First, Nov 9 at the LDS Institute in Mesa, I’ll be speaking and participating in a panel. I’ve titled my remarks something like Harry Potter’s Faith Crisis and Our Own: The Only Way Out is Through. (The latter phrase is something I’ve heard Elder Holland cite in “For Times of Trouble” and “However Long and Hard the Road,” both excellent)
This event is sponsored by a large Facebook group called Uplift, some fliers and more info below.
Second, I recently recorded a seminary-oriented conversation talking about manuals, complexity, helping students gain mature understandings and testimony, and preparing for missions. That’s available on Facebook as well as a streaming video (and not elsewhere, to my knowledge.) I’ve posted it on Benjamin the Scribe Facebook page, which I think is publicly accessible.
Third, LeadingSaints also recorded a long video conversation with me on a number of topics, to appear in a few weeks. We talked about Elder Ballard, Church leaders, and expertise; faith crises and knowing where to send people for good information; and Bible translations and non-LDS scholarship, among other things. (See my reference pages on LDS and the Bible, and Resources for Studying the Bible in Context.)
And last, on a more academic note, I’ve also submitted a paper for the upcoming Mormon History Association conference in June, in Rochester NY. It may or may not be accepted, but it’ll appear in one form or another, as it’s part of my dissertation research and future publication list. Here’s the summary.
The Fundamentalist Enthronement of Science: Seventh-day Adventist Influence on LDS Interpretations of Creation and Evolution
During a century which saw massive scientific progress substantiating biological evolution, rejection of evolution among BYU students increased from 36% to 81%. The percentage affirming a short creation period also increased from 5% to 27%. [NB: those were the statistics between 1935 and 1973.] The obvious drivers of this shift are various General Authority interpreters who, however, did not operate in a vacuum. The significant influence of Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) creationism on them has long gone unrecognized.
I first present a brief history of modern creationism, from 1906 SDA author George McCready Price to his intellectual offspring, the 1961 blockbuster by Whitcomb and Morris, The Genesis Flood. This little-known and counter-intuitive history provides an essential backdrop to understanding the marked increase in LDS creationist anti-evolutionary views.
I trace Price’s direct and indirect influence on LDS thought through the 1980s by presenting various general authorities (e.g. Joseph Fielding Smith’s public and private recommendations of Price and letters they exchanged); influential LDS intellectuals, BYU professors, LDS Curriculum writers, and Correlation members. This culminates in the (still current) 1980 Old Testament Institute manual, wherein a 2000-word quotation from a SDA creationism pamphlet passed all levels of Church review without any issues.
I intersperse brief observations framing this influence within broader American intellectual trends: the interplay of different kinds of authority, asymmetrical and pseudo-expertise, the developing hegemony of science during the 20th century, and the ways science came to be deployed in sanctifying religious belief.
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