Chart of LDS General Authorities


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put together a website with photos and links to biographies of the current General Authorities of the Church. One thing that is interesting is the small size of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. It’s been smaller than the First Quorum for as long as I can remember but the size difference is striking. One reason for the difference – I believe – is the localizing nature of the Church. What I mean by that is that with the formation of additional quorums of (area) Seventies – there are 8 in total – there is not as strong a need for such a centralized church. All authority goes back to the General Authorities but with the growth of the Church, there is greater need for stronger, more local leadership. Many of those who serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy are called to serve in various parts of the world to direct the church there, but their primary calling is to provide general (global) leadership over the Church; others are called to provide more local and specific leadership.

In any case, that website is a great source of information about the leaders of the Church.

How Many Children Do the Apostles Have? A Statistical Exercise


After General Conference was over my mother (who was visiting to help out with our new baby) remarked about how most of the Apostles had only a few kids. Being a scientist and a bit compulsive about my statistics I put together a little spreadsheet with the number of children each apostle has from which I calculated the mean, median, and mode number of children. My mother was correct in that more apostles have 3 children than any other number; however, the mean (4.93) and median (4.0) are higher.

Here are the numbers (Apostles are sorted according to seniority):

Apostle       # of children
Monson 3
Packer 10
Perry 3
Nelson 10
Oaks 6
Ballard 7
Scott 7
Hales 2
Holland 3
Eyring 6
Uchtdorf 2
Bednar 3
Cook 3
Christofferson 5
Andersen 4

Anyone surprised by the numbers? I was that the mode was 3 but my guess of the average was 5, which is what the mean turned out to be. We cannot really throw out Elders Packer and Nelson as outliers because the sample size is small, plus it would defeat the purpose of the analysis to remove them from the analysis just because they create a slight positive skew to the data (skewness = 0.85, kurtosis = -0.30). In any case, I think it is interesting that 9 of the 15 apostles have 5 or fewer children (most of those 9 have 2 or 3 children). The rest have 6, 7, or 10. There is a moderate correlation between number of children and age (r=0.49, p=0.06; should you feel a non-parametric correlation is more appropriate, Spearman’s rho = 0.40, p = 0.14).

When I looked at the above chart, it looked like there were two clusters of apostlesXchildren based on seniority. I thus created two groups within the Apostles based on seniority; the 7 most senior (through Elder Scott) were one group and the 8 left were the other group (beginning with Elder Hales). This group split was as close to a median split as possible. A t-test revealed that there was a significant difference in the number of children between groups (mean for group 1 = 6.57, mean for group 2 = 3.5, t = 2.68, p = 0.02, Cohen’s d = 1.35 – a large effect). There also is a significant difference in age between the two groups (which is not surprising; group 1 mean = 83.57, group 2 mean = 68.38, t = 4.99, p = 0.001).

Should my split of the groups be criticized based on the fact that Elder Hales only has 2 children and so placing him in group 2 might be undue manipulation of the data, here are the values with him in group 1 (group 1 mean number of children = 6.00, group 2 = 3.71, t = 1.79, p = 0.097; this is no longer significant but the sample size is also small {although, it could be viewed as large because the entire population of living apostles is 15 and I ‘sampled’ the entire population}. In any case, the effect size of this difference is still large – Cohen’s d = 0.95). I think the split should be between Elder Scott and Elder Hales because Elder Hales is the first of the apostles called while Pres. Hinckley was the prophet (technically, Elder Hales was called to fill the vacancy in the Twelve when Pres. Hunter died; Pres. Hinckley was called to replace Pres. Hunter); in other words, Elder Scott was the last of the apostles called in the 1980s and Elder Hales was the first called in the 1990s (there was about a 6 year gap in between when they were called). Either way I split the groups, the difference in number of children is large between the more senior Apostles and the newer Apostles. There are the outliers in the groups (Pres. Monson and Elder Perry for group 1 and Elder Eyring for group 2) but overall, the groups cluster together well (see the “Within Cluster Variation” chart).

If seniority roughly equals age (remember the significant difference between the ages of the two groups), does age explain the difference in number of children? In part it does. Age explains 24% of the variance in number of children (R = 0.49, F = 4.166, p = 0.06), which is a moderate amount but it is obvious that age alone cannot account for the difference in number of children. There are other testable (e.g., number of children in their nuclear family, age at marriage, income, etc.) and untestable (e.g., personal choice and how many children the Lord let them know they could or should have) factors that might explain the difference. Frankly, it does not matter in the end. Can we really explain why people have the number of children that they have? Sometimes we can if there are fertility issues but the number of children a couple has boils down largely to personal choice. That is why I am not going to try to explain why we see these differences in the number of children between the more senior Apostles and the newer Apostles.

I hope you found this an interesting analysis – I certainly did! I think it would be interesting to expand it to include the 1st and maybe 2nd quorums of the Seventy as well but that is an analysis for a later time.

The Organization of the LDS Church – Part 1


There is no other church on earth like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its organization and growth are inspired. Much of the organization of the church is built upon the following principle: “No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Heb. 5:4). The LDS Church is largely run by a lay ministry. People do not vie for positions; most do not seek office. When a call is received, service begins. The LDS church is organized in such a manner that all have the opportunity in even a small way to play a role in the church. The church is run and directed by and through the priesthood of God. In this essay, I’ll provide an overview of how the LDS Church is organized.

I’ll start from the “top” and move down. Actually this is starting at the bottom – at the foundation – and moving up, but we more commonly think of it as top-down. The Savior Jesus Christ is the head of the LDS Church. It is His church and is a restoration of the church He established in ancient days. The Savior chooses one man to act as His prophet – to preside over and to lead the church on earth. The current prophet is Thomas S. Monson, who is the most senior apostle and is ordained as a prophet, seer, and revelator. He is the only one authorized to speak definitively for the whole church and to establish church doctrine. He can delegate this authority in specific circumstances but generally does not. The prophet is the presiding priesthood holder on the earth. He holds all of the keys of the kingdom, meaning that he has the authority and responsibility to direct the church as inspired. The prophet has two counselors (although there could be more) who as a whole constitute the First Presidency of the LDS Church. The First Presidency together also hold all the keys of administration of the church. They constitute the highest governing body of the church and serve in a small way as a type for the Godhead – the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (in other words, there are three people in the First Presidency in part to mirror the three personages in the Godhead).

The members of the First Presidency are all prophets, seers, and revelators in addition to being ordained as apostles. While they are currently called from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, their roles are separate from the Quorum of the Twelve while they are in the First Presidency. Upon the death of the prophet, the First Presidency is automatically dissolved and the counselors return to their place in the Quorum of the Twelve.

The Quorum of the Twelve consists of twelve men who are ordained as apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ and who are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. They are all special witnesses of the Lord Jesus with a special call to bear witness of Him unto all the world. They also serve as the main, under the direction of the First Presidency, administrative body of the church. One man is called as president of the Quorum (with another called as acting president should the president of the Twelve be called as a counselor in the First Presidency). The Twelve, along with the First Presidency, fulfill different assignments throughout the world, including dedicating new temples, meeting with church members, meeting with world, religious, and civic leaders, meeting with the media, and so forth. Each also serve on various committees pertaining to different aspects of church administrations, such as missionary work or education. The Twelve each individually hold all the keys of the priesthood but are not individually or collectively authorized to use those keys except as following the death of the prophet; in that instance, they can only use their keys collectively. The members of the Quorum of the Twelve are “ranked” according to seniority based on how long they’ve been a member of the quorum. The most senior apostle, following the death of the prophet, is shortly sustained as the new prophet and president of the church. There is no jostling for position or asking of questions about who will be called. The new prophet then calls two counselors. Any voids left in the Quorum of the Twelve are then subsequently filled with the callings and sustainings of new apostles.

Experiment Upon the Word, Part 4


Faith experiments and science experiments are similar in some ways. One of the similarities is that both seek knowledge; rather, through both, the experimenter seeks knowledge. Because knowledge is so important, learning is a major part of both. In the Doctrine and Covenants we are commanded to seek wisdom and knowledge: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C; 88:118). This verse relates perfectly to the faith experiment because it tells us that because “all have not faith” we need to seek wisdom and learning. Wisdom and learning help nourish the seed of faith, helping it grow.

Education is a vital part of life. Education is not just vital, life-long education is vital. We started learning as spirits living with our Heavenly Father. He taught us and had others teach us. We all progressed to various points, some learning more and some less than others. Then we came to earth, receiving bodies that allow us to continue to grow and progress. We also are able to learn spiritual and temporal things. Life-long education need not be formal, although receiving as much formal education as possible is a great goal. We can continue to learn and study on our own by seeking wisdom and knowledge out of the best books. We can and should study the gospel. We can and should study as many good topics as interest us.

Formal education is important because it helps teach you different ways of thinking. Learning in general exposes you to new ideas and new experiences, which help broaden your understanding of the world. Gaining a formal education also allows you to provide better for your self and your family. It also can lead to more free time with which you can do more church service. I’ve always thought it interesting how educated in general the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are. Most have higher education degrees and many have advanced degrees. Within the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, most have advanced degrees.

  • Pres. Monson has a bachelor’s in business from the University of Utah
  • Pres. Eyring has a doctorate in business administration from Harvard
  • Pres. Uchtdorf has a degree in business administration as well as being a highly respected military and commercial pilot
  • Pres. Packer has an Ed.D. from BYU
  • Elder Perry has a B.S. in business from Utah State University
  • Elder Nelson has an M.D. from the University of Utah and a PhD from the University of Minnesota – he is a world-renowned heart surgeon
  • Elder Oaks has a J.D. from the University of Chicago
  • Elder Ballard attended college but I’m not sure if he graduated – he was a successful businessman, however
  • Elder Scott has a bachelor’s degree but he also received the “equivalent to a doctorate in nuclear engineering at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, but due to the classified nature of the work, a formal university degree could not be awarded” (Source)
  • Elder Hales has an MBA from Harvard
  • Elder Holland has a PhD in American Studies from Yale
  • Elder Bednar has a PhD in organizational behavior from Purdue
  • Elder Cook has a JD from Stanford
  • Elder Christofferson has a JD from Duke
  • Elder Andersen has an MBA from Harvard

That’s quite a list of education accomplishments (and I didn’t even touch their other accomplishments). 11 of the 15 apostles (Quorum of Twelve plus the First Presidency) have advanced/professional degrees or the equivalent thereof. However, the greatest accomplishments these men have experienced are at home and in their church service. Every one of them gave up their careers in order to answer the call to full-time church. They do set a wonderful example of education and the life-long pursuit of learning. Contrast the current apostles’ education with that of Joseph Smith. He had little formal education but he continued to study and learn his whole life. He learned new languages; he studied the sciences; but most importantly, he studied the scriptures and the gospel; he was taught directly by angels as well as the Savior. He was one of the most intelligent and understanding men of all time.