– “Jesus Loves Me” by Anna Bartlett Warner
“Mmm – but she blinded me with science—And failed me in biology”
– “She Blinded Me with Science” by Thomas Dolby
Last week, I wrote “Why Same Sex Marriage Probably Fails” in an effort to discuss the separation of civil marriage from religious marriage. One being a civil right now granted by the SCOTUS and the other a sacrament or ordinance of a particular religious organization. Some religious organizations are particularly nervous they will be forced by the US government to perform religious marriage ceremony for those they object to, namely same sex couples.
As a fairly strongly believing Latter-day Saint, I am not dismayed by the SCOTUS ruling as I see the separation of civil and religious marriage as a logical step. In many countries, it’s already that way.
But that is not what this post is about.
Within the last few days, we had a very interesting post by Chris Harrison entitled A Response to the Letter Read in Wards Last Sunday. The post is a dialog about the First Presidency letter about same sex marriage that began in the BYU Daily Universe (DU). After a spirited dialog, the DU took it down and it was transferred to Facebook. The post was reproduced in its entirety on Wheat and Tares.
Chris essentially answered the question, “Did your ward read the letter last Sunday? What were the reactions?
Chris’s main response was that the policy in the letter is wrong. And away when the discussion. It continued in the comments section of the blog post. Back and forth between God’s laws and nature’s laws.
But that’s not what this post is about.
In any discussion by opposing sides, statements often get thrown around as fact and indisputable, whether they, in reality, are or not. We see it all the time. Such as during the debate over the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, commonly known as the Confederate flag or the Stars and Bars. One side argued that it is a racist symbol of slavery and the other that it is merely a symbol of Southern pride. Those that often chose the latter position fail to recognize the actual history of the flag, the real reason the Civil War was fought and how the flag has been used in the past 60+ years to promote segregation and racist ideology. The former argument made mostly by folks who have not been subject to slavery or segregation, so for them it is a historic symbol, more than an actual one.
In the discussion on Chris’ post, the main points go back and forth between the truthfulness of the LDS Gospel and Doctrine and the truth about love and biology. At least that is how I see it.
Let me say here that I am of the opinion that our collective knowledge of the Gospel, the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement could fill a thimble compared to the knowledge we don’t currently have. And likewise, the scientific knowledge we have about the biology of the human species, how it really works, and why certain anomalies and/or defects occur is equally as poor.
So much of the argument which is given as fact is really hope, faith and belief whether you are talking religion or science.
In the comments, there was a discussion of the term defect as it pertained to homosexuality. I realize that can be quite offensive to some. On the other hand, I am quite comfortable talking about my own birth issue as a defect because it was a physical one (Read my prior post about it here). Some have argued that because it happened in nature, it is natural and therefore correct, while some might argue that God made us a certain way while others that God does not make us a certain way.
The trouble with both of those arguments is 1) we really don’t know what role God plays in each individual birth, whether He elects people to have certain attributes, positive or negative or “let’s nature run its course.” 2) While we have an idea what we expect a normal person should be like, we have no real answer for why there are certain anomalies, physical defects, mental proclivities, etc. I am not referring to very well documented things like eye color, which can be traced back specifically to genetic pairing that we all learned about in first year biology. But really hard core things like sexual orientation, which has no real proven causality
For example, from a religious point of view, part of the reason we are here is to multiply and replenish the earth (procreate) and biology supports the idea that it takes a man and a woman to naturally accomplish that task. However, some men and some women are born without the ability to provide their portion of the procreative process. Is that normal or an anomaly? And now, medical science has the ability to create life from the component parts of a male and female, essentially bypassing the “normal process.” Is that condoned by God since He let it happen?
So I guess my bottom line here is that one cannot always separate our facts from our beliefs because one person’s absolute fact may just be an opinion. This conclusion correlates very well with my belief that science is as much a set of beliefs as religion. I say this simply because in the grand scheme of things, science hasn’t proven much of anything about us as a human species. And in some ways, religion attempts to fill in the gaps.