I share just a bit more from James Hannam, The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution (Washington DC: Henry Regnery, 2011).   Hannam is a graduate of Oxford University in physics who holds a doctorate from Cambridge University in the history of science.  He’s discussing Gerbert of Aurillac (ca. AD 940-1003), a scholar and natural philosopher who eventually became Pope Sylvester II and who, among other things, introduced Arabic numerals to Christian Europe:   Gerbert… Read more

    I’ve just read a short but interesting article in the latest issue — 4 August 2018 — of the Economist, titled “Hosannahs in the sand?”   It seems that Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, who has broken with tradition by allowing cinemas to open, open-air pop concerts to be held, and, most amazing of all, women to drive, is thinking about permitting the opening of churches within the boundaries of Saudi Arabia.  In October 2017, he… Read more

    Back in 2009 and 2010, I served as an expert witness for the prosecution — and testified for several hours each in the respective legal proceedings, his competency hearing and his formal trial — against Brian David Mitchell (aka “Immanuel David Isaiah,” the kidnapper of Elizabeth Smart).   Needless to say, it was a remarkable and quite interesting experience.   One subsidiary thing that it brought home to me in a very forceful way was the importance of… Read more

    A fascinating article in the 18 October 2014 issue of The Economist (“Astrobiology: Bolts from the Blue”) reported on a then-recent article by Tsvi Piran of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Raul Jimenez of the University of Barcelona.   Studying the frequency of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) in the universe, they suggested that life could not have developed anywhere in the cosmos much before it arose on earth.  The universe simply wasn’t yet ready for it.  And they… Read more

    We published another book by Averroës or Ibn Rushd — Averroës is a Latin corruption of a Hebrew corruption of his original Arabic name — when we issued the Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s De anima.  It appeared in a dual-language edition, with the original Arabic facing a translation by Alfred L. Ivry, who was, at the time, a professor in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University…. Read more

    I love choirs and choral music.  And choral music, both historically and still today, is predominantly based upon religious themes.   A personal favorite — one among many — is “O Lord, I would hear thy word,” from the 1974 oratorio The Restoration, by the late Latter-day Saint composer (and BYU faculty member) Merrill Bradshaw.  I myself sang this piece once, in a double quartet in Jerusalem.  Here are the lyrics:   O Lord, I would hear thy… Read more

    You’re invited.  If you would like to pursue this, go to the Cruise Lady website.   Itinerary Day 1 Thursday / May 9 Fly from the US into Cairo (or stay an extra night in Jerusalem if you are coming from Israel). Day 2 Friday / May 10 Arrive in Cairo. We will be met at the airport and driven to our hotel where we can relax and enjoy our evening on our own. Overnight in Cairo. Day… Read more

    The opening passage of Aristotle’s Metaphysics reads as follows, in the translation by W. D. Ross:   “All men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to do anything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else…. Read more

    Knowing that my wife had headed off this morning for Newport Beach, a couple of friends called to invite me out to lunch and to a showing of Dinesh D’Souza’s new film, Death of a Nation.  I guess I’ve been traveling too much; I hadn’t even heard of the movie.   Having now seen it, I must say that, to my judgment, it’s too black and white, too partisan, and far too enthusiastic for the specific person of Donald… Read more

    Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the Seventy gave an important and very welcome speech to the 2018 FairMormon conference.  Here’s an article about his remarks from the official news site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:   “Elder Pearson Says Independent Voices Are Needed to Sustain Faith: Mormon leader calls on members to engage on social media”   If you would like to actually listen to Elder Pearson’s speech, here it is:   Elder Kevin W…. Read more

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