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The kettle being called black

I have had many many people criticize me for posting about the church being false and its teachings being ridiculous.  This post is to address this criticism.  I offer the following evidence from the LDS General Conference just last weekend to support my case.  Now, lest I be misunderstood, I would like to articulate my argument well.  I do not mean to say that the method of attacking another person's viewpoint is wrong.  I do not mean to say that Elder Nelson and Elder Cook are in the wrong in any way.  All I mean to say is that people who criticize me and tell me that I should not talk about the church being false are hypocrites because their own apostles do the very same thing with those who do not believe in Mormonism.

To make myself more clear, I do not mean to cease being critical of anyone's beliefs.  In the academic world, to publish a paper, you must have it reviewed and scrutinized by a peer--someone else in the community that understand the subject more or less as well as you do and is qualified to give an informed opinion on whether your work seems to be accurate and correct.  This system is not meant to damage anyone's feelings or to insult the author of the paper by informing him that his work is incorrect.  It is meant to minimize error, rather than propagating it.  Similarly, when I give criticism of the teachings of the LDS church, or any organization or individual, I do so because I wish to offer a second opinion (whether it's informed or not--whether I'm qualified to give the opinion or not is another matter).  It is not meant to hurt the feelings of any person or group of people.  It is meant to promote truth and discourage error.

I will give the benefit of the doubt to the LDS apostles, which I personally believe is more than they deserve, when discussing their motives.  That is, when they criticize someone of differing views, I assume that they mean well--that they have the same intent as I, namely to promote truth and discourage error.

Now, to the point at hand.  Elder Nelson mentioned in his talk that the notion of the Big Bang in preposterous.  He said that claiming that the universe was created by a big bang is much like claiming that a dictionary resulted from an explosion in a printing press.  Now, it would be one thing if it were merely his own personal opinion, but he's speaking to millions of people worldwide.  And, of the 20,000 that are listening to him in-person in the Conference Center, you can hear a good number of them laughing as he is relating this opinion.  In fact, at three distinct points they laugh.  So, it is not just his opinion, it is also apparently the opinion of many people in the Conference Center (and likely those watching/listening remotely), and he is not merely stating his opinion, he is clearly making a mockery of the Big Bang Theory.  Surely what I have said in my criticism of the church is no worse than this.  These are his exact words.  (Full text here.)
Yet some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere. Ask yourself, “Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?” The likelihood is most remote. But if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own newer editions!
Now, just as a note here, I feel I should make a disclaimer about my opinion concerning the Big Bang Theory.  That is to say, I have no opinion.  I have not heard it described to me in enough detail that I can say I fully understand what the theory is saying.  (It would appear, from the way Elder Nelson described it, that he doesn't understand either.)  The little that I do understand (which may be incorrect) is that the matter in the universe was contained in a very dense and very small cluster and suddenly exploded and the universe has been expanding ever since.  Now, from that little bit, I must say that I'm skeptical and that I have several questions (eg, what caused the explosion?).  However, in order to be fair, I must contrast it with all other explanations given.  Some theists claim that god created the universe.  How?  No explanation is offered, only that "god did it".  Mormons claim something a little more credible, which is that there was unorganized matter and god simply organized it into worlds where life could be possible.  The problem with this explanation is that it does not answer the question of where the unorganized matter came from.

What I mean to say is that religion does not offer a better explanation of the origin of existence.  The answer is either "god did it" or simply no answer at all.  When contrasted with this answer, which is the answer that Elder Nelson is promoting in his talk, I would say that the Big Bang is more reasonable if only for the simple fact that it is an explanation, whereas religion offers none.  It may be correct and it may be false, but it is the best that scientists have come up with at this point in time.  Perhaps the theory will be revised in the future, or perhaps the current hypothesis will be proven to be correct.  But, the real irony here is that Elder Nelson is ridiculing an idea that hundreds (maybe thousands, millions, I'm not sure) of scientists have studied and agreed is a reasonable explanation for the universe whereas the only explanation he has to offer is "God said 'let there be X' and there was X.", which is no explanation at all.  It does not explain how god did it.  It is merely an assertion that he did.  If you mean to say that the method whereby god did it was simply by saying that it should be so, then I will definitely have to say that this idea is far more absurd than the Big Bang Theory.  An entire universe created by one being merely speaking?  That's a bit of a stretch of the imagination.

The next matter is that of Elder Cook's talk, where he basically says that atheists are tone deaf to faith.  Now, to me, that's not an insult.  That's actually a compliment.  But using language such as "tone deaf" is belittling.  It connotes a deficiency or shortcoming in the person being discussed.  He's essentially saying that atheists are defective.  This is an attack on atheism, and it's certainly not an isolated event.  Religious leaders all over are making such attacks on atheists (in fact, Elder Cook is merely quoting Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks in his attack on atheists), which is most likely the leading cause for the fact that atheists are the most mistrusted minority in America.  At any rate, he is making it clear that his own opinion is superior and that of atheism inferior.

And so, I shall use these and many other examples as reasons why Mormons are unjustified in asking me to remain silent rather than criticizing the church.  Your own church leaders are very critical of, and demeaning toward, those who disagree with them, and therefore you can't accuse me of wrongdoing without accusing them of precisely the same wrong.  (And again, I'm not using their "wrong" to justify my own--my assertion is that it isn't wrong to point out error in another person's words.)

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