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I don't get you about this, believers of supernatural.....

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Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

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I bet you no such thing as prophets and raise you no afterlife?

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5 minutes ago, Atheist Mormon said:

What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......

Who exactly is this 'we' you reference here? I am a Latter-day Saint specifically because the whole experience delivers perfectly on its promises -- reliably, consistently and predictably.

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8 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Who exactly is this 'we' you reference here? I am a Latter-day Saint specifically because the whole experience delivers perfectly on its promises -- reliably, consistently and predictably.

What was delivered exactly? Looks like I missed the train....

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21 minutes ago, Atheist Mormon said:

What was delivered exactly? Looks like I missed the train....

If you were a blind man, how would I be able to describe the color yellow to you?   If I had several spiritual experiences which I knew happened without me being able to consciously turn it on and off, the only thing I can do is to bear testimony.  In turn, you might receive the 'impressions' of the spirit confirming my statement.  Which you might become aware of OR you could be insensible.  If you did detect the spirit, you might choose to discount it.  What kind of experiences have you had?

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

Unbelievers are not supposed to "get it," for if they did "get it" something would be seriously out of whack. The prophets have ever taught that the things of God will always appear to be nothing but foolish nonsense to those who trust only in their five senses and in the mind of flesh. You're like the man totally blind from birth who insists there is no such thing as light and color because he lacks the equipment to be able to discern the very real existence of light and color. Why not end your angst by coming down off the high horse of arrogance and admit to yourself there is a possibility existence might very well contain realities that go far beyond what you already know? Or are you so caught up in arrogance that you think you already do know it all?

 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2)

Edited by Bobbieaware

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

Lets look at this as sort of business investment.  Lets say there is no afterlife and all these stories are false.  What do I lose by believing them?  Sure I might lose a little money in tithing and time in going to church and other related things but none of that will bother me when I die and find out there is no afterlife. I will not exist to care.  Nor will you exist to spike the ball in front of me and say "I told you so."  But if there is an afterlife then perhaps my investment of money (tith and offerings) and time (attending church meetings ect) could come with a HUGE payoff.    Your position if right has no upside at death.  Marginal upside before death.  If you are wrong you have no upside if there is an afterlife and only downside.  My position only as marginal downside before death and a potential big windfall if correct.  I have seen enough evidences that convince me I am on the right path.  Perhaps it would not convince you but that is ok.  As long as its sufficient to convince me, that is all that is required. 

If the real story is told by Darwin or Einstein, that is truly a sad, miserable story in the end.  We are just animals and our existence ends at death.  Nothing in our lives really matters in the end anyway so why care about anything.

Edited by carbon dioxide

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1 hour ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

My spiritual experiences are convincing. I just cannot transmit them to you. I wish I could.

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1 hour ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

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I don't get you about this, believers of supernatural.....

Haven't we been over this before?  Mormon theology rejects the supernatural in favor of humanism and a naturalistic God and universe (or multiverse).  This has major implications for all other faith claims made by Mormonism.  For example, although it is plainly not possible to scientifically prove that there was an Exodus of Israel, that Jesus was the actual Son of God, or even that there is a God (of our genus and species), there are many other substantive issues which are subject to forensic investigation -- leading to verification or denial.  You are wise to reject the supernatural, but why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

 

 

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On 3/8/2017 at 7:56 PM, Atheist Mormon said:

I don't get you about this, believers of supernatural.....

As a preliminary matter, I am not particularly persuaded by use of the term "supernatural" in an LDS context, as I find it a less-than-apt characterization of LDS belief.  We believe that "miracles" and the like are simply higher manifestations of natural law, not violations thereof. 

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Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....

This too is a less-than-apt characterization of LDS belief.  The Book of Mormon is evidence.  The testimony of the witnesses is evidence.  The Spirit is evidence.  

I don't think an a priori dismissal of these things is appropriate.  You may not find the evidences relied upon by Latter-day Saints to be sufficiently persuasive, and I respect that position.  But that position pertains to the weight and probative value of such evidences, not their existence.

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Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......

But we don't know that.  To the contrary, many of us have strong beliefs that these persons are who they claimed to be, the experienced and did what they claimed to have experienced and done.  

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My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...

I appreciate the acknowledgement.  I come from a large family of fairly well educated people.  A sampling:

  • Dad: BA, MA, MBA.  Served 3-year mission in Argentina.  Speaks Spanish and French.  My father is one of the most informed people I know regarding the LDS Church and its history, beliefs, practices, etc.  And since I live in Utah County, that ends up being a lot of people.  
  • Mom: BA.  My mother spent much of her life raising her children.  However, once we moved out she moved on to other things.  One of her crowning achievements was to create Hope of America, an annual celebratory event involving 8,000 or so elementary school students who perform in the Marriott Center at BYU.  Last year was the 20th anniversary of this event, and the folks who run it now (my mom having "retired" from it a few years back) honored her by having her ride on the back of a big Harley Davidson motorcycle . . . inside the Marriott Center.  The kids, all of whom know her (she is in all the training videos they watch for months to prepare for the event), went wild.  She got a standing ovation.  They treated her like a rock star.  Kids ask her for her autograph on a regular basis.  It's hilarious.  And touching.  She has positively affected the lives of literally tens of thousands of children.
  • Brother: BA, MA, JD.  Served mission in Brasil.  Speaks Portuguese and Samoan.  Has spent most of his life on humanitarian efforts (most of which involve the LDS Church), including 14 or so years living in the South Pacific.  He currently works full-time on various initiatives introduced by the Church, such as Bishop's Gardens, instruction on personal hygeine, clean water, and so on.
  • Brother's Wife: BA.  Served mission in Samoa.  Speaks Samoan and English.  She and my brother are currently raising their three children (one of which was adopted), and also are raising two refugee boys from Afghanistan.
  • Other Older Brother: BS, MSW, PhD (Psychology).  Served mission in Romania and Iowa.  Speaks Romanian.  Serves in the Air Force (he is a major, soon to be a light colonel).  His PhD dissertation was about methodologies for family practitioners to detect and address suicidal ideations in military servicemembers and family.  He currently teaches courses on this area in two medical schools.  
  • Other Older Brother's Wife: BS, Master's in Nutrition.  Served mission in Navajo Nation.  Speaks Navajo.  Professional nutritionist.
  • Me: BA.  JD.  Served mission in Taiwan.  I speak Chinese (Mandarin) and Russian.  I work as an attorney.
  • My wife: BA.  Currently focused on raising our six children, but she is also writing a novel, several children's stories, and is looking for a publisher.  She is also learning to play the guitar.
  • Younger Sister: BS.  MS.  Served mission in Vanuatu.  Speaks Bislama.  Former schoolteacher.  Has also taught in Russia and China.
  • Younger Sister's Husband: BS.  MD.  Speaks Spanish.  Served mission in South America (can't remember where).  Pediatrician.  Excellent pianist.  Also enjoys cycling and traveling.

Now don't get me wrong.  We are all flawed, imperfect people.  But my family is, in the main, well-educated, well-traveled, and generally familiar with the world.  They have done all these things and also fostered belief in the truth claims of the LDS Church.  I therefore submit that it is quite possible to be intelligent, educated, well-informed, etc., and still have faith in God.

I know many good and decent and intelligent people who, having studied the Restord Gospel, have a testimony of it.  I also know many good and decent and intelligent people who, having studied the Restored Gospel, have not accepted it, or else have rejected or turned away from it.  How would you account for this set of circumstances?

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But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings

Well no, we don't.  We don't abandon our wits and our reasoning when it comes to God and His dealings with the inhabitants of this world. 

We could have a discussion about this, if you like.

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and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

I'm not sure I understand this statement.  

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It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up;

And yet there are many, many good and decent and intelligent and well-educated and-informed people who believe in "these stories."

So the obviousness you allude to is, at the end of the day, not so obvious.

What are your thoughts about one of the key "evidences" referenced above: The Book of Mormon?  Where do you think it came from?  How do you account for it?  

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there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....

You say this . . . on faith.  Faith that these things did not occur.

We believe that these things did occur.  And subsequently that Joseph Smith had other experiences that yielded "evidence" of God, of His plan for us, of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and so on.

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The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

So you know that God does not exist . . . how?  What "evidence" do you have for the proposition?  Proving a negative is generally a difficult thing.  How do you propose to do it?

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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3 hours ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

It is impossible by any known science to disprove a supernatural claim.

Science is Agnostic, SEE

As to Virgin Birth where have you been for the last 40 years of in vitro fertilization? 

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I believe in the supernatural. Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, carbon dioxide said:

Lets look at this as sort of business investment.  Lets say there is no afterlife and all these stories are false.  What do I lose by believing them?  Sure I might lose a little money in tithing and time in going to church and other related things but none of that will bother me when I die and find out there is no afterlife. I will not exist to care.  Nor will you exist to spike the ball in front of me and say "I told you so."  But if there is an afterlife then perhaps my investment of money (tith and offerings) and time (attending church meetings ect) could come with a HUGE payoff.    Your position if right has no upside at death.  Marginal upside before death.  If you are wrong you have no upside if there is an afterlife and only downside.  My position only as marginal downside before death and a potential big windfall if correct.  I have seen enough evidences that convince me I am on the right path.  Perhaps it would not convince you but that is ok.  As long as its sufficient to convince me, that is all that is required. 

If the real story is told by Darwin or Einstein, that is truly a sad, miserable story in the end.  We are just animals and our existence ends at death.  Nothing in our lives really matters in the end anyway so why care about anything.

Or there could be an afterlife where God said you wasted your time in meetings that you should have spent on better things, your money on other needs, your thoughts on other things, too.

There could be an afterlife where you get reprimanded for choosing a prepackaged religion and authority rather than devoting your life solely to Christlike principles and making your decisions based on what you truly know rather than what someone else says you should know.

There could be an afterlife where God looks at the atheist who tried to be like Christ and says "well done," while turning to professed believers asking who they are.

 

Edited by Meadowchik

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12 hours ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

I'm always amazed that the atheist can look through a microscope or a telescope and say "wow, look at all that randomness, look at all that chance, not a single shred of evidence for intelligence or design out there anywhere, or they say....look at this cell, a self replicating miniature city with multiple integrated and incredibly complex systems....and this all came to be by chance"......your religion is called "Naturalism" and it is based on faith and speculation, taught, endorsed and paid for by the taxpayer.

I'm always amazed the Atheist can't realize they have total faith in a religion.

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6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Or there could be an afterlife where God said you wasted your time in meetings that you should have spent on better things, your money on other needs, your thoughts on other things, too.

There could be an afterlife where you get reprimanded for choosing a prepackaged religion and authority rather than devoting your life solely to Christlike principles and making your decisions based on what you truly know rather than what someone else says you should know.

There could be an afterlife where God looks at the atheist who tried to be like Christ and says "well done," while turning to professed believers asking who they are.

 

I think the secret there is to commune with God now and find out what he deems acceptable.

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23 hours ago, snowflake said:

I'm always amazed that the atheist can look through a microscope or a telescope and say "wow, look at all that randomness, look at all that chance, not a single shred of evidence for intelligence or design out there anywhere, or they say....look at this cell, a self replicating miniature city with multiple integrated and incredibly complex systems....and this all came to be by chance"......your religion is called "Naturalism" and it is based on faith and speculation, taught, endorsed and paid for by the taxpayer.

I'm always amazed the Atheist can't realize they have total faith in a religion.

That's not what religion is. And of course you can't calculate the kind of probabilities that get thrown around in these kinds of arguments, really. We have no context but our own universe (a sample size of one). 

Edited by Gray

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6 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

There could be an afterlife where God looks at the atheist who tried to be like Christ and says "well done," while turning to professed believers asking who they are.

 

That sounds like a Jesus saying. You should move to Galilee and buy a boat!

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28 minutes ago, Gray said:

That's not what religion is. And of course you can't calculate the kind of probabilities that get thrown around in these kinds of arguments, really. We have no context but our own universe. 

I'm saying that our universe is incredibly intricate, the physics of it are "fine tuned" and our universe has no appearance of "randomness" that the atheists tend cling to as proof of no God.

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13 hours ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

The human beings that I follow in their claims to be emissaries of God have actually offered a great deal of evidence that I have examined and in significant instances, personally uncovered, and personally experienced.  It's rather important then to explain what does or does not count as evidence to whom and why, and to explain the difference between evidence (what Alma 32 refers to as "cause to believe" that comes short of coercive proof), and to consider the impact that one's underlying ideology has one how one goes about defining what counts as evidence and what does not.  That process is, I think, what Jesus was talking about when he encouraged people to remove the beam from their own eyes first.

Joseph Smith, I notice, provided a mountain of texts, several witnesses, several big bold unusual books making lots of testable claims.  That, I submit, constitutes something other than "without offering a shred of evidence."   I've personally tested the text witnesses and books and claims in a wide variety of ways, have seriously examined the arguments of the most notable skeptics, and produced a range of original work myself, testing Joseph Smith's claims in ways that no one before had done.  Is that not evidence of something, evidence of a kind?

John Welch has a good discussion of difference kinds of evidence here: "The Power of Evidence in Nurturing Faith."

http://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1082&index=4

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The word evidence derives from the Latin ex videns, meaning anything that comes from seeing and also from seeming. Evidence is literally what meets the eye and, more than that, what seems to be from what we see. Evidence is based on hard facts, but even under the best of circumstances it works less automatically and more subjectively than many people realize. If evidence were not such a complicated matter, many things would be much simpler in our courtrooms, legislative sessions, and corporate board rooms as well as in our lecture halls and Gospel Doctrine classrooms.

Though this complexity may present problems in many cases, it also allows evidence to combine with faith, because in its complexity evidence is both a product of empirical data attractive to the mind amenable to study and the result of personal choices generated by the Spirit in faith. Not only is seeing believing but believing is seeing, as has been often said. Philosophical worldviews that would have it only one of these two ways offer us a model that limps on one leg.

And this:

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1. Any piece of evidence is deeply intertwined with a question. No real evidence exists until an issue is raised which that evidence tends to prove or disprove. By choosing what questions we will ask, we introduce a subjective element into the inquiry—seeking and asking begin in faith. At the same time, our questions in turn determine what will become evidence—faith begins with asking and seeking.

And this:

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2. Just about anything can serve potentially as evidence, depending on what a person wishes to emphasize. Some have viewed violent opposition to the Book of Mormon as evidence of its divinity.48 Others see evidence of the same in its acceptance worldwide. Some rightly find evidence for the spiritual truthfulness of the Book of Mormon in its clarity, plainness, and expansiveness.49 Others rightly find evidence for its miraculous origins in its complexity, subtlety, and precision. Some properly find persuasiveness in its uniformity and its conformity with eternal truths, whereas others appropriately find confirmation in its variety and cultural idiosyncrasies.

When we seek evidence of something, we are prospecting, looking around at just about anything to see what we can find. Of course, not everything we find will ultimately amount to useful evidence, but just because some people may go overboard and wish to see every hole in the ground in South America as evidence of pre-Columbian baptismal fonts, that does not mean we should reject all evidence as worthless. Thomas Edison had several silly ideas before coming up with his many inventions.

3. For this reason, evidence can almost always be found or generated for and against just about any proposition. Only a very impoverished mind cannot find evidence for just about anything he or she wants. Once again, this points out that evidence is not only discovered but also created. That creation is not arbitrarily ex nihilo, but neither is it impersonally predestined.

4. Different kinds of legal evidence evoke different kinds of responses. The law allows physical evidence, written documents, oral testimony, and so on. But at the same time, different people or legal situations may require or prefer to favor one kind of evidence over another. No rules automatically determine how one kind of evidence stacks up against another or what kind of evidence is best.

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5. Legal evidence is often circumstantial. The more direct the evidence, the more probative it usually is, and in some courts “circumstantial evidence only raises a probability.”53 But on the other hand, people may also choose to view circumstantial evidence as desirable and even necessary in certain situations. Indeed, the circumstances surrounding a particular event or statement are usually essential to understanding the matter. To quote Henry David Thoreau, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”54 A dictum from the United States Supreme Court explains the power of circumstantial evidence: “Circumstantial evidence is often as convincing to the mind as direct testimony, and often more so. A number of concurrent facts, like rays of light, all converging to the same center, may throw not only a clear light but a burning conviction; a conviction of truth more infallible than the testimony even of two witnesses directly to a fact.”55 Accordingly, the convergence of huge amounts of circumstantial evidence, such as in the astonishingly short time in which the Book of Mormon was translated,56 may be viewed quite favorably, if a person’s spiritual disposition inclines one to receive and value such evidence.

6. Another fascinating and crucial question is, How are we to evaluate the cumulative weight of evidence? Some compilations of evidence are strong; other collections are weak. Yet once again, in most settings, no scale for evaluating the cumulative weight of evidence is readily available. No canons of method answer the question, How much evidence do we need in order to draw a certain conclusion? Answering this question is another choice that combines and bridges faith and evidence.

An interesting scale has developed in the law that prescribes specific levels of proof that are required to support certain legal results. The world of evidence is not black and white; there are many shades of gray. Ranging from a high degree of certitude on down, standards of proof on this spectrum include:

  1. Beyond a reasonable doubt, dispositive, practically certain
  2. Clear and convincing evidence, nearly certain
  3. Competent and substantial evidence, well over half
  4. Preponderance of evidence, more than half, more likely than not
  5. Probable, as in probable cause, substantial possibility
  6. Plausible, reasonably suspected
  7. Material, relevant, merely possible.

And this:

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7. Different legal cases call for different configurations of evidence. Some matters of common law or statute are what one might call single-factor cases: the presence or absence of a single factor is dispositive of the matter. More often, however, legal rules call for a number of elements that must be proved in order for a claim to be established. In such cases, every element is crucial, and each must be satisfied for the legal test to be met. In other cases, however, several criteria are recognized by law, none of which is absolutely essential but, given the facts and circumstances of the particular case, may be an indicative factor. Thus, for example, in determining whether a person is either an independent contractor or an employee, more than twenty factors have been recognized by law as being potentially significant in resolving the issue, but none of them is absolutely essential.59 Similarly, Book of Mormon evidences may come in all three of these configurations.

And this:

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8. In certain cases, the sum of the evidence may be greater than the total of its individual parts. “Pieces of evidence, each by itself insufficient, may together constitute a significant whole, and justify by their combined effect a conclusion.”60 The cumulative effect of evidence is in some ways perplexing, but again reflects the role of the observer’s preference in how evidence works. Individual pieces of evidence, each of which standing alone is relatively insignificant and uninteresting, may take on vast importance in a person’s mind as they combine to form a consistent pattern or coherent picture. It is in some senses ironic that a few strong single facts can be overwhelmed and defeated by a horde of true but less significant facts, a strategy I used in winning several tax cases. But should one give greater credence to a wide-ranging accumulation of assorted details or to a few single strong factors? Only personal judgment will answer that question.

9. Another interesting effect occurs when a good case is actually weakened by piling on a few weak additional points. A bad argument may be worse in some minds than no argument at all if the weak arguments tend to undermine confidence in the strong points. But who can tell what will work or not work for one person or another? The degree of confidence a person is willing to place in any evidence is another manifestation of faith or personal response.

10. Similarly, advocacy and rhetoric are virtually part of the evidence. The techniques of presenting evidence are often as important as the evidence itself, and the subjective decision to feature certain points in favor of others can be the turning point of a case. Important facts forcefully presented take on added significance; crucial evidence overlooked and underused will not always even be noticed by the judge or jury.

Again, it is a sobering reality that the apparent victory in debates often goes to the witty, the clever, the articulate, and the overconfident. Hopefully, good arguments will always be presented in a clear manner so as not to obscure their true value; but because this does not always happen, prudent observers need to be careful to separate kernels of truth from the husks they are packaged in.

11. Not all evidence ultimately counts. In a court of law, the judge and jury will eventually decide to ignore some of the evidence, especially hearsay, mere opinions, or statistical probabilities. Similarly, in evaluating Book of Mormon evidence, one needs to be meticulous in separating fact from opinion. Likewise, fantastic statistics can be generated by either friends or foes of the book. This does not mean that statistical presentations should be ruled out of Book of Mormon discussions; some wordprinting studies, for example, have achieved noteworthy results.61 But such evidence must not be exaggerated and must be approached with sophistication.

12. Constraints on time and the availability of witnesses or documentary evidence may be completely fortuitous yet also very important. If a witness is unavailable to testify in court, the case may be lost. Documentary evidence known or presumed once to have existed is scarcely helpful. To reach a legal decision, time limitations are imposed on all parties; and in most cases, evidence discovered after a decision has become final is simply ignored.

All of this is to show that the glibly dismissing the claims as Joseph Smith or Jesus, for instance, as being "without a shred of evidence" runs directly into the implications of a famous comment on the value of an un-examined life.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

 

Edited by Kevin Christensen

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13 hours ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

Why can't I believe Einstein and Joseph Smith?  I investigated both very thoroughly, using the best tools advavlable, sound philosophical techniques, mountains of evidence, etc. 

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13 hours ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God, without offering a shred of evidence.....Starting from Jesus, Apostle Paul to Joseph Smith......What is the fascination when we know these guys did not deliver what they promised......My incredulity about most you goes like this; I know you are well educated, well reasoned about the reality...But when it comes to this faith thing you just unclad most of your reasonings and stick this fantastic story where never was able to deliver any part of it's story as reality......

It is so obvious that all these stories are mythical and made up; there was never a Virgin Birth or a "First Vision" as Joseph narrated.....The real Story came from Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein....How long are you willing to pursue this dream of "Afterlife"?  

I think we can apply this question outside religion as well.  Why follow anyone who makes claims?  Charismatic leaders in all walks of life, political, religious, financial, the arts.  Why do we follow flawed humans, why do we put our trust in people at all?  It seems like we're willing to suspend our critical thinking when we're presented with really good sales skills.  Why is this the case?  

My guess is that we've evolved into creatures that believe we have the capacity for making judgments about things based on our intuition.  We feel confidence in our ability to discern truth from error.  I know I do.  I'm not sure that I'm statistically very competent at actually doing this though.  Yet, I still continue to use this method in spite of my failures in the past.  The psychology of how our brains work, help us to forget the times we made mistakes and preference the times we actually guessed right.  Our brains also like to find justifications for past decisions we made, to prop up our past decision as being a good decision.  

Learning all this, I'd like to think I'm better at being a critical thinker now, and more humble about my limitations to evaluate evidence without some kind of bias.  I also know that I'll never be fully capable of complete objectivity no matter how hard I try.  

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11 hours ago, carbon dioxide said:

If the real story is told by Darwin or Einstein, that is truly a sad, miserable story in the end.  We are just animals and our existence ends at death.  Nothing in our lives really matters in the end anyway so why care about anything.

If there is no "supernatural" and scientific materialism is true, then we are just a chemical reaction that began billions of years ago and has figured out how to keep going.  When I think about that, it is truly mind-blowing.  I'm a few billion years old and as long as there is life on earth I will never die!  The chemical reaction continues on... from Whitman's "Song of Myself":

Quote

The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at
     the end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
     luckier.

On the other hand, if there is a God that created and sustains this universe, that it also truly mind-blowing.  If I'm a chemical reaction, that is crazy amazing.  If I am a creation of God, that is crazy amazing.  The way I look at it, life is crazy amazing :)

As far as your overall point that without God life is miserable and meaningless and there is no reason to care, that is never convincing to atheists for many reasons, perhaps the biggest being that even if there is no afterlife, there is this life and there are things to care about in this life.  I still love my child, for example, and want him to be happy, regardless of the existence of an afterlife.  Also, there is the strong philosophical tradition of existentialism, that begins with the meaningless and absurdity of life but ends with reasons for caring.

In other words, atheism does not equal nihilism.

(obviously I am a firm believer in God -- I just want the atheist position to be accurately presented)

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11 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

...although it is plainly not possible to scientifically prove that there is a God (of our genus and species)...

Actually that one is pretty easy.

We are it.

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14 hours ago, Atheist Mormon said:

Why follow another Human being who claims to be an emissary of God...

Because God told me to.

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2 hours ago, snowflake said:

I'm always amazed that the atheist can look through a microscope or a telescope and say "wow, look at all that randomness, look at all that chance, not a single shred of evidence for intelligence or design out there anywhere, or they say....look at this cell, a self replicating miniature city with multiple integrated and incredibly complex systems....and this all came to be by chance"......your religion is called "Naturalism" and it is based on faith and speculation, taught, endorsed and paid for by the taxpayer.

I'm always amazed the Atheist can't realize they have total faith in a religion.

Evolution is not random.

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