"The Two Trees" was the simple title for Valerie Hudson-Cassler's presentation.
The message she hoped listeners received was more elaborate -- "The beauty of the great plan of happiness puts men and women as equal partners in the great journey from our home in the premortal existence through mortality, and then returning back to our heavenly home," Hudson-Cassler said.
Hudson-Cassler was one of the final speakers at 12th Annual Mormon Apologetics Conference at the South Towne Exposition Center on Friday.
FAIR conference: Defend the Book of Mormon by studying names, origins
One way to defend the Book of Mormon is by a study of its proper names and origins.
That was the message delivered by Stephen D. Ricks at the 12th Annual Mormon Apologetics Conference at the South Towne Exposition Center Thursday afternoon.
Ricks, a professor of Hebrew and Cognate Learning at Brigham Young University, said just knowing Book of Mormon names and their origins would help an individual know these names were authentic.
FAIR Conference: Roper's take on Book of Mormon geography
Roper, a resident scholar at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU, based his 90-minute remarks on four subjects:
1. Terminology -- do terms used by Joseph Smith in his descriptions of the Book of Mormon, such as "this land," "this continent," or "this country," indicate, as some have suggested, any specific American setting for the Book of Mormon?
2. Did Joseph Smith's revelations include details about the geography of the Book of Mormon?
3. Regarding a handful of articles published under the editorship of Joseph Smith in the Times and Seasons regarding Central American discoveries -- did Joseph Smith write these articles or were they written by others?
4. Might recent wordprinting studies offer a solution to the question of authorship?
FAIR conference: Joseph Smith's discovery of ancient patterns
Joseph Smith didn't know this, but there are some ancient patterns in the scriptures he gave to the world. Jeffrey Bradshaw told the FAIR conference on Aug. 5 about parallels between the ancient "Apocalypse of Abraham" and Joseph Smith's "Book of Moses."
Bradshaw, a senior research scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, used charts and tables to explain the intricate ways the two books' themes intertwine with each other and other ancient texts -- texts which, by the way, Joseph Smith couldn't have known about. Bradshaw said that even the great literary critic and Yale professor Harold Bloom was amazed at how Joseph Smith tapped into ancient themes in his writings. "Professor Bloom found it extraordinary that Joseph Smith could have come up with on his own a modern book that resembles so closely ancient Jewish and Christian texts," Bradshaw said.
FAIR conference: What if the U.S. president were a Mormon?
Peter Watkins gave his audience a lot to think about Friday morning.
What if the president of the United States were a Mormon?
If the scenario were true, Watkins said, members of the media would scrutinize his tax returns and wonder why 10 percent went directly to his church . Devoting three or more hours to church meetings and other duties, home teaching and national coverage of Sister Johnson's sacrament meeting talk might turn some heads. General conference would be a major media event. Attending the temple would become complicated.
Nibley editor says scholar was bolstered by research
Editing half the volumes in "The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley" gave Shirley Ricks a unusually intimate association and memory of one of Mormonism's most respected scholars, memories she shared in a presentation Thursday as the annual two-day conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) opened at the South Towne Expo Center, in Sandy.
Dan Peterson: FAIR addresses LDS issues
Back in 1997, a miscellaneous group of Latter-day Saints found themselves confronted by detractors of their faith on the America Online Mormonism message boards. Tired of repeating the same arguments over and over again in reply to repetitious and sometimes even rather silly objections, and aware that they would be more effective if they worked together rather than separately, they decided to pool their varied expertise and interests. By the end of the year, they had incorporated the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) as a non-profit organization in the state of New York. And, already by March of 1998, www.fair.lds, the first FAIR website, was a functioning repository of answers to common anti-Mormon challenges.
Since then, although unaffiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and receiving no financial support from it, FAIR has grown impressively, providing responses to objections raised by both evangelical and secular anti-Mormons. (Incidentally, "apologetics" doesn't refer to some sort of "science" of saying "we're sorry"; instead, reflecting the original Greek meaning of the term "apologia," it identifies the discipline of defending one's position and beliefs.
A frequent point of contention by critics against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the doctrine that there is not just one, but a multiplicity of gods.
Yet allusions to that concept pervade the Bible as well as ancient Near Eastern culture, Mormon scholar David Bokovoy said Thursday. He spoke at the annual conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, at the South Towne Exposition Centre in Sandy.
FAIR conference: Secret Mormon codes and Egyptian papers
The key to figuring out the purpose of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers for Schryver was a two-page document in the papers: The Egyptian Counting document. Like the other documents in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, the counting document had characters in a column with definitions. In this case the characters were defined as numbers. The characters, however, were not Egyptian. This is what gave Schryver an "aha!" moment.
"What we have here is not a tool to decipher Egyptian, but one intended to encipher the descriptive English text," Schryver said. Joseph Smith and his associates were attempting to create a secret code or cipher key. For example, in the counting document one character meant "six," another "seven" and so on.
The other documents in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers also appeared to be elaborate cipher keys. In a cipher key, it didn't matter what characters were used, so it didn't matter what order they were borrowed from the Egyptian papyrus. It didn't matter if they made up characters. It didn't matter if they used characters from the Knights Templar.