Heaven & Earth: Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation and Faith (Conference at UVU February 22nd-23rd, 2018)

By January 21, 2018

The conference is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Brian Birch at brian.birch@uvu.edu or Boyd Petersen at boyd.petersen@uvu.edu 

The relationship between science and religion has been among the most fiercely debated issues since the Copernican revolution displaced traditional wisdom regarding the nature of the cosmos. Some have argued  for a sharp division of labor while others have sought to harmonize spiritual and empirical truths. From its beginnings, Mormonism has wrestled with the implications of modern science and has produced a variety of  theological responses. This conference will explore the landscape of Mormon thought as it relates to the relationships between science, theology, scriptural narratives, and LDS authoritative discourse. It will also examine abiding questions of faith, reason, and doubt and the reactions against the intellectualizing forces that bear on the truth claims of Mormonism.

Thursday, February 22 UVU Classroom Building (CB-511)

1:00-2:15 Eugene England Memorial Lecture

“Mormonism, Evolution, and Science: A Cosmos of Unfolding Beauty and Novelty,” Steven L. Peck, Associate Professor of Biology, Brigham Young University and author of Science the Key to Theology and Evolving Faith: Wanderings of a Mormon Biologist

2:30-3:45 Mormonism and Evolution

“The Evolution of Evolution Acceptance: A Road to Reconciliation for LDS Youth” Jamie Jensen, Associate Professor of Biology, Brigham Young University, author of “Infuencing highly religious undergraduate perceptions of evolution: Mormons as a case study”

“The Scientific Deformation and Reformation of Genesis: How Science Messed It Up But Also Fixes It”

Benjamin Spackman, doctoral candidate in History of Christianity & Religions of North America, Claremont Graduate University, author of “Truth, Scripture, and Interpretation: Some Precursors to Reading Genesis”

4:00-5:15 Panel Discussion

Afternoon Participants moderated by Heath T. Ogden, Associate Professor of Biology, Utah Valley University

5:30-7:00 Reception – LDS Orem Institute of Religion


Friday, February 23 UVU Classroom Building (CB-511)

9:00 – 9:50 10:00 – 10:50 Science and the Critical Study of Scripture

“To Study and Explore By Wisdom’: Interpreting Mormon Scripture Through the Lens of Biblical Scholarship” David Bokovoy, Online Professor of Bible and Jewish Studies, Utah State University, author of Reading the Old Testament: Genesis – Deuteronomy

“Adam and Eve in the Twenty-First Century: LDS Faith and Biblical Scholarship” Philip L. Barlow, Leonard J. Arrington Chair in Mormon Studies & Culture, Utah State University, author of Mormons and the Bible: The Place of Latter-day Saints in American Religion

10-10:50 Keynote Address

“Faith Seeking Understanding: The Evangelical Experience, and Mormon Connections” Molly Worthen, Assistant Professor of History, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, author of Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism and contributing writer for the New York Times on religion and American politics

11:00 – 11:50 Mormonism & the Challenges of Anti-Intellectualism

“She Blinded Me with Science: A Tale of Two Paradigms” David W. Scott, Professor of Communication, Utah Valley University, associate editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and author of “Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark”

“Mormon Views on Evolution and Climate Change: Findings from The Next Mormons Survey” Jana Riess, Senior Columnist, Religion News Service, author of The Next Mormons

Brownbag Panel Discussion

Morning participants moderated by Grant Underwood Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding, Brigham Young University

1-1:50 The Dynamics of Faith & Doubt

“The Other Side of Death: A Kierkegaardian Approach to Doubt and Faith” Deidre Green, Postdoctoral Fellow, Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, author of “Becoming Equal Partners: Latter-day Saint Women as Theologians”

“On Sanctifying Doubt: A Critical Appraisal” Brian D. Birch, Director, Religious Studies Program, Utah Valley University, author of “The Intellectual Cultures of Mormonism: Faith, Reason, and the Apologetic Enterprise”

2-2:50 Mormonism in a Secular Age

“Can Mormons be Mormon in a Secular Age” Boyd Petersen, Program Coordinator for Mormon Studies, Utah Valley University, author of “One Soul Shall Not Be Lost’: The War in Heaven in Mormon Thought”

“Mormon Correlation and the Meanings of Religion in Modern America” Matthew Bowman, Associate Professor of History, Henderson State University, author of The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith

Panel Discussion

Afternoon participants moderated by Blair Van Dyke Instructor, Department of Philosophy & Humanities, Utah Valley University


Article filed under Announcements and Events


  1. Does anyone know if this event will be transcribed or recorded? I live close but may not be able to get off work for the sessions I really want to make.

    Comment by Bryan — January 22, 2018 @ 12:04 pm

  2. They’re almost always recorded, not aware of any transcription.

    Comment by J Stuart — January 22, 2018 @ 1:25 pm

  3. It will be streamed, so I assume recorded.
    This is a slightly older copy, as I had to correct them. I am, sadly, not yet a PhD candidate, just a PhD student.

    Comment by Ben S — January 22, 2018 @ 9:47 pm


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