On guns

In silence I’ve watched the splashes of opinion on Facebook and among blogs on gun control. Mostly because I see the issue framed in such complexity that I knew I could not put up a comment with enough depth to capture what I feel. I felt sorrow and devastation at the horrific shooting in Newtown. I found it unbelievable and still can’t get my head around the loss of so many innocents. I’ve shed tears almost at every mention. Continue reading

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Your Christmas gift guide

Having trouble picking which of my books you would like to give for Christmas? Here is a handy guide I’ve created to make it easier!


You can read more about them here:

A Short Stay in Hell

Rifts of Rime

The Scholar of Moab

Or just pick them numberswiki.com

up at Amazon!

Scholar of Moab

Rifts of Rime

A Short Stay in Hell.

Or Barns and Noble (do a quick search)!

Or, if you like to delve into my sappy side, my Christmas novel, The Gift of the King’s Jeweler, published by Convenant Communications back in the day, has just been released on Kindle.

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Wise advice on Sunday School Teaching

From my friend Blair Hodges:

“Too often, the Sunday School teacher doesn’t have a sympathetic understanding of the place of science, philosophy, the arts, and history in the lives of young people, consequently, he depreciates, even belittles these branches of knowledge in his classes. In this way, often without realizing it, he creates confusions and conflicts, instead of an over-all harmony, such as spiritual growth should produce…

“The Sunday School teacher who makes a pastime of ridiculing men of science, and of holding them up as the arch enemies of religion, usually loses the respect of the most intelligent members of his class. Others, more info

who for the time being accept his conclusions, are forced later on to believe they must choose one or the other. Sometimes, they don’t choose religion. And if they don’t, the deceptions of unscrupulous and irreligious teachers of science may have been one of the causes; but it’s equally true that the Sunday School teachers themselves may have been the worst offenders.”

Ezra J. Poulson, “Make Your Teaching Live,” Instructor Vol. 83, No. 4 (April 1948): 178-9, 199.

So true. Within science I’ve seen far more damage done by members who dismiss science as somehow anti-religious than any other form of anti-Mormonism.

Posted in Faith, Religion | 4 Comments

Scott Parkin’s review of my new book, Rifts of Rime

After all the excitement of this week, I am off on vacation to Maine. But to keep you entertained and well informed, with special permission from AML’s own Scott Parkin, I am reposting his review of my new book, Rifts of Rime.

This was originally posted at the Association of Mormon Literature (AML) Discussion Board. You may want to visit it and look at what’s going on in Mormon lit.

In addition, don’t forget to look at my other books, Scholar of Moab, which was awarded AML’s best novel of 2011, and was a Finalist for the Montaigne Medal, a national award for the most thought provoking book. Look at the reviews at the link.

Also “A Short Stay in Hell” is tearing up Goodreads. Warning, do not read if you don’t want to stay up all night thinking. Take a look at AaronR’s discussion ongoing right now at BCC.

Since I’ll be sailing, eating lobster, and biking through ancient forests, I won’t be checking this often so I’m turning off comments on this post until I get back.

To the Rifts of Rime Review!

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How I teach the ways of science at the Y

There seems to be a mistake people make about the way that BYU science departments function and should be taught. There is a myth spreading through dark corners of the internet that BYU should keep religion and science separate the way secular universities do. It takes a strange and perverted form in the voices found among those benighted dogmatists who guard the boarders of pure doctrine, as they perceive it. They claim because science is to held as suspicious or inimical to faith that scientists should not try to reconcile conflicts between the two. Actually at BYU we have been instructed, à la Brigham Young, to, “not even teach the mathematics tables without the Spirit of the Lord.” In fact, each year, two questions appear on the forms that students evaluate faculty on for each class every semester:

Has your testimony been strengthened?

And how well did the instructor integrate the gospel in the subject?

(For all my classes my rates are 7 to 7.4 out of 8, with the university and department average ranging form 6.2-6.6, so I am significantly above average! Who’da thunk it.)

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Those who are suspicious of science are missing part of the restoration

Scientific literacy is falling in America. Part of the reason is that its value is being under-appreciated by a larger and larger segment of the population. Suspicions about evolution and climate change have created an atmosphere where two of science’s most strongly supported investigations are dismissed. To do that, you have to dismiss science itself. Really. Continue reading

Posted in Climate Change, Evolution, Philosophy of Science, Religion | 36 Comments

Prometheus: A biologist’s review (Spoilers aplenty)

Spoilers. Lots of them. If you plan to see this movie don’t read this post. Really. This is a movie worth seening if you like riotous movies and are willing to forgive of lots of trip-ups that really don’t make sense. I’m a fan of lots of Scifi TV and have grown tolerant of wacky writers running roughshod over both commonsense and basic science. The film is stunningly filmed, exciting, and wonderfully acted. In particular, Noomi Rapace, even without her Dragon Tattoos, was nearly perfect. So worth seeing, if you are willing to set aside much.
Continue reading

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Watch a real scientific controversy

It is fun to watch an actual scientific controversy unfold. The fake ones like climate change denial or intelligent design, which are orchestrated for political purposes or reasons of ideology, draw scientists in because the public has been cajoled into buying bad (or non-) science by modern hucksters and charlatans. Not really fun or interesting, but necessary I suppose. No, the real deal, the full blown genuine real scientific argument is so much more exciting. Not only do you get the full of drama of the faked stuff: personality, egos, careers be made and broken, insults, posturing, and all the accoutrements of human disagreement. But you get the stuff of science: data analysis and reanalysis, experiments and field studies, new theory and new looks at old theory, and battles fought where science is done—in the peer reviewed literature. And you don’t know how its going to end! It’s not clear who is going to win. And what the outcome will hinge on is not who pays for the most advertising, or which side owns a news corp. But on the facts mam’ nothing but the facts. Continue reading

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Unmasking some of the ‘Conspiring men’

Suppose your friend came to you and said that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Suppose he said that he had seen 100 doctors and using best medical practices 98 had told them that he should start treatment immediately. Further, suppose that the 98 say that it is not too late to intervene, but time is critical. Suppose that the 98 come from all over the world and represent a number of specialties and disciplines and have come to the conclusion that he has cancer from multiple tests, procedures and such. Then suppose that your friend tells you that he’s decided not to get treatment because the doctors have not reached a consensus. That 2% still believe that he doesn’t have cancer, and given its cost it would be better until we have more data before deciding on whether to treat his cancer—and the costs will be substantial. Once treatment starts he may have to give up his job, it will drain his life savings, and he will undergo significant pain and discomfort. Nothing in his life will likely be the same. The question is, is your friend acting rationally? What’s the best thing for your friend to do? Is there an argument that he is not getting treatment because he really wants to believe he can avoid the unpleasantness he must face? Or is the evidence really as insufficient as your friend argues. What would you advise? Continue reading

Posted in Climate Change, Ethics | 21 Comments

Scholar of Moab wins AML Award for best novel published in 2011

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