Science, The Key to Theology

“I want a theology that allows both prayer and pterodactyls. A faith that is dynamic and readjusts to the ever-changing findings of science. A science that does not look askance when I experience something deeper and bigger than the biological processes that keep my material body ticking and tocking.”


Friday, June 2, 2017, 7:30-9:30 pm


Home of Elizabeth and Mark England
1194 S. 500 E., SLC, UT

Please come in the back door if you arrive late. 

The Discussion: 

A couple of times a year I receive a letter from a worried parent whose child has decided to leave the church—purportedly over science. The parent is dumbfounded, because typically the parent loved science and perhaps even raised their child sitting in front of colorful and informative documentaries. And yet in many of these cases there has been a tendency for parents to downplay science even while praising its discoveries. They hold science in suspicion and communicated that to their children. This is especially true of my field, evolutionary ecology. I don’t think this suspicion of science is healthy and we should not find science threatening to Mormonism. I’ll argue that even Mormon theology can be informed by science in productive ways—in particular by evolutionary biology. I can’t think of another religion that should hold evolution in higher regard. Join me for a discussion on the joys of science.

Who is Steve Peck?

Steve Peck is Associate Professor in the Biology Department where he teaches the History and Philosophy of Biology and Bioethics. He did his undergraduate in Computer Science and Statistics at BYU, a Masters in Biostatistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his Doctorate in biomathematics and entomology at North Carolina State University. He is a mathematical modeler who specializes in the simulation of ecological and evolutionary systems. He has been academically involved publishing in philosophy of science, especially in exploring how computers are used as representational devices to generate scientific knowledge; his work in this area has appeared in a number of philosophical journals. He has also published widely on the relationship between religion and science. His publishing history includes lots of academic work—over 50 scientific articles, including publications in American Naturalist, American Entomologist, Biological Theory, Biology & Philosophy, Newsweek, Evolution, PNAS, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Agriculture and Human Values, and other scientific and philosophical journals. He blogs at ByCommonConsent. com.

What’s especially unexpected is Steve Peck is an accomplished fiction writer and poet. Creative works include three novels. His magical realism novel, The Scholar of Moab (Torrey House Press), won the Association of Mormon Letters highest honor, the Best Novel of 2011 (given to a book by or about Mormons. His novella A Short Stay in Hell (Strange Violin Editions) has received 1,206 Ratings and 318 Reviews with an average of 4.16 out of 5 stars. Wandering Realities, a book of speculative short fiction was just published by iconoclastic Press and was nominated for the AML best story collection published in 2015, and it contains a number of short stories, four award winners (including the AML Best Short Story of 2014, ‘Two-dog Dose.’ A collection of speculative stories based on A Short Stay in Hell, called Windows into Hell was just released by Curiosity Quills Press. In September London-based iconoclastic Books will publish his fourth novel Gilda iconoclastic: Shepherdess of Rats.

A collection of speculative poetry called Incorrect Astronomy was recently published by Aldrich Press, and includes his Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2011 Rhysling Award nominated poem, The Five Known Sutras of Mechanical Man. A long, magical realism poem is scheduled for publication in the literary journal Prairie Schooner. Other publications in Analog, Abyss & Apex, Bellowing Ark, Daily Science Fiction, Dialogue, Nature Futures, Pedestal Magazine, Red Rock Review, and many others.

Maybe of most interest to this group are two of his most recent books that dive into Mormon theology with enthusiastic iconoclastic musings that are not to be missed.  Evolving Faith is is a collection of technical, personal, whimsical essays about Mormon theology, evolution, human consciousness, the environment, sacred spaces, and more. Science The Key to Theology asks if science has anything to contribute to Mormon theology. Peck argues that it does, and offers this book as an attempt to start a conversation on that notion. But fair warning: The theology ahead will be chaotic, emergent, ecological, and evolutionary. There will be few answers and much with which to argue. If you find yourself arguing with the book as you read it, the book’s purpose will have been fulfilled. Peck hopes the questions you are left with will leave you curious, excited, or angry enough to keep the conversation going.

Stuff to explore:

Radio West interview with Doug Fabrizio

Summerhays Lecture

Mormon Matters on Evolution