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David L. Paulsen

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Title: David L. Paulsen  
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Subject: Teleological argument, Philosophy of religion, Eschatological verification, Argument from morality, Theodicy
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David L. Paulsen

David Lamont Paulsen (born 1936)[1] is a professor emerius of philosophy at Brigham Young University (BYU). From 1994 to 1998 he held the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding at BYU. He was an active faculty member at BYU from 1972-2011.


Paulsen received an associates degree from Snow College in English in 1957, a bachelors degree from BYU in Political Science in 1961 (in which he was BYU's valedictorian), a JD from the University of Chicago Law School in 1964, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan in 1975, with emphasis in the philosophy of religion.[2] His doctoral dissertation, entitled The Comparative Coherency of Mormon (Finitistic) and Classical Theism, was said by two philosophers critical of LDS theology to be "by far the most detailed and comprehensive defense of Mormon theism."[3]

Paulsen is married to Audrey Lucille Leer and has six children and eleven grandchildren.[4]


Paulsen joined the philosophy department at BYU around 1972 and specializes in Kierkegaard, William James and the philosophy of religion. In addition to holding the Richard L. Evans Chair, he has also been an Eliza R. Snow Fellow at BYU.[4] Many of his students have gone on to be important figures in the academic study of Mormonism, including prominently Blake Ostler.

Paulsen is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), in which he has served as a Bishop and counselor in a stake presidency.[4]

Paulsen has given several lectures related to Mormon Studies, including the 2006 Eugene England Memorial Lecture at Utah Valley University[5] and presentations at conferences of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR). He presented on the "The Divine Feminine" at the 2009 BYU Women's Research Institute Colloquia. Paulsen was also the coordinator for the Society of Christian Philosophers inaugural inter-mountain meeting at BYU in 1992.[6]

In 2012 just after his retirement a collection of essays entitled Mormonism at the Crossroads of Philosophy and Theology: Essays in Honor of David L. Paulsen was published, edited by Jacob T. Baker.


Paulsen edited Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary Christian Theologies along with Donald W. Musser. Paulsen has contributed articles to The International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, Analysis,[4] The Harvard Theological Review, Faith and Philosophy and Speculative Philosophy. Paulsen also wrote the forward to The Mormon Doctrine of Deity: The Roberts-Van Der Donckt Discussion[7] Paulsen has also written several articles for both the FARMS Review and BYU Studies. One of these articles, written with Martin Pulido, who studied under Paulsen, entitled "A Mother There: Historical Teachings and Sacred Silence" (BYU Studies Vol. 5, no. 1) has been described as a path-breaking article on femininity in LDS doctrine by Valerie M. Hudson.[8]

Paulsen's work was used in Jeffrey R. Holland's General Conference sermon explaining that the Mormon belief that Jesus and God have physical bodies does not exclude Mormons from being Christians.[9]


  1. ^ Paulsen, David L.; Donald W. Musser (2007). Mormonism in Dialogue With Contemporary Christian Theologies. Macon, Georgia:  
  2. ^ "Vita" ( 
  3. ^ Beckwith, Francis J. and Stephen E. Parish, "The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis" Edwin Mellen Press 1991 ISBN 0-7734-9787-0 p. 37
  4. ^ a b c d   Paulsen introduction from 4:10–5:45.
  5. ^ 2008 lecture announcement with listing of past lecturers
  6. ^  
  7. ^ The Mormon Doctrine of DeitySignature Books link for
  8. ^ Cassler, V.H. (2011) "Review of Paulsen and Pulido's 'A Mother There,' BYU Studies, 2011," SquareTwo, Vol. 4 No. 1 (Spring),, accessed January 26, 2014
  9. ^ text of Holland's talk with footnotes


  • David L. Paulsen at the MLCA Database
  • Paulsen's vita
  • listing of speakers at an upcoming FAIR conferenceMeridian Magazine
  • Author bio from FARMS
  • BYU Studies listing of articles by Paulsen
  • Mormon Scholars Testify entry on Paulsen

External links

  • Faculty page at the BYU Department of Philosophy
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