No conflict between science and religion

Scientists recently used LiDAR to scan the jungles of Guatemala. Using this technology, “scholars digitally removed the tree canopy from aerial images of the now-unpopulated landscape, revealing the ruins of a sprawling pre-Columbian civilization that was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed.”

The results are very interesting:

In addition to hundreds of previously unknown structures, the LiDAR images show raised highways connecting urban centers and quarries. Complex irrigation and terracing systems supported intensive agriculture capable of feeding masses of workers who dramatically reshaped the landscape.

If you’re interested, you should read all about the Maya Megalopolis Below the Guatemalan Jungle. (I also highly recommend this book.)

The images and results of this exploration are very interesting but of course they are not new to those who study The Book of Mormon. The book teaches of large cities and populations among the “ancient inhabitants of the Americas.”

Testimonies should be based on “the Spirit of truth” because “he will guide you into all truth.” We shouldn’t base our testimony (or lack thereof) on science.  Regardless, it’s interesting when science and religion cross an intersection of truth to meet each other.

A true believer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ should always welcome scientific findings.

Henry Eyring, a renowned scientist and the father of Henry B Eyring taught:

“Since the Gospel embraces all truth, there can never be any genuine contradictions between true science and true religion…. I am obliged, as a Latter-day Saint, to believe whatever is true, regardless of the source.”

President Russell M. Nelson, the current President of the LDS church and a renowned heart surgeon, has taught a similar teaching:

“There is no conflict between science and religion..Conflict only arises from an incomplete knowledge of either science or religion, or both. … Whether truth comes from a scientific laboratory or by revelation from the Lord, it is compatible.”

Recently, the Mormon Channel released a video about Discovering Truth in a story told by Elder Uchtdorf:

I believe that honest seekers of truth can find it. Often it will take time and effort but it’s a worthwhile process.

 

Do not touch fire

Recently I was with a group of Cub Scouts that was learning safety guidelines. They were told “do not touch fire.”

When they turn twelve and go on their first scout camp they’ll be told again.

When they take home economics in 7th grade they’ll be told again.

When they take Chemistry in 10th grade they’ll be told again.

Wouldn’t it be silly if these same boys turn 18 and decide, “Well now I’m an adult so I can touch fire legally. May as well try it.”

After so many warnings, I’d hope that they would prefer to avoid the pain.

Dr Suess put it in a way that only he could:

“With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.”

I woke this morning to news that Thomas S Monson, the 16the President of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had passed away. I regard him as a prophet and appreciated his observation skills and the way he relayed his stories. I will miss him.

For over fifty years he shared wisdom from pulpits and pens. My personal quote book is filled with insight from him. One of my favorite quotes was shared with me in a small group by a visiting authority and I’ve remembered it again and again

This brother mentioned that in a recent council with the First Presidency, President Monson had shared his prepared training and remarks and then in a lamenting fashion admitted:

“I don’t understand why men and women don’t do what the Lord asks them to do.” – President Monson

When a watchman sees a fire in the distance, it must be heart breaking to watch people walk toward it despite warnings. President Monson taught this often:

Obedience is a hallmark of prophets; it has provided strength and knowledge to them throughout the ages. It is essential for us to realize that we, as well, are entitled to this source of strength and knowledge. It is readily available to each of us today as we obey God’s commandments.

As I remember President Monson today and all the prophets throughout history, I’m grateful for clear guidelines that teach me how I should act before God. I hope to do better in following the warnings and receiving the promised safety.

What did you learn at home this week?

The church has announced an updated schedule of general conference sessions. “Beginning in April 2018, the general women’s session will no longer be held on the Saturday preceding the other sessions of general conference. Rather, the general priesthood and general women’s sessions will each be held annually, with the general priesthood session being in April and the general women’s session being in October.”

I love that the reason cited is “the spirit of reducing and simplifying the work of the Church and the demands made upon leaders and members.” In my stewardship opportunities, I’ve aimed for the same goal.

Now more than ever it falls to families and parents to be sure the Gospel is taught in the home. The church handbook teaches the following:

God has revealed a pattern of spiritual progress for individuals and families through ordinances, teaching, programs, and activities that are home centered and Church supported. Church organizations and programs exist to bless individuals and families and are not ends in themselves. Priesthood and auxiliary leaders and teachers seek to assist parents, not to supersede or replace them. (italics added)
This organization requires both parents and church leaders to know their roles. “Let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.”

In a meeting I attended with Elder Holland, he taught that if we are participating in the Gospel the right way, we’ll stop asking “what did you learn at church today?” over the family dinner and instead, primary teachers will start their Sunday class with “What did you learn at home this week?” and then support those teachings.

I’ll miss the extra priesthood session each year. It’s always uplifting and informative. I’m happy to have the women’s session in the heart of conference weekend. It can be the start of some beautiful new traditions. But mostly this is a reminder of what I already believe: “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.” (The Family: A proclamation to the world)

 

My November Stockpile

Here are random things to post but that don’t deserve their own post:

  • A quick finance lesson: There are two people you always overpay, the mafia and the babysitter. The mafia for is for obvious reasons. No one wants to get fitted for Quikrete shoes on the edge of a bridge.

    And overpaying the babysitter ensures that you’ll always have a high quality babysitter available. To me, parenting is the most important duty I have. If I am going to put someone in my place to do that for an evening I want to make sure I get the best there is available. If that means doubling what other families pay, that seems worth it to me.

  • I’ve certainly felt an increased appreciation for the seership of the church leadership lately. For decades they have taught to preserve the family unit and to be wise with your finances. Looking at the state of the world today, how prophetic does that seem now?

    Of course, we’d all be wise to take this as a reminder to listen even more now so we can be prepared for tomorrow.

  • I have a new goal. I want to own something that is 100+ years old. It doesn’t need to have high monetary value, but I really want it to have a great history. Something I can really trace back and understand the path that it took to my possession. I’ll keep you informed as this progresses.
  • We’re about 11 weeks from Stucki boy #2. I’m so excited.

The Weak Become Strong

There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that I read a couple weeks ago and just couldn’t get out of my mind.

In the later chapters of Alma, Moroni is preparing for the attacks of the Lamanites. He is preparing the different cities by building walls, towers and digging ditches. Then in the description of steps, we read that “in their weakest fortifications, [Moroni] did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land…”

Moroni found their collective “soft spot” and faced it head on with the most power that he could. This seems like such an obvious principle, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is a hard thing for people to do. In this case, the setting was a physical war, but this of course applies to so many aspects of life. Whatever the setting, it’s never easy to determine and admit the gaps in your life.

In my case, I’ve had two great fears in running my company. If either were to happen, it would have handicapped and possibly shut down my company. It was easy for me to ignore these fears because I didn’t understand one, and I had no control over the other. (Or so I thought.)

But, after reading the way that Moroni prepared, I was determined to face these weak spots and place the most attention there. I wrote them down, made lists on ways I could prepare and avoid them, educated myself and worked through the problems. Two weeks later, one has been eliminated and the other has been planned for and would not be anywhere near as catastrophic if it occurred. It’s an incredible relief.

Indeed, looking at my weak spots now would put one much in the place of the Lamanites when they tried to attack the formerly weak cities:

But behold, to their astonishment, the city of Noah, which had hitherto been a weak place, had now, by the means of Moroni, become strong, yea, even to exceed the strength of the city Ammonihah. – Alma 49:14

It’s wonderful the way that the Book of Mormon can inspire in so many aspects of life.

Where are the weak spots in your life? They can be moral, financial, personal or physical. Instead of stressing about them, take some time to write them down and eliminate the weakness in your life.

Don’t Let It Happen On Your Watch

The other day I was eating at my favorite place in Las Vegas, Sammy’s Dog House. It’s an outside stand where you order and then sit outside and chow your dog.

As I was sitting there, someone on the other side of the parking lot started honking their horn. And honking. And honking. And honking.

After one minute of honks, my thought was, “Man, I wish that annoying goober would pipe down.”

Then after 3 minutes of honking, I realized that the person might be in trouble. I pulled myself away from my Chicago Dog and Ranch fries (so good) and walked across the parking lot.

I wish I had something really awesome to report, but of course the honking stopped right as I neared the location. I looked at the different cars to see if someone was inside of one unresponsive, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. I returned to my dog and fries.

When I got back, there were four old folks enjoying their food. I saw them watching me and reported, “You know, after a while you just have to go check. But I didn’t see anything.”

One of the older ladies said, “I was real impressed that you went and did that. We were just sitting here mad at the person for ruining our lunch not thinking that someone may need help.”

I told them that you always hear about those stories where a kid was kidnapped amidst a group of people because no one stepped up to ask what was going on and I didn’t want that happening on my watch.

She was impressed enough to offer to buy my lunch. When I told her I eat there free, she offered a nice grandma hug instead.

I bring this up only to remind everyone how good it feels to watch out for others. Though there wasn’t anything to be found, it’s a satisfactory feeling to even try. And, as the elderly folks showed, failure to watch out for others brings a tinge of guilt.

There is a phrase from a Elder Holland talk that has always stuck with me. It is in reference to when God asks Cain where his brother Abel can be found. Cain answers, “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Maybe the answer to that question is….”No, Cain, you are not expected to be your brother’s keeper. But you are expected to be your brother’s brother.”

It Takes Work To Remember

Last night I went to sleep with a canker sore in my mouth that hurt so bad it seemed to define my existence. Today, I woke up and it was all healed. I had completely forgotten about it until I saw the numbing medicine on the counter.

Two months ago I was so tired of the irritation and work it took to have good sight and wear contacts that I was ready to pay nearly anything to avoid it. I had PRK surgery and now I don’t even remember what it was like to wear contacts. I don’t even realize I’m without the contact removal in my nightly routine.

Two weeks ago I wanted so badly to be in better tune with the Spirit so I could help a loved one in a time of need. I prayed fervently for it. Yesterday I caught myself thinking, “I guess it’s okay to skip one day of scripture study because I’m really making progress on this work project.”

My point is that humans are incredibly good at forgetting things that just recently were a big focus point in their lives. The scriptures are full of examples of “how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one.”(ref) One of the saddest scriptures I know refers to the end of the thousands years that Christ will rule on this earth in righteousness and satan will be bound. After all that time with the Savior, the thousand years will end and men will “again begin to deny their God.” (ref) How is that even possible to forget after all that time?

I think that writing in your journal is the best way to fight our forgetful nature. But I also believe that remembrance is a gift of the Spirit that should be prayed for constantly….if we can remember to do it.

Thankful For The Holy Ghost

I’m so grateful to have a knowledge of the true nature of the Godhead. I am careful not to take it for granted. Put plainly, I am a literal son of my Heavenly Father. I love and worship him. Jesus Christ is my older brother and has a personal relationship with me. If I do right, that relationship is capable of saving me from sin. And as the third member of the Godhead, The Holy Ghost guides me in all truth and “witnesses of the Father and the Son.”

I’ve thought a lot about the Holy Ghost this month. I think I should do it more often. His role is so special. I love the idea that He serves to be present and strong but at the same time so inconspicuous as to deflect all attention to the Father and the Son. We’d all be wise to mirror him in that.

“All good people can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, but only those who are baptized and who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by priesthood authority have the right to His constant companionship throughout life….Your ability to enjoy this divine gift depends on your obedience to God’s commandments, as the Holy Ghost cannot remain with those who do not live according to God’s teachings.”

I feel deeply for those people who lose His companionship because of disobedience. Perhaps we’ve all had our times when we are less worthy to receive his promptings. But it’s important that we regain worthiness and make our way back.

Recently I’ve been praying that the Holy Ghost would prompt me when I’m in company with someone who has lost His companionship. It isn’t important why they’ve lost it. It’s much more important that they have everything they need to regain it. Especially the desire that is necessary but so often lost. My prayer has been answered at appropriate (and surprising) times and I’m so glad for the opportunity to serve. In the process, it has helped me to better understand the Holy Ghost and His process of communication. I hope this becomes a pattern in my life.

If you have not yet received the gift of the Holy Ghost, may I invite you to seek baptism and confirmation by those who have the authority to offer the Gift.

If you’ve lost the companionship of the Holy Ghost, I hope you’ll begin now to regain it.

If you feel His presence in your life, take time today to cherish and strengthen it.

Recognize The Miracles In Your Life

J.E. Littlewood was a professor at Cambridge University. He published work that used mathematics to minimize miracles.

In short, Littlewood’s law teaches that “a miracle is defined as an exceptional event of special significance occurring at a frequency of one in a million; during the hours in which a human is awake and alert, a human will experience one thing per second (for instance, seeing the computer screen, the keyboard, the mouse, the article, etc.); additionally, a human is alert for about eight hours per day; and as a result, a human will, in 35 days, have experienced, under these suppositions, 1,008,000 things. Accepting this definition of a miracle, one can be expected to observe one miraculous occurrence within the passing of every 35 consecutive days — and therefore, according to this reasoning, seemingly miraculous events are actually commonplace.”

I hope I never become so bleak to believe this.

Take the time to recognize the miracles in your life. Keep a record of them. Don’t pass them off as coincidence or commonplace.

A Mission of Memories

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One of the nice things about working from home is you can spend time on your personal projects while still working. This week I started scanning pages from the journal that I kept while serving as a Mormon missionary in San Francisco, CA. I’m only 200 pages into the 800 page behemoth of a book but it has been an enjoyable process.

As I go thru the pages of the book, I have so many memories. Not only do I think about the people, the places and the work, but I also remember my thoughts, my goals and what I didn’t know in the early days of service.

It’s impossible to accurately describe what a mission is like for someone. The highs are so high and the lows are hard and trying. I know of nothing else like it and I wish everyone could experience it.

A mission never leaves you. While scanning and reading, I’ve had my memory refreshed on daily activities, but without those details I still think of my mission everyday. I still regularly have dreams where I’m still in the mission field. It’s wonderful.

And now back to the scanning…