Reason for Hope: Responding to a Secular World

On March 24, 2017, the Wheatley Institution will host the second semi-annual “Reason for Hope: Responding to a Secular World” conference for the BYU campus and community. “These lectures focus on ways we can respond to current challenges not only to our faith life, but to our own sense of selves”, says Dr. Richard Williams, Director of the Wheatley Institution.

Last semester’s conference drew students, faculty, and community members looking for an opportunity to learn more about the dynamics of faith and intellect. Elder Bruce Hafen shared methods for dealing with uncertainty that he had witnessed in his own friend’s lives. Dr. Richard Williams described his experience overcoming the limited religious perception of his childhood and embracing the realities of the gospel as an adult.

Dr. Robert Millett advised those who may feel overwhelmed by their questions, that doubt and questions are not identical methods of analysis and encouraged individuals to fight intellectually for their faith. Dr. Barbara Morgan discussed her time working with graduate students in Boston for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and why students struggling with their beliefs chose to remain faithful.

The “Reason for Hope” conference “is about finding and affirming hope and faith in the context of intellectual life,” states Dr. Williams. This semester’s presentations will range from autobiographical accounts to analyses of issues regarding both faith and reason. The goal of every lecture is to leave the audience with a renewed measure of hope and new strategies for framing and explaining their faith in the face of secularism.

This year’s speakers each have an extensive history of both intellectual and faith-based service. J.B. Haws is an assistant professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU and the author of The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception. Camille S. Williams is an attorney who lives in Provo. The views she expresses are her own and do not represent the views of any other person or entity. Her writings include a Review of Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings, BYU Studies Quarterly, 55:4 (2016); “Response to Professor Ruether” and a “Reply”, in Rosemary Radford Reuther and Camille Williams, “A Dialogue on Feminist Theology,” in Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary Christian Theologies, and several other articles.

James ‘Jim’ Faulconer is the Richard L. Evans Professor of Philosophy and former dean of Undergraduate Education and chair of the Philosophy department at BYU. He has been a visiting professor at the Institute of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Leuven (“Louvain”) in Belgium, and spent a year on research leave at the Bibliothèque d’École Normale Supérieure, in Paris. Sheri Dew is the executive vice president of Deseret Management Corporation and the CEO of Deseret Book Company.  She served in the General Presidency of the Relief Society of the LDS Church from 1997-2002 and was a White House delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations.

The conference will be held in 3714 of the Harold B. Lee Library (South Entrance), at BYU, on March 24, 2017. The event is free and open to the public, and will begin at 10:00 AM. Speakers are scheduled to present as follows:



10:00 AM

"LDS Church History: Official, Transparent, and More Interesting than Ever" - J.B. Haws

11:00 AM

"Is Your God the God of the Philosophers?" - James Faulconer

1:00 PM

"Women, Faith and Family: A Case for LDS Teachings" - Camille Williams

2:00 PM

"Will You Engage in the Wrestle?" - Sheri Dew

Following the individual presentations, a panel Q&A session will be held with the speakers. The session will begin at 3:00 PM in 3714 of the HBLL and is open to the public.