Sunday, June 26, 2011

Religion Vs. Science?

Yep, that's my family. :) My dad's pointing.
   As the son of a science teacher, I was not a stranger to being lectured on the science behind...well, everything.  What would normally be average everyday things, like hikes through the deserts of southern Utah for example, became discourses on the flora, fauna, and geography that surrounded us, as my father would share his experiences and wisdom gained over many years of being a junior high teacher.  I learned much from these outings, and though sometimes they would feel (more than) a bit like school, I always appreciated my dad and all that I had to learn from him.  I learned how incredible and beautiful science can be!

 Now, in today's world there seems to have developed a pretty dynamic conflict between science and religion.  They just can't get along!  People on the science side scoff at the idea of religion, calling it a "crutch" for the weakminded, for those who need to be told what to do in all things.  People on the religion side, however, see science as an incomplete, inconsistant, and hollow explanation of just how this marvelous life, and all the universe's wondrous creations, came to be.
 Personally, I think this argument is ridiculous!  Science is a wonderful thing, and it doesn't disprove there is a God.  If anything, as I learn more of physics, biology, meteorology, astronomy, etc etc, my faith and understanding in my Father in Heaven grows. He created all things.  He doesn't do things by magic, but in order. I know that just as well as I know that all this order didn't just come from nothing.
 Science is simply man figuring out how God operates in this universe.

 Of course, there are many arguments for both sides, and I'm not here to field either of them.  Again, as you can tell, I love science!  However, I love my religion as well.  I don't believe these two wonderful things have to, or are even meant to, conflict.  "All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all 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."

 Even the greatest scientist can't give you all the answers.  We've certainly learned and progressed much as mankind; things like evolution, the Big Bang theory, and the theory of relativity have come through much study, experimenting, and pondering.  But all things come to a point that science just can't explain.  What begat the first spark of life in the primordial soup?  Where did all the matter of the universe initially come from in order for the big bang to even occur?  No matter how far we dig, it seems we only unearth more questions instead of finding answers.

  Of course, that doesn't mean we should just give up! God wants us to learn!  He wants us to figure all of this out, so that we too can understand and create as He does, someday.  He tells us "it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance."  The scientist will be pleased to know that we can't simply rely on others to guide us and direct us in this life; God commands us to "experiment" upon His words, and works, and learn how the universe functions, and we are to be "agents unto [ourselves]". The faithful will be pleased to know that, even so, we cannot be saved by our intelligence alone, and when those that "are learned...hearken not to the counsel of God,...their wisdom is foolishness, and it profiteth them not.  But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsel of God."

 I don't know all the answers.  But I have faith that, if I trust in my Father, and am a little patient, that I can know them.  We all need to focus a little less on who's wrong and who's right, and focus a little more on what's wrong and what's right. We are all doing our best, generally, to live good lives, be good people, and figure things out for ourselves.  Let's be more understanding and open minded, there's no need to argue. Truth is everywhere; we just have to have open hearts when we receive it. All of us.

 I believe in God.  I believe He is the Divine Father of us all.  I believe He created all things. 

 He is the ultimate scientist.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


 Imagine you are walking down a dark alley on a blustery autumn evening.  The leaves crackle beneath your feet, as a rusty gate swings on its hinges as you pass it.  A crow erupts loudly, suddenly, overhead, and you nearly jump out of your skin.  A cloud passes over the moon, and what little light guided your steps disappears, leaving you walking aimlessly forward in the bitter chill of the night. 
 You walk faster, tightening your coat around you.
 Suddenly, the moon peers through a break in the roiling clouds, and illuminates the path ahead.  You see a figure, shuffling slowly, towards you.  Arms outstretched, it moans as it drags one of it's feet.  At first, you wonder if this person needs help.  As he, or it, passes beneath a streetlight, now closer, you gasp in horror at what you see.

 We've all heard of zombies.  There are books about them, movies about them, games about them, heck, even songs about them!  There are literally people who have a Zombie Apocalypse Plan, ready to implement at the first sign of a viral outbreak.  I know, because I am one of them.

 However, before we get caught up in preparing for a worldwide plague of the undead, we should stop and take a closer look at ourselves.  I think we'll find that there are already zombies among us, and we, in fact, may even be counted among them.

 It's so easy to get in "zombie mode" sometimes.  I think high school is an excellent example of this. 
Raise from the bed. Eat. Trudge off to school. Eat. Shuffle to work. Eat. Groan while you do Homework. Sleep. 
  Of course, that would be a model teenage zombie.  If they were anything like me, it might look more like Eat. Sleep. School. Eat. Video Games. Eat. Sleep.
 Regardless of what kind of life you lead, we tend to build routines.  Aristotle stated that "we humans are creatures of habit".  We set up a system that requires the least effort, and once you are comfortable, you can function with minimal brain activity.  Before you know it, it's five o' clock and you can't remember what you ate for lunch.  You are a zombie!

 To once again quote President Dieter F. Uchtdorf,
 "My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to... focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Let us be mindful of the foundational precepts our Heavenly Father has given to His children that will establish the basis of a rich and fruitful mortal life with promises of eternal happiness." Every moment of life is an indescribable blessing!  We just can't afford to waste minutes, days, months, even years of our lives, whiling away the time just "going through the motions"! Remember, "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." Snap out of the routine, go for a walk in the park, take in a deep breath of fresh air and appreciate the blessing that it is to be alive!
 If not, well, then you're just another zombie.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fear Not

"Fear not," said the Father
 at dawn's brilliant light
 as we first left Heaven
 and He left our sight.

"Fear not," said Mother
 as we cried in the morn,
 "I'll hold you close, always
 my precious newborn."

Fear not," said Brother
as tears began to swell
and he bandaged the scrape
from where you had fell.

"Fear not," said Sister
 in a loving warm embrace
 when it seemed like this world
 was just too hard of a place

"Fear not," said your Love,
 "I'll help carry the load
 as we make our way down
 this life's rocky road."

"Fear not," you whisper
 as the night draws nigh
 and all those you love
 stand 'round your bedside,

 "The smiles and the frowns
 and the laughs and the tears
 are worth so much more
 than the number of years;
 we can't understand, now,
 the prices we pay,
 but just trust in the Lord
 and be not afraid."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Progressive Post: The World/Ward Family

 Hey everyone, my name is Elder Trey Williams. The baton has been passed to me by the unstoppable Elder David Mahrt, and so the progressive post brings you to my humble page.  I too am a missionary serving in the California Santa Rosa mission, and I would like to echo the sentiments of my peer in that I truly believe this is the best mission in the world.  I have loved every second of my time here, and my heart is only growing fonder for my mission as my time here matures.  Nowhere else in the world will you find the towering redwoods along the misty coast, the vineyards blooming on the rolling hills as far as the eye can see, coupled with the sun setting on the San Francisco bay.  Without a doubt, some of the most breathtaking vistas in the world can be found within the boundaries of our mission.  If there is anything better than the landscape, it can only be the people.

 We learn from the gospel of Jesus Christ that relationships are the most important things we can have in this life.  Whether you are religious or not, your loved ones likely mean as much to you as mine do to me.  We all have people we trust, people we care for, people we want to keep in our lives forever.  Regardless of relation or not, I call these people family.  These people that have touched my life, and they are people I will never forget. Like Elder Michael McBride, I am thankful for the blessing that all these people have been to me.

 When I got to my first area, Napa, I was astonished at how close the ward was.  Everyone knew each other!  They grew up together!  Their parents grew up together! Their kids were now growing up together!  Everyone cared for each other, and I knew that if ever there was a crisis in any family in the ward, the rest would instantly close ranks.  I learned so much from them, and I was so grateful to have become a part of that family.  Though my time there was only a few months, I feel like I had forever gained family.

 When I was transferred from Napa, I wondered if I would ever find a ward like that again.  I pondered back on words given to me from one of my branch presidency in the MTC.  I don't remember his name, but I confided my fears and doubts to him about being on a mission.  I was so worried, and felt incredibly alone in this calling.  He told me, "You will meet people on your mission that will be so close to you, they will become family.  And from what I've seen of you, Elder Williams, you will have plenty of family." 

 My next area, Fairfield, completely assuaged my fears.  The people were just incredible!  The more I met, the more I loved them!  As I was transferred to Davis, Petaluma, Vallejo, and now McKinleyville, I have come to realize the truth of what that loving councilor had told me not so long ago.  I had come to truly love my people, and I had truly gained a family.  The greatest blessings we receive in life not only come through other people, they are the people!  Be it members, investigators, companions, fellow missionaries, or just people we met on the street, I am so grateful to, and for, all of them.

 The important lesson I've learned, and am still learning, is that there are truly no bounds between us as children of God.  We are all family!  When we let the "scales of darkness" fall from our eyes, and see people as Christ does, we will finally learn what he has already taught us: "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." 

 I am so grateful to be here, and for all of the wonderful people here in California!  Now I pass the torch of the progressive post to the capable hands of Sister Gorder!

Friday, June 10, 2011

To Be an Instrument

I'd like you to meet a friend of mine.  A very good friend of mine.
 I'm talking about a friend who has been with me through the thick and the thin.  Be it howling rainstorms on bike in Fairfield, raging gang fights in Vallejo, peaceful sunny mornings in Petaluma, and the misty sea breeze of McKinleyville, and everything in between, this friend has time and again proven faithful and true.  We've had some near misses and close calls, but we've always been reunited in the end.  This friend has been a constant companion to me, and I knew I could always count on him when I needed him.

 Say hello to Penjamin. (*named in honor of Elder Collett's legendary pen)

 Every missionary needs a good, reliable pen.  Some prefer cheap, expendable pens.  Others stick to certain brands, such as Zebra or Inc.  For me, there is only Penjamin.  Whenever there is an appointment to be set, he is there to ink in the block in my daily planner.  Whenever there was a letter to be written, Penjamin is there to fill the lines and address the envelope.  If I have any thoughts or ideas, Penjamin turns them from mere thoughts into a reality, making the intangible tangible on any medium (as long as its paper).  It's amazing how something as simple as a little bit of metal, plactic, and ink can literally change the world.  This  simple instrument can be a great force for good, or a terrible weapon for evil.
 It all depends on how you use it.

 The Dictionary defines "instrument" as:
 "a means by which something is effected or done; agency". 
 There are many examples of instruments.  The first things that come to your mind are probably things like pianos, trombones, ukuleles, and, my personal favorite, guitars. 
  All of these musical instruments can help us express our emotions in a beautiful, harmonizing way.  However, before an instrument becomes even remotely useful, many hours of practice and trial must be invested.  What is more, if an instrument is out of tune, it can be frustrating and depressing to play! If a string is tightened too much, it will snap.  If it is too slack, it is useless. 

 In that same way, we are "instruments" in the Hands of the Lord. As we strive to overcome our weaknesses and change our hearts, we bring ourselves more "in tune" with the melody of the Master.  To be an instrument, we must recognize that, on our own, we can't make the music come.  We may have every ivory key polished, every string pitched just so, but without the musician, they are all but useless.  But if we invite the Great Musician into our lives, the Lord promises to "make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls"
 Only you can decide what kind of instrument you will be. Will you seek to be an instrument for good, or one that collects dust on the shelf?  Will you allow for the "touch of the Master's hand", or will you let your music go unplayed?
 "Neither yield instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves... as instruments of righteousness unto God."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Nerd's Eye View: Episode IV

Goin' Solo

Pride.  In one way or another, everyone has struggled with it.  In the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Every mortal has at least a casual if not intimate relationship with the sin of pride. No one has avoided it; few overcome it... When our hearts are filled with pride, we commit a grave sin, for we violate the two great commandments. Instead of worshipping God and loving our neighbor, we reveal the real object of our worship and love—the image we see in the mirror."

 Now, of all the characters in Star Wars, one of my favorites is Han Solo.  When we first meet him in a grungy cantina on Tatooine, we find that he's quick to boast and quicker to draw his blaster.  He pilots the Millenium Falcon, a ship that "made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs," which is quite a feat.  He's skilled, for sure, and he knows it.
 No doubt Han had relied on himself his whole life, save his trusty companion Chewbacca.  He remarks to Luke and Obi Wan, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side."  There are many, like Han, who share that sentiment.  "Who needs religion and old books in these days?  Just live every day to the fullest!"  We all have skills, talents, and abilities.  We all have survived our own personal trials, failures, and bounty hunters, and still came out on top!  We don't need anyone but ourselves to find happiness and success in life.
 Sounds pretty good, right?
 If you've ever felt that way, you were going through life Solo.

 On the other hand, we see Luke.  Young, inexperienced, though modestly talented at being a pilot back home, his pure heart and humility instantly wins us over.  Although he can be a bit headstrong and whiney, he steadily learns to rely on more than just himself, but to trust more in the force.

 Through their adventures together, these two men learn from each other and foster a friendship.  Through Luke's humble example, we see a change come over the heart of Han Solo. 
 As Luke prepares to leave with the rebels in a desperate run to destroy the Death Star, Han prepares to leave with his reward money.  Luke remarks angrily as he is leaving,  "Take care of yourself Han. I guess that's what you're best at isn't it?" As Luke storms off, Han replies, "Hey, Luke. May the Force be with you."

 Han later saves Luke's life, and assists him in destroying the Death Star.  Han learns the necessity of helping others, and of being helped by others.

 May we all learn to rely on the Spirit. May we think a little less about ourselves, and do a little bit more for others. To quote President Uchtdorf one more time,
 "Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes. Pride does the opposite... there are so many people in need whom we could be thinking about instead of ourselves. And please don’t ever forget your own family, your own wife. There are so many ways we could be serving. We have no time to become absorbed in ourselves."

 The Lord is eager to help us and guide us, and there are many who can help, and be helped, by us.  There is no need to go through life solo!

May the Spirit be with you!