Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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114 I Dialogue Are there any assumptions in the social sciences in which you have been trained that raise issues with the doctrines of the Church? Unfortunately, yes. Many, many questions. I start with the nature of man and the evolution of man, and the historicity of the Bible, and with the view of the Bible as the word of God. It seems to me that the social and biological sciences do not have answers, but they bring to bear different assumptions with respect to these issues. I find substantially more comfort in the findings of science in these matters than I do in the assertions of Church doctrine, because I think that over time science will be able to break the barriers of lack of knowledge, to fill in corners where we presently do not have answers. The scientific method can and will make sense out of the phenomena that are currently treated as miraculous, as spiritual, which we are told in the Church are not to be understood but to be accepted on faith. My training in psychiatry leads me to see the speaking of tongues, the driving out of spirits not so much as evidences of the devil as the need to heal people with distorted minds. I find no need whatsoever to posit the existence of the devil to account for disordered behavior in people. My reading of the Bible and of other scriptures with my training in social science leads me to see these disturbed people as representatives of their time and place; the accounts of miracles largely as myths reflecting a limited knowledge of man at the time. These beliefs reach the utmost absurdity to me when they designate the current black population as the descendents of Cain and of Ham and when they use the Bible accounts of the sins of Cain and Ham as explanation for the present benighted state of the blacks in the United States. This is the most extreme case, but it seems to me that social science and a number of Church policies, if not doctrines, collide. I think the glorification of the husband-father as the patriarch and the monopoly by men of the priesthood signify in some kind of curious sense that white men are like gods, which women and blacks can never be. These views that justify priesthood meetings, segregating men from women, when decisions are to be made with respect to the local Church, collide with my professional views with respect to the family and with my egalitarian views that men and women are equal in the sight of God. I think I can trace patriarchal ideas to a rural, agrarian past, but they are treated within the Church as if they are timeless and that in all eternity it will always be thus. Yes, I do find many, many points at which social and psychological science and ideas from psychiatry and philosophy run head on into what some would allege to be the doctrines of the Church. In a previous conversation you told me that you thought the social sciences and behavioral sciences are of a somewhat different nature than the physical sciences in the degree to which they might raise these kinds of questions with members of the Church who pursue academic careers. I am wondering if you could recount that for me again. It was epitomized by Lowry Nelson, who is one of the greats in sociology, and Henry Eyring, who is on the Nobel prize level in physical science. Henry Eyring is able to keep his beliefs about the nature of man, about the divine mission of the Church, and about the hereafter separate from his scientific pursuits so that he has a serene and unquestioning view with respect to the Church teachings. An