Mormon Creation Narratives and Creation by Evolution

I once heard it said when I was a young undergraduate that the creation accounts – particularly that of Abraham – fit very well with evolutionary accounts of creation. A casual read of Abraham seems to confirm this: earth, void; waters divided from earth; plants come up from the earth; fish and fowl; beasts of the earth; man. This sort of progression would make sense from an evolutionary perspective – creation evolves from simple to complex.

But add Moses’ account into the mix and things become a little dicier. Continue reading

If I could ask God one question…

Things are quiet on the blog lately, so I figure it’s a good chance to make an appearance. Perhaps few people will read this entry and then I can likely avoid being blacklisted.

I applied to teach at Messiah College in Pennsylvania recently and part of the application was affirming the Apostles’ Creed. I affirmed the Apostles’ Creed, and I did so because I agreed with all the statements that were made within the creed. However, after having done so, I couldn’t help but recall the words of Joseph Smith when discussing his First Vision: “the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (JS-H 1:19).

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June 8, 1978: Revelation on the Priesthood: 30 Years Later

Last Sunday (June 8, 2008), a member of my ward, Whitney, gave an excellent talk in sacrament meeting in commemoration of the 30 year anniversary of the revelation on the priesthood (the formal announcement of). With Whitney’s permission, I am including a written version of his talk here. It is an excellent talk, which speaks honestly of some of the historical difficulties with this topic, and addresses how we need to move forward with better racial relations in the Church.

We generally speak of the restoration of the gospel in the past tense. We refer frequently to the spring of 1820 and to April 6, 1830. Article of Faith 9, however, encourages us to take a more expansive view. That “He will yet reveal many great and important things” signifies an ongoing restoration and one which continues today. June 8, 1978, thirty years ago today, the date when the priesthood was extended to all worthy males, and the blessings of the temple to all worthy members of the church, “without regard for race or color,” is a date that ought to hold a place next to those early dates of the 1800s when we speak of the restoration of the gospel. For without the full blessings of the restoration extended to every worthy member, the restoration of the gospel remains an incomplete one. Just as those important early dates of church history give us the chance to reflect upon the first vision and the founding of the church, so does today allow us the chance to reflect back upon our history and the current state of race relations within the church. Continue reading

Rough Stone Rolling vs. No Man Knows My History: The Heavyweight Championship of Joseph Smith Biography

The following is a paper I wrote a few years ago in a history class about Joseph Smith from Grant Underwood at BYU.

Released in 2005, Richard L. Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling has been hailed by many as the definitive biography of the Mormon founder. It is only natural, then, to put the book in the ring with Fawn M. Brodie’s classic, No Man Knows My History—without question the most famous, and controversial, biography of Joseph Smith to date. In this paper I compare the two biographies according to four criteria: (1) key similarities and differences, (2) characterization of Joseph’s personality, (3) coverage of key events, and (4) interpretation of teachings and doctrine. Continue reading

Highlights from General Conference, April 2008

I thought I would take a moment and express what I consider to be some of the highlights of General Conference. I encourage others to leave a comment and do the same.

Of course, the major highlight is President Thomas S. Monson.

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Who (or what) will save us?

Each month, I have a group of people over to my house and we have what has come to be called “cottage meetings.” They began as, essentially, support groups for those of us who were bored or dissatisfied by Sunday School. We get together some evening, someone brings dessert, and someone else brings a topic of discussion, which we debate and/or discuss until the kids get too grumpy to last another ten minutes.

At out last cottage meeting, I had assigned my neighbor to bring the topic of discussion. Unfortunately, his job would make him late, so we had to start the discussing with just a prompt given over the phone. He said, “I want you to talk about the Adam-God theory.” Continue reading

Mormon Folk Beliefs!

On March 27 (3-5 p.m.) at the University of Utah, I am giving a presentation at the Society of Mormon Philosophy and Theology, entitled “Toward a Latter-day Saint Theology of Possibilities.” Information about the conference can be found here.

In this presentation I will talk about how “folk beliefs” are unavoidable among Latter-day Saints. Because we do not have an exhaustive theological system or creed, we out of necessity maintain certain beliefs and possibilities that are not the Church’s official position (this is not to say, of course, that they might not be true). Continue reading