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How To Keep Your Mormon Testimony


bob mccue

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How To Keep Your Mormon Testimony

Since I can tell that my brief, but immensely enjoyable, time here is drawing to a close, I thought I would leave on a positive note.

The basic problem with literalist Mormon belief is that most of the evidence is against it. I know all about what the apologists say, but consider the following exchange between cjcampbell and me. I have had countless of these exchanges with myself and others while working through issue after tired apologist issue. And they all boil down to the same kind of low probability bet on the Mormon side.

cjcampbell:

At the same time, I think there are serious flaws to the theory that there were no precolumbian horses. Even assuming that the Book of Mormon is wrong and that all the native Americans are really Asians that crossed the land bridge to Alaska, it is odd that anyone asserts that the Asians would not have brought horses with them. I will say it: it is flat-out ridiculous to aver that Mongols would not bring horses when migrating to America.

Most of your questions can be answered simply using probability theory and the available evidence.

The best evidence of reality is what science provides. At the moment science tells us that it is highly improbable that horses were in the Americas during the relevant time. Is it possible that they were? Sure. But the question people like you need to answer is why do you live your life according to the best information science can offer until you get to Mormonism, and suddenly you reject that information. See http://mccue.cc/bob/audio.htm for more information on this topic.

Why doesn't the Bible mention monkeys? Monkeys were indigenous to the Middle East, yet the Bible does not mention them. Why not? Was the Bible actually written by people unaquainted with monkeys?

How come the Bible mentions cockatrices, dragons, sea monsters, and other fabulous animals? Doesn't that prove that the Bible could not have been written by ancient Hebrews?

The Bible is mostly mythology, and is not a complete description of the reality around it.

Why would not a prophet seeing the future describe an automobile or other vehicle as a chariot? What other term would he use?

Hmmm. Flying entities with a base in the host culture are part of the mythology of the time and place; they find their way into a text made in the place about that time. Which is more likely, that the text reflects the mythic culture of the day or that it predicts the future on the basis of an analogy so loose that it is laughable?

You and your type shift automatically from thinking in probability terms when on the

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Another thread wondered how Mormon apologists might gain credibility.  Posts 2 through 10 show pretty plainly why it'll never happen.

You mean, no matter how many articles I write, no matter how many books I publish, no matter how many primary source texts I use, no matter how many footnoted references I supply, no matter how sound my argument, no matter how valid my logic, no matter how cogent my evidence, my failure to find Mr. Bob McCue's posts interesting will prevent me from ever achieving any credibility?

Sigh.

All is lost.

I can probably never measure up to the required standard.

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WHERE ARE THE RESPONSES????

Over the last 3 or 4 of Bob's VERY RELEVANT posts, I can practically count on my figures the number of apologists here who will not hide behind their humor or their derision.

I can understand you frustration, but really how do you respond to that? It's essentially one mans opinion, that if Mormons don't conceed that they Book of Mormon is unverifiable they will be seen as fools by outsiders. What should they really say to that? "Ohh gee your right, the BofM is nonsense, I'm jumping on your 'metaphorical' approach bandwagon". I mean really it was a lot of nothing. I can understand the point Bob was making, but what in the way of a rebutal do you want?

If someone said "I used to be a Catholic, but I found their idea on the 'Real Presence' of Chirst to be absurd, as absurd as alien abductions, so I no longer believe and only a fool will continue to". I wouldn't even bother with the gratuitous John Chapter 6 reference as I'm sure they know it already, I would probably just say O.K., well that's where God's word and faith come in. How do you rebut someone's heartfelt opinions? That's where they are in their spiritual life, so that's where they are. Anyone who chooses to have faith in God and his word, will have to throw logic to the wind and simply accept at times.

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Please forgive the sloppy set up of this post.

QUOTE cjcampbell

Why doesn't the Bible mention monkeys? Monkeys were indigenous to the Middle East, yet the Bible does not mention them. Why not? Was the Bible actually written by people unaquainted with monkeys?

How come the Bible mentions cockatrices, dragons, sea monsters, and other fabulous animals? Doesn't that prove that the Bible could not have been written by ancient Hebrews?

mccue:

The Bible is mostly mythology, and is not a complete description of the reality around it.

LSD: I would have answered in this way. The main difference that I see is that the Book of Mormon does mention horses. At current, there is little or no reason to believe that horses were present in the region at the time in question. cj says that the Bible doesn't mention monkeys. That is not a viable analogy. The better claim would be that the Bible did mention something or other that according to current science/archaeology did not occur in the region during whatever period we're looking at.

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What an incredible study in contrasts this thread is.

I apologize for not finding Mr. Bob McCue's posts intensely, or even minimally, interesting.

Basically, I just see him, over and over again, saying that he finds religious faith in general and Mormon faith in particular to be absurd. So what? I don't find him presenting much in the way of argument for his position. He assumes it, by and large, and then he cites a few authors or theories (sometimes, it strikes me, only partially or vaguely understood from secondary web sources) in order to explain why we fools believe such manifestly absurd and irrational things.

I printed his "Apologist Fog" #2 off a few days ago for leisurely reading and have leafed through it, but haven't gotten around to actually reading it yet. Perhaps it's both brilliant and devastating. I'll read through it at some point. And if I think anything in it is worth addressing, I'll address it.

Sorry to disappoint you.

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mccue: First, the Mormon can go metaphoric.

From an outsider viewpoint, this is what Mormonism appears to be leading toward, bob.

I don't see this trend at all. Moreover (a secondary issue), although I'm aware of comments of his that might be taken that way, I've come to the conclusion, ultimately, that this was not Leonard Arrington's position.

When I read apologist comments on here regarding the witnesses seeing the Gold Plates with "spiritual eyes" or the Prophet "translating" the book of Abraham with "spiritual eyes", that leads me to believe that metaphorical concepts are slowly working their way into people's thinking.

Though there may be some -- I don't read most threads, and don't read most posts here -- I've seen no "apologist" here arguing that the Witnesses saw the plates with "spiritual eyes" rather than physical eyes. That seems to be a position beloved of certain critics (e.g., Dan Vogel). My position, the position of Richard Lloyd Anderson (the foremost expert on the Witnesses), and the position of every other serious "apologist" I know, is that the Witnesses really saw (and, in some cases, really "hefted") real, entirely non-metaphorical plates and related objects, and that they said so, repeatedly and clearly.

I'm not sure what you mean by "spiritual eyes" in connection with the Book of Abraham.

I do not see a surge in metaphorical understandings of scripture and early Restoration history. I don't even see a minor trend in that direction.

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You mean, no matter how many articles I write, no matter how many books I publish, no matter how many primary source texts I use, no matter how many footnoted references I supply, no matter how sound my argument, no matter how valid my logic, no matter how cogent my evidence, my failure to find Mr. Bob McCue's posts interesting will prevent me from ever achieving any credibility?

Sigh.

All is lost.

I can probably never measure up to the required standard.

Explain how you differ from the apologists for the Young Earth Creationists, or JWs? Does it matter how many books they write or how tight their arguments are (once those pesky premises are put to bed)? There is some Dark Ages theology that employs brillilant logic.

It might be fun for you to go look around this site - http://www.jehovah.to/exe/general/index.htm. There are probably better candidates out there. This was the best I could do in a couple of minutes googling.

And for Rfm parrellels, see

http://www.jehovahs-witness.com/32/default.ashx and

http://b26.ezboard.com/bexjehovahswitnessforum .

best,

bob

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Now, let's back up the truck, Daniel. You wrote:

My position, the position of Richard Lloyd Anderson (the foremost expert on the Witnesses), and the position of every other serious "apologist" I know, is that the Witnesses really saw (and, in some cases, really "hefted") real, entirely non-metaphorical plates and related objects, and that they said so, repeatedly and clearly.

Are you able to supply quotes of the Witnesses actually laying human eyes on the Gold Plates without (1) The Gold Plates being covered (2) A parition between the Witnesses and the Gold Plates.

Hefting doesn't equal "seeing".

LSD

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LSD: From an outsider viewpoint, this is what Mormonism appears to be leading toward, bob. When I read apologist comments on here regarding the witnesses seeing the Gold Plates with "spiritual eyes" or the Prophet "translating" the book of Abraham with "spiritual eyes", that leads me to believe that metaphorical concepts are slowly working their way into people's thinking. I don't see anything particularly wrong with that however I, unlike others, am not able to view the inner workings of LDS theology from the inside and so am not able to guage the impact of what other sorts of chain reaction changes would be needed in order to shift to a metaphorical view.

LSD,

There has been a lot of misunderstanding about how the witnesses phrased their comments. This same problem arose when people at the time questioned the Witnesses about seeing the plates "with spiritual eyes". David Whitmer cleared this up:

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Now, let's back up the truck, Daniel. You wrote:

My position, the position of Richard Lloyd Anderson (the foremost expert on the Witnesses), and the position of every other serious "apologist" I know, is that the Witnesses really saw (and, in some cases, really "hefted") real, entirely non-metaphorical plates and related objects, and that they said so, repeatedly and clearly.

Are you able to supply quotes of the Witnesses actually laying human eyes on the Gold Plates without (1) The Gold Plates being covered  (2) A parition between the Witnesses and the Gold Plates.

In great abundance. But rather than retype them for you here, I suggest that you read Richard Lloyd Anderson's Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, and perhaps also a few of his other articles as well as Lyndon Cook's David Whitmer Interviews. Pretty basic stuff.

Hefting doesn't equal "seeing".

I've heard that. And I'm convinced that it's true. That's why I used the verb to see and then, five words later, used the verb to heft. By using the two different verbs, separately, I intended to refer to two different things. (Just as, in the immediately preceding sentence, I used the verb to use and the verb to refer. Not because I regard them as synonyms, but because I don't.)

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LSD: From an outsider viewpoint, this is what Mormonism appears to be leading toward, bob. When I read apologist comments on here regarding the witnesses seeing the Gold Plates with "spiritual eyes" or the Prophet "translating" the book of Abraham with "spiritual eyes", that leads me to believe that metaphorical concepts are slowly working their way into people's thinking. I don't see anything particularly wrong with that however I, unlike others, am not able to view the inner workings of LDS theology from the inside and so am not able to guage the impact of what other sorts of chain reaction changes would be needed in order to shift to a metaphorical view.

LSD,

There has been a lot of misunderstanding about how the witnesses phrased their comments. This same problem arose when people at the time questioned the Witnesses about seeing the plates "with spiritual eyes". David Whitmer cleared this up:

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Now, let's back up the truck, Daniel. You wrote:

My position, the position of Richard Lloyd Anderson (the foremost expert on the Witnesses), and the position of every other serious "apologist" I know, is that the Witnesses really saw (and, in some cases, really "hefted") real, entirely non-metaphorical plates and related objects, and that they said so, repeatedly and clearly.

Are you able to supply quotes of the Witnesses actually laying human eyes on the Gold Plates without (1) The Gold Plates being covered

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mccue: First, the Mormon can go metaphoric.

From an outsider viewpoint, this is what Mormonism appears to be leading toward, bob.

I don't see this trend at all.

I see an overabundance of it. When I began to doubt Joseph's claims, I appealed to my family and leaders. The overwhelming response from these people contained the suggestion that I was taking the church and the Gospel too literally, that I should instead stop looking for everything to fit together perfectly, and in the end it was just a matter of what I choose to believe anyway. I was blown away at the flimsiness and wishy-washy nature of their responses. I still hear these kinds of responses on a regular basis: "It doesn't matter how we got the Book of Mormon or the Book of Abraham; the point is that we have them!"

Can you imagine a BYU professor taking the same posture with a student's thesis? "I don't care how my student might have produced this paper; the point is that he turned it in!"

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Are you suggesting that I read an entire book for the answers, Daniel?

I know from considerable experience that suggestions that somebody read things off-line irritate and offend you.

I'm willing to endure the vituperation, though.

The best scholarly treatments of the Witnesses are the book and articles that I've mentioned by Richard Lloyd Anderson. The anthology gathered by Lyndon Cook is also exceptionally valuable. And Larry Morris has recently contributed a pair of superb articles on Oliver Cowdery. With very few exceptions, none of these materials are on line.

Those who have not seriously engaged these treatments are not qualified to pronounce upon the historical data relevant to the Witnesses.

I'm unwilling to serve as an unpaid typist and research assistant for you or for anybody else.

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WHERE ARE THE RESPONSES????

Over the last 3 or 4 of Bob's VERY RELEVANT posts, I can practically count on my figures the number of apologists here who will not hide behind their humor or their derision.

I can understand you frustration, but really how do you respond to that? It's essentially one mans opinion, that if Mormons don't conceed that they Book of Mormon is unverifiable they will be seen as fools by outsiders. What should they really say to that? "Ohh gee your right, the BofM is nonsense, I'm jumping on your 'metaphorical' approach bandwagon". I mean really it was a lot of nothing. I can understand the point Bob was making, but what in the way of a rebutal do you want?

If someone said "I used to be a Catholic, but I found their idea on the 'Real Presence' of Chirst to be absurd, as absurd as alien abductions, so I no longer believe and only a fool will continue to". I wouldn't even bother with the gratuitous John Chapter 6 reference as I'm sure they know it already, I would probably just say O.K., well that's where God's word and faith come in. How do you rebut someone's heartfelt opinions? That's where they are in their spiritual life, so that's where they are. Anyone who chooses to have faith in God and his word, will have to throw logic to the wind and simply accept at times.

Yes that would be nice.

Thanks for doing it.

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Are you suggesting that I read an entire book for the answers, Daniel?

I know from considerable experience that suggestions that somebody read things off-line irritate and offend you.

I'm willing to endure the vituperation, though.

The best scholarly treatments of the Witnesses are the book and articles that I've mentioned by Richard Lloyd Anderson. The anthology gathered by Lyndon Cook is also exceptionally valuable. And Larry Morris has recently contributed a pair of superb articles on Oliver Cowdery. With very few exceptions, none of these materials are on line.

Those who have not seriously engaged these treatments are not qualified to pronounce upon the historical data relevant to the Witnesses.

I'm unwilling to serve as an unpaid typist and research assistant for you or for anybody else.

That's perfectly fine, Daniel. I'll now place you among those who provide lengthy book lists as a form of response yet cannot wade their way through mccue's postings.

Not a problem.

I'll check in here later to see why the thread was locked.

LSD

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So Ray,

What do you say about the accounts that have the Gold Plates either under a bed, covered by cloth or a partition between the Plates and the Witnesses?

LSD

Emma herself never saw the plates. She knew the plates were once under a bed but was under instructions from Joseph not to look at them, and she didn't. We have no way of knowing if they were actually there. Oliver Cowdery did see the plates, not only as they were shown to him by the angel, but he wondered why they were "translating" when the plates were not even in sight. I have a different view of the plates than most Mormons, and I think they were no more relevant to the "translation" process than the papyri were to the BoA. David Bokovoy holds a similar view, if you view his comments on this thread in reply to Jon Haugo:

http://www.fairboards.org/index.php?showtopic=14299&st=120

Not that you will accept that. It is also clear that the BoM came by revelation, not literal translation. If it did the BoM would not have "modernisms", nor anachronisms. For me that does not distract from the content.

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I'll now place you among those who provide lengthy book lists as a form of response yet cannot wade their way through mccue's postings.

Not a problem.

I'll check in here later to see why the thread was locked.

My "lengthy book list" -- two titles, and a vague passing allusion to some unnamed articles -- amounts to considerably less than 1% of the length of the average opening thread-tome posted here by Mr. Bob McCue.

I take it, incidentally, that the intellectually superior Shades board is down, and that it is to that unhappy fact that we plebes owe your gracious presence here today?

-- DCP, who, if I recall correctly, "spits upon fact and rationality"

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TIME OUT!

This thread is moving too fast, and in an effort to make sure that it doesn't move too fast downhill, I'm closing it, but ONLY TEMPORARILY.

I'm going to clean out the chaff and hopefully leave enough wheat that VALID discussion can ensue.

I shall throw out the chaff unmercifully... :P

Stay tuned!

-Allen

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Now, let's back up the truck, Daniel. You wrote:

My position, the position of Richard Lloyd Anderson (the foremost expert on the Witnesses), and the position of every other serious "apologist" I know, is that the Witnesses really saw (and, in some cases, really "hefted") real, entirely non-metaphorical plates and related objects, and that they said so, repeatedly and clearly.

Are you able to supply quotes of the Witnesses actually laying human eyes on the Gold Plates without (1) The Gold Plates being covered  (2) A parition between the Witnesses and the Gold Plates.

In great abundance. But rather than retype them for you here, I suggest that you read Richard Lloyd Anderson's Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, and perhaps also a few of his other articles as well as Lyndon Cook's David Whitmer Interviews. Pretty basic stuff.

Hefting doesn't equal "seeing".

I've heard that. And I'm convinced that it's true. That's why I used the verb to see and then, five words later, used the verb to heft. By using the two different verbs, separately, I intended to refer to two different things. (Just as, in the immediately preceding sentence, I used the verb to use and the verb to refer. Not because I regard them as synonyms, but because I don't.)

Are you suggesting that I read an entire book for the answers, Daniel?

LSD

LSD,

I'll give you my take. I was skeptical of the Witnesses accounts up until I read Cook's David Whitmer Interviews. I think that was about the early '90s. Up until that time I sort of entertained half-hearted views from both anti and pro-Mormonn literature, and I was confused at the contradictory information I was getting. Even Anderson could not straighten me out as he, too, was quoting from some secondary sources himself. Make no mistake, I was totally open to fraud up until that time, but after reading Cook I did an about face. This book contains original statements and media reports from Whitmer himself. You don't have to half-guess, everything he said of relevance is condensed right there. Even the most skeptical Chicago and New York reporters were impressed by Whitmer's sincerity, and said that though his story was "fantastic" they could never doubt that he believed he was telling the truth.

Better than that, you can read verbatim what Whitmer said, in response to numerous skeptical questions thrown at him by the media, and in my case I was completely persuaded that he was genuine. This is some 15-plus years after I joined the church, and several years after I left it. If you don't read the original accounts you'll forever be unsure where you stand, and the mixed secondary, contradictory voices will confuse you even more, especially the distortions that come from anti-Mormons.

Yes, do yourself a favour and read it. It may not change your opinion, but at least it will give you more first-hand knowledge, and a better basis on which to form your opinion.

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And I am going into uncharted waters here. I feel that I should record how the Spirit whispers to me now that there were lots of proto-humans on Earth at the time Adam and Eve did this.

:P How can you say the spirit "whispers" to you while mocking it whispering to Mormons?

Evolutionary biology is pretty clear on this point.

Actually, it rests on theory. Like most everything else. But you have to change that to fact to support your conversion narrative.

I wept as these insights swept over me.  God
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