Art, and an ex-Mormon’s rise to power in Aotearoa

      The latest installment of my weekly column in the Deseret News has appeared:   “Does art always accurately reflect history?”   Not to spoil the surprise, but my answer is “No.”  In fact, it very seldom does.   Commonly, it’s simply because neither the artist in question nor his or her patron knows the accurate historical details.  Not infrequently, however, it’s because the artist might be trying to convey an idea more clearly than the clutter or distraction… Read more

Two quotations from C. S. Lewis, on atheistic naturalism and reason

    In 1944, C. S. Lewis delivered an address to the Oxford Socratic Club.  Here are two related passages from it:   “The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts.  Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears.  Unless we can be sure that reality in the remotest nebula or the remotest part obeys the thought-laws of the human scientist here and now in his laboratory—in other words, unless Reason is an absolute—all is in ruins.  Yet those… Read more

Sorry, my links aren’t working.

    It seems that the new design of Patheos has deprived me of the ability to post functioning links.  Or, at least, has changed the way to do it without telling me how.   I’ve posted probably several dozen links over the past few days and, so far as I can tell, none of them work.   Please note that.   (This link probably won’t work, either.  Not, anyway, right now.)   I’ve made a number of assertions in… Read more

“Maori Responses to the Mormon Church,” and etc.

    I’m pleased to announce that the remarks made by Dr. Robert Joseph, of New Zealand’s University of Waikato, at the Interpreter Foundation’s fifth-anniversary birthday dinner are now up on the Interpreter website.   And don’t worry.  After the first minute or so, he speaks in English:   “Maori Responses to the Mormon Church.”   I think that some of you will find his comments both interesting and enjoyable.  I surely did.   If you listen closely to the Maori portion,… Read more

DNA, the Book of Mormon, Marines, Women, Names, and Smart Phones

    The Book of Mormon, we’re told, is demonstrably false because the (unknown) genetic signatures of Sariah and others of Lehi’s company (in particular, the unnamed daughters of Ishmael) haven’t been located among the Amerindians of the New World — where wars and mass extinctions and genetic bottlenecks have undeniably occurred on a large scale.   Now consider this, from Sarah Zhang:   “Past migrations and invasions aren’t always evident in the DNA of modern people. In fact, the… Read more

It’s time for some politics!

    First off, a really fine article by my friend and colleague Ralph Hancock:   “The most blind and aggressive kind of partisanship is one that pretends to be nonpartisan”   I think he’s precisely right.   ***   Have you heard about the new reign of commissars at Google?   “The Mountain View Inquisition”   “Google Is Being Evil After All”   I’m reminded of the three slogans in George Orwell’s 1984:   “War is Peace!”   “Freedom… Read more

When science’s world fell apart

    It used to be that scientists and those influenced by them viewed the world as an assemblage of interlocking gears, a machine.  This was the time of the Enlightenment and of “Rationalism.”  The machine simply had to be disassembled and its various constituent parts examined, and then everything would be both understood and easy to control.   René Descartes (1596-1650) certainly viewed reality as somewhat machine-like, and the physics of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) seemed to solidify the picture.  The… Read more

Cultural richness and contemporary moral squalor

    I’m excited to have a look at this new book by Peter Adamson, in which he attempts to integrate Islamic philosophical thought fully into a genuinely global history of philosophy:   Assisting in laying the foundation for such an attempt was among my goals in launching the Islamic Translation Series at Brigham Young University, which ultimately morphed into the broader Middle Eastern Texts Initiative.  One of the most painful experiences of my life has been being excluded… Read more

Atheists, prayer, doubts, sad news, and some more encouraging things

    Here’s an item that I’ll need to ponder for a while:   “Atheists tend to be seen as immoral – even by other atheists: study”   ***   Meanwhile, the results of some other research:   “Recent study confirms LDS leaders’ teachings that prayers strengthen marriage”   ***   I myself wrote a column about this book some time ago, and I’m pleased to see it receiving some additional publicity:   “Book review: ‘Answers Will Come’ shares author’s… Read more

Playing around with serious things

    We’re just back from a very, very strong performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley City.  Conlon Bonner was a superb Joseph, and Angie Griffiths Call was an excellent Narrator.  The entire cast — ours was the MWF group — was extraordinarily good.  And the choreography was complex, energetic, and — my wife and I both thought, given the nature and dimensions of the stage — adventurous if not downright risky.  … Read more