What I’m Doing Here, and What I Hope Others Will Do

I am not an “evolution apologist.” Although I suspect I have more scientific training than your average historian, I’m not a scientist. And more likely than not, neither is my average reader. For that reason, and because I don’t follow the specialized and technical literature, I don’t engage in scientific debate about evolution. Rather, in keeping with my own training and expertise, my approach is historical, scriptural, and theological.  And historically, I understand how and why evolution has come to be the dominant way to make sense of mountains of data across multiple fields, and why 98% of scientists accept evolution as the best explanation of all that data. Continue reading “What I’m Doing Here, and What I Hope Others Will Do”

Mark E. Petersen, Expertise, Interpretation, and McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine

Many people are aware that Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s book Mormon Doctrine was not universally received among Church leadership as a positive thing. That story has been told in a number of places, from a number of perspectives. This, however, was new to me, summarizing from this article and expanding from the McKay diaries, around Jan 14, 1960. Continue reading “Mark E. Petersen, Expertise, Interpretation, and McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine”

“We don’t know how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden”: Genre and the Temple, Part 3

See here and here for parts 1 and 2

Some Latter-day Saints, including some General Authorities like Joseph Fielding Smith, have tried to resolve apparent discrepancies between scripture and science on the age of the earth by asserting that “we don’t know how long Adam and Eve were in the garden.” The implication is that the while the earth went on existing, potentially for millions or billions of years, Adam and Eve remained effectively in stasis in the garden planted eastward in Eden.

I see three arguments against this view.

Continue reading ““We don’t know how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden”: Genre and the Temple, Part 3″

Interpreting Scripture, History, Science, and Creation: A Free Course by Me!

Red brick store in Nauvoo, where the first endowments were done on May 4, 1842.

Edit: I’ve added this syllabus to the main menu at left, and simplified the url for easy access, to http://BenSpackman.com/syllabus

May 4th holds significance in LDS history: it’s the day Joseph Smith introduced temple ordinances in the upper room of the red brick store in 1842. The temple ties together a number of questions, like: Continue reading “Interpreting Scripture, History, Science, and Creation: A Free Course by Me!”

Literal Interpretation of the Scriptures: Why We Need MORE

Melvin Cook, famous chemist and ardent LDS young-earth creationist, thought scripture should be interpreted literally.

My analysis is intended to be strictly literalistic; in my view, intellectual honesty requires literalism in the interpretation of the scriptures.

President Joseph Fielding Smith also made repeated statements about the necessity of reading scripture literally.

I agree with them. But I’ll go one better and do something they never did: I’m going to define the term “literal.” Continue reading “Literal Interpretation of the Scriptures: Why We Need MORE”

The Philosophies of Men, Mingled with Monopoly

Something insidious infects our children from the moment they’re born. It’s unstoppable. It surrounds us, burrows in deep, far below our conscious minds, and like a computer virus, writes subtle programming that dictates our worldview, our attitudes, and assumptions, shaping our very reflexes… Ahem. Shifting away from threatening apocalyptic movie-trailer voice, I’m speaking, of course, about culture and tradition, terms I’ll use interchangeably here. Continue reading “The Philosophies of Men, Mingled with Monopoly”