Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Yes, One Can Be a Respected Scholar and LDS

MormonScholarsTestify.org is a new and growing website with statements from faithful LDS scholars in a variety of disciplines about their faith and why they accept the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. For those who think that the LDS faith is hopelessly untenable for intelligent, educated people, the site might offer some useful reminders about intellectually satisfying power that many respected thinkers in several fields have found in their faith.

Hope you all had a terrific Christmas!

7 comments:

Hank said...

Be careful. If a Mormon scholar were to make public research showing how one is born gay, well, that might be a problem with the Brethren. I have found it interesting how so many saints buy in to anything said by a church leader (social, political, economics, science, american history) without studying it out on their own.

Anonymous said...

An underlying benefit to following the link to mormonscholarstestify is learning that Royal Skousen's "The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text" came out this past year and that John L. Sorensen's "Mormon Codex: An Ancient American Book" must be on the verge of being released, for it says the book was in press as of 2009 and 2009 is all but over.

Creek said...

I think Jeff makes a very good point. I'm not LDS but I have many friends (especially of the Protestant "born again" variety) who constantly harp on how Mormons are just mindless, brainwashed sheep. Ironically, none of these critics have any more expertise in ancient languages, history, archeology, etc. than the average Mormon.

Bookslinger said...

Very intelligent and highly educated scientists and scholars can be found as sincere believers, even leaders, in all religions.

I visited a local Hindu temple, and it was pointed out to me that several of the Hindu worshipers in attendance, and one of the Hindu priests, were VIP scientists at the Eli Lilly drug company (which is headquartered in Indianapolis). There were PhD's and drug patent-holders among the Hindu devotees, one of whom was actually some sort of priest or officiator.

Anonymous said...

It's very true that any religious faith of any size and age can claim intelligent believers. This new site isn't designed to prove that Mormonism is true because highly intelligent and well-educated people believe in it.

But it certainly refutes the idea that no intelligent, educated person CAN believe in it -- and that's an idea that I've heard far too often.

Pops said...

The general perception is that faith is irrational and science is purely rational. In fact, science is faith-based and faith is rational.

Epistemologically speaking, humans are not capable of knowledge of the universe, our minds being separated from direct contact with the universe by fallible senses. When we say we know something, what we really mean is that we have a high degree of confidence in it. But ultimately it is a belief that results from authority (a source we have come to trust states that something is so), from reason, and from experience.

Faith in God is little different. Faith in God results from exposure to authority, from reason, and from experience. This is clearly explained by Alma in Alma 32.

The primary difference between scientific faith and religious faith is that measurements of scientific "facts" are made with instruments fabricated by men (objective), whereas measurements of spiritual facts are made with the soul (subjective). There is the curious example of the Liahona, in which spiritual measurements had a mechanical representation. Unfortunately, we don't know by what mechanism it worked.

Matthew said...

@ pops,

While I agree that there is a level of belief in science I think it's a pretty wild jump to even mention it in the same breath as belief in spiritual things.

Religious belief hinges entirely off of accepting what others have told you. Now it is true that we often do that with scientific principles but the difference is that any good scientific princible IS falsifiable. It may require a level of expertise to do so but if you repeat exactly an experiment and that principle is true then you will get the same result. This is simply not the case with religious endeavor.

In religion one has to just 'believe' what others have said on the matter and hope that it is true. We can talk about praying and receiving an answer but there is nothing to assure that the 'answer' one recieves is true as these same supposed answers are felt by people of all diverse types of religions and philosophies.

I do agree though that there are plenty of very smart people that are deeply religious. I'm not sure why this question even arises. Even the smartest person alive knows only a small amount about the universe and for all those unknowns we use any of a myriad of explanaitons that are not founded on traditional knowledge tools, this is where the realm of the metaphysical is brought in.

What I would like to know is why the testimonies of scientist, engineers, mathmaticians, physicists, etc are seen as a boost to the realm of spiritual thought. It's like when people argue over whether Einstein was a believer in God (which is ambiguous because he said many times that he did, but then other times he stated that his concept of 'God' was more in relation to underlying physical laws of the universe and less an idea of the traditional God that LDS members worship) in the end it doesn't make a difference what he thinks on the subject as he was not an expert in metaphysics. Nobody is. It's like when a mathmatician is asked for his stance on Global Warming and then his skepticism of it is used to say that 'Scientists are doubtfull about global warming.'