Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Am I Anti-Doctor?

Am I anti-doctor? Well, I guess that depends on your perception, but I don’t consider myself anti-doctor any more than I consider myself anti-Catholic.

There are a number of things I admire about the Catholic Church. I admire their reverence for life, their emphasis on service, and the beautiful music they use in their ceremonies. I admire the dedication to God that groups such as Opus Dei (who are nothing like the portrayal they received in The DaVinci Code) exhibit. I greatly admire the late Pope John Paul II for his courage in fighting politically instituted evil. During World War II (before he became a priest), his name was Karol Wojtyla and he helped many Jews to safety. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, he courageously encouraged the people of Communist countries to trust in God in their fight against oppression- even when it resulted in an assassination attempt masterminded by Soviet Intelligence. (1) In fact, if it hadn't been for Pope John Paul II pacing the way, the LDS Church may have never gotten into Eastern Europe. (And as a side note on popes, we should all put the accusations against Pope Benedict XVI of being a Nazi into perspective since there were few choices about political activity during World War II in Germany. His father was strongly against the Nazis. Pope Benedict XVI was conscripted into the Hitler Youth, and then was conscripted into the German army but later deserted. In fact, according to a Fox news article, when the Allies invaded his hometown, they set up their headquarters in his parents’ farmhouse. (2) Now back to our regularly scheduled program...)

My beliefs and the beliefs of the Catholic Church are similar in many ways. Like the Catholics, I believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that He died for the sins of mankind and that through him we can gain salvation for our souls. I believe that it is God’s will for us to serve our fellow human beings. I believe that baptism is a necessary ordinance for salvation. I believe that sex should be saved only for marriage between a man and woman. I believe that the Bible is the word of God. However, there are a number of things I disagree with the Catholic Church on- such as the celibacy of clergy, baptism of infants, the nature of the Fall, and a blanket prohibition of all birth control except for Natural Family Planning. But though we disagree on many points, I still respect the good that they are trying to accomplish. I admire Catholics who are honestly working to make the world a better place and follow Jesus Christ.

I can also agree with medical doctors on a number of points. For example, if I am ever in a horrible car accident (which I certainly hope never happens), the first place I want to be is in an emergency room. I may use chiropractic care, herbs, and homeopathy in my recovery, but only a surgeon would be able to put me back together again to begin the recovery process. If my child ever breaks a bone, we will go to the emergency room. I wash my hands after using the bathroom and cover my mouth and nose with my sleeve when I sneeze so as to prevent the spread of germs. However, there are obviously a number of things that I disagree with the medical establishment on. That doesn’t mean I have to get combative about it though.

For example, when I watch Anne of Green Gables and medical student Gilbert Blythe is on his deathbed from scarlet fever, do I make  grandstanding speeches about how Gilbert could have avoided this state by eating a plant-based diet high in raw foods, taking a homeopathic remedy for his symptoms and maybe getting a good chiropractic adjustment? No. I enjoy the sweetness of the love story and the beauty of the movie. (While my husband complains that the acting feels very much like a ward roadshow and that music is too melodramatic and requests that we watch something that is more testosterone friendly.) When my friends post on facebook that their child has just had an asthma attack, or their baby is running a high fever, or that it’s winter and everyone in the family is horribly sick despite getting a flu-shot, do I say, “Ha! I told you so!”? No. I offer my sympathy and wishes for their good health. Actually, most of my close family and friends have no clue about my views on vaccination. I simply don’t bring it up. I have relatives on medications, family members who work in hospitals, and friends who are in medical school.
On the rare occasion when I do bring up “alternative” healthcare to them, I try do it as casually and kindly as possible and don’t pass judgement.

Likewise, I can admire the hearts of those physicians who are honestly trying to help, even if they may be wrong about the efficacy of the treatments they are suggesting. Most doctors simply believe what they were taught in medical school (and if you shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to go to medical school, wouldn’t you expect to be getting the best and most accurate education?) I see doctors in much the way I see Catholics: Good people who are trying to do the right thing and serve their fellowmen and who have some truth, but also have some error from the the misguided ideas of men.

(1) Pope John Paul II
(2) Pope Benedict the XVI during WWII,2933,153942,00.html

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Missionary Department Letter

Here it is, a jpeg of the Missionary Department’s response to the letter on vaccinations for missionaries. The name and address of the sender have been blacked out to protect the sender’s privacy.

Now I can’t tell anyone what to do for their mission or their health. Whether or not you wish to be vaccinated is your decision and I think that people should have the freedom to choose to be vaccinated or not be vaccinated.

However, if I were going to serve a mission, I would personally do the following: I would find a doctor whose views are congruent with my own (the internet makes this easier; or other natural living forums can be great places to get some referrals) or I might try seeing a naturopathic doctor or a sympathetic osteopath. I would write and sign a personal statement saying that I am exercising my right as stated the in Missionary Department’s letter to refuse any and all vaccinations. My statement would probably read something like this:

Per the policy stated in the accompanying letter from the Missionary Department’s Health Services, I (Name), am exercising my right to refuse any and all vaccines associated with a Latter Day Saint Mission. I understand that this may limit my options of locations for my mission call and am agreeable to this condition.

First and Last Name
(Signed) First and Last Name

Depending on legal counsel, I may even include language stating that I will hold the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints harmless if I contract a vaccine preventable illness in the mission field.

Since most of the application process for missionaries is online now, documents can be scanned and uploaded to the online application. I would take my statement and a copy of the letter to my physician or naturopath and have him or her scan and upload the documents to the “Optional Documents” section of the application underneath the heading that says “Physician’s Examination”. (In this section, the physician can upload any confidential information or other “other documents pertinent to this missionary’s recommendation”.) If for some reason there was a problem with adding the documents to the online application, I would simply send the letter and personal statement to Church Headquarters addressed to the Missionary Department.

Other ideas I might try if I were putting in my papers:
  • Get a thermographic breast scan in place of a mammogram. (There are some naturopaths who do these.)
  • Get a blood titer test to measure antibodies for diseases and thereby prove immunity. If I couldn’t find a doctor who would do this for me, I would probably look into ordering my own through osteopath Sherry Tenpenny’s site.
  • Or I might get a homeopathic prophylaxis for some diseases. I would look for a certified homeopath through the Council For Homeopathic Certification’s website to do this.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Conspiracy Theorists Part 2

Guess what group discovered that lung cancer was caused by smoking? Or that asbestos in the work place is hazardous to your health? What group of people advocated abstention from alcohol for health reasons? I’ll give you a clue: they invented high-fidelity audio recording, the electron microscope, and many innovations in rockets. They even had the first live television coverage at an Olympic event.

The Nazis.

Yet, despite their deranged beliefs, no one suggests that the link between smoking and lung cancer is unfounded. If OSHA investigates you for asbestos at your place of business, arguing that “The Nazis thought asbestos was harmful and they were a bunch of lunatics,” won’t get you anywhere. And we use live television broadcasting to cover General Conference. The fact that the Nazis had strange and even dangerous beliefs does not change the fact that smoking greatly increases your odds of lung cancer, asbestos causes mesothelioma, alcohol consumption can lead to liver problems, or that hi-fi sound recordings have captured some of the most exquisite music ever composed, and that the electron microscope has helped us see some of the nature’s tiniest creations and rockets have helped us view some of its grandest.

So, just because there are some people who defy logic and ascribe to some of the most wild ideas who also claim that vaccination is a bad thing, does not nullify the research against vaccines. In rhetoric, the idea that you can reject a claim just because some or all people you dislike accept that claim is a logical fallacy called “Guilt By Association”. This argument is also employed (especially by conservative people) against Jenny McCarthy: "Jenny McCarthy was a Playboy centerfold, so anything she says about autism can't be believed!" Well, Sister McCarthy's batting average for recovering a child from autism is better than that of the entire medical establishment. The medical establishment has zero recoveries, whereas Jenny McCarthy has recovered her son from the disorder. (Incidentally, former Playboy Bunny Dr. Polly Matzinger has received a lot of heat for her iconoclastic "Danger Model" of the immune system. She argues that the immune system is driven in large part by the tissues of the body and does not work in isolation. This is fascinating when you consider the facts of vaccination and also the chiropractic view that the immune system is affected by misalignments of the spine which cause the nerves to fire improperly.)

So next time someone tells you that vaccines can’t be harmful because because some proponents of this idea also don’t believe in the moon landing, ask them about their thoughts on lung cancer and smoking!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Response to the "Missionaries and Vaccines" Letter

I’ve been hearing that I need to post the response from the Missionary Department to the letter that I posted here previously. So here it is, sorry I don’t have a pdf of it yet.

22 February 2011
Dear (Name of Sender),

Your letter regarding immunization of missionaries and other issues was received and reviewed. It has been a long standing policy of the General Authorities of the Missionary Department to recommend general immunization of missionaries and immunization specific to countries where missionaries are assigned to serve that may be required for entry to those countries. Immunization is not a requirement for missionary service. Missionaries are free to opt out of any or all immunization. (Typo theirs) Should they do so, it will affect where they are assigned to serve. That is, those without immunization will be assigned to serve in their country of residence.

Donald B. Doty, M.D.
Chairman, Missionary Department Health Services

Now if any of you read this and were a little puzzled, join the club. I’ve heard of numerous instances prior to February 2011 where prospective missionaries were told they would not leave their hometown to serve a mission unless they had been vaccinated. Furthermore, the Utah Department of Health’s page on mission vaccinations read “required” up until the new April 2011 guidelines were issued which explicitly say that vaccines are now recommended and not required for missionaries. So obviously it was not a longstanding policy to “recommend” immunizations. However, we won’t quibble over the details like a dance of the semantic shuffle. The important thing is that there is now choice in the matter. And if I were going on a mission, I would gladly serve in Utah, Idaho, or Wyoming rather than inject myself with carcinogens, animal viruses, and aborted fetal cell cultures to serve in a tropical paradise! No offense to the people of Utah, Idaho, or Wyoming, sending lots of good vibes your way. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Big Post on Herd Immunity (Mooooooo!)

Herd Immunity
This will be a disappointing post to many people, no doubt. Have you been waiting for me to say, “Don’t get vaccinated because herd immunity will protect you”? Well that won’t be happening because the concept of herd immunity does not have any grounding in research. Oh sure, we can point to the fact that there are high immunization rates now and low rates of diseases like measles and pertussis. And because vaccination has created low rates of these diseases, everyone is protected, even those who haven’t been vaccinated. But is that an entirely logical argument?
                First of all, let’s tackle the argument that high rates of vaccination eliminate diseases. A 1953 report from the Office of Vital Statistics showed a decline in deaths from infectious diseases, including measles, diphtheria, pertussis and scarlet fever during the first half of the 20th century. The report does mention vaccination programs as contributing to the decline (though vaccines did not exist or were only very recently introduced for most of the diseases mentioned in the report), but also mentions improved sanitation in water and milk supplies, cleaner sewage disposal in rural areas, and improvements in diet, hygiene, and medical care as being major contributors to the dramatic decline in infectious diseases. The whole cell DTP vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis was first licensed in 1949, but the charts in the report show that diphtheria deaths had declined dramatically between 1900 and 1945 and by 1942 had reached less than 1 per 100,000. Pertussis deaths declined from about 17 per 100,000 in 1918 to less than 1 per 100,000 in 1945. (1)
The CDC’s official statement on measles reads: “In the United States, measles caused 450 reported deaths and 4,000 cases of encephalitis annually before measles vaccine became available in the mid-1960s.” (2) In 1955 the death rate from measles was .03 per 100,000. (3). These numbers are congruent with the charts in the above mentioned report. With a population of about 165,931,202 in 1955, this would mean that there were only about 50 deaths from measles in the United States that year. Obviously, 450 deaths was true in the early years of the twentieth century, but by 1955 (eight years before the vaccine was introduced), the number of measles deaths was far fewer than what the CDC is quoting. Measles enchephalitis is said to occur in 1 of every 1,000 cases of measles, however, many physicians who actually practiced when measles was common questioned this statistic and put the rate of encephalitis at 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100,000 for children who are adequately fed and living in sanitary conditions (3).
The Haemophilus Influenza B vaccine is often used as an example of how vaccines directly impact cases of disease, because the rates of Hib declined the year after its licensure. But the 1994 Vandheim study showed that the incidence of Hib disease in infants in the Los Angeles area decreased in the year prior to the vaccine’s licensure for infants. Texas also noted dramatic declines in Hib, but these also began before the vaccine’s licensure. Studies in Minnesota showed the vaccine to be ineffective. (4).
Also note that vaccinations have not eliminated disease in less-developed countries. Despite Bill Gates donating $700 million to a polio vaccination campaign in Nigeria, which included door-to-door vaccinators, polio still persists in Nigeria and in fact, half of the 1,600 cases of polio reported in 2009 occurred in vaccinated individuals. (5) Evidence points to fully vaccinated children transmitting polio during a 1988-1989 outbreak of the disease in Oman. (6) A case study from India documents a measles outbreak in a slum. Almost one-third of the children who contracted measles were vaccinated for the disease. This study also found that children who had vitamin A supplementation were less likely to contract measles. (7) So the argument that “vaccines eliminated diseases because before vaccines were used disease ran rampant and after vaccines were used these diseases became rare” is not correct because statistics show that the diseases we vaccinate for were on the decline before mass vaccination. In rhetoric, this kind of logical fallacy is called Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc, (which is Latin for “after this, therefore because of that”) occurs where one mistakenly assumes that because the first event preceded the second event, that the first event caused the second event, as is the case here.
Furthermore, think about the argument that is commonly made in favor of herd immunity: "Vaccines protect individuals from disease by stimulating the immune system to give an immune response so that the disease doesn't take hold. But vaccines only work if a majority of people receive them. If some people don't get vaccinated, then vaccines will stop working."  In rhetoric, this kind of claim would be classified as a contradictory premises or logical paradox; if one condition exists, then the other cannot. If vaccines really protect individuals, then their welfare shouldn't be dependent on others getting the shots. Or if vaccines only work on a group basis, then you couldn't argue that they will protect individually as well. Also, if herd immunity were true, then we should have seen rampant disease in decades past because most adults no longer carried immunity from their childhood shots.
Then there is the idea that herd immunity eradicates diseases. Where do these diseases go? Do they simply die off because everyone has immunity to them? Do they evolve and mutate to infect us as another strain? No one has yet addressed this topic.
Herd immunity is not a reality. Preventing disease is a matter for the individual.

    (3) How To Raise A Healthy Child... Inspite of Your Doctor Mendelsohn 239-7
    (4)  The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults by Randall Neustaedter pg. 190
    (5) Polio vaccine failure in Nigeria
    (6) Vaccinated children spread polio in Oman
    (7) Measles outbreak amongst vaccinated children in India

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's a Conspiracy! Or not...

Vaccine advocates love it when someone says vaccines cause damage and then goes on to say that the Holocaust and moon landing are hoaxes and the New World Order is out to get us. They can point to these people and say, “You can’t trust those anti-vaxers, they’re a bunch of gullible lunatics.” D and C 89 does say, however, that in the last days there will be conspiring men and that that is why we were given the Word of Wisdom. So I believe that there are conspiring men and therefore conspiracies pertaining to our health. However, I think most people tend to look for the most exotic answers rather than facing the threats that are in front of them. Is there some vast “New World Order” plotting the downfall of society? Well, I guess I can’t say that’s totally out of the realm of impossibility, but I think the news media, Hollywood, pharmaceutical companies, the food processing conglomerates, and the pesticide manufacturers are doing a pretty good job of ruining the world on their own and don’t need any help.

So for the record, the moon landing happened and it was one of mankind’s greatest technological achievements. (There is a great Mythbusters episode that takes on the anti-moonlanding arguments which I highly recommend watching.(1)) The Holocaust happened. The Twin Towers were felled on September 11 by Afghani terrorists from Al Quaeda. (Popular Mechanics has a great article on this.(2)) Why do I believe these things happened? Because there is abundant evidence.You’ll find that most bogus conspiracy theories have one thing in common: the people peddling them had nothing to do with the event in question. (That and a blatantly anti-Semitic agenda.) Most real cover-ups are marked by tortured souls who come forward confessing their part, inconvenient eyewitness testimonies, photographs, or other evidence, and often a too-good-to-be-true story denying that anything bad ever happened.

A good example of a real cover-up is the Nanking Massacre, one of the most unbelievably horrendous atrocities in world history. On December 13, 1937, the Chinese city of Nanking was captured by Japanese forces who proceeded to systematically rape, kill, and torture the city’s inhabitants for six weeks. Most textbooks in Japan do not mention this incident and some politicians have even denied that it ever happened. An accurate death toll is impossible to ascertain since the Japanese destroyed records pertaining to the massacre or kept them secret until shortly after their surrender to the Allies in 1945. Many of the men who participated in the bloodbath are still reverenced in Japan because they are former Imperial soldiers. In 2007 a documentary backed by certain Japanese officials debuted attempting to claim that the Nanking Massacre never happened.

In spite of the Japanese people’s and government’s attempts to cover up the Nanking Massacre, awareness of it has only grown. The evidence is there in the form of first person accounts from the citizens of Nanking who managed to escape, accounts from European and American businessmen, missionaries and journalists (whose rescue efforts on behalf of the people of Nanking were headed by a Nazi party official, ironically enough), and even a few admissions from Japanese soldiers. We have photographs of the atrocities and some records of people who were killed, journals detailing the events of Nanking, even a telegram from a reporter who was there. In 1997, Iris Chang wrote a bestselling book about the incident garnering international attention. Estimates of the numbers of victimized Chinese civilians vary widely including 20,000-80,000 women raped, 40,000 to 200,000 murdered, and 50,000 to 250,000 rescued, but even on the conservative end we are talking about a massive number of people involved, something too big to ever stay quiet. (3)

Contrast this with the allegations leveled at the Apollo moon landing program, which involved more than just a few astronauts. An estimated 400,000 people were involved, including rocket scientists, engineers who designed the spacecrafts, NASA officials, technicians, and skilled laborers who put all the equipment together. (4) On top of this you have families of all these people, prospective astronauts who didn’t make the cut, and the news media. None of these people have ever come forward to say it was all a hoax. We have no journal entries, records or press dispatches saying such. All we have are the words of people who have little to no training in photography, film, or aeronautics claiming that it never happened.

The Apollo program did come close to ending after a fire on the launchpad killed the three astronauts of Apollo 1. NASA was grilled like a cheese sandwich at the hearings for the disaster. The space program was allowed to continue, but a greater degree of transparency was demanded of NASA by the public and the government. If you read Lost Moon about the rescue of Apollo 13, you’ll find out that all radio communications from the astronauts went down to the media in real time after Apollo 1. Before that, NASA had taken a seven second delay to bleep out any profanities. (And the press proceeded to have a field day when they caught astronauts using blue language- even in perfectly justifiable situations like accidentally pressing the “abort” button in the middle of outer space.) In fact, if the moon landing was a hoax, we would have never heard anything about Apollo 1 or Apollo 13 because it would give the public reason to doubt that we ever did put a man on the moon. If it were all a hoax we would also have fake moon footage for Apollo 12, but we don’t because astronaut Alan Bean accidentally pointed the camera at the sun and burned the lens.

I believe things that are logical and have evidence to support them. The moon landing, the Nanking Massacre, and vaccination are not matters of faith; they are matters of evidence. There is abundant evidence (some of which I have already cited, more of which is coming) that vaccines are not healthy or necessary and that makes this stance neither conspiracy or theory.
(1) Mythbusters and the moon landing
(2) Popular Mechanics and 9/11
(4) Number of people involved in moon landing

Saturday, August 13, 2011

General Authorities Statements on Vaccines, Part 2

President Harold B. Lee (and many other prophets and apostles) taught that the standard of doctrine is found in the scriptures: “If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church. And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth.” (1)

We have received no official Church proclamation mandating that we vaccinate our children and ourselves. This idea is not put forth in the scriptures. And IN MY OPINION, there are several scriptures which could be construed as teaching against this practice:
  • Exodus 20:13- “Thou shalt not kill.” Many vaccines contain viruses that were cultured in the lung cells of aborted babies. Vaccines have also caused many deaths.
  • Doctrine and Covenants 49:21- And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.” Animal cells, embryos, and other animal derived ingredients are found in vaccines, a use which is for the most part unnecessary.
  • Doctrine and Covenants 89:21- “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” This is the section on the Word of Wisdom. The Lord tells us here that if we abstain from harmful substances and eat a wholesome diet of mostly plant foods that we will avoid disease.
  • Doctrine and Covenants 89:10- “And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man”, Doctrine and Covenants 42:43- “And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy”, Alma 46:40- “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate”. The Lord has created useful plants for treating diseases and intends for us to use them. These have been available to all of His children throughout time. How awful would it be to think that God only gave the chance for a healthy life to  His children born in the last 50-60 years?
  • Genesis 3:17- “Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” The Lord intended there to be discomfort and sorrow in this life and He intended it to be for a purpose, “for our sake”. Diseases such as measles and chickenpox grant lifelong immunity to the sick person after one instance of infection, and in this way certain illnesses can actually strengthen the immune system. If we were never sick, we would also never be able to appreciate the blessing of good health.
  • Isaiah 55:8-9- “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Our Heavenly Father has created the viruses and bacteria that cause disease, He must have had a purpose in doing so. These viruses and bacteria are part of a natural order that God has created and even though our way would be to do away with them entirely, this is not how He has created our world. Vaccination violates the natural ways of disease that God has created by bypassing normal routes for infection and injecting live and killed viruses and toxoids into the bloodstream.
  • 1 Corinithians 3:16-17- Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Our bodies are temples that our Heavenly Father has given us and are to be treated as such. Injecting our bodies with animal tissue, live and inactivated viruses, and harmful chemicals and metals defiles the body, in my opinion.
  • Doctrine and Covenants 89:4, 21- Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation... And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.” The Lord has told us that in the Last Days there will be people in positions of authority who will keep information from us that could have a serious impact on our health. So, He gave us the Word of Wisdom to tell us what we need to do to avoid disease.

1. FAIR article on statements by Church leaders

General Authorities Statements on Vaccines, Part 1

Church leaders have said many things about vaccination being a positive thing, even an article in the 1978 Liahona urging members to vaccinate their children. (1) Prospective missionaries are required to receive several vaccinations in order to enter the Lord’s service, and the Church has given millions of dollars and volunteers towards vaccination campaigns throughout the world. To many members, I’m sure it seems that the Lord has given His personal blessing to vaccines. And yet vaccines have been proven to be dangerous and unhealthy. How do we reconcile these two facts?
  1. Prophets, not scientists- The Lord has called our prophets and apostles to be just that- prophets, seers and revelators, not scientists. Investigating scientific matters is outside of their calling. They are called to preside over the Church and foretelling scientific milestones and proving scientific theories is not in their jurisdiction. There have been a few incidents of science and statements made by prophets clashing. The “moonmen incident” is one of them. Brigham Young (in accordance with the scientific beliefs of the time) said he believed the moon to be inhabited. Many critics have held this up to be “proof” that Brigham Young was not a true prophet, because (they say) a true prophet would have known that the moon was uninhabited. Now if you really want a twist, note that as an apostle Joseph Fielding Smith said the thought it "doubtful that man will ever be permitted to make any instrument or ship to travel through space and visit the moon or any distant planet.” (2) Though, it seems obvious to us that man can travel to the moon, there was a time during the “Space Race” when it looked doubtful, especially with the tragedy of Apollo 1. Brigham Young and Jospeh Fielding Smith were relying on the statements of those who were in positions of authority in the field of science in their respective lifetimes. (3) The Lord reveals what is necessary for the administration of the Church. Furthermore, if He simply revealed every scientific fact to His prophets, no one would have to work to find out knowledge. I believe our Heavenly Father wants us to find out answers for ourselves. After all, He doesn’t come to each of us individually and reveal to us that this is His restored gospel; we are told to ponder and study it out and find out for ourselves.
  2. The Lord does not “micro-manage”- There are many brothers and sisters who seem to wish that our Heavenly Father would dictate everything to us that is right, from the length of our hemlines to Utah’s liquor laws to healthcare decisions for ourselves and our children. But the reality is that we came to this Earth to make our own decisions. Our Heavenly Father will guide us if we ask and are open to His guidance but he will “force no man to heav’n” (Hymns 240). Indeed, the Lord has said, “ For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” (D&C 58:26) Furthermore, what is necessary in one person’s situation may be different than what is necessary in another’s. How can we expect to inherit and preside over all God has if we don’t make our own decisions and take responsibility for them?
  3. Agency- I take comfort in knowing that every word from a General Authority’s mouth does not constitute doctrine. They are not puppets, but prophets. Our Heavenly Father allows them their opinions and thoughts. They will never be permitted to lead us astray, but the Lord will not dictate every word say. If everything that the prophet or the Twelve were to say had to be exactly what Heavenly Father thinks, it would violate their agency.
  4. What constitutes doctrine?- Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Approaching Mormon Doctrine (May 4, 2007)

In light of this, it should be noted that the 1978 Liahona statement does not claim any authority from the Lord, only from the First Presidency themselves who speak for themselves in this matter. Official declarations from the Lord will carry language defining themselves as such, as is the case with “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God”), the Word of Wisdom (“...showing forth the order and will of God...”), the Manifesto on Polygamy (“I, therefore, as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage...”), and the 1978 Official Declaration on the priesthood (“In early June of this year, the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church.”) The article in the 1978 Liahona carries no such language and claims no authority from God. The First Presidency at the time was giving what it believed to be good advice to members.

(3) FAIR article on prophets and infallibility