September 17, 2020

    Don’t forget the Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses Conference, which begins on Friday evening, 18 September 2020, and continues on Saturday, 19 September 2020.  You can watch it at no charge.   In honor of the conference, I share again a column that I first published in the Deseret News on 30 January 2014:   The scripture John 11:35 (“Jesus wept”) is well known as the shortest verse in the King James Bible. It’s less known, however, as one… Read more

September 17, 2020

    I share, here, something of a preemptive response from the Evangelical Protestant philosopher Douglas Groothuis to critics of the notion of “intelligent design” and, specifically, to skeptics of William Dembski’s “design inference”:   [S]ome reject design explanations in principle, claiming that they use the failed “God of the gaps” strategy — invoking the supernatural instead of working out a sufficient naturalistic explanation.  Put another way, the God of the gaps brings in God only to cover our ignorance… Read more

September 17, 2020

    Actually, what I have been saying is an oversimplification. It was only gradually that the chain of transmitters, known in Arabic as an isnad, became a required part of a hadith report. For approxi­mately the first century after the death of the Prophet, no special care was taken in the transmission of traditions about him. Perhaps the Muslims could not imagine anybody willing to lie or to forge in the name of religion. If so, they were naive,… Read more

September 16, 2020

    At 7:00 PM on Friday night, Elder Bruce C. Hafen and Sister Marie K. Hafen will kick off the Interpreter Foundation’s first conference on the Book of Moses, which is being co-sponsored by Brigham Young University’s Department of Ancient Scripture as well as by our sister organizations, Book of Mormon Central and FairMormon.  It will be my privilege to introduce Elder and Sister Hafen.  I hope that you’ll tune in for all or at least part of the conference,… Read more

September 16, 2020

    Continued:   According to William Dembski, while both contingency and complexity are required for the inference of design to kick in, neither contingency nor complexity nor even a combination of the two is sufficient to fully justify such an inference.  Both must be present. along with what Dembski calls specificity or specification.   If an object or an event is to be properly described as “designed,” he says, it must exhibit a pattern that is independent of mere… Read more

September 16, 2020

    The opposite of sunna, first in pre-Islamic Arabia and ultimately within Islam itself, was bid‘a (“innovation”), which eventually came to mean “heresy” Thus, the Islamic community became a conserva­tive one in which “heresy” was divergence from the established prac­tice of the community. (It might be seen why one sect of Islam claimed for itself the title of Sunni. They were calling themselves orthodox—and, not accidentally, implying that those who disagreed with them were heretics.) Again in keeping with… Read more

September 15, 2020

    I published this column in the Deseret News on 28 April 2016.  Its publication had been unaccountably delayed for a long time and, when I discovered that delay — I had been out of the country for a prolonged period and had lost track — I pushed it forward as fast as I could.  It was urgent to me because I knew that Senator Bennett was seriously ill.  I was, accordingly, relieved and happy that, as a member… Read more

September 15, 2020

    Douglas Axe studied engineering and molecular biology at the University of California at Berkeley and at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he earned his doctorate.  He then did postdoctoral research at Cambridge University in England, followed by a stint as a research scientist there.   Here are some passages that I marked while reading his book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Designed (New York: HarperOne, 2016):   [T]he flag that has flown for many… Read more

September 15, 2020

    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 were not a specifically Islamic way of doing things and, if so, whether they ought to be following it…. Read more

September 15, 2020

    Today is my Dad’s birthday — as I write, it’s late (I’ve had an exceptionally busy day), but it’s still just barely the right date– and I try to post something about him every year on the anniversary of his birth and on the anniversary of his passing.  I see it as a filial duty.  Certainly it’s an expression of my respect and love.  When we chose something to inscribe on his grave marker in California, we went… Read more




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