astonishing. Like my grandmothers did.
Of course, I've just sketched a wildly broad-brush, cartoonish view, and there are a lot of details to be worked out, but in short, Mormons believe in a flavor of eternal evolution. How wonderful that this is paralleled in the history of the Earth. This, also links me physically to all the creatures of the Earth. My physical body, formed in an evolutionary process, is part of the history of this Earth. This Earth that I believe is my final destiny. Mormons believe this will be our final home, along with the creatures that lived here. The very same creatures that evolved and emerged on this planet. Circles within circles. Worlds without end. What a breathtaking thought that I am connected to this Earth's physical processes in deep time--past and future.
I am a Mormon. And an Ape. On my way to something wondrous.

What do you think of this article and this topic of discussion?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Behind the Singularity

In my third continuation on the idea of eternity being without beginning , I keep coming back to this whole "Time" thing being the real problem that trips us up over and over again. I want to throw it away and then take a look at our universe and beyond. We need to at least begin to look at it differently. We know for God time exists differently then as we know it. Past, present and future are all before him, a concept hard for us to comprehend. Did our universe in fact have a beginning? I think it's possible it may have. But what was the source behind all that creation? If we consider "the big bang theory" at all, what yet lies behind it's singularity?

I am of the belief that there is more than just our universe that exists. A multiverse or even something beyond the endless eternity we know as space in my mind seems to make some sense. I have of course no scientific proof to form any theories, it really is boiled down to pure speculation based on my current knowledge of science and religion. My question is, where did everything come from? Is it possible that it always existed in one form or another, and if so how is that possible? Good science says you can not create something out of nothing. So even if the big bang is plausible (God being the power behind it), where did it's singularity come from? Is it conceivable that somehow somewhere it's possible that there was an actual beginning to all things? Possibly a being or intelligence superior to all else discovered and laid the building blocks of all life and matter. Yet even with such a speculation, there still leaves an unanswered singularity problem of how even that being came to be! Further speculation beyond this requires twisting your brain till it hurts. It seems as those something must have always been present on a self existing principle. This however is impossible to comprehend at this time. Can something truly come from nothing after all? Or, behind all creation, beyond all we know does there exist something that exists on a self existing principle? We are taught by Joseph Smith that "Intelligences" fall into this category. I still don't understand how agency, laws and sin play such a large role? Do these originate with our Heavenly Father or are these laws self existing somehow as well or controlled by another force beyond all revealed religion?

If we say that God created everything from nothing, then we say he created the very problems that plague us and required the sending of his only begotten to pay a horrible price for sin and death. Why if he has all knowledge and wisdom and power and love would he do that? That doesn't make sense, therefore, this is why I believe he did not create it from nothing but in fact works with and overcomes the problems within the knowledge and wisdom of governing or self existing laws and principles. The Saviour was a response to problems that naturally occur based on self existing laws. Based on these laws and principles it leads me to believe there is more beyond what we know and there is more beyond the singularity. Behind the singularity we maybe able find out if there is truly a beginning or not, where time does not exist and is not a problem. Not to mention there we can understand, than look past the complexity of the whole "one eternal round" belief. We may never understand it, even in the next life either, but I'm sure we will. I believe Our Father knows all there is to know, beginning and end!

Time is not thought of as being a force. The fact of time is, it exists, it currently moves forward and we have no control over it. Space, before the Singularity, was possibly not just emptiness as we perceive it may have been. Logic dictates that in order for physical matter to exist in our Universe it must have existed before in another universe or realm/ dimension from where properties existed to create our Universe as we know it. How different was it, and how separate are we from that primordial state? It seems to reason that this existence was in a completely unknown form, in an unknown Universe or multiverse or Matrix or whatever we wish to call it. We just don't know what it is!

Next is the tricky part of time. Almost every physicist today will agree, when what they call the "Big Bang" occurred, it only required a few microseconds to create our Universe. It seems to them that "Time" did not exist until the Big Bang occurred (this is the current idea). From this scientific view point, Time only begins when the Big Bang occurs. There is no thought given on the time that the Primordial Singularity may have existed. It is as if nothing before the Big Bang is worthy of any investigation or thought. How can anyone ignore that fact of there having to be a force behind the singularity that created all that we know? The possible singularity and it's big bang is not our starting point. I believe the driving force behind all of creation is God of course. How he chooses to accomplish his creations is still mostly not revealed. But I believe good science is true religion. This is what Joseph Smith taught us in the 1840's.

We will never understand our universe until we learn how it came to be from the beginning. To learn this secret, we must look beyond theories in science. There is in fact room for theology. There is place for a Divine creator. I don't believe science will ever figure it out. But we will one day know all that God knows as he reveals it to us. We cannot blindly accept the logic that time did not start until the moment of the Big Bang. Using that logic, the Big Bang could not occur. Without Time, there could not have been a big bang. How time existed before that point or beyond in God's reckoning is not understood but it must have existed in some form. This I think is important but like I've said, thinking about it only gives you a headache. Forget Time as we understand it! Then think of the endless possibilities that await us in the next life.
Obviously, time had to exist in some form before the big bang. Where else did the singularity come from? Without this prior existence of time, the Universe could not have been created. This prior existence of time allows (something) to exist in a point of time preceding the singularity.

The Trick of Time may also possibly allow us to live separate from God for a long time according to us, yet in his reckoning we are not gone for very long from his presence. This is what we believe. How this is achieved is of course unknown. What we know of Kolob and surrounding stars is that their reckoning of time differs from ours on earth and we understand that one day in God's reckoning equals a thousand years for us. Is this achieved through the confines and laws of our universe or through mere connection to our universe through black holes, dimensions, or a multiverse etc.? I'm not a scientist, I am a theologian that uses some science as reference.

So why is Time so important? Without Time, there can be no motion, no reactions, and no energy. Without time, we could not have a Universe. What is time? It is nothing less than the Universe's equivalent to hydraulic fluid. The lubricant that allows motion to occur and determines at what rate this motion will continue. Next, I think we need to consider time existing in different forms. It can not be only linear based, if past present and future are all before God, not to mention the fact that his reckoning of time differs from ours. Time is one eternal round. To me this suggests that time is not in one form by itself. It can be manipulated in many ways. This is a very exciting idea. With that frame work, possibilities are absolutely endless. God has said time is endless and Endless is his name. What an estimable idea. What or who created time as we know it in this previous universe is a question to be forgotten by scientists and placed in the hands of theologians. We believe it is in God's hands to reveal these things to us in His own due time. All we know now based upon science is that the basic nature of time is that it moves in only one direction. If past, present and future all before God and one in the same, either time does not exist at all for him and he calls it something else or time travel in some sense is possible. What is faster than the speed of light? Nothing we know of, but is it possible outside the limitations of our universe? Is this how God can jump from planet to planet in little time or possibly all things considered, no time at all? This manipulation of time has baffled humans for centuries.

Could our universe be caught between the past and future of time and perhaps frozen in "real time" within this universe by the limitations put upon it at the beginning of it's creation? What we presently regard, as forward time, always looking into the future, could be in reality just a state or point in God's "real time". Could it be that we are now separate from real time. Like I've said before, are we possibly living at point zero eternally, with everything before us and ahead of us existing together. We move with time and in time without affecting anything else, thus we live in one eternal round. If that even makes sense, because I'm not sure it even makes sense to me. Our reckoning of time flows from the point of Singularity. At this point this is all we may be able to say. Where our universe is currently positioned, with respect to time, is the present point between past and future. It is here in the present that our universe may possibly always remain from the point of it`s creation, unless it has another destiny which is yet to be unfolded. We may be able to say that something has always existed due to the fact that something existed before time as we know it was ever created. Interesting twisted thought no doubt. Therefore, I say "Time" is the mystery that science and religion has yet to discover. I one day hope to obtain the truth of all things.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spiritual Battle

Satan is very crafty. I think most of us underestimate his power. He and his angels are very much aware of the gravity of the situation we are faced with. He knows these are the last days and this is his final chance to wage a war so fierce that it may take down even some of the strongest. He has orchestrated an evil plan of lies and snares, and he is fighting with all his might. I ask myself the question, are we fighting back with as much strength and fervour? I remember Pres. Eyring's talk from a while ago about the fact that what we are doing and what we have done in the past is no longer enough. We need to do more, we have to raise up to the next level and fight back with all we have. We have to understand the urgency of the times. It's time we go toe to toe with Satan. In the end the good guys will come out victorious, but that is not the real question. Their is no question whether or not this work will go forward, the only question is will you and I be a part of it?