FAIR Conference 2009, Day 2

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
[LOGP summary]
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
[LOGP summary]
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
[LOGP summary]
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
[LOGP summary]
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
[LOGP summary]
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
[LOGP summary]
An introduction of the website squaretwo.org.

Daniel Peterson – The Temple as a Place of Ascent to God
[LOGP summary]
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.

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About Tanya Spackman

Tanya was born in Provo, Utah, on a warm July day. After escaping childhood with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises (except for 5 stitches - oh, and that incident with the staple in the thumb), she graduated from BYU with a degree in molecular biology. Before graduation, she served a mission in Chicago. As graduation neared, she decided lab work really wasn't her thing, and she had no interest in research or teaching (but really, molecular biology is interesting), so she decided to attempt the world of technical writing. Thus, she now works as a technical writer/editor for the Navy in Washington, DC. She loves to read and travel.

9 thoughts on “FAIR Conference 2009, Day 2

  1. Thank you Tanya, I whole heartily agree with John Lynch’s list on what we are obligated to defend and what we are not obligated to defend. I also like his thoughts on the blurred line. Wonderful!

  2. Yes, thank-you Tanya. I enjoy reading stuff from FAIR; it’s academic without being too pointy-headed or navel-gazing or faith-dampening.

    JAB: I don’t have your email addy, so excuse me for asking this here. How are your two little girls doing? Do you have any other children at home besides your two adopted daughters?

  3. Actually Bookslinger I have five children. Three boys and two girls. Only the youngest is adopted. Tex, my oldest, is a new RM and with the ROTC. Piano Man is a Senior in HS. Jie Jie is a middle schooler, Flash is an Elementary schooler, and Hong Mei is a kindergartener. I think everyone is okay. Thanks for asking.

  4. It was so nice to see you again, Tanya. I have enjoyed (and agreed with) your comments about the conference here and elsewhere.

  5. It depends. When I resolve to call her up a thousand times a day, and ask her if she’ll marry me in some old-fashioned way, every little thing she does is magic.

  6. A better definition of “magic” is that it is something that requires the violation of the fundamental laws of nature. I don’t think either Mormonism or Catholicism is committed to that position. Of course the neutral term for something that appears to violate natural laws is “miracle”.

  7. Mark, I’m not sure that works since magic is supposed to be a kind of technology. i.e. the difference between magic and religious miracles is that in magic a god or other divine being isn’t doing the acting. Beyond that I tend to agree that magic vs. religion is blurry at best. A lot of magical thinking is based upon the idea that like affects like in sympathetic relations. A bunch of nonsense to say the least often tied to Platonisms of various sorts especially during the Renaissance and remnants of renaissance thinking that survived into the late modern period.

  8. In BHodges’ notes of Helling’s talk, I loved this ‘translation’ into modern jargon: “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter. But it coupleth to a different metric.”

    What a crackup!

    Thanks, Tanya. I wasn’t able to attend or even watch the streaming video, so I’m so glad so many who went are willing to share!

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