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

September 25, 2020

      For whatever it’s worth, I’m scheduled to participate in Sunday night’s Interpreter Radio Show and, on Monday night, to speak via computer to elders and sisters in the Ukraine Dnipro Mission.  Technology is a wonderful thing.   ***   I share here some notes from Ronald E. Romig, Eighth Witness: The Biography of John Whitmer (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2014), on a topic that is briefly addressed in the Interpreter Foundation’s forthcoming Witnesses theatrical film:   In… Read more

September 25, 2020

    Newly posted today on the website of the Interpreter Foundation, the introduction (by Daniel C. Peterson) to Volume 39 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:   “Reckoning with the Mortally Inevitable” Abstract: Every human enterprise — even the best, including science and scholarship — is marred by human weakness, by our inescapable biases, incapacities, limitations, preconceptions, and sometimes, yes, sins. It is a legacy of the Fall. With this in mind, we should approach even the… Read more

September 25, 2020

    In the ninth century, translation from Greek into Arabic devel­oped rapidly. Since possibly the middle of the eighth century there had been periodic translations, but the ninth century saw the estab­lishment of a systematic, organized effort. The caliph al-Ma’mun, son of Harun al-Rashid, founded a translation bureau called the Dar al-Hikma (“House of Wisdom”), over which presided a Nestorian Christian named Hunayn ibn Ishaq.[1] (Hunayn’s son eventually succeeded him in the leadership of the institution.) The Nestorians were… Read more

September 24, 2020

    I confess that I’ve never understood the exultation and evangelical zeal that some claim to feel as atheists.   Let me be clear:  I can easily understand coming to the conclusion that there is no God.  The world is full of seemingly pointless suffering, painfully unanswered questions, dubious religious claims, historically shaky scriptural stories, hypocritical pseudoprophets, theologically-motivated wars and oppression, and the like.  Moreover, naturalistic theories such as evolution seem (at first glance, anyway) to have undercut arguments… Read more

September 24, 2020

    A passage from Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), by the Oxford theologian Alister McGrath, who holds Oxford doctorates in both divinity and intellectual history — which he earned after he had first received an Oxford doctorate in molecular biophysics:   Yet it is not simply the origins of the universe that seem to show evidence of fine-tuning.  A good case can be made for the same patterns emerging at… Read more

September 24, 2020

    In the meantime, an immensely rich civilization—rich in every way—had been created. A bare bones description of this vast realm and of the marvelous art and architecture, literature, music, philos­ophy, and science that it produced would far exceed the space avail­able in this book. It seems to me, however, that a good method of giving at least an impression of the riches of Arabic civilization, and of the broader Islamic civilization to which it belongs, is to suggest… Read more

September 23, 2020

      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…. Read more

September 23, 2020

    I offer here three quotations from Ronald E. Romig, Eighth Witness: The Biography of John Whitmer (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2014), on two distinct topics.   The first two relate to seer stones, a topic that, while it’s certainly not a major theme of the theatrical movie, is alluded to at several points in the Interpreter Foundation’s Witnesses film project:   Influenced by Joseph Smith’s use of a seer stone, some of the Whitmers acquired similar stones. … Read more

September 23, 2020

    But the emphasis of the ‘ulama’ on law and on behavior came, in the eyes of some highly committed Muslims, to seem a mere con­centration on the externals, on the letter and not the spirit of Islam. They yearned for a more personal and warm relationship with God than plain obedience to a law code could possibly supply on its own. Among these pious Muslims were the Sufis, the Islamic mystics, who were more concerned with contemplative or introspective… Read more




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