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Tal Bachman On Lds Epistemology


cksalmon

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From "The Church is Not True" podcast archive (an interview with Tal Bachman):

RE: LDS epistemology re: LDS faith claims:

"What it boils down to, for me, is a really attractive but deceptive epistemological claim."

"And so when we went on missions, you know, we sincerely, you know, taught people that the way that you can have, like, absolute knowledge that the Book of Mormon is, you know, everything that it claims to be is to have feelings that it is. I mean, that's literally what we told people...

If you have feelings, if you feel that something is true, that means that you have absolute knowledge that it is true! And that's, like, absolutely, totally, absurd! I mean, it's just completely absurd!

No person in their right mind, functioning in society, um, at least firing on all cylinders, could ever believe [that] when it's really, sort of, stated baldly.

You know, if you feel something is true, that means you have absolute proof that it's true. It wouldn't work in a court of law. I mean, if you were in a dispute with your plumber, and you said, 'You overbilled me $400 bucks,' and he said, 'No, I feel that I didn't; therefore, you know now that you should just take my testimony...'"

I think Tal has a legitimate point. Feelings are not the path to a solid epistemology, at least not as such is understood in the broader society.

Why, if you believe that they are, are feelings such an indisputable part of some LDS's epistemological certainties. One may argue, I suppose, that the feelings involved were more than just feelings; they were, in fact, spiritual confirmation of a given event or person X. But then how would one distinguish between one's positive spiritual confirmation and merely a very strong and persuasive feeling about X?

Best.

CKS

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From "The Church is Not True" podcast archive (an interview with Tal Bachman):

RE: LDS epistemology re: LDS faith claims:

I think Tal has a legitimate point. Feelings are not the path to a solid epistemology, at least not as such is understood in the broader society.

Why, if you believe that they are, are feelings such an indisputable part of some LDS's epistemological certainties. One may argue, I suppose, that the feelings involved were more than just feelings; they were, in fact, spiritual confirmation of a given event or person X. But then how would one distinguish between one's positive spiritual confirmation and merely a very strong and persuasive feeling about X?

Best.

CKS

Can one believe in God? Can one believe there isn't a higher power? Must one always provide proof, not just evidence, of what they believe before they can believe it, but then if one can prove it, can one still have a belief in it since belief has been destroyed by knowledge. Where does faith come into the picture?

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On what basis do you believe the Bible? On what basis do you believe in Christianity?

Because the evidence is overwhelming, compelling, and indisputable?

You shouldn't believe in either. If you want to give a non-tu quoque argument, we're listening.

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You shouldn't believe in either.

I understand your position and reject it, but I'm not arguing with your position at the moment.

If you want to give a non-tu quoque argument, we're listening.

The tu quoque argument is precisely the one I want to use here, coach, and for very specific reasons. But thanks for your advice. It's worth every cent I paid for it.

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I understand your position and reject it, but I'm not arguing with your position at the moment.

The tu quoque argument is precisely the one I want to use here, coach, and for very specific reasons. But thanks for your advice. It's worth every cent I paid for it.

The best things in life are free.

It seems that you're acknowledging that Bachman is making a salient point against both Mormonism and mainstream Christianity. Why point that out instead of trying to rebut his claim?

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On what basis do you believe the Bible? On what basis do you believe in Christianity?

Because the evidence is overwhelming, compelling, and indisputable?

Hi Dan--

Of course, the evidence for the Bible is not indisputable. I would think that it is compelling. I probably wouldn't suggest that it is overwhelming. For me, personally, my belief in Christianity is not primarily feelings-based. I find the metanarrative convincing at a variety of levels. I could certainly be wrong!

But, I'm not wrong, personally, based on feelings. Not even feelings of loyalty or feelings of a culturally-assimilatory variety. I may well be wrong on other grounds. But then, I don't think a useful epistemology can be usefully boiled down to these a priori foundational conceptual experiences.

Peraps with other EVs, this is a useful tack. But, unfortunately, I'm much too influenced by Thomistic thought for this to be a particularly compelling line of inquiry personally. That is, truth is rigorously true.

And, also, I see this as a potentially deleterious intrusion on the point of the thread.

Best.

CKS

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The best things in life are free.

It seems that you're acknowledging that Bachman is making a salient point against both Mormonism and mainstream Christianity. Why point that out instead of trying to rebut his claim?

So Tal is making a salient point not only against Mormonism and MC, but also against any belief system which includes not believing in a higher power.

Hi Dan--

Of course, the evidence for the Bible is not indisputable. I would think that it is compelling. I probably wouldn't suggest that it is overwhelming. For me, personally, my belief in Christianity is not primarily feelings-based. I find the metanarrative convincing at a variety of levels. I could certainly be wrong!

What are the compelling evidences that Christ existed and if he did exist, that he was resurrected?

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So Tal is making a salient point not only against Mormonism and MC, but also against any belief system which includes not believing in a higher power.

What are the compelling evidences that Christ existed and if he did exist, that he was resurrected?

See N.T. Wright's oeuvre on the subject. Specifically, with regard to his resurrection, see Vol. 3., The Resurrection of the Son of God.

Best.

CKS

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So Tal is making a salient point not only against Mormonism and MC, but also against any belief system which includes not believing in a higher power.

Insofar as those belief systems are based on feelings and intuitions, yes. Furthermore, I'm sure that many of them actually are.

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For me, it boils down to this-

If i had no resources other than the bible-could i KNOW that it's testimony of Christ was true?

If i had only a bible and nothing else that spoke of Christ or Christianity, not even knowledge of evidences to support that there was ever even a place called Jerusalem-could i still know for certain whether Jesus was in fact the Christ?

If yes, how?

For me the answre is yes-through the Holy Ghost.

It is not feelings but the witness of the Holy Ghost that i am relying on and i find it absolutely unreal that there are other Christians who want to argue with me about why i should not rely on that-when they themselves only know that Jesus is the Christ through the exact same medium.

:P

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It is not feelings but the witness of the Holy Ghost that i am relying on and i find it absolutely unreal that there are other Christians who want to argue with me about why i should not rely on that)

Hey bluebell--

I will not presume to judge your personal experiences. I would just suggest that those "other Christians" would question whether or not it was a Holy Ghost-driven experience that solidified your faith.

That is the question.

If you are satisfactorily convinced, then I would leave it with your own best judgment.

Best to you.

CKS

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Nope. Perhaps you would be wise to allow me to make my argument, rather than continually attempting to make it for me?

I used the word "seems" for a reason -- I know what your position is, it's just that your initial post in this thread struck me as being incongruous with it. It also didn't appear that you were going to give a more in-depth reply than that if you weren't goaded further. I'm not trying to straw-man you here; I'm just trying to tease out what you really think, and get a more explicit answer.

If you don't care to elaborate your thoughts, that's fine, too.

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Defensive mormons will answer Tal's point by insisting that it's "more than a feeling" and then drawing an analogy to the taste of salt. Can you describe the taste of salt? No. So there you have it and Tal is wrong.

Dan Peterson isn't doing this, because he isn't talking to Tal Bachman. He's talking to an EV Christian, and that provides other options of attack/defense. See Bach's points.

Non-defensive mormons might answer Tal's point by admitting that feelings aren't the same as absolute proof. There's still a leap of faith involved, and that's part of the test in this life.

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What are the compelling evidences that Christ existed and if he did exist, that he was resurrected?

The evidence is compelling that a man named Jesus existed at the time period described in the New Testament, but other than that there are many problematic flaws with the writings that account for his miracles (hearsay) and his trial and execution. My Jewish friends plumbed me right up on all that **wink**.

As for the resurrection. Isn't all we have here for compelling argument for the resurrection an after the fact hopeful summary written two or three decades later? How do you know his body isn't buried in the desert somewhere? One ship sinker for me, as if you might be interested, was the account that many saints also arose from the dead in conjunction with jesus' resurrection. The book says that they appeared to people. If that truly happened, wouldn't you think someone else would have written it down? Aunt Millie comes back from the dead and you forget to write it down or tell anyone?

I recently became interested in the origins of the concept of resurrection and found that many jews did not believe in such a concept until the 2nd century or so bc and even then it was a clear cut divider, open for rigorous debate. As I recall, the concept of resurrection held pagan origins in egypt? I am probably wrong on that.

Noggin

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Of course, the evidence for the Bible is not indisputable. I would think that it is compelling.

I actually agree with you, to a certain extent, at least with regard to certain (quite important) portions of the Bible.

I probably wouldn't suggest that it is overwhelming.

So, do you proportion the strength of your commitment to Christianity to the level of probability that you assign to its truth-claims? If so, how? If not, why not?

For me, personally, my belief in Christianity is not primarily feelings-based. I find the metanarrative convincing at a variety of levels.

Do any of those levels involve feeling or emotion? Or is your commitment to Christianity coldly rational?

Would you prefer that the two men who encountered the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus, instead of saying "Did not our hearts within us burn?", had said "Were not the syllogisms valid and the evidence sound?"

On what basis do you think most of your fellow evangelicals have made their commitment to Christ? On what basis do you think the majority of Christians throughout history have determined to be disciples of Jesus? Do you imagine that more than a small minority of them have sifted the evidence and constructed logical tests to evaluate it? What is your attitude toward the majority of Christians, historically and now? Do you believe that only a privileged intellectual elite (Thomists, say) can be true Christians with sound reasons for faith?

I could certainly be wrong!

Do you act tentatively as a Christian, based upon the tentative character of your intellectual commitment to Christianity? If you do not, what accounts for the gap between the level of your commitment and the intellectual and evidentiary grounds you can supply for it?

I don't think a useful epistemology can be usefully boiled down to these a priori foundational conceptual experiences.

Are you familiar with Alvin Plantinga's work on what he terms "reformed epistemology"?

And, also, I see this as a potentially deleterious intrusion on the point of the thread.

I think it could well be deleterious. That's why I raised it.

Incidentally, given that you consider yourself a Thomist, do you recall what Thomas said to his scribe, Reginald of Piperno, toward the end of his life, and what Thomas thought of his own brilliant writings for the last several months before he died?

(My youngest son, Jeffrey Thomas -- now serving a mission in Japan -- was named after St. Thomas Aquinas.)

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Hey bluebell--

I will not presume to judge your personal experiences. I would just suggest that those "other Christians" would question whether or not it was a Holy Ghost-driven experience that solidified your faith.

That is the question.

If you are satisfactorily convinced, then I would leave it with your own best judgment.

Best to you.

CKS

But-your arguement isn't whether or not the feeling is correct, right? It seems as if the topic of this thread is whether or not a feeling can be a firm basis for a testimony of something.

To me, anyone who has a testimony that Christ is the Savior and Son of God MUST concede that a spiritual witness (which can be a feeling) CAN reliable because such a testimony as they have can come by no other way.

That is my point.

:P

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Defensive mormons will answer Tal's point by insisting that it's "more than a feeling" and then drawing an analogy to the taste of salt. Can you describe the taste of salt? No. So there you have it and Tal is wrong.

Just to guard against the off chance that someone might be tempted to adhere to this argument:

Having a feeling is a sufficient observation for the claim "there are feelings". It is NOT a sufficient observation for much else, including the existence of God.

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Having a feeling is a sufficient observation for the claim "there are feelings". It is NOT a sufficient observation for much else, including the existence of God.

Is this truly how science works?

Is feeling the heat of a fire truly not considered evidence that the fire exists?

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Having a feeling is a sufficient observation for the claim "there are feelings". It is NOT a sufficient observation for much else, including the existence of God.

And thus, asserting his feeling that a proposition is wrong as evidence that the proposition is wrong, Bach ends the debate.

See circular reasoning and begging the question.

I'm gone.

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And thus, asserting his feeling that a proposition is wrong as evidence that the proposition is wrong, Bach ends the debate.

See circular reasoning and begging the question.

Where did I say that my emotions are indicators of truth? I'm not following your criticism here.

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Hoenstly, I never talked about "feelings", I told people what the Bible says, namely God answers prayers and Moroni's invitation. I never told them how THEY would be answered, just like no one ever told me how I would be ansered. I did see the stuff Tal is talking about, but I never did it.

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