August 12, 2020

    The uniform silence out there surrounding the question of what I think about Joe Biden’s vice presidential selection proves to me that, although millions of Americanos desperately want to know my thoughts, they’re all too intimidated and too shy to ask.  So, out of kindness and an earnest desire to end the misery of anticipation, I will briefly share here some of my views.   It may not have escaped some of you that I’m not an especially… Read more

August 12, 2020

    By the year 632, Muhammad had subdued all of the Arabian penin­sula. The revelation of Islam was complete. “This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favour to you,” says the Qur’an in the voice of God, in what many believe to be the last verse of the book to be revealed. “I have chosen Islam to be your faith.”[1] The tribes were now united, and the question arose, where could they plunder? They could… Read more

August 11, 2020

    Gemli wonders why anyone cares what people from the 17th century thought about this or that religion. Most were busy dying young of pneumonia and poor sanitation. If they had such great minds, perhaps instead of wasting time thinking about invisible sky spirits they might have investigated the real world that was killing them due to their ignorance.   That’s this board’s amusing resident atheist, “gemli,” speaking of himself, in the third person.   I was struck, when… Read more

August 11, 2020

    All truth, it is said, passes through three stages:  First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is passionately and sometimes even violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.   Something similar happens, unfortunately, with certain falsehoods.   The reputations of Nicolas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Johannes Kepler don’t rest upon their acceptance of the astronomical consensus of their times.  Albert Einstein, accepting the consensus of a static and unchanging cosmos, mistakenly shied away from the expanding universe predicted by… Read more

August 11, 2020

    For all that it criticizes the unbelievers of Arabia, though, the Qur’an does not spare Muhammad either. He was never allowed to forget that he too was human. At one point, for example, despite all the Qur’an’s denunciations of the wealthy, Muhammad seems to have shown too much deference to a rich man. He had violated one of the cardinal tenets of true Islam, the equality of all men before God and before his Prophet: He [Muhammad] frowned… Read more

August 10, 2020

    A small sampling of additional passages that I marked during my reading of John Polkinghorne, Belief in God in an Age of Science (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998):   The history of the interaction between science and theology, says Professor Polkinghorne, is not susceptible to simple characterisation, either in terms of conflict or of harmony.  (76)   At the moment the biological world, particularly in its members who work with molecules rather than organisms, displays notable hostility… Read more

August 10, 2020

    I wrote the little mini-essay below in response to a request connected with the bicentennial of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  It can be found online at the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I view it, here, as a companion piece to my blog entry from a couple of days ago (“My Hope for the Eternities”), and, like that one, it represents my actual view — as opposed to the view that… Read more

August 10, 2020

    Nevertheless, Muhammad’s transformation from prophet to prophet-statesman had profound consequences for the nature of the religion that was developing—Islam. This is because the nature of his example to the Muslims changed along with his change of role. Chris­tians who want an ideal model to follow look naturally to Jesus of Nazareth as the person who most perfectly embodies their faith. But Jesus never held any political office or exercised any state power, and this fact allows Christians to… Read more

August 9, 2020

    I pre-recorded my remarks to the 2020 FairMormon conference.  On Friday afternoon, when my talk went up, I was sitting at home.  (We’re trying to be very careful about the COVID-19 virus, not least out of concern for a father-on-law in his 94th year, a 90+-year-old woman that my wife regularly visits, and a good friend who is fighting a serious cancer.). Unless compelled by strong reasons, though, I probably won’t pre-record such a lecture again; I wasn’t… Read more

August 9, 2020

    Among the very most valuable of thinkers on science and religion — unlike many writers, especially perhaps unlike many anti-religious ones, he actually knows a great deal about both — is Sir John Polkinghorne, now in his ninetieth year, who is both a Knight of the British Empire (KBE) and a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society.  He was a professor of mathematical physics at the University of Cambridge until he resigned his professorial chair in order to study for the Anglican priesthood.  He was ordained… Read more




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