Date: June 11, 2011 12:42PM
I was a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Utah in the early 80s. Sterling McMurrin was one of my mentors. However, he was actually in the History Department at that time. In hindsight, I do not think that he was that intellectually gifted. His book, The Theological Foundations of Mormonism (I think that was the title) was much to accomodating philosophically, and at times almost apologetic. Moreover, its philosophy was shallow.
As you noted, McMurrin was a non-believer for most, if not all, of his later life. When I knew him, he was absolutely an atheist, and not shy about expressing his beliefs. (At least to me and I was TBM at the time) But for his friendship with McKay, Hugh B. Brown, and other Church leaders, and his jovial, accomodating demeanor, he might have been excommunicated at some point. I think he survived the purge of the early 90s because at that point he was old, irrelevant, and too much of an institution in SLC. Certainly, if currently in his prime he would not be tolerated in today's anti-intellectual climate. I also know firsthand that ETB was highly critical with McMurrin, the U of U philosophy department, and the U of U, generally.
As for the U of U philosophy department, I share your view of Rogers. But there were others there that were very good. My primary mentor was David Bennett (apostate Mormon), and Peter Appleby, an atheist, very active in the community, and vocally anti-Mormon. Bennett is a cousin of Truman Madsen. I have a interesting perspectives on these two philosophers (if you can call Madsen a philosopher) that I will share at some point.
I would be interested in your thoughts about the above.