Showing posts from September, 2012

Decision Making, Science and Moral Values

In the late 1990s, I was an adult leader for a Boy Scout unit (technically a Varsity Scout team) that was sponsored by my ward (the title given to congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka Mormons, coming from the fact that congregations are organized geographically) in Tucson, Arizona.  One weekend in September, as part of Operation On Target, we were hiking up Picacho Peak and I found myself in a conversation with a friend on the topic of evolution.

My friend was trying to downplay evolution, saying that it was "just a theory" and using arguments similar to if not exactly the analogy of the watch formed without a watchmaker.  He was wanting to argue that schools really should be teaching alternatives to evolution.  (I can't remember if we were talking about creationism or intelligent design.) At the time, I was working on my PhD in applied mathematics at The University of Arizona, with an emphasis particularly on the intersection of physics …

Mormon and Undecided

The presidential election of 1992 was the first for which I would have been eligible to vote.  However, I was in the middle of my two-year Mormon mission and I was not registered for absentee voting, nor did I seek it out.  As part of my commitment to this mission, I tried to maintain a complete focus on my service and would not have carefully studied out the issues.  But this did not keep the election from creating a significant impression on my memory.

I was serving in Billings, Montana, and a number of the church members that I interacted with regularly were fervently opposed to Bill Clinton.  They were convinced that a vote for the Democratic candidate were votes for evil.  Some of their arguments were persuasive to me, for the emphasis was on platform issues that would clearly show some conflict with my conservative religious background.  The night of the election, I heard the poll results declare that Clinton would win the election, and I literally felt a sense of forboding for…