Science as a Legitimate Contributor to our Knowledge of Creation and Earth History

As noted in a prior post, Orson F. Whitney authored the 1909 First Presidency statement on “The Origin of Man.” He sent a letter to John Widtsoe with that draft, along with some notes. Although Whitney was strongly opposed to evolution, he acknowledge that science could play a role in clarifying earth history.   Continue reading “Science as a Legitimate Contributor to our Knowledge of Creation and Earth History”

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”

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”