Saturday, August 4, 2012

Apologetics and Mormon Studies: Notes on the 2012 FAIR Conference

FAIR, The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, held a conference this past Thursday and Friday that covered a variety of topics relevant to the sustaining and defending of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Topics ranged from SSA (Same Sex Attraction) and Gender, to Book of Mormon Geography, Genetics, and the Black Mormon Moment. The concluding speaker, Daniel Peterson, gave some remarks concerning apologetics and Mormon studies, and introduced a new online publication called Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.

A brief list of the academic biographies of the speakers is available, as well as a few of the papers that were presented.  Here is a summary of the details of the proceedings.

On the whole, the conference was a success, and very informative.  FAIR allowed for a wide variety of viewpoints to be expressed, shedding light on controversial issues.  I was particularly impressed by Darius Gray's presentation "No Johnny-come-lately: The 182-year-long BLACK Mormon Moment", another confirmation of the fact that God is no respecter of persons, and that all are alike unto God. In his presentation on Book of Mormon Genetics, Ugo Perego further confirmed this reality by stating that human beings are essentially the same, each person sharing a 99.9% similarity in DNA with all other human beings.

Other presentations were given on topics such as Joseph Smith and polyandry, The Book of Abraham, Chiasmus, Church History, The Book of Mormon, and Mormon conversion and de-conversion narratives.  The final speaker at the conference, Daniel Peterson, gave an apology of apologetics that is worth reading in it's entirety. Some highlights from his apology include some gems from the likes of Austin Farrer, and C.S. Lewis, and Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

"Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows that ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish."  - Austin Farrer

"To be ignorant and simple now—not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground—would be to throw down our weapons. . . . Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” —C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses

"No more uncontested slam-dunks" - Elder Neal A. Maxwell

There is much more that I could write about the FAIR 2012 conference, Brother Peterson's presentation, and apologetics in general (and maybe I will do so later), but for now let it suffice for me to record one other relevant quotation, this one from the early Apostle Peter:

"But asanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give ban answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the chope that is in you with dmeekness and fear:" (1 Peter 3:15 )