Billiards In The Great Outdoors

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 9.31.54 AM

“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.”   


camping

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.

Ardipithecus
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?” 

afar
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.

billiard-african-style
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.”

404199_220884161323996_1134880594_n
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.  

Advertisements

Concerning Cows Butts, Nuclear Fusion and The Word of the Lord

sun-07

Being a bishop here in Los Alamos has its challenges. As you may know, Los Alamos National Laboratory is located here, so our ward has probably more scientists within it’s boundaries than just about any other ward in the church. I don’t know if that’s a fact, but it feels like it some days. Los Alamos is one of two laboratories in the United States where classified work towards the design of Nuclear Weapons is undertaken. It’s also one of the largest science and technology research facilities in the world, researching space exploration, renewable energy, supercomputing, nanotechnology, and such. Heck yeah, it’s super fun.

746px-Los_Alamos_aerial_view

I’m doing a lot of personal research and gearing up to answer a lot of questions around science and Mormonism, because even though I have only been bishop a week, I have a had a lot of these scientist brethren and sisters in my office having faith issues they need help with. I also knew going into this, there are a lot of conflicts between science and Mormonism. Let me tell you about sister Mary Sommerville.

Sister Sommerville made an appointment with me this past week to discuss some doubts she was having. Have you ever looked up in the sky and wondered how the sun actually works? How it can be so hot and bright all the time? Sister Sommerville claims to have the answer, but I am skeptical. She works as a nuclear research engineer at the laboratory and knows a lot about how the sun works and produces energy. She claims, get this, that the sun produces light and heat through a process called nuclear fusion, where atomic nuclei are traveling at a very high speed and are going so fast that when they collide, they actually fuse to form a new type of atom. When this happens, some of the mass of the nuclei that are fusing together gets converted to energy in the form of photons (light).

fusion

Sister Sommerville claimed this is why the sun is so hot and bright. Now, I can see why she and other scientists may think this is true, but let me explain what I told her as to why I think us Mormons have further light and knowledge. She was telling me this in my office to set me up for some sort of big doctrinal question, and already I’m sitting there skeptical and ready to instruct her on the beautiful truths of the gospel that contradict this and demonstrate a much more elegant and simple explanation to the sun’s brilliance.

Magnificent CME Erupts on the Sun - August 31

Sister Sommerville brought up a conflict she saw with an explanation Joseph Smith was given as revelation on Facsimile 2,

zFigure #5 in the Book of Abraham.

03990_000_fac-2

Now, see that upside down cow talking to some mummies and what looks like a naked woman holding a piece of wheat over it’s butt? Confusing right?

cow

No worries, here is a simple explanation the Lord gave through Joseph Smith:

Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob. – Joseph Smith, Explanation note 5, A Facsimilie from the Book of Abraham No. 2

So right there, we have an obvious explanation that this is nothing to do with a bovine’s behind. The Lord, through Joseph Smith tells us this simply means the sun borrows its light through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash from Kolob through it’s revolutions (Kolob revolves and by spinning, creates light and sends it to our sun through Kae-e-vanrash), which governs fifteen other stars and planets and as it revolves, the light goes to our sun and gives it light, which in turn, through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es or Hah-ko-kau-beam gives light to the earth. So that naked woman holding a piece of wheat over that cow’s butt demonstrates that. We don’t know how, or why, but from the perspective of the way God communicates to us, it’s clear. “See?” I told her, “The Gospel is so pure and simple.”

aliensun

She asked me how this could be explained in such a different way that what Egyptologist, people who spend their lives studying Egyptian, could come to a different conclusion than a 19th century farm boy. She said the sun produces light through nuclear fusion and not through the process explained in the notes on the papyrus. I told sister Sommerville she does not have faith, she has doubt. Those two things cannot exist in her mind at the same time. She looked really confused at that statement, but I said it was true. I gave a quote from President Thomas S. Monson, which shows us clearly that you can’t have both faith and doubt, and we should never ever permit any scientific findings get in the way of our beliefs:

Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: “I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it.” May you ever frame your life with faith. – President Thomas S. Monson, “The Lighthouse of the Lord: A Message to the Youth of the Church,” New Era, Feb. 2001.

I told sister Sommerville that Egyptologists have got the translation of the papyrus all wrong. In their attempt to explain this part of the facsimile, they tried to explain it this way,

The mystic cow, the great cow, symbolizing the inferior hemisphere of the heavens. It is called the virgin cow at ch. 162 of the funerary ritual, which particularly enjoins that its image be painted on the hypocephalus, and another image of it in gold on the throat of the defunct. It is the form of Hathor, who figures on several monuments under the name of noub, gold. Behind the cow is a goddess, whose head, represented by a mystic eye in a disk, is incorrectly copied. – Explanation by non-Mormon and Mormon Egyptologists, Wikipedia The Book of Abraham

Pretty lame huh? They even try and say a goddess represented by a mystic eye in a disk is incorrectly copied, even though a prophet of God did the translation! Egyptologists must be embarrassed when they read what the prophet Joseph said. I told her to not let science destroy her faith. I mean, well, I don’t have to have faith that the sun shines on my face, I can see it and feel it, but faith is still important. Sometimes you just have to have faith in something that’s given to you as an idea and you can’t prove, just so that it will be true in your mind. I also don’t mean to diss science because I know science is based on factual findings and changes and evolves based on new findings. However, we also know God has the Draw Four card when it comes to conflicts between science and faith. Every freaking time.

800x400-UNOfight

I left her with this quote from Sam Harris, and warned her that this quote demonstrates that some people think that Mormon scientists like herself can be labeled as non-scientists, people who don’t actually follow science but follow their faith to convince others their religion has it right and scientific findings are wrong (substitute the word Bible for Book of Abraham and Christians for Mormons here),

It is also worth noting that one can obtain a Ph.D. in any branch of science for no other purpose than to make cynical use of scientific language in an effort to rationalize the glaring inadequacies of the Bible. A handful of Christians appear to have done this; some have even obtained their degrees from reputable universities. No doubt, others will follow in their footsteps. While such people are technically “scientists,” they are not behaving like scientists. They simply are not engaged in an honest inquiry into the nature of the universe. And their proclamations about God and the failures of Darwinism do not in the least signify that there is a legitimate scientific controversy about evolution. – Sam HarrisThe End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

Now please, I understand Sam Harris is a brilliant thinker, writer, and philosopher, but he is no scientist and he is no theologian. Mormons can reconcile problems between scientific findings and Mormon doctrine, for example, how the earthy clearly is only 6,000 years old. I got teary-eyed, and felt inspired to tell her something personal. I told her that whenever I see the rear end of a cow, think of the glorious scripture we have in the Book of Abraham and the accompanying papyrus, and how that is a representation of God’s love, giving us just a tidbit of the true and pure astronomical view of the universe.

Flying-cow--16791

No butts about it, I jokingly said, let us not let science destroy our faith. I told her it’s a balmy 73 degrees as the sun is setting in Los Alamos, and she should go outside and enjoy those last bits of warmth and beauty, knowing without a shadow of doubt, it’s the glory of God through Kae-e-vanrash. She smiled in a smallish almost condescending way, thanked me, and left quietly after declining my offer to close with a prayer. I don’t think I helped resolve her issue and increase her faith, but I’ll pray for her tonight after the sun goes down, for tomorrow is a brighter day.

sun egypt camels pyramids great pyramid of giza 1600x1200 wallpaper_www.wall321.com_19

Hello World, chillax, Noah is my homeboy.

Image

Hello World, this is Bishop James Ussher and this is my blog. I was just called as Bishop of the Los Alamos, New Mexico ward, a seriously time consuming, but great honor. The Lord must have great faith in me because he knows my 6 children take a lot of my time and effort, my home is in foreclosure, and Sister Ussher is busy dealing with her cancer treatments and stuff. I know he has some grand design and purpose for me. First order of business? Start this blog and teach those science lovers in our church a lesson on the TRUE gospel.

First, I want to address you World, Earth, Terra, Gaia, Dharti, земля, whatever you prefer to be called, chillax! It’s not so bad, not even close. I know you’ve been feeling a bit down lately about your age. I know it’s hard to remember back when God squished you into a glorious ball of cooling rock we God’s children all live on today. I feel it’s my divine duty to explain to the world why science has it wrong, and religion has it right (more specifically, my religion, the Mormon church, or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).  You are far less than the 4.54 billion years old scientists say you are, and you can feel good about that! Feel the sun warming you, basking in the Glory of God. You are Kokaubeam! Take a chill pill and remember where you came from.

tranus-alien-planet-with-satellite-judi-suni-hall

Since I was called today to be Bishop, I have already had people in my office asking me some serious questions about you, Earth. President Sagan, our Elder’s Quorum President, upon hearing of my calling to be the new Bishop, immediately made an appointment to meet with me. Right after being set apart by our stake president, President Sagan entered my office (I haven’t even had a chance to put up a picture of my family on vacation in Palmyra this past summer yet), and I could immediately tell he had something troubling on his mind. He started asking me questions about you, earth, about your age. I first had to LOL at him (and then quickly sheepishly apologize for that, it got uncomfortable quick), and tell him to relax.

I told him, even though scientists say your age is 4.54 billion years old, based on radiometric age dating of terrestrial, meteorite, and lunar samples, we all know that science is hogwash. I told him, first, we have THE BIBLE, that tells us in Genesis that the earth is around 6,000 years old, and this fits EXACTLY with what we know about the earth’s dispensations of 1000 years each.   I mean, what more proof do you need than that? Surely the Bible can’t be wrong.

Secondly, we know in D&C 77:6 that the earth has 7,000 years of it’s temporal existence. We’re at year 6,000 or so (give or take 10 years I’d say), so radiometric age dating? How can that even be a thing? I mean what, scientists just put a rock into a machine and zap it and a screen says, “yup, this rock is like uh, a billion years old!”??? Yeah right. I mean, my wife, dear Sister Ussher, is getting radiation treatments for her brain tumor, so that’s cool, that works! But I don’t trust “rock science!” LOL. Seriously, stop, you’re killing me.

braincancer

Well, земля (sorry Earth, it’s just fun to write your name in Russian), you can relax. I think I resolved President Sagan’s concerns (though he walked away looking slightly puzzled). I bore him my testimony that the earth is not 4.54 billion years old based on radiometric age dating, but based on my testimony (no pun intended) which is, gosh darn it, rock solid! I mean, how more solid can you get to truth than having pure faith?

Relax Earth, you’re just a young pup and still have your best years ahead of you (though only about 1,000 or so since then your mountains and canyons will be melted and your oceans boiled away by Heavenly Father and turned into a big ball of glass to be the new heaven). By the way Earth, here shown below is where I live in New Mexico. I love the sheer beauty of this part of you that Heavenly Father made for me to enjoy. I mean, look at those hills! Those can’t be more than a few thousand years old, if they were billions of years old, they would be disintegrated into sand and dust by now! Ah, why would President Sagan have such little faith?

OttowiView

This photo is taken in Bandelier National Monument, where some fantastic cliff dwellers once lived. Scientists say they lived there as hunter-gatherers around 10,000 years ago, but we all know that’s impossible given your age, earth, and we know those people were Lamanites hiding in the cliffs from the Nephites anyway.

Nephiteschaselamanites

So, World, Earth, Terra, Gaia, Dharti, земля, whatever you prefer to be called, chillax. Screw science, we Latter-Day Saints have your back.

Oh, one last thing, if you could pray for Sister Ussher today, she has an appointment today with her oncologist for some radiation therapy, and those treatments are no joke.