Harvard Creates Science and Religion Chair

Theologian Harvey Cox, who chronicled the rising popularity of religion studies in his 2004 book When Jesus Came to Harvard, may need to write a sequel: When Jesus Came to Harvard and Taught Science.

That’s because Harvard Divinity School, where Cox teaches, has accepted an endowment from alumnus Richard T. Watson to create a Professorship of Science and Religion. The school is now searching for a visiting professor in science-and-religion for the 2006-2007 academic year.

The appointment, so far, has caused few ripples — a noticeable change from 2002, when the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics drew protests after inviting physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne to speak on intelligent design.

This time around, theologians were predictably encouraged, Harvard scientists were standoffish but pleasant, and secularists warily expressed a glimmer of hope that such a professorship might lend support to their causes.

The Watson professorship is the latest in a series of similarly prestigious posts that began with Princeton Theological Seminary’s 1992 appointment of J. Wentzel van Huyssteen as the first James I. McCord Professor of Theology and Science. Oxford University followed suit in 2000 with the appointment of John Hedley Brooke as its first Andreas Idreos Professors of Science and Religion. Others include Marquette University’s 2001 naming of Jame Schaefer to a newly created science and religion professorship and the 2005 appointment of Andrew Lustig to become Davidson College’s first Holmes Rolston III Professor of Religion and Science.

“The research grant and endowment for a religion-science professorship affirm the ongoing interest in relating the disciplines as a bona fide field of academic inquiry,” said Schaefer. “Harvard joins Princeton and other major universities in the world in exploring the religion-science relationship in a prestigious way.”

The news comes on the heels of a $1.5 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to a University of Missouri religion research center to study the relationship between religion and health care, and other topics. (See “Other schools encourage dialogue.”) It also comes as the John Templeton Foundation, which funds Science & Theology News, makes a grant to Harvard Divinity School and the university’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences to study the origins of altruistic behavior and their relationship to biology, theology and ethics. The John Templeton Foundation has been making such grants to Harvard since the 1990s.

“I’m a big believer in the proposition that science and religion are complementary and not contradictory, and I am much concerned about the fact that the world looks at each differently,” said Watson, a managing partner of Spieth, Bell, McCurdy & Newell Co., a Cleveland law firm, and a chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio. “This gift is designed to attack that conflict.”

Greg M. Epstein, who as Humanist chaplain at Harvard has found himself at the center of such conflict, reacted to the news with caution. “I think the idea of studying science and religion is one that can lead to useful academic scholarship and the enrichment of an entire scholarly community but may very well not — depending on how the project is framed,” said Epstein.

Some wondered about how much latitude the professorship should be allowed. “If [Harvard Divinity School] gives the scholar free rein, then the possibilities of religious naturalism might get explored at a prestigious university, which will show HDS as being on the progressive cutting edge of religious studies,” said Thomas W. Clark, director of the Center for Naturalism in Somerville, Mass. “Of course, saying that the mandate is to study science and religion as complementary suggests that the conflict between science and faith-based religions might be papered over or finessed, which would be too bad,” he said. “But pseudoscience isn’t about to gain traction at Harvard, which is why the new chair won’t reflect badly on any of its science or medical departments.”

For many Harvard scientists, there is, in fact, a role for science-and-religion studies at the university — as long as it remains at the Divinity School and does not seep into the research labs and lecture halls.

Daniel Hartl, a Harvard biology professor who specializes in evolution and population genetics, said he does “not perceive any particular conflict between science and religion, at Harvard or anywhere else, as one is a matter of evidence and the other is a matter of faith.”

But although there seems to be little grounds for believing in a higher being, there is room for such a program at the university, said James Hanken, also a Harvard evolutionary biologist. “Your day-to-day activities of your average Harvard scientist won’t be affected,” he said.

Watson hopes to change that. “Those are the people into whose minds I would like to creep,” he said.

Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta

Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) is an Ecumenical association of six Protestant seminaries in Atlanta. The predominantly African American member institutions provide graduate and professional level theological education. Their mission is to train pastors, church leaders, and teachers committed to serving the church and the community. ITC members represent six different denominations.

The ITC was founded in 1958 after four seminaries came together. Original member institutions were Gammon Theological Seminary, Turner Theological Seminary, Phillips School of Theology, and Morehouse School of Religion, which recently became Baptist School of Theology. Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary and Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary later joined ITC. Absalom Jones Theological Institution was also a member school at one time, but closed its program in 1979.

Degree programs offered at ITC by its member seminaries are Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Education, Master of Arts in Church Music, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Theology. There are also dual degree programs. Part of ITC’s vision is to be a resource bringing together leaders from the church, academia, businesses, nonprofits, governments, and communities to develop solutions to the social and moral challenges facing our nation today.

A look at the history of ITC’s member seminaries reveals several institutions dating back to the post Civil War era. Gammon Theological Seminary was founded in 1883 as a part of Clark College in Atlanta. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and Dr. Albert Mosley is President/Dean. Turner Theological Seminary was founded as a department of Morris Brown College in 1894. It is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Dr. John F. Green is the President/Dean. Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary is a Presbyterian Church (USA) seminary. It roots extend back to 1867 and the Freedman’s College of North Carolina. The seminary joined ITC in 1969, when it relocated from Charlotte. Paul T. Roberts, Sr. is the President/Dean. Baptist School of Theology, formerly Morehouse School of Religion, is associated with multiple Baptist groups. G. Martin Young is the President/Dean. Phillips School of Theology was founded at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee in 1944. It is a seminary of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The school moved to Atlanta in 1959. Dr. Marvin Frank Thomas, Sr. is President/Dean. Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary was founded in 1970 by the Church of God in Christ. Dr. Harold Bennett is President/Dean of the seminary.

ITC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award master and doctorate degrees. In addition, it is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). ITC is located on ten acres in the middle of the Atlanta University Center campus, at 700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SW.

Religious Contracts Made to Obtain Tithing Money: The Mormon Theological Breach/Unjust Enrichment

Are there such things as enforceable religious contracts that may be made between human beings and entities called churches, in the same context as people engage in contracts with corporations, companies, governments, or with other people? A contract is simply defined as an offer made by a person, company, or business entity to another person, company, or business entity, which, if accepted, is based upon a certain consideration that might be money, a service, or a promise that certain events will occur for the benefit of both the offeror and offeree. In other words, I might offer John an apple for the sum of $1.00. If John likes the apple, and wants to obtain it, he will accept my offer and tender the required consideration of $1.00, which will allow him to obtain the apple. Hence, there are many types of contracts that are taken very seriously by, both, the offeror and offeree. One of the most complex types of contracts is a church’s offer of spiritual products, in the name of a deity, for a person’s promise to obey the commandments imposed by that church. For instance, if agents of a church make an offer to a person that, if he, or she, will strictly obey the commandments imposed by that church, the spirit of that person will, after death, go to a paradise and remain there for eternity, the proselyted person will, either, accept, or reject, the offer based upon the representation made by the agents. Such a representation would be much like Goethe’s “Faustus,” where a man sells his soul to the devil for power and influence while alive on the earth. Of course, while “Faustus” is purely fictional fantasy, there are churches that actually represent that they are the only medium or conduit through which mortal man may communicate with deity and through which, so to speak, mankind get to heaven. These churches have their own very ethnocentric scriptures, which, they claim, were obtained from deity via a centrally organizing character, usually called a prophet. These churches claim to possess powers that other churches don’t possess because of the lack of proper ecclesiastical authority. This tendency of a particular religious organization, or denomination, to proclaim unique power only reposed in that particular organization is what I shall refer to as religiocentricity.

When agents of these purely religiocentric churches, or cults, seek converts through active proselytizing and by making representations about what the churches have to offer, some people are immediately cajoled into believing and converting to that particular church’s standards and requirements, and others are never persuaded. One church in particular, the Mormon (LDS) Church, makes missionary representations about its theology, which are not, in the least bit, true in order to obtain converts. In other words, lies are told. Tens-of -thousands of full-time Mormon missionaries are constantly throughout the USA, and the world, offering individual men and women, and families, around the world a, supposedly, Christian theology that is actually a total misrepresentation of real Mormon theology. Millions of Christians have, during the dawn of the 20th Century, been induced by these false representations into joining the Mormon Church by baptism, thereby undertaking the tangible demands of Mormonism. Here is where the contract concept applies to the acceptance of a church’s theology by a person to whom the theology was fraudulently misrepresented by agents of the church; which is the proximate cause of the defrauded convert to seriously accept the demands, rules, and regulations based upon deliberate lies. In the case of a new Mormon convert, the most important mandated religiocentric rule to which a newly converted person must commit before baptism is the payment of a full-tithe of gross income to the Mormon Church. Believe me when I say that a person won’t be baptized into the Mormon Church without making this commitment. A formerly Christian convert to Mormonism is induced by the Mormon agent missionaries to believe that what the Book of Mormon, the “alleged” keystone of Mormon theology, says about God is true Mormon theology; that God is a Spirit with no beginning and no end, a Trinitarian Spirit that has never changed; and that Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one Trinitarian God.

Yes, this is what the 1830 Book of Mormon entailed as the theology that Joseph Smith, Jr. wrote into the fictional 19th Century apocrypha between 1820 and 1830. Then, later, between 1831 and 1835, Smith met a follow of Alexander Campbell’s Disciples of Christ, a preacher by the name of Sidney Rigdon, who added his specious knowledge of the Holy Bible to Smith’s heretical imagination to produce a reconstructed Mormon theology that was as heretical, un-Christian, and unbiblical as the Islamic Koran. When this new pagan theology was introduced by Joseph Smith Jr., the Book of Mormon was extensively edited, later, in 1838, in an attempt to make the original Christian Book of Mormon theology conform, to some extent, with the unChristian scriptures written, and spoken, later by Joseph Smith Jr. While the 1830 Book of Mormon could not have been defended, in any way, form, or fashion as a book of divine origin, the Mormon missionary agenda was created by Smith and his successors in order for lies were contrived about the origin and content of the Book of Mormon to make it seem more credible to struggling Christians who believed in Jesus, but were ignorant of biblical scripture and prophecy. These material misrepresentations began the Mormon ritual of “lying for the Mormon lord.” The primary focus of real Mormon theology was the 1845 King Follett Discourse proclaimed by Joseph Smith Jr. during an LDS General Conference, in Nauvoo, Illinois, the year of his subsequent lynching and death in Carthage, Illinois. These theological ramblings of Smith added the heretical dimension of polytheism to what he had created between 1835 and 1839 in his fictional book, the “Book of Abraham,” a book he claimed was the product of his translation of Egyptian funeral papyri that he had acquired in 1835 from a seller of Egyptian antiquities. Having charismatically persuaded his disciples, in Kirtland, Ohio, that the Egyptian papyri had been personally written 5,000 years before the birth of Christ by the Prophet and Patriarch Abraham, and that he, and he alone, was able to translate it, the concept of the plurality of gods was introduced in his fictional book. In his 1844 King Follett Discourse, Smith defined the ritualistic polytheistic manner in which Mormon gods were perpetuated, which was expanded by the second Mormon Prophet, Brigham Young, in the first written Mormon temple liturgy in 1877 that he delivered before his death, later in 1877.

The current statement of real Mormon theology has been presented to the presiding Mormon Melchizedek Priesthood in written form, outside the venue of the Mormon temple (there are 149 operating Mormon temples throughout the world) approximately every 25 years since 1900. The most recent statement of real Mormon theology was presented in written form to the Mormon Melchizedek Priesthood, as a refinement of the comprehensive verbal statements of the first Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1844, and the Mormon Prophet Lorenzo Snow, in 1896, about Mormon polytheism, in 1984 in the Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, “Search These Commandments,” in the form of “Lesson 21 -“Man May Become Like God.” In this written lesson, the expanded couplet coined by Lorenzo Snow, “As man is God once was, and as God is, man may become,” was succinctly explained in the context of the 1844 “King Follett Discourse” of Joseph Smith, Jr. The reason that the real theology of Mormonism is published so rarely and only talked about and extolled in the Mormon temples is because of plausible deniability in the face of the lies that are told by Mormon missionaries to people who are investigating Mormonism, called “investigators.”

As a brief summation of real and correct of Mormon theology, the Mormon (LDS) Church believes and maintains that the Mormon father-god, the father of Jesus Christ, was once a human man who was biologically born, and lived, on some planet in the cosmos; who followed the laws and commandments of Mormonism and, later, died, was resurrected and awarded the highest degree of celestial opportunity, called exaltation, wherein he was transformed into a god, with a capital G, and given limited power to organize, not create (Mormon gods are bound according to the earthly laws of physics), an earth of his own, and to procreate billions of spirit children, with his Mormon goddess wife, in order to populate his earth on the spirits obtaining mortal bodies. This process of Mormon godhood, in “Lesson 21” is further expanded by an explanation that all worthy Mormon elders (holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood) have the destiny of becoming as great as their Mormon father-god, with a capital G, by becoming, themselves, Mormon father-gods, with a capital G, to be able to do all that their father-god, with a capital G, was able to do. Brigham Young, in 1868 during a Mormon General Conference, in Salt Lake City, proclaimed that “there are as many Gods as there are stars, and as many saviors as there are Gods.” This additional principle of real Mormon theology is the main point of theological emphasis that the Mormon missionaries, in the 21st Century, want to hide from the prospective Mormons, with whom they connect in their door-to-door proselyting. What this means is that every Mormon elder, on the earth, who becomes a Mormon god, with a capital G, procreates his own version of Jesus Christ, as saviors for their world. This, of course, blasphemously makes the real Christian Jesus, the one and only God of the universe, just another “savior,” who was biologically procreated to ritually die just in order to provide provide resurrection, not universal salvation, to all of the inhabitants of an earth in the past, present, and future.

The foregoing explication of genuine Mormon theology is what is presented with emphasis, as a commandment, in “Lesson 21.” So, it is quite obvious why the Mormon Church wants to hide, and lie about, the real theology of Mormonism from the hundreds-of-thousands of struggling Christians, to whom the tens-of thousands of full-time Mormon agent missionaries, and the hundreds-of-thousands of part-time ward (local Mormon congregations) missionaries who assist the full-time agent missionaries, present the five currently scripted presentations (called discussions) every calendar year, which don’t contain, to any degree, real Mormon theology.

Hence, the application of contract law to the Mormon missionary dissemination of false theological information to struggling Christians, who know nothing about Mormonism, and a subsequent offer of membership in the Mormon Church based upon this information, goes hand-in-hand with the offer, acceptance, and consideration requirements of all legally enforceable contracts. What is the tangible consideration that is required to consummate the contract? The Mormon missionaries are agents of the Mormon Church hierarchy who offer membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by baptism to all struggling Christians who sincerely “promise” to do certain specific acts of obedience to Mormon commandments. One of these acts of obedience is the paying of a full-tithe (1/10th of a person’s gross income) to the Mormon Church. Now, if an enforceable contract is, supposedly” formed through the offer of membership by baptism for a promise of obedience between the Mormon convert and the Mormon Church, the other laws of contracts must also apply. If the material representations made by the Mormon Church are false, and the struggling Christians base their acceptance of Mormonism on false material misrepresentations, then the contract is, by contract doctrine, void on its face, and all consideration paid to the Mormon Church by those struggling Christians must be returned by the Mormon Church, just like the legal obligations any other corporation.

Just how much continuing consideration is received by the Mormon Church from the duped struggling Christian, and non-Christian, converts within the time that they remain members of the Mormon Church, before realizing that they have been deceived? Well, the breach of the contract is immediate and begins with any and all promises and actions made by convert to the Mormon Church, especially the payment of the first tithing payment to the agent ward bishop, to whom all Mormons are required to submit their tithing, in the form of checks and cash. Let’s then say that the husband and wife of a convert family makes $200,000 per year gross. That is a total gross tithing sum of $20,000 for one year of membership. In the year 2014, over 150,000 struggling Christians, and people from other religions, were induced to join the Mormon Church. If the average gross income of these 100,000 individuals was $100,000, the Mormon Church received approximately $10,000 x 100,000 = $1,000,000,000 of tithing payments during one calendar year. Now, the average approximate time that a new Mormon remains a member of the Mormon Church before he, or she, realizes the lies that have been told about Mormon theology is 4 years. Within that time, a new Mormon convert is prepped and indoctrinated to accept the Mormon temple rite, which is an epitome of the polytheistic theology. Within those four years, the amount of tithing money received by the Mormon Church from those 100,000 Mormon converts is $4 billion. Now, on considering that the Mormon Church is the wealthiest Church, per capita, on the face of the earth, and that the average income of the, approximately, 10,000,000 active Mormons is approximately $100,000 per year, 10,000,000 tithe-paying Mormons multiplied by $10,000 tithing per year, which yields $100 billion per year. With that gross yearly income, the Mormon Church hierarchy makes sizable business investments throughout the world, which yield considerable dividends every year for the LDS Church. Hence, isn’t it, therefore, quite obvious why the Mormon Church, in the year 2016, is worth nearly $700 billion dollars?

But, as the parodic bard would cleverly say, herein lies the awful rub, for even though the contract between the Mormon Church and every Mormon convert is voided, or breached, at the outset of the acceptance of the offer of membership, because of the false theological information upon which the acceptance is based, the Mormon Church has never returned any part of the consideration that they have received from the deliberately duped converts; that is, the tithing money paid in good faith to the Mormon Church, amounting to billions of dollars. Why hasn’t it been returned? The main, and only, reason is that the LDS Mormon Church would never voluntarily return a penny of tithing money to the deceived Christians who paid it. The only way that it would be returned is if the Mormon Church were forced by a court of law, and equity, to repay the billions of dollars to those duped converts, to whom it is rightfully owed. This also applies to all other religious organizations that manipulate the minds of their converts to cause them to pay money to those churches based upon false information and criminally fraudulent misrepresentations of church doctrine, rules, and theology.

So does the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, guaranteeing freedom of religion in the USA, protect the actions of such churches that deliberately deceive people into joining them, in order to induce those unwitting people to pay the churches tithing money based upon fraudulent and deliberate misrepresentations? Currently, of the, approximately, 11 million active tithe-paying Mormons in the world in 2016, there are approximately 5 million of them who have been “Mormons” for five years-or-less, who have been deceived into believing the false theology of Mormonism, and who ignorantly continue to labor under the false information. The other 6-to-7 million members are the true-blue Mormons, Latter-day Saints who have been procreated into the Church through a long lineage of Mormon ancestors. Most of these people, born into the Mormon Church, know the truth about real Mormon polytheistic theology. These are the fraudulent, if not criminally illicit, men and women who are, either, employed by the Mormon Church or are ward and stake defenders of the faith, known as professional or part-time Mormon apologists. Yes, the Mormon Church hierarchy employs their very sophistic members as professional apologists to “lie for the Mormon lord.” Every time websites are posted by Christian and, generally, anti-Mormon information groups exposing real Mormon theology, these paid professional Mormon apologists produce opposing websites in an attempt to neutralize, or totally diminish, the effect of truthful facts upon the mostly ignorant religious public.

Hence, if fraudulent multi-state insurance companies, which send their door-to-door salesmen agents out to sell insurance polices that the companies never intend to honor, can be federally indicted for fraud and racketeering, under the federal RICO Statute, religious organizations that do the same basic thing in every State, deriving illegal money from converts through their agents’ false theological representations, are equally culpable of criminal fraud. I see no difference. Total disclosure of the facts, and the truth, about what the people accepting the churches’ offers will receive in return for their faithful payment of a full-tithe of their income, is necessary for there not to be fraud. Criminal and tort action should, therefore, be taken by the U.S. Department of Justice against each, and every, church in the USA that are enriched through deliberate intentional misrepresentation of their theologies by their proselyting agent missionaries, in order for the unfortunate and deceived converts to receive reparation payments to restore the money that has been lost through church racketeering, and for the criminally offending church organizations to be punished for their criminal conduct.