Clarifications

 

The Joseph F. Smith Building
at Brigham Young University,
where I have my office

 

Several people have written to me recently, wanting to know whether I’m still teaching at BYU (or, in some cases, presuming — and lamenting — that I’m not).  Others have inquired whether I’m still editor-in-chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative.

 

Yes. I’m still teaching at BYU.  Or, to be more precise, I’m still standing in front of students at BYU while talking, and am still receiving a paycheck for it.  (Whether I’m actually teaching very effectively, if at all, is yet to be determined.)

 

And, yes, I’m still the editor-in-chief of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI), which I conceived and founded.  How, exactly, that’s going to play out, however, remains to be seen.  (METI is housed within the Maxwell Institute.)  If I end up teaching a full course load and bearing the normal number of departmental assignments and the like — if, that is, my work with METI is limited to stolen personal moments at night and on weekends —  my editorship of METI may come to be purely a nominal honor.  I’m resisting that, but we shall see.

 

 

  • Jussi Kemppainen

    “hang” in there, Dan… and stay strong! Believe that there is a reason.!
    I would like to create contact/dialogue with you. We are moving to Jeddah. My wife is there already since three weeks. She started as a professor and dept head at DAH women’s college.

    I would like to receive your email adress.
    Jussi
    Jussi Kemppainen
    kemppainen.jussi@gmail.com
    Ps. You can ask about me from Erlend “Pete” Peterson, Doug Bradford, Dan Bathalomeuw, Ann Madsen, merrill Bateman

    • danpeterson

      All good friends of mine. I’ll drop you a note.

  • Steve Funk

    Dr. Peterson, I am currently in a debate online right now about science and God. I claimed that one can use the scientific method to prove the existence of God, since it entails a hypothesis (God exists), experimentation (reading/praying/pondering) and the interpretation of results (recognizing the spirit as an answer). There is a “smart” member of the church claiming that my logic is off, and I responded that it all depends on what his definition of science is, because someone might say that my results are not valid since they are not based on empirical evidence, yet I can say that even the most intelligent scientist still is bound by his or her own interpretation of their own results and biases. And my final point would be that either God is scientific, or science is merely “philosophy”. All was kind of written without too much thought. I don’t mean this as a forum to check my own ideas, but it’s the only way I have to ask you…I hope that is ok with you.

    • danpeterson

      Your reasoning seems sound to me. Of course, a scientific-oriented skeptic could respond that, in conventional science (e.g., chemistry), we’re talking about reproducible and publicly available results, whereas the answers of the Spirit are very private, individual, and non-transferable. Thus, for example, if I say that combining substance X and substance Y produces new compound substance Z, a challenger can say “Show me!” and I can, in fact, show him. I can’t do that with the Spirit. I can simply say that it worked for me, and that he can follow the same steps.

      • Steve Funk

        I totally agree, and my point would be still even with empirical evidence, it’s still left up to the interpretation of the observer. I could say “I will combine substance X and Y and it will result in Z” and they could say (although it’s a stretch) “I don’t believe it creates Z, that is actually A, even though it might look like Z” in which case it’s like, “if it looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, it is whatever the scientist want’s to call it”

      • Kent G. Budge

        “whereas the answers of the Spirit are very private, individual, and non-transferable”

        Which means they are not scientific evidence. That doesn’t mean they’re not true — just that they aren’t susceptible to falsification in the scientific manner.

        Science offers a lot of truth, but not all truth is science.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    A lot of scientific results, either from experiment or from calculations, are ambiguous. Scientific instruments may not be accurate enough to detect a phenomenon, as was the case with some of the early observations made at the time of solar eclipses to test the Theory of General Relativity. Whether a conclusion is considered strong enough to disrupt previously held consensus assumptions involves the strength of various prejudices in a scientist’s mind. The two most startling observations of the universe in recent decades have finally convinced most astronomers and cosmologists that most of the matter in the universe is a totally invisible substance that only interacts with other matter through the force of gravity, and most of the matter-energy in the universe is a scalar field that permeates all space and is accelerating the outward flight of the galaxies. Scientists did not accept these concepts easily, without question. It took a lot of discussion and testing to confirm them enough to be accepted. One of the wonderful things about the Restored Gospel is that it is so explicit about the need to perform an experiment upon the Word of God, and Moroni offers readers the opportunity to confirm the truth of the book through an experiment involving faith and prayer. While the conditions of the experiment may sound subjective, they are in fact objective from the viewpoint of each individual experimenter. The individual himself knows whether he has been sincere, and possessed real intent, and had real faith in Christ to give him a revelation.

  • Steve Funk

    I couldn’t agree with you more Raymond, well said.


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