Sunday, January 21, 2007

Proud to be part of the DAMU and Outer Lightness

Since leaving the LDS church, I have not spent much, if any time in the Bloggernacle. John Dehlin is starting up a new aggregator for Mormon themed blogs called mormonblogs.org with the goal of being inclusive.

So, tonight, I spent a little time looking at blogs in the bloggernacle. I honestly had forgotten how much people like me are hated by some of those bloggers. Some of the authors have hate that extends beyond anti-Mormons, of which I am not one, to everyone in the DAMU. One said we were "anti-Mormon light. Same bad attittude, but somehow less satisfying."

I spend most of my online time on the NOM and FLAK message boards, and am starting to spend more time in Outer Lightness. Many of these people are my heroes and I look up to them. They are among the best people I know. Let me give props to just a few: Dathon, GypsyD, NannaP, Melodica, GDteacher, AmberAle, Hellmut, Equality, cumom, Nom d Nom, LDA Janis, DesertVulture, LostinPeace, sheanight, JustinMorning, Josephine, kate hepburn, domokun, fh451, capt jack, wrycatcher, solistics, chandelier, etc. Boy, bloggers from the 'nacle that hate people from the DAMU are missing out by not knowing these people and their hate is misplaced. We had a recent thread expressing love for one another: http://tinyurl.com/yufdqr

I am proud to be numbered among these people. I freely admit that I was angry when I first left the church, but I am no longer angry. I find that most all of the people I have mentioned are also no longer angry and have nothing to prove. They are rational, good people. I admire them. Let us all be wary of hating whole groups of people when we don't know them. Labels often don't apply and often carry emotional valence that is unwarranted.

But, with that said, I will proudly apply the following labels to myself: ex-Mormon, apostate, heretic, heathen, infidel, atheist, member of the DAMU, and a good and pleasant person. I am for the Mormon people as I am for the non-Mormon people. I am currently a UU. I still feel charity, love, peace, comfort, and serenity.

I am still interested in learning Mormon history because I can relate to the active members, because that was my perspective for 30 years, and I can relate to those who were disturbed at what was going on and left the Church, because I am there now. This helps me understand my life, where I come from and where I am going. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with NOM's and former Mormons online. We have an understanding of each other and can support one another like no one else can. I want to be open to all that is good. I am so grateful to associate with NOM's, liberal Mormons, the DAMU, and post Mormons. I can also enjoy moderate and conservative Mormons.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Why I don't believe in Adam

(Originally posted in the Religious section of Perspectives in response to a Islamic thread on Adam).
This thread is mainly for those who literally believe that God created Adam as recorded in Genesis and elaborated on in the Quran.

The first reason why I don't believe in Adam (the one written about in the Bible and the Quran) is because I believe the origins of that story did not come from revelation to Moses or Muhammed, but from the "heathen" Sumerians. The authors of the Bible stoled and slightly changed the story; then Muhammed came along and added a few elements to the story as well. The following wikipedia article is sufficient for my needs and it contains references to more scholarly resources (pay special attention to the section on Mythological Connections): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_and_Eve

The apologist will say, well that doesn't prove that the story of Adam is made up, it just shows that it is a very old story. Perhaps Adam really did exist and his story was passed down from generation to generation being corrupted as it went and then Moses claim along and restored the true account of what happened.

In response, I now turn to two different strands of scientific research that completely support each other and discredit the Adam story. The first is DNA evidence. Population DNA is a field that unfortunately is not understood well by the general public. I would like you all to be able to understand the basics of this field. In short, most of our chromosomes were made by shuffling the genes we got from our mother and father. It can be quite difficult to tell which genes came from which parent unless we know a lot about the genetic makeup of both sides of the family.

However, males have a complete Y-chromosome that they got virtually unchanged from their fathers generation after generation. Now occasionally, a DNA sequence in the Y chromosome will develop a mutation and that mutation will be passed on to all of that individual's male descendents. But, that mutation will not be found in all of the other males in a population. New mutations will occur and be present in different ancestral lines. Now, in addition to these mutations occuring, people migrate, so you end up with clusters of people in different parts of the world with high percentages on specific mutations. Since we know the approximate rate of mutations occuring, we can calculate approximately when a mutation occured and how closely diffirent peoples are related.

In addition, all of us have mitochondrial organelles in our cells that act as power generators for the work the cells do. We all got our mitochodrial DNA virtually unaltered from our mothers. mt-DNA also mutates but at a much slower rate. We know what mutations are present around the world today, and working backwards, we are able to identify our genetic "Adam" and our genetic "Eve".

Now, many Christians believe Adam lived 6,000 years ago. They figured this out by adding up the ages of each link in the extensive genealogies given in the Bible. But, we have been able to calculate that the common male ancestor of every living male lived some 60,000 years ago in sub-Saharan Africa, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least until that time. Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in this era. Rather, he is unique because he was the only one to have his descendents survive to the present day. It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all genetic diversity found in the world's disparate peoples. Adam had human ancestors as well, but we have no genetic evidence of them. To learn more about National Geographic's Genographic project view their online exhibit (https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/atlas.html )

Genetic Eve never knew Genetic Adam. She lived 143,000 years ago. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/999030.stm )

The third reason, I don't believe the Genesis account of the origin of man is due to the fossil record and what it reveals about human evolution. To save space, and because I am sure many of you are familiar with this, I will just post a link (select launch documentary): http://www.becominghuman.org/

It is interesting to me how both the DNA present in our cells and the fossil record (and the archaeological evidence) testify of the same story for the origin of mans and it is nothing like that recorded in Genesis. We really did come from apes. The fact that that sounds odd is no rebuttal to all of the evidence scientists have gathered. And nothing the Bible or Quran has to say can be taken as an authoritative rebuttal because it is the authority of these holy books that are presently in question.