Responsibility and Consciousness

August 27, 2009    By: Jacob J @ 2:26 pm   Category: Life

Lisa: You did fix them, right Dad? Because even a single faulty unit could corrupt every other computer in the world.
Homer: That can’t be true, honey. If it were I’d be terrified.

I recently checked out some books from Oxford’s “A Very Short Introduction” series. I started with A Very Short Introduction to Economics but gave up about two thirds of the way through due to it being extremely boring. Next in the hopper was A Very Short Introduction to Consciousness by Susan Blackmore. This one was plenty interesting but it made me want to strangle Susan Blackmore on several occasions. (more…)

Omnipotent & Omnimalevolent

August 25, 2009    By: Kent (MC) @ 7:39 pm   Category: Calvinism,Theology

Certainly, the greatest theological problem that plagues most individuals in our generation is theodicy, or why a good and all powerful God allows for evil to exist. We as Mormons can be trite and say, “Well that’s easy, people have agency,” as if that answered every possible objection. Of course there are additional issues that agency doesn’t answer, such as natural evils. An all powerful God could probably make a world with fewer earthquakes, diseases, etc.

Anyway, I’m not super interested in directly answering the problem of evil in this post, rather, I would like to discuss a thought experiment. I really enjoy following the links of the sideblog at By Common Consent which are often humorous and witty. A few weeks (or months) ago they linked to a blog post by Stephen Law titled The God of Eth, which I found wonderfully effective in illustrating the weakness of our common responses to the problem of evil. Stephen turns our premises on their heads by offering a mental exercise wherein professors on the planet Eth are debating whether they can defend their basic beliefs that the God of Eth is all powerful and all evil. He has his characters try and explain and defend a belief in an all evil being who allows some good to come through in the world. You see, they have to deal with the Problem of Good. Here is a short sample of the dialogue.

Questions about the Nature of God

August 21, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 9:33 am   Category: Theology

I’ve been corresponding with a friend regarding the nature of God. I ended my last post saying there are some questions that I am not sure we have clear answers to. Since you are a bunch of smart people, thought I’d see if anyone had a persuasive argument for the answer to any of these questions being fixed in our theology. I don’t think they are.

1. The Divinity of Jesus Christ- Is he a God exatly like Heavenly Father is, or is he divinely invested with Authority by the Father?  What are the implications of this on our understanding of the atonement?

2. The Existance of a Heavenly Mother- Do you believe or not believe in her? If she is existant, is it like J. Stapley believes and she is not equal to the Father? What does her existance imply?

3. Is there a Father of Heavenly Father? What does that mean?

4. If God was once a man like we are now, but was also always God, are we also always God?

5. What does it mean to be the Most High God? Is it just smarter than the smarties?

6. What does it mean to be an eternal being? Are we Eternal in the sense that we have always been conscious?

Old LDS Film Strips: Freddie Finds Bravery

August 18, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 6:18 am   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

Recently, we’ve been watching old film strips for FHE. The kids love turning the film in the projector, and the ward library has oodles of these. I really recommend it. This one is probably the most ridiculous we’ve come across, so enjoy.

ps- I don’t really know any of the history around these film strips, so if anyone has a resource, I’d love to know.

New Sayings for Mormon Walls (and Decorative Tiles)

August 15, 2009    By: Kent (MC) @ 4:45 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

If you live outside the Mormon corridor, you may not have seen these types of signs or tiles up in people’s homes (as illustrated in the photo to the left). It seems like every Mormon home I go to has a sign up in awesome stenciled lettering which provides opportunities for reflection on deep gospel principles (like “Choose the Right” or “Love is Spoken Here”). I haven’t loved the new fad of the decorative tiles or the vinyl stenciling on the walls until I saw one that stated, “What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about?” At that moment I realized that we could start something wonderful that will catch on, especially in Utah Valley. I thought of some new ones that would work well in our home and hope you will share some sayings that you think could catch on. My wife thinks about 1/3 are totally dumb, but who knows which one will soon be hanging in our home? You may hold the key to swaying her with your vote.

Honoring your agency means telling you no.

I never said it would be easy.

Obedience is the first law of heaven. The second is like unto the first.

It is always darkest before God opens a window.

I love you no matter how I treat you.

Atonement Algebra

August 14, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 8:22 am   Category: Atonement & Soteriology

Some people say the most universal language is math. With that in mind, I was goofing around this morning, trying to explain the atonement with math. Here’s my first attempt:

M = Me
J = Jesus
S = Achieving my exaltation
N = the time I’ve existed (infinity)
M^N < S
J <> S
M^N + J = S

Thoughts? Formulas?

Thoughts on God and Man

August 12, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 6:31 am   Category: Life,Theology

I originally wrote this with the intention that it would be my first post in my Gospel Principles series, but it is not quite what I wanted to say, so I am going to rewrite. Still, consider this draft 1, and come back around January for Draft 2.

Before thoroughly discussing who our Heavenly Father is, it is essential to understand a few basic concepts that are fundamental to LDS theology. The first of these is the eternal nature of matter, and thus, by implication, the eternal nature of the reality we exist in. Thus it can be said our faith “holds strictly to the conception of a material universe.” [1] Also, eternal laws bind this universe, and these laws bind anything within this universe. [2] [3]


Reasoning from the scriptures with humility

August 4, 2009    By: Jacob J @ 11:03 am   Category: Scriptures

The other night I was reading from the scriptures and I found a passage that didn’t make sense to me. Here are the verses:

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. (1 Pet 3:18-20)

6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Pet 4:6)

When I read this, I marveled because I know that Jesus spent about three years preaching repentance during his mortal ministry and even though he performed a bunch of amazing miracles he was only able to convince a relatively small number of people to repent and follow him. (more…)

Stop trying to bake the cockroaches of Nonsense into my cupcake of Mystery

August 3, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 3:29 pm   Category: Foreknowledge,Theology

Remember that mini parable they used to teach in church about a delicious cupcake (or cookie or whatever) being just right except for that one nasty ingredient (cockroach, rabbit poo, or whatever)? The moral of the story was that the old “it is fine except for that one scene/lyric/part” excuse just won’t do.

Well the same message applies to the Mysteries of God. Don’t pollute the beautiful mysteries of God with poppycock (aka self-contradictory and incoherent nonsense).

Here are some examples of great mysteries: We don’t know how God hears our thoughts; We don’t know how God manages to speak to our minds; We don’t know how God heals the sick; We don’t know how God parts seas, moves mountains, causes or stops rains, converts water to wine, or any of the miracles we know of. The list of specific mysteries is innumerable.

But separate from mystery list is the paradoxical nonsense list. The thing that makes this a “nonsense list” is that by definition these things are self contradictory like the following: God can make a circular square or God can create a married bachelor. Remember that banal one they used to ask in elementary school? Can God create a rock so big that he can’t lift it? These are all part of the paradoxical nonsense list. Add to the list the claim that God can travel to or see our actual future and yet we still have real (libertarian) free will. The reasons why this last one is nonsense have been discussed ad nauseum here in the past. The simple explanation is this: If the future exists to be traveled to or known then it is fixed. If our futures are fixed then our stories are already written. If our stories are already written we are not writing them with our free will right now. Period.

On a side note, I am always amused at the way people get all huffy about this truth. Once cornered (and people always end up cornered when defending sheer nonsense) a popular response is to scream “Philosophies of men!!” and stomp off. But truth is truth and the fact that some men believe it shouldn’t be a problem.

[Note: I re-read this post and toned down the rhetoric a little. I was annoyed and in a hurry when I first wrote it.]

Seriously? Anxiety over elementary school choices?

August 1, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 10:52 pm   Category: Life

I frankly don’t get it.

We live in a fairly new neighborhood with a K-8 public elementary/middle school in it. My kids walk the half a mile to and from school every day. Starting this year all four of them will go to and fro together. I think it is great. The kids are flourishing socially and academically (as they have in every school they’ve attended.)

But we know lots of people in the neighborhood (and ward) who choose to send their children to other elementary schools. Sometimes it is a school in a neighboring district, sometimes it is a charter school in town. In each of these cases it means driving the children to and from school every day. (more…)