16 May 2011


An old joke among mathematicians goes like this: “One plus one equals three... for very large values of one.”  Anyone who survived (and still remembers) calculus will find this hilarious. Well, at least slightly funny.

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States essentially gives me the right to say that 1 + 1 = 3.  But saying that doesn’t make it true.  In fact, a mathematical framework built on that fundamental premise will not safely land a lunar module on the Moon.

For different but related reasons, worshiping a golden calf (or making Darwinian natural selection, or financial derivatives, or political power your personal god) will not lead to personal happiness.  Believe what you want, but if your belief is not based on fundamental truth, it will get you nowhere.  It certainly won’t buy you happiness, that $20 million yacht derived from your dishonestly-earned bonuses and compensation notwithstanding.  I’m reminded of a Gary Larson cartoon.  At the end of a funeral reception, a grand piano, a refrigerator, a telivision, and a set of golf clubs all fly out the front door of the deceased man’s house, and zoom up into the clouds, while his wife wails “Aaaugh!  It’s George - he’s taking it with him!

Arthur Bassett wrote an article in the 1977 Ensign (“Now Abideth These Three”) that had these words:

One of the facets of the Lord’s way of teaching that has continued to fascinate me is his ability to interlace simplicity and profundity. His gospel offers a mental challenge to the most profound scholar and yet has attraction even to a small child. Its doctrines range as wide as the entire human experience, yet all truth can be circumscribed within the bounds of a few simple, central principles. (Emphasis mine)

Don Lind, the Mormon Astronaut, earned a PhD in high-energy physics from the University of California, Berkeley (my alma mater).   After retirement from NASA, he also served as a member of the Portland, OR, Temple Presidency from 1995-1998.  Don once gave a lecture at the University of Arizona that I attended.  During his talk he made several statements that have stuck with me ever since (one of which I paraphrase here, as I can’t find the published talk after seven family moves among three different countries):

This is the only religion I can adhere to and not have to believe one thing on Sunday and another thing the other six days of the week.  His point was this: there is no incompatibility between my faith and my science.  They are not mutually exclusive.  Implicit in this is also his clear understanding of the 8th Article of Faith.

Near the end of the Endowment Ceremony a statement is made that I cannot repeat outside the walls of a Mormon Temple.  It bears a striking resemblance to what Bassett wrote 34 years ago, but is more complete.

MY point is this: Science and Religion are different means for reaching the same end - All Truth - and they are definitely converging.

1 comment:

  1. This made me think of a quote by Elder Nelson that says, "Teachings of the temple are beautifully simple and simply beautiful. They are understood by the humble, yet they can excite the intellect of the brightest minds."
    You have a very bright mind and I am enjoying your blog very much.