Day 2 was as enjoyable as Day 1. As before, Blair Hodges has excellent notes, so I’ll link to those.
John Lynch – “Uh oh!” to “Ah ha!” in Apologetics—20/20 Foresight for a Faithful Future in Defending the Church
We are decidedly partisan in defending the Church. What are we defending?
1. Foundational claims of the restoration
2. Canonized teachings
3. Priesthood authority
4. The good name of general authorities and the Church
What are we not obligated to defend?
1. Personal writings of GAs and lay members
2. Changeable interpretations of doctrine
3. Manuals published by committees
4. Behavior of local leaders
5. Conventional wisdom or folk doctrine
It is not enough to just answer the claims of the critics. Members also need nourishment. We have a story-based theology. Sensation reports of fabricated facts need to be replaced. The ability to discern is absolutely critical. How do you divide the light from the darkness? Where do you draw the line? Critics would like to blur the line. They don’t need to change dark to light, they just need to make the line unclear.
Presentation can make reality seem the opposite of what it is. Critics don’t need to change the facts. They just need to change how we look at them. It’s all about perspective.
Brant Gardner – Joseph the Seer, or Why Joseph Translated with a Rock in His Hat
Why would you look at a rock in hat? Because that was an accepted method in that time and place (i.e., New England, early 1800s). Scrying was normal, and a stone was the common tool. Did Joseph or others actually see things via a seer stone? Probably not, but they believed they could, and that belief is what mattered. The seer stone allowed Joseph Smith to believe he could translate. It was a tool that provided him the faith he needed to do it, and when he no longer needed it he stopped using it. He knew translating was beyond the ability of a village seer and was by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
“Magic” almost always refers to someone else’s religious practice. What I do is religion; what you do is magic.
Ron Hellings – Joseph Smith and Modern Cosmology
Physics! Yay! Ron Hellings went over views of cosmology in Joseph Smith’s time, between then and now, and now. Current inflationary cosmology is consistent with Joseph Smith’s cosmology. And there was discussion of the physics of spirit matter and how things can go faster than light, thus allowing for God to answer prayers. Fascinating, but beyond my ability to replicate in these notes.
William Thompson (Lord Kelvin) – ~1900: “ There is nothing to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurements.”
Joseph Fielding Smith – 1961: “It is doubtful that man will ever be permitted to make any instrument or ship to travel through space and visit the moon or distant planet.”
In both cases, they based their conclusion on what they knew, but there are some things they didn’t know, and they didn’t know they didn’t know it. If you see a conflict between science and religion, can you think of at least two areas where the problem may lie?
Matthew Brown – Brigham Young’s Teachings on Adam
As the title suggests, this presentation was a summary of BY’s Adam-God teachings. His conclusion is that the core principles of Adam-God are BY’s speculations/guessing, and BY knew that (“I reckon”)
Greg Smith – Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Plural Marriage * But Were Afraid To Ask
Based on the applause at the end, this was the favorite presentation of either day. Greg got the longest applause, and I think some people wanted to give him a standing ovation. It was indeed a very good presentation. He discussed some of the bad research that has gone into some claims, the polyandrous marriages, the ages of those getting married, sex, and whether polygamy was a mistake. (As for the last, the answer was “maybe”, but then you have to pick up the whole stick. If JS was wrong about D&C 132, what is to prevent me from concluding he was wrong about all other revelations?)
Richard Sherlock – Mormonism in the Public Square
An introduction of the website squaretwo.org.
Daniel Peterson – The Temple as a Place of Ascent to God
The idea of ascention is all over the world through the ages. And Daniel Peterson reviewed several of them. The temple is a model of cosmic reality.