Some quick and short book notes

My image.

As is my wont, I’m excited about a few books, two popular and two more academic.

First, Peter Enns has a new book coming early next year, How the Bible Actually Works: In Which I Explain How An Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads Us to Wisdom Rather Than Answers—and Why That’s Great NewsEnns is one of my favorite authors, an academic who can also write for normal people. In fact, my Mom’s been reading his Genesis for Normal People and loving it. (Enns has been on the Maxwell Institute Podcast a few times and spoken at BYU.) For a content summary from the publisher, see here.

Second, Kyle Grenwood’s edited collection, Since the Beginning: Interpreting Genesis 1 and 2 through the Ages should appear in the next month. Greenwood’s book on science and cosmology in the Bible is on my top 10 list for the early chapters of Genesis.

A claim is often made like “Christians have always interpreted Genesis literally until science came along!” There’s a lot wrong with that claim, which I’ve written about…somewhere. I can’t find my own darn post. Greenwood’s volume will not be the first to tackle the various interpretations of Genesis throughout the ages, but I hope will do it well and in an accessible and popular way. It’s no good for academics to know this stuff if it doesn’t filter down to popular discussion and debate. Continue reading “Some quick and short book notes”

The Scientific Deformation and Reformation of Genesis: How “Science” Messed It Up, but Also Fixes It

Ben contemplating his words at Petra.

I was grateful for the invitation to speak at UVU’s Mormon Studies Conference on Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation, and Faith in February 2018. I spoke about how and why we’ve come to understand the creation chapters of Genesis certain ways, and then participated in a panel on evolution with two BYU biologists. You can watch my presentation here (scroll to the bottom and click on my name to launch the video.) My slides aren’t visible, but you can download them here (pdf) to follow along. Continue reading “The Scientific Deformation and Reformation of Genesis: How “Science” Messed It Up, but Also Fixes It”

An essay on the nature of prophetic knowledge, with a side helping of evolution

Ben contemplates his words, at Petra.

Regardless of what you think about evolution, it poses a problem. In the past, the issue might have been framed as “since we know scripture is true, the science behind evolution must be false. How do we make sense of this?”

Today, the hypothetical teenager might wrestle with this question from the other side. “Since we know human evolution is true, and God knows all truth, why don’t God’s earthly proxies like scripture and prophets seem to know it?” Continue reading “An essay on the nature of prophetic knowledge, with a side helping of evolution”

Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 04- Moses 4; 5:1-15; 6:48-62

Adam and Eve, by Michaelangelo.

Adam and Eve, by Michaelangelo.

Let’s talk about origins. We seem to think origins are important; “where we came from” forms a part of our our identity, helps us understand ourselves. This is pretty deeply embedded and reinforced in our culture in a number of ways.  Superhero movies tend to begin with an origin story. Even Batman movies, as often as we’ve seen it and as much as we know it, typically begin by retelling the trauma of young Bruce seeing his parents shot. Jennifer Lopez sang, “Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got; I’m still Jenny from the block; Used to have a little, now I have a lot; No matter where I go, I know where I came from.” Or look at arguments about the importance of Rey’s parentage in the recent Star Wars film (SPOILERS!) Continue reading “Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 04- Moses 4; 5:1-15; 6:48-62”

Mormonism and the challenges of Science, Revelation, and Faith at UVU

Molly Worthen, UNC-Chapel Hill

Molly Worthen, UNC-Chapel Hill

(NB: You can watch all of the presentations by going here and clicking on the presenter’s name.)

UVU’s annual Mormon Studies Conference will be held (and streamed!) February 22-23, 2018. The topic is Heaven & Earth: Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation, and Faith Continue reading “Mormonism and the challenges of Science, Revelation, and Faith at UVU”

Reading the Early Chapters of Genesis- Podcast and Followup

genesis-hebrew2LDS Perspectives interviewed me about my book on Genesis 1, which is still in progress.

The beginning of the Old Testament is challenging for a number of reasons. It’s foreign, it’s inconsistent (two creation stories?), it interfaces with history and science in uncomfortable and controversial ways (evolution, “giants”/”sons of god” marrying “daughters of men,” the flood, etc.)

And then for Mormons, add in the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham, and the Temple, which parallel these chapters. Now if you open your Old Testament teacher’s manual, how much background, explanation, or guidance do you really get with any of this stuff? Continue reading “Reading the Early Chapters of Genesis- Podcast and Followup”

“That which is Demonstrated, We Accept with Joy”: Mormons, Scripture, and Evolution

Creation of the Sun, Sistine Chapel

Creation of the Sun, Sistine Chapel

You might have noticed an op-ed on Mormonism and evolution in the Salt Lake Tribune by me, responding to discussion of the place of evolution in Utah science standards. I’m a historian of religion/science with some scientific training, not a scientist, so I generally leave detailed argument and refinement to the actual scientists.

But history can tell us a lot here. I’m convinced that evolution and faith in God can coexist. The short version is, Mormonism has no official position on evolution, BYU unapologetically teaches human evolution, but no one has (yet) offered a good way of squaring this with scripture. Watch this space 😉 Continue reading ““That which is Demonstrated, We Accept with Joy”: Mormons, Scripture, and Evolution”