Final Thanksgiving thoughts for 2017

    First off, I want to express my gratitude for all of the good that so many of you do.  And particularly, today, I want to thank those who have been supportive of the Interpreter Foundation — as writers, donors, editors, media specialists, volunteers, and so forth.  I’m especially grateful to Bryce Haymond for the work he did, in remarkably short order, of designing our website and getting us up online and, for years, of running our online operations, and… Read more

Notes on “simple” life

    A few more notes, maybe appropriate — in their capacity to induce wonder — for a Thanksgiving Day:     Living matter, unlike non-living matter, processes energy, stores information, and replicates or reproduces itself.  In this regard, whales and roses and snakes and hawks and redwoods are dramatically different from the inanimate nature around them.  The performance of these common biological functions requires a certain level—indeed, a remarkably high degree—of complexity. “Molecular biology,” writes Michael Denton, has shown… Read more

Thoughts for Thanksgiving (8)

    Happy Thanksgiving to everybody out there!   ***   My column for Thanksgiving Day 2017 has now been published in the Deseret News:   “The miracle of Thanksgiving pies”   ***   This is a Thanksgiving-season column that I wrote for Provo’s Daily Herald roughly ten or twelve years ago:   Modern people, especially city-dwellers, are often far removed from nature.  Pollution and the glare of city lights obscure the stars.  Air conditioning and automobiles allow us to… Read more

Thoughts for Thanksgiving (7)

    This is the column that I published in the Deseret News on Thanksgiving Day 2011:   Autumn harvest festivals were and are common across Europe, and, as every American schoolchild once learned, our modern Thanksgiving celebrations descend from a meal shared between Massachusetts Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621. It was not until 3 October 1863, however, that a uniform national holiday was established by presidential proclamation.  Writing well into the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared that The… Read more

So . . . Was he or wasn’t he?

    Some additional notes:   So, the impatient reader is asking by now, just what are we to think of Muhammad? Was he a genuine prophet, or was he not? My answer to that is a clear and resolute “I don’t know.” Or perhaps a decisive “Yes and no.” Parley P. Pratt, who was enthusiastic in his praise of Muhammad and Islam, observed that the blessings of the priesthood were not intended to flow through the line of Ishmael,… Read more

Life Out There

    This article is interesting not only for its main assertion, expressed in its title, but for its illustration of the drawbacks of scientific “compartmentalization” and of the benefits that can accrue when scientists from divergent fields talk seriously to one another:   “Ocean-covered planets may not be the places to search for life”   Here’s an additional related and partially overlapping article:   “Exoplanet hunters rethink search for alien life: Astronomers expand ideas of how chemistry and geology… Read more

Thoughts for Thanksgiving (6)

    Here’s a column that I published in the Deseret News on Thanksgiving Day 2010:   Most modern Americans are so far removed from farming—we get our milk from cartons, our meat neatly packaged at the grocery store, our grains in cereal boxes, our cranberries in cans—that we easily forget the agricultural roots of Thanksgiving Day.  But Thanksgiving is a harvest festival, and similar celebrations of bounteous crops (always an uncertainty) have occurred for millennia in such places as… Read more

Singing hymns to . . . well, NOTHING

    How very, very sad:   “Global Atheist Convention Called ‘Reason To Hope’ Cancelled Because No One Wants To Go”   Wouldn’t you think that people who’re convinced that their few years on Earth are all they’ve got would want to devote some of their rapidly dwindling time to gathering with like-minded hopers?  To being reminded of the glorious good news of atheism before a lethal accident or a fatal illness terminates their existence?   What greater “reason to hope” could there… Read more

Mormonism in the Middle

    In a portion of the manuscript that I posted here a few days ago, I commented that Latter-day Saint theological interactions with Muslims will be easier to the extent that we can say positive things about Muhammad, whom Muslims esteem very, very highly — or, at least, to the degree that we’re not obliged to say negative things about him.  Here, I continue that discussion:   Fortunately, we can say good things without cynicism or pre­tense. From its earliest… Read more

A reflection on one person’s response to my two posts about Darwinism and atheism

    Briefly, when I was a boy, there was a man in our southern California ward who had converted to Mormonism.  (I seem to dimly recall that he was a former Catholic.)  I can still see his face in my mind, and I remember that he spoke quite ungrammatically, which suggested that, while he was a kind and pleasant person, he wasn’t a well educated one.   I don’t recall his name, but I distinctly remember a talk that he… Read more

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