Sunday, January 4, 2009

YouTube - Some Great Discourses

This week I have been enjoying some great videos on YouTube. One is a conversation with Margaret Barker over lunch, edited together to keep relevant comments together. She fascinates me because of her research on the Bible, specifically temple theology, Jesus as a second God (Jehovah), and God having a body. I have only read small parts of her work, but everything in it has been very enjoyable to see. She teaches theology in England for the Methodist Church. Listening to the sixth video got me to look for a book mentioned there and instead find this article which explains various clear scriptural bases for the idea that God has a body.

Another series was by John Sorenson who has done a great deal of research on the actual setting for the Book of Mormon. He was among the first to suggest southern Mexico and Guatemala as a very logical location based on the descriptions of various cities in the Book of Mormon. In his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, he draws a map on a blank page (as he writes each reason for the placement of the map) until he has the whole map drawn, then he explains in very valid, scholarly language why that map fits extremely well in the location above. He then goes on to show how places known in current archaeological digs are exactly where they ought to be on the real map based on the one he drew.

The third series was by Daniel Peterson, a professor at BYU. He discusses the argument about DNA being used to disprove the Book of Mormon in what I would describe as a very humorous but extremely informative manner. He says in this first one something I think I will remember to use when I join his profession: "a professor is someone who talks in other people's sleep." The main points of these six videos, though, is to explain how unreasonable it would be to expect to ever use DNA evidence in a meaningful way to prove or disprove the Book of Mormon people ever came here, and he cites (again, in a very humorous manner) several top geneticists whose papers were included in a compilation (which is what he is presenting). The geneticists happen to be LDS, but their credentials speak for themselves. I plan to look for more of his videos simply because he has such an engaging walk of sharing data. He also wrote this article which I found after finding the first one from (website for the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, which is an LDS group).

So while YouTube might have some silly videos, and some raunchy videos, it has some wonderful ones as well. It is largely responsible for Randy Pausch's fame near his death from pancreatic cancer. It also has helped information disseminate among academics and then out into the world more rapidly than ever before. I say that because a student at Carnegie Mellon used it to show people how to make an interactive white board with a Wii remote (making it possible for data being drawn with a pen on a normal whiteboard to be stored on the computer the Wii remote is connected to) for about $50-80 total cost, and that video got a large number of engineers and computer scientists working on applications within a week. I would say that makes YouTube a pretty valuable tool in the information era.

Note: Tomorrow, look for a post comparing a passage from an article by Margaret Barker called "Belonging in the Temple" to a passage from a book called Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles. I found the first passage and read it to my wife who immediately went and got her copy of the book to show me the second.

-- Robert

P.S. Note that the video of Johnny Lee on Tad is not his original video, but he got on there because of the original video.

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