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James Carroll
Attended Brigham Young University
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James Carroll

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Today is a WONDERFUL day! Do you hear the people sing? The world is getting better and better, one day at a time! 

"It's the future that we bring, when tomorrow comes!" 
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James Carroll

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What are the benefits of cruelty? This question occurred to me after forcing myself to watch some of the slickly produced propaganda videos of the group that calls itself the Islamic State.
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Here's an updated version of my 2015 presentation to the MTA, titled "The End of Religious Anxiety: Towards Religious Universalism" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slM9apfq0ak&feature=youtu.be

A slightly longer text version of the talk can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/11d_z4bdApXvBbitoYRbV8VXN53MPxhpqpzKLRFR__8s/edit
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Church this Sunday:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7a0Lei2OCA

All are welcome here.
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This study examined sexual orientation change efforts, identity conflict, and psychosocial health in a sample of 1,612 same-sex attracted Mormons. A minimum of 66% of participants reported engaging in sexual orientation change efforts, usually through multiple methods, and across more than 10 years (on average). Religious change efforts such as personal righteousness (e.g., prayer, fasting, scripture study, improved relationship with Jesus Christ...
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It seems to me like there is a major opportunity here for the UU to help to meet the spiritual needs of this growing group of "spiritual" but not religious unaffiliated people. In whatever way they find useful. Come to Yoga. Or come learn Tai Chi. Or come to a parenting group. Or Come to forums about evolution. Or come to weddings and funerals. Or come to classes on comparative religion (like the one I will be teaching this Friday). Or come learn to meditate with our Buddhist meditation group. Or if you really want to, come every Sunday to service! Come to whatever you want, and bring whatever degree of participation you want, and find useful. And, if it ever stops being useful, then stop coming. 

That's the great thing about a Church that doesn't believe that you have to belong to it, or actively participate in its programs to be saved. 

Atheists, agnostics, theists, whoever you are, wherever you are on life's journey, you are welcome here. 

http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/2500019-155/christianity-shrinking-in-us-mormon-numbers?fullpage=1
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Most telling thing about that is that people are afraid of/willing to identify themselves at atheists. At 23%, "non believers" are the second-largest group.
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James Carroll

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Well.... isn't this fascinating. 

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2538827-155/boy-scouts-leader-says-ban-on

The background to this announcement was that when he took the reins of the scouts, Robert M. Gates said he didn't want to re-open the controversy regarding scout membership policies for gay people. However, events rolled on faster than he anticipated. Some scouting units were blatantly disregarding the scout's policy, and an entire chapter flaunted the ban, and hired an openly gay man at their chapter leadership level. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/02/pascal-tessier-gay-boy-scout_n_6995286.html The Denver area council and several others followed suite, and also began intentionally violating the ban. 

This forced his hand. The only way to enforce the ban would have been to entirely remove these chapters from the organization in retaliation. This was a move he was not willing to make, in his own words, he said (capitalization in original, sorry): "WHILE TECHNICALLY WE HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO REVOKE THEIR CHARTERS, SUCH AN ACTION WOULD DENY THE LIFELONG BENEFITS OF SCOUTING TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF BOYS AND YOUNG MEN TODAY AND VASTLY MORE IN THE FUTURE. I WILL NOT TAKE THAT PATH." (you can read his entire speech here: http://scoutingnewsroom.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/DR-GATES-REMARKS.pdf)

So, how to handle this dilemma that he has been placed in? His recommendation is simple (and I believe that it is also obviously correct, and the only real path forward for them): "WE CAN MOVE AT SOME FUTURE DATE – BUT SOONER RATHER THAN LATER – TO SEIZE CONTROL OF OUR OWN FUTURE, SET OUR OWN COURSE AND CHANGE OUR POLICY IN ORDER TO ALLOW CHARTER PARTNERS – UNIT SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS – TO DETERMINE THE STANDARDS FOR THEIR SCOUT LEADERS. SUCH AN APPROACH WOULD ALLOW ALL CHURCHES, WHICH SPONSOR SOME 70% OF OUR SCOUT UNITS, TO ESTABLISH LEADERSHIP STANDARDS CONSISTENT WITH THEIR FAITH. WE MUST, AT ALL COSTS, PRESERVE THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OF OUR CHURCH PARTNERS TO DO THIS."

I completely agree with this statement. I believe that the religious freedom of individual Churches that sponsor troops to set their own membership standards must be preserved, even if they choose to use that freedom to be hateful bigots. And shouldn't that answer all the LDS people's concerns out there? Why should they be concerned in any way about this change? They can still refuse to allow gay people to serve in the scouts if they choose. 

But I also believe that the scouts should allow progressive Churches such as my own, to sponsor troops that have their own membership standards, that might differ from those of other religious organizations. Since we do not believe that homosexual relationships are in any way sinful, why not let us sponsor troops that are inclusive and affirming? 
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Brother Jake Does it again!
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"And they’re preserved in spite of contrary evidence because believers are deeply invested in them. It’s worth asking, therefore, what those reasons are, and how they can be satisfied in a non-religious context."

I like that last little bit enough that I want to quote it again: "It’s worth asking ... how they can be satisfied in a non-religious context."

Although, I would have said "non-dogmatic or factually false context" instead of using the phrase "non-religious context." I would choose this alternate way of saying this because I think that the only context in which these natural human desires CAN be full satisfied is in some sort of a "religious" one, where the term "religious" is broadly defined far beyond the Abrahamic religious context with which Westerners often blindly restrict all use of the term "religion." 

My goal is to foster (and perhaps even help to shape) a new religion that is compatible with rationality and reason, not to end all religion while replacing it with nothing of value. Such a destructive course is not only doomed to failure (human nature NEEDS religion in some form or other), it is also unlikely to achieve the "good" ends that proponents of this course desire to achieve. 

http://www.salon.com/2015/05/16/richard_dawkins_doesnt_give_a_damn_the_huge_mistake_hes_making_about_religion/v
Dawkins and his fellow New Atheists were on the warpath in recent days over the subject of believers
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Absolutely. 
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“RC plane” – … but seriously, why are there seems to be no consumer FPV jet planes?
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After 1.7 million miles we’ve learned a lot — not just about our system but how humans drive, too.
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“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ -- all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself -- that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness -- that I myself am the enemy who must be loved -- what then? As a rule, the Christian's attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us "Raca," and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.”

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/230446-the-acceptance-of-oneself-is-the-essence-of-the-whole
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Education
  • Brigham Young University
    Computer Science
    BS, with minor in Ancient Near Eastern History, and served on the Ballroom Dance Team. followed by MS and PhD.
  • Woods Cross High School
Story
Tagline
Computer Scientist, Futurist, Religious Historian, and Photographer
Introduction
James L. Carroll has a PhD in computer science, and a minor in Ancient Near Eastern history. He taught institute for several years. As a graduate student he taught Pearl of Great Price, Isaiah, and the Book of Mormon part time in the BYU Ancient Scripture department. 

He is currently a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, doing ensemble machine learning research and computer assisted raidographic analysis for nuclear stockpile stewardship. 

His interests involve artificial intelligence, machine learning, statistics, linguistics, epistemology, consciousness, comparative ritual, and photography. A current list of his publications is available here: http://james.jlcarroll.net/publications/.

His home page is http://james.jlcarroll.net

Religion: 

I attend a Unitarian Universalist congregation. I am culturally Mormon. And in belief I am a theist leaning possibilian transhumanist.

Politics: Moderate conservative

My political views are a jumble of utilitarian, libertarian, conservative, and progressive ideas. And I know what you are thinking, and I revel in the contradiction. I am a moderate first, and I am the enemy of partisanism, and extremism, which I think are the causes of most of the world's problems. 
Bragging rights
PhD in Computer Science, minor in Ancient Near Eastern History
Basic Information
Gender
Male
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