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Analytics

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  1. Is this paper an elaborate hoax? I'm reading it looking for signs that intelligent, sincere people wrote it, and I'm coming up short. I'm not trying to be snarky here--this is a sincere question. As an example of why I'm skeptical, consider their point number 6.3 "Multiple calendars kept." On this point, they compare the calendar system in the Book of Mormon to the calendar system the Mayans used. The Book of Mormon calendar is composed of days, weeks, months, and years. Sometimes they counted years from when Lehi left Jerusalem. Sometimes from when there was a change in government. We know from how the Bible syncs with the Book of Mormon that Book of Mormon years are the same thing as what we would think of as years. It's worth noting that the modern conception of calendars is different than the ancient Hebrew calendar, and there is no indication that the writers of the Book of Mormon were using a Hebrew calendar(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_calendar). In contrast, the Mayans had a very elaborate calendar with 365-day Haabs, which overlapped another 260-day calendar called a "Tzolkin" that had 20 periods of 13 days. A specific date is set by the intersection of the Haab and the Tzolkin, which circles around on a cycle of about 52 years. And then it has "long counts" of 2,880,000 days, with the long count starting about 3,000 B.C. So, when you compare how the Book of Mormon tracks dates (i.e. exactly like us, except with years starting when there are different changes in rulers) to how the Mayans track dates with these overlapping cycles of 260 days, is this a hit or a miss in terms of the Book of Mormon fitting in a Mayan setting? I would call it a miss. But according to Dr. Dale and Dr. Dale, this is a spectacular hit that by itself proves that the Book of Mormon is Mayan in origin! In their exact words: Note: After the phrase "Likelihood = 0.02" these are my words, not Dr. Dale & Dr. Dale's--I'm struggling with the editor to remove that from the quote box.
  2. The old policy caused an incredible amount of hurt and resentment in a ton of families. Dividing up friends and families into the worthy and unworthy is a mean thing to do, and doing it under the name of eternal families was incredibly ironic. This change will do a lot to increase the good will felt by non-member family members.
  3. I think Hitchens understood perfectly well that "daemon" can be identified with the experience of personal revelation. Where he disagreed is whether or not it should be identified with personal revelation. In any case, basically all atheists agree with him on this point--the idea that humans have a conscience isn't a radical theistic proposition. A couple of points. The whole question of a "theory of truth" seems like the wrong question to me. I'd rather create models that do the best job possible of corresponding with reality. Note that what I'm advocating here isn't a theory of truth that competes with the deflationary theory. Rather, it is a belief in ontological naturalism. The point isn't to make statements of "truth." The point is to understand reality as well as possible. In any event, the deflationary theory of truth reminds me of the immortal words of John Lennon: Living is easy with eyes closed Misunderstanding all you see It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out It doesn't matter much to me No one I think is in my tree I mean it must be high or low That is the catch you know, tune in but it's all right That is I think it's not too bad Always know, sometimes think it's me But you know I know when it's a dream I think I know, I mean, oh yes, but it's all wrong That is I think I disagree Let me take you down 'Cause I going to Strawberry Fields Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about Strawberry Fields forever
  4. Sometimes it can't be proved. Sometimes it can. How depends upon the circumstances. As an example, a mission companion and I once got into a disagreement about the color of his tie. I thought it was purple. He thought it was gray. Our divergent internal perceptions notwithstanding, in principle we could have used a spectrometer to scientifically measure the color components of the tie and come to a objective conclusion about whether "gray" or "purple" better represented the spectrum of light that would emerge when white light is shined on the tie. But it turned out that one of us had in fact been diagnosed as being colorblind, so we agreed that the perception of the one who wasn't colorblind was most likely a "closer representation" of the truth than the other. What does any of this have to do with your assertion that Christopher Hitchens was "caught affirming spiritual experiences as valid?"
  5. My question is how do you tie this back to the points you made in the original post? When Christopher Hitchens says he is an atheist, he isn't denying that he has experiences that are similar (or even identical) to the experiences you have. Rather, he is saying he doesn't believe in God. Is there a pragmatic difference? Yes and no. The feeling is what it is, regardless of what we call it. But on the other hand, what the feeling implies about reality is something beyond our subjective, internal perceptions. Two people might have an identical vision of a bright light and a being that claims to be God. The experiences could be identical. However, one might start a religion while the other might see a psychiatrist. Regardless of whether the vision is God, the devil, an angel, an alien, a practical joke, or a symptom of frontal lobe epilepsy, there are competing explanations for what "really happened", and regardless of our own subjective experiences, some of those explanations are closer representations of the truth than others. We all see through a glass darkly. The question is, are we trying to clear off the glass so that the view is a little less dark?
  6. I'm open to the idea that "perceptions are the only reality we can know," but I'm not convinced that is the right question. I believe there is a real world out there beyond my perceptions that will keep on existing whether I'm perceiving it or not. I might not ever "know" it, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. I'm the kind of guy who believes that if a tree falls in a forest that it does in fact make a sound.
  7. It's weird that you think I was somehow making an "appeal to the stone" fallacy. My point is simply that practically all atheists believe that there are spiritual experiences, that people have a conscience, and so forth, You didn't catch Hitchens making some grand or inadvertent concession on this point. The difference between you and Hitchens is that you feel a spiritual something-or-another and say, "I just felt God! I know God exists!" Hitchens feels a spiritual something-or-another and says, "I felt something. Feelings exist." The question isn't whether or not people perceive things. And the question isn't whether or not these perceptions are internal, external, or a combination of both. The question is what do the perceptions imply about the nature of reality?
  8. As Example #2, say somebody had their finger amputated some time ago, but still feels a "ghost finger" from time to time. Somehow, some broken links in the nervous system cause the brain to receive some electrical signals that it interprets as "the fact and experience of your finger touching something." Out there in the real world (if you believe in such a place), the finger didn't really touch anything. As a matter of fact (if you believe in such things), there is no finger. Yet, you experience the finger touching something. So here are some questions (and forgive me if these are pedestrian--I'm not a philosopher): 1- Is "feeling your finger touching something" when your finger is in fact touching something a categorically different experience than "feeling your finger touching something" when you don't have a finger and it really isn't touching something? Are those two different types of events, or if they feel identical to each other, are they the same thing? 2- If we agree that feeling something that is there with a real finger is different than feeling something with a ghost finger that isn't there, does it matter whether feeling God is more like one or more like the other?
  9. I President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made the following comments Sunday, January 10, 2016, during a devotional for Mormons ages 18 to 30. The broadcast originated from the campus of Brigham Young University-Hawaii and can be viewed on LDS.org. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel, individually and collectively. And then, we watch the Lord move upon the President of the Church to proclaim the Lord’s will. This prophetic process was followed in 2012 with the change in minimum age for missionaries, and again with the recent additions to the Church’s handbook, consequent to the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries. Filled with compassion for all, and especially for the children, we wrestled at length to understand the Lord’s will in this matter. Ever mindful of God’s plan of salvation and of His hope for eternal life for each of His children, we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration. And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation. It was our privilege as Apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson. Revelation from the Lord to His servants is a sacred process. And so is your privilege of receiving personal revelation. https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/president-nelson-handbook-change I think it is insightful to note that when critics talk about this, they describe it as whether apostles and prophets can be trusted when they say that the prophet "declares the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord" on a specific issue. But when apologists talk about it, they describe it as whether apostles and prophets claim to be infallible.
  10. You'll be happy to know that I did ask God for myself and I did go out and get my own testimony. You'll be even more happy to know that I agree that the prophets are fallible, and that because I have my own testimony, it is impossible for a Mormon prophet to lead me astray.
  11. That line of reasoning goes on to say that it doesn't matter whether the President of the Church is right or wrong because, in the words of Marion G. Romney, "if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it." Even if the president of the church is merely nearly infallible with mundane things (but would not and could not "lead the church astray"), we should treat the words of the prophet as if they were infallible.
  12. By their own admission, the old policy was harmful for children. Listen to the Radio Free Mormon podcast if you can't see this.
  13. As I'm using the term, "infallibility" is along a scale. When the President of the Twelve told us 4 years ago that the new policy was a revelation and went into some detail about the process they allegedly went through and why that means we should trust them, he was talking pretty high on the infallibility scale. In fact, almost every time they talk about the role of prophets and about how Jesus leads the church, they are high on the scale.
  14. Interesting observation. I'd love to brawl with you and prove you are wrong with a counterexample, but nothing is coming to mind. +1 for Juliann for an insightful observation. What I would point out is that an area where the prophets are particularly fallible is how infallible they represent themselves to be. If they could tell the difference between their own fallible opinions and infallible revelations and would clearly tell the membership what is what, they'd become a lot more relevant.
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