Tales from the Archives 3: The 1934-5 Newspaper Proxy Wars and Writing Hot

From 1934-5, the age of the earth, evolution, and scripture was hotly debated in the Deseret News. (See here for a little history and context.) Elders John Widtsoe and Joseph Fielding Smith wrote nothing themselves, but encouraged, solicited, and pushed articles reflecting their own views. On Widtsoe’s side was James E. Talmage’s son Sterling, who had received a PhD in geology. (JET had died the year before.) On Smith’s side, were several people, including Sidney Sperry, Major Howard S. Bennion, and Dudley J. Whitney, a Pentecostal farmer. Continue reading “Tales from the Archives 3: The 1934-5 Newspaper Proxy Wars and Writing Hot”

Interpreting Science and Scripture: Joseph Fielding Smith, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Hermeneutics in LDS History

I was set to present a paper at the Mormon History Association this year (now pushed to next year), “Seventh-day Adventist Influence on LDS Creationism, from Joseph Fielding Smith to Ezra Taft Benson.”

Here’s an expanded teaser with some analysis of philosophical underpinnings.

Continue reading “Interpreting Science and Scripture: Joseph Fielding Smith, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Hermeneutics in LDS History”

Science, religion, and evolution… in the 12th century

Many deeply religious people have concerns about subordinating religion to science, the tail wagging the dog as it were. I see it a LOT in LDS history. There’s certainly some legitimacy to that fear, but also a lot of misunderstandings. Ideas of progressive or developmental creation are not necessarily a response to Darwin.

I’ve written before about how “science” and “religion” as commonly understood today are not well-defined categories, and can’t simply be retrojected into the past; Galileo wasn’t a “scientist” because such a thing didn’t exist yet, nor did he think he was doing “science.” Continue reading “Science, religion, and evolution… in the 12th century”

“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″

Snippets from my Dissertation Proposal on the Roots of LDS Creation/Evolution Conflict in the 20th Century

I’ve gone through multiple refining drafts of my dissertation proposal. My main problem, said my advisor, is atypical; most people at this point have the bulk of their research ahead of them, but I already have enough for two books and half a dozen papers. The trick is filtering, narrowing, and tightening. A good amount of material will be saved for the future book(s) based thereon. So here are some snippets of thought, brain-storming, and writing from along the way. Continue reading “Snippets from my Dissertation Proposal on the Roots of LDS Creation/Evolution Conflict in the 20th Century”