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October, 2010

  1. Ask Mr. Wizard

    October 10, 2010 by Ryan

    In my seventh grade science class, Mr. Robinson was an “unconventional” yet effective teacher. I still remember one particular unintentional lesson. It came as Mr. Robinson was attempting to illustrate, in a visual way, the molecular structure of water.

    He invited two young men and one young lady to stand in the front of the room. It happened that all three of these students were, in a seventh-grade way, among the popular crowd. He assigned labels to each – the boys as “hydrogen” and the girl as “oxygen.” He said that if these molecules were floating around in space, and through whatever forces found each other (and then, taking them by the arms, he positioned the boys on either side of the girl), they come together creating a bond and a new substance called water. H2O – one oxygen and two hydrogen.

    Then he asked one of the molecules to split, and separated all three. He asked one of the hydrogen atoms if he would like to pair up with either of the other molecules? Wanting to be cool among his friends in the class (and none of them having not quite reached the age where it was acceptable to admit to liking the opposite sex), the male hydrogen molecule took his place at the side of his hydrogen friend, saying he’d like to hang out with his buddy and go shoot some hoops. Mr. Robinson responded, ‘That’s very interesting. In nature, two of the same kind of molecules don’t combine together to become anything else.’ He then continued with the lesson, changing positions so that the oxygen and hydrogen combined together to form a hydroxide. The other hydrogen was free to remain alone, as a basic hydrogen molecule.

    It was, of course, Mr. Robinson’s side comment that I’ve always remembered. In nature, two of the same kind of molecules don’t combine together to become anything else.

    In light of a “controversial” statements made by Boyd K. Packer, a prominent leader of my church, I’ve had the opportunity to speak about and hear some arguments put forth by people who opposed his teaching. Let me summarize what he taught:

    He repeated the stance of the church, that we “solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God….” He then went on to teach, citing many scriptural passages, that each individual has always been free to choose if they will be obedient to revealed commandments (or not), and that the greatest happiness and fulfillment comes from obedience. He spoke clearly of pornography as a plague, and taught that will repel the Spirit of Christ in individual who participate in it. He taught that Satan has many substitutes or counterfeits for marriage, and that entering into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. Then came his most controversial statement of all, which was that God, our Heavenly Father, loves us so much that he does not place preset sinful conditions, which are inborn and cannot be overcome. He then spoke powerfully of using repentance to overcome any obstacle.

    It seems the primary controversy comes from those who espouse that if two hydrogen atoms believe they should form a union, they should do so. They believe that they have valid medical science that shows that people who do so were forced into it – predisposed from birth to be wired that way.

    Interestingly enough, it was in a science class that I learned the opposite.

    Sounds like the (false) doctrine that Adam transgressed, so all are born in sin. I don’t believe that is so. We are born into a sinful world, and we are born with mortal, corruptible bodies (meaning they will age and die). The environment, physical or spiritual, in which one is raised certainly plays a part. There are ample examples in the scriptures where parents will be held accountable for generations of their children who were not taught correct principles, but the children will not be accountable for what they did not have opportunity to know and understand.

    We live in a world where the teaching of sexuality in general is more pervasive. Children, at a younger and younger age, are being taught it in ‘entertainment’ and by culture. I believe it is creating an artificial pressure for them to identify their sexuality before they even need to be concerned with such thinking. It is neither good nor useful. Yet it is reality, and I don’t foresee the spread of such influence retreating.

    Back to the church talk… I’ve heard it called dangerous, destructive, divisive, and delusional. People have pointed out that members of the church who struggle with these feelings feel trapped; especially youth who are repressed by their parents and leaders. I’m sorry it is that way. I wish that every parent and leader could be perfect and non-judgmental, as the Savior was. As I’ve reviewed the talk a few times now, I’ve still yet to find where any judgment is passed on individual, except for the judgment they will feel themselves for not being in compliance with the standards taught. That could be said of any behavior discussed in any of the other talks given at the same meeting or any other meeting. People who are not living in harmony with teachings are going to feel a pain of guilt. This particular one does happen to carry a stigma about it, and people who shouldn’t be throwing stones in the first place tend to toss them with a little more thrust for this issue. The church leader never advocated people to become judgmental and unkind to others. I suppose he could have mentioned treating others with kindness and love in all situations, but he could have mentioned a host of other things too. He only had about 15 minutes of time to speak and shouldn’t have had to repeat all of the basics that his Christian audience should already understand.

    Groups in the world now want the church leader to recant his words. They have not yet asked for him to also remove offending passages from the holy scriptures, but I think it is about as likely that he will do one as the other. The teachings are clear. If you believe they are true, then you ought to not fight them, but instead apply them (or continue to reapply them). This is not necessarily promised to be easy or instant. The message to me was that there is always hope, and always a way to be obedient. Those who employ the repentance process will find that nowhere are the generosity and the kindness and mercy of God made more manifest.

    I wonder if any of this will be on Mr. Robinson’s final exam?

    http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1298-23,00.html