Children of the Apostles – Updated Analysis

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About five years ago I wrote a post looking at how many children the apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have. With the recent deaths of three apostles and the calling of three more in the past week, it’s time to update my analyses.

Before I start I want to clarify that the number of children people have is not necessarily the number of children they want to have. I don’t want to downplay the heartache many feel at not being able to have (more) children due to health issues or other life circumstances. I pass no judgements on the number of children anyone has and ask that any who read this follow likewise. I’ll never forget a comment Truman Madsen made that when he was younger he and his wife would sometimes hear people ask behind their backs, “I wonder why the Madsens only have three children.” His poignant comment was, “We wonder too.” With this post I’m simply providing an analysis of things as they are.

Here are the numbers (Apostles are sorted according to seniority with number of children, current ages (as of 10/04/2015) and their ages when called as apostles):

Apostle Children Current Age Age When Called
Monson 3 88 36
Nelson 10 91 59
Oaks 6 83 52
Ballard 7 86 56
Hales 2 83 61
Holland 3 74 53
Eyring 6 82 61
Uchtdorf 2 74 63
Bednar 3 63 52
Cook 3 75 67
Christofferson 5 70 63
Andersen 4 64 57
Rasband 5 64 64
Stevenson 4 60 60
Renlund 1 62 62
For those whose eyes glaze over at tables of numbers, here is a column graph of the apostles and the number of their children.
children_of_apostle_bar_graph
The data are roughly normally distributed (skewness = 1.02, kurtosis = 1.34) so assumptions of normality are not violated and we can use parametric analyses. There is a moderate correlation between number of children and current age (Pearson r = 0.50, p = 0.057) but no correlation between number of children and age when called (r = 0.008). What does this mean? The older men tend to have more children than younger ones but the relationship is not associated with their calling as an apostle (it’s just an age association and not an age*apostle association). However, the correlation is largely driven by Pres. Nelson (10 children) – the oldest apostle – and Elder Renlund (1 child) – one of the youngest apostles. If they are removed from the analysis, there is no age/children relationship (r = 0.18). We cannot really exclude those two as outliers because I’ve sampled the entire population of apostles and such an exclusion would be misleading even if Pres. Nelson and Elder Renlund have a large influence on the relationship.
How much of the number of children does age explains? Age explains 25% of the variance in number of children (R = 0.501, F = 4.363, p = 0.057), which is a moderate amount but it is obvious that age alone cannot account for the difference in number of children. There are other potentially testable factors (e.g., number of children in the apostles’ nuclear families, age at marriage, income, etc.) and untestable factors (e.g., personal choice or how many they physically could have) that might explain the difference but those are not addressed here.
What about seniority, which is correlated with age, but is a different matter? I created two groups within the Apostles based on seniority (those called before 2000 and those after 2000); the 7 most senior (through Pres. Eyring) were one group and the 8 left were the other group (beginning with Pres. Uchtdorf). This group split is essentially a median split of seniority. A t-test revealed that there was not a significant difference in the number of children between groups (mean for group 1 = 5.29 (median = 6), mean for group 2 = 3.38 (median = 3.5), t = 1.70, p = 0.11, but the difference was a fairly large effect). This shows that the more senior apostles do, on average, have more children than the less senior ones but this difference is primarily driven by Pres. Nelson and Elder Renlund (this group difference is not significant with them removed from the analysis: p = 0.40).

pre_post_2000_apostles_children

Now for something tangentially related. How old were the apostles when called? The figure below shows current age (blue) and age when called (red).

age_apostles

What is interesting is that there is a trend towards a difference in age when called between the two groups (p = 0.07) with the more senior group called at slightly younger ages (mean = 54) than the less senior group (mean = 61). Pres. Monson, of course, is a strong driver of this difference (with him removed, p = 0.116) because he was ordained an apostle at age 36, which is incredibly young (he’s the outlier in the box plot below).

age_at_calling_apostles

Does any of this really mean anything? No. The Lord calls those He foreordained to the scared apostleship and who are ready to accept the calling, regardless of the number of children they have. However, it is interesting that younger apostles tend to have fewer children, which parallels but does not match the general trends in the world.

Love At Home

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One of the saddest things I’ve seen recently in a TV show or movie was during an episode of The Cosby Show. Two of the sisters have a disagreement and start fighting. I know many people watch that and laugh at the ridiculousness of it but it brought me to tears. There is nothing I find more disheartening than discord in homes. Seeing or hearing families fighting, arguing, or yelling at one another in anger is always profoudly disturbing to me.

I understand getting angry and annoyed but anger is almost always ugly. People have a difficult time thinking clearly when angry. Things are said or done that normally would not be said or done. Those less-than-thoughtful words and actions then exacerbate the problem, creating a feedback loop that can degenerate into something more hideous – a terrifying chimera of anger, distrust, and hate. Not all anger devolves into this, certainly, but our homes should be temples of peace and love and kindness rather than battlegrounds.

Our homes should be places of refuge and safety. Our homes should be full of kindness, service, and love. When we become angry and vent on family members, when we allow anger and fighting to enter our home, we drive away the Spirit of God and in essence desecrate the temple that should be our home. Anger and fighting have no place in our homes. The great prophet king Benjamin taught us to not:

“suffer that [our children] transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.” (Mosiah 4:14-15).

I’ve been married for more than 10 years. Not once have my wife and I fought. We’ve only rarely disagreed about things. I cannot even recall (should I even want to) a time when I was annoyed with my dear wife. I try to not do things or say things that could annoy my wife. Marriage is a sacred relationship; temple marriage, in particular, is founded upon covenants of righteousness and consecration. What this means is that everything we do should strengthen our marriages. One of the key things we can strive for and have to strengthen our marriages is unity. There is little my wife and I value more than unity as a couple and family. This leaves no place for anger or fighting. We need to be kind and gentle in all that we do.

We have been commanded to “Cease to contend one with another; cease to speak evil one of another.” (Doctrine and Covenants 136:23). This leaves no place for arguing or fighting. If we want our children to be kind to one another we need to be good examples for them, which means we need to cease responding in anger to them. One of the best ways to reduce bad behavior is to encourage good. Jesus taught through the words of Isaiah that “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (3 Nephi 22:13). Peace in our homes and hearts comes when we are taught of the Lord. Peace comes through testimony and the Spirit as we strive to follow Jesus.

I started this post this morning and then after stake conference watched a new Mormon Channel music video that I feel is appropriate here.

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.”

Reanalysis: How Many Children do the Seventy Have?

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This post is an update of my previous analysis of the number of children of the seventy. The following table includes all 69 members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy (as of 10/04/2013) sorted by age, youngest to oldest. You can click on a name to be taken to a short biographical sketch for each member of the Seventy.

Seventy # Children
Michael John U. Teh 3
Edward Dube 4
Carlos A. Godoy 4
José A. Teixeira 3
Patrick Kearon 4
Scott D. Whiting 5
Anthony D. Perkins 6
Kevin R. Duncan 5
5
W. Christopher Waddell 4
Arnulfo Valenzuela 3
Ulisses Soares 3
Michael T. Ringwood 5
Jose L. Alonso 2
Paul B. Pieper 6
Marcus B. Nash 5
James J. Hamula 6
Kevin W. Pearson 6
Yoon Hwan Choi 3
Carl B. Cook 5
Craig C. Christensen 4
Erich W. Kopischke 7
Eduardo Gavarret 3
David S. Baxter 4
Rafael E. Pino 3
Jorge F. Zeballos 5
Paul V. Johnson 9
Shayne M. Bowen 7
Brent H. Nielson 6
Ian S. Ardern 4
S. Gifford Nielsen 6
Benjamin De Hoyos 6
Gerrit W. Gong 4
Juan A. Uceda 5
Kazuhiko Yamashita 6
Lynn G. Robbins 7
Christoffel Golden Jr. 4
Walter F. González 4
Bruce D. Porter 4
Dale G. Renlund 1
Joseph W. Sitati 5
LeGrand R. Curtis Jr. 5
Ronald A. Rasband 5
David F. Evans 8
Robert C. Gay 7
L. Whitney Clayton 7
Richard J. Maynes 4
Enrique R. Falabella 5
Donald L. Hallstrom 4
Claudio R. M. Costa 4
Steven E. Snow 4
Lawrence E. Corbridge 5
C. Scott Grow 8
Claudio D. Zivic 5
Allan F. Packer 8
Mervyn B. Arnold 6
Craig A. Cardon 8
Larry Echo Hawk 6
W. Craig Zwick 4
Stanley G. Ellis 9
Francisco J. Viñas 3
Daniel L. Johnson 6
Tad R. Callister 6
Don R. Clarke 6
Carlos H. Amado 5
William R. Walker 5
John B. Dickson 8
Paul E. Koelliker 7
F. Michael Watson 12

In order to start breaking down these data I think it is important to investigate some basic information about the numbers. First, the range of children is 1-12, meaning the fewest number of children is 1 and the most is 12. The total number of children of the 69 members of the Presidency of the Seventy and First Quorum of the Seventy is 361. This gives a mean number of children as 5.23 (s.d. = 1.85) with a median of 5 and a mode (most common number) of 5. Because all these values are basically the same, it is a good indicator that the distribution of the data is roughly normal. A quick calculation of the skewness and kurtosis reveals that this is the case: skewness = 0.80, kurtosis = 1.71. The data are “normal” enough to warrant further parametric analyses.

For those who prefer graphical representations here’s a bar chart (click on it for a larger image) sorted differently than the table above with most senior Seventy (not necessarily the oldest) at the bottom. A number of children X seniority trend does not seem obvious.

Children of 1st Quorum of Seventy Sorted by Reverse Seniority

Now, sorting the Seventy by age yields a graph with what looks like an age X children interaction but before I start that analysis, I need to provide a little background information.

Children of Seventy Sorted by Age

There appear to be about two outliers (one Seventy with 1 child and one with 12 children). However, I will include them in the analyses because I have sampled the entire population of living, non-emeritus members of the First Quorum of the Seventy (and Presidency of the Seventy, who were all members of the First Quorum of Seventy before their calls to the Presidency) so removing a couple Seventy (3% of the sample) just because they might be outliers would be misleading about the distribution of the actual population (i.e., the sample is the entire population).

Now back to the bar graph of the number of children of the Seventy when the Seventy are sorted by age. Now it looks like there might be a difference in the number of children between the oldest and youngest Seventies. When I correlated year born with year called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, there was – no surprise – a significant (nonparametric) correlation (rho = 0.317, p=.008). This was run as nonparametric due to non-normality of distributions of year called. Because there is not a perfect correlation, the change to sorting by age rather than seniority seemed to make a qualitative difference. Now is there a quantitative difference in number of children between the oldest and youngest Seventies?

There is a significant correlation between age and number of children (r = 0.44, p < 0.001). That’s quite a bit higher a correlation coefficient compared to the one I found a few years ago with my original analysis (r = 0.27). Here’s a scatter plot of age X # of children with the trend line shown.

children_seventy_age_scatter

Now I’ll create two groups using a median current age split. The median current age is 60 years old. With this split there are 33 Seventies in the younger group and 36 in the older group (there was an even number of 60 year old Seventies so I put half into each group). Running an independent samples t-test yields a significant result (mean of younger group = 4.73, mean of older group = 5.69; t=-2.23, p = 0.03). Again, age seems to be a factor in the number of children that the Seventies have. When correlating number of children with how many years the Seventies have been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, there is a nonsignificant result (r = 0.02, p = 0.89). Therefore we can with some certainty rule out seniority (this just means age does not really enter in to when men are called into the First Quorum of the Seventy).

Now is it just age? When we enter whether or not the member of the First Quorum of the Seventy was born in the U.S. (29/69 were born outside the U.S.), we see a significant group difference in number of children (t = -4.24, p < 0.001) with those born outside the U.S. having fewer children (mean = 4.24, s.d. = 1.19) than those who were born in the U.S. (mean = 5.95, s.d. 1.92). So the U.S. average is nearly 6 and the non-U.S. average is just over 4. Those born outside the U.S. are significantly younger than those born within the U.S. (t = -2.01, p = 0.05) with non-U.S. mean = 58.72 (s.d. = 5.52) and U.S. mean = 61.28 (s.d. = 4.96).

To remove the effect of place of origin by splitting the Seventies into non-U.S. born and U.S. born I’ll run correlational analyses to see if the age X children relationship still exists. Within the non-U.S. born group it does (r = 0.42, p = 0.03). The same is true within the U.S.-born group (r = 0.39, p = 0.01). So age really has a significant relationship with number of children both within and without the U.S. (these results differ significantly from my analyses 3.5 years ago).

What does this all mean? It means that as time goes by, younger members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy are having fewer children (but they still have almost 5 children apiece). There is also the effect of whether or not a Seventy was born in the U.S. since those who were not born in the U.S. have fewer children than those born within the U.S. In any case, age seems to be the driving factor at this point (meaning younger have fewer children). This means within the leadership of the Church we see a similar downward trend in the number of children over time (but the Seventy still have many more children than is the norm in the world).

The Great Heresy

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One of the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that seems to offend the most people is one of the most amazing doctrines of the LDS Church. While there is plenty of Biblical support for the doctrine, it is most clear in the teachings of modern-day prophets. But first, let me tell a parable.

Many years ago there lived two kings. Both were goodly kings but both had differing styles of ruling. The first king had a large family and was growing old. Before he died he wanted to pass on his kingdom. His oldest son was a wise and just man who was ever faithful to the commands of his father. He was the obvious choice to inherit the kingdom. The king, however, loved all his children and wanted all to give them the same opportunities that the oldest son had. So the old king gathered his children together and proposed a plan. He told his children that if each of them could demonstrate their loyalty to him, like the oldest son had, then they each would inherit a kingdom. “I will give you everything that I have. I will even give unto you my title,” he told them. “We will expand the kingdom and give each of you a part equal to mine. There is plenty of space outside the bounds of my kingdom, enough space to support a kingdom for each of you. Because I love all of you, my sons and daughters, I want you to become like I am.” Some of the children made poor choices, lost their kingdoms, and were cast out; others were faithful and inherited their kingdoms. To this loving king, each child was precious and each could inherit what he had and become like him.

The second king was also a goodly man. He grew old and wanted to pass on his kingdom. However, he decreed that only the eldest child could inherit what he had. He gathered his children together and said, “I know I have called you my sons and daughters; I know that each of you is born in my image. However, only the eldest will inherit what I have. None of you will have what I have; you will be servants to me and to your elder brother. From henceforth you will no longer be sons and daughters; you will all be servants, at least those of you who are faithful to my decrees. Those who do not what I ask will be cast out.”

Is one of these kings more deserving of love? Is it really loving for the second king to keep his children as servants instead of heirs? Are they really their children if they cannot become like him? Now let’s suppose that the king is immortal but still wants to bless his children. The first will allow his children to become like him, the second will not. Which king then, is really good?

As a father I want my children to grow up and have all the opportunities that I had (and more!). Their growth and success will in no way diminish mine. My children are in my image (“my” being inclusive of my wife). They can grow up and become like I am.

If I plant an acorn and nurture it, I expect it to grow into an oak tree. A kitten will grow into a cat, it will not become an okapi or an emu. We are children of God and can grow up and become like Him. We don’t grow up into something else. Our glory will not be like God’s if we are unfaithful, but we at least will be co-eternal with Him. If we are faithful, we have been promised that we can become like Christ, and thus like our Heavenly Father.

This is a doctrine that receives a lot of animosity from many of those who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Why is this? Before I answer that, let’s look at the doctrine a little more closely as found in the scriptures.

There is no shortage of scripture verses both ancient and modern that establish that God is the Father of our spirits. I recognize that LDS doctrine differs from most other churches’ doctrines in the understanding of the nature of our spirits but  that’s only part of this broader doctrine. If God is the Father of our spirits, then we are His children. Father is not used metaphorically. Why would so many of the authors of the scriptures refer to God as our Father if they really did not mean it? I know that was an appeal to the majority fallacy (i.e., X number of people believe this so it must be true) but why, if we are not really God’s children, why is not He referred solely as Creator or Master or Potter or Shaper or Maker or something like that? Why is there the touching familial title of “Father”? Are we nothing more than God’s creations, made just to worship Him? Or, are we really His children with part of Him in us?

Now on to the scriptures.

Deuteronomy 14:1: “Ye are the children of the Lord your God”

Psalm 82:6: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”

Hosea 1:10: “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.”

Matthew 5:48: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Acts 17:29: “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”

Romans 8:16-17: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

I want to comment on the verse in Romans. Could it be any more clear? “We are the children of God.” What does this mean? “If children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” This is a simple syllogism.

All humankind are children of God.

All children of God are His heirs.

Therefore, all humankind are heirs of God.

There is a condition set on being an heir, namely, faithfulness to God (“suffer with [Christ]”) but it doesn’t change the simple logic and truth. What is an heir? It is “a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person’s death” (Source). In the case of God, who cannot die, an heir is “a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another upon the bestowal of the property or rank at a set time.” As far as I can tell an heir has always meant that. Further, that particular verse of the New Testament is translated virtually identically across all major, reliable, Biblical translations; “heirs” is always used. There is no other word that describes what is meant. So right there we are told that we can inherit what Christ inherited. Christ is God’s Son and is God; if we can become like Christ, the logical implication is obvious. There is no usurping God’s power and authority, it is all divine investiture of His power and authority.

So, either the authors of the scriptures mean what they wrote, or they didn’t. If we actually are not God’s children, then why are we called His children? If we cannot inherit (notice – not usurp, just inherit; if you have infinity and give away infinity, you still have infinity), then why are we called heirs?

I know that some might argue that it’s not supposed to make sense because our ways are not God’s ways but that is the influence of Greek philosophy into the interpretation of Christian doctrine. We can know God, it was the Greeks who argued otherwise. This belief then crept into Christianity after the death of Christ’s original apostles. We can all know God, just as Christ pleaded in John 17.

So what is the great LDS heresy? We believe that we are spirit children of God and can become like Christ, and thus like our Father. We believe that through Christ’s Atonement we can be purified and then blessed with glory and power like unto Christ’s. We believe that it is God’s nature to bless His children so. For those who still balk at this, let me ask a question, “Does God not have the power to give us power and authority similar to His?” In other words, is God able to allow us to inherit what He has; does He have that power? If not, then is God not all powerful? Which God is more loving, one who makes creatures (us) to worship Him forever, or one who has children who can grow up through Christ’s Atonement and become like Him?

We are God’s children; he loves us and wants us to return to Him. He wants us to live worthily and partake of Christ’s Atonement and become joint heirs with Christ. Is this a great heresy? If it is, it’s one that prophets have taught from Biblical to modern times. Really the great heresy is not that LDS Church doctrine declares the theomorphic nature of humankind but that members of the LDS Church actually believe the doctrines contained in the scriptures.

How Many Children Do The (1st Quorum) Seventy Have? A Statistical Exercise

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Update: I’ve provided an updated analysis of the number of children of the Seventy. Read it here.

Background

This post is a follow-up post to my previous statistical analysis of the number of children of the living Apostles. At the time the post was hosted on Blogger; here’s the link at Blogspot as featured by the Mormon Times on April 9, 2010. Much of the information for this post comes from the Church News site with any missing information (the biographical info about the General Authorities is only current to 2008 at that site) coming directly from Ensign biographies of the new general authorities (e.g., this link) or Wikipedia (with verification from church sources).

Question

How many children do the members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy (and Presidency of the Seventy) have?

Analysis

Excuse the long table but there are 62 members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy (plus 7 members of the Presidency of the Seventy, who are also all members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy). These data are sorted based on length of time as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy (i.e., most experience to least).

Name # of Children
Y. Kikuchi 4
M. Jensen 8
C. Amado 5
S. Condie 5
G. Pace 6
K. Johnson 1
C. Samuelson 5
W. C. Zwick 4
J. Dickson 8
J. Jensen 6
B. Hafen 7
G. Coleman 6
C. Pratt 8
F. Vinas 3
L. Robbins 7
R. Rasband 5
D. Hallstrom 4
L. Wickman 5
C. Golden Jr. 4
W. Gonzalez 4
R. Maynes 4
L. W. Clayton 7
S. Snow 4
C. Costa 4
B. Porter 4
U. Soares 3
P. Pieper 6
P. Johnson 9
B. De Hoyos 6
D. Evans 8
C. S. Grow 8
P. Koelliker 7
R. Hinckley 4
A. Perkins 6
M. Nash 5
D. Baxter 4
S. Bowen 7
D. Johnson 6
K. Hilbig 6
M. Teh 3
E. Kopischke 7
E. Falabella 5
C. Zivic 5
O. Tenorio 5
G. Causse 5
C. Godoy 4
J. Teixeira 3
M. Aidukaitis 5
J. Hamula 6
E. Gavarret 3
K. Pearson 6
C. Christensen 4
R. Pino 3
G. Stevenson 4
J. Zeballos 5
L. Corbridge 5
A. Packer 8
W. Walker 5
F. M. Watson 12
Y. Choi 3
M. Ringwood 5
B. Neilson 6
D. Renlund 1
M. Arnold 6
J. Sitati 5
P. Kearon 4
K. Duncan 5
G. Gong 4
J. Uceda 5

In order to start breaking down these data I think it is important to investigate some basic information about the numbers. First, the range of children is 1-12, meaning the fewest number of children is 1 and the most is 12. The total number of children of the 69 members of the Presidency of the Seventy and First Quorum of the Seventy is 360. This gives a mean number of children as 5.22 with a median value of 5 and a mode (most common number) of 5. Because all these values are basically the same, it is a good indicator that the distribution of the data is roughly normal. A quick calculation of the skewness and kurtosis reveals that this is the case: skewness = 0.69, kurtosis = 1.99. While the data are slightly leptokurtic, they are “normal” enough to warrant further analyses.

First, here is a graphical presentation of these raw data (click on the image to view full-size; warning, it has large dimensions). The bar graph has the longest serving Seventy at the bottom (Seventy who were sustained at the same time are then sorted by age):

Bar Graph of the Number of Children the 1st Quorum of the Seventy Have as of May 2010

Unlike the graph from my post about the number of children of the Apostles, there does not appear to be any obvious split based on seniority. [As an aside, there does not appear to be a significant difference between the number of children the Apostles have and the number of children the Seventy have, although the sample size is limited for the Apostle group; p = 0.70]. Here is the graph from my post about the apostles, just for comparison (the orientation and type of graph differences do not matter for this comparison):

For the Seventy, there does not seem to be a trend when sorted by seniority but what if we sort the Seventy by their current age and graph the number of children they have?

There appear to be about three outliers (two Seventy with 1 child and one with 12 children). However, without running a formal “outlier analysis” of these, I cannot say for certain whether or not they are statistically significant outliers. In any case, I will include them in the analyses because I have sampled the entire population of living, non-emeritus members of the First Quorum of the Seventy (and Presidency of the Seventy, who were all members of the First Quorum of Seventy before their calls to the Presidency) so removing a few Seventy (nearly 5% of the sample) just because they might be outliers would be misleading about the distribution of the actual population.

Now back to the bar graph of the number of children of the Seventy when the Seventy are sorted by age. Now it looks like there might be a difference in the number of children between the oldest and youngest Seventies. When I correlated year born with year called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, there was – no surprise – a significant correlation (r = 0.652, p<.001). Because there is not a perfect correlation, the change to sorting by age rather than seniority seemed to make a qualitative difference. Now is there a quantitative difference in number of children between the oldest and youngest Seventies?

Before I answer that, I want to point out that there is a restricted range in the ages of the Seventy. They attain emeritus status around the age 70, which makes the oldest possible active Seventy about age 70. With the Apostles, they never attain emeritus status until they die. What this means is the ages of the Seventy appear to have less variation than the ages of the Apostles do. But is there really a difference in the spread of ages? The mean age of the Apostles is 75.47 (st. dev = 9.68); the mean age of the Seventy is 58.90 (st. dev. = 6.78). The variation in Apostle’s ages (standard deviation) is about 13% of the mean age of the apostles and the standard deviation of the ages of the Seventies is 11.5%. That is not very different when presented that way; meaning that even though the range of ages of the Seventies is restricted “artificially” with a ceiling of 70, there is still a good amount of variation in ages. This variance in ages of the Seventy allows me to make a reasonable assumption that any results are not inflated by a restriction of range (although they could be but they could also be deflated by the restricted range).

Let me present a result that partially answers the question of if there is a difference in the numer of children based on age. Here is a scatter plot of the number of children by age of the Seventy:

Notice the slight upward trend (older Seventies tend to have more children). It is only an R^2 of 0.07 though (age of the Seventy explains only 7% of the variance in the number of children), which is not a large value. Is this a significant trend? Yes (r = 0.27, p = 0.03; N = 69). However, let me remove the outliers (Elders Renlund and K. Johnson with 1 child each and Elder Watson with 12 children) just for the sake of completeness (they really should not be counted as outliers but bear with me). Here is the scatter plot (note: the scale has changed):

The R^2 value (variance) increased slightly. Now if I rerun the correlation (with N = 66) we receive an r = 0.31, p = 0.01. Removing the outliers improved the trend! I’ll keep all Seventy in all further analyses though. In either case, it appears that younger Seventies tend to have fewer children than older Seventies have.

Now I’ll create two groups using a median current age split. The median current age is 58 years old. With this split there are 35 Seventies in the younger group and 34 in the older group. Running an independent samples t-test yields a non-significant but trending result (mean of younger group = 4.83, mean of older group = 5.62; t=-1.821, p = 0.07). Again, age seems to be a factor in the number of children that the Seventies have. When correlating number of children with how many years the Seventies have been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, there is a nonsignificant result (r = 0.04, p = 0.76). Therefore we can with some certainty rule out seniority.

What do all these results mean, other than I am a bit of a statistics geek? We could surmise that the number of children that the General Authorities have seems to parallel the decreasing numbers seen worldwide, albeit very slowly. However, the average number of children of the current members of the First Quorum of the Seventy is 5, which is considerably higher than rates seen at present worldwide (although, that is not an entirely fair comparison because all/most of the Seventies are done having children – I’m just making an educated guess about that – so they are of a different generation than the current one(s) having children). However, members of the younger group of Seventy still have nearly 5 children on average. Are you convinced of age explaining the number of children?

You might be pretty convinced about the link between age and number of children. I was pretty convinced by this point. However, when doing research or an analysis it is important to think of other things that might be explanations for the results you found. In other words, what might be another factor that affects the number of children the Seventy have?

What about whether or not the Seventy were born in the United States of America? 40 of the 69 Seventy (58%) were born in the U.S. and 29 (42%) were not born in the U.S. I was surprised at how many of the Seventy are from different countries but it was a trend I noticed as the names of new General Authorities have been read in General Conference over the past few years. We are part of a growing worldwide church that has members in nearly all of the 200 or so nations of the world. When I correlated the number of children with my born in the U.S. or not variable, there was a significant result with the U.S. born Seventies having more children than those not born in the U.S. (r = -0.39, p = 0.001). An independent samples t-test confirms this result (mean of U.S. born = 5.83, mean of foreign born = 4.38; t = 3.50, p = 0.001). This result is still significant if I remove the 3 outliers (t = 3.79, p < 0.001). So is it age or place of birth?

Here is a similar bar graph to ones presented before before but grouped by country of origin (U.S. / non-U.S.) and sorted by age (youngest to oldest). Notice any trends?

First, I wonder if there is a link between birthplace and age. Maybe the youngest Seventies are more likely to not be born in the U.S. and that explains the results. Running a quick t-test yields the following result: mean of U.S. born = 60.20, mean of non-U.S. born = 57.10; p = 0.06. It appears there is a trend for the foreign born Seventy to be younger than their U.S. counterparts. Now, I will covary out where the Seventies were born in age and number of children analyses. A partial correlation (current age by number of children, controlling for place of birth) negates the significance of the results (r = 0.20, p = 0.11). An ANOVA (age by children) with place of birth as the covariate is also not significant (df = 23; F = 1.17, p = 0.32). This leaves the picture a bit hazy now. The number of children is not necessarily related to age, although it seems to be partially age-related, but it is not entirely explained by country of birth either (that only accounts for a proportion of total variance in number of children; plus, the foreign born Seventy tend to be younger than the U.S. born Seventy so place of birth results might be muddied by age differences). The number of children seems to be explained better by country of birth than age though.

I’ll do an additional analysis to try and verify this. Looking at just the U.S. born Seventies, there is no longer a relationship between age and the number of children (r = 0.11, p = 0.49). This is also the case for the foreign born Seventies (r = -0.09, p = 0.64). This means that within the two place of birth groups, age does not appear to be a significant factor in the number of children.

The Take-home Message

So where does this leave us? If we ignore country of origin, age seems to be a significant factor in the number of children (i.e., younger Seventies have fewer children, on average) but when we factor in country of origin (again, this is a binary classification – U.S. or non-U.S.), that relationship disappears. That means the number of children the Seventies have appears to be more of a country of origin effect than an age effect; however, we cannot completely rule out age. This is evident in that there is a trend for the foreign born Seventies to be younger than the U.S. born Seventies (mean of U.S. born = 60.20, mean of non-U.S. born = 57.10; p = 0.06). Anyway, country of origin is a significant factor but it is muddied by age differences. Clearly, there are a lot of other factors that I did not investigate that influence the number of children that General Authorities have.

I hope you enjoyed this analysis. Let me know of any errors you might see or if you have any requests for further analyses. Please feel free to leave a comment and offer any opinions you might have.

How Many Children Do the Apostles Have? A Statistical Exercise

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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 Innocence of a Child – Part 1

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“Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy” (Moroni 8:19).

Anyone who gazes lovingly at an infant sees a spark of divinity. Not all realize what they see but most recognize the innocence and goodness of infants. Some, however, do not fully understand the power of the Atonement (not that any of us “fully” do or will in this life!) and so do not understand that little children are declared innocent through the blood of the Lamb. They are clean and pure before God and absolved as we are all of Adam’s transgression. Little children receive the pure mercies of God. For those of us who are older, we receive the conditional mercies of God. Some parts of the Lord’s grace and mercy are unconditional such as salvation from death. On the other hand, even that is conditional because we had to keep our first estates and choose to follow God’s plan of salvation and come here to earth. God’s mercy is also conditional because it is based on the goodness of the Savior’s life. In other words, the mercy of the atonement was conditional on the Savior offering himself as the unblemished sacrificial lamb.

There stands a great balance in heaven. When our lives are placed in the scale to each of us it is said, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting” (Daniel 5:27). With that we are subject to the demands of justice. Each of us is weighed down with the chains of justice. Justice is not always negative; in fact, justice is what allows us eternal freedom and progression. However, none of us as imperfect humanity can satisfy the demands of justice. We all fall short. We all incur great debt, a debt that none of us can repay. We are all like the servant who owed his master the king 10,000 talents (Matt. 18:23-35). That is an enormous sum none of us can repay. As merciful as God is, He cannot deny justice. Justice is a law that cannot be broken. The debt must be repaid.

There is One who is willing to pay the price of our sins. He not only is willing but also able to pay the debt that hangs in the balance. He is able to pay the price for all of us; He can pay for all of our debts combined, and then some. In this way is the debt satisfied. He fulfills the law of mercy while paying the debt due justice. Jesus Christ was the only One who could pay the price of sin and death. He only could unlock the way to Heaven to let us in. Cecil Alexander wrote of Jesus’ sacrifice for us:

There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
What pains he had to bear,
But we believe it was for us
He hung and suffered there.

There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin.
He only could unlock the gate
Of heav’n and let us in.

Oh, dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
And trust in his redeeming blood,
And try his works to do. (Source).

Puritanism Parallels with Mormonism: Preparation for the Restoration – Part 4

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We read in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness” (D&C; 121:34-36). Fore-ordination does not have anything to do with who will be able to return to live with Heavenly Father again, unlike the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Fore-ordination and predestination are similar but they do differ by degrees.

The LDS doctrine of salvation is quite liberal, especially compared to the Calvinism of the Puritans – however, it’s not our doctrine, it’s God’s. That is, Mormons did not create the doctrine, God did. We believe that all who have ever lived upon the earth will have the opportunity to receive and accept the ordinances required to return to live again with our Father in Heaven. All people will eventually have the necessary ordinances performed for them but not all will accept (or possibly even be able to accept based on their lives here) the ordinances. We believe that all children who died before the age of accountability (age eight) will return to live with God again – this is because little children are whole and incapable of committing sin (see Moroni 8:8; Mosiah 15:25) because the Savior’s Atonement freed them from sin; they are declared blameless by God through the power and grace and mercy of the Atonement.

That is radically different from Puritan beliefs about children; they thought children were full of sin and mischief and evil. Children, to the Puritans, had to be “broken.” LDS doctrine holds children to be inherently good. Christ also taught we should become as little children (see Matt. 18:3). While LDS doctrine about salvation is liberal – we believe that most will receive some degree of glory (they at least kept their first estate and chose in the pre-mortal realm to follow our Father’s plan of salvation by coming to earth) but not all will live with God forever more – LDS doctrine is not as liberal as some other Christian faiths, such as Universalists who believe that all will be saved; God’s power is so great that He will bring all humankind back to Him. On a continuum, LDS doctrine is between the Calvinists and the Universalists.

Calvinism in New England espoused “Five Points” of doctrine, similar conceptually to our thirteen Articles of Faith (i.e., these Five Points are some of the basic and distinctive Puritan doctrines just like the LDS Articles of Faith cover the basic doctrines of Mormonism). These Five Points were: “[1] the natural condition of humanity was total depravity,…[2] salvation was beyond mortal striving,…[3] grace was predestined only for a few,…[4] most mortals were condemned to suffer eternal damnation, and [5] no earthy effort could save them” (p.112). That seems to be quite a depressing set of dogma! However, the Puritans did not live depressing lives – although they were austere in many ways – but they were never sure of their salvation. Their glasses of salvation were never more than half empty. They constantly sought and desired the mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we all should. Another quote will further establish the Puritan views of salvation. About one Puritan it is written, “Always before, when [Thomas] wept for his sins, he had kept some feeling of human merit. Now he knows he has none, that the natural man, even when seemingly a good man, is only a beautiful abomination, for the natural man has had no merit since Adam’s disobedience, and Hell is his just destination” (Simpson as cited by Fischer, p.116).

But does not that passage sound a bit like King Benjamin? “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19). There are similarities between Puritanism and the first part of King Benjamin’s statement but there is a key difference. King Benjamin stated that we need to become as a child in order to overcome the natural man!

Children are naturally good; the natural man is a learned and developed state, not an inherent state. We learn to be natural men and women! We all give in to the natural man at some point but we all start out good and clean and pure. I do have to point out that it is only through the atonement of Christ the Lord that we become saintly, or saved and sanctified. Again, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe that people are inherently good – the Puritans did not. The Savior’s Atonement freed us from the transgression of Adam. Joseph Smith wrote, “We believe that man will be punished for his own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (Second Article of Faith). I believe Joseph wrote that in part because it was different from the prevailing beliefs of many of the religions of his day.

Reference

Fischer, D. H. (1989). Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Puritanism Parallels with Mormonism: Preparation for the Restoration – Part 2

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Because of their beliefs, many Puritans viewed themselves as standing as examples to their neighbors – they felt they should be lights unto others. Many of these Puritans viewed their towns in the flat fields of eastern England as spiritual cities upon hills or as candles on candlesticks, a view they would carry with them to the New World. That’s a view that many Americans incorporated for America as a whole (based on Puritan influence). It’s a view members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold of themselves and the church. We talk of raising an ensign to the nations; we have temples which are lights upon hills to all around. We believe our lives should be as lights unto others. Being a light unto others is not done in an attitude of condescension but rather as a solemn responsibility for fulfilling the sacred covenants we make as members of the LDS church. It is the beckoning call of, “Come, partake of milk and honey without cost.”

In addition to the Protestant feelings of many people in the eastern parts of England, anti-monarchical political feelings were also prevalent in that part of England. Numerous peasant uprisings occurred in eastern England. During the English Civil War, when many sought to reject the monarchy and establish a parliamentary government system, the strongest support came from that eastern part of England. These were people who sought not only religious freedom but also political freedom. This was an important desire that would eventually lead to the founding of the United States of America. Latter-day Saints, like the Puritans, had and have a strong desire for political freedoms (i.e., democracy). Even as the government of the United States failed to protect the persecuted Mormons in the 1830s and 1840s (and later), Latter-day Saints were some of the staunchest supporters of the government. We believe that the founding of the United States was inspired by God; prophets had preached about it thousands of years before (see 1 Nephi 13:17-19). The United States existed in part so that the Restoration of the gospel could occur – even so, the Church barely survived in this land of freedom (eventually they had to leave the country for a while to gain religious freedom). After the prophet Joseph’s assassination, some scorners of the prophet prophesied the demise of Mormonism. Yet the stone cut without hands did not and will not fail (see Daniel 2:34,45; D&C; 65:2). The Puritans helped loosen that rock from the mountainside.

When many Puritans started moving from England to the New World, they left largely as family units – more so than any other concurrent migration. Family was very important to these Puritans. They viewed marriage as a covenant relationship between two willing partners (i.e., marriages were typically not arranged). They had some of the highest marriage rates in the world – many towns in the 1600s had marriage rates of close to 100%. Husbands and wives “worked very hard at perfecting their relationship, in a mutual effort to achieve love and harmony within the household.” In addition, they also had a strong love of genealogy; they cared about their family names and their hearts were drawn to their ancestors. Their love and respect for family was strong – they viewed their families as part of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Puritans in Massachusetts also had very large families. In some communities over a span of years they had an average of almost 10 children per family! While many children died in infancy and in childhood, they still had many children survive. Family was important. Fathers also played a strong role in the raising and care of their children – they were very involved in their education, training, discipline, and care. Many of these are similar to LDS beliefs and practices about families.

Link to part 1 of this essay.

Reference

Fischer, D. H. (1989). Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Lessons from Death, Part 5

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The great prophet Enoch had a vision that spanned the ages of the earth. He saw many people in many times. He saw the great wickedness upon the face of the earth. He saw the flood in the time of Noah wipe out all the people of the earth except for Noah and his family. Enoch’s response to this vision was similar to many of our responses to death. “And as Enoch saw this, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens: I will refuse to be comforted; but the Lord said unto Enoch: Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look. And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life?” (Moses 7:44-45). The blood of the Lamb that was slain sanctifies us, which sanctification is not just a purification of our sins but also a change in our very beings. Sorrow is replaced with exultation.

Joseph Smith, while a prisoner in the Liberty Jail pleaded, “O God, where are thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?… Remember thy suffering saints, O our God: and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever.” (D&C; 121:1,6). In reply the Lord comforted Joseph: “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C; 121:7-8). What comfort comes from Him who descended below all and rose triumphant from the grave, victorious over death! The prophet Joseph Smith and his wife Emma experienced the loss of multiple children. Surely their grief was intense as they buried their little children amid the turmoil of the Restoration. Joseph said, “The Lord takes many away even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on the earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 196-197).

Link to part 4 of this essay.