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Kevin Christensen

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About Kevin Christensen

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    Brings Forth Plants
  • Birthday 04/28/1954

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    Canonsburg, PA

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  1. Actually, Alma 32 discusses that, and I have long been impressed with what he shows. Alma goes on to explain that "cause to believe" is based on things like experiments on portions of the word, fruitfulness, expansion and enlightenment of the of the mind in consequence of experiment and experience, deliciousness, enlargement of the soul (think of Enos whose concerns enlarge from himself, to family, to his people, to his enemies) and future promise. All of that converges with what Kuhn depicts as the pragmatic grounds for paradigm choice and scientific progress. So cause to believe is ongoing, progressive, and open-ended, falling short of perfect knowledge but addressing what is real. "Knowing" is final, complete, static, free of the need for faith, and comes with instant accountability for everything. Exiled should not try to chalk faith choices up to feelings because there is more than that to it. Heart and mind are fully engaged. Both logical intellect and emotional intelligence as mutually supporting contraries. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  2. Thank you, I shall believe what I want. There is more than one outsider test for faith. An outsider test is not necessarily better just because it is an outsider test. If you read my review of Riskas, you should have seen that I provided another outsider test for LDS faith claims (one provided by Ian Barbour's Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative Study of Science and Religion) that also conveniently provided a powerful outside test for the outsider test that Riskas provided. That is, I drew on Barbour and Kuhn and comparative religion and critical thinking skills to examine both Riskas's positivism and my own faith. Notice that saying "One uses the same critical thinking skills one uses to determine scientology or flat-earthers are going down the wrong path" is a way of making that situation a paradigmatic metaphor for approaching the LDS, despite the huge differences between those claims and LDS claims. We are not flat earthers, and we are not devotees of L. Ron Hubbard and the numerous scandals of scientology. By me, that is not a valid paradigm for confronting LDS claims, but it is another good example of what Madan Sarup was talking about, that is, making your argument via metaphor rather than close and comprehensive and relevant comparison. You ask: I believe in what I am doing, just as you apparently do, as you proselyte here. I've seen many lives changed for the better by the gospel, over a long period of time. That strikes me as worth sharing. You ask: No. Emphatically no. Come back when you understand positivism. And if you were as enlightened and as self critical as your pose, you ought to notice that "the one and only" is not a quotation from the formal statement of LDS claims in D&C 1. "The one and only" is in fact, a misstatement of LDS belief. This happens to be a subject I covered in detail in the Mantic Box and Sophic Vista essay I linked, which strikes me as good evidence you did not read the essay completely and carefully. It is also a subject I post on regularly on this board. Joseph Smith reported that one of the things that started his religious quest was his realization that "the different teachers of religion understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible." Jesus stated of the parable of the Sower, "Know ye not this parable? How then will ye know all parables?" Recognizing that the same words can produce vastly different yields, ranging from nothing to a hundred fold, all depending on soil, nurture, and time, is key to understanding everything else he says. Jesus also says that criticism ought to begin with self-criticism, removing the beams from our own eyes. "Then shall ye see clearly." And all of that strikes as as interesting in comparison to Alan Goff's observation that Post Modernism is what happened when the critical and skeptical eye of Modernism became self-critical and self-reflective. And all of that leads to why I end up using Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions as the foundation of my own self-critical and self-reflective contemplation of my own LDS beliefs. And it's all nicely resonant with the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth, which I also used at length in Sophic Box and Mantic Vista because of how neatly they expose the flaws of positivism. And all that points to my use of Barbour: I've repeatedly made the case my LDS faith has allowed me to notice and value many features of life that critics and skeptics continually overlook. And it is important that when we ask "which of two competing theories fits the facts better" that we also work to ensure that the way we select facts and measure better is not completely theory-dependent, not completely self-referential. I've written about this at length many times. We have to be comparative, and we have to use standards of measure that are not self-referential. Testability, accuracy of key predictions, comprehensiveness and coherence, fruitfulness, simplicity and aesthetics, and future promise. Goff points out that Positivists always give themselves away: https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/the-inevitability-of-epistemology-in-historiography-theory-history-and-zombie-mormon-history/ From the same essay: Notice that Positivism refused to be self-critical, to remove the beam from it's own eye in order to see clearly. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  3. In Sophic Box and Mantic Vista, I quoted Madan Sarup: You might have a dominant metaphor parked in your head, rather than a pure, self authenticating truth or method. https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/sophic-box-and-mantic-vista-a-review-of-deconstructing-mormonism/ FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  4. It happens that of the 28 Biblical Tests for True and False Prophets that I found in the Bible the test of prophesy is the one most qualitifed by precept and example and most abused in practice even within the Bible. For a parallel list of tests for True and False Prophets: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets/Tests Overview https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets I have a short discussion of some of the issues with interpretation here: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets/Tests/Prophecy There was a good FARMS Preliminary Report by Lisa Bolin Hawkins and David Warby on Jewish application of the Law, and how they restricted it to obviously short term prophesy and consistency with known scripture and prophesy. Alas, I don't see it at the Maxwell Archive/ Warby, David, and Lisa B. Hawkins. “The Crime of False Prophecy under Ancient Israelite Law.” FARMS Preliminary Report. Provo, UT: FARMS, 1983 But there is David Warby essay that overlaps the topic in Studia antiqua here: https://rsc.byu.edu/sites/default/files/studia_antiqua/Studia Antiqua 3-2.pdf Since a very clear definition of the characteristics of true and false prophets exists in the Bible, if a person chooses to accept it, testing Joseph Smith against that definition is very simple. https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets/Considering_Joseph_Smith/Preliminary_test Unfortunately, it is easier and simpler to simply come up with a personal definition, essentially saying, that person is not what I think a prophet should be, and not what I want a person to be (that is, doesn't live to my personal ideals, and asks for sacrifices that I don't want to make). I spent years gathering a list of over 70 arguments made by Biblical peoples against true prophets and eventually realized that they amount to a person saying, "It's not what I think, and is not what I want." Asking whether there is any evidence that Joseph Smith's inspiration is Real is a very different test than asking whether he or his followers ever did or said anything I disagree with or don't want to hear. I find it interesting therefore, that, the Biblical passages that describe what a person should to to see truth offers set of recommendations that require the person to make the sacrifice of a contrite spirit, (an offering of that they think) and a broken heart (an offering of what they desire) as necessary to see truth (What is real). Scott Peck defines sanity as a commitment to reality at all costs. That is, reality is the pearl of great price, worth sacrificing everyhing else for. And when the Buddha was being tempted under the Bo Tree, Maya the God of Illusion tried to distract him with Fear (What we think is so, and therefore binding) and Desire (what we want). All the complexity comes from a simple set of constraints and conditions. https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets/Seeing_the_truth It turns out that there is a corrolation between a persons failure to perform the necessary sacrifices and the specific arguments they use to reject true prophets. For example, "Have any of the rulers or of the pharisees believed on him?" This is not one of the Biblical Tests for True and False prophets. Rather, it rests on the supposition, the thinking, that if Jesus were a prophet, the rulers and pharisees would say so. Another example, "There is Miciah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he propheseth of me not good, but evil." Or and the young man left because he had much wealth... "This is a hard saying? Who can hear it?" We heard him say tear down this temple, and he would raise it in three days. Joseph Smith noticed that "the different teachers of religion understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible." Notice that discerning by the fruits is not a matter of subjective taste (that is, not what I want, not what I think), but of knowing what sort of fruit goes on which plant. Even a flawed fig points to a fig tree, whereas a perfect thorn or beautiful thistle is not a grape. It's not even a question of if I like figs or grapes, but that I would recognize one if I saw one, even if it had blemishes or had been pecked by a bird. That is why the Biblical tests could be helpful. It was when I saw that relationship between the failure to offer the complete and ongoing sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spite and the specific arguments used that I realized why there is so little interest in the comprehensive list of Biblical Keys for discerning true and false prophets. It is easier to get the answer you want if you use personalized tests and interpretations designed to get that answer. And in all of this, it also helps to look up "Sustain" in a good dictionary. Sustain96 1. To keep up; keep going; maintain. Aid, assist, comfort. 2. to supply as with food or provisions: 3. to hold up; support 4. to bear; endure 5. to suffer; experience: to sustain a broken leg. 6. to allow; admit; favor 7. to agree with; confirm. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  5. When Shauna and I were called to serve in the primary in our last PA ward, we did have background checks as a matter of routine. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  6. Building materials are one thing. We can only use what is at hand, as we see fit. Secure foundations are another. If my foundations are secure, I can remodel as necessary, and do renovations and improvements, especially as new and improved materials become available. FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  7. This is where putting on the whole armor of cynicism leads. Mere "feelings and trust in dubious religionists" does not describe my experience. That is, it happens, a myth, if you want to use "falsehood" as the definition of myth. In contrast, Margaret Barker, has argued for a more inspiring view at length in The Risen Lord: Her essay on Atonement: The Rite of Healing has this: Notice that Exiled makes exactly that unacknowledged presumption. For an introduction that undercuts that unacknowledged presumption, that dubious "myth" of the Christian narrative, try "Atonement: The Rite of Healing". http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/Atonement.pdf FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  8. Kuhn says that "anomaly emerges against a background of expectation". So if I run across something I did not expect, rather than go all Henny Penny, I ask, "What should I expect?" That is, I check my own eye for beams first, that I might see clearly. And this, (from D&C 1, and therefore, formal an authoritative) I think, sets a rather tolerant and robust set of expectations: For me, there is a lot more to consider about Brigham Young than something he accounted to what he personally "reckoned". A big picture view is less likely lead to a loss of perspective than cherry picking. It would be easy to compile a video of Michael Jordan missing shots, or Babe Ruth striking out, or Steve Young throwing an interception, but such a selective view would not explain their greatness. This explains some of what I find most impressive and significant about Brigham Young https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1094&index=9 And this: https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/097-86.pdf FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA Canonsburg, PA
  9. Not quite. Faith in Christ, Repentance (ongoing personal change), baptism (a personal covenant), receipt of the Holy Spirit (which provides ongoing inspiration rather than a Big Book of What to Think) and enduring to the end. And it is Jesus that states that besides these core principles, nothing else is his doctrine, and he observed that building on any other foundation is like building on sand. I have noticed that I don't agonize over policy changes or human behavior in the Saints because I don't build on those faulty foundations. I frequently quote D&C 1 on "the authority of my servants" which bluntly allows for LDS error, ties further revelation to seeking, expressly insists that God also speaks to un-named "others" besides Joseph Smith, and declares that God is willing to reveal his will to all flesh. My faith does not depend on me having either absolute confidence in people or absolute certainty about God. Supposing that faith can only be build on a foundation of absolute confidence and certainty misses the definition of faith. I have rather, a fruitful, productive, ongoing experience of enlightenment and expansion of the mind and enlargement of my soul that grants "cause to believe." FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  10. On the only definition of doctrine that ought to matter in this discussion: FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  11. There is this, which offers a brief summary of the extended case in Barker's The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God. https://www.theway.org.uk/back/431Barker.pdf For the book, which covers a vast range of material: http://www.margaretbarker.com/Publications/GreatAngel.htm She observes that in the Old Testament, the sons of El Elyon are all heavenly beings, one of whom is Yahweh. The sons of Yahweh are all human, which means that Yahweh can be both a Father and a Son, just I can be both a father and a son. Brant Gardner explores the issue here: https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2003/monotheism-messiah-and-mormons-book And I dabble here with how the Deuteronomists complicated things. https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1459&index=4 FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  12. Personally, I think the present is remarkable, much much more impressive than when I was young. Very little of the best work has been thought of, let alone done. And what there was, I hadn't known about. The first time I read anything that impressed me, (other than Welch's Chiasmus essay in The New Era around 1971 or so), was when I was 21, in England, on a P-day reading of in 1975, of Nibley's An Approach to the Book of Mormon. Before that, all I had run across was Jack West's Cartoon Trial of the Book of Mormon and the old Christ in America Videos. Tracking down all things Nibley led to the early days of FARMS around 1981, and that led to much more, including Sorenson's Ancient American Setting in 1985, and subsequently Gardner, Poulson, Wirth, Clark, Wright, Mormon's Codex, and much much more. including the recent LiDar surveys. I've occasionally made contributions myself, at Maxwell Institute, Sunstone, Interpreter, and elsewhere. And I see the future as very promising from a wide variety of approaches, New World, and Old World. For instance, I wrote this 11 years ago. https://ldsmag.com/article-1-1644/ Not stuff I've seen accounted for by any of the skeptics. And I've learned quite a lot since then. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  13. Not just to see, but to take the time to figure out both where to look and what to expect. If you are looking in the wrong place for the wrong things, you are not likely to discover evidence or "evidence" if you prefer. To cite an important example, I recall Michael Coe and John Dehlin in the Mormon Stories talking about how there is no evidence of brass helmets and iron arrowheads in the New World. I'd find their "evidence" more intimidating if the Book of Mormon mentioned either thing. But it doesn't. They were not just wrong, but terribly misleading and under informed. And Coe had actually read the Book of Mormon several decades ago and has Mesomerican credentials, and Dehlin claims he just want to put all of the evidence on the table. But alas, I cannot take Coe's impressive credentials and Dehlin's professed ideals for granted. The evidence does not support their judgement. They were looking for the wrong things the wrong place, so their evidence is dubious. On DNA as the pin that pops the fragile bubble of possibilities for the Book of Mormon: https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1446&index=6 This essay is by John Butler. His credentials at the time: FWIW, Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  14. Objective? Famous N. R. Hanson quote: Jenkins got all of his mileage from insisting that Hamlin use his (Jenkin's) theories, assumptions, judges, problem field, and standards of solution. And never even acknowledged or comprehended that that is just what makes all the difference in whether evidence shows up. Hamblin wrote a very good essay on that exact topic in JBMS. Still relevant though much has been learned since then. https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1382&index=11 Whereas Exiled can say, "nothing exists" and insist on some proof that will coerce his unwilling submission, paradigm change doesn't work that way. A good example of this was Brant Gardner (to cite one example): His six volume Second Witness commentaries gather his evidence, which is not nothing. Of course anyone can say "So what?" to that something. but that doesn't make it nothing. Just something that they ignore, and therefore, do not explain to my satisfaction. FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
  15. Personally, I find Kuhn extremely helpful, especially when I make full use of the structure he describes to cast light on the debates I examine. Treating it all as a lofty abstraction, far removed from ongoing human behavior and details of ongoing discussions, misses the immediate practical relevance to what goes on everywhere every day. I'm specific about the details of Kuhn's structure and how it is accurately represented in debates about things LDS. Paradigms are defined by standard examples of scientific work that embody and define a problem field, method, background assumptions, and standards of solution that is adopted by a community of scientists. What Franklin's Electricity provided for scientists, Arrington's Great Basin Kingdom provided for LDS historians. So whose approach do we follow in approaching the Book of Mormon. Alexander Campbell and Brodie and Vogel and Metcalfe? Or Nibley, Sorenson, Gardner and Givens? Do we explore historicity for the benefit of believers, or do we do Religious Studies using secular methods approaches, questions, and answers, so that we can rub shoulders with Secular Academia (and thereby further our professional careers)? Do I consider Margaret Barker's work carefully? Or is it enough to say, "She's not mainstream." Sure, in Kuhn's second edition, he admits that he used several definitions of paradigm. That is something he addressed in the second edition. And I always refer to Ian Barbour's definition. The most interesting problem in paradigm debate is that of self-reference. And that is why I see it as crucial that Kuhn identifies a set of values that permit a way to make paradigm choices that are not completely self referential. Such a choice involves comparison, asking which of two competing paradigms is better, which problems are more significant to have solved? and doing so in terms of criteria that are not completely paradigm dependent. There is a huge difference between dismissing a paradigm because it is "Not us!" and seriously asking "Why us?" and therefore, as least considering the arguments and observations made by the opposition, and weighing them in a way that introduces risk. It involves checking one's own eye for beams, that we might see clearly. It involves considering different wines and wine bottles, rather than just saying, "The old is better." Testability, accuracy of key predictions, comprehensiveness and coherence, fruitfulness, simplicity and aesthetics, and future promise. (It's a bonus that these correlate with what Alma 32 offers.) For this sort of thing, https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1436&index=8 FWIW Kevin Christensen Canonsburg, PA
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