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Are Mormons allowed to have their doubts in a free society?

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Salt Lake City Tabernacle (2008)/Leon7, Creative Commons

From a study reported by political science prof Benjamin Knoll at HuffPost:

– 37% reject God-guided evolution and believe in a literal Adam and Eve who were not the process of biological evolution. These Mormons have a more literalist/fundamentalist view.

– 37% accept God-guided evolution as the origin of life on Earth but also believe in a literal Adam and Eve created by God and not the result of evolution. Perhaps many in this group believe Adam and Eve to be a special exception to the evolutionary process while accepting evolution as the most persuasive explanation for all other life.

— 13% accept God-guided evolution and reject the idea that Adam and Eve were separately created by God outside of this process. This could include those who believe that God used evolution to create Adam and Eve or that God was just not part of the picture.[2]

– 13% reject God-guided evolution and reject a literal Adam and Eve as well.

More on the study.

Now this, from Knoll, is just plain disturbing: “Finally, what are the implications for other important issues in politics and society when a critical mass of a social community (Mormon or otherwise) is unable to be persuaded by a strong scientific consensus on a particular topic? More.”

What are the implications? How about this: Many (North) Americans are used to living in a free society where one is allowed to suspect that the experts might be wrong. Here’s a list of wrong theories that ruled, and sometimes ended, people’s lives for millennia, endorsed by all the experts:

The “four humours” theory of human physiology: From Hippocrates onward, the humoral theory was adopted by Greek, Roman and Islamic physicians, and became the most commonly held view of the human body among European physicians until the advent of modern medical research in the 19th century. The four humours of Hippocratic medicine were black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood.

Funny he should be asking that just when a big recent science news story-of-the-year is about expert beliefs about human evolution getting upended. Bet it won’t be the last time either.

See also: A top anthropology finding of year show humans cognitively closer to dogs than chimps “This raises as many questions as it answers because it is unknown whether the mental processes of dogs and humans work in the same way”? Given all the human-chimp similarity rhetoric, surely they somewhat understate the case…

Cosmos Magazine’s Top Ten includes: Universe’s underlying symmetry still baffling and human evolution timeline drastically stretched. Re human evolution, we hope no one’s career got wrecked in the past few decades, doubting whatever “ding dong Darwin” was the bumf of the day. It’s becoming increasingly clear that most of the certainty has been ideological, not scientific.

A top anthropology finding of year show humans cognitively closer to dogs than chimps

American Council for Science and Health’s 10 biggest junk stories for 2017 include… Stephen Hawking

and

Can Muslims believe in evolution? You can’t believe in Islam and in Darwin’s theory because Darwin’s theory, as he himself knew, rules out the idea that there is any kind of truth that the human mind is capable of apprehending. Major Darwinians like Daniel Dennett, fearing little resistance in a postmodern world, make that clear.

7 Replies to “Are Mormons allowed to have their doubts in a free society?

  1. 1
    tribune7 says:

    Something to ponder: The 4.55 billion age estimate of the earth is solid science. What is the downside to disbelieving it?

  2. 2
    rvb8 says:

    News,

    being sceptical of authority, is a healthy and good position, I and George Orwell strongly side with you.

    That is why we don’t accept anything said by, ‘Religious Leaders’, such as the Plope, or Ayatolla, or Imam, or Rabii, or Priest, Nun, Brother, Prelate, Pastor, or alter boy.

    However, denying hard facts is stupid; there is a difference.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    News,

    Perhaps, some of the objectors are aware of things like this infamous warning-flag remark by Lewontin:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [==> as in, “we” have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge, making “our” “consensus” the yardstick of truth . . . ] we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth

    [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]

    . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists [–> “we” are the dominant elites], it is self-evident

    [–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us [= the evo-mat establishment] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]

    KF

  4. 4
    Eric Anderson says:

    These kinds of studies and polls nearly always suffer from a failure to clearly define what is meant by evolution, so they have to be taken with a grain of salt.

    But as for Knoll’s hand-wringing: “Finally, what are the implications for other important issues in politics and society when a critical mass of a social community (Mormon or otherwise) is unable to be persuaded by a strong scientific consensus on a particular topic?”

    The implications — in this particular area — are quite positive, thank you very much. The alleged scientific “consensus” Knoll refers to is built on questionable data, obfuscation, faulty logic, and academia-sponsored propaganda.

    Thank goodness a large number of people aren’t buying it.

  5. 5
    critical rationalist says:

    Mormons are antitrinitarian as well.

    In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Holy Ghost (usually synonymous with Holy Spirit.)[86] is considered the third distinct member of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Ghost),[87] and to have a body of “spirit”,[88] which makes him unlike the Father and the Son who are said to have bodies “as tangible as man’s”.[89] According to LDS doctrine, the Holy Spirit is believed to be a person,[89][90] with a body of spirit, able to pervade all worlds.[91]

    Latter Day Saints believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are part of the Godhead, but that the Father is greater than the Son and the Son is greater than the Holy Spirit in position and authority, but not in nature (i.e., they equally share the “God” nature).[91] They teach that the Father, Son, and Spirit are three ontologically separate, self-aware entities who share a common “God” nature distinct from our “human” nature, who are “One God” in the sense of being united (in the same sense that a husband and wife are said to be “one”), similar to Social trinitarianism.

    A number of Latter Day Saint sects, most notably the Community of Christ (the second largest Latter Day Saint denomination), the Church of Christ (Temple Lot),[92] and derived groups, follow a traditional Protestant trinitarian theology.

    Do they have the right have their doubts of the Trinity in a free society?

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, Mormons and others have a right to form their own views on the Triune view of God or other worldview level subjects, matched by a responsibility to seek good warrant for their views. That should not even be a question at this stage of history. Now, on what frame of reference can you build grounding for the moral governance of duties to truth, sound logic, prudence, fairness etc that are required to form sound worldviews? KF

  7. 7
    Eric Anderson says:

    CR @5: what on earth does that have to do with the topic at hand?

    The issue on the table is an attitude by political science professor Benjamin Knoll who worries that the country is going to heck in a handbasket because large numbers of people in the country doubt evolution.

    I’d be curious to know why he used Mormons as an example and whether other Christian denominations would show similar numbers. From the numbers cited in the OP, my sense is that the Mormons are probably pretty middle of the road on the question of evolution. There are probably denominations that would be more open to the evolutionary storyline (i.e., more strongly in the theistic evolution camp) and others that would be more aggressively opposed to the evolutionary storyline.

    In any case, the nonsense highlighted by the OP is Knoll’s silly hand-wringing about the fate of the nation if people don’t accept the “science” of evolution. Coupled with his back-handed slight against Mormons for being “unable to be persuaded by a strong scientific consensus on a particular topic.”

    It is Knoll who doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about.

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