Mormon Scholars and Scientists Continue to Testify


On the campus of Caltech, the California Institute of Technology, near where I grew up


I confess that, under the pressure of last summer’s events, a great deal of travel, other pressing demands, and my regular professional obligations, I’ve rather let Mormon Scholars Testify slide a bit over the past few months.


After all, with close to 350 entries, it’s already a pretty substantial site.  Some of the entries are quite short, but a few are rather long and most are multi-page — which means (although I haven’t actually done the math) that, if it it were ever to be published in printed form, it would presumably come out to multiple volumes.


Not bad.


However, I’m determined to get it back on track.


I don’t expect it to ever go back to posting a new entry every other day, as it did for quite a long time, nor even to every third day (the pace that it kept up for nearly two years).  I don’t even want it to:  There is no Mormon Scholars Testify staff but me to solicit, accept, and edit submissions, and the burden was quite demanding.  A few others have provided translations, but I’ve even done some of those.  (Fortunately, Tanya Spackman has served as my volunteer, and breathtakingly able, web master and technical guru since the project began.)  No, I’ll be delighted if I can get the pace back up to something like a steady new-entry-every-week kind of thing.


So, those of you who meet the criteria, please consider this an invitation to write up an entry and submit it.  (And, please, those of you who aren’t “scholars,” don’t consider my rather restrictive invitation some sort of elitist put-down.  I grew up in an extended family of welders, construction workers, truck drivers, and farmers, and I certainly have no illusions that scholars or academics are worth more than my well-loved aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Academia just happens to be my professional niche, the place where I have the most professional contacts, and it’s more than enough to keep me busy.  I would be absolutely delighted if somebody were to set up analogous websites for Mormon dentists, mechanics, housewives, coaches, lawyers, or whatever.  The point is to comply with Elder M. Russell Ballard’s call for us to share our testimonies on the internet.  There are literally thousands of different ways this can be done.)


Anyhow, the most recent entry on Mormon Scholars Testify is from Darin Ragozzine, a Harvard- and Caltech-trained astrophysicist.  The site is moving forward again.



"The man who may one-up Darwin"
"Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Mormon Family Home Evening: An Episcopal Priest's Perspective"
A very brief conversation with an Israeli couple regarding Barack Obama
Inside the new Payson Utah Temple
  • Lucy Mcgee

    Was this site designed as a conversion tool, or to help strengthen the testimonies of those who are having difficulty with their faith, or what? What would be impressive would be a group of scholars that worked at the highest levels within their respective fields and who were LDS converts who came to the Church in their adulthood, not indoctrinated into it as children. I would venture a guess that such a list would be quite small. If one were to cull the 350 entries using this criteria, there wouldn’t be many left methinks.

    • danpeterson

      It was designed as a site where believing Latter-day Saint scholars and scientists would share statements of their faith. No special effort has been made to focus on converts, though there are a fair number of them represented among the entries.

      Incidentally, the word “indoctrinated” seems pretty loaded.

  • Erich Zann

    Ms. Mcgee,
    I understand your point, but I confess your approach to the issue bothers me a bit. As Mr. Peterson points out, some of the scholars already on that site ARE converts, but you don’t seem to have looked into it yourself. When I make assumptions and then neglect to determine whether or not they conform to reality, I find that I’m rarely surprised either. The other point I would make is that you may not realize what strict requirements you’re asking regarding Mormon Scholars Testify. To put it in perspective, one needs only to substitute a much larger religion in Mormonism’s place – say, for example, Islam or Orthodox Judaism. How many scholars do you think there are who are unambiguously working in the top tier of their field and who converted to Islam or Judaism as adults? I’m sure there are some, but their existence wouldn’t say much about either religion. The point of Mr. Peterson’s site, as I understand it, is merely that extremely intelligent people COULD be practicing Latter-Day Saints, since a common anti-Mormon claim is that Mormonism could only fool superstitious rubes. I think the site unambiguously disproves that, while I admit (and so, I’m guessing, would Mr. Peterson) that it doesn’t say anything regarding the validity of the Church’s claims.

    • danpeterson

      Precisely. Thanks.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Prefessor Dan, I feel reprobate in not following through with my promise to submit my own contribution to MST.

    With regard to having a similar site for attorneys, I am afriad the response of many people would be to doubt the credibility of anything said en masse by lawyers. In the latest issue of the Clark Memorandum, published by BYU’s law school for its alumni, former BYU General Counsel and US Court of Appeals Judge Thomas B. Griffith writes:
    “As our own Jim Gordon has pointed out, ‘It’s true that some lawyers are dishonest,
    arrogant, venal, amoral, ruthless buckets of slime. On the other hand, it’s unfair to judge
    the entire profession by five or six hundred thousand bad apples.’”

    On the other hand, the Clark Memorandum, which can be read online, is a compilation of the thoughts of highly ethical attorneys about how to reconcile participation in the legal profession with our religious ideals and commitments. It probably deserves more recognition outside the community of Mormons who are attorneys. Maybe it would even restore their confidence that some of us will show up in the Resurrection of the Just.