Billiards In The Great Outdoors

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“I work with Giday WoldeGabriel at Los Alamos. He’s a geologist there.” said our ward’s Sunday School president.

“Ugh,” I thought, “here comes another difficult discussion.”   


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Fig. 1 Brother Malthus’ Campsite. Pretty sweet. 

It was our annual ward campout at Junpier Campground in Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico. Brother Thomas Malthus, our Sunday School second counsellor approached me over a game of pool. Yes, pool. He’s nuts about pool. That man brought a pool table to the annual campout, set it up under a canopy, and challenged all the brethren to an all kick-shot game. That’s right. He started up a 50 Cent song (evil, evil, I know) as he banked the cue ball off two cushions and sunk the 9 in the back left pocket. Then he brought up Ardipithecus Ramidus.

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Fig. 2 Digital reproduction of the skull of Ardipithecus Ramidus. At least, that’s what scientists say. 

“Yeah”, he continued, “Dr. WoldeGabriel, (well, we just call him Woldie), ran into me in the cafeteria at the lab and we started discussing my weekend plans. I told him about the church’s upcoming camping trip to Bandelier. Of course, being scientists, we discussed the human fossils found at Bandelier and mentioned his research on Ardipithecus Ramidus. He’s not Mormon, but he’s  a good guy. He’s a world renown geologist and said Ardipithecus is the oldest skeleton of a human ancestor ever found. “

“Wow”, I said, “Interesting. Does he know God put man on the earth 6,000 years ago in Missouri?” 

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Fig 3. Ancient lava flows near the Awash River in the Afar Depression of Ethiopia. See those spines? God made this place look like a sea of long-dead sea monsters. Pretty awesome. 

A moment of silence. He looked at me and furrowed his brow a little, and continued, “Go ahead and take the next shot”, he said as he handed me a pool stick, “The skull they found belonged to a small-brained, 100-pound female named, ‘Ardi’ who lived in the Afar Depression in Ethiopia. Woldie said the skeleton has been carbon dated to 4.4 million years ago.”

“First of all, how in the world did they know her name was Ardi? And 4.4 million years ago??”, I said as my cue ball went flying off the table and into some pine needles, “That’s impossible if she was a human. We know from modern revelation that Adam and Eve lived in Spring Hill, Missouri 6,000 years ago, not in Ethiopia. Joseph Smith said this place was called Adam-ondi-Ahman. You can’t just make this stuff up.I picked the cue ball out of the pine needles, as slyly and cool as possible, and walked back to the table, pretty proud of my answer.

“But Bishop”, Thomas said, “Carbon dating has proven to be an extremely reliable method of dating things. We know the rate that carbon decays, you can’t deny that. We have lots of evidence of human ancestors that are much older than 6,000 years. This isn’t made up stuff, this is science.” He hit the cue ball in just the right way – it jumped OVER the 7 ball, banked off the right side of the table, and sunk the 3. Amazing.

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Fig. 4 Playing pool in Africa.

I fumbled and pulled my iPhone out of my pocket, pulled up a story related about the prophet Joseph Smith, and read it to him.

“Shortly after his arrival Joseph rowed up the Grand River to Lyman Wight’s ferry to explore land on the north bank in Daviess County [Missouri]. On a high bluff overlooking the river someone in the party discovered the ruins of what seemed to be an altar and excitedly led the prophet to it. After examining it Joseph stood silent, his eyes sweeping over the prairie that rolled away beneath him….The glory of the scene made Joseph heady as with new wine. ‘This is the valley of God in which Adam blessed his children,’ he said, ‘and upon this very altar Adam himself offered up sacrifices to Jehovah….we will lay out a city which shall be called Adam-ondi-Ahman. Here Adam, the Ancient of Days, shall come to visit his people….'(Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History: the life of Joseph Smith, Random House, 1971, p. 211)  So”, I continued, “that tells us right there than Adam and Eve lived in Missouri, not Africa. Joseph didn’t know anything about carbon dating, but he knew about Adam.”

He pulled his cue stick behind his back, hit the cue ball in way that spun it into a curved path, banked off the back cushion and nudged the 11 ball into a pocket. Slap my mother and call me Sally, he’s just showing off now. “Ok then look, I can’t deny that humans and human ancestors have been on the earth far longer than 6,000 years Bishop. The science is clear. We have lots of fossils dating back with a clear record that people have lived and died on this planet tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of years ago.”

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Fig. 5 A long history of skulls and stuff. 

I thought long and hard about this, as he sunk three more balls before handing me the stick, saying,

Your turn Bishop, I don’t want dominate the game.

He had been. Fair enough. I had heard a lot about carbon dating, so with all this, now I had questions! If Adam and Eve lived in Missouri 6,000 years ago, why indeed were there lots of other human like creatures roaming the earth? If they were here long before Adam and Eve, did they have spirits? Were they just animals?

I had to assume so. Spirits like how animals have spirits, but not human spirits. How did they and their children interact with these other humans? Over time, did the humanoids in Africa and the humans in Missouri intermingle and breed? If so, did they produce humans with spirits from our Heavenly Father, or did they produce human forms of some kind without spirits? If so, this has some interesting implications! There may be many people walking on the earth today who don’t have spirits! At least not spirits like we have, not human spirits from God. They are more like animal spirits, “people” who will not be judged like we are judged, they are just animated life forms.

Wow. I can imagine people like the rapper 50 Cent are just animated human looking animals, living but not thinking, eating but not being spiritually tested, singing rap songs, but not singing hymns that could ever inspire him to get baptized. Wow. The guy is a hip-hop bully who routinely disses his own crew. He flat promised to retire if Kanye West sold more records than he did. I mean, who DOES that? When Kanye sold more records, 50 went back on his word. Not a child of God in my opinion. This is huge.

Floyd Mayweather, Justin Bieber, Lil' Wayne, 50 Cent, Yuriyorkis Gamboa

Fig. 6. Justin and 50 escort Mayweather into the ring. Humans or human-like? Children of God or just children?

My cue ball actually went straight into a side pocket as Brother Malthus listened to my questions. One ball left for him now, the 8. He didn’t say a word. He looked steely-eye at the cue ball, banked it off the back cushion, AROUND the 8 ball, back off a side cushion, and back to the 8 ball where it light tapped it, sending it into the back corner pocket. Frick.

“I hate Justin Bieber. ” he said. I think he was done with the discussion. I didn’t want to push it, and we had to get the tin foil dinners ready and in the fire.  

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Should we sue God for being evil?

I gave this thought in a lesson to a combined Priesthod and Relief Society meeting last Sunday on the nature of evil. I’m not sure it went over well, but I wanted to post it here.

“I propose a thesis for you, you who call yourself God believing and God fearing Mormons. I will make a proposition. I’d like your thoughts.

I begin with a bedtime story, though it might give you nightmares.

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“Genghis Khan was Khan of the Mongolian Empire from 1206 to 1227. In that time he conquered most of China and all the land through the Caspian Sea. He was ruthless, vengeful, cruel, and bloodthirsty. He and his army destroyed countless numbers of cities, solders, civilians and children. People were killed by having molten metal and silver poured into their eyes and ears. In one massacre alone, 700,000 people were killed. At another place, the poor were decapitated and the rich were tortured to find out where their treasure was. Women were sometimes raped in front of their families. Hundreds of thousands had their lives ruined. It is said that if his army of men had no water they would cut a horse’s vein and drink its blood. He would use people as human shields. Tens of thousands became slaves. He would order you to be killed immediately if you were an enemy, if you betrayed him or if you were disloyal to him.

Genghis and his army killed 20 to 60 million people (or 10% to 30% of the known world’s population). He killed three-fourths of the population of the Iranian Plateau which was 10 to 15 million. He also killed his brother at age 13 just because his brother had stolen a fish from him. Genghis Khan once said “The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.” Genghis Khan died of natural causes in 1227.”

– “The 25 Most Evil People In History

God created Genghis Khan and God knew what Genghis would do and he allowed him to be created.

Osama Bin Laden, Ivan the Terrible, Jeffrey Dhamer, Caligula, Atilla the Hun, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedung, John Wayne Gacey, Talat Pasha, Adolph Hitler, Sadaam Hussein, Nero, Ayatolla Khomeini, Idi Amin, Justin Bieber, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, Vlad Dracula.

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God created these people and knew what they would do and he allowed them to be created.

It has been said, all in the name of free agency. All because evil needed to be created. This makes the religious feel better. It allows them to be complacent and indifferent to the evils of men. It allows them to continue their prayers to the supernatural.

The problem of evil exists in the nature of it. Laws to show obedience to the law of chastity, drinking alcohol, consuming drugs, keeping the sabbath day holy are nutty, but should be temptation enough. Can those not be enough? Is a deeper, more evil rooted temptation such as driving a stake up the anus of an innocent peasant for the enjoyment of watching them scream, as Vlad Dracula often did, a required temptation for some to reach the highest kingdom and receive all of God’s glory?

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John Wayne Gacy said, “A clown can get away with murder.” John had his free agency. You may ask, was it necessary to tempt John Wayne Gacy to lure children by dressing as a clown, kidnap, sexually molest and then strangle young boys? Was it to teach their parents and siblings forgiveness? Could they not learn it any other way?

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Why would God create these beings of destruction and horror, when he knew not only the pain and misery they would create, but that they would be worthless in the end, punished for all eternity? Why create them?

He created beings he knew would sexually molest and kill small children, torture and rape, drive millions of men to their deaths, perpetuate starvation and poverty, create deep depression, suicide, and life long misery for the friends and loved ones of their victims. Why?

It has been said that this question cannot be answered unless you accept one or more of the following propositions: God is evil, God is extremely limited in power, God has a mental disability, God is a psychopath, or God does not exist. I would propose another reason, keep listening.

God created the ultimate evil, his own son Lucifer, who he knew would carry out schemes and plans that tempted all of these men and countless other men and women, do such horrible things. Is he not guilty? Should God not be punished?

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If you created a robot you knew would go out and rape and kill little children, would you do it? No. However, if you did anyway, are you innocent? Should you be held accountable? Should only the robot be punished or should you?

Evil is a problem, not part of a solution. Or is it? Should we put aside for a moment the suit against Thomas Monson, should we not sue God? He must have fantastic and well paid attorneys in high places, but perhaps should we at least give it a shot. We have been taught to fight evil, to do anything to stop it. Is God not evil? Should we sit back and do nothing?

Yes, we should sit back and do nothing. God is not evil. God loves us and wants us to be near him. We have free agency, what a wonderful thing. We just HAVE to keep on following his prophets. We HAVE to Read our scriptures. We HAVE to wear our holy garments. We HAVE to stop drinking that cup of Starbucks. Drinking coffee, THAT is evil.”

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At that point, one of the sisters raised her hand and asked why her son was allowed to be kidnapped and murdered before he was old enough to serve a mission. I told her, ‘I know this church is true, I love my mom and dad. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.’ I quickly sat down, and the room fell silent. Awkward.

Good? Sometimes I feel like I’m already becoming disconnected from my ward.