Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bravo, Grant Hardy

I was deeply impressed by Grant Hardy’s presentation at the recent FAIR conference. Hardy discussed four different types of conversations that Mormons might have about their faith (with academics, critics, faithful members, and wavering Mormons) and gave some advice and suggestions for each. In a nutshell, Hardy encouraged Mormons to err on the side of kindness and generosity, to acknowledge that we have much to learn from others, and to give more space for complexity, nuance, and alternative interpretations.

The entire presentation is terrific, but this quote in particular stood out to me:

When confronted with information that makes our beliefs seem unreasonable, … sometimes the best response may be to reexamine our own assumptions and expectations. I grew up thinking that evolution was false and that the Book of Mormon was a history of most of the inhabitants of ancient America. I no longer believe those things. Many criticisms can be summarized as “the basic claims of the Church are contrary to science, history, or ethics,” and as painful as it may be to hear that, such charges often have some validity and deserve careful consideration rather than an offhand dismissal or a snappy retort.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Mormon Scientist's Approach to Faith

BYU biology professor Steven Peck is quite unlike most Mormons I know. For example, Peck:
—believes that evolution is the best way to view the history of biological life on Earth;
—believes that some of the stories in the scriptures (like the universal flood) should not be taken literally; and
—does not believe that “environmentalist” is a pejorative term.

Peck’s most recent book, Evolving Faith: Wanderings of a Mormon Biologist, was released last fall as part of the Maxwell Institute’s Living Faith series. The title might suggest that this is a book about evolution, but it’s actually a collection of essays on a wide range of interesting topics. Some of the essays will strengthen your faith, while others will challenge it in productive ways. Nearly all of them will leave you asking questions.