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Letterman, Santa,and Mother Theresa On Giving


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I don't really have the time right now to push this thread along, but in terms of full disclosure this is about historicity making value statements true, or whether or not historical individuals endorsing them make them more true or credible.

 

This is the proposition:

 

"People should give of themselves selflessly"

 

I would maintain that we "know this is true" just based on being human and having lived a few years on this planet.  It works for humanity, and so we see it as a "good thing to do".

 

Here David Letterman "bears his testimony" of the principle, as recorded in Reader's Digest, March, 2014, page 34
 

 

"I'm a person who spends a great deal of his time wondering why he's not happier.  I have found that the only thing that does bring you happiness is doing something good for somebody who is incapable of doing it for themselves.

 

I think this is a true principle, but not because David Letterman wrote it.

 

I think that Santa Claus would also endorse it.

 

But someone might argue that it could not be a true principle because there is no evidence that Santa lives at the North Pole or that Santa even exists.

 

But even mythic figures can teach true principles.

 

(By that I am not meaning to imply that God or Christ are "myths" in the sense that word is often taken hereabouts- ie: "fictitious" )

 

I find this similar to those who think that the scriptures require historical evidence to be "true".  I do not hold that position.  I believe that the scriptures ARE "historical", contain true history, but that fact must be taken on faith where no evidence exists, which is actually most cases.  So historicity of scripture is itself a faith-based position.  That is why those who do not have the faith, debate the position.

 

Further, Mother Theresa, a historiclal figure, who lived in India, would definitely also endorse the statement on giving as being "true".

 

Are you more likely to endorse the principle because David Letterman is a historical person?   Or would you endorse it because you know it is true based on your own experience?

 

How is historicity relevant to the truth of this statement?  It appears that some believe such moral statements are "true" strictly because they are in the scriptures and the scriptures can be proven "true" by their historicity.

 

Again, I do not intend to contribute much because I have made my opinions clear here already.

 

I fail to see how historicity is at all relevant to the truth of such statements as this moral belief, and therefore I question that historicity is relevant to the moral beliefs preached in scripture, though many seem to think that historicity absolutely makes or breaks the truth of such propositions.   I don't see it at all.

 

Educate me.

Edited by mfbukowski
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Relatively banal moral statements fit in that genre. When Jesus claims that whoever believes in him though they die they will live that statement is meaningless if Jesus did not live. When Nephi has his apocalypse and lays out the future it is meaningless unless it actually was revelation.

When the Nephite stories are applied to real world events they become much less helpful if they are fiction.

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Relatively banal moral statements fit in that genre. When Jesus claims that whoever believes in him though they die they will live that statement is meaningless if Jesus did not live. When Nephi has his apocalypse and lays out the future it is meaningless unless it actually was revelation.

When the Nephite stories are applied to real world events they become much less helpful if they are fiction.

So it would not be possible for someone to believe that all will be resurrected, that God forgives sins if we repent, and that the moral principles Jesus taught were "true" if he had a different name and lived in a different place?

 

Suppose we had no evidence of his "real" name and place of birth, as some say that we have no evidence for the Book of Mormon?

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I fail to see how historicity is at all relevant to the truth of such statements as this moral belief, and therefore I question that historicity is relevant to the moral beliefs preached in scripture, though many seem to think that historicity absolutely makes or breaks the truth of such propositions.   I don't see it at all.

I too think the principles are important no matter how they come to us or how we receive them.

But I think they are most important when we infuse our personal history with them, or when our applications of them form the highlights of our personal and family history (and if sufficiently influential, our community national or world history). And thus we become the vehicle through which others receive the principles of life, the communication of which can be considered a form of history when actual people are conveying them.

For example, there’s an article in this month’s Ensign about family history that I think describes the value of history as a tool and as an experience. “The heart of family history is not about using a computer; it is not about reading old handwriting or making scrupulous notations and citations. Those are tools or functions of family history, but they are not the heart of family history, nor do they grasp the significance of why Latter-day Saints seek after their ancestors. Family history, in its essence, teaches us the grand scope of creation and redemption and simultaneously reminds us of the personal and merciful reach of Christ’s Atonement.” https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/02/how-family-history-changes-our-hearts-and-minds?lang=eng

I think using the historicity of scripture to undermine a true principle such as the Restoration merely indicates that it hasn’t been recognized or applied in one’s own history. So I don’t think the tactic makes sense, either.

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I too think the principles are important no matter how they come to us or how we receive them.But I think they are most important when we infuse our personal history with them, or when our applications of them form the highlights of our personal and family history (and if sufficiently influential, our community national or world history). And thus we become the vehicle through which others receive the principles of life, the communication of which can be considered a form of history when actual people are conveying them.For example, there’s an article in this month’s Ensign about family history that I think describes the value of history as a tool and as an experience. “The heart of family history is not about using a computer; it is not about reading old handwriting or making scrupulous notations and citations. Those are tools or functions of family history, but they are not the heart of family history, nor do they grasp the significance of why Latter-day Saints seek after their ancestors. Family history, in its essence, teaches us the grand scope of creation and redemption and simultaneously reminds us of the personal and merciful reach of Christ’s Atonement.” https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/02/how-family-history-changes-our-hearts-and-minds?lang=engI think using the historicity of scripture to undermine a true principle such as the Restoration merely indicates that it hasn’t been recognized or applied in one’s own history. So I don’t think the tactic makes sense, either.

I totally agree.

For me the key to family history is not that a principle is true because my ancestors believed it but the fact that it turns my heart to them, and they become "real people".

In fact non of my ancestors were members of the church, so that is a dimension I cannot relate to

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I don't really have the time right now to push this thread along, but in terms of full disclosure this is about historicity making value statements true, or whether or not historical individuals endorsing them make them more true or credible.

This is the proposition:

"People should give of themselves selflessly"

I would maintain that we "know this is true" just based on being human and having lived a few years on this planet. It works for humanity, and so we see it as a "good thing to do".

Here David Letterman "bears his testimony" of the principle, as recorded in Reader's Digest, March, 2014, page 34

I think this is a true principle, but not because David Letterman wrote it.

I think that Santa Claus would also endorse it.

But someone might argue that it could not be a true principle because there is no evidence that Santa lives at the North Pole or that Santa even exists.

But even mythic figures can teach true principles.

(By that I am not meaning to imply that God or Christ are "myths" in the sense that word is often taken hereabouts- ie: "fictitious" )

I find this similar to those who think that the scriptures require historical evidence to be "true". I do not hold that position. I believe that the scriptures ARE "historical", contain true history, but that fact must be taken on faith where no evidence exists, which is actually most cases. So historicity of scripture is itself a faith-based position. That is why those who do not have the faith, debate the position.

Further, Mother Theresa, a historiclal figure, who lived in India, would definitely also endorse the statement on giving as being "true".

Are you more likely to endorse the principle because David Letterman is a historical person? Or would you endorse it because you know it is true based on your own experience?

How is historicity relevant to the truth of this statement? It appears that some believe such moral statements are "true" strictly because they are in the scriptures and the scriptures can be proven "true" by their historicity.

Again, I do not intend to contribute much because I have made my opinions clear here already.

I fail to see how historicity is at all relevant to the truth of such statements as this moral belief, and therefore I question that historicity is relevant to the moral beliefs preached in scripture, though many seem to think that historicity absolutely makes or breaks the truth of such propositions. I don't see it at all.

Educate me.

No need to educate you. I think you nailed it.

The thought process you've described here seems like a Fowler Stage 4, possibly moving into Stage 5 type faith. But I'm no expert on such things.

But the reason I bring up Fowler's stages is that I think it could be tough to get an LDS church member who is firmly in Stage 3 to completely buy in to what you've written here. Though I could be wrong. :)

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I don't know Santa very well, but I have a superficial acquaintance with Letterman. I know he has made a lot of money for a long time. If he says that he is not as happy as he would like and that happiness comes when he helps others, then that may confirm what I already know OR it may make me reconsider my goals of obtaining happiness by getting lots of money. In other words, the fact that it is Letterman saying this and not just another poor schmuck like me, does have some credibility . Letterman saying it does not make it any truer , but it has the possibility of influencing others to try another way to find happiness than if Joe the Plumber said it. OK , bad example .

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No need to educate you. I think you nailed it.

The thought process you've described here seems like a Fowler Stage 4, possibly moving into Stage 5 type faith. But I'm no expert on such things.

But the reason I bring up Fowler's stages is that I think it could be tough to get an LDS church member who is firmly in Stage 3 to completely buy in to what you've written here. Though I could be wrong. :)

Between Fowler and the Perry Scheme I think you are exactly right.  I hate to say so but it just becomes a matter of maturation

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I don't know Santa very well, but I have a superficial acquaintance with Letterman. I know he has made a lot of money for a long time. If he says that he is not as happy as he would like and that happiness comes when he helps others, then that may confirm what I already know OR it may make me reconsider my goals of obtaining happiness by getting lots of money. In other words, the fact that it is Letterman saying this and not just another poor schmuck like me, does have some credibility . Letterman saying it does not make it any truer , but it has the possibility of influencing others to try another way to find happiness than if Joe the Plumber said it. OK , bad example .

OK I can see that.

 

It shows that he thinks that money does not equal happiness.  But all that really proves is that one rich guy agrees with the idea-  one vote in a poll.  Should we determine our moral truths by polls?

 

But I can see that that does give it some credibility, but more like a testimony would.  A rich guy says riches don't make you happy.  That does count for something definitely

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So it would not be possible for someone to believe that all will be resurrected, that God forgives sins if we repent, and that the moral principles Jesus taught were "true" if he had a different name and lived in a different place?

 

Suppose we had no evidence of his "real" name and place of birth, as some say that we have no evidence for the Book of Mormon?

You changed my statements. I am saying would be insane for people to believe that forgiveness of sin and resurrection came through the real experiences of Jesus if you think Jesus is a metaphor.

Of course you can believe in resurrection without an atonement. The Muslims and the ancient Egyptians do/did.

If we had no evidence of Jesus living we would be in a similar boat as the Pre-Christ faithful and would have to operate on revelation. Works for me.

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I totally agree.

For me the key to family history is not that a principle is true because my ancestors believed it but the fact that it turns my heart to them, and they become "real people".

In fact non of my ancestors were members of the church, so that is a dimension I cannot relate to

I am first-generation LDS myself (until my father converted 30+ years later in his 80's, LOL). But now that you mention it, when my brother and I were sealed to him and our mother (she was sealed to him at the same time, post-posthumously), it honestly felt (and it still feels) as if I had been born in the covenant, a member all my life. Strange feeling and hard to explain, but there you have it!

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I am first-generation LDS myself (until my father converted 30+ years later in his 80's, LOL). But now that you mention it, when my brother and I were sealed to him and our mother (she was sealed to him at the same time, post-posthumously), it honestly felt (and it still feels) as if I had been born in the covenant, a member all my life. Strange feeling and hard to explain, but there you have it!

I understand

 

When I was sealed to my parents, they were there.  Everyone in the room knew it. Eight strangers, not a dry eye in the house.  The sealer could barely get through the ceremony.

 

This stuff is for real.

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I understand

 

When I was sealed to my parents, they were there.  Everyone in the room knew it. Eight strangers, not a dry eye in the house.  The sealer could barely get through the ceremony.

 

This stuff is for real.

That is truly wonderful. And so we get back to the idea: we can be as if we were always sealed, as if we were always saved, as if we were/are Adam and Eve, etc.; whatever becomes eternal is as if it always was (in other words, “historical”). Which is why using historicity as the determinant of our present reality is kind of putting the cart before the horse—“things as they were” can be just as legitimately defined by things “as they are,” or “as they are to come” as the other way around!

This is looking at it through the eyes of faith, but the Lords acts as if the mortal component of the scriptures is historical (or at least historical enough, considering imperfections in these records), so for all intents and purpose it is, and for all we know it is. So whether one is certain that it is or isn’t historical, his choices play out as if it is. I can only justify my personal conviction that the scriptures are historical (or historical enough) by my faith in them; but if I did not have that conviction and still lived as I do, they might as well be historical for all I cared.

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If we had no evidence of Jesus living we would be in a similar boat as the Pre-Christ faithful and would have to operate on revelation. Works for me.

Yes I agree, the doctrine of Christ includes and is disseminated by authorized servants who testify of Him and His mortal mission, whether they see Him and His works in person or in vision, or with the eyes or mind of faith. This is so whether one believes the Book of Mormon is historical or not, which is why it doesn’t make sense to use its historicity but the Lord of whom it testifies as the basis of our faith. The book and its message are certainly real enough, and are delivered to us by the Lord’s prophets.

Sometimes things only have a history as far as we are concerned once they are revealed—we can only have faith once we hear the word. From Romans 10:

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

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