RLDS, Hugh Nibley, Evolution, Intellignet Design, and other fun stuff

4/2 - 5/2 Messages

The most recent messages can be found here.

received 5/2/99
I am a member (inactive) of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I wondered why you have
a picture of the Kirtland Temple on your web site. That temple, the first of the Church, has no provision for Baptism of the Dead or the Temple Ceremony now practiced by the Mormon Church. These practices came into being during the Nauvoo period. To be more accurate, you should have a picture of the Nauvoo Temple (destroyed) on your web site, as this was the Temple where the Temple ceremony and the Endowment practice was introduced.

It was in Nauvoo that Joseph Smith apparently embraced Masonry and devised the Temple ceremony. Although, I think his brother Hyrum was a member of a Masonic Lodge in Western New York.

The RLDS Church was formed by members of the original Church who did not live in Nauvoo, did not accept Polygamy, did not accept the Temple Ceremony. Joseph Smith III eventually became the Prophet/President of this Church. Naturally, being a "Prophet" he gave a great deal of thought to what, of his father's teachings, he did not accept. The Temple Ceremony never became a part of the RLDS Church. It goes without saying that Polygamy was also never practiced in our Church. "Young Joseph" (as he was called) researched the question of polygamy and concluded that the evidence that his father originated it or practiced it would not stand up in a court of law.

Or so he said publicly. He knew his father originated and practiced polygamy in Mormonism.

As for the Endowment, it was referred to in revelations in the Doctrine & Covenants. We accepted the D&C that was in use at Joseph Smith's death. Revelations given by subsequent Prophets of the RLDS Church have been added.

I grew up hearing of the Endowment as being an experience of Spiritual Enlightenment that would happen to those of high spiritual quality in connection with the "gathering," the building of Zion, the Second Coming of Christ, and the general end-times Biblical prophecy that was so much a part of our Church teachings.

So, the Endowment was not linked to a Temple Ceremony derived from Masonry. It was an experience to come in the future, when the general membership of the Church was "spiritually ready" for such an experience. References to it were always vague, but people like my father, an ordained Elder and an "expert" in Biblical prophecy, believed in it fervently.

Incidentally, the RLDS Church leaders of recent years have "revamped" the Theology of that Church, and have tried to throw out much of the original Church teachings. They have linked the Church up with the Peace Movement, and have tried to relate the Cause of Zion to the Social Action Gospel practiced by Liberal Protestantism. Some of those leaders had begun to "disbelieve" in the RLDS Church doctrines and the Book of Mormon, also, but chose to change the Church rather than leave it. However, I have now left this revamped version.

At any rate, I think it is deceiving to have a picture of the Kirtland Temple on your web site which is about the Temple Ceremony and the Endowment.

I'm well aware of everything in your message. I've read many essays and full length books on the RLDS faith. I've even attended RLDS services to see what they were like.

You'll notice that the page the picture is on is, in part, about the evolution of the temple endowment. What better way to symbolize the evolution than by having a picture of a temple where the current endowment was never practiced (the Kirtland Temple) and a picture of one (the Salt Lake Temple) which has witnessed most of the temple changes over the decades?

If I was trying to deceive people I wouldn't link to a book on that very same page which describes in detail the various uses of the temples (including Kirtland) throughout the history of Mormonism.

received 4/29/99
Just a note to let you know that I enjoy your website. I too have had similar experiences (utah native, mormon mission, and I even obtained my PhD in zoology at BYU) and its refreshing to know I am not the only one with similar thoughts.

I'm actually not a Utah native. Being raised in California and going to Japan on my mission were both very helpful to my eventual deconversion.

I started my rejection of mormonism (and christianity and all religion) gradually by reading McConkie as a missionary --- graduating to read Nibley ---- and eventually finding my own view (naturalistic humanism) to be more similar to people like Stephen Jay Gould.

Nibley was the last straw for me too. If it wasn't for Nibley, there may still be a chance that I'd be an active Mormon today. It is better to admit ignorance (and better still to acknowledge the faults in the church and its history) than to create sloppy apologetics. The church should have figured this out before deciding to fund FARMS.

Overcoming the tendency to be illogical is the greatest challenge for religious people.

It is such a great change in life to overcome this challenge. Then looking back, it is hard to believe that the illogical life was chosen for so long.

received 4/9/99
This email is in response to
some of the questions posed to anyone wanting to write a creationist book. Many of these questions are red herrings, of which, evolution is incapable of answering itself. For example, question 1) Why do males have nipples? Response: Since males have no apparent need for nipples, then why would evolution have developed them in the first place, much less preserved them?

Turning the question around still doesn't explain why an intelligent designer would give some male mammals nipples.

Evolution could have developed them for a number of reasons in the past including asexual reproduction and/or nourishment. Darwinian selection, rather than preserving them, merely allows them continue to be passed on through the genes if there is no selective advantage to not having them. The same could be said for pseudogenes and a host of other items that selection doesn't need to act on.

For information on the passing on of genes, useful or otherwise and with or without necessary regard for sex, check out Chapter 10 (The Genetic Book of the Dead) in "Unweaving the Rainbow".

Question 2) Why do people have an appendix, a coccyx, a hyoid bone, and earlobes? Response: Although we do not know of any apparent reason for these appendages, that does not mean that there is NO reason for them. It was not long ago that doctors were regularly removing infected tonsils because they did not think that they had any purpose. Now we know differently. Tonsils are important organs of the immune system which produce antibodies. Maybe someday we WILL know what an appendix is for, but until then it would be sheer arrogance to assume that there is no purpose just because we have not found one yet. Furthermore, the coccyx is not a vestigal tailbone. It is however, as part of the spine, very important to the central nervous system. If you do not believe this, then I will personally pay to have yours removed.

As far as I know, it isn't possible to have it removed. I strongly disagree that it is very important to my central nervous system. The spinal cord does not pass through the coccyx. Evolutionary theory does have 'apparent reasons' for all of these body parts. Until your intelligent designer ends 'his' billions of years of silence, your theory has no facts to support it. Again, yours is the theory the questions are addressing.

Question 3) Why are there 250,000 different species of beetles? Response: Why did Michelangelo use hundreds of different colors and shades of colors in his paintings? If one sees the universe as a giant work of art by the master artist, it is no problem at all, but only gives added reason for astonishment. Evolution cannot provide an adequate scientific answer to this question 3 either. The best it can do is to tell a "Just So" story, similar to those of Rudyard Kipling when describing how a zebra got its stripes, etc. The only difference is that Kipling wrote his stories as fiction and intended them to be read as such. Scientific evolutionists tell similar stories with the intent that we accept them as fact.

Your analogies are both faulty. Beetles adapt for reasons. Evolutionary 'stories' are based on facts--granted, some have more facts to be based on then others. Even so, those without much evidence are better to be assumed to have happened naturally than supernaturally since no one has yet had the privilege of witnessing your God create new species out of thin air.

Your theory that tons of beetle species were created to beautify the world would hold far more weight if the beetles weren't adapted to their environments and if they survived on supernatural powers. It would also help your case if the beauty your artist is supposedly creating isn't also continually going extinct.

Question 4) Why are all the Marsupials found in Australia? Response: To this, I must confess my ignorance. However, can evolution provide an adequate answer? I would like to know.

It sounds as if you don't know some of the basics of evolutionary theory. Try reading a few of the books on this page.

In a nutshell, geological 'islands'--if isolated for extended periods of time--evolve very unique living populations. Lemurs in Madagascar are one of thousands of other examples. Watch PBS for some that have been observed in 'real time'.

And if it can, then can it also explain why all Pepto Bismal is only found in the Over The Counter Medication section of the super market? Is that the way super markets evolved?

This doesn't warrant a response, but I'll give you a brief one anyway. To confuse biological evolution with other sorts of change, development, or processes really means that you should familiarize yourself with the subject before sending lengthy 'critiques' on the topic.

Question 5) Why aren't dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible? Response: In fact they are, however they are not called dinosaurs because the word "dinosaur" itself was not invented until the 1840's by Dr. Richard Owen. The giant beasts of the Bible are referred to by such terms as the Hebrew "Tanin", which translates as "serpent", but more accurately as "dragon." Every major civilization from antiquity has legends of great dragons, especially China, where the influence of the dragon on its cultural evolution has been profound. Even the Native American tribes of the Southwest have dragon legends which were around long before these peoples had any contact with Europeans, who themselves have legendary stories of dragons from their ancient past. Is it possible, is it just possible, that these dragons were really what we today call dinosaurs?

No, as dinosaurs went extinct more than 60 million years before any civilizations came on the scene. You'll need more than the myths of past superstitious cultures to prove otherwise.

Dragon imagery in art and literature flourished in the ancient world (East and West) up until the Middle Ages. Possibly, dragons became extinct, like so many other species today, due to human activity, and by the 1840's, when the first dinosaur bones were discovered, they had become a distant memory of ages past. The world had forgotten about them, and called them by a new name - "dinosaur" or "terrible lizard", which is exactly what dragons were - terrible lizards. I now have a question for evolutionists. Why are dinosaur bones not carbon dated?

Because there is no measurable carbon left in dinosaur bones. The dates can be accurately obtained by dating other substances in the surrounding materials.

Many of the fossils still being found have not completely mineralized yet and still possess some organic material. This means that 1) they are not millions of years old, and 2) that they can be carbon dated. However, due to C14's short half-life, it is untraceable beyond roughly 50,000 years, give or take. This means that if any C14 is found in dinosaur fossils - that they are less than 50,000 years old!!! This is why dinosaur bones are not carbon dated, even the ones that can be. A dino fossil less than 50,000 years old would blow the current paradigm of the scientific majority.

Please present me with your dinosaur fossil that is less than 50,000 years old.

Question 6) Why aren't the fossils of more complex life forms found in older rocks? Response: In fact, they are. There is no uniformity to fossil/rock layer placement. This is a popular myth. The only place that the geologic column is found in tact and in the "proper" order is in the text books. Any field geologist can tell you this.

"Proper" orders have nothing to do with rock age. I didn't ask why rocks don't stay in perfect top-to-bottom layers. Try and focus on the questions that you are trying to answer.

Question 7) Why did God create life forms that are now extinct? Response: I will not bother to answer this, since the only one possible is theological in nature. However, evolution cannot answer this question either. The popular theory of "survival of the fittest" or "natural selection," as it is called, was originally arrived at (and is still better explained as) an example of the Law of Conservation, or the First Law of Thermodynamics, in action, and a natural consequence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics or Entropy. Again, there is more than one way of looking at things.

And you have apparently chosen a confusing one as I have no idea what your response means.

Question 8) Why do creationists use antibiotics? If evolution by natural selection is false, there shouldn't be a new crop of bacteria each year. And why do they receive vaccinations for new strains of viruses? Response: New strains of bacteria and viruses are not examples of evolution on a macro scale. They are simply examples of bio-diversity, which no creationist denies. You have set up a straw man with this question so that you might knock it down, but you have failed. Evolution on the micro-scale is not anything that a creationist would deny. It is observable. Evolution on the macro-scale is not observable, and it is this that Creationists object to.

Ever looked at a series of fossils? What about a DNA comparison (of exclusively junk DNA so that we know your God wasn't just tinkering with the working stuff when he changed a very small percentage of a chimp DNA to make his crowning species)? Are these not observable? What about dogs? Have you tried breeding a small poodle with a large St. Bernard recently? Is the fact that they can no longer reproduce together even though they share a common ancestor of only a few thousand years in duration a micro or macro change? What happens when you take a micro change and add it to another and another and another...? What if you let this process continue for millions and billions of years instead of the few that you readily admit result in micro changes?

For example, micro-evolution is responsible for AIDS virus mutations, however with each mutation, the virus remains an AIDS virus. It does not evolve into Ebola or anything else for that matter.

Here is were you are (again) absolutely wrong. With each mutation it results in a new AIDS virus. The old one can still remain. Just as there are many different Flu viruses, there can be many different AIDS viruses which we can call AIDS#2 or something else if we so choose.

However, this is exactly how Evolutionists want us to believe that life evolved on earth - by frogs turning into men.

Name one evolutionist who believes that frogs turn into men. Talk about a straw man argument...

I hope that I have answered these questions to your satisfaction. I am not an expert in any field of science, however I was once enrolled in a physics degree program at Rhode Island College, in Providence, RI, and do have some scientific training.

Obtain a little more and your apologetics may become a little more sound. Better yet, examine the evidence without presuppositions (of any nature--religious or scientific) and your conclusions will tend to be less erroneous.

received 4/6/99
hi . , did you know that when jesus was on the earth , they tried to discredit him they said all manner of things against him , the same thing you are doing to his church today, the church of jesus christ of latter day saints is true. i suggest you repent form your persecution , i feel sad for you , you get a lot of things so so wrong , you cannot stop the church from growing, the honest in heart will accept it, satan is trying , with people like you to destroy it, but you never will because god is in charge of it and , all the false statements you choose to print will not have any effect on the truth, i have been a member 31 years i have had people try disprove it to me, they have always failed, i hope you will one day relaise your error and apologise to heavenly father , , i myself am a sinnner too , but i love the church , it is not controlling my mind , one has to be obedient to god , so if thats mind controll , so be it, signed a very shocked person
received 4/2/99
I do have some thoughts about
your page. 1) "...nothing spiritual about the experience..." And why would that be? Were you not prepared?

I was very prepared. I had completed four years of seminary, read the Book of Mormon three times, been an Elder's quorum teacher at BYU, and had a mission call. Like I said in the story I was a complete believer at the time (and still was for many years after going through the temple for the first time).

The endowment experience is only as spiritual as we make it.

The same could be said for anything in life.

2) "...hardly resembles...LDS experience." The temple is a further step in our spiritual progression, of course it is different.

I'll agree with your latter statement but not your former.

3) "...extreme penalties (before 1990)..." so what changed? 4)The Masonic References: 1) people try to do what they know, 2) Satan always has his version of spiritual things.

Satan is a figment of your culture's imagination. For more on the Masonic references that Joseph Smith took from "Satan's Masons" check out this page.

5) "1990...endowment changed..." How so? Did the doctrine change, or was it a change from "live sessions (live actors)" to a film?

See the above links for starters.

6) After doing all that research, did you ask Heavenly Father if it was true (or do you know not believe in God?)

Yes, and my answer was the same as it's always been--silence modified by my own thoughts.

7) To find the truth, research must be accompanied by faith and prayer. We have been instructed to find the truth, but we all need some guidance to find it.

It is good that you recognize that methodology is important. Keep searching for a better one.

Satan loves to mix truth in with lies, so who are we to know the difference? We are after all, mortal.

Invisible pink unicorns and fire breathing dragons do the same so once again one needs to go back to developing the best possible methods at recognizing what is fact and what is fantasy.

About myself, I too was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But I did not leave by own choosing. I have made many wrong decisions in my life; part of cleansing those mistakes is being excommunicated. It was the hardest decision of my life, but one I had to make. I cannot wait to become a member once again. Yes, I have questions and doubts, but where else can I turn but to Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ? Ultimately, ALL truth comes from them and from nowhere else.

Can you give me some examples of where this Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ of yours have made accurate predictions or allowed any of their claims to be experimentally verified?

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