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Dan Vogel

Pious Fraud

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Calimoriah

Perhaps it is merely my obsession with precision of language and appropriate labeling, especially when it comes to psychology where lack of care can even be dangerous, but I really can't get my head around the concept that someone is somehow intentionally not making an evaluation of a truth-claim, yet applying the label "fraud."

It is not the label I would choose when defending a noncommital position toward truth-falsehood.

For someone complaining about

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Scripturelover,

Thanks for your comments. On equivocation: If D&C 19 is accepted, then God used

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For someone complaining about

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What is a real prophet?

Gosh, RF....we have been asking Vogel and Metcalfe that very question for a very long time. What was it you said about people who will not answer your questions? " If there is no response to my questions or what I have to say..that's fine..that too tells me lots. "

What does it tell you that the very people who write books about what prophets think and why they think it... refuse to define "prophet"?

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Juliann,

I really don't understand what you're trying to say. I'm willing to try again though.

"Do you really feel secure in comparing interpretive history to scientific research?"

I feel secure in saying that methodological naturalism is one approach scholars have taken to Bible studies and history. Whether or not it's the right one is another question entirely. I think you mentioned in another thread that you attend a Bible college. I'm sure, if you ask one of your professors about MN and its relation to Bible studies, you will get an answer.

But again, I'm confused by your position. The quote in your last thread, from an "authoritative" source on religious studies said:

The difference between a book by a scholar and one by a non-scholar is the amount of attention given to methodological issues and the degree to which a scientific, unbiased method is followed in asking historical, literary, and theological questions.

Remember, this is the unparalleled agreement YOU say exists amongst scholars. So you tell me, how scientifically should we approach historical questions?

"I don't know where you can go with this. Even a thesaurus will give "fake" as a synonym for fraud. Perhaps we can compromise here and agree that DV declares JS a fake prophet, ok?"

The "fraud" in "pious fraud" is a noun. While "fake" can also be used as a noun, you are using it here as an adjective to modify the noun, "prophet." To instantiate the word "fake" in the appropriate place in Vogal's argument would result in this:

"The prophet was a pious fake."

Of course, it's very awkward and doesn't convey exactly the right meaning. But the difference should be clear. Another way to look at it is, Vogal never said Joseph Smith was a fraudulent prophet.

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Another way to look at it is, Vogal never said Joseph Smith was a fraudulent prophet.
From the way I see Dr. Hamblin and Juliann's comments, it would appear to me that whether or not he said the specific words is irrelevant.

For example, if someone said a person intentionally took a cd out of the store without paying for it, he could still claim he never called that person a thief as he was only describing behaviour, but since "thief" is defined by behaviour that is a weak position to my mind.

I'd summarize the argument as this--

There are certain behaviours that define a prophet.

If the behaviours are either missing outright or not what they appear to be, then the requirements for being accurately labeled a prophet are not filled.

Whether one focuses on the term itself or the behaviours is irrelevant to the ultimate conclusion since the label "propeht" is merely the shorthand way of listing the collection of behaviours that are required.

Thus, if someone claims to be a prophet, but does not fulfill the requirements, he would be defined as a 'fake prophet.'

The disagreement seems to be on what behaviours are required in the definition of a prophet.

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If I am correct..you position is irrational..while Vogel's is rational.

Which is, unsurprisingly, precisely the position with which religiously free arrived on this board in the first place: Those who share her view of religion are rational; those who do not are irrational. Evidence and arguments adduced in support of a theistic position are dismissed as irrational fig leaves, while reason is entirely on her side.

This never had much (if anything) to do with specific facts, few of which she knows, but it has everything to do with worldview and dogma.

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How is it irrational?

At worse, it is an opinion that exists in the absence of evidence, not contradicted by evidence. This does not qualify as irrational.

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There is evidence Julian..to determine what Joseph thought about many things and Vogel has backed some of that up on this board in his various posts.  One can surmise Joseph's motivation and intent  based on that evidence..in other words it is reasonable to draw inferences from the evidence  especially when the inferences are not extraordinary given the evidence. 

Yes, but you can only reach the conclusions he reaches by purposely and consistently ignoring other evidences that contradict Vogel's claim. That's why he chose to start his book from the assumption that the B of M has been "proven" false. It excuses him from having to deal with the many and varied evidences to the contrary.

However, it doesn't excuse him from ignoring the many and variouis verses that would not permit a prophet to operate as a conscious fraud, pious or otherwise.

I am not able to  critique Dan's book but from all that I've read on this board..everything he says seems quite reasonable.

Gee, couldn't have predicted that conclusion, now could we.

Apparently the biography is constructed within the context of lots of evidence..Vogel is not making things up out of thin air.

Actually, everytime he places thoughts in the prophet's mind or applies motives to his actions, that's exactly what he's doing.

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How is it irrational?

At worse, it is an opinion that exists in the absence of evidence, not contradicted by evidence.  This does not qualify as irrational.

If someone's understanding of a prophet is that the prophet must communicate with a real existing god... that is irrational because God at this point in time is not known. There are many different conflicting beliefs about what god is, how he reveals himself or not to the world differs according to different beliefs, sacred texts describe a different god from one another. Some people believe in a god which does not involve himself with mankind and is not going to found in sacred texts. Some people believe in many gods. So given the evidence of conflicting beliefs and given that a real existing god is not known ...the definition of a prophet entailing a person who actually does commune in reality with a real god..for which there is no consensus ...is not arrived at through reason ..it is arrived at solely through belief.

On the other hand..if the concept of a prophet is of a person who believes they commune with god, or if others believe that is possible...that is a rational position because we do have evidence of such positions existing. i.e. Mormons believe J. smith is a prophet who communes with god. J Smith apparently believed he was a person who received revelations from god. So determining what is rational and what is irrational is based on the reasoning given.

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Me: Apparently the biography is constructed within the context of lots of evidence..Vogel is not making things up out of thin air.

C I:  Actually, everytime he places thoughts in the prophet's mind or applies motives to his actions, that's exactly what he's doing.

I'm just going for a walk so I thought I'd address only this part of your reply for now as I believe it is at the crux of the matter. Aside from Vogel's book because I can't speak for specifics on it nor should I... evidence in argumentation can be used to make inferences. Courts do it all the time in establishing whether witnesses are credible, in establishing the motive of the defendent etc. It is not unreasonable to examine what someone has said, examine their behavior based on supporting evidence, examine what credible witnesses have said..and then infer from that motivation..or what someone might have been thinking. It is up the reader of a book or the jury to decide whether the inferences are warranted.

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calmoriah,

I'll simplify your steps:

-Words have definitions

-definitions can't include both A and -A.

No one disputes that. But you, Juliann and Hamblin are going to have to actually argue for the definition of a prophet that is mutually exclusive with "pious fraud" and further, show how all scholarly usage of the term "prophet" is mutually exclusive with "pious fraud (or the behaviors Dan associates with this)"

As I said before to Bill, saying over and over again that Dan is equivocating and changing definitions doesn't constitute an argument.

But to further answer you, yes, there is a difference between a fraudulent prophet and a prophet who commits fraud. A fraudulent police officer is different than a police officer who commits fraud. If I steal a badge, and a car, then I am a phoney police officer. If I've been given a badge and a car by the local precinct, and plant evidence to make a raid gone bad look good, then I am a police officer who is a pious fraud. Do you see, how this is very different than your example of describing the behavior and describing the person?

Now back to your task, and Julianns. Since he just arrived on this thread, I will quote my friend Daniel Peterson, because i think he will agree with me:

George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), depicts, with prodigious learning, the process by which what Phillip Johnson terms "methodological naturalism" has become the absolute ruler of the American academic establishment.

---http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=199 footnote 59.

If I'm right, and "methodological naturalism" describes Dan's approach, then from the above, we know that for good or for ill, MN is part of the real scholarly community. A rather large part apparently. From there, you need to show how Vogal's definition of a prophet is fundamentally incompatible with the way the American academic establishment discusses prophets.

No one will deny that the typical LDS de jure definition of a prophet doesn't square with Vogal's de facto definition. But that isn't the issue. keep in mind, Juliann and Hamblin are the ones who keep talking about "the" definition as if the LDS church and the corpus of Biblical scholarship are on the exact same page. They arn't. And Vogal hasn't suggested otherwise. At most, he's argued that the typical LDS definition might just be subject to change. Or that the de facto operations of God and his prophets when reading the scriptures, are not somehow fundamentally at odds with what Joseph Smith did. But even if this project fails, the bottom line is, his approach is MN, and and his use of the word follows those conventions.

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you, Juliann and Hamblin are going to have to actually argue for the definition of a prophet

Please don't mix up who has what issues. :P

I'm not working on the definition for prophet, just saying how I saw the discussion between those participating.

I am working on deciphering the issue of how to avoid discussing truth claims of a religion when using the label "fraud" for some of those truth claims (in this case historical truth claims).

I am trying to understand Mr. Vogel's paradigm. His description of what he is doing doesn't make coherent sense for me yet in totality.

I get that he is saying that one can approach his paradigm either with the assumption that there is no God or the assumption that God is as Mr. Vogel claims that Joseph Smith believed him to be (though not how Joseph presented him to other believers).

I also get that Mr. Vogel is claiming that Joseph believed God as one who allowed, accepted and even instigated deception in the interests of good. This is not to say I accept this claim--I see other, in my opinion more global interpretations for the examples given than the deception paradigm--one of which is the restoration paradigm. The restoration paradigm is a better 'predictor' of behaviour in most cases, IMO; but of course requires referencing for comparison cultural information outside of JS's immediate environment.

--

One of the frustrating things that arises when opposing viewpoints are left out of a discussion is that one wonders if the writer took possibly relevant information into account in his/her analysis. This is happening for me with the discussion of D&C 19. Since there is no mention of approaching the "eternal" discussion from the viewpoint of culturally understanding, past and present, I am left wondering whether Mr. Vogel formed his conclusion in a partial vacuum. If I knew that he was aware of the cultural variation in definitions that could be applied to this passage, it would tell me more about the process of evaluation he was using.

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CI,

Yes, but you can only reach the conclusions he reaches by purposely and consistently ignoring other evidences that contradict Vogel's claim.

I do not believe this to be the case. I try to deal with various apologetic evidences, especially in the endnotes. I take on the Limited Geography Theory and Ostler

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Dan Vogel -

I hope you now see that my interpretation is not based on naturalistic assumptions. I also hope you see that D&C 19 shows that JS believed that God sometimes misleads his children for their own good, which is essentially the definition of

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Sidewinder,

But to further answer you, yes, there is a difference between a fraudulent prophet and a prophet who commits fraud. A fraudulent police officer is different than a police officer who commits fraud. If I steal a badge, and a car, then I am a phoney police officer. If I've been given a badge and a car by the local precinct, and plant evidence to make a raid gone bad look good, then I am a police officer who is a pious fraud. Do you see, how this is very different than your example of describing the behavior and describing the person?

Thanks for the help. I think this is an excellent explanatory analogy.

Calimoriah,

The restoration paradigm is a better 'predictor' of behaviour in most cases, IMO; but of course requires referencing for comparison cultural information outside of JS's immediate environment.

I

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Dan Vogel - Universalists had very elaborate ways of escaping the implications of various passages about eternal/everlasting punishment. My biography touches on this, but a more detailed treatment can be found in Metcalfe

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Scripturelover,

I still don't see how God misleads people into believing. There is a far more efective way. Telling the truth. God is not a God of lies.

I don

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CI,

It seems to me that Dan's thesis regarding this particular verse only works if the ancient Christians and Jews conceived of time in the same linear fashion that we do. If they did, the Dan's thesis works and God was being "crafty" with his description of the sort of punishment sinners face in the afterlife. But if they didn't, if they conceived of time in some other fashion than the linear fashing that we do, then I think Dan's use of this verse to defend his premise is misplaced.

You are trying to escape the clear implications of D&C 19 by suggesting that the meaning of time has changed. Indeed, concepts of time do vary from culture to culture. But that is not the issue in D&C 19. God is not correcting our erroneous definition of time and restoring to an ancient understanding; in fact, the revelation does not say that

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As a newbie to the board I thank everyone for a fascinating discussion. While I am not convinced by Vogel's biographical approach to BoM interpretation, it seems to me that he has the upperhand in this exchange. The following statement by Hamblin is indicative of some of the problems that plague LDS apologetics:

I find it impossible to have a reasonable discussion with Vogel. He continues to resort to distortions, distractions and equivocations. It would take hours to dissect all his misrepresentations, and I just don

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I

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evidence in argumentation can be used to make inferences.  Courts do it all the time in establishing whether witnesses are credible, in establishing the motive of the defendent etc.

I already said this before. A motive, while it can be helpful in helping a jury understand why a defendant committed a crime, it not essential to any case. The law, generally, doesn't care why you committed a crime, it only cares that you did it, and in certain instances, that you meant to do it. Establishing a motive is helpful to that, but not essential and never required.

It is not unreasonable to examine what someone has said, examine their behavior based on supporting evidence,  examine what credible witnesses have said..and then infer from that motivation..or what someone might have been thinking.

Joseph claimed he saw God, that God gave him a command to restore the ancient Church. ALL of his subsequent words and deeds are completely in line with that. In fact, he never waivers from that. Even his most personal, private writings and conversations reflect that belief.

What's more, ALL of his writings and thoughts on the Book of Mormon reflect an unchanging belief in its historicty. He speculates on possible landing places for Lehi's party. He tells his family about ancient life, etc. NOTHING in anything he ever said or did every deviates from that. If the book truly is non-historic, then Smith didn't know a thing about that (which if you think about it, only makes sense, if God was going to be a part of this fraud, why even bother telling Joseph who might spill the beans? Better to simply make him believe it actually is historical and leave it at that. Heck, he could even conjure up a few "visions" to show Joseph that make him actually believe it).

I simply find it amazing that, if he actually knew...of even if he only suspected, that it wasn't an actual historical record, that he never, ever expressed that doubt.

Finally, and this may be a bit off topic, what would be the purpose of it? If I'm Smith, and my motivations are as Vogel says they are, why "invent" the Book of Mormon? Why not invent the First Vision, and then skip Moroni altogether and just jump right to the Doctrine & Covenants? Why run the risk of exposure by creating an allegedly historical book, especially when you know that you don't know anything about what you are about to write? Why run the risk of being outted by even a minor mistake?

Jumping right to the Doctrine & Covenants completely skips those problems. He gets to prove that he's a prophet by producing "modern revelations" but without the weight of the historicity issue. Every doctrinal thing accomplished by the B of M could just as easily have been accomplished by the D&C.

It seems to me that the first rule of fraud, piouis or otherwise, is not get caught. Simple frauds tend to go unnoticed. Extremely complex ones inevitably fall apart.

It is up the reader of a book or the jury to decide whether the inferences are warranted.

I suppose so.

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