Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Intelligent Design or Randomness?

I've enjoyed this quote from a book I've recommended, Gethsemane, by Andrew C. Skinner. It gives some indication of the vastness of our cosmos:

"Astronomers tell us that our solar system is located in a spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, a flat, disc-shaped cluster of stars approximately 100,000 light years across at its widest point. A light year is the distance light travels in one year. Moving at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, a beam of light traverses 5.7 trillion miles in 365 days! The size of our galaxy in miles is a staggering 5.7 trillion times 100,000, and it is estimated to contain 200 billion stars, 50 percent of which (100 billion) possess solar systems like our own. The next closest galaxy is Andromeda, a galaxy much like our own Milky Way, that is approximately 2.2 million light years away from us. Further more, our best telescopes can probe outward into space to a distance of approximately 5 billion light years and view about 500 million galaxies, each of which possesses billions of stars. And these galaxies are only the ones we can detect with the present state of our technology. Truly, the observation made by Enoch the seer is one of the grandest understatements of all time: 'And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still' (Moses 7:30).

"The Savior redeems all that he creates. Such are the sweeping and incomprehensible powers of Jesus, the Victor of Gethsemane. And what's more, these creations are maintained and renewed continually by the very same power possessed by their creator, for

"he that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;

"Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ . . .

"Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space —

"The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things." (D&C 88:6-13). (See Chapter One, Gethsemane).

Spend a few minutes and watch this video, then ask yourself, "Randomness or Intelligent Design?" It's the burning question on Roger Ebert's mind these days as he faces the reality of his eventual demise. He's already had two near-death experiences. He concludes the universe is completely indifferent to his existence and his eventual passing. He has no use for true believers and finds comfort instead in randomness and this passionless assessment:  "When I die, what happens? Nothing much. Every atom of my body will continue to exist. The sum of the universe will be the same. The universe will not know or care." What a sad prospect.

Despite Ebert's lack of belief in "the plan of salvation" in stark contrast to Skinner's statement of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, when Ebert dies his agnosticism will no doubt ultimately yield to the knowledge he is a much-beloved son of God. If there is a Plan, there certainly is a Planner who has revealed His intentions throughout Holy Writ. In fact, rather than hoard His designs, the Designer is giving away all the secrets of His vast creations to anyone who asks and seeks the truth.

Roger Ebert, like each son or daughter of God, will be greeted at the veil by the Holy One of Israel as he passes over, and I suspect he'll have an eye-popping view of eternity he never suspected awaited him. (2 Nephi 9:41). I'd love to be a fly on that wall! 

Intelligent Design or Chance and Randomness? You decide for yourself. . . but I'm betting on the Designer.

What always amazes me is this simple logic: If there is no God and death holds no promise beyond the grave, then I already have a purposeless existence, so what harm does it do to my soul if I believe in God and it's actually better than my present belief in nothing? 

Have I lost anything by believing too much?

Joseph Smith, facing his ultimate demise like Ebert, came to a completely different conclusion and reasoned thus on the question:

"I want to stick to my text, to show that when men open their lips against these truths they do not injure me, but injure themselves. To the law and to the testimony, for these principles are poured out all over the scriptures. When things that are of the greatest importance are passed over by weak-minded men without even a thought, I want to see truth in all its bearings and hug it to my bosom. I believe all that God ever revealed, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much; but they are damned for unbelief.

"They found fault with Jesus Christ because He said He was the Son of God, and made Himself equal with God. They say of me, like they did of the apostles of old, that I must be put down. What did Jesus say? 'Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods? If He called them Gods unto whom the word of God came, and the scriptures cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom the Father had sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God?' It was through Him that they drank of the spiritual rock. Of course He would take the honor to Himself. Jesus, if they were called Gods unto whom the word of God came, why should it be thought blasphemy that I should say I am the Son of God?" (TPJS, 373-74).

Three weeks later at Carthage Jail in Illinois, the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum sealed their testimonies with their martyrs' blood.

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