A passage from Keith Ward, Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins (Oxford: Lion, 2008), 22-23:   [T]he existence of conscious minds introduces a new form of non-scientific explanations for why things happen as they do.  Scientific explanation, in general, works by referring to some initial state (a ’cause’) and a general mathematically describable law.  That law predicts what regularly follows from the initial state, and it does so without any reference to purpose, value or… Read more

    The manuscript plows forward:   Making Arabic the language of administration in the empire was part of a larger and very important process by which the Middle East became both Arab and, overwhelmingly, Muslim. The first Arab conquerors had been content to let the old bureaucracies from the Persian and Byzantine states continue to run things. But now, some Muslim thinkers wondered if there was not a specifically Islamic way of doing things and whether they ought to… Read more

      Moving forward with my notes from John W . Welch, et al., eds., Knowing Why: 137 Evidences That the Book of Mormon Is True (American Fork: Covenant Communications, 2017):   “Can Textual Studies Help Readers Understand the Isaiah Chapters in 2 Nephi?” (96-98) Royal Skousen’s pathbreaking work on the textual history of the Book of Mormon offers a number of insights into the Book of Mormon’s use of Isaiah.  The base text for 2 Nephi’s Isaiah quotations is definitely the King James… Read more

    Beginning a new chapter from my manuscript:   Classical Arabic Civilization The late Marshall G. S. Hodgson, one of the greatest Western stu­dents of Islam of the twentieth century, developed an outline of Islamic his­tory that I find very helpful.[1] In it, he distinguishes seven different periods. Let me summarize them here. First, Hodgson states, there was the “Pre-Islamic Period.” It isn’t hard to understand what this is about, since it simply refers to the years from earliest… Read more

    Something quite unexpected:   “New observations of galaxies challenge the standard cosmological model: New observations of satellite galaxies don’t seem to fit our models.”   ***   “Supermassive black holes can feast on one star per year”   Mmmmm.  Crunchy!   ***   This is potentially quite important:   “Does Titan’s Hydrocarbon Soup Hold a Recipe for Life?”   ***   From Huston Smith, Beyond the Post-Modern Mind, rev. ed. (Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 118:   To… Read more

    I’m a bit late with the announcement, but — huge surprise! — it’s Friday, and a new article has appeared in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture:   “Playing to an Audience: A Review of Revelatory Events”   ***   This one is really late, too.  But it’s not my fault.  The Deseret News was inexplicably very slow in posting my latest column online.  However, it’s finally up:   “Are there any good reasons to believe?”   ***… Read more

    Keith Ward, Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins (Oxford: Lion, 2008), 16-17:   When we come to consciousness, things get much worse.  The problem of consciousness is so difficult that no one has any idea of how to begin to tackle it, scientifically.  What is that problem?  It is basically the problem of how conscious states — thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions — can arise from complex physical brain-states.  Even if we are sure that… Read more

    Concluding a section of my manuscript:   God’s all-powerful Lordship is an ever-present reality in the daily life of Muslims. The Qur’an directs its people to say “If God wills” whenever they announce their intention to do something. “Do not say, regarding anything, ‘I am going to do that tomorrow,’ but only, ‘If God wills.’”[1] It is not surprising, thus, that in sha’a Allah (“if God wills”) is one of the most commonly heard phrases in the Arabic… Read more

    Keith Ward, Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins (Oxford: Lion, 2008), 14-15:   To most philosophers, materialism has looked like a non-starter: Most of us do not want to deny that material things exist.  But we are no longer very sure of what ‘matter’ is.  Is it quarks, or superstrings, or dark energy, or the result of quantum fluctuations in a vacuum?  It is certainly not, as the ancient Greek materialist Democritus thought, lumps of… Read more

    It seems that Stephen Smoot and I have been thinking along parallel lines this week.  Here’s his very good new blog entry:   “Do Mormons ‘Just Believe’ Their Religion?”   In certain ways, it treats the same issue that my Deseret News column for today discusses.  In the print edition, my article is titled “Any good reasons to believe?”  For some mysterious cause — probably connected with the fact that my usual editor has been out of town… Read more

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