The Blog that Ate Religion

FireTag Culture, religion, science, theology 33 Comments

“The Blob” was one of those horror movies from the 1950’s that I, as a young boy, found right on the boundary of “too scary to watch”. The blob that consumed everything you saw as safe was scary, to be sure, but at least, at the end, a young Steve McQueen could save the day.  (The scariest movie, because of its utter hopelessness, was “On the Beach”.) And so the “blob has come down to us as something that is scary only to the very young.

A younger Christianity once found science very scary — although history shows the conflict to be a little less about science versus religion, and a little more about intra-church politics than we usually notice. But eventually, much of the Christian world reached a peace treaty with the secular world based on the notion of non-overlapping magisteria. Religion has its realm; science has another. Peace is kept by neither side jostling the other.

However, many people do not realize just how much territory has been ”occupied” since Galileo first stood under the judgment of the church centuries ago.  They are still debating evolution when the science, like the 1950′s horror monster, has already enveloped them and moved on.

As science acquires the capacity to explain more and more that we once considered miraculous — as it asserts the authority to enter what had once been ceded as the magisterium of the church — what responsibility does it have to maintain rigorous scientific standards in drawing conclusions about phenomena in the newly “occupied” territories? How does science envelop religion while still being respectful of religion, and faithful (irony fully intended) to science?

The following paragraphs describe some things that come out of simple extrapolation of basic Western science.  Simply an exercise in consciousness-raising about consciousness when you look at science on time scales well within our technological imaginings, let alone out into deep time where all of human history looks like the lifespan of a mayfly. These are among the miracles that science asserts the capacity (now or eventually) to explain. So what does science owe religion? And what does science owe science?

CONTROLLED EVOLUTION

Within the lifetime of Charles Darwin, his half-cousin, Sir Francis Galton put forward the notion of eugenics as an approach to improving humanity as a whole by selectively encouraging breeding of people felt to have desirable traits and discouraging breeding by people with undesirable traits. Of course, Galton did not originate the practice of “negative eugenics” — societies have been culling the weak in times of stress to preserve resources for the group as a whole for thousands of years. But eugenics quickly gained the support of some of the most famous and progressive personalities in American and British society early in the 2oth Century.

After the horrors of Hitler’s Germany, eugenics seemed to have died. However, the ethical issues never seem to be far away and underlie a whole set of concerns reemerging in modern medicine as possibilities of cloning, stem cell research, or designer babies force us to confront the growing power of biotechnology to probe and, sooner, than we might have thought, take control of the expression of our own genetic heritage.

I don’t know whether this power will be good or bad; I suspect learning to use new powers are always part of growing up as moral beings. My point, however, is that the growing intensity of the debate simply shows how near the powers are to becoming scientific reality. We’re talking about the development of significant genetic modifications perhaps on the time frame it took to go from the Wright brothers to Mars landers.

This would give us powers to cure many diseases and create many new material goods – which is why so much money is being poured into biotechnology — but what might it also create? Would we want to increase our average IQ by 20%? Make our bodies age more slowly? Change our bodily forms to more closely match cultural sexual ideals? Make ourselves more accepting of our cultural norms and belief systems? Those are all things we’ve already tried to produce in our children without conscious control of our genetics. Even questions about the meaning of life — or at least why we ask questions about the meaning of life that we choose to ask — can rapidly fall within a controlled evolution paradigm.

CYBERLIFE

Cyberlife is another element that is on the science horizon, and that is forcing us to think anew about what it means to be “alive”. Perhaps it may someday force us to ask what it means to be self-aware. We already all use “anti-viral” software to protect ourselves from programming code that replicates and spreads. More interestingly, we have discovered that mimicking evolution can be a highly efficient way of optimizing computer programs to solve some extraordinarily complex problems.

Finding ways to create machines that can achieve goals in the real world — to create artificial intelligence — at a level comparable to humans has been an active area of science since the 1950′s. In some ways it has been enormously successful. In other ways it has been enormously disappointing. The mechanisms that underlie some human problem solving play to the enormous speed and memory advantages of computers, but some of the methods used by our minds don’t appear to rely on those strengths at all. For example, as the artificial intelligence link above points out, computers are great at playing chess, but inferior at playing “go”, despite vast effort at programming computers to play the latter game.

This suggests an approach of increasingly improving life by matching machine intelligence with human intelligence — although it will cost a lot more than the $6 million man of the TV show — to get the best of both types of intelligence. We already have myoelectric prosthesis, in which signals from residual nerve clusters in the human body are sensed by electrodes and used to more naturally control the movement of artificial limbs. What the human brain might be able to control remotely by mind with a few centuries (decades?) of technological development — power systems, transportation systems, etc. — is clearly a question subject to scientific exploration.

LONG-LIVED TECHNOLOGY

The modern species of humanity has been around on the order of 100,000 years, according to the best fossil and mitochondrial DNA evidence. Civilizations based on agriculture rather than nomadic hunter-gatherer methods have been around on the order of 10,000 years. Civilizations based on rudimentary scientific observation beyond that necessary for agriculture have been around longer than, but on the order of, 1000 years. The industrial revolution began on the order of 100 years ago.

Human technological capabilities do seem to be accelerating. But how far? What if technological civilization lasts 1000 years more? Ten thousand years more? One million years? If our capabilities are god-like to our ancestors living at the end of the last ice age, would we even be able to relate to the capabilities of our descendents 1,000.000 years from now? Would we even recognize them as our descendents?

And what about civilizations elsewhere that got millions of years of a head start on us? The search for such civilizations has itself been a matter of science since at least the Green Bank Conference in 1960. There are even classification systems for the level of technology in such civilizations, at least one of which extrapolates from growth in energy consumption the emergence of a galaxy-wide human civilization in as little additional time as the time humanity has already been on earth — a time that is a geological nothing.

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Again, my point in the above discussion is that these are all issues that science already considers within the realm of scientific inquiry. They all can and do generate papers and presentations in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. And I haven’t even touched any of the exotic ideas that scientists are suggesting as working hypotheses to explain gaps we know we do not understand!

The above topics are simply extrapolations of things we think we do know. Their uncertainty is so large that they have little or no predictive value. They permit earth to be everything from the most advanced civilization currently alive in the galaxy to the equivalent of a preserve for primitive wildlife. But the issues are clearly within the realm of science as scientists (in some disciplines, at least) already practice it.

And I have long since crossed the border defined between the natural and the supernatural, between the scientific and the philosophical or theological, when the concept of non-overlapping magisteria was defined in the West.

So I am suggesting that the boundary between science and religion can no longer be a matter of the phenomena being described themselves. It isn’t about whether or not we consider the meaning of facts versus the nature of facts either. As I’ve noted above, science is already probing scientifically the “meaning of meaning” as it probes the mysteries of the human brain and infers things about the nature of the human mind. It isn’t even about repeatability, since evolution and history themselves are sciences, yet we are nowhere close to hoping to repeat them even in simulations.

But as it contemplates its new responsibilities over what once was the realm of religion, science has a responsibility to itself not to fall into the same logical trap it claims creationists fall into: “If hypothesis X (evolution) can not explain everything, than hypothesis Y (creationism) need not yet explain anything, no matter how large the holes in hypothesis Y in absolute terms.” The same logical trap exists when X is religious, and Y is secular instead.

Science cannot start accepting sloppy evidence for its own explanations of the “miraculous”, i.e., evidence so sloppy it would not accept the evidence in any other field of its own endeavors.

In fiction, we can have Sherlock Holmes say, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains — however improbable — must be the truth.” I would suggest that for science to be true to its own methods, even when dealing with the “miraculous”, it must say something else.  “When you have eliminated the impossible, and whatever remains is still highly improbable, it is most probable that you have not yet imagined the truth.”

Comments

comments

Comments 33

  1. Every time science answers a question or two, it opens up three or four more questions. Stephen Hawking has just famously declared that God was not necessary to cause the Big Bang, or the God Spark. It’s just a hypothesis, he has no evidence, except that he cites gravity. Well was is gravity, or the force of gravity but a mathematical equation that relates to mass? Where did that come from? Who created the math of the universe? Did it evolve too? Often, our questions just kick the football into another dimension of questions without answering the first ones.

  2. Peter:

    Hawking didn’t actually change anything; he’s held the same position for 15 years or more, but a good publicity guy at the publishing company of his latest book knew how to create a stir. Hawking’s use of the term “the mind of God” was always rhetorical.

    To me, however, heaven is, precisely, always having new wonders to discover and deeper explanations to uncover; hell is running out.

  3. I don’t have much problem with this, because I think that God is largely unknowable, at least in my mind and terminology. While the overwhelming majority of people in the Church get up and say “I know…”, it’s a different kind of “know” than what we “know” in science. Science relies on tangible things to define “knowledge”, religion relies on intangible things.

    At this point in my life, I accept many things. I don’t know that I will ever “know”, in mortality, that God exists in the sense that I’ve seen Him, talked to Him, etc. I won’t ever “know” that this is the “one true Church” and that all other churches are abominations as per the Joseph Smith story. In spite of all of the apocryphal statements, I don’t really “know” what is going to happen when I die, I don’t know what heaven is like, I don’t know how God is going to sort out all of the special cases as to who gets there or not, I don’t know what we’re really going to do there, etc. I don’t know how God became God. I don’t know if I’m really going to become “as God is”, or if that’s something that we don’t really teach any more.

    I suppose that’s why we are told to live in faith. I hope God exists. I live my life as if He does. I devote my time and money to the Church as if it were the true church. I certainly hope that the next life is as cool as people allude to. But I don’t really know, and I don’t think that all of the people who say that they “know” these things really “know” them in my definition of the word.

    So, that is why there is little conflict for me with science and religion. When someone says they “know” that evolution is a falsehood of Satan despite all of the thousands and millions of points of data that might suggest otherwise, rather than arguing the point, I put their statement in the “alternate definition” of “know”. When someone “knows” something is wrong in science based on their interpretation of an English translation of a centuries or millenia old text, I also set it aside. When someone says the noonday sun isn’t shining because some general authority once mentioned something about it several decades ago, I file that away with the general authorities that talked about men on the moon or blacks NEVER getting the priesthood or the eternal and necessary nature of polygamy or the Catholic church being the whore of the earth or the USSR being the great evil or many of these other things. By seeing the areas of potential conflict for what they are, there’s really no conflict in my mind.

  4. We also need to clarify what exactly is scienece. Often we take words like “evolution” and conflate them with science. While evolution is a subject broached through science, it is not science. Even within the scientific community, there is much dispute over the particulars of various aspects of evolution. This is often steered by the different scientific disciplines which theories are filtered through. For example, an zoologist may have a perspective highly different in some area’s than say a physicist, and likewise a geologist.

    From this standpoint, ie, an understanding of perspective (hearkening back to Jeff Spectors recent post) it is important for “science” to show religion the respect of honesty. Recognizing at what points theories are strongly supported, as opposed to those points where the theories rely on weak assumptions.

    On the other hand, science viewed more correctly is not the sum of theories and disciplines that appeal to it’s domain, but rather a sound system of inquiry. It is intended to provide a rational framework from which we can test claims and hypothesis to through falsification to progress towards “truth”. It is ultimately no different than religion in this goal. It is in processes and proofs that the two disagree. In this way science should not show respect to religion. Science should feel free to test any and all claims of religion, so long as methods are rigorous and sound – and outcomes are repsented honestly.

  5. Cowboy,

    Great comment.

    I would add you can come to many truths through science; and, science and religion are not enemies of one another. At least they shouldn’t be. I am an advocate of both.

  6. Cowboy:

    I think your comment reaffirms the concept of non-overlapping magisteria. What I am suggesting is that the “magisterium” of religion has been disappearing beneath it as scientific means develop opportunities to probe things religion has considered its own.

    If science merely seeks greater truth, while religion merely defends already revealed truth — as we in the Restoration do much of the time, even with modern prophets — aren’t we inevitably led into a science vs. religion conflict that the “non-overlapping” idea was designed to avoid in the first place?

  7. FireTag:

    I read “Rock of Ages” several years ago, and walked away with the impression that NOMA only works if you accept Gould’s “opinion” as to where the line between domains is drawn – and hence NOMA itself is an overlapping magisterium. To Gould the domain I of religion is morals, ethics, values, predictions on rewards and punishments for an afterlife, etc. I can’t recall whether it was Sagan or Dawkins, but one of these two pointed out years ago that NOMA will never work because the first bool of the O.T. is called Genesis and initially encroaches on many fundamentals which belong to the magisterium of science. You can’t expect religion to give up that teritory for the sake of Gould’s call for boundaries.

    So yes, I agree with you. because of both the expansion of scientific boundaries, and the reisting religious dogmatism, these two are destined for conflict. For what it is worth, NOMA was always a bad idea. I have argued before that the appeal to NOMA comes from the way it is packaged, not for it’s content. Gould’s stature in the scientific community coupled with some intellectual sounding nomanclature have given way too much attention to a rather simple and useless and ineffective call for boudaries.

  8. Just as a slight addendum. While I’m still not generally impressed with NOMA as a solution to the ongoing feud between religion and science, I do recognize that it may have some theoretical value in matters of education policy. When it comes to the issues of Creationism vs. Evolution, settling in the middle on something called Intelligent Design, NOMA would be a better and practical argument in defense of science education. Public schools should define the domains of science and religion for academic purposes, and stick to those.

  9. re 9:

    Cowboy, how is intelligent design the “middle”? If by intelligent design you meant “theistic evolution” I’d have less of an issue, but to the extent that ID is much more just a relabeling of creationism isn’t comforting.

  10. Fair enough, I miscalculated my words. I wasn’t intending so much to qualify ID as a perfect hybrid, as I was just trying to point out that political attempts at satisfying the groups ultimately betrays either side. In other words, it is an odd appeal to democracy that ultimately punts the question of truth off the field. Yes it was a play made by creationists, and ultimately favors their agenda, while at the same time dismisses Church and science.

  11. Creationism even when classed as ID, to me, always ends up in either an unconstitutional invocation of God or in an infinite regress of “Who created that Creator?”

    But so do theories like chaotic inflation (infinite series of big bangs).

    It becomes a matter of personal preference what is believed. We might come to understand why we believe what we believe, but I think the why — even if it is God — ought to be considered part of the natural, not the supernatural. MY preference would be for the unification of those two concepts.

  12. “So I am suggesting that the boundary between science and religion can no longer be a matter of the phenomena being described themselves. It isn’t about whether or not we consider the meaning of facts versus the nature of facts either”

    Its important to acknowledge the point of view at work in this post that situates science and religion as it does. There is both a modernist ideology of faith in progress as a matter of technological / scientific progress; as well as a view of religion that takes religion as having a certain kind of ontological and epistemic descriptive power that is similar to that of science. Not everyone feels this way even if it is a good way to sell books and get people riled up. There are other understandings of science and religion that are not captured by the descriptive structures at work here.

    When we talk about religion and science both loose, but religion looses more because of the narrow, unimaginative, and inaccurate understandings of what religion is or could be. Before we discuss science and religion it would be a good idea to know what religion is and what science is.

    A great deal of the work of religion remains and will remain beyond the scope of science, because science simply does not have the tools to address it. Take the Temple’s depiction of the garden narrative, Eve and Adam both face remarkable existential dilemmas. Science simply does not have the tools for unpacking the meaning, or importance of such narrative structures. Unfortunately, most religion doesn’t either.

  13. Douglas:

    I think you’re saying that my hard-science upbringing shows — which is true enough. I’m even more limited in trying to understand your point, however, by never having been in an LDS temple, so the existential crises of Adam and Eve are going completely over my head.

    Can you elaborate without violating any restrictions?

  14. Mabey I’m being too simplistic, but I don’t think Science even accepts that the existential dillemma existed, because generally speaking those in the scientific community don’t accept the Garden of Eden narrative as possible beginnings for our species.

    I don’t think this violates covenants, but I think your existential dillemma is that God gave a commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. For reasons unclear but generally taught in LDS theology, Adam and Eve could not have children in their current state – either because of some unknown physical limitations, or because it was contrary to their current state of innocense. Somehow Eve catches on to this dillemma (at least in part) through the temptation of the serpent. She therefore partakes of the fruit, furthering the dillemma because now she will be cast out of the Garden, including Adams presence, thereby ensuring the impossibility of keeping the commandment to reproduce. Adam then catches on that he must break one commandment in order to keep another.

  15. Cowboy:

    Interesting. However, the exential crisis seems to be one more of Mormon theology of the fall versus other Cjristian (and Trstoration denomination) interpretations of the fall, rather than a science versus religion example.

  16. 17- “Mabey I’m being too simplistic, but I don’t think Science even accepts that the existential dillemma existed, because generally speaking those in the scientific community don’t accept the Garden of Eden narrative as possible beginnings for our species.”

    The two are completely unrelated since its not necessary for the garden narrative to have any relation to the origin of our species in order to see the narrative’s existential richness. The garden narrative is a remarkable piece of scripture, not journalism. In saying that I want to claim that it has far more meaning as scripture than it ever could if it were a simple recitation of historical events.

  17. Douglas:

    Even metaphorical teachings are theologically valuable to the extent they can relate to “real” life. I can see the existential crisis coming at the point where the Godhead decides to make man in its own image, but thereafter, what I mean by the esistenial crisis depends on what I mean by “thereafter”.

    Modern cosmology gives me options for presenting the notion of preexistance as physically TRUE, but they paint the particular metaphorical interpretation of the Garden as physically FALSE. (Ancient cosmologies are embedded in the metaphor, as are ancient philosophies of the relationship between law by decree versus law as relationship. If I reject either the ancient cosmology or the ancient cosmology, the metaphor itself requires reinterpretation to keep its richness and power, IMO)

  18. “The two are completely unrelated since its not necessary for the garden narrative to have any relation to the origin of our species in order to see the narrative’s existential richness.”

    If you are able to take the approach that what is in scripture is of personal spiritual use, insofar that teaches moral principles, etc, then perhaps there is a way for NOMA to work. If one is not trying to contend that Genesis, the endowment, ect, are literal, than there really is no overlap, and you and Gould are also correct – science has no means for interposing itself as a rigorous asset to matters of philosophy.

  19. FireTag:

    I agree that the existential dillemma, so defined as the conflict of commandments, is uniquely Mormon. And while it may be a rich narrative, for many, and as you say, it get’s its real force when considered in some perspective of literalness. While very few people take the scriptures as being 100% completely literal, on a continuum most of us still hold to some level of literal expectation. As an example, though I won’t look up the exact reference, in either Doctrines of Salvation, or Answers to Gospel Questions, Joseph Fielding Smith addresses the literalness of the book of Job. More than other books, Job appears to read like a Hebrew drama or poem, so it’s position as a “true” story is held in suspect by some. Joseph Fielding Smith however, quotes section 121, where Joseph Smith is allegedly praying to know why God seems to be neglecting him. In response, God is claimed to have declared, among other things, “thou are not as Job…”. Joseph Fielding Smith argues that it would be highly disingenuous of God to look upon Joseph Smiths literal plight and suffering, only to assuage him by appealing to a fictional character. JFS was quite vocal about the literalness of other scriptures in order to refute evolution. For many people, the spiritual gravity behind the value of scripture comes directly from some expectation as to how God truly operates, as opposed to inspiring narratives which have only allegorical value. I think this is particularly true of Mormonism, where truth claims are paramount to acquiring testimony. We don’t bear testimony that The Book of Mormon is a “true inspiring narrative”, but that it is true.

  20. #8: “NOMA will never work because the first book of the O.T. is called Genesis and initially encroaches on many fundamentals which belong to the magisterium of science. You can’t expect religion to give up that teritory for the sake of Gould’s call for boundaries.”

    Why not? This man’s personal religion did, without breaking a sweat.

    Dawkins (pretty sure it wasn’t Sagan) is conflating “religion” with “absolute adherence to every word of the Bible.” Who said religion can’t evolve? Religion, driven by its original impulse, may have staked out more ground outside its basic magisterium than it could defend. So “take a position less exposed,” as President Madison prudently remarked he ought to do as he watched the British roll over the American militia at Bladensburg.

    So here I am sitting up in the citadel of metaphysics, daring Dawkins to do his worst. If some literal belief in this or that has to go by the wayside, well, let God be true and every man (including the odd Bible author) a liar.

  21. Cowbiy:

    “For many people, the spiritual gravity behind the value of scripture comes directly from some expectation as to how God truly operates, as opposed to inspiring narratives which have only allegorical value. I think this is particularly true of Mormonism, where truth claims are paramount to acquiring testimony. We don’t bear testimony that The Book of Mormon is a “true inspiring narrative”, but that it is true.”

    Certainly true for me personally. And I think this was the point I was trying to make as a SCIENTIST in the OP. As a scientist, I’m not supposed to believe my own worldview to the extent I stop looking for ways to challenge it and thereby blind myself to real phenomena. If the Book of Mormon is historically true, the universe is proven to work very differently than it does under our modern scientific AND non-evangelical Christian worldview. Even if a scientist never expects an experiment to violate general relativity, he takes possible tests seriously.

    If we scientists are going to revamp the NOMA borders — and we are — we still have to take religious challenges to our worldview seriously to be faithful to science.

  22. I think the difference really comes down to the goals:

    The goal of science is to find truth. It is to try to observe the world around us as dispassionately as possible and try to describe it. It tries to find patterns and use these to predict the future. Science necessarily changes. The laws of Newton are now seen to be a subset of relativity that breakdown at higher speeds. As science progresses, it, on average, gets closer and closer to the “truth”.

    The goal of religion is to connect people with a higher power. In the LDS faith, we talk of God and Christ. JS and others merely exist to help us in this quest. The search for “truth” is actually secondary to this goal. As Boyd Packer taught, “Some things that are true are not very useful.” So the “truth” is secondary.

    In any religion, various world-views are built up. These are based largely on interpretations of prior writings. Occasionally, a world-view conflicts with scientific discoveries. Conflict ensues – not as much a conflict between science and religion, but a natural reluctance to think differently. It was hard for people to accept that the earth wasn’t at the center of the universe defining man’s “special place”, so people fought against it, but today it is completely a non-issue and absolutely not important to our relationship to God. There are areas of conflict today: young vs old earth, evolution, etc. Some scientists try to use these to denounce religion, explaining that they have “explained God”. Some religionists try to use these areas to denounce science.

    When all is said and done, science’s march for truth will continue. The evidence for true ideas will become overwhelming. False ideas will eventually be weeded out. And religion will accommodate whatever truth is found and will still continue to focus on the relationship between man and a Higher Power. So, I think the conflict is somewhat artificial and largely a product of people on both ends of the “spectrum” with a point to prove.

  23. Mike S.:

    The idea of higher power connections is very valid in principle, but I don’t know how we can neatly do that without some serious truth-connection to the NATURE of the “higher power”.

    LDS theology has ended up with a Gid who, in some sense, prefers the human form over all others — so man stays at the center of the universe. Nineteenth century science is embedded in that. My own personal theology builds heavily on the observation that creation and destruction are often the same act, so my conception of the “real God” has to allow for that. Your theology draws from Eastern religion, and so on.

    When the scriptures were written about the “four corners” of the earth, the concept wasn’t meant to be metaphor. I think it takes conscious effort for physical beings to break away from their physical nature to think metaphorically.

  24. FT — You mean you can’t really roll the earth together like a scroll? (Isaiah 34:4, Morm. 5:23)

    My peeps at the Flat Earth Society will be so disappointed.

  25. I agree that we need to understand the NATURE of the higher power. I do think that God is so far beyond our ability to describe or even imaging given our minds, that what we do know/talk about Him is necessarily limited and colored by our own perceptions. I think Joseph Smith used descriptions of God that were acceptable to his mind given his upbringing/social environment, etc. There is something about an anthropomorphic God that is comforting. There is something profound about the couplet, “As man is…”.

    I think that churches, in general, try to talk about God in some way that makes sense in their social context. Contrast the LDS Church itself. In the early day, the leaders talked about seeing God, and miraculous visions of angels, and seeing Christ in the temple, and the idea that God was once like us and that we can be like Him. These are profound, and not entirely different from many other contemporary accounts. The LDS Church today is different, and response to its social context as well. We don’t hear of prophets or apostles having visions anymore, as it’s not politically correct in today’s world. When even President Hinckley was given chances in various interviews to boldly claim that as a prophet he talks to God, he watered it down to the point where it sounded just like a CEO of any corporation. He even said that he didn’t really know that we taught that we can become like God anymore.

    Different societies have different ways of expressing God. We teach that Christ taught all of these other societies (“other sheep I have…”). The teachings are just given in different contexts. You mentioned Eastern religion. As I have studied Eastern religions, I have been fascinated by 2 main things:

    1) There is a tremendous parallel between the core teachings in Buddhism and Hinduism and the sayings of Christ as recorded in the New Testament. There are obviously cosmological differences, but when it comes down to the core of how we should act and what we should do in life, they are nearly identical.

    2) Again, different emphasis. Buddha specifically didn’t talk about God, for or against. He merely said the question was unimportant. At the end of the day, the most important thing was our actions and intents. I have learned much about making myself into a good person from Buddhism, as opposed to the LDS Church, which focuses in many ways on actions which can be passed for various interviews to by a “good Mormon”. I have also learned A LOT more about the interconnected nature of man, animals, the earth and the universe from Eartern religions – something that seems to get lost in the Puritanical individualist nature of the LDS Church.

    So, for me, my study of Eastern religions has ironically helped my understanding of more profound aspects of God while at the same time diminishing my desire to know more about God but instead working on making myself a better person.

  26. Thomas:

    Well, not since we apparently rolled up six extra spatial dimensions into submicroscopic volumes in the instants after the big bang a la string theory.

    Mike S.:

    Very good points. If my church doesn’t announce what the leadership decided to do about gay rights last weekend, I think I’ll make my next post here about the ‘spirit of the earth” as that might apply to the nature of consciousness.

  27. FireTag: That would be very interesting. Largely because of your posts, I have looked quite a bit into the CofC. I have a comparative book between CofC and LDS Church, the SS610 Temple School manual, and the history volumes on CD. There is much there that resonates with me. So, thank you for your insights.

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  29. I am having a real problem with this. When I first set up my blogs I had to opt for the permalink structure ‘post ID’. I would like to change this, or ideally have the ability to select permalinks for a post with out changing all of the previous url’s of my posts, which is what occurs when I change the site wide permalinks. Unfortunately, due to the fact I’ve post ID as my permalink structure, modifying the web page slug makes no difference to the post url. I know I can alter the site permalinks after which do 301 redirects, but these are quite established domains with loads of the posts indexed, I Really don’t want to risk losing their index, or ranking?! Cheers

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