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Tal Bachman On Lds Epistemology


cksalmon

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ck, I would not speak anywhere I was going to be taped. I hve a terrible tendency toward spooonerisms.

You want me to address his ideas. Okay. Here's one: "And you know, if you feel something is true, that means you have absolute proof that it's true." Most of what we "feel" is true in this life, we don't have absolute proof of. But it makes us feel better to think we do.

Charity--

I laid it on a bit thick. My apologies. Thanks for your charitable reply.

Best to you.

CKS

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These are those fun kinds of threads.

So now we have assertions that there are several views (each of which is claimed as the truth), none of which, in and of themselves is capable of elevating themselves of one another.

I like Natoli's observation:

In the life of the postmodernist, the problem is not that we might wander and that we therefore would be faced with contesting views none of which can validate itself as The Truth. The problem is that we might elevate some narrative to Truth status and stop wandering. We might invest some observation (cultural, corporate, federal, textual, personal, historical) with full determinate status.
Tal seems to be making a valid point (not the deception - particularly because deception implies intent, and thus, the "sincere" missionary simply cannot be being deceptive on this point) - in that it seems (at first glance) ludicrous to assume absolute knowledge on the basis of feelings. But I also should point out that it is likewise ludicrous to assume absolute knowledge on the basis of seeing things, or touching something, or having some sort of other awareness of something.

Of course, this isn't where LDS epistemology starts or ends either. And it isn't the only epistemological claim made by missionaries. And to the same extent that Tal Bachman calls these missionaries deceptive, we could call him deceptive as well. When LDS missionaries talk about the first vision, they don't suggest that Joseph Smith went to the sacred grove and merely expereinced "feelings" do they? And when we talk about the revelations in the Book of Mormon, of Nephi and his vision of the Tree of Life, or the book which Lehi read (in which was an account of the destruction of Jerusalem) was merely a feeling. Or the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to the Nephites was nothing more than a feeling, and so on. Wouldn't these kinds of experiences prove more compelling in the matter of belief?

The postmodernist epistemology is merely that all accessible truth is subjective. As we wander, our view of truth does change. If we share some common belief in the notion of a God who is external to the world, then perhaps - despite our inability to produce absolute truth about the nature of God, God, as external to the world can supply us with truth about God, in a way that we can accept (an epistemology) as being reflective of absolute truth (even if it is filtered by our language, by our culture, by our society). And to this extent, the idea that God can teach us truth (even if it isn't absolute), God is perhaps the only thing external to the world from which truth can come without being subject to the same issue of contesting views - the same epistemeological problems that Tal speaks of.

That is, despite whatever anyone else has to say on the subject, if God reveals himself to me (whether through the Spirit, or in a personal visition ala Joseph Smith), it becomes an epistemological encounter with God, and a basis for rational belief.

And this brings us back to Tal, and the whole "salt" issue. There is also something deceptive in Tal's comments about the nature of feelings, and their epistemological relevance. What Tal is doing is trying to create a narrow context in which to talk about the issue. After all, don't the "feelings" you have about your spouse function as some sort of expression of truth? Does the fact that you have feelings of love and devotion really not mean that you love your children? They are, after all, only feelings. Should we be forced to rely on other forms of knowledge to be able to ascertain whether or not we love them? So is Tal ascerting that "feelings" are not a source of knowledge at all? Or only in certain circumstances, and what kind of issues is he willing to trust his feelings as an indication of the way things are, and in which isn't he, and isn't there an implication that any criteria he uses to differentiate between the two is merely subjective itself? We aren't just talking about "feeling good" or "getting a warm fuzzy feeling" here. While this is often discussed, those who have experienced the intrusion of the Holy Spirit wouldn't, I think typically categorize it in this way. California Kid discusses this in his comments. And I think there is some validity to this point of view. Ont he other hand, St. Augstine noted that belief (i.e. faith) was central to understanding. Tal Bachman comes across as a skeptic - although he is a skeptic that is highly selective in his skepticism.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed some comments on NPR's this I believe segment a couple of weeks ago. Here are some excerpts (the essay writer was a Catholic priest):

Religious belief has made me comfortable with ambiguity. "Hints and guesses," as T.S. Eliot would say. I often spend the season of Lent in a hermitage, where I live alone for the whole 40 days. The more I am alone with the Alone, the more I surrender to ambivalence, to happy contradictions and seeming inconsistencies in myself and almost everything else, including God. Paradoxes don't scare me anymore.

When I was young, I couldn't tolerate such ambiguity. My education had trained me to have a lust for answers and explanations. Now, at age 63, it's all quite different. I no longer believe this is a quid pro quo universe -- I've counseled too many prisoners, worked with too many failed marriages, faced my own dilemmas too many times and been loved gratuitously after too many failures.

Whenever I think there's a perfect pattern, further reading and study reveal an exception. Whenever I want to say "only" or "always," someone or something proves me wrong. My scientist friends have come up with things like "principles of uncertainty" and dark holes. They're willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of "faith"! How strange that the very word "faith" has come to mean its exact opposite.

I think in many ways Tal Bachman is just such a fundamentalist. He wants answers that are always true. He talks about "absolute truth" as if such existed or was accessible. But the fact that others do not share his fundamental views of reality and truth does not automatically justify his assumption that his own model of rational thought is inherently superior to any other.

Ben

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1. God loves all His children.

2. God is doing the best His children will allow Him to do for them.

3. The Holy Ghost is available to witness to anyone who seeks a witness.

4. The holy Ghost witnesses to truth.

5. Many people take the truth they have been given and apply it wrong.

6. There is eternal justice and it will all work out for the best in the end.

No cognitive dissonance. No problem.

Charity, how bout we change number 5. to

The human brain is a very imperfect conduit for the revelations of God, thus resulting in the divergent beliefs on what constitutes Godly actions and behaviour further resulting in a multi-faith world culture. God's supposed dictat to love him and others, allows humans to resist the temptation to arrogance, condescension or judgment based on their own set of supposed 'Godly' beliefs.

No 6 is great by the way. (in my opinion)!!!

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noggin, I can work with your definitions of truth.

1. something that actually exists; reality; truth:

God exists. Just because you can't see Him or hear Him doesn't mean He isn't there. I can't even see the 20/20 line on the eye chart anymore, but my opthalmologist's assistant tells me it is there.

2. something known to exist or to have happened:

Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus. That is known to have happened, even if you say you don't know that it happened.

3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true:

The Church is known to be true by the actual experience or observation of many. Again, you can't say because you don't have the experience that it isn't a valid one. How many people do you think don't understand quantum mechanics? Does that make it untrue?

4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened.

We don't even need to talk about that one.

Your idea about any of the events of mortality is only from the small perspective of one very biased observer. You don't know God's purposes, the full plan. You don't have all the information you need to make a determination. But cheer up. Someday you will.

Hi, abulafia. I am okay with changing #5.

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If the posts were half as substantive as you are wont to claim, niether DCP nor Pahoran would be able to "knock you down a few spots"- your points would be able to withstand the scrutiny. Since by your own admission they do not....

To some, the points I make (not all of them) make sense enough to elicit supportive emails from particpants on this board.

Also, I find it interesting that you object to having your points addressed by luminaries such as DCP and Pahoran. I thought discussion (the give and take of ideas)

No objection here. I believe the first objection came by others when I wrote an uncapitalized word and answered a thread with my specific non theist pov. Thank you for redefing for me the word "discussion". Is that what that last page was called. Make a decent point, do it with less than dull scenery of words and then get called a condescending boor for doing it. Yes, please, sign me up for more of this type of discussion... the give and take of ideas as you call it.

A) Point X, supportive statement Y, conclusion: god does not exist

cool.gif response from The Luminary: You are a condescending boor

C) my response: what tha?

D) further heckling ensues to grant assistance to The Luminary

Yes, it is clear to me now. That is the truer more correct way to have a civil discussion. I am beginning to be convinced that the only points worth making are ones pre approved by The Luminaries on the board.

was the entire point of this board, as opposed to merely providing an empty forum for the lunatic rantings of our critics. Am I mistaken?

E) noggin is like a lunatic, raving away on this forum

This remark is not condescending? Ah ha, I see even more clearly now. You know, just a thought here, just because I do not agree with how you view the world, does not make me a raving lunatic.

I am now enlightened. I see that if someone does not agree with me, it is perfectly fine to call them a condescending boor, and if they persist in defending themselves, I can therefore call them a raving lunatic or as has happened in other threads... I could even suggest they were a communist.

I don't know that such capitalization is required by the board rules, but as DCP pointed out, it is a matter of being correct (as to all things English) and of basic courtesy and civility.

I'm not going to capitalize the word god. I do not think it is offensive to do so. You and yours might need to notch down your sensitivities to the world around you. Last I checked, god is printed all over my money, it's in the pledge of allegiance, and inserted into my life against my will in several formats. I don't mind. I don't complain. I actually recognize that others believe in this concept. I roll with it. I'm easy going. But you... you must have your god capitalized. It's like you require me to recognize that a god whom I do not worship is great and worthy of special treatment. That could be considered condescending in and of itself by many non theists. No atheist flag waving over here. I don't protest god on our money and things like that.

Are you that desperate to prove DCP correct (in his tendency to classify your behavior as boorish) that you must provide him with additional examples of the same?

I suppose you would see it no other way.

urroner wrote:

boor -

1. a churlish, rude, or unmannerly person.

2. a country bumpkin; rustic; yokel.

Noggin, if seems to me that while you might not be a country bumpkin, you are being churlish or rude. Am I wrong here?

Which part? The bit about god's country club? I thought that was an nice way to show a point when charity said

How many people know the truth of something versus how many don't has nothing to do with the truth itself.

exclusivity is a claim that Mormonism makes and it mildly irritates me and others who do not agree that it is the Only True Church on earth. Making a point about how only 1% of the world's population actually know this truth is a valid point because god should be actively leading more people to his true church than 1%. If he is not, then it is like an exclusive country club in several ways.

Or perhaps it was the not capitalizing the word god. Do I see that as rude behavior? Not really. It's a word. You'll write it one way, I another. People view god in vastly different ways here. I thought that was a given. Some of The Luminaries can dish it out, but when one of the dished to entities stands up with a spine, after enduring petty name calling no less.. you know.. never mind. There is way too much mental real estate being wasted on this already.

I make a point in trying to be cordial here. I issue compliments, retract statements, apologize if needed.

Noggin

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

If it's not too personal, what mission is he serving in?

Here's an interesting take on whether or not to capitalize God:

God or god?

From Austin Cline,

To capitalize or not to Capitalize

One issue which seems to cause some consternation between atheists and theists involves a disagreement over how to spell the word "god" - should it be capitalized or not? Which is correct, god or God? Many atheists frequently spell it with a lowercase 'g' while theists, particularly those who come from a monotheistic religious tradition like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, or Sikhism, always capitalize the 'G'. Who is right?

For theists, the issue can be a sore point because they are sure that it is grammatically incorrect to spell the word as 'god,' thus leading them to wonder if atheists are simply ignorant about good grammar - or, more likely, are deliberately trying to insult them and their beliefs. After all, what could possibly motivate a person to misspell such a simple word - and one used so frequently? It's not like they break grammar rules as a matter of course, so some other psychological purpose must be the cause.

Indeed, it would be rather juvenile to misspell God simply in order to insult theists.

If such an atheist had so little respect for another person, why even waste the time writing to them in the first place, much less deliberately trying to hurt them at the same time? While that may actually be the case with some atheists who write the word 'god' with a lowercase 'g,' it isn't the normal reason why atheists spell the word in this manner.

To understand why, we need only observe the fact Christians don't capitalize the 'g' and write about the Gods and Goddesses of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Is that an attempt to insult and denigrate those polytheistic beliefs? Of course not - it's grammatically correct to use a lowercase 'g' and write 'gods and goddesses'.

The reason is that in such cases we are talking about members of a general class or category - specifically, members of a group which gets the label 'gods' because people have, at one time or another, worshipped its members as gods. Any time we are referring to the fact that some being or alleged being is a member of this class, it is grammatically appropriate to use a lowercase 'g' but inappropriate to use an uppercase 'G' - just as it would be inappropriate to talk about Apples or Cats.

The same holds true if we are speaking very generally about Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Sikh beliefs. It is appropriate to say that Christians believe in a god, that Jews believe in a single god, that Muslims pray every Friday to their god, and that Sikhs worship their god. There is absolutely no reason to capitalize 'god' in any of those sentences.

On the other hand, if we are referring to the specific god-concept that a group worships, then it may be appropriate to use capitalization. We can say that Christians are supposed to follow what their god wants them to do, or we can say that Christians are supposed to follow what God wants them to do. Either works, but we capitalize God in the latter sentence because we are essentially using it as a proper name - just as if we were talking about Apollo, Mercury, or Odin.

Confusion is caused by the fact that Christians don't typically ascribe a personal name to their god - some use Yahweh or Jehovah, but that is pretty rare. The name they use happens to be the same as the general term for the class that being belongs to. It's not unlike a person who has named their cat, Cat. In such a situation, there could be some confusion at times as to when the word should be capitalized and when it shouldn't. The rules themselves may be clear, but their application might not be.

Christians are accustomed to using God because they always reference it in a personal manner - they say that "God has spoken to me," not that "my god has spoken to me." Thus, they and other monotheists might be taken aback at finding people who don't privilege their particular god concept and so reference it in a general manner, just as they do with everyone else's god. It's important to remember in such cases that it is not an insult simply to not be privileged.

and here

The names of gods are capitalized, including Allah, Vishnu, and God. The word god is generally not capitalized if it is used to refer to the generic idea of a deity, nor is it capitalized when it refers to multiple gods, e.g., Roman gods. There may be some confusion because the Judeo-Christian god is not referred to by a specific name, but simply as God. Other names for the Judeo-Christian god, such as Elohim and Lord, are also capitalized.
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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 think it's interesting to observe that Daniel acknowledges that his argument is based on the tu quoque fallacy, and yet persists in making it anyway, by choice, because he knows that the particular person he was making it agains (CKS) is susceptible to it because of that person's (likewise unreasonable) beliefs.

That, to me, is nigh unto intellectual dishonesty. And pretty brazen.

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I think it's interesting to observe that Daniel acknowledges that his argument is based on the tu quoque fallacy, and yet persists in making it anyway, by choice, because he knows that the particular person he was making it agains (CKS) is susceptible to it because of that person's (likewise unreasonable) beliefs.

That, to me, is nigh unto intellectual dishonesty. And pretty brazen.

If one uses what might be considered a logical fallacy in an argument, does that indicate that the argument is wrong?

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(from juliann @ Jan 11 2007, 11:32 PM)

One talk from 1983? And I still have been online for many years and not heard this. The countermos regularly cherry pick things from random talks that members rarely mention. How about a link to a few online discussions of salt by those apologists? I doubt anyone knows many "apologists" in IRL and I really doubt that the average member would have any interest in salt and faith.

Wow. You say you never heard of this -- I guess I'll just believe you, Juliann. It would be far too petty of me to start a poll and ask everyone else on the board if they have heard (or made) this analogy.

(or you can search "+salt +taste" and see who else has mentioned this on the board)

For what it's worth, in at least two of the very few private conversations I've had with members of my local wards (I say wards because I've moved 3 times in the last two years as part of the process of settling down here in Arizona from New Hampshire) over the last couple of years, I have had someone use the "can you describe the taste of salt?" argument with me.

Personally, I think it's a very interesting argument that someone has pointed out, that missionaries or members can be with a non-member who is reading the BoM and pretty much tell them that any feeling they've had is the Holy Spirit, as long as it seems to be agreeing that the BoM or the Church is true, and then turn around and use soemthing like the Salt argument with critics. It begs the question, if we insert the Salt analogy into the missionary situation, how does the missionary know that an investigator is tasting salt when they have some spiritual experience?

I've been in meetings before where a certain "spirit" was fostered amongst the listeners, at which point the speaker said "that feeling you are experiencing right now is the Holy Spirit". How does that person know we are tasting salt?

If I were to walk up to some stranger and they pulled out a bag of a white, granular substance, and tasted it, would I know they were tasting salt? What if I asked them to describe to me what they were tasting, so I could decide if it were salt or not? Can they describe a salt flavor to me so that I can know what it is they've been tasting?

Oh well, enough of salt discussions. At least Juliann seems to be disclaiming them, so I can't and won't try to hold her accountable for that particular notion.

My "beef" with LDS descriptions of the process of receiving Truth from the Holy Spirit is that you can find similar descriptions of the experience from members of all manner of different religions, all claiming to know that these experiences are God telling them the Truth. I may be stepping out on a limb claiming that LDS spiritual experiences are really no different than everyone else's spiritual experiences, because after all, these experiences are personal and I haven't been anyone but myself, so I can't possible know exactly what they experienced. This is true. However, it is my judgment from the descriptions I've had from LDS people, including my own experiences, that they are objectively not materially different from the descriptions of spiritual "manifestations" of Truth experienced by any number of other religionists. The clincher is that the Truth "revealed" by such experiences is so often contradictory.

Even LDS people have born witness to me that they have received the Truth from the Holy Spirit that the Flood of Noah actually happened, in the ~5000 years ago timeframe, and wiped out all creatures not inside the Ark and such, that Adam and Eve came out of the Garden, bringing death into the world, in the ~6000ish years ago timeframe, etc. I've actually had people bear testimony that they have received the knowledge of the Truth of these teachings directly from God, through the Holy Spirit. I personally believe that these things are thoroughly disproven, so I have, in my own experience, direct "proof" that at least some earnest LDS people are experiencing the Truth through what they believe to be the Holy Spirit, and this Truth is in fact false. It's hard for me to see how anyone can counter this except to say that these people are simply mistaken, or else doggedly back them up and say "hell yeah the Flood happened, and I dare you to prove otherwise!"

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If one uses what might be considered a logical fallacy in an argument, does that indicate that the argument is wrong?

In this case, Daniel uses the argument because he knows that CKS was susceptible to it, and acknowledges that his argument is meaningless, or worse, actually bad for the LDS church, in the context of anyone other than someone who, like CKS, is susceptible to the fallacy.

He was basically saying hey I know that an argument that equates, basically, to saying that the LDS church is just as false as the Bible, is a bad argument to use to defend the Church, but in this case, CKS believes in the Bible, so it's an argument that will work on him, so back off and let me use it.

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I think it's interesting to observe that Daniel acknowledges that his argument is based on the tu quoque fallacy, and yet persists in making it anyway, by choice, because he knows that the particular person he was making it agains (CKS) is susceptible to it because of that person's (likewise unreasonable) beliefs.

That, to me, is nigh unto intellectual dishonesty. And pretty brazen.

While I appreciate the kind words of appreciation, I have to decline Sethbag's major point.

I don't agree that a tu quoque argument is inevitably fallacious, though it often can be. Thus, for example, while justifying one's own abuse of a wife by noting that the accuser is a wife-beater too would scarcely count as an adequate defense, pointing out that a critic's position suffers from precisely the same alleged problem to which one's own position purportedly falls prey may be a very apropos response. How so? If the critic believes that Element A in his own position is not lethal to his overall stance, he will need to show, very specifically, how Element A is nonetheless lethal to the overall stance of his target -- or, failing that, he must, it seems, grant the same degree of acceptance to his target that he claims and expects for himself.

For the record, incidentally, I don't regard CKS's overall position as unreasonable.

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Amusing footnote for CKS:

As far as I can determine, you're the non-evangelical non-theist who opened the thread.

I'm sorry that you had to learn about your atheism this way.

I'm a one-boarder, personally, so I appreciate your pointing this out. It's always good, if sometimes a bit painful, to gain such insights from others. I'm relieved I no longer have to defend the patent absurdity of theism. (Thankfully, I didn't get a name drop--I'm just some random atheist who started some thread on MA&D.)

My! I didn't know there was near real-time reporting on the state of this MB. And I thought I was a little light in the "having-a-life" department.

Best.

CKS

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cksalmon, I know I've asked you before about the reason for your belief in the Bible, so I apologize a bit for repeating a portion of that question now. Honestly I am not so interested in the original post question as I am in just understanding the way you look at things.

I have seen arguments that the evidence supports such things as the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. Certainly there is evidence that some portions of the Bible are historical.

But does the evidence justify acceptance of the truth claims of the Bible in their entirety? I'm just playing devil's advocate here, but I think it's an interesting question. Let's take the historicity of the resurrection. Assuming that the evidence does indeed point to the resurrection as an actual historical event (which is debatable), does that necessarily lead us to conclude that there is a high probability that all the rest of the Biblical truth claims are true? How could we know that Jesus was trustworthy just from the acceptance of His resurrection (or other miracles)?

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I've gone back and re-read what Daniel posted originally, and his follow-up replies on page 1, and agree that my original post on this page was somewhat hasty. I'm still thinking about it and trying to formulate an adequate reply.

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

Because the evidence is overwhelming, compelling, and indisputable?

I was perhaps a little hasty in concluding that Daniel was tacitly acknowledging that the evidence for the Bible, for instance, was underwhelming, not compelling, and highly disputable. If he were acknowledging this, then he really would be saying something like "the evidence for the LDS church is just as shaky as the evidence for the Bible" and relying on CKS believing in the Bible to "excuse" the shakiness of the evidence for the LDS church by the fallacious tu quoque comparison.

However, it's possible that Daniel was only referring to the fact that some people accuse the Bible evidence of being shaky, but he personally doesn't believe it, and the comparison he is actually making is to how the people who believe this about the LDS church's evidence are just as wrong as the people who say the Bible evidence is shaky. And he was relying on CKS's instinct to defend the truthfullness of the Bible to make this point stick.

I acknowledge that this wouldn't be an intellectually dishonest argument, and withdraw and apologize for my previous post in this thread. In this case I believe it would still constitute a non sequitur, however we can't go around slinging out intellectual dishonesty claims every time someone says something with which we don't agree.

For what it's worth, and is if any of the principals of this argument didn't already know this, but I believe the Bible to be just as flawed as the LDS church, and both fatally so. The primary flaw being, of course, that they aren't true. :P

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Okay. I haven't quite left yet. But I'm leaving right after this post.

Don't be sidetracked by the matter of your own emotions. Although I do wonder how you know that "having a feeling is not a sufficient observation for the existence of God" -- did you count it? did you physically sense it? did you find it at an archaeological site? did you observe it in a chemistry lab? did it leave traces on your lawn? -- that topic can wait.

The question here was whether feelings or emotions (as the critics here want to characterize what believing Latter-day Saints would describe as the revelation of the Spirit) are an epistemologically sound way of concluding that God lives or that certain spiritual/religious/doctrinal propositions are true. Thus, for you to come along and point to the proposition that having a feeling is not a sufficient observation for the existence of God as evidence that having a feeling is not a sufficient observation for the existence of God is, quite precisely, logically circular, and a textbook illustration of the fallacy of begging the question.

Okay, I can take that criticism. Forgive me for stating my conclusions so breathlessly, and for not showing the work that led to them. I do maintain that my claim is correct, though.

Why should feelings be considered effective indicators of truth? Do we have any compelling reason to think that they should be? I haven't seen any yet, and that seems enough to say (at least tentatively) that "having a feeling is not a sufficient observation for the existence of God". The onus lies on the side of those who want to say that experiencing feelings is a legitimate method of determining truth.

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This thread seems to be addressing a point I've been making most repeatedly lately. The accusation that truth is based on feelings is blatantly false. It's based on the Witness of the Holy Ghost.

I can understand why the critics want to dismiss the Holy Ghost. If the Holy Ghost is just a feeling, then they can justify their unbelief.

I read your post, can't find what you believe it actually is, if not a feeling. I'll read it again.

But the Spirit isn't just a feeling, He certainly works through what we feel alot. But demeaning the Holy Ghost to be merely some fuzzy feeling demonstrates to me that they really have little to know experience with the Holy Ghost.

So the holy ghost is a part time feelings based entity, to you. I am searching for the other part of what the holy ghost is, to you.

The power, Glory, and most importantly the love the Holy Spirit eminates can be overwhelming sometimes. But when He speaks, and we listen, the knowledge is real and clear.

I have to ask here if you actually hear a voice, and if not, what mode of listening are you referring to? I was taught that the holy ghost is a still small voice that one listens to with one's heart. Getting close to decribing feelings again here.

The fruits of the Spirit may be peace, joy, love etc. But that is result of His presence. Not the end all of it.

feelings are directly associated with these things.

I think if you continue to trivialize the Holy Ghost as mere feelings, you do yourself a great disservice because you trivialize the Holy Ghost. And those who trivialize God, are going to have a very hard time getting Him to actually respond to you.

When I was first studying to know whether the Church was true, I had no clue how to determine whether it was true or not. I didn't take the missionary discussions because I was raised in the Gospel. I don't even remember being taught how to recognize the Holy Spirit. I never seriously studied the scriptures so I didn't really have the scriptures as a guide, and when I did read the scriptures I didn't really comprehend much. I know I must have read the scriptures in D&C at some point, but I know I didn't really pick them up or understand them.

My point is that I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know whether God was real and whether He would let me know if He was out there. But I was willing to exercise faith to find out because I wanted to know the truth. Logically I understood that if there was an all powerful God who created the earth, He would have the power to talk to His creations. We can talk to our Creations after all, course they don't really talk back or have the ability to listen. But hey we are talking about what is supposed to be an All powerful God, so there seemed to be very little reason to doubt that He was unable to speak and unable to make it so we understand.

and how is it that "we" are able to understand the voice of god, which, as I was taught, was still and small and received into the heart?

So I tried prayer. I figured at some point, the Lord would find a way to let me know if He wanted to. And He did nothing, I can be patient and keep studying and seeking. After all there are alot of things out there to learn so why not learn it?

Anyway, I can tell you I didnt know what to expect. But I definatel didnt expect the sheer power having the Spirit present.

Okay, so the spirit, you describe, is sheer power. How do you encounter this power? How do you know you are encountering it?

To describe it as a feeling just doesn't do it justice. Especially when the Lord speaks. Feelings might be able to be dismised, but can the very voice of the Lord?

Again, are you saying you hear a voice?

It may be a still small voice, but it is powerful and can cut to the core.

ah. as I expected. A still, small voice.

It was like being hit in the head with a four by four. It opens your eyes to a brand new world.

That sounds painful. But being hit by a piece of wood invokes the imagery of feelings again.

If you haven't experienced the Holy Ghost, I can understand why you are skeptical.

I have experienced epiphanies across the board of 5 or 6 different religions I have studied. Some of these epiphanies were just as significant as the ones I experienced in Mormonism. I even experienced powerful 2x4 moments as an amway distributor 10 or so years ago.

Heck i tend to be one of the biggest skeptics in the world at times. But when the Holy Ghost comes upon you, you can deny it as much as you can deny that the sun is hot. It's just impossible.

Yet people seem to be doing it. Not impossible.

Sometimes it would be nice if it weren't true. Life might seem easier. I know it's not really easier, but it can come accross that way sometimes. The grass is always greener you know? There are alot of things i would probably have done if it weren't for that witness. and I likely would have destroyed myself doing them.

Your witness is to be commended as it helps make you the best person you can be right now. It's just I haven't seen how the witness is anything more than feelings as you suggest here.

So you may be skeptical, I would be too if I didn't have first hand experience. You can totally disbelieve me. But that doesn't change that fact that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can know.

Yes, you know what millions of people in other religions also know. You know, as they also know, that each are members of the only true religion on the planet capable of saving a soul from hell.

I beg of you don't try to dismiss God so casually. We are promised a witness from God Himself if we exercise some faith.

Did you pray about the Koran? L. Ron Hubbard? The Eck? Did you take any Scientology auditing sessions and feel how "BAM!! it just hits you and the truth Scientology all washes over you from head to toe"?

The bottom line of all this intrusive questioning of mine is that if an individual really wants to make any religion true, there is a formula to get that done. Humility, submission, diligent study, association with the group, and an earnest soul searching outwards towards the god of that particular brand name of religion. I attest to the fact that powerfully convincing "witnesses" will come to any seeker reaching after any religion with an exclusivity claim.

But if you take it for granted, if you really dont want to learn. If you arent willing to follow it when it comes. The Lord isn't going to give it to you. And not because He doesn't want you to know, you just wont be ready for it. You wont even recognize it when it comes.

This statement of yours fits extremely well in all religious context. They all told me this in one form or another as I studied with them. They hammered this point when I repeatedly told them that, NOPE, I still am not convinced that Scientology or Islam or Evangelical Christianity or Eckankar or Jehovah's Witnesses is the one and only true religion on earth. When their doctrines and dogma could not convince me, eventually they caved to the "Go ask my god, he will led you to know the truth".

I still don't know why the Lord, in His grace, was willing to witness to me as strong as He did. Maybe Im just so stubborn that I needed it that badly to be willing to stop and listen.

Are you an Evangelical Christian...? Because I promise you sound just like the ones who tried to convince me that they had the Only Truth.

God, Himself, will teach you the truth. Do you understand the significance of a promise like that? Dont dismiss it as just some feelings.

Okay, but you did not explain how the holy ghost is more than feelings.

Noggin

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I've gone back and re-read what Daniel posted originally, and his follow-up replies on page 1, and agree that my original post on this page was somewhat hasty. I'm still thinking about it and trying to formulate an adequate reply.

Thank you for that gracious and honest response.

I was perhaps a little hasty in concluding that Daniel was tacitly acknowledging that the evidence for the Bible, for instance, was underwhelming, not compelling, and highly disputable.

My position is that evidence for the Bible is not overwhelming (which is somewhat different than "underwhelming"), that it is not compelling (in the very literal sense that it does not compel intellectual submission), and that it is disputable (which is not quite the same thing as saying that it is highly disputable). I actually think the evidence for certain elements of the biblical account is pretty good, that it is adequately defensible, and that it is quite enough to justify religious commitment.

If he were acknowledging this, then he really would be saying something like "the evidence for the LDS church is just as shaky as the evidence for the Bible" and relying on CKS believing in the Bible to "excuse" the shakiness of the evidence for the LDS church by the fallacious tu quoque comparison.

That wasn't at all my point.

However, it's possible that Daniel was only referring to the fact that some people accuse the Bible evidence of being shaky, but he personally doesn't believe it, and the comparison he is actually making is to how the people who believe this about the LDS church's evidence are just as wrong as the people who say the Bible evidence is shaky. And he was relying on CKS's instinct to defend the truthfullness of the Bible to make this point stick.

Nor was that.

My point (not yet, I admit, fully laid out, but hinted at) is that there is a gap between the tentativity of even a very strong secular case for religious belief and the absolute claims made by religious commitment. (Let's say, for example, just for the sake of argument, that one was 90% convinced that the central claims of the Bible are true. That would still leave 10% between the strength of one's conviction on the basis of public evidence and the strength of commitment that religious belief usually demands as an ideal.) My question was what bridges the gap between a probabilistic secular evaluation of the evidence and a total religious commitment.

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Thank you for that gracious and honest response.

My position is that evidence for the Bible is not overwhelming (which is somewhat different than "underwhelming"), that it is not compelling (in the very literal sense that it does not compel intellectual submission), and that it is disputable (which is not quite the same thing as saying that it is highly disputable).

I think that the phrase "evidence for the Bible" is too vague. We need to separate out things like

1. The historicity of the people and places (Paul, Jesus, Abraham, Adam and Eve).

2. The accuracy of the Bibles account of the nonmiraculous part of the history.

3. The question of evidence for those parts that would be considered miraculous or supernatural such as the parting of the red sea and the miracles of Jesus.

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(Greg, I like the direction you're taking this thread.)

Tal would have a point if "feelings" wasn't here the victim of the logical fallacy of equivocation.

"Feelings" can mean a number of things:

* emotions

* intuitions

* sensation (as in heat, cold, tactile, etc.)

* 'gestalt'

* etc.

This is, bar none, my #1 personal pet peeve of the ex-Mormon crowd--their seeming inability to properly articulate LDS doctrine and thought on this matter. But, on some levels, I don't fault them: I don't think they ever really "got it," so it often isn't malicious. (The alternative, that they did get it and now lie about it I find really too horrible to contemplate in most cases.)

"Feeling" the spirit isn't just--or primarily--about emotion. So, when I say I "feel" the spirit, I don't mean any of the things that Tal means.

(It is for this reason that I don't use the word "feel," because I think it is ripe for misunderstanding. It's not really a scriptural term used with any frequency anyway....) :P

Okay, so the Spirit is slightly distinct from "emotions"; I'm sorry if I talked as if they're identical. However, it still seems that the Spirit is very much like emotions in the respect that's most pertinent to the discussion -- they are both personal experiences that can't be communicated effectively, and operate on a realm independent of logic (I don't say that as a put-down).
Joseph Smith, of course, got himself in enormous trouble for claiming revelation that did not conform to the mystical pattern. He did not, as mysticism scholar Evelyn Underhill said of the mystics, â??persistâ?¦[in saying] that God in his absolute Reality is unknowableâ??is darkâ??to manâ??s intellect.â? (Note again that the intellect plays a key role in LDS revelation.) Apostates like Tal find it offensive in the extreme for someone to claim revealed knowledge of objective reality, since this canâ??t be relativized or hypothesized awayâ??only accepted or rejected.
When that "revealed knowledge" is based on a claim that necessarily operates on only an individual level, it's hard to resist the urge to belittle it. What's to stop me from saying that the Spirit told me that only Hinduism is correct, or that pantheism is the way to go? Furthermore, on what grounds could you possibly criticize my claim? What you offer is just too radically indeterminate of an epistemology to be at all useful.
If a wealthy benefactor walked up and handed me a million dollars, Iâ??d doubtless have a few stirrings of happinessâ??but, I would hardly then presume that there never was any money to begin with, and that it was all "mere emotion." When Christ can remake a lifetime of error in me, I think Iâ??m more suited than Bachman to decide if this is merely neurons firing in the dark or emotionally getting 'swept away.'
You'd have reasons other than your own emotions to believe that those million dollars were real.
I come closest to successfully explaining when I say that God â??told meâ? that Jesus is His Son and that Joseph was a prophet. And, I mean â??toldâ? in the same sense as â??I havenâ??t told Tal about my experiences, yet he somehow deems himself an expert on them.â? ;-)
That's fine, but you should realize that this goes both ways. Your experiences may lead to you to believe that some or other Church is true to you, but to say that it's true in general requires that you step outside of the individualized, intuition-based method of acquiring knowledge.
The point which people have difficulty with is that such experiences are not intended to convince other people. Indeed, I would be worried if they did.

God knows us, and knows what it would take to persuade us. He knows whether our consideration of the matter has been fair or unfair. He knows whether we have given enough effort to the matter or not--and, I suspect that we will generally know as well. We know whether our desires in such things are pure or tainted, and will have to wrestle such things out in our own souls. That question can't be answered by anyone else.

One sometimes is tempted to wonder if the hyperventilation over this issue by some serves to distract them from the knowledge, deep down, that they haven't been as serious about it as they might. Worth considering for ourselves, even if we cannot answer that question for another.

Yet this is precisely what the Church continually tries to do when it says that the Church is true for everyone. I don't think that's fair.
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I think that the phrase "evidence for the Bible" is too vague.

I agree. I have no intention of going into a full-blown discussion of that particular subject here, however, as it's tangential to the topic under discussion.

We need to separate out things like

1. The historicity of the people and places (Paul, Jesus, Abraham, Adam and Eve).

2. The accuracy of the Bibles account of the nonmiraculous part of the history.

3. The question of evidence for those parts that would be considered miraculous or supernatural such as the parting of the red sea and the miracles of Jesus.

Again, I agree. But that's a topic for elsewhere. And, in my case, I intend to hold my fire on that topic until I publish a book that treats it (along with certain others). But that book is minimally two years off.

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My point (not yet, I admit, fully laid out, but hinted at) is that there is a gap between the tentativity of even a very strong secular case for religious belief and the absolute claims made by religious commitment. (Let's say, for example, just for the sake of argument, that one was 90% convinced that the central claims of the Bible are true. That would still leave 10% between the strength of one's conviction on the basis of public evidence and the strength of commitment that religious belief usually demands as an ideal.) My question was what bridges the gap between a probabilistic secular evaluation of the evidence and a total religious commitment.

Ok. I actually don't disagree with this, if I'm understanding your correctly, even if I disagree in my overall beliefs than you. For the sake of argument, and to frame a response in the kind of example you put out, you and I would differ over what decision we made with respect to that 10%. In my case, I think it was probably more like I am 10% convinced of the church on historical grounds, and would have to make up 90% of the difference somehow, but hey, numbers schmumbers. Anyhow, I'm off your case, on the remote chance that the knowledge of this brings you any comfort or solace. :P

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(Greg, I like the direction you're taking this thread.)

Okay, so the Spirit is slightly distinct from "emotions"; I'm sorry if I talked as if they're identical. However, it still seems that the Spirit is very much like emotions in the respect that's most pertinent to the discussion -- they are both personal experiences that can't be communicated effectively, and operate on a realm independent of logic (I don't say that as a put-down).

Joseph Smith said that the Holy Ghost was the sensation of pure intelligence flowing through you. I'd say that the Holy Ghost teaching a person gives him or a her a sense of clarity or perhaps even an "ah-HA" (not the band... heh heh...) moment. We all can recognize those feelings, and if our brain is reasonably well organized and we're not insane, those moments come when something fits together neatly and logically. Finding truth through logic is dependent on truisms and things that are self-evident. It would be exceedingly difficult if we had to analyze every little thing to make sure it's true, instead of relying on our underlying ability to recognize truisms and simply just know when certain things are true. I think Descartes was on to something in part, when he felt he knew the truism, "I think, therefore I am," and also felt, "God exists," although that alone is not nearly sufficient. It does illustrate, though, the reality that to a degree, we each have of an innate sense clarity and truth at various times.

When that "revealed knowledge" is based on a claim that necessarily operates on only an individual level, it's hard to resist the urge to belittle it. What's to stop me from saying that the Spirit told me that only Hinduism is correct, or that pantheism is the way to go? Furthermore, on what grounds could you possibly criticize my claim? What you offer is just too radically indeterminate of an epistemology to be at all useful.

Obviously, everything must actually, logically fit together. You need to have a lot of ah-HA moments, where your doctrines keep 'adding up' properly, instead of running into brick walls of contradiction.

That's fine, but you should realize that this goes both ways. Your experiences may lead to you to believe that some or other Church is true to you, but to say that it's true in general requires that you step outside of the individualized, intuition-based method of acquiring knowledge.

True. One must learn by study and also by faith and we need to ponder and act on our beliefs to test them. The Holy Ghost acts as a guide and fills in a hole or two along the way. Sometimes, a person gets an objectively measurable sign or miracle as well or at least gets a witness whom we simply "know" is telling the truth, when they report on their first-hand experience with a miracle.

Yet this is precisely what the Church continually tries to do when it says that the Church is true for everyone. I don't think that's fair.

I don't believe the Church is for everyone in this life. However, it is still the means to the greatest blessings in the next life and the Holy Ghost is still a guide to spiritual enlightenment.

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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.

This is a little more than a bit tiring... I mean, do you really have to interrupt nearly every thread Dr. Peterson is involved in with this kind of drivel? On a side note-- I think we should perhaps refer to you as Mini Tal or Mini Bachman?

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