Monday, August 2, 2010
Religion Classes in the Summer Part 1
So I've decided that taking two religion classes, during summer term (twice as fast) is no fun at all, especially when I don't believe it anymore.
For spring and summer terms the classes go at twice the pace, meaning the classes will be twice as long per day. So I have a Mon/Wed Book of Mormon class for 2 hours each day, and let me tell you, when the clock reads 10:50 I am ready to get out of there ... but still have one more hour.
I actually debated telling my BoM professor, Mr. Stiggley I'll call him, that I had doubts in the very least, and didn't believe anymore at the most. But towards the end of the first class back in June he started going off about unbelievers and apostates and how we were Satanists. I think he had recently read the Elder Nelson (?) talk given to Massechusetts students about the new atheism and how we are all worshippers and followers of Satan. Regardless, after Mr. Stiggley went on about that for the last 15 minutes of class I decided I wasn't going to speak up.
I don't like to lie, I avoid it at all possible. I've never cheated on a test, I have fudged some homework here and there, but no outright lying. For religion classes at BYU, though, they have a funny way of grading us. One is that, for instance, in my BoM class we have to read specific chapters before class. Reasonable enough, to have an understanding of the material helps you and the teacher in the classroom. But at BYU religion classes you are graded on this. And it's not like you can just read them at some point, you have to read them before class, for a specific amount of time, usually 30 minutes, and on the day the reading is posted on. So it doesn't matter if I've read the BoM four times now, but if I don't read Alma chapters 1-5 sometime on Monday - Tuesday before class on Wed, and if I don't spend 30 minutes or more, and then write a 1 page reflection, then I lose out on 3 points.
If that's not busy work, then I don't know what is. It just seems like they are stretching it out a little too much, and it would be okay if it was one professor, but it's Every Single Religion Class. So basically I haven't read anything, I've said I did, with a couple misses here and there to avoid 100% for my guilty conscience, and then I still get As and Bs on the quizzes and exams. Which, the quizzes, cover 120 questions out of a help-book (like a help-meet!) and about 5 chapters, meaning 20 or so chapters in the BoM, and the quiz will be 13 questions for all this and is only worth 2% of your grade. Yeah, I'm not going to spend hours for 2%.
Mr. Stiggley is an okay guy, except for calling me a follower of Satan and other things several times. Professors realize people in their class may have doubts but I don't think they realize there could be an actual agnostic or atheist in the class. Most of the time they talk as if it's only Mormons in the class, saying things against other religions, though I fully agree with them on Southern Baptists. Offense meant if any readers are Southern Baptists, you guys are rude. (not to say i'm not, but you guys are above and beyond).
Also, Mr. Stiggley is anti-science in some regards. Several times he's brought up science that supports the claims of Mormon theology, but then he discounts scientists and other theologians left and right. He also uses ridiculous things said by other religions to justify his stance, and he's right in that regard but he generalizes these things and then teaches this to the class. I'm sure most of my classmates fully accept what he says.
Then all the proofs of the Book of Mormon. I admit, the BoM is a feat to accomplish but the 'scientific' reasons for believing are just flawed, and I realized this on my mission. One is how the BoM has Semantic writing in it such as, a river of water, or, an altar of stone. No one talks like that, certainly Americans in the 1830s didn't (i honestly am guessing though) and because Joseph Smith didn't know it must be true because it sounds like an English translation of Hebrew/Egyptian writings.
Well, I think Joseph Smith did know, cause the Bible is written in Semantic styles, and I'm pretty sure Joseph Smith read the Bible. I think the Bible, with my small studying, has more Semantic writing than the BoM. So they are saying Joseph Smith didn't notice this, maybe he didn't read very much. I noticed the odd writing when I was a kid, probably what led to my odd expression of words and phrases, some of which I write slightly backwards.
Another is chiamus, the poetry-esque scriptures that state things going forward, and then do a reverse. The BoM has these, and, guess what, it proves it's Hebraic. Well, same story, the Bible does to, and honestly the Bible has plenty but the BoM seems to have the most extreme examples, whole chapters. It's not hard to do, I think teachers have students write poems like this in elementary school, but having them be so obvious and large in the BoM seems like the writer was aware and wanted to make them more than obvious.
Of course, ancient Jews knew what they were doing, and Mr. Stiggley told us that some guy around 1850 or so 'found' the chiasmus in the Bible and was like, ''hey everyone, look at what i found!' as if to say that no one had any idea about them.
Course this doesn't necessarily disprove anything, but when I hear these things I just want to speak up and be like ''that's ridiculous, how can you say that proves it's true?"
(disclaimer - I am not sure this is true, but I have seen other studies that say about the same thing so even if this one is made up, real studies have proven this)
Course I won't even get started on the things Mr. Stiggley has said about evolution. Okay, maybe a little. He actually used a creationist argument at one point (sorry, been a few weeks) and I recognized it, but he, like most of the church, takes an old earth creationist view. Mormon doctrine practically says that the earth can be millions even billions of years old, and it's fine, it works. They use the creation account in Abraham, and the Endowment session video, to support this view. And for that, props to the church. But Mr. Stiggley brought up things said by General Authorities, Apostles, and Prophets, and even Official Declarations, stating that we did not evolve from monkeys. They are right on that, but I think they mean that we didn't evolve from a common ancestor with the modern chimpanzees. Lol. As a friend of mine said, science doesn't disprove the existence of god. But I think if a church says something, like the moon is further away than the sun, and it's official doctrine from the leaders, that if science proves them wrong in the very least that church has lost credibility.
By the way, Mr. Stiggley loves it when I arrive on time and play the piano. I still have people say I have a sweet spirit (though I am moderately attractive so they don't say it to say I'm only sweet on the inside) and my piano playing invites the spirit. I think my playing is just good, and because I mainly studied Romantic era music I have a talent with musicality and putting emotion through the keys.
Next time I think I'll talk about my Doctrine and Covenants class, cause that's a real hoot.