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Conference Talks

Conference Talks: Life Sciences Panel Discussion

This panel, comprised of five Latter-day Saint scholars in the Life Sciences (Emily Bates, R. Paul Evans, Steven L. Peck, Michael R. Stark, and Trent D. Stephens), provides personal perspectives on the development of their ideas and their affinities for their professional work. Following these perspectives, they answer a pot pourri of audience questions....

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Conference Talks: Science and Genesis: A Personal View

Given their status as targets of humor and caricature, the well-worn stories of Adam, Eve, and Noah are difficult for many people to take seriously. However, we do an injustice both to these marvelous records and to ourselves when we fail to pursue an appreciation of scripture beyond the initial level of cartoon cut-outs inculcated upon the minds of young children. In the words of the world-renowned Latter-day Saint chemist, Henry Eyring, “There are all kinds of contradictions [in religion] I don’t understand, but I find the same kinds of contradictions in science, and I haven’t decided to apostatize from science. In the long run, the truth is its own most powerful advocate.”...

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Conference Talks: Joseph Smith and Modern Cosmology

In this article, physicist Ron Hellings takes a look at some of the teachings of Joseph Smith to try to understand these in light of modern cosmology, the study of the foundations of matter, time, and energy throughout the universe. He finds reasonable ways to harmonize these perspectives, and concludes that naïve big bang challenges to the doctrines of the Restoration are out of date. ...

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Conference Talks: Science, Religion, and Agency

Almost all conceptions of human agency are rooted in libertarianism and grounded in a set of assumptions about the nature of the non-human world, the nature of causality, and the nature of determinism. The effect of this is that agency is always understood around two mutually exclusive positions, compatibilism and incompatibilism. Within this intellectual context, human agency is always impossible, trivial, or illusory. Human agency is drawn into discussions of science and religion because most traditional “scientific” notions of causality and determination are understood in ways that make agency impossible, and most religious positions try to reconcile themselves to the classical libertarian position, which is self-contradictory. The presentation proposed here argues for a new understanding of human agency which requires a rethinking of causality and determinism that is compatible with science. And a refutation of agency that most religious positions unwisely endorse. Agency turns out to be not so much a matter of free choice, but of a deeper matter of the nature of the human world, human ontology, and truth. The lack of clarity on issues of science, religion, and agency comes not from science or religion, but from a faulty dogmatic scientism and the naturalistic metaphysic it always imposes on intellectual discourse....

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Conference Talks: Latter-day Houses of the Lord: Developments in Their Design and Function

This essay traces the modern-day usage and understanding of temples from the Kirtland Temple to Nauvoo and the Salt Lake Temple. Architecture was used to teach principles. While the Kirtland Temple was preparatory (think of the vision of Christ and the conference of keys by Abraham, Moses, Abraham, Elias, and finally Elijah), the Nauvoo Temple was dedicated to ritual usage. In 1879, the Church reduced temple usage to rituals, and thus assembly rooms are missing from later temples. Through his paper, Cowan shows how temples have changed according to revelation and how prophets have seen models in vision that then have been incorporated in the temples God’s people built....

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Conference Talks: Axes Mundi: A Comparative Analysis of Nephite and Mesoamerican Temple and Ritual Complexes

This study seeks to compare and contrast the temple and ritual complexes alluded to in the Book of Mormon with those known from the archaeological record in Mesoamerica. Although superficially they may appear incompatible, an analysis of their underlying mythologies reveals many conceptual similarities, suggesting Nephite worship and ritual might not have been wholly out of place in that context....

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Conference Talks: Why Evolution and LDS Thought are Fully Compatible

Steven Peck, a BYU Professor of Biology, takes it as “axiomatic that evolution in its broad sense is the way the biological world works, although details are still being worked out and amazing discoveries will continue for centuries.” Using vivid examples, he explains both the compelling nature and the complexity of evolution. He also describes the weak science behind what is popularly called the “Intelligent Design” movement. However, “evolution does not negate by one iota the idea of a purposeful universe that was organized by a loving, intelligent God.”...

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Conference Talks: Science vs. Religion: Can This Marriage Be Saved?

This essay examines the details of ongoing wars between science and religion and shows why they are not only futile and senseless, but also unnecessary. Sometimes such battles cause people to forget important ideals that science and religion hold in common. It is important for religious movements to stay focused on religion and not embrace in their central belief systems some particular scientific theory or worldview that will eventually become obsolete with continued research advances. As Holmes Rolston observed, “The religion that is married to science today will be a widow tomorrow.” Both scientists and religious believers can stand in awe at the majesty of the universe. So why all the fighting?...

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Conference Talks: A Torah Harmony

Presented at:The 2012 Temple on Mount Zion ConferenceSaturday, September 22, 2012https://interpreterfoundation.org/conferences/2012-the-temple-on-mount-zion-conference/ Conference Proceedings:Temple Insights at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/temple-insights/...

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Conference Talks: Covenant and Temple in Psalm 105

Stephen Ricks takes a close look at the literary structure of a psalm, reintroducing us to chiasmus both in modern and ancient texts, including the Book of Mormon, then uses this literary structure to show how the psalm contains the basic historic credo of the Israelites, as seen in Deuteronomy and mirrored in 1 Nephi 17....

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Conference Talks: Job: An LDS Reading

Mack C. Stirling examines the well-known story of Job, one of the literary books of the Bible and part of the Wisdom literature (which is heavy in temple mysticism and symbols), and proposes the story follows the temple endowment to the T. Following Hugh Nibley’s lead in The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, the temple endowment is not discussed. ...

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Conference Talks: Edfu and Exodus

In this essay John Gee draws a connection between the Egyptian “Book of the Temple” and the book of Exodus, both in structure and topic, describing the temple from the inside out. Gee concludes that both probably go back to a common source older than either of them. ...

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