Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apparently Mormons Know Religion

A survey recently conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life concluded, among other things, that Mormons generally know the tenets of their own faith and those of other faiths better than most Christian denominations. The participants were asked 32 questions varying in difficulty and including questions such as whether they could name the Islamic holy book, the first book of the Bible, or indicate what century the Mormon religion was founded. Here's a link to the Pew Forum survey, which includes more information.

Interestingly enough, it was the atheists and agnostics that scored the highest in the survey with an average of 21 correct answers. Jews and Mormons followed with around 20 accurate responses, Protestants averaged 16 correct answers, and Catholics followed with a score of about 15. Mormons scored the highest on general questions about Christianity, with an average of about 8 correct answers out of 12.

How do you explain these results? Why do you think atheists and agnostics tested better than actual believers? Why do members of the LDS Church test better than other Christian denominations? Although I tend to agree with Dave Banack's conclusion that our Sunday School Gospel Doctrine manuals need a major overhaul, they have arguably helped our members become more knowledgable and served a valuable purpose.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scientific Study Explains Parting of Red Sea (sort of)

A new study released by Our Amazing Planet attempts to explain the parting of the Red Sea as a natural phenomenon caused, at least in part, by strong winds. Briefly, the study concluded that a strong east wind of around 65mph, blowing overnight, could have swept water off a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean Sea.

Whether this wind explanation is what actually happened or not, I don't care. In fact, like other "miracles" or seemingly impossible stories in the scriptures, if your testimony is rooted in their undeniable occurrence, then I believe your testimony may be ill-placed. For instance, what if conclusive scientific evidence emerges someday that incontestably proves that the flood could not have been a universal occurrence as attested in the Biblical account, but was only reported locally as Noah observed. Would that shake your testimony?

Unlike some Christian denominations, the LDS Church welcomes the advent of scientific advances. In the Encyclopedia of Mormonism under "Science and Religion," we are taught that "[b]ecause of belief in the ultimate compatibility of all truth and in the eternal character of human knowledge, Latter-day Saints tend to take a more positive approach to science than do some people in other religious traditions who also claim a strong foundation in scripture.” Someday all truth will be made known and I believe we will all be surprised at how interrelated science and religion really are.