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Sevenbak

Seer stones history getting a bad rap

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55 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You will no doubt find many who share those views.  After all, if there is no God, then such advanced tech in Joseph's time is virtually impossible.  If here is a God, then it is a simple matter for Him to make a solid-state device with an LED screen and to activate it with necessary voltage.  In any case, LDS theology rejects belief in the supernatural, and posits a finite, humanistic God who is master of natural law.  It is after all natural law which allows our modern digital electronics industry.  "Silicon Valley" is named after an ordinary rock, silicon, which is a primary ingredient in solid-state devices.  As Pogi just pointed out, how can Jesus spit in the dirt, put the mud on a blindman's eye, and then have him wash it off and be cured?  If Jesus was not the true Son of God, then naturally you must reject claims that He is.   The odd upshot is, however, that you rejected the LDS faith because you mistakenly thought it was a supernatural faith.  Supernaturalism is the primary mistake of the Judeo-Christian mainstream.

One could just as easily say that your faith is a rejection of traditional correlated Mormonism, but I’m not in the business of making accusations.  

There is no compelling evidence historically or rationally that the stones Joseph was using performed in any way other than the way all stones work for the average human.  I find this argument that there was advanced God technology at work to be poorly contrived.   

As for the miracles of Jesus, we have no historical evidence for those either, and personally I don’t see a strong theological argument that one should read those stories as literal.  In fact, I’m surprised you do as I’ve heard you make arguments against literal readings of the Bible in the past.  

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1 hour ago, Bede said:

Yup

The fruits of the church’s communication on this topic show very poorly then.  

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In  my youth (in NoCA or IL) there used to be ward libraries of nonCD books and even my one grandmother who wasn't interested in gospel study and the other who had a high school diploma had a lot of churchbooks on their shelves (one grandfather interested but died before I was old enough to talk to him about it, other not at all).  I got the impression people knew who were those who did the extra reading in their wards (I did as a kid, don't know how I knew that though...maybe testimonies included talking about what they had learned in books?), not just those who had pet theories or political issues they liked to promote which seem to be the ones I hear about doing extra studying these days.  Outside of those who professions touch on church topics (teach at BYU or CES or up in Canada were historians and interested in church history) or who have hobby horses, I don't remember hearing much talk about them at church now.  There is not much of an aura of respect for such studying that I felt as a kid, though it is possibly this was more from my family's dynamic and not the ward dynamic.  

But they also studied books and cultures in RS (can't remember if these were me attending with my mom or were just my first summers back from college) and I think there extra knowledge would be given recognition that isn't as likely to be provided now imo.  So besides personal interest, not sure what would motivate someone to go looking for indepth research, something not available online without memberships to journals or databases.

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51 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Not 0%, but not mostly.  I was lucky enough to be raised in a house with parents who read gospel books beyond the Sunday School manuals.  Plenty of references available.  So I've known about them forever even if I didn't hear it from my primary teachers (at least I don't remember them mentioning it).

I was speaking just today with the owner of Sam Weller books here in SLC.  He said he'd been in the business of LDS books long enough to see a major change in younger members.  They aren't digging in like our parents did in days gone by.  Very little interest among members in Talmage, McConkie, Widtsoe, Nibley, Roberts, or anything scholarly really.

Most members are either internet blog studiers or Sunday School manuals only.  Is it any wonder the divide is widening between the faithful and the questioning?  Both sides only know and believe what they're told, not from their own studies.

I kind of feel like If members don’t know things it’s because church leaders have either intentionally or unintentionally communicated very poorly.  Mormons are great at repeating the correlated materials.   It’s on the leaders.  

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7 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I kind of feel like If members don’t know things it’s because church leaders have either intentionally or unintentionally communicated very poorly.  Mormons are great at repeating the correlated materials.   It’s on the leaders.  

Sorry, personal knowledge is on the individual.

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3 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Sorry, personal knowledge is on the individual.

Sounds like lawyer speak.  Sorry, you should’ve read the fine print.  

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3 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

The issue of Joseph’s use of stones was a major contributing factor in my “faith crisis”.  It was a catalyst for me losing my belief in the supernatural.  

I was more fortunate.  Having direct, unbidden experiences with the supernatural was a major contributing factor in ramping up my faith on the way to full activity in the church.  Joseph's seer stones were and are, totally irrelevant to these experiences.

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59 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I kind of feel like If members don’t know things it’s because church leaders have either intentionally or unintentionally communicated very poorly.  Mormons are great at repeating the correlated materials.   It’s on the leaders.  

And if a student flunks a class at university we can assume the fault was on the professor.

48 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Sounds like lawyer speak.  Sorry, you should’ve read the fine print.  

Analogy does not work. I doubt anyone was ever damned for not understanding seerstones. You can be damned if you miss the fine print on a contract.

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Sounds like lawyer speak.  Sorry, you should’ve read the fine print.  

I agree. Most personal knowledge should be gained individually. However the institution that is responsible for information has a duty to teach the correct principles, even if it puts itself in a bad light (or what it might think is bad). Obviously the deer stone thing isn’t a big deal to me, but i would have preferred if they had just taught it openly the entire time without the hushed tones.

Edited by SettingDogStar
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5 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

So who’s fault is it that the average member had no clue about the history of the stones?  Are you saying the church, it’s leaders, and it’s curriculum has no responsibility for how the average member understands the history around Joseph’s use of stones?  

Your statement assumes that the history of stones is of prime importance in LDS faith, but it is not.  It is difficult enough just to master the principles of the Gospel embodied in the Articles of Faith, without demanding that Church leaders waste precious time speaking in detail about side issues.  So, because Church leaders had a solid sense of priorities, you got angry.

The stone stuff obviously means a great deal to you, but there was never a time when you could not have studied Church history in detail (including stones) if you so chose.  I spent a great deal of time in such pursuits 40-50 years ago and learned a lot.  The information was always readily available to anyone who wanted to look it up, but it was never central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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5 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

 . . . . .  (silicon is stone) . . . . 

Not quite.  It's an element, though it does have impurites added to enhance it's semi-conductor properties.  You may be thinking of silica, which is quartz . . . . a mineral and a total or partial composition of many 'stones'. 

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3 minutes ago, SettingDogStar said:

I agree. Most personal knowledge should be gained individually. However the institution that is responsible for information has a duty to teach the correct principles, even if it puts itself in a bad light (or what it might think is bad). Obviously the deer stone thing isn’t a big deal to me, but i would have preferred if they had just taught it openly the entire time without the hushed tones.

The "they" you are speaking about as leaders of that human institution called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not professional historians and rarely are familiar with such details.  Moreover, they did not apparently think it necessary that their CES be staffed by actual PhDs in history or religion -- with the exception of Hugh Nibley, who occasionally advised them.  A major change in attitude has apparently taken place since then, and we now see the details pouring forth without let up.

Meantime, the challenge to faith represented by seer stones, and such, are probably good for the Church.  There needs to be a trial of faith for each of us, to see where our real values lie, and whether we have a real commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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9 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The "they" you are speaking about as leaders of that human institution called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not professional historians and rarely are familiar with such details.  Moreover, they did not apparently think it necessary that their CES be staffed by actual PhDs in history or religion -- with the exception of Hugh Nibley, who occasionally advised them.  A major change in attitude has apparently taken place since then, and we now see the details pouring forth without let up.

Meantime, the challenge to faith represented by seer stones, and such, are probably good for the Church.  There needs to be a trial of faith for each of us, to see where our real values lie, and whether we have a real commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I know that Joseph F. Smith suppressed the FV accounts, or at least it appears he did, so I wonder if he suppressed that the BoM was solely translated by using the stones in a hat and not the use of the gold plates. He may have seen that as quite disconcerting or believed that it wouldn't look good, his devotedness appears to be to that of JS's reputation, IMO. It makes me wonder how solid his testimony was. If it was solid you'd think he'd not taken the 1832 FV account out of the notebook. And according to the latest RFM podcast, he suppressed another FV account as well. 

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9 minutes ago, blarsen said:

Not quite.  It's an element, though it does have impurites added to enhance it's semi-conductor properties.  You may be thinking of silica, which is quartz . . . . a mineral and a total or partial composition of many 'stones'. 

You are quibbling Larsen.  "Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it."  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon .    It is a stone, and my suggestion has long been that the seer-stone was a crystalline virtual-state transducer with a light-emitting diode (LED) display, i.e., a semi-conductor which emits visible electromagnetic radiation in response to stimulating voltage.  Most of those on this board probably just don't know that a key ingredient in their modern solid-state electronics is ordinary stone.  And that ignorance leads them to get unnecessarily exercised over Joseph using a stone.  God could presumably tweak that stone with the correct properties and get the results we now read about.  What's not to like?  😎

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4 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I know that Joseph F. Smith suppressed the FV accounts, or at least it appears he did, so I wonder if he suppressed that the BoM was solely translated by using the stones in a hat and not the use of the gold plates. He may have seen that as quite disconcerting or believed that it wouldn't look good, his devotedness appears to be to that of JS's reputation, IMO. It makes me wonder how solid his testimony was. If it was solid you'd think he'd not taken the 1832 FV account out of the notebook. And according to the latest RFM podcast, he suppressed another FV account as well. 

He couldn't suppress the seer-stone accounts.  They were readily available in all manner of publications, including publications of the RLDS Church.  Ironically, today the RLDS remnants are the most likely to reject the seer-stone facts.  Just like they used to absolutely reject the notion that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.

You do realize that the RFM podcasts are not being made by professional historians with no axe to grind?

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

He couldn't suppress the seer-stone accounts.  They were readily available in all manner of publications, including publications of the RLDS Church.  Ironically, today the RLDS remnants are the most likely to reject the seer-stone facts.  Just like they used to absolutely reject the notion that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.

You do realize that the RFM podcasts are not being made by professional historians with no axe to grind?

Joseph Fielding Smith, I should say, died in 1972. I think it's been said the first publication of it was in a Children's Friend magazine in 1974, I believe. 

Edited by Tacenda

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You are quibbling Larsen.  "Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it."  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon .    It is a stone, and my suggestion has long been that the seer-stone was a crystalline virtual-state transducer with a light-emitting diode (LED) display, i.e., a semi-conductor which emits visible electromagnetic radiation in response to stimulating voltage.  Most of those on this board probably just don't know that a key ingredient in their modern solid-state electronics is ordinary stone.  And that ignorance leads them to get unnecessarily exercised over Joseph using a stone.  God could presumably tweak that stone with the correct properties and get the results we now read about.  What's not to like?  😎

Ordinary stone!!  Now that really tweaks my geological/mineralogical sensibilities 😉

But you're right, if the two 'devices' God prepared and gave to the Brother of Jared to be used as interpreters were actually " crystalline virtual-state transducers with . . light emitting diode (LED)displays, i.e., semiconductors which emit visible electromagnetic radiation in reponse to simulating voltage", His calling them stones is OK with me.  Who am I to argue with God?

That being said, I find the seer stone used by Joseph Smith to actually be rather special because it appears to exhibit 'liesegang banding', which elevates it way beyond being a common, everyday stone.

Edited by blarsen

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5 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

The issue of Joseph’s use of stones was a major contributing factor in my “faith crisis”.  It was a catalyst for me losing my belief in the supernatural.  

What is more supernatural than a dead man returning to life?

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1 hour ago, Bernard Gui said:

What is more supernatural than a dead man returning to life?

If you can believe in a man dying, resurrecting himself, then claiming he literally suffered for all mankind then seer stones should really be at very bottom priority. 

We each have our own journeys but there a more complex issues in the church and world to have a crisis over.

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3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The "they" you are speaking about as leaders of that human institution called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not professional historians and rarely are familiar with such details.  Moreover, they did not apparently think it necessary that their CES be staffed by actual PhDs in history or religion -- with the exception of Hugh Nibley, who occasionally advised them.  A major change in attitude has apparently taken place since then, and we now see the details pouring forth without let up.

Meantime, the challenge to faith represented by seer stones, and such, are probably good for the Church.  There needs to be a trial of faith for each of us, to see where our real values lie, and whether we have a real commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I mean they were obviously aware of it since it was briefly mentioned in a church magazine in the 70’s. Plus it was in the vault of the first presidency, how would they not at least be aware of its existence and use? If they thought the accounts were false or untrue why keep the stone and not just chuck it out or give it away. It was even on the altar of the Manti temple when President Woodruff dedicated and he mentioned he was aware of what it was used for in translation of the Book of Mormon.

They May not have been historians or known all the uses but they knew at least a couple things about its use.. It also isn’t some big super secret “cover up.” However with as aware they were of what the stone was used for they rarely if ever mentioned it and allowed innaccurate depections to be used in seminary and Sunday school classes for years.

All I’m saying is that I would have appreciated if it had been taught about from the beginning. People wouldn’t have as much of an issue if this had been churchwide common knowledge from the start. I don’t have a problem with seer stones but I know many people do and I know none of my family to extended family knew about it until the pictures dropped back in 2015. 

But I’m so glad they’re just letting it all out of the bag now! I love it! 

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8 hours ago, blarsen said:

I was more fortunate.  Having direct, unbidden experiences with the supernatural was a major contributing factor in ramping up my faith on the way to full activity in the church.  Joseph's seer stones were and are, totally irrelevant to these experiences.

Irrelevant for you, but existentially reorienting for me.  I’m glad you’re happy with your relationship to the church. 

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8 hours ago, The Nehor said:

And if a student flunks a class at university we can assume the fault was on the professor.

Analogy does not work. I doubt anyone was ever damned for not understanding seerstones. You can be damned if you miss the fine print on a contract.

If you do an assessment on a course where the majority of the students taught by a particular instructor don’t know key information from the curriculum, who is to blame, the students or the teacher?  

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8 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Analogy does not work. I doubt anyone was ever damned for not understanding seerstones. You can be damned if you miss the fine print on a contract.

Members have false understanding of the history and some people are saying that the fault of the members for not paying close enough attention.  That’s the part that’s similar to the fine print example.  

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8 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Your statement assumes that the history of stones is of prime importance in LDS faith, but it is not.  It is difficult enough just to master the principles of the Gospel embodied in the Articles of Faith, without demanding that Church leaders waste precious time speaking in detail about side issues.  So, because Church leaders had a solid sense of priorities, you got angry.

The stone stuff obviously means a great deal to you, but there was never a time when you could not have studied Church history in detail (including stones) if you so chose.  I spent a great deal of time in such pursuits 40-50 years ago and learned a lot.  The information was always readily available to anyone who wanted to look it up, but it was never central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It’s not like the stones history is the only history the church has painted a Disneyesque picture around.  The church is in the business of promoting itself, no surprise they’ve emphasized the positive and buried the unflattering.  The internet is changing the dynamics of that game though.  

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6 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

What is more supernatural than a dead man returning to life?

I don’t believe in Biblical literalism.  You’re correct, that claim is a supernatural one as well.  

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