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Author Topic: Atheist Cultural Christianity
seekingprometheus
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BTW--I might agree that the fact that there is a mesoamerican alloy that is lighter than gold modifies the weight on the scale.

But I still need to understand what you're talking about when you claim that the density of the metal matches the alloy.

As it is, to me, it seems strange that you think this fact is weight on the scale of the authenticity of the plates.

Aside from the fact that I don't see any reason to believe that accurate measures of the density of the plates were taken, it sounds to me like this would just modify the magnitude of a reason to believe that Smith was lying.

Again--I still don't know where you're getting this from--but it sounds like someone who "hefted" something Smith claimed was golden plates thought that the substance didn't really feel as heavy as gold should, and the fact that there is a gold-like alloy that is lighter than gold just takes a bit away from this reason to believe that Smith was trying to pass off a fake as something real.

Maybe you can give me the context you're citing--I'd happily acknowledge that if measurements were taken and a stated density of the metal matched with some precision the density of an contemporarily unknown mesoamerican alloy, that this is a reason for believing Smith's claims.

Cause if this is the case, it would be intellectually dishonest of me to deny a valid reason puts some weight on the scale in favor of the idea that the plates existed.

[ August 21, 2011, 07:08 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
Why are you being a jackass?
I don't know. Is it more than usual?
Yes. You make some really crappy arguments for the whole spiritual sight theory, and then, when I reject them, you make some arguments that actually make me think, and impute my earlier rejection to these new arguments:


quote:
Originally posted by jackass:
Even Smith (allegedly speaking for God) implied that the witnesses needed special power granted from God to view (among other things, perhaps) the plates.


quote:
D&C 5 (regarding the witnesses to the plates):

I will give them power that they may behold and view these things as they are;

Doesn't this appear to be a reason to believe that they were never seen in a traditional way, but the only people to view the plates did so in the explicit context of special divine permission given, with power granted by God?

It's worth mentioning that the 3 witnesses claimed to be shown the plates "by the power of God, and not of man" in an explicitly visionary format--at the actual hand of an angel.

And that none of the witnesses actually went on record individually to give their own accounts--they just signed statements (written by whom?).

Here's something interesting too, from the account of the vision of the 3 witnesses:
quote:
Probably in early July 1829—but on an unspecified day and in an unspecified place—Joseph Smith Jr., Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris are said to have retired to the woods, praying to receive a vision of the Golden Plates. After some time, Harris left the other three men, believing his presence had prevented the vision from occurring. The remaining three again knelt and soon saw a light in the air over their heads and an angel holding the plates in his hands. Smith retrieved Harris, and after praying at some length with him, Harris too said he saw the vision, shouting, "'Tis enough; 'tis enough; mine eyes have beheld, Hosanna!"
Kind of sounds like Harris just got tired of praying and not seeing anything, and just claimed to have seen a vision (in a definitely non-traditional viewing) so Smith would stop making him pray, huh?

Well no, obviously not, since the other two witnesses weren't claiming to see the angel and plates prior to Harris leaving the first time.

quote:
And yet he signs his name to the written statement of testimony.
Where's the conflict?


quote:
Are you really claiming that you can't see a valid reason for believing that these experiences contained a highly subjective component?
Yes, this account does provide some reason to consider the possibility that the readers were speaking from a highly subjective viewpoint, and possibly an emperor's new clothes scenario. On reflection of what you've said, it does bother me that the witnesses had to see the plates in the hands of an angel, rather than just plain sitting on a table.

There's other context to those stories that diminishes the likelihood of your interpretation, but it's not a silly argument like your Emma one.

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Well no, obviously not, since the other two witnesses weren't claiming to see the angel and plates prior to Harris leaving the first time.
Or rather, we don't have an account of anyone claiming to have seen an angel with plates before Harris left. We don't know exactly what was happening before Harris left--we just know that Harris thought he was to blame for some reason...and this interesting fact raises questions--what happened that caused Harris to feel he was to blame and should leave?

We could speculate that this implies that nothing was happening as they knelt praying, and Harris was experiencing some personal internal crisis of faith of some kind, admitted it to the others, and left. And though this is mostly speculation, I'd agree that there are elements of the account that warrant this reading--and nothing that necessarily contradicts it.

But there is another speculative answer to the question which is warranted by elements of the narrative, and which isn't contradicted by he story either.

The fact that Harris said "Tis enough, tis enough! Mine eyes have beheld," does imply two things: the 2nd sentence implies that the nature of the experience was such that Harris had to verbally communicate the moment when he his eyes had beheld the vision, and the first sentence implies that Harris felt externally pressured and impatient. And one assumes that this 2nd episode follows a similar structure to the first episode.

So, although it's speculation, there is also a reason in the narrative for speculating that what happened that made Harris leave the first time was that the other men were pronouncing what their eyes were beholding, and Harris left because his eyes weren't beholding anything. This would really explain why he said what he said.

And, of course, it seems highly strange that the signed "testimony" was a written document (written by whom?) purportively detailing the experience of the three men, in spite of the fact that the 3 men did not actually share the experience.

By the way, you keep pointing out that the men never recanted. I'll agree with this, in spite of the fact that it's a strange kind of inverted hearsay--while it's true they never recorded a recantation to the written testimony (written by whom?), we have to rely on what others claim they did and didn't say to accept this assertion. I think it's a fair assertion, since several people attest to having heard the witnesses say that they had stood by the testimony they gave their whole lives. But it's worth adding some context about what are said to have explained about the experience.

I'm gonna leave Cowdery out of this for the moment--mostly because delving into all of this has convinced me that he was more of a material conspirator than I had previously realized--but also because the only account I found about him denying the experience reads like an invented lie to me. But here is some of the stuff that Whitmer and Harris are claimed to have said about the experience:
quote:
From wikipedia on the Three Witnesses:

During the early years, Harris "seems to have repeatedly admitted the internal, subjective nature of his visionary experience."[25] The foreman in the Palmyra printing office that produced the first Book of Mormon said that Harris "used to practice a good deal of his characteristic jargon and 'seeing with the spiritual eye,' and the like."[26] John H. Gilbert, the typesetter for most of the book, said that he had asked Harris, "Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?" According to Gilbert, Harris "looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, 'No, I saw them with a spiritual eye."[27] Two other Palmyra residents said that Harris told them that he had seen the plates with "the eye of faith" or "spiritual eyes."[28] In 1838, Harris is said to have told an Ohio congregation that "he never saw the plates with his natural eyes, only in vision or imagination."[29] A neighbor of Harris in Kirtland, Ohio, said that Harris "never claimed to have seen [the plates] with his natural eyes, only spiritual vision."

One account states that in March 1838, Martin Harris publicly denied that either he or the other Witnesses to the Book of Mormon had literally seen the golden plates—although, of course, he had not been present when Whitmer and Cowdery first claimed to have viewed them. This account says that Harris's recantation, made during a period of crisis in early Mormonism, induced five influential members, including three Apostles, to leave the Church.[30]

(It seems to me that the the public denial in March 1938, and the Ohio congregation in 1938 might have been one and the same--just from independent sources, since he apparently said it in front of multiple people.)

Whitmer, who was the most interviewed of the witnesses, appears to have given different accounts of exactly what he experienced to different people:
quote:
Recounting the vision to Orson Pratt in 1878, Whitmer claimed to have seen not only the Golden Plates but the "Brass Plates, the plates containing the record of the wickedness of the people of the world....the sword of Laban, the Directors (i.e. the ball which Lehi had) and the Interpreters. I saw them just as plain as I see this bed...."[40] On other occasions, Whitmer's vision of the plates seemed far less corporeal. When asked in 1880 for a description of the angel who showed him the plates, Whitmer replied that the angel "had no appearance or shape." Asked by the interviewer how he then could bear testimony that he had seen and heard an angel, Whitmer replied, "Have you never had impressions?" To which the interviewer responded, "Then you had impressions as the Quaker when the spirit moves, or as a good Methodist in giving a happy experience, a feeling?" "Just so," replied Whitmer.[41]

A young Mormon lawyer, James Henry Moyle, who interviewed Whitmer in 1885, asked if there was any possibility that Whitmer had been deceived. "His answer was unequivocal....that he saw the plates and heard the angel with unmistakable clearness." But Moyle went away "not fully satisfied....It was more spiritual than I anticipated."[42]

So Whitmer's experience seems to have been somewhat subjective--a clear angel that he feels confident he experienced and heard in spite of the fact that it might not have had "appearance or shape," but Harris seems a bit more bothered by what he "experienced," and whether it was "seeing" in the strictly material sense.

And this, of course, might explain why Harris left the prayer circle in the first place.

[ August 22, 2011, 10:37 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Yes, this account does provide some reason to consider the possibility that the readers were speaking from a highly subjective viewpoint, and possibly an emperor's new clothes scenario. On reflection of what you've said, it does bother me that the witnesses had to see the plates in the hands of an angel, rather than just plain sitting on a table.
Agreed. And, of course, I agree that there are valid reasons in the account for considering the possibility that they really did see the plates and angel with their plain old material eyes.

But here's what's interesting: the experience of the 8 witnesses doesn't have an explicitly visionary format. We don't really have any record about the particulars of what they saw outside of the statement (written by whom?) that they signed. But their statement doesn't include an angel appearing to show them the plates (which was not only what was necessary for the 3 witnesses to clap eyes on the plates--it's a huge part of the process of how JS got to see the plates). Why did the guardian angel of the plates need to show up to produce the plates to the guys most responsible for bringing the "translation" to light, but the 8 witnesses who weren't as involved in producing the BoM just signed a statement saying that they had seen the plates with their plain old physical eyes?

To me there is an obvious answer to the questions raised by this disparity. Why do you think the content of the experiences differed so much?

[ August 22, 2011, 10:40 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
Well no, obviously not, since the other two witnesses weren't claiming to see the angel and plates prior to Harris leaving the first time.
Or rather, we don't have an account of anyone claiming to have seen an angel with plates before Harris left. We don't know exactly what was happening before Harris left--we just know that Harris thought he was to blame for some reason...and this interesting fact raises questions--what happened that caused Harris to feel he was to blame and should leave?
Are you serious?

That was still his guilt thing over the 116 pages issue that you thought was so funny. It took him a long time to forgive himself.

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Are you serious?

That was still his guilt thing over the 116 pages issue that you thought was so funny. It took him a long time to forgive himself.

I'd agree that there are valid reasons for this intepretation, and that it seems to fit the facts pretty well. But you do see that it's as speculative as the interpretation I've given to explain the strange fact that he left--yes?
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Pete at Home
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I don't think so. But then you wouldn't either, if you'd spent some time in Martin Harris country, i.e. Clarkston in Cache Valley, where he's the local hero and you get regaled with the extended release Director's version of the Martin Harris Story. [Big Grin]
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Yes. You make some really crappy arguments for the whole spiritual sight theory, and then, when I reject them, you make some arguments that actually make me think, and impute my earlier rejection to these new arguments
Sorry about that, then. Not that it excuses such jackassishness, but maybe I just assumed you understood more about the account than you do...

There's a lot I didn't understand either, BTW.

For instance, I had heard of BH Roberts and his response to View of the Hebrews:
quote:
The first edition of Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews was published in 1823, and a second expanded edition appeared in 1825.[4] Ethan Smith's theory, not uncommon among theologians and laymen of his day, was that Native Americans were descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who had disappeared after being taken captive by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE
quote:
In 1922 B.H. Roberts (1857–1933), a prominent LDS apologist and historian,[10] was asked to answer a non-believer's five critical questions by LDS Apostle James E. Talmage. It is unclear when Roberts first learned of the View of the Hebrews or what motivated him to make the comparison, but he produced a confidential report that summarized eighteen points of similarity between the two works.
quote:
Credent Mormon church-commissioned-historian's 18 points of similarity between BoM and the slightly earlier work of a regionally local pastor:

extensive quotation from the prophecies of Isaiah in the Old Testament

the Israelite origin of the American Indian

the future gathering of Israel and restoration of the Ten Lost Tribes

the peopling of the New World from the Old via a long journey northward which encountered "seas" of "many waters"

a religious motive for the migration

the division of the migrants into civilized and uncivilized groups with long wars between them and the eventual destruction of the civilized by the uncivilized

the assumption that all native peoples were descended from Israelites and their languages from Hebrew

the burial of a "lost book" with "yellow leaves"

the description of extensive military fortifications with military observatories or "watch towers" overlooking them

a change from monarchy to republican forms of government

the preaching of the gospel in ancient America.[13]

...but I didn't know that Oliver Cowdery was a distant relative of Joseph Smith's, and I didn't know that the author of the book on which the BoM is clearly partially based was the Cowdery family pastor while he was writing the original version of the plot plagiarized in the Book of Mormon...

So before wikipedia, I never fully understood that the structural dissimilarity between the 1st person narrative and "Mormon's" 3rd person retelling is a reflection of Oliver Cowdery's guiding ghost in the depths of Smith's seerstone.

But you may have been right about Smith's memory, even if I still think he was first and foremost an amazingly gifted seer, which--since our culture fails to acknowledge what this word really means--is someone who can convince others that he can see magical things that no one else can see (even if non-seers are occasionally allowed to reach through the veil to FEEL).

(Get the punny? Because everyone--like Emma--that should have been able to see the plates had to touch, and because the culture emphasizes an untrue epistemological construct which makes people think they "see" the truth when they really only "feel" it).

[Wink]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
I don't think so. But then you wouldn't either, if you'd spent some time in Martin Harris country, i.e. Clarkston in Cache Valley, where he's the local hero and you get regaled with the extended release Director's version of the Martin Harris Story.
Eh? Maybe you can help me out with a reference, other than citing the place he went to make amends with the credent mormons after years of calling them Latter Day Devils as he went around joining every new superstition and spiritualistic creed in the midwest...

Harris was the original money-mark in the scam, and gullible dupes don't like to see themselves as gullible dupes (really, they will go to amazingly absurd lengths regaling others with the way they don't realize it) as a general rule--much less portray themselves as such when they're trying to make up and regain favor...

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Brian
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I spent a long while trying to compose a non-insulting post, but it never came out right. The highlights would have been:

-I learned a lot
-you both are very civil...
-...considering you come from opposing religions (even though SP thinks he is not)
-you guys are never going to convince each other, although you might convince some of the lurkers


Anyway, I enjoy reading these threads. Keep up the good work.

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seekingprometheus
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Brian:

I don't see myself as representing a religion--though I do come from a religious background, and I do reject the idea that active members of the religion necessarily know more about the doctrine, history and culture than I do...

I am a part of my culture though...

As for whether we'll ever see eye to eye--I wouldn't know, but I do like to see both of us as individuals that strongly value intellectual integrity, and more importantly, seek truth in spite of potential consequence...and I like to think that if I saw reasons my current opinions didn't reflect truth, that I'd be willing to change them.

I'm a big believer in being willing to change one's mind--even if I think it's hard to do.

[ August 23, 2011, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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BTW, if anyone did just catch a glimpse of a man behind the curtain, and feels confused, the key to the mystery is exactly what I've been pointing out from the beginning:

The song the culture teaches constituents to sing contains a secret combination of deceit.

Because if a seed bears good fruit, one may know the seed was good, but this doesn't mean the story told by the seller of seeds is true...

[ August 23, 2011, 07:22 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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And if anyone doesn't get the trick just yet, and wants to know more, just stick around--I do believe in practicing the principle of continuous revelation.

[Big Grin]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
I don't think so. But then you wouldn't either, if you'd spent some time in Martin Harris country, i.e. Clarkston in Cache Valley, where he's the local hero and you get regaled with the extended release Director's version of the Martin Harris Story.
Eh? Maybe you can help me out with a reference, other than citing the place he went
No, the place is good enough. Go hang out there for half a day and I'll bet you absorb something. If an hour goes by and you don't know what I'm talking about, just stop some random person that doesn't look like a tourist and ask them if they know who Martin Harris is. Try to look confused when you ask them. [LOL]
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Brian:
I spent a long while trying to compose a non-insulting post, but it never came out right. The highlights would have been:

-I learned a lot
-you both are very civil...
-...considering you come from opposing religions (even though SP thinks he is not)
-you guys are never going to convince each other, although you might convince some of the lurkers


Anyway, I enjoy reading these threads. Keep up the good work.

Wow, now you got me all curious what the insulting post said. [Confused]
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DonaldD
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I'm guessing Brian meant patronizing, not insulting; as in, thanking people for acting like grownups might be considered patronizing unless worded very carefully.
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seekingprometheus
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Brian:

I'm with Pete on this: curious.

My personal take is that insults should be allowed, as long as they're veiled.

As in: the people at whom insults are directed shouldn't be permitted to actually see the insult (although some may feel the general outline of the insult so that they actually know it's really there) unless they have a special gift of translation.

Then, at the end of the thread, Ornery Mod can select a handful of individuals and part the veil for them, so they can see the insults plainly, and testify to the board that the insults were really there...

After which, OM may choose to erase all evidence of the insults (though nobody can be sure why) and we'll all simply have to accept the decision, because we know that OM works in mysterious ways...

[Big Grin]

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Pete:

I see that you're still trying to redirect from what the cross-examination revealed about the witness.

So you may have missed the key evidence that just got introduced: we actually found the original source of the BoM structure and plot, and it wasn't ancient golden plates--it was a theory that a revivalist pastor used to preach about to an audience that included the Cowdery family (and anyone else who may have habitually attended traveling religious revivals in the region in the early 1800's), and the pastor actually published his book in 1823 (the same year that JS "found" the original source from which he "translated" the BoM).

So I ask you--aside from subjective spiritualistic experiences, can you see any reason that an intellectually honest critical reader would think that the BoM isn't the fraud that it obviously is?

I can only think of one: cognitive dissonance--which isn't actually so much about beliefs conflicting with other beliefs, it's what happens when an individual's actions conflict with beliefs, and the brain modifies beliefs to conform to the actions the individual have chosen to commit. Which might have to happen a lot in a culture where individuals are only fully accepted by the community if they choose to commit the action of testifying that they know the truth of something which isn't actually true.

(The hidden trick is that it's not just that everyone around you swears that it's true, it's that they get you to perform actions that only could make sense if it were true.)

As I said, the brain is wired to do this--so if you perform actions as if something untrue is true, your brain is actually wired to modify the structure of your beliefs accordingly.

(Just so you understand the neuropsychological basis of how patterns of progressive commitment in cults actually work.)

You asked me:
quote:
Why do you try to force me to recite your beliefs?
...when I tried to get you to agree that you could see and understand the reasons for believing that the witnesses may have only "seen" the plates in their minds.

The answer is that it's because I understand the mechanism of cognitive dissonance, and how to release a mind from the trap the brain uses to keep it from seeing truth when the individual has committed actions which bind the mind into believing a lie.

If a person publicly (and repeatedly) commits the action of saying they know and believe something is true, the brain traps the mind into believing that the person knows it is true.

The only way such a brain can actually process contradictory information correctly at that point is if the individual publicly commits an action that conforms to an understanding of the meaning of the contradictory information.

In other words, if a brain is caught in a cycle of cognitive dissonance because an individual has committed to a lifetime of actions that block the brain from processing contradictory information correctly, we can expect that the individual will be unable to properly acknowledge the meaning of contradictory information. (And the only way for the individual to process the contradictory information correctly is by committing an action that conforms correctly to the valid implications of contradictory information.)

An individual caught in a cycle of cognitive dissonance may respond to the implication of say, genetic studies, by failing to publicly acknowledge any impact of such studies, and refusing to examine the impact at all--since the choices they have already committed would only allow them to see any possible way in which the information doesn't necessarily invalidate their lifetime of choices...

Or they may express great pain and anxiety when information that indicates that an individual they have chosen to support with a lifetime of testimonies and actions is actually an untrustworthy individual...

Or they may just focus single-mindedly on tenuous evidence that a witness' account conforms to a prepossessed, socially inscribed idea.

In fact, a brain caught in a cycle of cognitive dissonance might entirely fail to acknowledge the implications of an enormous mountain of information--except by finding any possible way to see each piece of evidence as something that doesn't necessarily prove that their actions are based on untrue beliefs...

Because, again--if the person has committed him/herself to a set of actions, the brain is wired to modify the experience of belief to conform to the chosen actions.

BTW, you should know that, IMO, the lurking audience here is here largely because your intelligence, your ability to produce powerfully convincing rhetoric, and your commitment to intellectual honesty are held in such high esteem here.

You might even someday find that the persecution you feel you have experienced is a mark of respect...that certain people are awed by your intellect, but baffled by the fact that your brain fails to acknowledge or account for certain types of information that your culturally-induced actions have made it impossible for your brain to accurately perceive and process...

And if you'd like to see a really neat trick, I can show you how to count backwards from 10, and wake from a lifelong hypnotic dream to see the world in a way you've never seen...

But it's only fair to warn you that this world is a lonely place without the phantom of an anthropomorphic God in one's head at all times, and that our natal culture treats the speakers of certain hidden truths as a poison, that must be sucked out and spat away, lest such individuals break the cadence of the secret combination of deceit in our religiocultural song...

Besides, I'm a little ambivalent about it anyway, because I enjoy arguing with you so much when you're so obviously wrong--and I'd really hate to lose such opportunities, because I do so love to butter my bread with smarm...

[Big Grin]

In any case, mad respect for openly discussing this stuff, I'm not sure I know any other credent mormon who has the balls...

[Smile]

[ August 24, 2011, 11:20 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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BTW, if there are any lurking christians out there savoring the prospect of licking the jars of the smarmalade I've been eating, you should know that there is a reason that 19th century american revivalism so embraced restoration doctrines...because only creeds like the mormons actually have a reason for believing that the God of Moses has anything to do with the soteriology of Paul.

Even after the proto-Catholic scribes spent 300+ years selectively retooling the texts of the New Testament to make it look like Jesus atoned for everybody's sins (and then left the Romans in charge [LOL] ), the doctrines of spiritual dualism, and the metaphysics of soteriology still obviously come from the Greeks, not the Jews. And it's as funny that people spend entire lives reading a Roman-edited New Testament without realizing that Paul was teaching something entirely different than what Jesus was talking about, as it is that people swallowed it when someone made up an "ancient" document to make it look like Pauline doctrines really are related to the beliefs of the Hebrews...

In other words, mormons may have made up a reason to believe that Hebrew prophets were talking about a Greek-informed savior when they prophesied about a messiah, but a made-up reason is better than no reason at all, neh?

If there is a God who accepted an eternal punishment to give a divine gift to mortals, then He's still bound high up in suffering, not on a cross, but on a rock, and He may rise undying from death, but that's not a spear in his side, it's the beak of an eagle...

[ August 25, 2011, 12:09 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pete at Home
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"You might even someday find that the persecution you feel you have experienced is a mark of respect.."

Persecution? I got whacked with a bottle in the face once because I said I couldn't drink because I was LDS ... too bad I didn't stick with that [Frown]

Other than that, I can't think of outright persecution for my beliefs. A little annoyance here or harassment there. The biggest stressors in my life have nothing to do with my religion. Some is just sh!t happening and most of the rest I brought on myself.

quote:
quote:Why do you try to force me to recite your beliefs?

...when I tried to get you to agree that you could see and understand the reasons for believing that the witnesses may have only "seen" the plates in their minds.

Did you miss my last response?

quote:
I can only think of one: cognitive dissonance--which isn't actually so much about beliefs conflicting with other beliefs, it's what happens when an individual's actions conflict with beliefs, and the brain modifies beliefs to conform to the actions the individual have chosen to commit.
If you're right that is what the term means, it Sounds like most of the folks using the term "Cognitive Dissonance" are parrotting something they don't understand.

I've been drinking a few years; shouldn't my brain modify my beliefs accordingly, according to that theory?

quote:
(The hidden trick is that it's not just that everyone around you swears that it's true, it's that they get you to perform actions that only could make sense if it were true.)
Who is "they"? When did "they" get me to swear that anything was true?

Remember, you remain the only person to testify of "known" truth in this discussion. [Big Grin]

quote:
If a person publicly (and repeatedly) commits the action of saying they know and believe something is true, the brain traps the mind into believing that the person knows it is true.
I'm disappointed. Did you not actually read my "Believers" story, or was it so forgettable that you didn't revise the deprogramming script accordingly?

I refused to buckle, remember?

quote:
An individual caught in a cycle of cognitive dissonance may respond to the implication of say, genetic studies, by failing to publicly acknowledge any impact of such studies, and refusing to examine the impact at all--since the choices they have already committed would only allow them to see any possible way in which the information doesn't necessarily invalidate their lifetime of choices...
Okay, smarmypants, we're going to debate genetics, and we're going to stick to genetics, until you provide a credible argument how mDNA and yDNA studies contradict the actual text of the Book of Mormon. And this time, no weaseling out of the argument by pointing to editor's introductions and other parts that JS never presented as a translation. Okay?
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quote:
that certain people are awed by your intellect, but baffled by the fact that your brain fails to acknowledge or account for certain types of information that your culturally-induced actions have made it impossible for your brain to accurately perceive and process...
[LOL]

sp, that's Attention Deficit Disorder, not Mormonism. My IQ tests spell it right out -- I'm a genius in one categories, high in another, mediocre in one category, and total twit in another. And in the area where I'm weak, I'm not "impossible," I'm just very very slow. And that's *before* I started dousing my brain cells in the neurotoxin known as EtOH.

[ August 25, 2011, 03:33 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
I can't think of outright persecution for my beliefs
That's an amazing thing to say. After all, your positions here frequently include the premise of theists suffering persecution for acting upon their theistic beliefs.

Which, it should be admitted, is something that happens--because some theistic beliefs not only appear to be ridiculous, but lead to ridiculous and harmful consequences to others (can you imagine living in a system that wouldn't give you the legal right to marry your chosen lifemate?--I mean, it's not getting thrown into a fire with a bundle of faggots, but still!...and they're both ridiculous, harmful consequences of the same ridiculous beliefs of the Churches of God'll Destroy the World if We Let Ye).

And before your brain starts panic-pressing the persecuted martyr button, let me remind you that I was just reminding you what an amazing thing it is to hear you say that you don't feel persecuted for your beliefs, and inquire as to whether this means that you won't be engaging in arguments that derive from that premise any more?

[Wink]
quote:
I got whacked with a bottle in the face once because I said I couldn't drink because I was LDS
That sucks. I once got swung on by a guy with a bat, but that had more to do with my pliggish tendencies, and his untrue beliefs regarding the false doctrine of the contemporary construct of monogamy, than anything I had said about my own beliefs (which were, btw, that she was single, and really cute, but kinda grabby)...but that counts as persecution for being mormon too, right? Cuz I'll testify with my hand on the golden plates which I saw in my crystal ball that it was the revelations I received at the administration of the laying on of hands (and other sacred ordinances) by angelic mormon girls that taught me to believe in the celestial law...and I like to flatter myself that my good mormon genes had something to do with my authoritative effectuation of the holy rites of the practice too...

[Big Grin]
quote:
Did you miss my last response?
Nope, and I appreciated the intellectual integrity it took to make the statement.

I also saw the wobble in the sturdiness of the structure, and am actually well aware that the internal consequences of committing the action are part of the impetus behind the choice not to respond to the implications of the further information I've put up on the board.

In other words, "last response" seems to have been an unintentional double-entendre, and I don't believe you can continue to socially reify the reasons for disbelieving it's true without the structure collapsing. It really is that fragile and unbalanced of a thing...
quote:
If you're right that is what the term means, it Sounds like most of the folks using the term "Cognitive Dissonance" are parrotting something they don't understand.
[LOL]

Actually yeah. But a limited understanding is better than no understanding at all.

Here's something interesting to chew on: choices generally precede consciously articulated thought. You choose an action, then arrange a belief about what it must mean.
quote:
Who is "they"? When did "they" get me to swear that anything was true?
Again, general sense of "you."

If you find yourself in a cult, the way it works is...
quote:
Remember, you remain the only person to testify of "known" truth in this discussion.
[Big Grin]

If you think that's funny, you should check my last post again, because I just testified as to the nature of God, and signed my name to it in metaphor to boot...

But do you really not get the difference between a reference to an assumption of the shared perceptions of the individuals in a historical mob, and the socially-modifying ritual of testifying to the truth of a proposition?

Cuz the words "I know" (which I actually didn't say) are only bad hypno-juju if bracketed in some form of the phrase "I testify to you that this is true."
quote:
I'm disappointed. Did you not actually read my "Believers" story, or was it so forgettable that you didn't revise the deprogramming script accordingly?
Oh, I read it.

And the script is modified accordingly.

You didn't actually talk about an experience that caused you to believe what you believe, you talked about an experience of struggling to believe what your community taught you to believe, and blaming others for letting you down in their obligations to act in a way that didn't impede you in your quest to believe something that could only be believed in the context of properly functioning social rituals--where everyone acts to reinforce everyone else's beliefs.

And apparently, you saw the remorse of others for their failure to properly bolster your belief as proof that effectively chiding others to act as if they believe is an effective way to fortify your own beliefs.

...and that's how you see yourself as coming to believe what you believe--you just don't seem to fully understand that that's exactly what I mean.
quote:
Okay, smarmypants, we're going to debate genetics, and we're going to stick to genetics, until you provide a credible argument how mDNA and yDNA studies contradict the actual text of the Book of Mormon.
It's funny that you missed the actual argument which you already lost, and haven't yet understood. You should go back and read the exchange again.

But to help you out, genetic studies just fail to give any reason for believing that the BoM is anything other than the fraud that it obviously is, and they also have narrowed the range of potential interpretations of the text that could be reasonably considered historically true.

See, what's funny about the pure and white-skinned descendants of Nephi is that there isn't a trace of evidence (aside from an obvious fraud) that they ever existed. But the absence of evidence for the traceless testifiers of pauline soteriology is all part of the magical-prophet-of-God-with-magically-invisible-proof trick. What's really funny is that there isn't a trace of evidence that descendants of Laman and Lemuel exist either. And here's what's really really funny, the non-existent proof of the existence of the Lamanites was the best possible remaining proof that could be hoped to be found for the actual existence of the non-existent golden plates--which were the only actual proof offered for the obvious and outrageous lie of a claim that JS was a God-seeing prophet in the first place. And what makes this Babylonian tower of absurd-suspension-of-logic so incredible is that it can actually be built in people's minds because if it were true, it would fill the void of proof that is needed for the outrageous claims of pauline christianity to be true.

[LOL]

Do you really not understand how high this castle is in the sky--without an ounce of support?

You're tugging on a chain of proofless propositions that contain tremendously hefty ifs that seems to go back so far that you wouldn't be able to tell if it's not connected to anything but itself in the end...even though it demonstrably is.

But if you've got something to say about what genetic studies have demonstrated about the BoM other than ways in which it can't be true, feel free to debate away...

[ August 25, 2011, 09:16 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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quote:
in the area where I'm weak, I'm not "impossible," I'm just very very slow.
Well, I'm not sure precisely what category you're referring to, but I can assure you that there is a certain category within which you are the picture-perfect paragon of impossibility...

[Wink]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
I can't think of outright persecution for my beliefs
That's an amazing thing to say. After all, your positions here frequently include the premise of theists suffering persecution for acting upon their theistic beliefs.
From which you derive that I consider myself and every Mormon persecuted for our beliefs? No.

There's some unreasonable discrimination. It bothers me to raise kids in a supposedly free country where they will never even have the possibility of being president or being appointed to the Supreme Court. But that's not persecution; it's not even all the way to Dhimmitude.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
See, what's funny about the pure and white-skinned descendants of Nephi is that there isn't a trace of evidence (aside from an obvious fraud) that they ever existed.
Who says they'd be white from our perspective? Go read the literature on Ethiopia and Eritrea, and there's a simmering race war between lighter skinned black people who think of themselves as white, and those that think of themselves as black.
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
From which you derive that I consider myself and every Mormon persecuted for our beliefs?
No. From which I surmise that you personally feel a bit persecuted for your beliefs around here.

I was talking about the lurking audience, remember?
quote:
It bothers me to raise kids in a supposedly free country where they will never even have the possibility of being president
Well, they could always renounce belief in the fraudulent things they may have been taught were true... [Wink]

Though Romney seems like he might have a pretty good shot next year, while no one who doesn't claim to be saved by Paul's version of Jesus is gonna pass the lowest common denominator test of American democracy in the foreseeable future...
quote:
Who says they'd be white from our perspective?
Joseph Smith--through the fictional characters he developed in his fraudulent hoax of a book.

See, this type of confusion you display about what the text clearly means all appears to come from a failure to correctly understand the fraudulent nature of the text.

It's clear that Smith dictated his own racial prejudices into the text--which is full of 19th century ideas and prepossessions. But a reader can't really understand the clear meaning of the text if they've committed themselves to a lifetime of acting upon the preposterously incorrect assumption that the book is authentic.

Here's a really funny irony for you: credent Mormons completely misunderstand the entire meaning of the book...

[ August 25, 2011, 07:32 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
From which you derive that I consider myself and every Mormon persecuted for our beliefs?
No. From which I surmise that you personally feel a bit persecuted for your beliefs around here.
Persecuted, no. Patronized, talked down to, second-guessed. Nothing to the level of outright persecution. Jesse brought religious bigotry it to the level of harassment, but that's just one incident in 11 years, and still not to the point of what I'd call persecution.
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Patronized, talked down to, second-guessed.
Yeah, that sucks.

It's also a product of backlash, though, resulting from pushing conclusions that are derived in part from some of the untenable premises in your beliefs.

I didn't catch the climax of your tussle with Jesse, but I am aware that the central issue was the political actions of credent mormons, who have pushed to bar homosexuals from access to participate in a vitally important social institution, on the basis of explicitly religious beliefs.

You may not understand this, but if one allows a personal delusion to cause one to act in ways that negatively impact the lives of others, one is initiating a conflict situation, and since the conflict-creating action can be traced back to its justification in the delusional belief, the problem is likely to cause the maintenance of the delusional belief to come under fire.

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Pete at Home
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"It's clear that Smith dictated his own racial prejudices into the text--"

That's just stupid, given Smith's personal history, which is quite well documented. He actually came up in a legal seminar I attended -- a seminar in Vegas that had nothing to do with religion; the speaker mentioned Joseph Smith as the first US citizen to ever try to adopt a black person into his family.

OK, Dr. Ruth, that's enough. Go find someone else's mind to diddle with. I'm out.

[ August 25, 2011, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Ha!

You missed your chance. Bye bye.

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DonaldD
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quote:
 the speaker mentioned Joseph Smith as the first US citizen to ever try to adopt a black person into his family.
That claim would seem impossible to substantiate, given that the first adoption statute in the country was enacted by Massachusetts in 1851, years after Smith's death.  Up until that point, any number of successful transracial adoptions could have occurred (and also many such attempts) without any official documentation of the specific activity.  It should also be noted that parental mortality was much higher 200 years ago, and fostering children into situations where they would become financial assets (not exactly indentured servitude, but related) was extremely common.

That's not to gainsay your broader point; I'm just pointing out the speaker's claim about Smith being the first to make the attempt smacks of historical revisionism.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
quote:
 the speaker mentioned Joseph Smith as the first US citizen to ever try to adopt a black person into his family.
That claim would seem impossible to substantiate, given that the first adoption statute in the country was enacted by Massachusetts in 1851, years after Smith's death.  Up until that point, any number of successful transracial adoptions could have occurred (and also many such attempts) without any official documentation of the specific activity.  It should also be noted that parental mortality was much higher 200 years ago, and fostering children into situations where they would become financial assets (not exactly indentured servitude, but related) was extremely common.

That's not to gainsay your broader point; I'm just pointing out the speaker's claim about Smith being the first to make the attempt smacks of historical revisionism.

Why would an african-American non-LDS legal researcher engage in historical revisionism on our behalf? She'd simply said that in her own substantial research on race and family law, that the first documented occurrence of any white person trying to adopt a black person into their family was in [date, which I don't remember] by Joseph Smith. I could look up the name of the kid he was trying to adopt, if you like -- LDS records show the kid sealed to Joseph and Emma Smith as their daughter.

The speaker went on to describe how Brigham Young had thrown a monkey wrench into that process after Joseph Smith died, and that aspect of the story does not put the church in a flattering light. So no, you're clearly wrong about the speaker's intent.

If you want to challenge the statement that it's the first incident KNOWN to have occurred, then show us an earlier example. It's really that simple.

I certainly didn't mean to suggest that no other white American had ever done that. I'm simply saying that the dearth of any other known examples shows that Joseph Smith was liberal and enlightened for his time on racial matters.

[ August 26, 2011, 11:48 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
quote:
the speaker mentioned Joseph Smith as the first US citizen to ever try to adopt a black person into his family.
That claim would seem impossible to substantiate
Ah, I see that I did misspeak the first time; I didn't mean to suggest he was the very first ever to do it, but rather that he's the first one that we know about.

As for "indentured servitude," the speaker (again non-LDS, and with her point and specialty being the history of race in family law) seemed confident that Joseph Smith's purpose was to help the kid become accepted in the LDS Nauvoo community. Basically offering her a family status that would help off-set the effects of any racism in the community.

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
the speaker mentioned Joseph Smith as the first US citizen to ever try to adopt a black person into his family.
Is this like people who have racist attitudes, but claim not to be racist by dint of having a black friend?

[Wink]

(And I won't even raise the question of whether the girl was of a nubile age...)

Seriously though, I'd agree that Smith wasn't anywhere near the worst racist of his day and age, and that he was actually pretty racially progressive, if only relatively speaking.

But racist attitudes are still racist attitudes, and those attitudes expressed (by Smith) in the BoM are actually racist attitudes, albeit in the flavor of progressive Christian tolerance such as it was in early 19th century america.

Here's an interesting thought-exercise to help you sort the distinction out:

We seem to agree that the Nephi character held racist attitudes. Bearing that in mind, do you think that Nephi would have been charitable enough to adopt a needy dark-skinned child into his family--or would you say that such an action would be so completely against the grain of his racially intolerant character that there is no way to imagine the character doing such a thing?

I'm not saying Smith displayed an unusually racist attitude for his time, I'm just saying that the BoM contains racism, and it parallels the type of racist ideas (and their justifications) that were widespread in a certain time and place (19th century America). See, even if Smith disagreed with slavery, the slavers were still using the arguments that slavery was justified because negroes were a race blighted by God, as well as the argument that slavery was moral because negroes were racially predisposed to idle wickedness if not forced to conform to a puritanical work ethic--and progressive yankee christians may not have agreed with slavery, but they would have acknowledged the validity of the assumptions in the argument--because they were the widely shared assumptions of the time.

Darkies cursed by God, and "wicked, idle, and full of mischief."

It's part of a 19th century argument--and not part of racial attitudes of 6th century BC Jews...

The entire book is full of blatant anachronisms, and I'm not talking about just the cattle, horses, asses, oxen, sheep, swine, goats, elephants, wheat, steel, brass, chains, iron, scimitars, and chariots that didn't leave an archaeological trace in mesoamerica--I'm talking about the actual ideas in which the characters are versed.

Cuz the BoM doesn't just contain racism, it contains 19th century progressive yankee christian racism.

[LOL]

You really are reading the book wrong by assuming that it's not a 19th century hoax.
quote:
You missed your chance.
It's not my chance, Pete. It's your choice.

It's a question: If Joseph Smith was a fraud...would you want to "know?"

And the intelligent and honest answer of most credent mormons is "no." Many credent mormons have built lifetimes of social networks based on supporting the premise that the creed is true, and realizing that it is not true would sour, or even destroy many important and intimate relationships. Realizing that it is not true would force a credent mormon individual to reevaluate the worth of a lifetime of actions performed under the assumption that the creed is true. Realizing that it is not true would come as a humiliating shock for someone who has pushed an agenda that appears quite foolish if it isn't true...

Most people don't value intellectual integrity enough to face the consequences that would result from finding out that it's not true.

They just don't want to know. And that doesn't feel to me like a missed opportunity at all.

In fact, as I've said before, there is at least a little part of me that wishes I could go back and swallow the blue pill...

But the question is simply a matter of choice for you: would you want to know?

[ August 27, 2011, 01:59 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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BTW, my favorite anachronism is the chariots, mostly because I think that people should have chariots if other people are going around writing in Reformed Egyptian (but doesn't it seem like someone really liked the Bible stories involving his namesake as a kid?).

And here's an interesting article on cognitive dissonance.

Did you know that we can encourage people to tell a lie to "help out" others, then watch an image of their brains convincing the people themselves that what they said was actually true?

[ August 27, 2011, 05:23 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:


In fact, as I've said before, there is at least a little part of me that wishes I could go back and swallow the blue pill...

But the question is simply a matter of choice for you: would you want to know?

"Hmm. red pill, or blue pill?" mused the color-blind man
quote:

Now I can say, categorically, for myself that either God exists, or I am delusional.

Now I could argue, that if religion is a "crutch for the weak," then doesn't that mean, at some level, that it works, allows the lame to walk, the blind to see?

An atheist might respond that religion, prayer, is like Dumbo's magic feather. That the power is in you, that a false belief unlocks that power, but the truth sets us free.

Unlike many who Believe, I would respond that yes, there is power in us, because we are God's children, but that ultimately, the truth should unlock the power and set us free.

But that doesn't answer my question of whether there is a God, or whether I am delusional. All it says, is that if there is a God, that one day I may know Him, while if there isn't a God, then my only choices are 1) straight delusion, or 2) delusion with a twist of self-doubt.

I cannot say, categorically, that self-doubt is necessarily or always a bad thing. I cannot say that Abraham loved his son any less than I love mine, but I can say, that if I ever thought that I'd had a message from God telling me to harm my son, that I'd check myself into the nuthouse.

Because the possibilities-- (1) that God exists, and (2) that I am delusional, are not mutually exclusive. [Big Grin]

But unless someone definitively disproves (1), or unless I have reason to believe that (2) is as true as (1), then I will continue to live, love, and work, with confidence in what I know as reality. You might call that taking the blue pill, but my eyes say that it's the red pill. You make your choice; I'll make mine.

I'm broke until payday and knocked my air conditioning out in August during Las Vegas. The amount of gas in my car essentially lets me choose between going to work and my AA meetings. My wife's in her dad's car heading to Louisiana with our kids, because she can't let them continue to watch me self-destruct.

This is probably not the week to challenge my sense of reality, sp. That's my choice this week.

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Aris Katsaris
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Pete, I've sent you an email.
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quote:
Realizing that it is not true would come as a humiliating shock for someone who has pushed an agenda that appears quite foolish if it isn't true...
Everything that I've said about SSM would still be true if my religious views were proved to be false.

As for my mission, my service in the church, I reckon I'd still be satisfied to have been part of a community that does a great deal of good in the world.

But it would be, like you said, destructive of the relationships that for me, make life worth living.

Since I'm as honest with myself as an openly alcoholic mormon is capable of being, I would have to admit that I very well might be too biased to contemplate whatever it is that you think would rock my world and reality.

Simplicity is not necessarily objective. I'm not persuaded that it's less "intellectually honest" to re construe Occam's razor as a confirmation bias. Two probabilities seeming equal, I would almost certainly choose to believe the argument that wreaked less havoc in my life.

So I'd flunk your test for the very same reason that I'd flunk God's test for Abraham.

Is that wrong?

God help me; I don't care if it's wrong. That's my choice.

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TomDavidson
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For what it's worth, Pete, if I were rationally capable of holding a belief because I felt that choosing not to hold it would be damaging to me -- and I don't think I am; I don't think my brain personally works that way -- I'd make the same choice.
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:

As for my mission, my service in the church, I reckon I'd still be satisfied to have been part of a community that does a great deal of good in the world.

But it would be, like you said, destructive of the relationships that for me, make life worth living.

Since I'm as honest with myself as an openly alcoholic mormon is capable of being, I would have to admit that I very well might be too biased to contemplate whatever it is that you think would rock my world and reality.

Simplicity is not necessarily objective. I'm not persuaded that it's less "intellectually honest" to re construe Occam's razor as a confirmation bias. Two probabilities seeming equal, I would almost certainly choose to believe the argument that wreaked less havoc in my life.

So I'd flunk your test for the very same reason that I'd flunk God's test for Abraham.

Is that wrong?

God help me; I don't care if it's wrong. That's my choice.

The Buddhist approach to this sort of quandary is to take the tenets of faith as a kind of working hypothesis, and see what you discover to be true through direct experience. It may not apply in your situation, but I think that, in spiritual terms, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If the practice of LDS Christianity is a source of genuine spiritual insight (which can only be determined personally and individually), then I would think that the literal factuality of the canon to be incidental. Maybe that's not very helpful; I'm mostly trying to say that seeking's thesis would be interesting but only tangentially relevant if I were a practicing Mormon.
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