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Posts posted by TAO

  1. I have been trying to come up with a reasonable analogy to compare the whisperings of the sprit to something that an atheist can relate to. For example, I have tried the following

    1) We cannot prove personal preference, yet to each individual it is very real. I cannot prove that I like bananas, for example. Science can monitor my body’s reaction to eating the banana, but this is not proof that I prefer, say, bananas to oranges. Both fruit could produce the same result.

    2) I love my wife, but I cannot prove to anybody that I love her. Another person may meet her and not understand why I would love her; this is because their personal preferences are different (and obviously deficient) to mine.

    They counter this to say that I can actually produce my wife, or a banana, but I cannot produce God. While this is true, I am not trying to compare the object of my adoration, but the feeling itself; a feeling that is very real but improvable. They also say they can monitor my physiological reaction, but of course, I suspect that the same can be done when having a spiritual experience – although I don’t see the spirit attending under such conditions.

    An argument they also levy is that revelation is not falsifiable and cannot be duplicated. I suggest that it can. I have attended many a council and all in the group received the same clear answer of what to do so yes, many people can experience the same witness. My argument is that, like experiencing mountain climbing, there are some preparatory actions that must be taken in order to receive revelation so no, it cannot simply be duplicated in a laboratory.

    Any suggestions on how to better explain this in order to find a common ground?

    Just a note before you start reading. This is gonna be largely opinionary. But hopefully it's still useful =D.

    Anyways, I think I can give you a defense you can use against this, but this won't usually change their minds (as it involves a philosophy that isn't well respected).

    Generally,the defense that I use against their arguments is to bring up the issue of solipism and how it hurts the idea of reality. Solipism is just the realization that you cannot provide any proof or evidence that your senses interpret reality accurately. This creates problems, because most atheists who use the sort of arguments you were citing rely on their senses heavily (for example, the brain scan issue). From there, you agree with them that senses need to be assumed (that's an ethical statement you both agree on), but you disagree with them on the number of senses to be improved, and interpret the Spirit to be one of your senses (discrepancies can be explained through the analogies of optical illusions). Because none of the senses are the same, it's a good analogy (and different people assume different numbers of senses, for example blind people assume four), and so they'll have some difficulty countering it usually. The thing is, though this becomes an adequate defense against those who say using the Spirit is ridiculous (there is no falsifiablity or reliability from a solipistic starting point of assumption), it isn't enough to convince them to use the Spirit themselves (in other words, it's a defense that relies on logic, not practicality, and they have no reason to trust the Spirit). Convincing them is a lot harder.

    I have found that debate is not the best way to convince people of the goodness of religion. There are strong arguments out there you can use, but they rarely convince anybody; that's the nature of online debate. Most of the strong arguments for religion will be done by advocating the physical and philosophical advantages of religion which their position isn't able to take advantage of. A physical example might be the peace you feel from attending church. A philosophical example would be the divine law of morality, where wrongs are righted. However, again, these aren't likely to convince people who don't want to listen anyways. So it's not exactly the best method.

    And the people who want to listen, well, I would guess they are usually best taught by letting them experience the spirit though Moroni's Promise, taking them to church, letting the missionaries teach them, etc. That isn't to say the other method cannot work, I just never have seen it happen. You might ask mfbukowski though, as from what I understand, the philosophical benefits of the church's point of view were part of the reason he joined. I guess I also appreciated the philosophical reasons to some degree when I started becoming active, though probably not as much as mfb did, I'd guess. I really like the idea of a divine law of justice, and of a purpose behind difficulties, and of a God who loves and talks to his children every day. This church emphasizes a lot of things that most other churches do not. That's part of the reason why it's the place for me. It emphasizes the right things.

    Just some thoughts, and by no means binding. Opinions, more or less.

    Best of Wishes,


  2. I don't want to be cause of this thread going off the rails on SSM. So let's take a different example of a law and subject where there has been a commingling of religious morality and politics which has become very murky and where our own, meaning Mormon, stance appears to be in transition, namely murder and the death penalty. Thoughts?

    As far as I know, there isn't much of an opinion on the death penalty in the church. Some are for it, others are against it.

    It's a very complex question, to say, nonetheless.

  3. I agree with you. A law passed by a majority, no matter what the reason, that infringes on the rights of another is wrong.

    I'd actually disagree there.

    Consider the idea of rights for a second. They are something which people view as a quality others should have by default. But people have different opinions on what those should be. That means there is no clear defining line between what is a right and what isn't a right.

    I'd be guessing that you think it is okay for people to be taxed. A person may think they have a right not to be taxed. Thus, you'd be infringing on what they see as their rights by supporting laws mandating taxation. But I'm quite sure you don't think that is wrong. Nor do I.

    This is why infringing on other people's rights isn't inherently wrong (nor is it inherently right). We justify infringing on what others view as rights, but we, do not.

    And it is the courts duty to reverse such laws.

    No, not necessarily. There's actually two ways courts can rule. One of them is based off of civil rights. The other is based off of social mandate. Both have been used in the past to justify certain laws, and neither is dominant over the other. As I mentioned, taxation is justified by social mandate. On the other hand, voting equality is based off of civil rights. Both are used in our government, and they oppose each other oftentimes. This is why I wouldn't say it's the court's duty.

    For example there was a group in San Francisco that wanted to ban circumcision in the county of San Francisco. They felt that it was mutilation of the body of a non consenting minor. The law would not be allowed because it infringed on other peoples rights. Not everyone looks at circumcision as "cosmetic" surgery. Some people have other legitimate reasons for wanting circumcision performed on their children. They should have the right to do that no matter what the majority wants. I am not sure if this actual law was passed, but if it had, it would be the duty of the courts to toss it out.

    The court could have easily ruled the other way on this one though. First off, they could have considered circumcision to be against the social mandate of the time (this is unlikely though considering that it isn't very controversial . The second thing they could have done is said that the children have a right to not be circumcised (since they don't make the choice themselves). Either judgement would have been just as valid as the one given (not that I'd agree with either one).

    On the other hand, wouldn't it be just as wrong for religious groups to require circumcision be performed on all newborns because they felt it was what God wanted them to do?

    Maybe in my opinion, but not necessarily in the opinion's of others. And as said, social mandate is often a justification in law. So it wouldn't be anywhere close to certainly wrong either way.

  4. And, not infringe upon their rights without a just and defensible secular basis for doing so otherwise I am exercising unrighteous dominion.

    Firstly, government is a monopoly of force. Chances are you believe you can force your views for at least one thing on someone else. In other words, you think 'infringing' on other people is right in certain scenarios. Otherwise you wouldn't support government. And I'd say all of us here support government, so that means we all support force in certain scenarios (any exceptions, speak up now =p).

    Secondly, what is the difference between a secular and a non-secular basis? Secular just means non religious, and if your dismissing religious reasons for law simply because they aren't 'secular', that's begging the question kinda (circular logic in a sense). So I don't think whether it's 'secular' or not matters, tbh.

    Understand, there are reasons out there for you to support removing gay mairrage bans, but I don't think you should use this one. You'll have to be more detailed about why you don't think force is justified here, but why it is justfied in other similar scenarios.

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  5. This is one of my favorite TV shows ever. The sequel series, The Legend of Korra, is also great.

    Oh yes, I watched that too. If anything, I have to say it was better done than the original. Lots of suspense.

  6. I don't watch much tv or movies at all and "pure" anime is a very small part of what I do watch, but I loved "Avatar: the Last Airbender."

    Oh yeah, I remember watching that, it was quite good!

  7. Hey, I was just wondering how many of you on the forum watch any anime.

    My favorite series is Toradora! It's really hard to describe what I like about it, so yeah, I'm not going to go into it.

    I've also watched a lot of other series. Some of my favorites are Trigun, Rurouni Kenshin, Romeo x Juliet, and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.

    So do you want anime? If so, what's your favorite series?



  8. TAO:

    Nudity itself is rather boring.

    It could be. But you can't create laws banning it without taking social interests over personal rights. My point was that government uses both social interests and personal rights to justify laws, and that neither reigns supreme over the other.

    We pay taxes to support/supply the things that we as individuals can not. To use the things that governments supply without paying for them is a form of theft.

    What about the people out there who think taxes are immoral. Your forcing your taxes upon them.

  9. I think Freedom is right. President Hinckley was referring to the first part of the verse, which though I guess you could say is implied, is almost never mentioned directly (or at least not in my ward). The second part of the verse is obviously taught, and I'm pretty sure President Hinckley wasn't trying to avoid that.

    If you read the Lorenzo Snow Manual, you will notice it focuses on the second part, and leaves out discussion on the first. I think this is consistent with President Hinckley's Statement (or at least it's intents).

    EDIT: And LifeOnAPlate, excellent article on the subject =D.

  10. Thanks for you thoughts.

    No prob. Thanks for bringing up the topic.

    I have stated repeatedly through out this thread that rights are a subset of broader morality.

    But you still imply that 'rights' should get a special treatment (or perhaps you are saying other people imply, I can't tell). I don't think 'rights' inherently should get special treatment. I believe they are considered rights because they are getting special treatment which they may or may not deserve. In other words, they aren't inherently better from a moral standpoint than things which aren't 'rights'. So I'm wondering why there is the preference they get special treatment simply for being called 'rights'.

    Group A feel that every time the Govt decides not to renew, or proactively or create, legislation that is more moral than right based then we are departing the principles of the constitution and the nation (speaking of the USA) is becoming more evil.

    Group B feel that every time the Govt decides not to renew, or proactively or create, legislation that is more moral than right based then we are moving closer to the principles of the constitution and the nation (speaking of the USA) is becoming more better, even if they personally disagree with the moral actions the govt is deciding to ignore.

    This is an interested dichotomy and at the root of a lot of the miscommunication and conflict, especially in the USA.

    I agree. It's one of the reasons we have large political disagreements here in the US.

    It is not an easy tension to resolve as the same event produces fear of impending doom from one group and celebration of a modern utopia from the other (and vice versa). This will be played out when a Prop 8 and DOMA decisions by the supreme court finally occur.

    I also agree here. Unfortunately, there isn't likely to be a solution. Both sides are pretty much past compromise.

    As for the distinction being artificial between "legal rights" and "moral rights", i agree. But I also feel it is a good place to draw the line regarding what we are willing to give the govt power to perform. It is also, in my opinion, the distinction drawn in the founding documents of the USA. What is a right, that is still very much up for debate.

    It is indeed up for debate. And it will be for many years to come XD.

    Thanks for you thoughts. They have helped me think about this topic a lot more.

    No problem. Thanks for posting the topic.

  11. I think that I can agree with what you have stated. It is a case of balance. I also share concerns that full blown libertarian governance seems impractical, though I consider it theoretically better suited to understanding the role and limitations of govt.

    Indeed, a full blow libertarian government (anarchy) would be as bad as a full blown authoritarian one (dictatorship).

    As for the difference. The difference between "rights" and "moral rights" (though not necessarily always discussed specifically via those terms is extremely well established in political philosophy (though again not always 100% agreed upon).

    Well then what is the difference then? If it's so well established, it should be easily explainable. So far, I've never seen anybody actually explain the significant difference between right and morality. Thus, I don't think a difference exists. As far as I'm concerned, rights are a subset of morality (the difference being that it is government advocated), and thus, don't get any special treatment.

    As for taxes... any use of force by the govt should be subject to extreme rigorous review. Taxes are an interesting phenomenon as it is hard to arrive at a solid fully coherent argument for there legitimacy regardless of the political paradigm you endorse. That said, they are however necessary.

    Mmm... let me tell you my perspective. For any political discussion, there is no fully coherent argument. There is merely the argument that sounds best to your audience. While one argument sounds excellent to one group, it sounds horrible to another. I doubt that there is a universally agreed upon good argument, tbh.

  12. Govt may not infringe people's moral action. (Where "moral rights" are semantically considered distinct from "legal rights").

    Again, what is the difference.

    When someone violates our moral rights we may to ask them to leave or leave ourselves... No more.

    Not so. Consider taxes. If a person thinks taxes are immoral, they are still obligated to pay it. And because nearly every country has taxes (probably every country), it's pretty much unavoidable.

    When someone violates our legal rights we have legitimate cause to use force... Hence govt is a tool of force.

    Not precisely. We don't have legitimate cause in and of itself. The government determines that we have legitimate force. It isn't inherent. For example, gun laws.

    When someone violates morals rights we have legitimate cause to use persuasion... Hence religion is about teaching and education.

    Again, not precisely. The government determines that our persuasion is legitimate. It isn't inherent. For example, hate speech.

    As for the issue with voting. Of course you can vote you religious conscience. But when a voting majority exert a religious/moral conscience that violates principles of legal rights such a vote will be rendered void by the Supreme Court, their job is to protect rights (narrow morality), not morality (general morality).

    Except there isn't a conscious difference between legal rights and moral rights. As I mentioned, it's a dichotomy that's been created to support their point of view. It doesn't necessarily exist. Furthermore, the supreme court is under no obligation to protect legal rights over moral rights. Else laws banning public nudity wouldn't exist. But they do. What falls under 'justified social laws' is largely a matter of opinion.

    This will be the case with the Prop 8 case and the DOMA case before the supreme court. The danger to the fabric of constitutional democracy in the USA is if the court protects the moral rights of specific citizens of the legal rights of other citizens... the constitution will hang by a thread.

    I don't think it'll be that problematic. But the philosophy, if taken to the extreme, would be problematic either way.

    1) if libertarian rights are always greater than social opinion, it jeopardizes other laws which say the opposite (public nudity laws, public trash laws, homeowners associations, etc.)

    2) If social opinion is always greater than libertarian rights, it jeopardizes other laws which say the opposite (civil rights laws of various sorts)

    Either way, we are screwed if things get taken to the extreme.

    Really, this is just a discussion of that; are libertarian rights, or social opinions, more important. Most people can't say one way or the other.

  13. My reply to Wade:

    Modern democratic govt, and general political liberalism (not to be confused with the idea of being a liberal or conflated with allegiance to the Democratic party), champions a key success of modern Western govt as the limitation of govt action to a specific sub-set of the "moral continuum". That is govts are concerned with legal rights, not moral rights.

    Legal rights are moral rights though (that is, they are a subsection of morality). Let me give you an example. The North Korean dictator probably doesn't think freedom of speech is a good thing, where as you think it is definitely a good thing. In other words, while you view it as inherently right (aka, morality), he doesn't view it that way. There is no difference between legal and moral rights, they are the same thing. There is a slight difference (in my opinion) between physical and social rights, but even then, they are very intertwined, so it becomes hard to judge one without judging the other.

    I am not claiming that there is no moral concept behind "rights" or the Constitution.

    Well then you can't create a dichotomy between 'legal rights' and 'moral rights'. After all, 'legal rights' would be a subset of 'moral rights'.

    What I am stating is that since the formation of modern democracy (the US constitution being a key and important part of that) the notion of legal and moral rights has been dramatically advanced and now legal rights specifically are discussed as distinct from morality in general.

    That doesn't make that view correct though. As I have pointed out, there is no dichotomy I can find, even if other people think it is there. Thus, I am not required to adhere to their dichotomy, right?

    For some they prefer to see legal rights (rights) as a limited subset of the general moral continuum. Legal rights are the sphere of responsibility of Govt and moral rights are not. Almost all would agree that legal rights are informed at some level by an appeal to some moral principle.

    Who decides where the dividing line is though? Society is a very fickle thing; the truth is that there is no defined line, people disagree on the subject.

    What does this have to do with Religion? Religions are extremely important in western democracies as there is now a vacuum; govt used to be in charge of morality, kings created morality etc (and religions used to be in charge of kings), but now are not. In my opinion religions should stop whining to the govt, effectively asking them to do religions job for them, and realize that if they want to impact the moral decision making of people they need to do a better job teaching and presenting their message. Not replacing a poor job at proselytizing with legislative activism.

    If this was true, then we'd have to say the same thing about all organizations, religious or otherwise. After all, there is no significant difference between a group advocating for legislation of it's ideas for the morality of welfare then a group advocating for legislation of it's ideas for the morality of religion.

    Part of the original purpose of the Constitution was to allow competing interests. To remove one side or the other destroys the system that was intended from the beginning. Of course, some may not want that system, but I am fine with it.

    Rather than seeing the govt unwilling to legislate around moral rights as a bad thing, religions should see it as an opportunity.

    The government IS willing to legislate moral rights. As I pointed out, welfare. A moral right. The idea of taking care of the poor isn't unquestionably correct, it's a moral concept. And the government acts on it. There is no prohibition on the government acting on the moral ideas of one group or another (currently).

    This is a clear statement by govt. that they will not interfere with moral rights and will yield that realm to religions (or what ever social group or individual wishes to take up the topic).

    The government makes no such clear statement. Let me give you an example. There are some very rare people out there who do not wish to serve African Americans at their restaurants. They view it as immoral and wrong. The government nonetheless requires them to do it, because they see the opposite as immoral and wrong. The government interferes with moral rights all of the time, and I don't see this changing really.

    Never have religions had more freedom to believe as they see fit than they do now

    Perhaps in the United States. In other places, it's been getting a bit worse.

    granted, religious believers (myself included) are forced to live in a society that does not always share, support, respect or appreciate my beliefs, but I am allowed to have them.

    And sometimes forced to live with a government which creates laws against your beliefs as well. As I pointed out, morality is a very broad subject.

    This is a new phenomenon that is itself an out-growth of modern democratic govts decision to move out of the moral right business.

    The government has NOT decided to move out of the moral rights business, as I just demonstrated. They have just changed which individual precepts they are focused on.

    The fact that we can believe what ever we want and not need the govt to take steps to enforce out beliefs in legislation is the victory and crowning achievement of constitutional govt.

    Again, this is not the case. There are groups out there whose morality we (or our government) step on all the time.

    When those around us violate our moral rights (for mormons that may be someone smoking in front of us, that may be someones homosexuality being flouted in front of us) we have the right and freedom to express objections that behavior. We have the right to use persuasion to change that persons actions. For some people religions are considered the ultimate authority/tool in exerting such moral persuasion.

    As granted by law, yes. But law is always subject to change. That's the strength and weakness of government.

    When those around us seek to violate our rights (legal rights) - that may be assaulting us, stealing our goods, causing physical harm - we have the right to use force to deter or mitigate those actions. The govt as the ultimate holder of the right to use force engages those who act against our legal rights as criminals.

    Rights as established by whom? The government. The government could establish that all restaurants have to serve free Spaghetti on Tuesday and it would become a right. And things which are considered 'our rights' are not always 'morally right' from our perspective.

    Religion may not infringe people's legal rights. (Where "legal rights" are semantically considered distinct from "moral rights").

    Again, what is the difference?

    Continued in next post (feel free to cut out stuff that is repetitive).

  14. Heya, and welcome to the board. Feel free to ask any questions here, but also know that the missionaries are a really good resource. While we can give you answers here, the answers they will give you are probably even better. After all, they are on the Lord's time. =)

    Best of Wishes in your quest for truth!


  15. But . . . where will all those San Diego County Mormon girls find husbands if there were no yBu? Heaven forbid they should attend Cal Fullerton and get involved with the institute program and attend local singles wards.

    We're always happy to have more women at the CSUF Institute. ;-).

    A warning though. Learn to play Bananagrams.

  16. But if apologetics is, by definition, the defense of the faith, then it already holds its position strongly. Then, it isn't scholarship.

    That's my point though. One can choose to either consider both criticism and apologetics scholarship, or consider neither of them scholarship. In other words, the divide cuts both ways, or it doesn't cut at all.

    Personally, I actually don't think there is a difference between apolgetics, criticism, or scholarship. They are all just opinons.

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