October 18, 2018

    Sometimes I learn really valuable things from my students.  Today, the students in my “Classical Arabic Texts” course alerted me to The Mideast Beast, a wonderful news site of which I had never before heard.  Here are two representative recent articles from it:   “Hamas Leader to Move to Israel After Discovering He’s 1/1024 Jewish”   Does everybody notice the allusion there to American politics?   “Iran Just Loving Saudi Situation in Turkey”   And here’s an important… Read more

October 18, 2018

    “We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures. .  .  If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the Universe was created for man to live in.”  (John A. O’Keefe [d. 2000], NASA planetary scientist)   For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a… Read more

October 18, 2018

    My bi-weekly Deseret News column now typically appears in the print edition on Thursdays, and then, also, in the online edition of LDS Living.  Some people tell me that that is a positive development.  I’m not so sure, myself.  But that’s the way it is nowadays.   Anyway, here’s the latest:   “What Do the Witnesses to the Book of Mormon Prove?”   ***   A comment from the always worthwhile Jeff Lindsay:   “The Surprisingly Modern Book of… Read more

October 17, 2018

    The capital of the ancient Egyptian Old Kingdom was in Memphis, to the south of the modern city of Cairo, which was only founded in AD 969.   Relatively little is left of Memphis today.  The Egyptians were acutely aware of the transience of mortal life, and they seem to have been much more concerned to build permanent buildings in the necropolis areas that pertained to the capital city — Giza and Saqqara.  Whereas Memphis was built on… Read more

October 17, 2018

    Here are some places where I’ll be speaking over the next month and a half or so:   Saturday, 20 October 2018; Calgary, Alberta, Canada: I’ll be one of the speakers at a YSA “Share Goodness” Conference in Calgary, Alberta, which will be held at 2021 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 0G2. My understanding is that I’m scheduled to speak from 2:00 PM until 3:30 PM.  My topic will be “Evidences of the Book of Mormon.”   Sunday, 21 October 2018;… Read more

October 17, 2018

    Growing up in San Gabriel, California, I saw Mount Wilson — a peak in the San Gabriel Mountains — on most days.  It was the dominant feature of the local horizon, as well as my reliable indicator of north.  Its most obvious and striking features were the television and radio antennas, but it was also easy (when we were in the right location and when the smog wasn’t too bad!) to see at least some of its astronomical… Read more

October 17, 2018

    I realize that my use of the term may jar some just a bit, but I’ve always thought of the Restored Gospel as a form of religious humanism.   Please don’t think of the common modern use of the word humanism as shorthand for the more precise term secular humanism.  That’s not what I have in mind at all.   What I do have in mind is probably something more like the exuberant, newly confident Renaissance humanism of… Read more

October 17, 2018

    The Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, lays out a very simple “natural theology,” according to which the physical universe itself, the natural world, is seen as a sign that can point people to God if they will only look.  Here are two representative passages:   “It is God who splits open the seed and the fruit stone:  He brings out the living from the dead and the dead from the living—that is God—so how can you turn… Read more

October 16, 2018

    And they’re the same guy.   (Whether he ever actually went to bars, I have no idea whatever.)   Theodosius Grygorovych Dobzhansky (1900–1975) was a prominent Ukrainian-American geneticist and evolutionary biologist — he came to the United States in 1927, at the age of 27 — who taught successively at Columbia University, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and Rockefeller University, and then — after the death of his wife, Natasha, and his own retirement — went out to join his former… Read more

October 16, 2018

    Over the years, I’ve run into the comment — often, but not always, from embittered and hostile ex-Mormons — that Mormonism (a term that I’ll use in certain ways until I think of a better one) is a shallow faith, lacking any and all intellectual or cultural merit, satisfying only to unreflective middlebrow business types (if not, indeed, only to dimwits).   Some years ago, Thomas Cahill was attempting, in his best-selling book How the Irish Saved Civilization, to… Read more

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