September 30th has been declared International Blasphemy Day. I’m sure many people will find this terribly offensive, and possibly a sign of the impending Rapture. However, this is meant to be a reminder of our right to free speech, which affects all of us, whatever your religious beliefs. Continue reading
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” — Charles Dickens
Thursday, October 1st will be the best of times, because that evening there will be two highly-anticipated lectures. It will also be the worst of times, however—you can only attend one as they each start at 7:00 PM. I’ll advertise them both; go to whichever one most piques your interest.
This year’s Leonard Arrington Mormon History Lecture will be given by Kathleen Flake, professor of American religious history in the Divinity School and Graduate Department at Vanderbilt University. She will be speaking about “The Emotional and Priestly Logic of Plural Marriage.” Having read Flake’s work on polygamy, I expect her presentation to be fascinating. This lecture will take place Thursday, October 1st at the Logan Tabernacle at 7:00 PM.
Another lecture will be held at the same time in the Emert Auditorium (room 130) of the Eccles Science and Learning Center. Dr. Francisco Ayala will be giving a lecture entitled “Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion.” He teaches evolutionary biology at UC Irvine and served as the chief witness in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education against teaching creationism in public schools.
Our theist friends can attend both—one in body, the other in spirit. But alas, we nonbelievers enjoy no such luxury.
This is the fifth installment of my “Why I Don’t Believe” series. If you haven’t been following these posts, please read my reasons for doing the series. At first, I debated whether to include a discussion of the Kinderhook Plates, but I think it complements the previous post on the Book of Abraham. So while this post will be subject to revision, I hope you find it interesting.
On April 23, 1843, six bell-shaped brass plates were unearthed from an Indian mound near Kinderhook, Illinois. These plates bore strange engravings and appeared to be of ancient origins. Among those who found the plates were two Mormon Elders. They were excited by the discovery and suggested that the plates be taken to their prophet to be translated. And within a week, the Kinderhook Plates (as they became known) made their way to Joseph Smith.
Unbeknownst to Smith, the plates were a hoax meant to expose him as a charlatan. W. P. Harris, a witness to the Kinderhook Plate’s discovery, wrote the following in an 1856 letter:
“…I was present with a number at or near Kinderhook and helped to dig at the time the plates were found…Bridge Whitten said to me that he cut and prepared the plates and he…and R. Wiley engraved them themselves…Wilbourn [Fugate] appeared to be the chief, with R. Wiley and B. Whitten.”
Fugate himself confessed to being the architect of the hoax, albeit (oddly) decades later:
“I received your letter in regard to those plates, and I will say in answer that they are a humbug, gotten up by Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitten and myself….We read in Pratt’s prophecy that ‘Truth is yet to spring out of the earth.’ We concluded to prove the prophecy by way of a joke. We soon made our plans and executed them. Bridge Whitton cut them out…Wiley and I made the hieroglyphics by making impressions on beeswax and filling them with acid and putting it on the plates.”
Well, their ruse worked. William Clayton, Smith’s scribe and confidant, recorded in his journal that “Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.”
This is problematic for the church, because, to quote critical author Charles A. Shook, “Only a bogus prophet translates bogus plates.”
Bow down to the King of Thieves!
I always get really excited about new dinosaur fossils, and this one is particularly special. Raptorex is probably also the best scientific name ever given out. It has the same general proportions as the full-sized Trex–large menacing head and jaws, tiny hilarious arms–but at a much smaller (although still human-sized!) scale. This demonstrates that the Tyrannosaur body plan was successful at sizes other than Enormous.
Walking around with one of these on a leash would seriously impress the ladies.
I saw this article on NPR this morning while I was scanning the news. I had to give a self-satisfied smirk, of course, but seriously, religious friends, take care of yourselves. I’m sure God will understand.
Through the eyes of the H1N1 virus, a Catholic church is a playground. The font of holy water near the church entrance is a great place for the virus to leap from one person to another. The passing of the peace, during which parishioners shake hands, is yet another favorite place for the virus. And then there’s Communion: The priest puts the host, or wafer, on a parishioner’s tongue or into the person’s hand, and then does the same for the next person. Often, he then serves wine from a common cup. It’s wiped clean each time, but that’s no guarantee it’s virus-free.
Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of Baltimore said these rituals have prompted a flood of questions. Continue reading
Dr. Laurence Hemming of Lancaster University and Oxford will be a guest speaker at USU Philosophy Club this week and SHAFT has been invited to attend. He will present on “Divine Revelation and Human Reason,” which will concern the relationship between faith and reason. This is quite an honor for Utah State, as Dr. Hemming is an eminently impressive Catholic thinker. And while I suspect that we SHAFTers will disagree with his conclusions, Hemming’s talk should nonetheless be provocative.
The presentation is on Wednesday, September 16th, at 4:00 PM in Old Main 115.
Shouldn’t the existence of this site be enough for the LDS church to have its tax exempt status rescinded? This pretty much guarantees that the church organization itself spent far more than the limit of $100 (or its equivalent in volunteer time) in support of a political initiative.
This is from the copyright footer:
An Official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
© 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
Followed by an official logo.
Why can’t the IRS ever be this lazy when it comes to the personal income tax?
Hey, look at this:
How about that bishop at the end, huh? What a tool. I mean, I know dissenting opinions are not really allowed in the Mormon church (or pretty much any other), but I’m always kinda dumbfounded when I see this sort of censorship in action.
I really wonder what the congregation thought. Most were probably relieved that someone shut up the mean guy who was making their brains hurt, but I have to wonder he didn’t spark more than a few thoughts.
Todd himself seems to have left the church, according to the video description.