Science & Religion #13: Series RecapBy: Mike S
After a “mini-break” from the Science & Religion series, we’re going to get back into it. The next group of posts may be a bit more controversial, however, so I wanted to review the groundwork for the Science & Religion series that we’ve covered so far. So, as a recap:
Six Foundation Posts
Science & Religion #1: A Modern Towel of Babel – This post starts the series off. It contrasts sending the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft to Saturn (including landing a probe on Titan) with the previous teaching that earth was the center of the universe up through Galileo’s time. And in case we think these issues are “old”, in 1961, President Joseph Fielding Smith told us we would never send a man to the moon and that we could “write down in your books that this will never happen.” Hmmm. Maybe NASA did fake the moon landings. So how do we resolve this?
Science & Religion #2: What Are We Doing? – This post asks WHY we should even talk about science and religion. Shouldn’t we just focus on religion and what we need to do to get back to God? Isn’t the whole point of this series a waste of time? Importantly, this post gives 3 assumptions that I will use in the rest of the series:
- Truth exists
- God is NOT trying to trick us
- As we progress, we are getting CLOSER to the truth
Science & Religion #3: Scientific Search For Truth – This post starts out with a cool picture of an atomic bomb – I don’t know why these pictures fascinate me. It talks about the scientific method and how we determine truth in science. While I have heard science disparaged in various church meetings because it “changes” and only religious truths are “eternal”, that is the point – science is SUPPOSED to change as we get more knowledge. We will use these concepts in future posts.
Science & Religion #4: Religious Search For Truth – This post talks about how we determine religious truth. It recounts the similar stories of Joseph Smith and Muhammad. How do we determine religious truth, when prophets and apostles are also mortal men entitled to their own opinion (such as what the inhabitants of the moon look like)? This post covers principles of universality, consistency, and a ranking system for LDS teachings proposed by Neal A Maxwell. These concepts are going to be important, for example, when we talk about The Flood – where a single leader’s comment 150 years ago can form the basis of an entire line of thought that completely conflicts with everything else.
Science & Religion #5: Inside Out Paradigm – This post looks are one way of reconciling science and religion. It basically involves and “inside-out” view of the world. Someone reads a religious text and determines what this text MUST mean. They then attempt to impose this view on the world OUTSIDE them. Where evidence supports the foregone conclusion, it is seen as evidence for God. Where evidence conflicts, it is rejected. This method has flaws pointed out in this post, and certainly doesn’t tend to get closer to reality.
Science & Religion #6: Outside In Paradigm – This post examines what I propose is a better way of reconciling things. It accepts what we see in the world around us, and looks to see how this might work with religious texts. It supposes the God reveals many scientific truths through scientific developments as opposed to General Conference. It is the general outline used for the rest of the series:
- Introduce a topic
- Tell what we know about it from a scientific point-of-view
- Tell what we know about it from a religious point-of-view
- See how these may or may not reconcile
So, these 6 posts form the basis for this series. The next 6 posts used this “Outside In” paradigm to examine a few “cosmic” things.
Six “Universe” Posts
Science & Religion #7: In The Beginning… – How did this all start? What was the Big Bang? Was God before the Big Bang and therefore outside the universe? Or does God live INSIDE the universe, and was He therefore created in the Big Bang, just like us?
Science & Religion #8: We Are All Made Of Stars – God may have created our bodies, but he had to get the material from somewhere. The stuff in our bodies is made of exploded stars. Abraham also talks about stars. I don’t really know how to reconcile what we think we know about the universe with what Joseph Smith revealed in the Book of Abraham. Maybe you do?
Science & Religion #9: Is Moroni A Sphere? – This post gets into Flatland and other dimensions. Many things we talk about in religion make more sense when other dimensions are introduced to our “boring” 3-D world. Does Moroni live in another dimension? Can God see my “guts”?
Science & Religion #10: Strings and Spirits – This takes the dimension thing to another level – actually 10 dimensions. We talk about String Theory here. Does spirit represent vibrations (intelligence) which forms and influences everything we see (coarse matter)? Maybe. Is the answer to everything 42? Who knows?
Science & Religion #11: When Is God? – This builds upon the Big Bang, multi-dimensions, etc. When is God? Does He exist in our time? How can He see past, present and future? If God was once mortal in THIS UNIVERSE, how does this work?
Science & Religion #12: Uncertain Why We’re Here? – This is the last of the “theoretical” posts. There is a very real “uncertainty” built into the fabric of this universe. Is this necessary for mortality? Do we need “uncertainty” in order for this to be a “test”? Are you uncertain what the uncertainty principle even is? Then check out this post.
And that’s the series so far. I did then veer off a bit into General Conference statistics regarding LDS membership growth. While not specifically part of the Science & Religion series, it was somewhat related. Predicting future trends is obviously fraught with error, but there is some mathematics involved. I tried to predict general conference numbers, and was fairly close. While predicting future trends can “iffy” (remember 280 million Mormons in the next 70 years?), it does make sense to look at the path you are on to see: 1) if you like where it is going and 2) if there is something you might be able to change if you don’t like where it is going.
Unfortunately, the trends suggested by the past might not be favorable. The post does make some suggestions for things we might do if we don’t like where things might be headed. Or else we can just keep doing what we’re doing and hope for the best. It’s not really my decision anyway.
So, that is the series to date. While some of the topics have been a bit esoteric, there was less controversy related to them. There was also a purpose for the progression. We covered the basis of using an “Outside In” paradigm. We covered “universal” topics that form the foundation of everything. The next set of topics covers the “earth”. Some of these are going to include:
- The age of the earth
- Creation of the earth
- When did Adam live?
- Did someone live here before Adam?
- Did Adam have a belly button?
- Where was Eden?
- Human migrations and revealed truth
- Hunters vs farmers
- Old dudes (Did people really live 900 years?)
- Noah and a worldwide flood
- Continental drift
- Moses and Ramses
- Parting the Red Sea
- Ten Tribes and Ice Caps
After that, we are going to continue to move down in scope from a “earth” level to a “personal” level.
- Faith vs knowledge
- Behavioral reinforcement / Skinnerism
- Healing and prayer
- WofW: Tobacco
- WofW: Meat
- WofW: Wine
- Depression and religion
So, there are a lot of topics we’ll be going through. I just wanted to bring everyone up to speed that may be new, and also remind everyone of how the series is going to be set up (and WHY). Again, we will introduce a topic, see what science has to say on the topic, see what religion has to say on the topic, and see how the two do or don’t correlate. And, as always, these posts are just starting points. I’ve learned a lot from discussions so far.
Cheers and Happy Spring!
- Do you think the Outside In paradigm is a valid way to approach these issues?
- Are there any questions on topics we’ve addressed so far?
- Do you have any suggested topics as we go forward?