My guest, Anthony Larson, has written several books and a number of articles presenting his unique view of science, which he believes supports both ancient prophets and modern LDS prophets and writers in their world view.
He and I differ substantially in our assessment of both science and religion, specifically the LDS beliefs. He believes in what he calls catastrophism - that changes in the world, the solar system and the universe happen quickly and suddenly; that new planets can be birthed in the space of days.
Tony is an advocate of the writings and speculations of Velikovsky, which have been rejected by modern science. For example, he speculated that a planet or comet passed by the earth at the time of Moses, taking about six months, causing the events at that time considered miraculous, such as the water being turned to blood, or turned red.
Tony favors maverick scientists over the consensus of the various scientific disciplines, contending that the mavericks will be proven correct - that modern science is undergoing a major revolution. He further contends that the mavericks are bringing science around to the Mormon point of view.
Within this maverick science Tony claims there is support for the literal interpretation of Joshua 10:12-14 and Helamen 12:14-15 which speak of the sun standing still or the earth stopping its rotation.
Tony believes that LDS have turned from prophecy and lost sight of the imminence of the Second Coming because it has not happened and have focused on day to day needs. He contends that they need to be cognizant of prophecy and interpret it properly, which interpretations he is prepared to elucidate. He has written his books to convince LDS that Joseph Smith had the keys; that he explained them, but LDS have just overlooked them.
Regarding sources and interpretation, I expressed my doubt regarding the value of a number of sources which he uses to establish what he calls the Mormon position. He turns to a number of 2nd and 3rd hand sources to assemble what he claims to be Joseph Smith's teachings. Further, he uses the speculations of 19th century LDS writers as though their speculations were in fact direct revelations. Joseph Smith, himself, claimed to be human with views acquired through normal means as well as that which he had received in his prophetic call. He made no claims to omniscience or infallibility. That is, he was not always speaking as a prophet. Also, I feel that Tony ignores the foundation laid by Joseph Smith in which he considered us to be children with much to learn; that much was withheld from ancient prophets; and that many ideas and traditions will be overturned by knowledged gleaned from many sources including study, theory and future revelation regarding the creation of the earth which has been withheld, to be revealed only at Christ's second as stated in D&C 101:32-34.
He believes that the future of the earth can be clearly established through interpretation of the sources he has assembled which are both clear and obvious.
I consider the enterprise of producing a scenario of the future to be very problematic for several reasons. I referred to Joseph Smith's desire to know the time of the Second Coming. He was given a revelation, but he did not know what it meant, and could only speculate as to its meaning. (see D&C 130:14-17)
A precedent established by New Testament writers demonstrates a significant problem regarding interpretation and application of prophecy. They drew passages from the Old Testament pointing to an event in the life of Jesus as its fulfillment. There is a problem with their interpretations. Upon reading the Old Testament passage in its context, in many instances, there is no way an ancient reader would have seen it as prophecy of an event hundreds years in the future to be fulfilled in the life of Jesus. I mentioned Isaiah 7:14 as an example. There are many such passages. This suggests that we not be so certain that prophetic passages we can accurately produce a scenario of future events.
Also, as history testifies, there is room for wide diversity of interpretation particularly of such texts as Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation and forward looking sections of the D&C, not to mention the reported comments of Joseph Smith and others.
I enjoyed our discussion and the participation of a number of callers and email.
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This is the 25 March 2007 episode of the Mormon Miscellaneous Worldwide Talk Show, now in its 27th year. To listen to future Talk Shows live, go to www.k-talk.com Sunday evenings 5:00 - 7:00 pm MST. If you have a question or comment, your participation is invited, regardless of your point of view.