Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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Geological Specimen Rejuvenates an Old Controversy I 141 or erroneous arguments for erecting barriers which will have to be removed at a later date, perhaps at a cost of considerable embarrassment to themselves and to the Church. They should, in my opinion, at least leave open the possibility that they might be mistaken and that other explanations exist. In the present case all opposing arguments, together with my admonition not to publish, went unheeded. It is puzzling why those who have had the most experience with fossil footprints were totally ignored. And even though no reference is made in published accounts to the religious affiliations of anyone connected with the Utah footprints I am sure that, locally at least, there is no doubt that Latter-day Saint interpretations have encouraged the footprint believers to publish their find as widely as possible and to press their case among all who will listen. Conflicts between science-oriented and non science-oriented Church members has been going on for at least a century and no obvious grounds for reconciliation are in sight. With more and more young people attending college and being exposed to the facts and theories of science the forecast might well be increased tension and division. If we must have differences of opinion the least that antagonists can do is to be honest and open-minded in their thinking and reporting. There is bound to be loss of confidence in those who are trying to make valid points by doubtful arguments, no matter how sincere they may be. Shades of Dr. Johann Jacob Scheuchzer. He was a physician and naturalist who lived in Zurich in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. As a firm believer in the then popular theory that fossils originated chiefly through the agency of Noah's Flood he took an intense interest in anything dug out of the earth. When fossil bones of approximately human dimensions were discovered at Oeningen in 1725 they were sent to him for an opinion. He saw in these remains something he had been looking for and described them in a short tract in Latin titled Homo Diluvii Testis (Man Who Witnessed the Hood). Scheuchzer also discovered two petrified vertebrae near Altdorf, Franconia, Germany which he considered to be those of a man drowned in the Flood. It is an irony of history that Scheuchzer's name has become forever linked with Homo Diluvii Testis. His feelings about the specimen are revealed in a couplet (translated from the German) which accompanies his commentary: Afflicted skeleton of old, doomed to damnation Soften, thou stone, the hearts of this wicked generation. Nearly one hundred years later the famous French paleontologist Cuvier proved conclusively that the Oeningen specimen is that of a large salamander. It rests securely in the catalog of extinct beings under the name of Megalobatrachus scheuchzeri. The two vertebrae from Altdorf are known to pertain to the marine reptile we call the ichthyosaur. Truly the more things change the more they remain the same.