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Ryan Dahle

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Everything posted by Ryan Dahle

  1. Well, it depends on what one means by "gay"? If someone is "gay" in the sense that he or she merely has same-sex attraction, then that is not morally sinful. On the other hand, if someone is "gay" in the sense that he or she approves of, advocates for, or participates in homosexual behavior, then that is morally sinful. Thus, being gay can be something one is and/or something one does. The color of one's skin, on the other hand, does not potentially correspond in the same way to any specific type of behavior. It is strictly something that one is. So someone saying "I am proud to be a black son of God" wouldn't evoke the same type of moral ambiguity that exists in the statement "I'm proud to be a gay son of God." Late edit: Obviously my response is intended to articulate the moral views held by Latter-day Saints. I recognize that many on this board will not share those views. But my post is in response to a question about how believing Latter-day Saints understand this issue in relation to Elder Holland's statements.
  2. I don't think you really responded to my explanation.
  3. Well, maybe try to look at if from Elder Holland's perspective. He and his brethren feel bound by a divine duty to uphold certain standards of worthiness. Based on scriptural teachings and the teachings of their modern prophetic and apostolic predecessors, they believe that homosexual behavior is a serious sin. On the other hand, they also feel a duty to show love, empathy, and affection for those who have same-sex attraction or who identify in some way as being part of the LGBTQ+ community. With this complex tension in mind, I think the problem with Matt Easton's remarks is that they could have been easily seen as advocacy for a gay lifestyle or for homosexual behavior. What does it mean that he is proud to be a gay son of God? It is a rather celebratory public statement that if misinterpreted could lead other members of the Church to feel that living a gay lifestyle (for lack of a better word) is now okay. I don't think Elder Holland and other Church leaders feel comfortable with members exploiting church-related public ceremonies that are typically designed for other purposes to announce and celebrate being gay. It was the combination of the inappropriate venue and the ambiguity in Matt's statements that made his announcement especially inappropriate. If you were to view homosexual behavior as being spiritually detrimental, I think you might also be uncomfortable with public advocacy that might easily send the wrong message to thousands of people--especially when it is such a complex and commonly misunderstood topic, and when the world is strongly sending a message that there is nothing wrong with gay sex. Just replace this issue with the ambiguous public celebration of something that you deem to be harmful if misunderstood (and which you know is commonly misunderstood) and I think you will understand where Elder Holland is coming from.
  4. My point was that HJW's use of a violent scriptural metaphor wasn't wrong. I don't think Elder Holland's remarks were wrong either.
  5. Well, it took about 30 seconds to find that. It's called a search engine. You type stuff in the search bar and it does the looking for you, by author and content. And since you pushed back on my intuition about selective outrage, it seemed relevant. Sounds like you had a very transformative year. A few months back you didn't seem to have any problems with using a scriptural war metaphor. And now you do. I wonder what could possibly have initiated such a profound change between then and now.
  6. I guess then maybe you are just hypersensitive about metaphors? On the other hand, I discovered that you yourself have approvingly used a scriptural war metaphor on this very board in the past year. Back in march you wrote to another poster: There is no doubt that "fight a good fight" is Paul's military metaphor from 1 Timothy 6:12, similar to his other use of military metaphors, such as the armor of God imagery. I'm pretty sure that advocating for violence against other board members is against the board rules. But maybe we should all just give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that by "fight a good fight" you weren't subtly advocating for physical violence. Perhaps the metaphor was clearly a metaphor, and we should all interpret it as it was intended--as a struggle of words and ideas.
  7. Maybe the problem is just selective outrage. I have a feeling the negative interpretations of his comments would be quite different if Elder Holland had used the the same musket imagery as a call to defend homosexual behavior from criticism. In that case, I've no doubt that those who are now accusing him of fomenting violence would be gushing over how the metaphor was exactly what was needed to motivate people to defend--metaphorically, of course--this marginalized community from criticism. Late edit: I didn't realize that @bluebell made almost this same point to HJW (just a few posts back). Our similar lines of thought were generated independently.
  8. Good questions? Is Joseph Smith really comparable to most other authors in background and experience? And were the circumstances involved in the production of the Book of Mormon really comparable to those used by most successful authors? Brian C. Hales, “Curiously Unique: Joseph Smith as Author of the Book of Mormon,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 31 (2019): 151-190. Robert A. Rees, “Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the American Renaissance: An Update,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 19 (2016): 1–16. Robert A. Rees, “John Milton, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies Quarterly 54, no. 3 (2015): 6–18. Robert A. Rees, “Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the American Renaissance,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 35, no. 3 (2002): 83–112. For those who missed it, Brian Hales gave another excellent presentation at the FAIR Conference two weeks ago. It helps further contextualize this issue.
  9. Here are some articles that help identify proposed alternative theories and, imo, illuminate many of their deficiencies: Brian C. Hales, “Naturalistic Explanations of the Origin of the Book of Mormon: A Longitudinal Study,” BYU Studies Quarterly 58, no. 3 (2019): 105–148. Daniel C. Peterson, “Editor’s Introduction: ‘In the Hope That Something Will Stick’: Changing Explanations for the Book of Mormon,” FARMS Review 16, no. 2 (2004): xi–xv. Daniel C. Peterson, “The Divine Source of the Book of Mormon in the Face of Alternative Theories Advocated by LDS Critics,” 2001 FairMormon Conference Presentation, online at archive.bookofmormoncentral.org. Louis Midgley, “Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? The Critics and Their Theories,” in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, ed. Noel B. Reynolds (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1997), 101–139.
  10. Hi Esrom, Welcome. As far as competing Book of Mormon explanations, you may be interested in the following articles: Brian C. Hales, “Naturalistic Explanations of the Origin of the Book of Mormon: A Longitudinal Study,” BYU Studies Quarterly 58, no. 3 (2019): 105–148. Brian C. Hales, "Curiously Unique: Joseph Smith as Author of the Book of Mormon," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 31 (2019): 151-190. Daniel C. Peterson, “Editor’s Introduction: ‘In the Hope That Something Will Stick’: Changing Explanations for the Book of Mormon,” FARMS Review 16, no. 2 (2004): xi-xxxv. Daniel C. Peterson, “The Divine Source of the Book of Mormon in the Face of Alternative Theories Advocated by LDS Critics,” 2001 FairMormon Conference Presentation, online at archive.bookofmormoncentral.org. And as for Book of Mormon complexity, you might consider looking at Complexity and Translation categories at Evidence Central: Complexity Translation Evidence Central is a fairly new website and is just getting started, so the research there isn't yet comprehensive. But it does offer a way to look at evidence relationships that is unprecedented. (Full disclosure: I'm the project manager for the website so my assessment may be a bit biased.) The website looks best on desktop. Mobile is still pretty rough. Good luck with your continuing reinvestigation.
  11. Well, like I said, that is the real issue isn't it. How certain we are about God's existence, attributes, and communication with us will determine how reasonable it seems to cede our moral judgment into his hands. You obviously take it for granted that we can have only a very low reliability of trust in God and his communication to us, compared to our trust in a doctor's credentials/competency. I think that simply reflects a difference in experience, access to certain types of evidence, and different methods of interpreting that evidence. I personally would be much more confident that God commanded polygamy than I would be in a doctor's medical advice. That conclusion will obviously seem strange to those who haven't had the same experiences that I have had. Again, I think this simply reflects a difference in experiences. God has prescribed ways to know if something is from him, if something is good and right, and also general safeguards for understanding/accessing revelation (both personally and institutionally as a church). The ability to accurately discern such things is something that typically must be developed over time and is itself a gift from God that is only given under certain conditions, so it is understandable that different people will reach different conclusions about the viability of revelation as a guide to moral behavior.
  12. I don't think that threads the needle quite right. Perhaps we should be more concerned about ensuring outside sources do not override our own understanding of right and wrong. After all, we are our own moral actors, no one else is. Well, most of the time, this is never an issue, at least not for me. The overwhelming majority of what I believe are divine directives are in harmony (or, at least, aren't opposed) with my own moral intuition. If that weren't the case, I would never follow God in the first place. We certainly are our own moral actors, but our human nature and limited knowledge should give us reason to be suspicious of our ability to identify the correct moral course of action in all situations. I see trusting God as being somewhat akin to trusting a highly qualified medical professional. Typically, I wouldn't want other people slicing into my body and messing with stuff. In most cases, I would say it would be morally wrong for people to stab someone else with needles or cut into someone else's heart or remove part of their brain. Such actions unquestionably cause harm, inconvenience, and may possibly result in death. But I have lots of reasons to trust that doctors, despite sometimes causing temporary harm, are better able to see how certain actions (which may seem unintuitively wrong to those without the same knowledge) will most likely result in the greatest good. The issue shouldn't be about whether it may or may not be correct in some circumstances to cede our judgment to others. We all do this all the time in a variety of contexts. The real issue is whether there is sufficient evidence to believe in a benevolent God and to trust that he (somewhat like a qualified medical professional) knows best, even if we can't always understand how his prescribed actions will result in the greatest good. That final calculation is undoubtedly far more complex than this discussion is ready to handle. The second issue would be the criteria we use to determine if God is actually the one prescribing a certain course of action, or if we are somehow mistaking other sources of information for his directives. Again, that is beyond the scope of this discussion.
  13. A good question. I believe there are moral facts which bind even God, but I don't think highly enough of human social cognition to think that we can really understand them beyond the realm of impulses. Better definition of right and wrong has to come from God. Just thought I would chime in here. Some may be interested in Ross Baron's take on these types of issues: http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll16/id/510242 He only skims over the polygamy topic, but I think he captures well the implications of the Divine Command theory of ethics, as well as the unique understanding of that theory held by Latter-day Saints. How well an allegedly divine commandment or revelation complies with our own moral intuitions/sensibilities is an important factor, but certainly not the only factor, in how Latter-day Saints reach conclusions about the source of the said commandment/revelation. Carefully exploring what combination of factors might override our reliance on our own moral intuition (or socially informed moral values) seems to be a very worthwhile endeavor.
  14. In context of all of Kordahl's statements, especially with how frequently he takes issue with Carroll's application of science in the realms of religion and philosophy, I find his review of this section much more narrow and ambiguous than you. He could support Carroll's idea about souls, but he could easily not extend the logic that far, while still appreciating Carroll's explication of physics in this section. As you said, we will just have to disagree here. We've already gone through all this.
  15. I don't share your confidence that Kordahl's conclusions about this section of the book extend as far as you seem to think. And without further elaboration on his part, we will never know. Either way it doesn't matter. I think it has already been established that Carroll's argument about the soul isn't reliable for the same types of reasons that Kordahl himself brought up in other chapters before and after this one. Carroll's conception of the soul isn't necessitated by Latter-day Saint theology. So he ends up tilting at windmills.
  16. Or not. As I quoted above, Kordahl calls the specific arguments I've been referring to as "the best parts" of the book, and agrees with them. As far as I could tell, Kordahl didn't mention the specific arguments you've been repeatedly citing on this board. He talks about the Core theory and it being reliable in its domain of applicability, but he doesn't ever say whether or not he thinks the Core theory can rule out spiritual entities or influence (i.e. whether those phenomena fall within the domain of applicability). Based on the rest of his review, assuming such a specific conclusion on his behalf seems questionable at best. Kordahl's discussion about consciousness certainly doesn't favor Carroll's arguments, which is more applicable to our discussion anyway. In the end, I think Kordahl's critique is more in line with those opposing the way you have tried to use Carroll's arguments to disprove or cast overwhelming doubt on religious propositions.
  17. Could you cite a serious LDS scholar that has engaged the content of Carroll's arguments? The closest I've seen is that biologist from the Discovery Institute. He does a superficial book review, but doesn't engage with the actual arguments. I'm not Smac, but here is something I came across in just a few minutes of searching. It was written by what appears to be a graduate student who is now working in the ASU department of physics: https://thenewatlantis.com/wp-content/uploads/legacy-pdfs/20170819_TNA52Kordahl.pdf While he shows much respect for Carroll's writing style and many of his ideas, Kordahl takes exception with the same arguments and assumptions presented by Carroll that many on this thread have expressed concern about. I'm not sure why theists or specifically Latter-day Saints are obligated to refute Carroll's applications of his expertise into realms where he is less of an expert. It seems that others, even some who share Carroll's atheistic/agnostic leanings, are probably going to do that task for us. Here are some relevant quotes:
  18. I think a huge disconnect in this discussion is that you and Carroll seem to be arguing against a brand of dualism that I think is unnecessary. I don't think you have anything to apologize for. You haven't been rude or disparaging, at least not to me. Your views are no less condescending than mine, I suppose. That is just the nature of our opposing opinions and world views when spoken frankly. And I suspected that you would feel differently about the categories of evidence that I alluded to. No need to rehash them all. It has been a worthwhile discussion for me, despite the obvious disconnects and lack of shared assumptions about many things.
  19. Just because we don't know how consciousness emerges from the atoms of our brain doesn't mean there are tenable alternatives to that being what's going on. I never said that the absence of a scientific theory to explain consciousness automatically yields "tenable alternatives to that being what's going on." The point is that if science itself doesn't have a tenable theory to explain a phenomenon (consciousness in this case), one can hardly fault theists for not having a tenable scientific theory to explain how spiritual phenomena interact, scientifically speaking, with the thing that science doesn't understand to begin with. It seems that at this point, your whole argument fell apart and the backpedaling began. You resorted to the tactic of comparing religious belief to an absurd example of illogical thinking to make religious belief look as silly as possible: The problem with this example--the reason I called it a false analogy and an an irrelevant diversion--is that it bears little resemblance to the types religious claims that Latter-day Saints actually believe. I have many lines of evidence which I use to support my belief in spiritual phenomena that I could never marshal to support the floating gold hypothesis. And I haven't yet found strong naturalistic explanations to account for those lines of evidence. Critics don't have a good theory to explain the collective statements from the formal and informal witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Critics don't have a good theory to explain the collective statements from the witnesses of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Critics don't have a good theory to explain the Book of Mormon's complexity, consistency, and sophistication. Critics don't have a good theory to collectively explain the Book of Mormon's ancient literary features. Critics don't have a good theory to collectively explain the Book of Mormon's ancient cultural features. Critics don't have a good theory to explain the Book of Moses's connections to extant Enoch texts that were only published after Joseph Smith's lifetime. Critics don't have a good theory to explain the Book of Abraham's ancient features. I find that in these cases, the tables are turned, and it is the critics who must repeatedly rely upon absences of evidence, leaps of logic, and theories that would never be logically coherent under any other circumstances. But since such theories are all that the critics have, in the face of believing in angels and spiritual influences, they are tenaciously held to. With a wave of the hand all the positive evidence is dismissed by general appeals to Occam's Razor (apparently believing in anything, no matter how absurd, is better than believing in angels and gold plates), which only illustrates that it is philosophical and religious assumptions, rather than actual countervailing evidence, which fuels the drive for disbelief. I'm not saying the above lines of evidence should logically compel people to accept the Restoration. They aren't that strong, especially when looked at piecemeal. What I am saying is that we have many more valid reasons to believe in the Restoration than to believe in floating gold--the most important of which are direct spiritual experiences that are well beyond science's ability to disprove. And I'm saying it is silly to try to disprove spiritual phenomena by an appeal to our allegedly near-omniscient understanding of the quantum realm when that knowledge is basically irrelevant to the only type of regularly-occurring "supernatural" phenomena that Latter-day Saints actually believe in (spiritual influence at the level of consciousness).
  20. Those questions are outside of the model's domain of applicability. That doesn't mean that the model is wrong about how robustly it answers the questions within its domain of applicability. And it doesn't mean that the implications of the model are wrong, either. But I thought we were discussing the model's ability to disprove that God (or other spiritual entities) are somehow influencing our consciousness--the only everyday miracle assumed by Latter-day Saints. How can the model begin to disprove that phenomenon if it is inherently outside of its "domain of applicability"? Is there some reason we should assume that spiritual interaction with our consciousness must be discernable at the quantum level? After all, our thoughts themselves aren't discernable at that level, and yet we all have ample subjective reasons to believe that they exist (despite science's current inability to detect them). By the same reasoning, just because the idea of floating gold has never been observed and contradicts everything we know about gravity doesn't mean that gold isn't floating all of the place except where we are looking False analogy and an irrelevant deflection.
  21. If the model is so able to predict the real world, why can't it predict what I am going to think next, much less be able to discern my awareness by analyzing my brain activity? Seems like a pretty big problem if you are trying to disprove that God is interacting with people's thoughts. At best, science can identify some interplay between consciousness and brain activity. But we are still mostly groping in the dark. This is hardly the type of "robust" data needed to disprove supernatural interaction, which is the claim you are so adamantly asserting. Probably the same difference as saying that the people developing a video game can introduce and adjust the physics of the game in ways that the average player can't. It doesn't mean there are no laws. It just means that there is a big disparity in our ability to understand and manipulate those laws for desired effect.
  22. I haven't yet seen you apply Carroll's arguments in any way that threatens what Latter-day Saint's actually and specifically believe. Latter-day Saints don't believe people are bending spoons with their minds every day (an example of the type of supernaturalism, which you brought up, that you think Carroll's research disproves). Part of the problem is that Carroll's confidence (probably overconfidence) in how well scientists understand quantum phenomena really doesn't matter. That is a lower order of observation that can't of itself explain many higher-level phenomena. Latter-day Saints believe that the only regular, everyday "supernatural" events in our lives come through subtle spiritual impressions which affect our mind and in some cases other physical sensory perceptions. Therefore, the regular-occurring "supernatural" phenomenon that you think Carroll has disproved concerns human consciousness, a phenomenon which science admittedly cannot yet explain. Despite our growing understanding of the quantum realm, we still don't know how the processes in the body result in consciousness. And that means that science can't even come close yet to disproving that spiritual influences could be interacting with our minds on a regular basis. Why should theists have to explain how a spiritual entity might interact with our consciousness when scientists can't even explain how ordinary consciousness works. As for much rarer "supernatural" phenomena, such as nature miracles, I'm not sure that Carroll's argument has anything much to say about them either. Science tells us how certain phenomena work under normal conditions. But we have no idea why the laws exist the way that they do or where the laws came from. If a divine being can override or in some way alter current natural laws, or introduce or engage new ones (as Latter-day Saints typically believe), then there is no reason that we have to come up with a theory of how supernatural phenomena have to conform to or interact with known laws as they operate under regular conditions. Unless Caroll can get away with arbitrarily stuffing God into a very confining box of Carroll's own creation, his argument is fundamentally impotent (at least as you have articulated his views).
  23. First of all, Carroll's assumptions and conclusions (as you represent them) hardly represent the mainstream scientific and philosophical consensus. It's not the established scientific view that we have anything close to a perfect, comprehensive, or complete understanding of all quantum-level properties. More important, it is certainly not the scientific view that the known quantum realm can explain all higher orders of the natural cosmos, much less supernatural phenomena. If quantum-mechanics could explain consciousness, for example, I think that would go a long way to help Carroll's argument. But it currently can't. Not even close. I'm not sure, with that enormous gap in place, why theists should feel compelled to come up with a theory to explain the soul, seeing how connected the soul is with consciousness under most theological assumptions. Even if a robust scientific theory of consciousness emerges in the future, I still don't think theists would be obligated to come up with a theory that explains how an unknown property (like the soul) interacts with known properties. All one has to do is point to the recent problem of consciousness to demonstrate how easy it is for science to not yet be able to explain how a real and widespread phenomenon can remain elusive and undetectable. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.
  24. Too many one-liners without clarification for me to continue the conversation. Sorry Mark.
  25. Where did you get that idea? By "this endeavor" I mean the use of archaeological, historical, linguistic, and scientific research as a supplemental evidence to support faith in the Restoration. A significant portion of your posts on this discussion board seem intended to undermine or in someway devalue that endeavor.
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