September 28, 2020

    Did Arabic literature have any impact upon the literature of the West? Few people in the West would suspect that it did. Yet the answer is almost certainly yes. It has been argued, for instance, that a book written in twelfth-century Andalusia by a friend of Averroës may have served as the inspi­ration for Daniel Defoe’s famous novel Robinson Crusoe. The Ara­bic book is a short philosophical allegory entitled Hayy ibn Yaqzan (“Alive, Son of the Awake”), about… Read more

September 28, 2020

    I really like this summation by the Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli,  which appears on page 123 of his Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre (Penguin, 2017):   There is a curved spacetime born 14 billion years ago — nobody knows how — and still expanding.  This space is a real object, a physical field with its dynamics described by Einstein’s equations.  Space bends and curves under… Read more

September 28, 2020

    Please mark your calendars!   The Temple on Mount Zion: The Fifth Interpreter Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference Saturday, November 7, 2020 — Brigham Young University   ***   Also up on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:   Book of Moses Insights #22: Enoch, the Prophet and Seer: Enoch’s Transfiguration (Moses 7:1–3)   ***   Twenty-five years ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”  Here are three… Read more

September 28, 2020

    Few readers are surprised, probably, to learn that the name Sahara is Arabic (it means “deserts”), but the extent of our debt to the Arabs in the field of navigation and geography is shown by such Arabic terms as nadir, zenith, and azimuth, which still form an important part of those disciplines in our own language. Even weather terms like monsoon (mawsim, “season”) and scirocco—probably more familiar as the name of an automobile than in its original meaning… Read more

September 27, 2020

    The pressing need of the age is a system of religion that can recognize, at the same time, the truths of demonstrated science and the doctrines found in the pages of sacred writ, and can show that perfect harmony exists between the works and words of the Creator; a religion that will reach both the head and the heart–that is, will satisfy both the intellect and the conscience… Nothing short of this can satisfy the demands of this… Read more

September 27, 2020

    Simon Smith, a Latter-day Saint bishop in Utah , wrote an 1880 letter to President Joseph Smith III and Mark H. Forscutt, of what was then known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, responding to their inquiries.  He told them of his visit with Martin Harris shortly before the Witness’s death:   On the 5th day of July, 1875, hearing of his sickness, I visited him, <and> as I entered the room where… Read more

September 27, 2020

    In medicine, the Western debt to the Arabs is every bit as great as in the fields already mentioned. The illustrious Montpelier medical school in France, for instance, was founded by Arab doctors fleeing from Spain during the Reconquista. Up to the end of the sixteenth cen­tury, the medical curriculum of European universities was based upon Avicenna’s great textbook al-Qanun (“The Canon”). A brief listing of Arab innovations in the medical and biologi­cal sciences should serve to illustrate… Read more

September 26, 2020

    Ronald E. Romig, Eighth Witness: The Biography of John Whitmer (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2014), cites one of the earliest newspaper reports about the experience of the Book of Mormon witnesses.  It appeared — perhaps republished from elsewhere — in the Painesville (Ohio) Telegraph on 29 March 1831.  The editor of the Telegraph and the author of the article was Eber D. Howe, who would go on to publish the very first anti-Mormon book, Mormonism Unvailed, in 1834. … Read more

September 26, 2020

    Carlo Rovelli, in his Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre (Penguin, 2017), offers a fascinating though brief portrait of the English theoretician Paul A. M. Dirac (1902-1984), who, he says, is “considered by many to be the greatest physicist of the twentieth century after Einstein” (101).  Dirac, who was famously inept, socially speaking, and possibly autistic, was no friend of “religion” and was a vocal critic of… Read more

September 26, 2020

    Arab and other Muslims had very practical reasons for their interest in mathe­matics. The calculation of the precise direction of the qibla (the direction of prayer to Mecca), something that was required for the proper orientation of mosques, relied upon rather sophisticated mathematical operations. So did the calculation of the exact date of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (Being a lunar month, Ramadan moves through the seasons. Sometimes it occurs in win­ter, sometimes summer, sometimes fall or… Read more




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