Category: Science


That’s a 25 cent word if there ever was one, something for college kids to show Mom and Dad to prove they got something for their money, something a grad student to lord it over others with in the commons.


Infertility is a huge topic, as large in its own way as the topic of birth control. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to do it justice. I fully recognize that this can be an extremely sensitive issue for couples for many reasons. I absolutely do not judge any patients for making choices in dealing with infertility that I would not recommend professionally. I also fully celebrate the life of all children of God, regardless of how they were conceived. With this background in place, I wish simply to make three points.

Fat Makes a Comeback

The CDC is airing its dirty laundry this week, as a new report comes out claiming that last year’s CDC report on obesity is basically hogwash. In the old numbers, obesity was this bomb descending on America that was going to wipe us out. It claimed that obesity caused 400,000 deaths/year, making it the number two cause of death. Thus, obesity wipes out the equivalent of Utah Valley every year.

Thoughts on evolution

I suspect that when many people think about how God created humans, they have a subconscious image of Him carefully designing each system and part, essentially the same way a human engineer would. But increasingly that’s not how human engineers work.

Stem Cells, part 1

Until recently I had the good fortune to be a member of Matt Evans’ Elder’s Quorum class. Matt asked me a question once that I couldn’t answer, and still can’t. I’m hoping T&S can help (and I hope Matt doesn’t mind!)

A House Of Order

My wife Angela is a veterinarian. She’s also apparently a really good Relief Society enrichment teacher (I’m not allowed to go to these things, but I have this on good authority). A few weeks ago the enrichment lesson subject was “A House of Order”, from Doctrine and Covenants 88:119: “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” This scripture primarily refers to the temple, of course, but it’s also often used to reinforce the need to keep our own homes and lives neat and orderly. Angela’s take was that this is an incomplete interpretation. God’s house may be ordered, but it isn’t neat.

A Sense of Place

It’s been five months since my family moved from the edge of the country to the middle, and I’ve never felt so out of place. The change of season is to blame, of course: it happened quite quickly, here, on the day before Thanksgiving, when the low sky let fall flurries of snow and something else, too–a dampening of the light that makes everything look different, somehow. I’m not pleased.

Religion as Secular Epistemology

Well, we have ourselves a new president. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. A week or two ago, Brandy Siegfried mentioned Ron Suskind’s article “Faith, Certainty, and the Presidency.” I didn’t read the article, but I heard Suskind talk about it on NPR, and found it very interesting.

Fairies & Ectoplasm

Over the past few weeks, I have been listening to a biography of Houdini as I drive to and from work. Among the many things that I have learned is that Houdini was acquainted with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. In his later years, Doyle became interested in Spiritualism, a religion of sorts that involved communication with the dead. Doyle attended seances and expressed an interest in other spiritualist phenomenon. Doyle was attracted to Houdini, whose powers seemed to have a mystical dimension. During the early years of their acquaintance, while they were still on good terms, Doyle often claimed that Houdini possessed special powers. Doyle’s gullibility is illustrated by his reaction to one of Houdini’s simple tricks. While riding in the car, Houdini pretended to remove the first joint of his thumb. You may have done this trick yourself, or seen someone perform it. It is very entertaining to small children, but Doyle wrote of the…

This Post Is Mostly True, +/- 3%

There is a maxim that the man with two watches never knows what time it is. The funny thing about this is that the man with one watch certainly doesn’t know any better than the man with two, he just thinks he knows what he does not. The man with two watches can maintain no such illusion of certainty because he has two watches with two (possibly ever so slightly) different times. He has been forced to recognize the existence of error. Socrates would be proud.

The Coming of the Clone Wars

One of my best friends is a biochemist, and he recently pointed out to me that while the a great amount of ink is spilled and blogs filled with debate about SSM, in his mind a farther reaching event has occurred: South Korean (Hanguk mansae!) scientists have cloned a human cell and grown it into a blastocyst.

Mormonism and Evolution

Evolution has been a topic of much debate in many Christian churches, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church). Members fall into various categories: those who reject evolution outright, those that accept some principles of evolution, and those that accept the theory of evolution in its entirety thus far. I fall into the middle camp since I accept some principles of evolution such as adaptation and natural selection, but I find some parts of the theory problematic. However, I believe that the theory of evolution is currently the best scientific theory that attempts to explain how life began on Earth. I also don?t think that the theory of evolution necessarily precludes belief in God. As an LDS biologist, I?ve taken several courses on evolution and I?ve extensively read papers on both sides of the evolution/creation debate. In this essay, I will focus mainly on the pro and cons of evolution, and its place in…

Natural Disasters

John P. Pratt’s recent column at Meridian sent me reeling. (Thanks to Brent for the pointer.) While Pratt tries not to overstate his thesis, the gist of the column is that God (sometimes?) punishes local populations for their wickedness by inflicting natural disasters. The Old Testament is replete with such occurrences, but as regular patrons of this blog know, my understanding is that many (perhaps most) of these stories are metaphorical. Even if you disagree with me about that, I hope that we can agree that Pratt’s analysis is sadly deficient.


As is evident from my participation on this blog, I am not a scientist, but I enjoy reading good, non-technical, science writers. One I really like is Carl Zimmer, who blogs at The Loom. He writes a lot about evolution and genetics. Ady Hahn (our guest blogger who is currently on Christmas break) promised to talk about evolution later, but after reading the latest entry at The Loom, I feel the desire to press the issue.

On Being a Female LDS Scientist

So where do I begin? First of all, there are not many LDS scientists to begin with and I?m not exactly sure why. There are approximately 2000 LDS scientists currently according to this link. I don?t know how many of those are women. What?s interesting is that Utah produces more scientists per capita than any other state for the last 60 yrs, 75% of whom are LDS. Of these, 83% percent classified themselves as strong believers and 90% of these felt that their religious beliefs and science theories could be harmonized. I think these statistics show that there is a great love for learning amongst LDS people and that most don?t believe that science and religion are mutually exclusive. Here?s a great paper on science & LDS scientists by Robert L. Miller.