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1 hour ago, ALarson said:
2 hours ago, TOmNossor said:

And that is all well and good, but if the BOM comes from God, Bill Reel's position is untenable. 

 

"If" being the operative word here. 

 

I am glad we agree here.

1 hour ago, ALarson said:
2 hours ago, TOmNossor said:

Start at about 32:30.  Bill says at 33:20 ..

“No, I agree with, I agree with you.  If the BOM is not historical then what Joseph pulled of was a level of genius that puts him in the maybe the top 3 or 4 most incredible acts of intelligence and cohesiveness that I have every seen.”

 

 

I think this is where most of the points of discussion will come down to.  I just started listening to these podcasts, so I'll wait to say more....but my impression from what I've seen posted is that they both concede some points and it remains a respectful discussion.  I am looking forward to a printed version of the discussions as I'm not sure I'll find time to listen to all 12 hours.

Once again, the operative word there is "if" and I don't see Bill conceding anything (since as far as I know, he does not believe the BofM is historical).  He also believe that Joseph was very intelligent, so I'm not sure what that statement proves.

1

"Very intelligent" is different from "3 to 4 most incredible acts of intelligence and cohesiveness that I have ever seen."

This is the place Jim Bennett is coming from.  It is the place I am coming from.  

It is more likely that EVERY difficult subject for the truth claims of the CoJCoLDS is exactly as the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th most likely pro-LDS apologetic claims them to be and the church's truth claims are thus not damaged by ANY anti-Mormon argument ever composed than that Joseph Smith was capable of producing a top 3 or 4 act of intelligence and cohesiveness.  As I said in my previous post:

On 3/1/2019 at 2:48 PM, TOmNossor said:

Before I became excited about weighing and measuring all things Mormon, I took IQ tests, studied psychometrics, and spent time thinking about brilliance and intelligence and …

I left brilliant successful folks yesterday (many at the 1 in 10000 level).  I used to interact with brilliant unsuccessful folks who made their living by being bouncers, being strippers, writing sitcoms, and doing other odd things (folks above the 1 in a million level).  Joseph Smith before he became a prophet by ALL accounts from friend or foe was nothing like the successful or the unsuccessful folks.  He was nothing like them after he became a prophet either.

Bill is correct, the BOM if not divine is an act of astronomical genius.  I personally believe it was not 1 in 2-3 billion genius as Bill Reel claims, but rather more rarefied than that such that no act of human genius could have produced it.  BUT, Joseph Smith is quite unlikely to be a 1 in 10000 level genius.  Those folks pick up reading quickly as their family reads the Bible and they just look over their shoulders.  Those folks think about things that make their neighbors think they are ODD and strange and probably intelligent.  Joseph was ordinary and didn’t pick up reading or writing or ….     

 

Problems with the Book of Abraham though real are no reason to believe that Joseph Smith could have produced the Book of Mormon so, I must embrace something that involves the facts associated with the Book of Mormon existing and facts associated with BOA/BOB issues.  The most rational IMO by a long shot is that the BOM came from God and that the BOA did too.  

For me to embrace the Bill Reel thesis, I would have to believe that Joseph Smith was perhaps the top universal genius ever to walk the earth and for some reason, at 3 years old, he decided to hide his intelligence in preparation for the production of the BOM some 17-18 years later.  He would also need to choose this path while seeing many other paths that would produce way more worldly success.  And then he would stick to this path through all the average farm boy things present until his moment to strike.  Then having struck, he would continue to hide his brilliance, he wouldn't speak much of the content of the BOM as if he was not familiar with it, he would shoot in the dark with this or that potential connection to BOM some making sense and other not, he would never explain virtually any of the volumes of hidden easter eggs found by those who have studied the BOM, and ....

I do not consider that to be a reasoned position.  Not a position I would embrace when I discover polygamy and thought it was hidden from me; not a position I would embrace when I discover rocks in hats and thought it was hidden from me, not a position I would embrace when I decided that LGBTQ folks were being mistreated.

Bill Reel's story according to Bill Reel is built upon his concern for the hurt caused to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.  Jim Bennett and I can feel this hurt too, but we cannot deny the EVIDENCE that the BOM is not some natural production and this must be part of our worldview.  Having embraced the weight of the EVIDENCE, we also choose to not deny our spiritual testimony for emotional reasons.

Charity, TOm

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, TOmNossor said:

For me to embrace the Bill Reel thesis, I would have to believe that Joseph Smith was perhaps the top universal genius ever to walk the earth

Not true (and pretty extreme :) ).  Some do believe that Joseph Smith either wrote the Book of Mormon by himself or with help.  One would not have to be the "top universal genius to ever walk the earth" to accomplish that.  

16 minutes ago, TOmNossor said:

Jim Bennett and I can feel this hurt too, but we cannot deny the EVIDENCE that the BOM is not some natural production....

Having embraced the weight of the EVIDENCE,

What EVIDENCE is that (other than relying almost entirely on the witness statements)?  

Edited by ALarson

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, ALarson said:

Not true (and pretty extreme :) ).  Some do believe that Joseph Smith either wrote the Book of Mormon by himself or with help.  One would not have to be the "top universal genius to ever walk the earth" to accomplish that.  

It is Bill Reel who said, "If the BOM is not historical then what Joseph pulled of was a level of genius that puts him in the maybe the top 3 or 4 most incredible acts of intelligence and cohesiveness that I have every seen.”

If Joseph Smith was capable of a top 3 or 4 act of intelligence and cohesiveness at 21, he would have been PRETENDING to be something he was not from age 3 or younger when such precocious intelligence begins to manifest itself.  AND if he began his delusion at that age, he was brilliant and conniving at far higher than "universal genius" level.

This is why Bill Reel gave away the whole debate.

No one who had a testimony should abandon it (probably period) because they have intellectual problems with something they think is part of the CoJCoLDS (even the BOA) when they recognize how impossible a non-supernatural explanation for the BOM is.  No One! 

Bill Reel claims to recognize this and then primarily because he thinks the church hurts those who identify as LGBTQ (a nebulous and debatable position less clear than many others) , he works to tear down testimony and the church.  It is emotion by his admission.  

 

“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”

 

Bill Reel has missed this lessen.

Charity, TOm 

Edited by TOmNossor
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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, TOmNossor said:

It is Bill Reel who said, "If the BOM is not historical then what Joseph pulled of was a level of genius that puts him in the maybe the top 3 or 4 most incredible acts of intelligence and cohesiveness that I have every seen.”

If Joseph Smith was capable of a top 3 or 4 act of intelligence and cohesiveness at 21, he would have been PRETENDING to be something he was not from age 3 or younger when such precocious intelligence begins to manifest itself.  AND if he began his delusion at that age, he was brilliant and conniving at far higher than "universal genius" level.

This is why Bill Reel gave away the whole debate.

 

LOL.  Ok....he "gave away the whole debate"?   Not quite from what I hear.  You seem to really speak in absolutes, Tom :)

 

Where do you get the age of "3 or younger" that you keep referring to (regarding Joseph Smith)?  Was that part of this discussion/podcasts? 

 

20 minutes ago, TOmNossor said:

“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason was once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”

 

Bill Reel has missed this lessen.

LOL again.  I don't know of anyone whose faith doesn't evolve (and beliefs too) as they are able to have access to more and read more.  

As I posted earlier, I'm just starting to listen to these podcasts.  So far, I'm impressed with both of them with how they are disagreeing, but each making their points.  In the end, every person has to look at the evidence (or lack of evidence), records, journals, documents, etc. on each of the many topics they discussed and come to their own conclusions.

Edited by ALarson

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1 hour ago, ALarson said:
 

LOL.  Ok....he "gave away the whole debate"?   Not quite from what I hear.  You seem to really speak in absolutes, Tom :)

 

Where do you get the age of "3 or younger" that you keep referring to (regarding Joseph Smith)?  Was that part of this discussion/podcasts? 

 

"3 or younger" is when 1 in 10000 level genius is regularly noticed.  The level Bill Reel is attributing to Joseph Smith is MUCH higher than this.

Those who knew him found him to be simple.  His family explained that he struggled with reading and writing.

The type of genius Bill Reel claims Joseph Smith must have had means that either all the folks (critics and believers both witnessing to what I claim is there) are lying about what they witnessed or Joseph Smith began at age 3 to HIDE his intelligence so later in life he could produce the BOM and claim it was not from him, but from God.  The genius necessary to form a plan at such a young age, carry it out, and then produce the Book of Mormon is even more rarified than the genius necessary to produce the BOM.

 

I might note that if I was dialoguing with a member in my ward troubled by the Church's views on LGBT issues, I would not highlight the profound intellectual error I think Bill Reel evidences.  I would also be unlikely to point to the emotional and not rational genesis I see evident in these things.  I would make this change because my intellect tells me that real people are not logic machines and while I regularly make incorrect allowances for humans with emotions, I try.  I am presenting these things here in a JARRING way because I think that most folks trapped in their personal perceptions of these issues have built walls around their departure from the faith.  They tell themselves it is the "intellectually honest" choice.  They tell themselves that they are the brave who are willing to walk through the horrors of a faith crisis.  And they speak of those who do not agree with them as emotional and clinging to their testimony despite the evidence.  They walk into the arms of Bill Reel and his fans who echo these thoughts.  This is a huge deception IMO.  The post-debate (which was billed as discussion) framing was a huge deception too.  

I was a member of the church for a long time almost without a testimony and the idea that the evidence indicated the church was unlikely to be from God had nothing to do with my "faith crisis."   Perhaps I am the one whose faculties do not weigh these issues correctly, but it is very unlikely that I am the one ruled by emotion.  IRL, my intellect seems up to the task, it is my emotions that those around me regularly puzzle over.

Charity, TOm

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6 hours ago, ALarson said:
LOL again.  I don't know of anyone whose faith doesn't evolve (and beliefs too) as they are able to have access to more and read more.  

As I posted earlier, I'm just starting to listen to these podcasts.  So far, I'm impressed with both of them with how they are disagreeing, but each making their points.  In the end, every person has to look at the evidence (or lack of evidence), records, journals, documents, etc. on each of the many topics they discussed and come to their own conclusions.

 

Faith EVOLVING is not what the quote was about.

“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”

What this means is that having gathered the data (including answers to prayers and miracles experiences) one should not let the vicissitudes of life cause you abandon that which was KNOWN.  Faith as C.S. Lewis is using the term here is refusing to abandon things previously believed for emotional reasons.  

Bill Reel once said he hoped to "strengthening feeble knees."  But, as he claims, it was the hurt he thinks the church causes LGBT members that lead him to disbelieve the whole thing.  Compassion for LGBTQ folks is admirable, but it is an emotional motivation.  Jim Bennett has the same compassion for the plight of LGBTQ folks, but does not allow this to cause him to abandon what he knows.

Charity, TOm

 

 

 

Edited by TOmNossor
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On 2/26/2019 at 7:24 PM, DBMormon said:

Thank you!

Any discussion of this sort of thing as an alternative to the bloody knuckles approach?

http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleChristensenRashomon.html

And if a person happens to be addicted, regardless of their orientation (a different issue), if you tell them, "There is nothing to be done, this is just the way you are," doesn't that turn out to be harmful?  

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Any discussion of this sort of thing as an alternative to the bloody knuckles approach?

He that hath ears to hear ...

I have said before, and I say again, that one of most genuinely ungodly things anyone can do is to deny another person the options that freedom/agency are divinely designed to provide.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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On 2/23/2019 at 4:18 PM, DBMormon said:

I misunderstood.  The two biggest concessions I made......
#1 the geography issues the CES letter points out are not the strongest and muddy the waters
#2 That Joseph's lying about polygamy can be justified 

#3: the witnesses testimonies are some of the most powerful evidences of the Book of Mormon.

#4: there has never been an adequate secular explaination for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon

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Hey @DBMormon

I really enjoyed the exchange between you and Jim. I thought you both were kind, respectful, friendly, and also had an intellectually rigorous discussion.

I am familiar with your story, and know you are no longer a member. If you have time, I have two questions:

1) I visited your Facebook page. I saw mostly mocking and vitriol towards the church. I saw hateful words and memes. This is not the Bill Reel of the podcast I listned to—the respectful, kind, gracious host who has a different opinion but can understand the other side. This isn’t the “every kid gets a toy” Bill Reel from southern Utah. This seems to be an entirely different person. Why? Can you help me understand?

2) You say “we” a lot in the podcast, as if you still consider yourself a member. Do you? If not, why use “we” and not “they?”

Thanks in advance.

 

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On 3/8/2019 at 8:52 PM, Bede said:

1) I visited your Facebook page. I saw mostly mocking and vitriol towards the church. I saw hateful words and memes. This is not the Bill Reel of the podcast I listned to—the respectful, kind, gracious host who has a different opinion but can understand the other side. This isn’t the “every kid gets a toy” Bill Reel from southern Utah. This seems to be an entirely different person. Why? Can you help me understand?

2) You say “we” a lot in the podcast, as if you still consider yourself a member. Do you? If not, why use “we” and not “they?”

#1 - My comments are vitriol?  or those upset with the church commenting on my page?

#2 - While not a member of record in the Mormon Church, Mormonism is my tribe.  Reza Aslin says it best.  Simply substitute Mormonism for Islam and LDS for sufi Mormon for Muslim

My well is Islam, and in particular, the Sufi tradition. Let me be clear, I am Muslim not because I think Islam is "truer" than other religions (it isn't), but because Islam provides me with the "language" I feel most comfortable with in expressing my faith. It provides me with certain symbols and metaphors for thinking about God that I find useful in making sense of the universe and my place in it.

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all the faith defenders keep pointing to my comment 

“No, I agree with, I agree with you.  If the BOM is not historical then what Joseph pulled of was a level of genius that puts him in the maybe the top 3 or 4 most incredible acts of intelligence and cohesiveness that I have every seen.”

Keep in mind that context means everything


3 or 4 most incredible acts of intelligence and cohesiveness that I have every seen.

I am not informed or aware of the details of every act of genius in the world.  I am instead pointing to the idea that in my limited exposure to the world and its history, this level of genius would be at the top of my awareness of that world history.  

People hear what they want to hear.

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lastly still working on the transcript but was out of town last week.  doing as free time permits

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Tomorrow Morning we release Pt 7 of my ongoing conversation with Jim Bennett. This conversation was my favorite.

I personally feel like Mormonism when exposed in a long form real time conversation forces the defender to show that the faithful position requires a ton of allowances and qualifiers. When these allowances and qualifiers show up over and over again, one is confronted with having to decide if such a position is rational or logical.

For instance if I want to argue in favor of a flat earth and I enter a 15 hour conversation over whether a flat earth is defensible or not, my position is going to require numerous extra allowances and qualifiers. Each person willing to have an open mind must then decide what level of rationality or irrationality they will allow in their brain to maintain a position or change positions.

This part 7 is for me the most beautiful example of this throughout our 7 part series. Every person after listening to these 7 parts is confronted with how many allowances and qualifiers Mormonism requires in order for the faithful position to be believed. Each person must decide or at least their brain must (our minds are exceptional at maintaining beliefs in the face of contradictions) decide if Mormonism requires too much or if the faithful view is truly tenable. Then one must confront or their brain again must confront the difference in allowances and qualifiers needed for the critics conclusion to be held. Our minds do best at moving towards rational and logical thought when sacred beliefs are concerned when we are overwhelmed with the irrationality of our argument and weakness of the evidence or the preponderance of the critics evidence and best when these two are juxtaposed against each other...

...In the end the purpose of the project for me was to expose Mormonism to such a long form conversation, allow the data to be laid out and discussed openly by both sides, and then allow the listener to make their own conclusions.

My goal was for people to confront a Mormonism they want to be what it claims and the data that compels it isn't what it claims. That for me took a tightrope act. And I am extremely happy with the end result.

... Jim did great. Mormonism laid out objectively..... doesn't

BIll Reel

 

Edited by Steve J

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3 hours ago, Steve J said:

Tomorrow Morning we release Pt 7 of my ongoing conversation with Jim Bennett. This conversation was my favorite.

I personally feel like Mormonism when exposed in a long form real time conversation forces the defender to show that the faithful position requires a ton of allowances and qualifiers. When these allowances and qualifiers show up over and over again, one is confronted with having to decide if such a position is rational or logical.

For instance if I want to argue in favor of a flat earth and I enter a 15 hour conversation over whether a flat earth is defensible or not, my position is going to require numerous extra allowances and qualifiers. Each person willing to have an open mind must then decide what level of rationality or irrationality they will allow in their brain to maintain a position or change positions.

This part 7 is for me the most beautiful example of this throughout our 7 part series. Every person after listening to these 7 parts is confronted with how many allowances and qualifiers Mormonism requires in order for the faithful position to be believed. Each person must decide or at least their brain must (our minds are exceptional at maintaining beliefs in the face of contradictions) decide if Mormonism requires too much or if the faithful view is truly tenable. Then one must confront or their brain again must confront the difference in allowances and qualifiers needed for the critics conclusion to be held. Our minds do best at moving towards rational and logical thought when sacred beliefs are concerned when we are overwhelmed with the irrationality of our argument and weakness of the evidence or the preponderance of the critics evidence and best when these two are juxtaposed against each other...

...In the end the purpose of the project for me was to expose Mormonism to such a long form conversation, allow the data to be laid out and discussed openly by both sides, and then allow the listener to make their own conclusions.

My goal was for people to confront a Mormonism they want to be what it claims and the data that compels it isn't what it claims. That for me took a tightrope act. And I am extremely happy with the end result.

... Jim did great. Mormonism laid out objectively..... doesn't

BIll Reel

 

yes part 7 tomorrow

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11 hours ago, DBMormon said:

#1 - My comments are vitriol?  or those upset with the church commenting on my page?

#2 - While not a member of record in the Mormon Church, Mormonism is my tribe.  Reza Aslin says it best.  Simply substitute Mormonism for Islam and LDS for sufi Mormon for Muslim

Your posts and the comments on your posts (which you aren't responsible for). The "you" on the podcast with Jim Bennett seemed like a nice, reasonable person who, while not believing in the teachings of the church anymore, can understand why reasonable people do believe in its teachings.

The "you" on your Facebook page seems to be posting mocking memes and disdain for the church and those who believe in its teachings and nothing else.

So, I guess my question is this: Do you acknowledge that there are smart, reasonable, logical, earnest, and educated people on both sides of the coin? Can you acknowledge that there are members of the church who believe in its teachings while not being insane, stupid, or duped?

Secondly, Jim Bennett "won" the second podcast where you both agreed that the witnesses are solid evidence for the Book of Mormon, and that it's pretty evident that they didn't change their testimonies even though some became enemies of Smith. You also both agreed that the most reasonable explanation for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is the one Joseph Smith told. Why don't you acknowledge these when you're talking about this? You just keep saying things like

I personally feel like Mormonism when exposed in a long form real time conversation forces the defender to show that the faithful position requires a ton of allowances and qualifiers. When these allowances and qualifiers show up over and over again, one is confronted with having to decide if such a position is rational or logical.

But Jim Bennett, in my view, got you to concede just as much as you got him to concede. Why not tell the other side of the story?

And finally (I promise): I just want to say that the CES letter is trash--it's tabloid-level plagiarism from existing critical resources. There isn't a new idea or thought in it, and Jim Bennett, in my opinion, totally owned J.R. which his magnificent reply.

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Bede said:

The "you" on the podcast with Jim Bennett seemed like a nice, reasonable person who, while not believing in the teachings of the church anymore, can understand why reasonable people do believe in its teachings.

Mr Reel can certainly answer for himself, but elsewhere he seems to provide some explanation for the podcast persona he chose to adopt specifically for this occasion:

Quote

I wanted him [Bennett] to see quickly that I was going to be kind and to try and be minimal on harsh argumentation. This was to help the audience feel safe and for Jim to feel safe sensing this was something designed to be fair and respectful. I wanted a vulnerable conversation and I had to show first that this conversation was going to be a safe space for that ... I wanted this to be a conversation that believers would take a chance listening to and be confronted with Mormonism's messiness.

 

Edited by Hamba Tuhan

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56 minutes ago, Bede said:

Can you acknowledge that there are members of the church who believe in its teachings while not being insane, stupid, or duped?

Or while having explored Mormonism to its logical conclusions without seeing it as giving up a lot of allowances and qualifiers?

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14 hours ago, DBMormon said:

yes part 7 tomorrow

I really liked this last part, thanks for having the follow up discussion.  

I would have liked to hear further discussion on the idea that Jim was asserting that the divine method is "reliable".  I think Jim's overall argument throughout the multiple episodes on this subject weren't logically consistent.  He admits many times that religious experience is subjective and an objective outside observer will not be able to prove religious experience in a testable and objective sense, but then he seems to want to assert that Mormonism is uniquely able to overcome this problem.  I don't understand how though.  How can he assert exclusive authority from God on one hand, and on the other hand say that all religious experience is subjective.  

I agree with the statement that religious experience is subjective.  I just don't understand how Jim is saying that it is also reliable in an objective sense.  I'm fine if he's saying its reliable subjectively, that is a statement that is not testable and open to individual interpretation.  But when he tries to assert the concept of reliability in any objective sense, he needs to back that up with objective evidence that can support the claim.  Reliability is testable and I think he's making an illogical category error when he makes that claim, but I'm not entirely sure I understood why he's holding that ground.   

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14 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I get to 'confront Mormonism' literally every day of my life, no podcast needed. It is precisely what it claims to be -- reliably, consistently and predictably.

Since you seem to agree with Jim on the "reliability" point, can you take a look at my last post.  I really was hoping for more discussion on that point as I didn't fully understand how Jim's argument makes sense and is logically consistent.  If you have any insights to add perhaps you could explain your take on it.  Thanks

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A couple more thoughts this discussion has prompted for me.  

In one of the earlier episodes when Bill shares the point that people in different religions all around the world have spiritual experiences and that these spiritual experiences are authentic to them and just as real as Mormon spiritual experiences,  Jim seems to agree with this, but not entirely.  When Bill tries to claim that members of these other religions have just as strong of a conviction that their religion is true, Jim seems to push back saying that the language these other people use to describe their conviction about their religion is materially different than the language a Mormon would use to describe their experience.  I agree the language is different, but I don't agree with the conclusion I think Jim draws from this difference.  

Jim then uses Moroni's promise to illustrate the difference, and the specific instructions in Moroni's promise about reflecting on how God has blessed us and the instruction to then ask God a very specific question and look for a very specific answer to that specific question.  In this case about the truth of the BoM.  This difference seems to be important to Jim's overall argument for Mormonism. 

He seems to be using it in a way to assert that this formula (Moroni's promise) if followed as directed by a sincere individual will yield a result that will prove the efficacy of Mormonism in some kind of universal sense.   This became clearer to me in the final episode when Bill started to bring up an example using Scientology, and Jim quickly shot that down saying that Scientologists don't believe in God, as if that should disqualify their personal subjective religious experiences.  Bill quickly switched to using the Centennial Park example instead of Scientology, but I personally think this revealed a little more about how Jim is emphasizing the Mormon method for evaluating truth. 

I see the Moroni's promise method as just the unique language that Mormons use to describe their subjective religious experience.  But if Jim is saying that the Moroni's promise method is something more, that it is some kind of tool that can be more objectively used for evaluation of "reliability" then I think that undercuts all his other arguments for subjective religious experience and honoring the experiences of other religions as being just as valid as Mormon experiences.  From my vantage point, this argument is not logically consistent.  

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

One crucial thing that an interviewer does is control the course of a conversation.  Which questions get asked, and not asked, which evidence considered, and not, what values are applied, what emotional context appears, how much time is given to any particular subject, and how it is all framed and packaged.  The interviewer always and inevitably has their thumb on the scale.

It depends on the interviewer. Behavioral Economics has demonstrated that the human brain is adept at systematically distorting the way we perceive the world so that what we think are honest impressions of an objective reality are really warped views driven by our cognitive biases. A good interviewer could focus on the big issues--on the main points--and ask good, probing questions the way that Socrates would so that the inconsistencies in our own thinking become apparent. Did Bill have his thumb on the scale, or did he simply remove Jim's thumb from it?

You would have to listen to the interview to create an informed decision about whether Bill manipulated the conversation by focusing on the objectively wrong things, or whether he focused on the right things and exposed the inconsistences in Jim's belief structure. Either way it is a fascinating conversation, and Jim and Bill should both be congratulated for engaging in the conversation and sharing it with the rest of us.

Edited by Analytics

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      Hi all.  
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      When we met with him after in his office, he confided with us that this site and her husband had recently discovered and read the CES letter.  They told the bishop they wanted to be released from their callings and needed to take a break from church.  He asked if they were still willing to read the scriptures and pray, and they said after all that they have "discovered" the don't feel like they can.  He hen asked them if they would be willing to talk to other members.  That is when out bishop thought of my wife and I.  He knew that with my experiences with my family leaving the church in a very antagonistic way with me that I had read the CES letter and chosen to maintain my faith and my membership.  He asked us to go and see this couple and talk to them.  
      We relied we would love to show them we love them and that we don't judge them for struggling with these things.  I also informed the bishop that I would not want to get into trying to give a point by point rebuttal to the couple, and that my experience is that most people who talk like they are talking have already made a choice on what they believe about the letter and are not looking for answers.  The bishop has not read the letter and asked me if I thought he should.  I told him that it probably would not serve him well to read it, and that his advice to be proactive spiritually is probably good advice coming from a bishop.
      My appeal to you all is - help me understand how you would approach this "assignment".  What would you do, and avoid doing?  How do you even begin such a conversation?  How do we avoid getting into a legalistic feeling debate about the letter, while still eating them know we know of it's contents and have resolved the dissonance for ourselves?
      I want to serve this couple well, and welcome your input!
       
      Thanks!
      MP
    • By rockpond
      In an interview with Gina Colvin on the A Thoughtful Faith podcast, Greg Prince discusses *this* Mormon moment.  Here's a link to the podcast page.  It's a great podcast -- worth the listen regardless of your opinion on the issues.
      “I don’t know the way forward yet.  I think that it’s going to be a combination of people at the top exercising their inspiration and the people at the bottom exercising their inspiration as well and somehow coming to a comfortable interface in the middle that takes advantage of both sources.” ~~Greg Prince
      He talks about the new policy.  Church growth, activity, and the future.
      He asked an interesting question:  What happens when today's 25 year old eventually becomes a Stake President?
      Also, he's currently writing a book on the Church and LGBT issues.  Should be a fascinating read.
       
    • By HappyJackWagon
      Bill Reel was recently interviewed on Mormon Stories about FAIR erasing him from their history. It's a fascinating discussion where they talk about the state of apologetics in general and Bill's personal experience with FAIR and other apologists like Brian Hales who kindly told Bill "I hope your podcast dies." I'm curious if anyone else listened and has any thoughts about the state of FAIR and apologetics in general or about Bill's experience in specific.
      http://mormonstories.org/bill-reel-discusses-his-falling-out-with-fair-and-his-faithful-dissent-with-lds-policy/
    • By Robert F. Smith
      TheSkepticChristian has asked me to post this new topic based on the extensive debunking by FAIRMORMON at http://debunking-cesletter.com/ of the ever-changing "Letter to a CES Director."
       
      TheSkepticChristian finds that that letter "is full of bad arguments and patternicity," and calls particular attention to what the FAIRMORMON debunking says at the end:

      "By academic standards, The CES Letter is inadequate. It makes numerous non-peer reviewed claims that ignore what the actual peer-reviewed literature has said on these matters. Due to their biases and incomplete representations of the topics they address, such publications are often classified as spin or propaganda by scholars" 
       
      Does FAIRMORMON do an adequate job in this case, or do you find it lacking in some way?
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