By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

An Amoeba-Sized Post on Evolution

I don't really have anything scintillating to discuss about evolution, but I have enjoyed the post and comments over at M* and wanted to link to that in case anyone missed it.

I have also added two sites to my sidebar under "Science," one for (Talk Origins) and one against (Science Against Evolution). Yeah, I carry the fairness thing to extremes sometimes! ;>D

I personally do not believe that evolution is the answer. And, yes, I am aware that many people think I am ignorant, uneducated, or silly. But that's the way it goes. I am not offended.

Back to the M* discussion, it was interesting with several participants and a number of links to sites and talks, so I wanted to point it out. Enjoy.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

A Bit More on Flavius Josephus

From the Catholic Enclyclopedia at New Advent, the entry on Josephus, Flavius:

Jewish historian, born A.D. 37, at Jerusalem; died about 101. He belonged to a distinguished priestly family, whose paternal ancestors he himself traces back five generations; his mother's family claimed descent from the Machabeans. He received a good education, and association with distinguished scholars developed his intellectual gifts, more especially his memory and power of judgment. He also made himself fully acquainted with and tried the leading politico-religious Jewish parties of his age -- the Essenes, Pharisees, and Sadducees.

Impressed by the outward importance of the Pharisees and hoping to secure through them a position of influence, he attached himself to their party at the age of nineteen, although he shared neither their religious nor political views.

I have been trying to get a handle on Josephus. It would help if I had more time to spend reading his works and his life. I get an impression from the above that he was not deeply religious, but rather looked at what would provide the best situation in life for him. Would this make his history less biased and more reliable, do you think? (Of course, now that I think of it, "less biased" toward what?!) Have any of you formed an idea as to whether his history is considered a good source to depend upon?

I have been all over the map with my reading, but find that more and more I am interested in non-fiction, particularly history and religion. Since I am new to Josephus, I will probably ask ignorant questions, but how else can I shed my ignorance?

Edited to add: I did a search at and found that Josephus has been occasionally quoted throughout the years and the quotes are always treated as a very reliable history. It's been several years since the last quote I could find, though, so what I am asking is have there been any recent findings that seem to question the authenticity of Josephus, or that find him authentic, but of questionable reliability? I am continuing to look around on the internet, but if any of you have studied Josephus, I thought you might give me a hint or two. Thanks!

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Solo Navel-Gazing, Or Why I Like the Bloggernacle

I have been reading the posts at Milennial Star wherein Jonathan Max Wilson takes his leave (for which I am very sorry--I liked his writing) and also wherein the discussion turned to what's good and bad about the Bloggernacle.

I might as well chime in. I'm more conservative than most, but I often see posts I enjoy around the blogs, even if I don't agree with the opinions expressed. I do think that some of those who post and comment around here ask way more questions than are warranted, and parse sentences to the nth degree. But, hey, that's just me!

I do want to say that one of the things I appreciate the most about the Bloggernacle, as well as an LDS forum I post on, is that I have learned that not everyone thinks the same way I do, and their different thinking doesn't mean that they don't have faith. It doesn't mean they don't do a better job of living the gospel than I do and that they are happy and content.

I think that is probably one of the greatest things about LDS sites on the internet. People are perhaps more willing to share their thoughts and hopes and dreams and wishes, and do it more honestly, than they would in person. And so we find out we aren't alone in our ways of looking at things and in the questions we ask.

The things that bother me the most about all this, though, are the assumptions the "conservatives" and "liberals" (for want of better words) make about one another. I try not to do this and hope that most everyone else tries not to either.

The stereotypes I see:

1. "Liberals" are on the high road to apostasy (Where did that phrase come from, anyway?). They are always looking for loopholes or excuses to not have to live the gospel or believe anything, thus evading all kinds of responsibility. They love to talk and write a lot of intellectual stuff, but they don't want to actually have to give up their worldliness, or go to church, or etc.

2. "Conservatives" are ignorant, stupid, blindly obedient cowards. They "toe the party line" at all times. They, too, are evading responsibility by letting others tell them what to do, what to think, what to say. They are afraid of anything remotely intellectual. They are afraid to question anything and everything. They are just afraid.

None of these stereotypes are generally true, though as with most stereotypes, there are probably bits and pieces that are true for a rare person here and there. I am very conservative. I don't have to know all the whys and wherefores. I went through a very liberal intellectual phase years ago, but, while it was interesting, it wasn't me. I still like to learn new things and I love to write.

I blog because I wanted a place to write and a place to share some thoughts and ideas that are important to me and some that I feel are under-represented on the internet. I know that there will be people who think I'm nuts, but I hope they will be polite about it. I really do appreciate the fine people who are in the Bloggernacle. Some of them think very differently than I do, yet I still like them and enjoy reading what they have to say. I have learned to be more understanding of my fellow saints through my associations here. I have learned not to jump to conclusions about people.

Sometimes I worry that some of the discussions might lead to doubts in readers who are investigators or new converts or going through a rough time. I would hate to see that happen. And it makes me sad when something or someone that is very much a part of church culture is made fun of (for being a hardliner, for being sickeningly sweet, for being boring, or whatever the complaint is). I know that some things annoy some people, but I just hate to see so much criticism of little things, because that can build up into a general dissatisfaction with the church and its leaders. Another complaint I hear quite a bit is that the leaders talk about the same things all the time (tithing, modesty, service, etc.) or that they talk about marriage and family all the time and it hurts the feelings of those who aren't married and don't have a family. My feelings are that if we all paid our tithing, I'll bet we'd never hear another talk about it. As for the family thing, well, I used to have a family and now I don't. Does it bother me to hear talks about family? No. I realize that is just me and that others may be more sensitive to that kind of thing. I just don't feel that we each should expect the church to cater to our specific needs.

Well, I have gazed at my navel for long enough--it gets boring quickly, doesn't it? I think the Bloggernacle and other LDS venues on the internet are, overall, a good thing, and I just felt like sharing some of my thoughts. I hope I didn't come off as too strident about some things--my excuse is that I am a human being, just like the rest of you!!! Thanks for reading.


Monday, August 22, 2005


A Drop of Ink

By Joseph Ernest Whitney

THIS drop of ink chance leaves upon my pen,

What might it write in Milton’s mighty hand!

What might it speak at Shakespeare’s high command!

What words to thrill the throbbing hearts of men!

Or from Beethoven’s soul a grand amen,

All life and death in one full compass spanned!

Who could its power in Goethe ’s touch withstand?

What words of truth it holds beyond our ken,—

What blessed promise we would fain be told,

And cannot,—what grim sentence dread as death,—

What venomous lie, that never shall unfold,—

What law, undoing science with a breath!

But—mockery of life’s quick-wasted lot—

Dropped on a virgin sheet ’t is but a blot!


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Making the Grade by John Tvedtnes

Meridian Magazine is publishing a series of five articles called "Making the Grade" by John Tvedtnes. So far, there are three of them up. In these essays, John Tvedtnes is discussing how to learn. Although directed more at young people, I think they are of interest to anyone who seeks education, whether through schooling or through personal study. Here are links to the three up so far:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

See what you think. I have read through them once and thought there were some good points and ideas, although there should be more to come in the remaining two articles.