Forgive my optimism

It’s not like I’ve not been to Czechoslovakia before. Back when I was serving in the US Cavalry (and despite what my kids think I did not ride a horse and rescue settlers) we would sometimes get out of our small fast cavalry tanks and patrol the Czech boarder on foot, following old snow-covered footpaths through cold, fog enshrouded forests. We would occasionally pass white stone boarder markers, in size about six inches square and standing a little less than knee high, which marked the boundary between West Germany and Czechoslovakia. At one of these markers while my sergeant wasn’t looking I stuck my foot inside the border. [Read more...]

No death before the rye

The ‘Galileo affair’ is often replayed as a morality tale about irrational religion vs. enlightenment science. The truth is that it was a little more complex than that. Galileo was a firm believer in God. He was a good Catholic in fact. He believed the church was true. However, he ran afoul of the Pope in some, well, not to put too fine a point on it, ways that he should have seen coming. [Read more...]

How Willow helped me teach my sons the ‘facts of life’

I found the following at a website for a Magazine called New Moon Girls. It is written by and for girls age 8 to 14 and this was in a section called “Ask a Girl.

    Dear Ask a Girl,
    I’m 13 and I think I’m bisexual. I’ve liked boys before, but now I have a crush on a girl. This girl keeps me awake at night and I can’t seem to keep myself from thinking about what others would say if I asked her out. I know she supports homosexuality, and so does my family. I adore her so much it hurts sometimes! I would really like to ask her to be my girlfriend, but I am so worried about what she’ll say or do. This has been going on for two months and the headaches and stomachaches are getting worse! HELP!
    Claire, 13

You can imagine my reaction! This was for preteen girls! And you are correct if you guessed I immediately pulled out [Read more...]

Astrid grills a phone-missionary about evolution

The following is a dialogue my friend Astrid sent me between herself and a Missionary (both names changed) manning the church’s live chat at Mormon.org:

    Astrid: Do you believe in Evolution?

    Charles: hi, how are you

    Astrid: do you believe in Evolution?

    Astrid: is anyone there? [Read more...]

Should we teach our children that God is our mechanic?

Read the following Matt and Mandy from the Aug 2008 Friend. Between the penultimate panel and the last one what happened? Here are some possibilities. Let’s assume that the car is not running for a mechanical reason and that there is a physical cause for its not starting. What are the possibilities in the missing panel? Let’s consider three: [Read more...]

Some things too sacred to share

Too sacred to share. I’ve been thinking about that for a few days as I readied a post on my faith-science blog that for a long time fell into the category for me. I changed my mind. There was some discomfort with it because we run across the words ‘too sacred to share”, but I’m not sure what they mean. Here are a couple of uses I pulled up on a search on the Church’s web site: [Read more...]

The Dead Thing in My Can of Tuna

Guest Blogger, Steven Peck is an associate professor and evolutionary ecologist at BYU who blogs on issues of science and faith at the Mormon Organon. He is currently doing a year sabbatical with the United Nations in Vienna, Austria working on African tsetse fly population ecology.

After class one day, I guiltily grabbed one of those over-packaged lunches so indispensable for those in a hurry to gulp down something quickly. This one was canned tuna salad and crackers. I felt guilty at the amount of unnecessary material piling up as I squirreled through the packaging to find my meal. [Read more...]

Steadying the Ark

My two weeks of guest blogging is about over. I wanted to thank you all for invigorating discussion and thought that you have spurred me to during this time. I want to thank Steve Evans for inviting me to join you. I’ve had a good time.

So for my last blog consider this scripture: [Read more...]

Testing God

Let’s go back to robots (as all theological discussions ultimately must). In Dan Simmon’s SciFi masterpiece, Hyperion, one of the main characters Sol has a reoccurring dream in which he hands over his daughter (who has been aging backwards due to Merlin’s disease) to a spatial and temporal shifting mechanical creature called the Shrike. [Read more...]

The Accidental Backpacker

There is no universal recipe for living.
Carl Jung, p. 300 D. Bair

I was feeling very burned out. My classes had been demanding. I was working on three research projects and none of them were going as planned and I was plagued with setbacks and frustrations. I needed some time off. For a long time I had wanted to climb Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. [Read more...]

Sunday School lesson 2048–Uncorrelated

The Scriptures contain all truths necessary for our salvation. And while what they contain is all true, they do not claim to be the only source of truth. For example, they say very little about such things as evolution, the Schrödinger Equations for quantum mechanics, or Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, or even how to bake a tempting devil’s food cake. We are therefore left to sort out many truths on our own. Nowhere is this challenge more apparent than in the scripture’s silence on the status of robots. Of course much of Ezekiel can be read profitably as a prophecy on the rise of robots in the last days. However, their status in the eternal scheme of things is murky at best. Therefore we are left to other sources of truth to explore the nature of robot consciousness, robot ethics and the use of robots in home and visiting teaching. And as far as I can tell these topics will not be soon covered in our auxiliary lessons (this despite my repeated calls to Church Correlation that we spend a year using Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Roger Heinlein in Sunday School). Nevertheless, in anticipation of our church education becoming more interested in these important matters, I’ve prepared a set of lessons on robots for use in our Sunday Schools. Here is an example: [Read more...]

Towards a Mormon Darwinism

Many theologians have become interested in the implications of Darwinism for Christianity and religion in general. Within our church the debates about evolution have often been centered on figuring out just what the church’s position on evolution actually is. It’s confused because there are abundant negative statements by general authorities, including church presidents, who believed that evolution has its roots in the devil himself. Darwinism in this view is completely incompatible with Mormonism. These debates, I believe, have distracted us from thinking deeply about the implications of Darwinism for our unique and powerful teachings. [Read more...]

The Parable of the Peccary

Steven L. Peck is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at Brigham Young University where he teaches the History and Philosophy of Biology. He blogs on issues of Science and Faith at ‘The Mormon Organon’ (sciencebysteve.net). Nothing he says should ever be taken seriously by anyone, anywhere, at anytime. He is a long time fan of BCC and is thrilled to be a guest blogger for the next couple of weeks, (although he fears they may regret this invitation).

Right now we are all situated in a life. We stand in relation to many things: other people, hierarchies of social power, natural and ecological processes, familial relationships, economic connections with people in a global economy, etc. On top of that we have a historical context that places us in a certain place and time and embeds us in both a cultural setting and a pile of accidental ways of doing things and manipulating the world around us. These things allow us to live biologically and find meaning in the things we do. We also stand in relation to ourselves. This is a weird thing to say I suppose, and I’ve decided to spend my two weeks over here at BCC exploring some aspects of what I mean by this through the use of parables, robots, poetry and prose. (My sense is that while we have done a good job as Mormons of using parables we have vastly underused robots and their metaphors.) [Read more...]

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