Science, Religion, and Mormon Cosmology

Science, Religion, and Mormon Cosmology
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  • ISBN-13: 9780252018954
  • ISBN: 0252018958
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press


Paul, Erich R.


If cosmology connotes an understanding of the structure of both a physical and a transcendent universe, contends Erich Robert Paul, it is virtually impossible to understand Mormonism outside the dimensions of cosmological thinking. This unique study examines how Mormonism shaped its cosmic vision, by using and developing cosmological ideas, and what this process says about science, religion, and Mormonism itself. Historically, Mormons have cultivated a particularly active and positive interest in those matters, as was first evidenced by Joseph Smith. Focusing on the creation of a unique Mormon cosmology and on how cosmological thinking expanded in the nineteenth century, Paul chronicles the emergence of a rational scientism within the church hierarchy during the early years of the twentieth century, spurred by Mormon scientist-authorities B.H. Roberts, James E. Talmage, John A. Widtsoe, and Joseph F. Merrill, who urged a unique vision of reality that shaped a Mormon eschatology. He shows how authorities eventually retreated from the perception of reality as "true" and adopted a scientifically less secure position in order to protect their theology, an eventuality which ultimately resulted in a reactionary response to science within Mormonism. The final two chapters focus on this neoliteralist reaction to traditional Mormon thinking and on the intersection of Mormon "cosmic theology" and the rise of the secular science of exo-biology.Paul, Erich R. is the author of 'Science, Religion, and Mormon Cosmology' with ISBN 9780252018954 and ISBN 0252018958.

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