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

Is Darwinism necessarily atheistic? (Part Two)

    Yet more from my notes:   The late Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002), Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University and an enormously popular popularizer of evolutionary biology, though himself an agnostic (and a Marxist), passionately denied that evolutionary theory was necessarily atheistic, invoking the memory of his third-grade teacher, Mrs, McInerney, whose practice it was to rap the knuckles of pupils who said or did things that she regarded as especially stupid: To say it for all my colleagues… Read more

Thoughts for Thanksgiving (5)

    This is the column that I published in the Deseret News on Thanksgiving Day 2016:   It’s not insignficant that the verbs “to think” and “to thank” (compare German “denken” and “danken”) share the same linguistic root.  The scriptures are replete with exhortations to “remember,” to reflect, to thank:   “O give thanks unto the Lord,” says the psalmist (105:1-5), “call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.  Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him:… Read more

Near-death experiences and belief in God

    Near-death experiences, while they do not directly demonstrate the existence of God, strongly seem to suggest that the universe is the kind of place in which it makes abundant sense to believe that God exists. The actress Jane Seymour would surely agree.  She says that her experience “confirmed her belief in God.”[1]  As one man, who survived a major automobile accident, told the Gallup researchers, “I now know, without a shadow of doubt, that God . . …. Read more

The disappearance of mind

    The insistence of some militantly reductionist adherents of naturalism, that “mind” is merely a more or less illusory product of purely chemical/physical processes, that consciousness and free will are hallucinations, seems to me transparently self-refuting.  Why should I pay any more attention to the neurochemical events in an atheist’s brain than to his digestive process?  What significance would they have?  And, anyway, what, given such preconceptions, would it mean for “me” to “pay attention” to such things?  What… Read more

Joseph Smith’s last days, in Illinois

    Further notes on the evident sincerity of Joseph Smith:   “The Prophet did not really desire longer to live,” concluded [Benjamin F.] Johnson.[1]  Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner recalled the Prophet saying, near the end of his life, I am tired, I have been mobbed, I have suffered so much. . . I have asked the Lord to take me out of this world. I have stood all I can. I have to seal my testimony to this generation… Read more

Thoughts for Thanksgiving (4)

    This is the column that I published on Thanksgiving Day 2015 in the Deseret News:   Although American Thanksgiving Day began as a harvest festival, it’s not about eating.  Most of us eat quite well—often too well—every day, so meals aren’t special.  It’s not even really about family.  As its name implies, it’s about giving thanks. And we have much for which to be thankful. Why is there a universe in the first place?  Why is it so… Read more

Land of Lincoln

    Curiously, being in Chicago, I’ve begun to think of the most famous adopted son of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln.  Many years ago, with her parents, my wife and I visited parts of the state associated with him.  One of those places was the Oakland Cemetery in Petersburg, where Ann Rutledge, who died at the age of 22 of typhoid, is buried.   According to some, although this is disputed by others, she was Abraham Lincoln’s first and deepest love.   Long after… Read more

Judaism, as we know it, begins to emerge

    Another passage from one of The Manuscripts.  This one deals with the changes that occurred in Judaism in the wake of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the cessation of prophecy among the Jews:   An example will serve to make the new situation clear: At roughly the time of Christ, a great Jewish thinker by the name of Philo Judaeus lived in Egyptian Alexandria. Philo was thoroughly at home in Greek literature and wrote excellent… Read more

“I shall not be sacrificed until my time comes; then I shall be offered freely.”

    From my notes:   Joseph Smith knew that he would die at the hands of his enemies. “He well knew that he must sacrifice his life for the principles God had revealed through him,” said Lucy Walker Kimball.  Yet “Death had no terrors for him although life was dear. I have often heard him say he expected to seal his testimony with his blood.”[1] “He was cheerful and comforting,” remembered Edward Stevenson. He said, “I shall not be… Read more

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