A Vague Post on Joseph Fielding Smith, Evolution, and Other Sides of His Story

People are multi-faceted and complex. It’s very easy to develop an attitude of putting either a halo or a black hat on someone from one incident, one aspect of them, particularly when it’s a historical figure. It can be hard to get a full picture of someone. Elder Maxwell once said that the tragedy of Elder McConkie was that he had the most fantastic sense of humor, and no one in the Church knew it. (See my old post here.) It’s… Read more

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 40: 3Ne 16, 20-30 (Rough post)

I’m on the road and having technical problems. So I’m posting this rough, now, and will try to clean up when I get home tonight or tomorrow morning. Outline 3 Nephi 20- Miraculous production of bread and wine; Jesus interprets Isaiah. 3 Nephi 21- Jesus continues interpreting Isaiah. 3 Nephi 22- Jesus quotes Isaiah 54 3 Nephi 23 Jesus asks to see the records, to give them more. Rebukes Nephi. Tells them to include Samuel. 3 Nephi 24-25 Gives them… Read more

“Teaching Bible Stories”- History vs. Fiction in the Improvement Era

The Improvement Era in September 1925 ran a short article in the Editor’s Table called  “Teaching Bible Stories.” To set the stage a little, this was 14 years after the 1911 Crisis at BYU over evolution and how to read scripture (see here as well), and immediately after the 1925 Scopes Trial over teaching evolution. I included an excerpt and  little analysis here in the larger context of Elder Stephen Richards May 1925 address to BYU. I’d like to revisit it. Recently… Read more

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 39: 3Ne 17-19

These chapters constitute the end of Day 1 of Jesus’ visit (ends in 19:3) and the beginning of Day 2 (19:4-26:15) Outline 17- Jesus, moved by the people, stays longer than planned (or so the text appears to say). He addresses the multitude, heals people, prays. 18- Bread and wine for sacrament, various instructions and teachings, then Jesus ascends into heaven. 18:5-7, 10-16 to disciples (“administrative” instructions) 18:18-25 to multitude 18:27-35 back to disciples 19- Everyone goes home, tells their… Read more

An update and book preview

I wrote four draft posts on Saturday, two for Gospel Doctrine lessons, and two on other topics (reading the Bible with children, and one on Chaim Potok, Isaac Asimov, and reading scripture). I meant to get up early and post the next Gospel Doctrine lesson before anyone on the east coast got to Church, but things happen. Now that it’s too late for anyone English speaking today, I’ll finish it later. I still am uncertain what I’ll be doing next year for D&C,… Read more

The Backstory to Elder Eyring’s Age of the Earth Comment and Creationism

Elder Eyring told a story in this recent General Conference. My father… was a seasoned and wise holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Once he was asked by an Apostle to write a short note about the scientific evidence for the age of the earth. He wrote it carefully, knowing that some who might read it had strong feelings that the earth was much younger than the scientific evidence suggested. I still remember my father handing me what he had written… Read more

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38: 3Nephi 12-15

Today we enter into a very interesting section of the Book of Mormon. Like the Isaiah chapters, it closely parallels a section of the Bible. Like the Isaiah chapters, there are some subtle differences. 3Ne 12-15 parallels the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7. It’s been lined up so that if you want to compare verses (and you should!), subtract 7 from the Book of Mormon chapter number to get the right verse in Matthew, e.g. 3 Nephi 12:48  ≈ Matthew 5:48. Let’s compare these. KJV Mat… Read more

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 37: 3Ne 8-10

I wanted to get this up quickly, and will try to return and add to it. Lots going on here. I’ve talked about the power of art before, but this bears repeating. while art and artists are often credited with making historical, and particularly religious, ideas come alive and plainer to understand, an inherent problem enters when the language of religious art becomes translated into the language of history by its viewer. What we see becomes what we believe, and often,… Read more

BoM Gospel Doctrine Lesson 36: 3 Nephi1-7

First, it’s that time of year wherein I start thinking about January, which means D&C/Church History… but mostly D&C. I always get excited when we hit D&C, because it means we’re almost to the Old Testament again. In the meantime, I have to figure out how to handle D&C here. This is the book I have read and taught the least, and I have virtually no notes to build from. It doesn’t help that the manual is organized not by… Read more

Why Science is (Mostly) Powerless Against Young Earth Creationism: A Personal Narrative

Young Earth Creationism (YEC) is, ironically, relatively young. I’ve written about its origins at Religion&Politics (start in paragraph 4), with a follow-up at Times&Seasons. A recent article in Scientific American highlights the arrival of Young Earth Creationism in Europe. I take issue with one paragraph. We have learned that confronting creationism is not a scientific matter but rather a political one. To engage creationism it does not suffice to line up all the evidence and arguments in support of evolutionary theory. Instead, scientists have… Read more

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