How Does Libertarian Free Will reject Causal Determinism?

June 28, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 10:29 pm   Category: Determinism vs. free will

Ok, If you’ve been around a while, you know that I’ve never had a philosophy lesson in my life, and that I am pretty ignorant on these sorts of things. But I’m trying to get better and I’ve recently discovered the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and am learning, but have some questions.

New CES change

June 24, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 9:40 am   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

I received the following in my e-mail today, and as I am aware that many of our friends at FPR and JI take an interest in the goings on of CES, I thought I’d put it out for public consumption.

First Presidency Letter

Personally, I am glad to see local CES falling under the authority of the local Stake Presidency.

First, this enables areas where there is a stake, but no CES influence the ability to run a seminary program according to their local needs. Second, this allows the Stake more control and responsibility in the selection of CES teachers. Third, this decentralizes CES control. Fourth, I think people are much more likely to reect appointments than callings and this is in part a reaction to many people quitting seminary teaching assignments. Finally, it used to be that a channel into CES emplyment was to volunteer, and if you performed well, you could get a paid opportunity. It seems that this somewhat backward window into CES is closing.

I do have some worries though. My primary worry is that requiring all CES teachers to be called and set apart may terminate most if not all of the interesting CES courses, like Julie Smith teaching an entire semester on half of Genesis, or Kevin Barney teaching a class in Hebrew or Greek for institute in Chicago. It doesn’t affect me directly, as none of these things are offered in San Antonio, but I still like the idea that courses are being offered. I guess time will tell.

It will be interesting to see what if any this policy change will have. In any case, I am grateful for church administration, and their inspired efforts to improve the church. Now I just need to keep praying for help with this “early morning” bit of it…

New survey: Religious tolerance growing among Christians?

June 23, 2008    By: Geoff J @ 8:49 pm   Category: Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

There was and interesting article today at (via Yahoo News) focusing on a recent survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. [Update: See more detailed survey results here and here] Here are some excerpts:

Americans of every religious stripe are considerably more tolerant of the beliefs of others than most of us might have assumed, according to a new poll released Monday. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life last year surveyed 35,000 American, and found that 70% of respondents agreed with the statement “Many religions can lead to eternal life.” Even more remarkable was the fact that 57% of Evangelical Christians were willing to accept that theirs might not be the only path to salvation, since most Christians historically have embraced the words of Jesus, in the Gospel of John, that “no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Quizzed on the breadth of the poll’s definition of “Evangelical,” Pew pollster John Green said the 296-page survey made use of self-identification by the respondents’ churches, denominations or fellowships, whose variety is the report’s overriding theme. However, he said, if one isolates the most “traditionalist” members of the white Evangelical group, 50% still agreed that other faiths might offer a path to eternal life. In fact, of the dozens of denominations covered by the Pew survey, it was only Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses who answered in the majority that their own faith was the only way to eternal life. (Italics mine)


God and the Future

June 21, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 1:26 am   Category: Foreknowledge

I face sort of an odd situation in my life. You see, I don’t believe the future exists yet, nor do I believe it can be clearly or completely determined, and yet some of what I would consider my highest level spiritual experiences had to do with God giving me what seemed like foreknowledge of the future.

To illustrate, I will provide two examples.

1st, perhaps one of the most life changing dreams I’ve ever had was about my teenage daughter, 6 years before she was born. She’s four now. (or one depending on which girl it was I dreamed of. They look almost alike in many ways, and the dream was a long time ago.) The dream changed my life in that I fell in love with my daughter in that dream, and so decided to have children. (Which I had previously been against.)

2nd, When I was deciding whether or not to be baptised, I felt an impression of the way my life would go if I followed the path of the gospel, especially regarding who I would marry. Just before I got baptised, this woman made it very clear that she would NEVER marry me. This led me to have a momentary crisis in my fledgling faith where I was uncertain of the communication I had received or that I had even received communication. Then through a spiritual experience I have elsewhere described, and through a decison I had to believe in the communications from God those experiences represent, I went ahead and was baptised. Now that woman and I have been married for almost six years. This crisis of faith, I believe, was critical to my conversion process, as it taught me to walk by faith and how to “put things on the shelf”. Further it confirmed to me I was joining the church for myself and not just another pretty face.

So there you have it. I still don’t believe the future exists, but I do believe God does, in a way beyond my comprehension, have an understanding of my life that enables him to effectively interact with me and help me to see my future, even though it does not exist.

How much evil is okay?

June 17, 2008    By: Jacob J @ 11:11 pm   Category: Ethics,Theology

Let’s assume for the sake of this post that God exists and that he’s good. In this context, the problem of evil starts to look rather like our complaining about how God does his job. This got me to thinking:

Just what do you think God should be doing? Specifically. (more…)

Black Nail Polish

June 14, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 10:25 am   Category: Life

Last month I was “fired” as Ward Clerk and moved to be Young Men’s President. Our Ward is Small, and so we combine Teachers and Deacons. We have 6 active youth who run the gambit in family settings.

Recently an apparent issue has come up where rumor has it that someone in my ward came up to one of my young men and chastised him for having black nail polish on while blessing the sacrament. (He’s Goth, or Monster Metal, or whatever it is called these days. ). Rumor has it that the boy was pretty angry about these comments. I don’t know what his reaction really is, but I can imagine. I don’t even really know which Young Man it was (I have two Goth kids, could be either one)

Now these are good guys. One always wears a suit to church and purposefully puts his “down to his waste” hair back in a pony tail. He blesses the sacrament nearly every week, and while he has no plans to serve a mission, attends mutual every week, and faithfully helps his grandfather home teach and serve half the widows in our ward. (By help, I mean he takes them the sacrament every week and takes some of them dinner almost every night.) The other is working with me every week towards achieving his eagle scout, despite great personal obstables he has come accross. Both have committed to me to work on their Duty to God awards and Both are 80% done or better.

More importantly, I have worked with these kids for years as a Sunday School Teacher, and I have a personal spiritual witness of their vital worth to God. Before I said these were good guys. Let me not understate this. These are AWESOME young men.

These are really smart kids, going through normal patterns that really smart kids go through, rebelling against the norms of society because let’s face it, the norms of society really suck for teenagers. Sure some could argue that “Goth” culture (or whatever it is) is just another norm of society (a trap as it were so that even those rebelling from the norms would fall into a consumer friendly market that is easy to produce product for). But the real thing is, I don’t want these Young Men to confuse praxis as applied by some members as the Gospel for the Way that brings happiness in this life and the next.

Being a teenager is hard enough. You’ve got the “circus in your pants” problem, the relationships problem, the accountability problem, the “church rules now apply to you” problem. I mean, what isn’t a problem or challenge at that age?

It reminds me of another young man I know who was once given crap by someone for having painted Toe nails while doing a baptism. He had a crazy Dennis Rodman fetish and apparantly Painted Nails were part of that Fetish. That guy later went on a mission to Indiana and baptised me.

My first instinct is to paint my nails black, but I don’t want to exacerbate the problem by openly being a jerk to someone who was a jerk, and it’s only a rumor at this point, so who knows. And besides, wearing nail polish bothers me. My second thought was to have a mini lesson on hedges, based sort of on Geoff’s recent post. Or maybe a mini lesson on stupid people and the church, or even a mini lesson on social conformity and cultural misunderstanding across generations.

anyway /end rant.

Any ideas?

Questions On Our Eternal Being

June 11, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 7:48 am   Category: Eternal Progression

One of the most prominent and appealing concepts throughout our religion is that of continual eternal progression. Another important concept in our religion is the eternal nature of matter as opposed to ex nihilo creation. I would venture to say that these two concepts are widely agreed upon among all my co-religionists.

Some other concepts don’t merit such unanimous support. Sometimes, this is due to the slippery nature of the language we’ve given ourselves. For example, there is the question of what eternal means in these scenarios. Is it never ending progression, or is it Progression like God? Is matter never beginning and never ending or is it God’s matter? Is there a distinction between these two or isn’t there? Is there sometimes a distinction and sometimes no distinction? (more…)