Sunday, April 27, 2008

"Mormon feminists"

Mormon feminists do not really exist--not IN the Church anyway. And definitely not on

I think it's virutally impossible to be a true Mormon feminist and endure Relief Society for 20+ years. I think self-proclaimed "Mormon feminists" are much more likely to be orthodox believers in a patriarchal order. Real feminists would reject everything about Mormon patriarchy. Self-proclaimed "Mormon feminists" usually just defend their treatment and the patriarchy.

A Mormon woman cannot be a feminist in the Church any more than an FLDS woman in a polygamous marriage with 13 kids could be a feminist.

If an online "Mormon feminist" wants to walk on the wild side, she might suggest that Joseph Smith committed adultery, or she might even claim that Nephi committed murder.

But "feministmormonhousewives" take wimpy positions that reject anything resembling true feminism, and then they claim to be something they are not. That's my opinion.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A female bishop...

I have often pondered how it's going to work when women get the priesthood.

For example, how would a bishopric operate? What about a man calling another man's wife to be first counselor? That seems problematic.

I think the Relief Society presidency will someday be elevated to the stand, and they will be the female priesthood leaders of the ward. I think women will confess to women, and men will confess to men. Would discipline situations be enforced more arbitrarily because of this? I think it's hardly possible to be more arbitrary than things already are.

I still can't figure out how a bishop or bishop-ette would handle couples counseling. Could a couple choose a favorite priesthood leader (male or female) for counseling? Maybe they would just refer couples to professional counseling more often. I'm all for that.

I shared my thoughts with a Mormon friend of mine the other day. He replied:

"Don't tell me women don't have the priesthood already!!! They perform ordinances in the temple!"


Best Senate Beatdown Ever

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Japanese Health Care System

I recently had a question/answer session with my Japanese physician coworker, an ear, nose, and throat physician who is working in my laboratory. He has lived in America for 10 years, and he has 3 children.

Q: How long is the wait to see a physician in Japan?
A: Same day

Q: What if you are diagnosed with cancer and need to see an oncologist? How long do you have to wait in this case?
A: Same day

Q: How much does a doctor's visit cost you personally?
A: 5 dollars

Q: What if the patient is diagnosed with cancer? How much does that cost the patient?
A: 10-20 dollars a month.

Q: What is the average salary for physicians in Japan?
A: Over 100,000 dollars a year.

Q: What do you think the problem is with Japanese health care?
A: If you are wealthy, you cannot pay for a higher level of care. I would like to see wealthy patients be able to demand better care. However, I believe the average level of care in Japan is similar to that in America, except we don't have to wait in Japan.

Q: How are physician salaries determined?
A: A physician makes a certain salary based on the level of subspecialty, and salaries are identical for each "level of training." The hospital hires as many physicians as is necessary to treat patients immediately, without a wait.

My conclusion: American health care could be SO much better if powerful people weren't for sale.

Don't call us Mormon!

Maybe I'm just being silly, but the word Mormon is still SO problematic for us. I was just pondering the following:

1) "Don't call us 'Mormon'. We don't go by that name."
2) "Don't call the FLDS 'Mormon'. They are not part of our Church!"

D&C 132 needs to be amended or deleted ASAP (if GAs really want to cut the cord). Fact is, common heritage and common scripture link the FLDS and the LDS. The vast majority of Mormons believe in Celestial polygamy. It's been 120 years since the Church officially disavowed polygamy. It's time to take that rejection of polygamy to the next level. I wish the LDS Church would set the record straight, clarify a complete (past, present and future) rejection of polygamy, and start an advertising campaign aimed at educating people.

Church Leaders and Street Bums

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me." -JC

Is it wrong to show more respect (or reverence) for a church leader than a street bum?

This question follows: why does everyone stand up when GBH walks into the room? This tradition has always seemed strange to me. It's as if people worship the prophet himself. I guess it's ok, if people would treat anyone the same way, but I don't think they would.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Evolution and Genesis

I have a few things to say about evolution and Genesis.

First of all, if you are literalist, then let's all be genuine literalists for a moment. God created the world in 6 days. He made Eve from Adam's rib. If you're a Mormon, then you had modern prophets who taught you that it was actually 6 creative periods, and the whole rib things was completely figurative (according to Kimball). If it weren't for these guys, Mormons might be Evangelicals.

We know that the LDS Church initially embraced the concept of evolution. The first presidency actually published missionary tracts about how we embrace Darwin's theories and that all of these truths are consistent with the Gospel. It wasn't until Joseph Fielding Smith and McConkie that Mormons reverted to literalism.

I ask you literalists (or partial literalists..."macro vs. micro evolution"...half-way acknowledgers of the scientific evidence) to assume that your God does not lie or attempt to deceive his children by planting misleading evidence in the earth's layers.

What do we know beyond any reasonable doubt? Here are just a few items:

1) We know that the earth is ~4.5 billion years old.

2) We know that life first appeared as very simple lifeforms which were replaced and/or joined over many millions of years by more complex lifeforms.

3) We know that snakes have vestigial hip bones and legs that have no function and don't even protrude from their bodies.

4) We know that whales have bony legs and hips in their bodies.

5) We know that birds have pairs of organs just like we do, including pairs of kidneys and ovaries, etc. This is a form of insurance, whereby you can lose one organ, but the second acts as a back-up. In the case of birds, however, it was such an advantage to be lighter that one of the paired organs is very small and has no function. We also know that flightless birds still have "flight feathers," which is sort of funny when you think about it.

6) We know that the fossil record is full of innumerable organisms which have lived and died on this earth, which are obvious evolutionary intermediates.

7) There are ~20,000 genes in a single human being. We know that basically all of the genes in humans are very similar to the genes of other mammals, including mice. There are many very small genetic differences which yield a very different-looking organism. Many human genes can replace mouse genes without any change in function or development. And we know that small genetic differences and mutations occur frequently within any given species.

8) We humans all look different because we all have different versions of the same genes, and these differences result from random mutations. Some of us are actually "missing" genes which other humans have, or some of us have defects that render particular genes to be completely "nonfunctional."

9) We know that there were many humanoid organisms that lived on earth before us, and these organisms could not be called humans.

10) We know that humans tend to get sinus problems because our sinuses are actually designed to drain well from a position of "all fours," but when our ancestors began walking upright, the drainage problem wasn't exactly something that was life-threatening, and so this problem remains.

11) We know that the human jaw has progressively become smaller over the last few thousand years, leading to pesky "wisdom teeth" problems.

12) We know that our own chromosomes are absolutely full of "nonfunctional genes" and junk DNA that are vestiges of genes which were once functional (or are still functional) in other species. I guess God inserted "junk genes" into our DNA for recreational purposes? It's especially fun to look at homologues of our junk genes which are fully functional in other species, and vice versa.

For example, we know that humans actually have functional genes which encode rows of nipples, just like a dog. However, most of these genes are "turned off." Occasionally you might have seen someone in gym class with "extra nipples" which resulted from a random mutation. (Most mutations are bad, but rarely you get a good mutation which makes survival and reproduction more likely.) We also know that males have nipples, which is sort of silly when you think about it.

Why do vestiges exist? It's not advantageous to get rid of them once a feature becomes vestigial. This is especially true if a vestige is not energetically expensive and doesn't harm one's ability to survive and reproduce. It's the same reason that human embryos transiently display nonfunctional gills and tails during their development.

13) We know that we humans have a "plantaris" muscle in our calves which has no function, but is very important in apes for clenching their "feet."

14) We don't know everything about the evolution of species, but we know more than you or I or anyone could possibly remember or comprehend. And the evidence for human evolution is overwhelming.

The fundamental problem with evolution doubters is that they can't comprehend very large numbers and time periods, nor do they understand how biology and science operate. I'm completely sympathetic on the big number issue, because I can't fathom the thought of "100 million years" either.

Can someone else come up with an alternative theory that unifies all of biology and is completely consistent with the incomprehensibly large mountains of evidence? I simply cannot understand why a reasonable person would doubt human evolution, given the evidence.