As I’ve indicated before, I’m very interested in the phenomenon of near-death experiences.  I’ve studied hundreds of them.  I’ve read extensively on the subject.   They are so widely reported that I find it inconceivable that the phenomenon is “made-up.”  The crucial remaining question, of course, regards their significance.  Do they really point to “another world,” or are they indicators, merely, of subjective brain events, similar across time and cultures because of our shared human physiology?   I’m strongly… Read more

    Remarkably, although the duty of prayer is often mentioned in the Qur’an, that book never specifically mentions a duty of praying formally five times daily. One legend says that Muhammad received the commandment of five daily prayers during his miraculous ascension into heaven from the Temple Mount at Jerusalem. Origi­nally, so the story goes, the Lord imposed a duty of fifty prayers daily on Muhammad and the Muslims. Then, when Muhammad was descending from the presence of God,… Read more

    This morning, my wife and I (and the Utah friends with whom we’ve come) participated in an endowment session in the Phoenix Arizona Temple.   I’ve always loved the temple.  Some of my earliest and most pivotal spiritual experiences came in connection with temples, and — along with several others that I know — I consider temples and temple worship among the greatest evidences of divine revelation to Joseph Smith.   “The temple is a point of intersection between heaven… Read more

    A passage from Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), by the Oxford theologian Alister McGrath, who holds Oxford doctorates in both divinity and intellectual history — which he earned after he had first received an Oxford doctorate in molecular biophysics:   Yet it is not simply the origins of the universe that seem to show evidence of fine-tuning.  A good case can be made for the same patterns emerging at… Read more

    There are essentially two kinds of prayer in Islam. The one with which we in the West are most familiar is, paradoxically, the one most foreign to us. This is the formal prayer known as salat.[1]  Five times daily—at sunrise, midday, afternoon, evening, and night— pious Muslims prostrate themselves before God, bowing low and touching foreheads to the ground a fixed number of times. A com­plex set of gestures and motions accompanies the recitation of cer­tain phrases during… Read more

    A person who wishes to remain anonymous kindly passed a pair of quotations on to me that he found “very relevant to church members encountering new information about the past.”  Especially, he said, the highlighted portions.   The quotations come from the famous psychologist and psycholinguist Steven Pinker:   The other way in which I do agree with my fellow panelists that political correctness has done an enormous amount of harm in the sliver of the population that might… Read more

    In his stimulating book Biocosm: The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe (Makawao, Maui, Hawaii: Inner Ocean Publishing, 2003), James N. Gardner cites The Dreams of Reason, a 1988 book written by the theoretical physicist Heinz Pagels, who, at the time of his tragic death in a Colorado mountain climbing accident during the same year that book was published, was the executive director and chief executive officer of the New York Academy of Sciences… Read more

    I’m pleased to announce the debut of the Interpreter Show.   It will begin this coming Sunday evening, 14 January, on K-Talk Radio (AM 1640), and will run each week from 7 PM to 8 PM on Sundays.   The show will be available both via broadcast radio and via the internet.  Moreover, once completed, programs will be archived so that they will be available both on the radio station’s website and through the Interpreter Foundation’s website.   The first… Read more

    Continuing with notes derived from John W. Welch, et al., eds.  Knowing Why: 137 Evidences That the Book of Mormon Is True (American Fork: Covenant Communications, 2017), 29-32:   Chapter 10 of Knowing Why is titled “Why Would Lehi Offer Sacrifices outside Jerusalem?” (29-30)   Some critics have charged that the Book of Mormon cannot be authentic because Lehi built a stone altar and made an offering in gratitude to God at a distance of three days’ travel outside of… Read more

      Ancient people, living out under the sky, directly and very consciously dependent upon agricultural economies rather than supermarkets, lacking artificial illumination, were acutely aware of their dependence upon the Sun.  In many cases, they worshiped it as god.  Today, we’re insulated from it, both literally and metaphorically.   In that, um, light, here’s a fun paragraph from Chris Impey, How It Began: A Time-Traveler’s Guide to the Universe (New York and London: W. W. Norton and Company, 2012):  … Read more

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