Sunday, October 6, 2013

President's Weekly Letter #54

On 20 July 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon after the first successful manned lunar landing in history by Apollo 11.  It was an exciting event.  At the time, I was serving my first mission in the City of Apeldoorn and remember getting up at 3:00 am to watch the historic event on the television in the “kosthuis”.  With the cold war raging at the time, it was remarkable that the USA simply broadcast on television to the world the lunar landing and exploration.  I suppose it was good for propaganda to further the cause of personal freedom and the free market system, but there was a high risk the expedition could fail and reverse the good will.  I met Buzz Aldrin a few years ago in San Diego and enjoyed visiting with him about that historic flight.  Mr. Aldrin was the lunar module pilot and the second man to walk on the moon.  I will never forget the televised image of the first manmade boot prints in the lunar soil.

Suppose for a minute that after Neil Armstrong exited the landing vehicle and began walking for the first time on the moon, that he noticed something shiny in the moon dirt by the toe of his boot.  Imagine him looking closer, reaching down and picking up with his gloved hand a Timex wrist watch!  What would be his first thought?  I would have thought, “Someone has been here before me and left this wrist watch.  It could not have just magically assembled itself without some intelligent being building it and leaving it here.”

I find it interesting that this is essentially the same line of reasoning Alma used with Korihor the Anti-Christ to prove the existence of God.  Korihor came into the land of Zarahemla and began preaching against the prophecies which had been spoken by the prophets concerning the coming of Christ.  Alma asked him, “Believest thou that there is a God?” to which Korihor said “Nay.”  Then Alma said,

“40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.
 41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true…
44 … ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren [members of the church], and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and call things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. (Alma 30: 40-41. 44)

It would be much easier and more logical to believe that the parts of a clumsy Timex wrist watch somehow fell together on the surface of the moon than to believe the universe with the earth and all its beauty, nature, precision and complications have somehow fallen together.

Suppose you were a space traveler and after light years of traveling through unorganized matter, you come upon this universe.  Would you think as Neil Armstrong would have thought that someone with intelligence had been here before to create this complex universe? Or would you think, as Korihor, it just somehow fell together after a big bang.

Sadly, the Anti-Christs are still among the people of the earth.  They manifest themselves in several ways and in varying degrees that Korihor clearly summarized in Alma 30.  Some people have all the attributes and others have only one or some of the attributes.  They believe:   

1.     There is no God. (vs. 37,38)  The rest of the attributes of an Anti-Christ are subsets of this foundational belief.

2.     There should be no Christ. (vs. 12) Remember Nephi’s prophecy of the last days and the people would go to war, not against the church but, against the Lamb of God. (1Nephi 14:13)

3.     There can be no remission of your sins; there could be no atonement made. (vs. 16,17)

4.     Traditions of your fathers including prophecies are foolish; Anti-Christs attack traditions. (vs. 14,16)

5.     Religion binds people down with foolish and vain hope and foolish ordinances. (vs. 13,16, 23)

6.     Living the gospel and obedience to ordinances places people in bondage. (vs. 23.24)

7.     Church leaders glut themselves on the labors of the followers. (vs. 27,31)

8.     No man can know of anything which is to come.  One cannot know of things which cannot be seen. (vs. 13,15)

9.     Every man fares, prospers and conquers according to his own management, genius and strength. (vs. 17)

10.  Whatever man does is no crime against God. (vs. 17)

11.  Man should be proud even in wickedness. (vs. 18)

12.  Physical death is the end; there is no life after death. (vs. 18)

13.  Show me a sign to convince me of God’s power. (vs. 43,45)

In these passages we also get a peek into the laws of the land at that time. Their laws valued the typical Judeo-Christian ethics.  It was against the law to murder, rob and steal but they also included committing adultery as a crime which today most countries do not include in their laws.  Adultery is only considered a religious offense by some people. (vs. 10)

I have always enjoyed the lessons about testimony, life and human nature in the passages about Korihor, the Anti-Christ.  It is interesting that Alma’s approach to teaching the Anti-Christ, after he took offense to being accused of glutting himself off the labors of others, was to teach about the reality that God exists.
President Robinson                                                    

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