Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I've recently been digging through some old files and found a short paper I wrote for a Doctrine & Covenants class at BYU. The teacher had a special assignment he always gave to his class. The assignment was: write a four page paper on how the Doctrine & Covenants relates to your major. He seemed to enjoy giving this assignment because he felt that his students learned a special lesson on how we can apply the scriptures to our own lives.

When I finally sat down to write my paper, this is what came out instead:
When I first set out to try and discover what the teachings in the Doctrine and Covenants had to do with my major, I didn’t expect to be able to find anything. I thought to myself, what could the Doctrine and Covenants possibly have to do with computer science? I then began my search. You can imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a few very good verses of scripture. I read them again and again, and finally it occurred to me: the Doctrine and Covenants really doesn’t have the slightest thing to do with computer science! I suddenly realized that to try and pull the subject of computer science out of the D&C would be a doctrinal stretch that would make the Nicene Creed look like simple mathematical truth. I knew then that it would be easier to justify the World Trade Center terrorist attacks using the Doctrine and Covenants than it would to apply the D&C to my major using four pages.

“There’s plenty of material in the D&C about computer science,” says my professor. “I’ve received plenty of papers about computer science.” He gives me a sickening smile that seems to say, “It’s your problem now, isn’t it?” Is there something wrong with the logic here? He’s received plenty of papers about computer science, he says. Of course he has. It’s surprising what students can come up with just to get a grade. It’s what most of us like to call “B.S.” Of course that is precisely what I need to come up with, and I’m sure that next week I will turn in a nice little paper that I’ll be glad to be rid of if only to get the stink out of my backpack. He will take it and think to himself, “Ah, so he has discovered the truth. He has found application to his major after all,” and he will merrily go about torturing other college students. I would much rather ponder an essay question such as: “How can some professors possibly stand themselves?” Of course, that wouldn’t get me a grade now, would it?

I was still a strong believer back then, but religion classes seemed to emphasize and increase my cognitive dissonance rather than sooth it.


  1. if you had it to do over now, i'd suggest taking section 1 verse 3 as your theme and talk about how increasing the availability of secret information tends toward destroying false beliefs and those who promote them.

    for supporting paragraphs you could talk about the role of the printing press in the protestant reformation and then subtly link that to Google / Twitter / Wikileaks, etc., and revolutions against regressive institutions that try to keep people in the dark.

    but yeah, it's a stretch ;)