25 January 2021

Miracles performed by the Artist and by His chisels

The unknown artist planned what the family with five children would look like and used a chisel and other tools to achieve the planned result. My son Richard Powrie planned the carving of the two wooden rings and set about using chisels to achieve the result. 

Without the artist, those chisels would not have achieved as good a result - if they achieved anything! 

I have also often thought that it can become quite uncomfortable being a chisel - hammered on one end against something hard on the other. But the results are wonderful...

 I suspect that we consider a lot of things to mean quite different things now to 2000 years ago. I would not be surprised if a number of conditions that people have for which man has developed interventions such as spectacles, hearing aids, wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, leg braces, laser treatment, surgery, transplants, prosthetic limbs, medication and any number of corrective practices enable us to consider those that would have been classified as 'lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner' to be relatively capable now. 

Those that have developed these interventions have been instruments in the Creator's hands enabling many to be healed to varying degrees of their afflictions. Do we give the credit to the Master or to the instrument? Do we praise the chisel or the artist for the sculpture?

A consequence of our interventions quite probably has resulted in an increased frequency of these conditions in the population. In previous millennia many of those that are genetically inherited would have been less likely to have been passed on to future generations because individuals with these conditions would not have survived to an age of having children. Some conditions would have caused mates to not have been selected. So, we have enabled those conditions to proliferate. And we enable non inherited conditions to have less impact and afflicted people can have greater ability to function. In a way this increases our personal responsibility to do and be more than we might have been capable of doing hundreds of years ago. 

22 January 2021

Yeah - but, is it beyond reasonable doubt?

I had fun writing an article 'Beyond reasonable doubt' some years ago. That article is not in peer reviewed scientific literature, but was a 'popular article' in 'grey literature'. I had fun applying my mind to relating my experience in court with a friend who was on trial for what was apparently a fraudulent claim, to georeferencing...

I was thinking a lot this morning about my concerns about many of the 'conspiracy theories' in that, in my mind at least, they are not beyond reasonable doubt. 

When I do some fact checking I find all sorts of reasons to doubt many of the claims, and if many claims are not beyond reasonable doubt, then I wonder if each claim is beyond reasonable doubt?

I have been part of publishing many peer reviewed research papers and so I am not always confident with the outright derision of peer reviewed literature about vaccines or pesticides being biased - it might be true in many instances, but maybe not as many as some critics propose. 

I have been involved in computer modelling and know that there are usually many more variables involved than one can practically combine in a model, or for which values are known, and so conclusions are not absolutely conclusive, but simply suggestive. 

I have thought a lot about genetics and how many things might be far more prevalent in 2021 because we provide things like spectacles, wheelchairs, hearing aids and other things, and people live longer due to immunizations, and so there is more opportunity for genes causing disorders such as myopia, mobility challenges, and hearing challenges to be passed on because they are not 'selected against' or people reach an age when they can breed and they are more accepted by potential mates so that their genes have greater probability of being passed on than before these aids and immunizations. So - I do not deny the conclusions, but I do also recognise that there might be more variables involved than have been factored in the model and so maybe the conclusions are not beyond reasonable doubt. 

How many times have people sent me a sensational thing that they received on social media (especially when it says to 'pass it on to all of your contacts'!) and I send back a link to snopes.com or some other myth-busting post about that sensational thing that sheds doubt on it. I could send links to myth busting sites that debunk so many claims (I have not investigated all of the claims because that would simply take far more time than I deem appropriate), but I am not sure that the person who sent that item would read them with an open mind anyway. That person can do the same fact checking that I can do, perhaps better than I can do - I do not have tools available to me that are not available to them.

So - please accept that I look at what some of my friends send to me through my own filters and I have not been confident that the things with which they might be so passionately engaged are not beyond reasonable doubt. My wife Sal also looks at them through the filter of her personal experience seeing children that have died because they were not immunized. 

Let me share a scenario that came to my mind in the early hours this morning... Genes that lead to autism might be able to manifest themselves in 2021 when the condition is recognised and diagnosed simply because more people carrying those genes reach reproductive age because they were immunized, and they are not shunned by a potential mate who might also be a carrier of the genes because of things like spectacles, hearing aid, or some other life support aid, and so the genes are passed on to the next generation with more frequency than in previous years. So, double recessive genes manifest themselves more than they might have done, and they are discoverable, detectable, identifiable and describable, and so the frequency is more evident as well as more probable. If a computer model excludes certain variables, the conclusion can be drawn that there is a strong positive correlation between heavy metals in vaccines and the condition, whereas this might not be a causative, but simply a compounding factor. Then - people who do not consider the wider aspects of the scenario broadcast the conclusion of cause rather than coincidence and look for evidence to bolster their claims, and build up a really strong case that is accepted by hundreds of people who do not check the facts themselves, leading to stronger 'evidence' in favour of a misplaced conclusion. Then, the claim circulates widely on social media and fear is engendered where the whole claim really is not beyond reasonable doubt.

I hope that you will have a wonderful day and not be driven to fear by every one of those sensational scare stories that come to you. Please seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and I promise you that all those things that are of greatest value in this life and in eternity will be added unto you. I know that Heavenly Father has power to heal us should we have autism or whatever incidental problems might come because you or I might be one of the two or three out of a hundred people that is affected by immunizations or pesticides. If we are repentant and faithful, we can follow the prophet and put our trust in God's immeasurable divine power rather than putting our trust entirely in the arm of flesh. 

I hope that you are not offended by my being blunt in this. I hope that we can be one in Christ and agree to disagree... If you watched my YouTube  video about being one, then you will recall how passionate I am about the teachings of Jesus Christ in John17, John 15, Matthew 5-7, 3 Nephi 11, and so on 🙂

20 January 2021

Some thoughts on Moroni 10:3

One of many thoughts that have been on my mind recently, I hope that you enjoy my musings about how merciful the Lord is - has always been...

10 January 2021

Faith is a real part of life for atheists, agnostics or irreligious

I was thinking a lot in the wee hours of this morning about the fact that faith is a real part of life - for everyone.

We tend to think that we live without faith in some things, but let me share how faith in the unknown and unseen is a reality for all - whether they acknowledge it or not.

Each and every one of us lives by faith in so many different aspects of our lives

Some think that they can simply dispel any thought of God because they believe that science indicates that it is possible for life to exist without divine intervention. There are knowledgeable people like Darwin that argue sufficiently strongly that the power of natural selection might have enabled all life - the millions of species of plant, insect, bird, reptile, fungus, and every other class of organism - to have evolved without any intervention by some divine power. And so they live their lives without regard for the inconveniences of the commandments that they reckon impact on their freedom, comfort and convenience by requiring sacrifice of some sort or another at the request of some unseen being.

Let me share at least three aspects of life in which each and every one of us demonstrates faith, and how there can be an impact on our freedom, comfort and convenience should we fail to abide by associated rules.


We enjoy the benefits that we derive from electricity without fully comprehending the complexity of exactly what it is, and what is involved for us to be able to use that light, heater, air conditioner, stove, machine, computer, mobile phone, game, television, refrigerator, or whatever device that we are so accustomed to using that enables us to enjoy freedom, comfort and convenience. We might even chafe at the suggestion that we should reduce our consumption by turning off unnecessary lights, computers, heaters, and so forth. We do not always consider the complexity of the electricity infrastructure that needs to be adequately supplying vastly more electricity than is required for demand at any given time. Electricity needs to be available in the network of power lines, cables and wires for us to be able to use any electrical device whenever we wish to flip the switch. 

We tend to not think of the fact that those administering the power grid have to be adequately prepared with increasing capability to generate excess power in order to meet the continually increasing demands due to consumption due to an ever increasing population, industry, leisure and other needs. The leaders in South Africa and in several other parts of the world have failed to adequately prepare for the need for sufficient generating capacity to cater for these increasing demands. They need to prepare for outages due to planned maintenance of the existing generating facilities as well as unplanned failures of generating facilities due to insufficient coal, water or other sources of energy, or simply disasters like leaking nuclear plants. We might object to paying taxes and tariffs that are levied in order to make it possible to have the generating capacity that we enjoy - especially if we see any dishonesty in anyone in any level of the hierarchy involved. 

It is highly commendable that many people have opted to generate some power using solar or wind in order to reduce demand and increase supply.

We, in turn, often do not exercise restraint to not consume more than we actually need. Then we complain when there is an unplanned power failure or planned loadshedding because it impacts on our freedom, comfort and convenience. We each have rights, but we also each have responsibilities to help reduce demand and facilitate increasing supply.

We have great faith in electricity despite our lack of understanding everything involved in it.

Water supply

We have recently had a serious impact in Cape Town due to a shortage of water.  There had been less rainfall in previous years than is the norm and so our storage facilities were emptying at a rate that was in excess of the rate of inflow to meet the demands for water. 

This is not new - I remember my sister telling us of the shortage of water in England when she was there in the 1970s because there had been less rain in preceding weeks that was the norm. I remember dams being very low in parts of South Africa in about every decade or two of my life, and the rejoicing that we had when they were filled to overflowing with subsequent rains.

Many of us use water without due regard for our responsibility to conserve this valuable resource. We might fail to turn off water when it is not needed, to use less, to repair leaks, to stop using wasteful water features. We often carelessly allow water to flow out into the drainage system that feeds into our processing plants or into rivers that simply flow into the sea. 

During the recent time of crisis there was much complaint about the impacts on freedom, comfort and convenience that the water restrictions caused. Many of us installed water tanks that enabled us to harvest rain that did fall and thus reduce demand on public water supply. But many did not consider the needs for the authorities to cater for increased demand by building and maintaining water storage facilities, desalination plants, or other means of providing an adequate supply of fresh drinking water to meet the demands of a growing population and industry. Once again, many grumble about paying taxes and tariffs that enable the authorities to prepare to meet anticipated demand, especially when there is any hint of dishonesty in anyone in authority.

Viral infection

The world has been impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus that has seriously impacted on our freedom, comfort and convenience. We have been called upon to help reduce the spread of the virus by wearing masks, sanitising hands, exercising social distancing, reducing gatherings, staying at home, and many other serious impacts on our normal ways of living. We were initially required to stay at home in order to help the medical system to prepare adequately for meeting the demands for care, oxygen, and beds for those infected. Then we were asked to exercise personal responsibility in order to reduce the rate of spread of the virus due to thoughtless acts. Many complained about the costs to us in terms of taxes and tariffs, and the impact on freedom, comfort and convenience that has arisen, and too many have had super-spreader events or irresponsible behaviour that have caused the virus to spread to thousands of people who were particularly vulnerable due to age or specific health issues, and more recently the virus has been contracted by many younger people than was the case in the first wave in South Africa and other countries all around the world.


In each of these cases, we live by faith - faith in supply, faith in the planning of the authorities, faith in what we probably do not fully understand or comprehend, and what we certainly cannot easily see with our eyes. Those electrons moving in the power network, those impurities that are removed from our drinking water, those viruses that we cannot fully see or understand. We have to trust that other people have the required knowledge, understanding, foresight, wisdom, integrity, and whatever is required for us to be able to enjoy freedom, comfort and convenience. 

Despite our exercising faith in these ways, many ridicule those who live by faith in a divine plan, declaring it to be unreasonable. If we look carefully at what is happening in nature around us, we might be humble enough to acknowledge that we do not fully understand genetics, speciation, ecology, selection, and everything that is involved in order for a species to survive. We might also need to be humble enough to acknowledge that there might be a divine being who knows more than man does collectively. We might observe that we actually see a decline in species numbers over time and no evidence for new species forming despite the rapidly changing environmental niches that are supposed to have made it possible for new species to be selected and become established in the distant past. We do not necessarily have any personal experience with breeding flowers, rabbits, pigeons or anything to fully appreciate those selection processes described by Darwin for features like colour or size - let alone the innumerable characters that are not visible to the breeder and cannot be selected for, such as nuclear and mitochondrial characters that make species survive and thrive. But an all wise and knowing divine creator can select for these unseen characters.

Natural selection certainly is possible, but it is immeasurably improbable. It takes a certain amount of humility to accept that just maybe there is a divine power that has a plan and directs those selection processes that enable a species to survive. But - let's face it - man is really good at leading to the extinction of many species, resulting in a nett loss while we do not see the increase of species numbers through mutation, genetic isolation, mate selection, and ultimately the selection of new favoured races. 

All of these things denote to me that there is a God. I am comfortable in my mind that there is design and planning that has resulted in the wonderful freedom, comfort and convenience that we are able to enjoy on this planet Earth. I accept that I need to be responsible for enabling the provision of freedom, comfort and convenience for other humans and organisms by being careful in the choices that I make to not be wasteful, to not spread infections, to not be disrespectful of the freedoms, comfort and convenience of others. My living responsibly, paying taxes, tariffs, even tithes, is part of the way that I can help others to have a more meaningful experience in life, appreciating the abundant natural heritage that we do have and facilitating supply, rather than just demanding more and more in terms of freedom, comfort and convenience. I think often of that first instruction to man to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over all living things.

I am grateful for the commandments and guidance through prophets that have taught us about the divine creator who desires our eternal freedom, comfort and convenience and wants us to have that eternal perspective that will enable us to be part of the supply of solutions rather than simply adding to the problems arising from an ever increasing demand.

I have observed many people that are atheist, agnostic or irreligious demonstrating an innate divine nature of faith, hope and charity in their responses to the challenges of electricity supply, water supply, and COVID. It is unfortunate that I have seen some religions people who have demonstrated a lack of faith, hope and charity in some of the things that they have done or said in these same situations that we are all facing. I hope that I continue to demonstrate faith, hope and charity. That is the desire of my heart, even although I fail at most times to be a perfect example of what I intend to be.


Ken Powrie: Vaal Dam overflowing, 1967
Walking with masks: Les Powrie

07 January 2021

Why are so many Christians not united?

Jesus Christ is clearly identified as a focus of the worship at the Temple

I have done a lot of thinking recently about the desire of Jesus Christ for us to be one with Him as He is one with the Father. In John 17:11, 21 - 23 He says: 

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

An essential part of this oneness is the love that Jesus Christ said His disciples should have one for another, even for their enemies. In John 13:34 - 35 He says:

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. 

In Matthew 5:43 - 48 He says:
43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
There are at least two thoughts that arise in my mind while reading these, the words of the Master, Himself. 

The first question that I discuss here is why Christians are so divided rather than united, at odds with each other rather than loving one another, even contentious rather than being in harmony, and to the point of killing each other in the name of Christ.
Using Google Maps to search for 'church' near my home shows 20 pins within a radius of 2 km. One includes 'Jesus' and one 'Christian' in the name.

The second thought is how anyone who reads these words of the Saviour can think that Jesus Christ was not quite clear in His mind regarding His being the Son of God, that He was one with His Father, but that His Father was not one entity with Him other than as a perfectly harmonious team of two individuals - exactly what He challenged us the be with each other. As I express this thought, I realise that the second thought is really one thought with the first thought...

Despite His commandment to love, and His prayer for oneness, Christians are terribly divided, even at war with each other. As we read in the 1820s, there were divisions, they were contending with each other, resulting in "a scene of great confusion" and "bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions." I grew up hearing about the war in Ireland where Catholics and Protestants were fully at war, killing each other. Although this may have been a political rather than a religious conflict, there was distinct division between people that was fueled by religious belief.  

As I drive around Cape Town where I live, I see so many different churches, not just the normal denominations mentioned above - Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptist, Catholics, Protestants, but all sorts of names of what almost seem to be franchises, almost commercialising Christianity. In about the 1960s I heard mention of about 3500 Christian denominations, and this number has multiplied greatly since then.

It appears that there are in excess of 2.5 billion Christians in 2019, comprising the world's largest religious group. This source also mentions that there are approximately 41 thousand Christian denominations and organisations. They also mention that, although there are many Denominations, there should be One Body of Christ

There are many denominations, but one body of Christ. Ideally, the church on earth — the body of Christ — would be universally united in doctrine and organization. However, departures from Scripture in doctrine, revivals, reformations, and various spiritual movements have forced believers to form distinct and separate bodies.

Every believer today would benefit from reflecting on this sentiment found in Foundations of Pentecostal Theology: "Denominations may have been God's way of preserving revival and missionary fervor. The members of denominational churches, however, must keep in mind that the Church which is the Body of Christ is composed of all true believers, and that true believers must be united in spirit to carry forward the Gospel of Christ in the world, for all will be caught up together at the Coming of the Lord. That local churches should band together for fellowship and missions is certainly a Bible truth."

And yet, I do not see one body in Christ, but what seems to me to be competition and argument. I have experienced this from many people who have contended hotly with me when I quote what Jesus Christ teaches and it does not agree with their beliefs, for example, what I have cited above about the Father and the Son being distinct from each other although perfectly united in heart and mind.

I got to thinking about the Jews and Muslims who also follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -  the people of the book - and I researched these religions and do not find as much divisiveness among them. 

There are about 14.7 million Jews around the world, and it seems as though there are less than 100 movements, denominations, varieties, traditions, groupings, streams, branches, trends and such among the Jews.

There are apparently over 2 billion Muslims worldwide and there are less than about 60 sects or branches among Muslims.

Why would it be that the Christians who have such a direct command to love one another and to be one should be comparatively more divided than the Jews or Muslims? I have not compared the other religions, basically one of which is monotheist, and the others polytheist. There may be divisions among them, but it seems to me that Christianity exemplifies the opposite of unity rather than the epitome of unity. This saddens me - and I am sure that it saddens Heavenly Father. I very much doubt that it saddens Lucifer who I am confident is the one who sows the seeds of disunity. I remember something that my parents very often quoted - I suppose that, just maybe, they thought that their children demonstrated too much contention...

29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

Christ then proceeds to define His doctrine that hinges on the prefect unity between the Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and describes how they are one. He explains that we should build on that doctrine and repent and become as little children and enter and continue on the covenant path.

This brings me back to the 17th chapter of John where Christ Himself says that "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent". I believe that a lot of the disunity and contention arises from disagreement about the nature of the Godhead - certainly that has been where a lot of people have attacked my beliefs.

I am very grateful for the witness that I have received from the Spirit that has affirmed my belief in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. I have come to love all men, regardless of the differences that there may be between us, I love them, appreciate them, and respect them. Those differences, as distinct as they may be, contribute to the strength of what we can accomplish as we work in synergy rather than in competition. Those differences do not necessarily imply right or wrong, superior or inferior, good or bad. A friend of mine said that Heaven would be very boring if we were all the same! I happily reassured her that 'equal' does not mean 'the same'... We are different with different talents, interests, passions, types and temperaments. I love that I saw on coins growing up in South Africa the motto Unity Is Strength, as on our previous Coat of Arms "Ex Unitate Vire" and on our current Coat of Arms "!ke e: /xarra //ke" that means "diverse people unite".

My humble prayer is that I might help to bring unity rather than division within my own life, family, community, and wherever I can within the circle of my influence. I pray that I may have "a godly walk and conversation", with "works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures - walking in holiness before the Lord" - as is the duty of members after they are received by baptism.

I thought that I would share this on YouTube as well...