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The paradigm shift concerning the translation of the Book of Mormon


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On 7/25/2019 at 6:24 PM, blueglass said:

Oliver Cowdery knew about the problems w Joseph's 1826 glasslooker trial.

He's a lawyer covering for Joseph.  (See his responses to questions about the 1826 trial

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/introduction-to-people-v-js/1

"On the other hand, Oliver Cowdery, who likewise was not present at the hearing, reported in 1835 that the court “honorably acquitted” JS.27"

Compare w Neely's account

"And therefore the court find the defendant guilty"

Which conclusion does the new book Saints vol1 take?any prediction? See pg34.

There likely never were an Urim and Thummim AR glasses set which the Lord designed but oops made the wrong size PD and prescription, because the Lord doesn't produce AR technology, bury it for 2000yrs and then get surprised when his prophet doesn't use them.  We have the brown stone and the leather pouch Emma manufactured for it, her eye witness testimony of Joseph using the brown seer stone and we know this stone was handed over to Oliver's possession in [1829].  Oliver knew what instrument was used. 

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/site/note-on-seer-stone-images

See footnote 2

Here is the relevant quote

"After the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, early in the spring of 1830, before April 6th, Joseph gave the stone to Oliver Cowdery and told me as well as the rest that he was through with it, and he did not use the stone any more."

Good points.

It gets confusing because they began calling the seer stone the Urim & Thummim (I believe to distance themselves from discussing how Joseph used the same seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon that he'd used in his treasure seeking):

Quote

 

The words "Urim & Thummim" weren't used until after 1833.  

They weren't in the first edition of the Book of Commandments but were added to the 1835 edition.

Here's more on how these terms came to be associated with the translation tools/stones: 

 

It is notable that the term 'Urim and Thummi' is not found in the Book of Mormon and was never used by Joseph Smith with reference to producing the Book of Mormon until after 1833. In that year, a close associate of Smith, W.W. Phelps, speculated that the ancient Nephite interpreters mentioned in the Book of Mormon and by Joseph Smith might be the Urim and Thummim of the Old Testament. Phelps wrote in the LDS publication The Evening and Morning Star (Jan. 1833) that the Book of Mormon had been translated, 'through the aid of a pair of Interpreters, or spectacles (known perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim). Phelps words, 'known perhaps in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummin' show that it was merely speculation on his part that associated Josephs magic seer stone with the biblical Urim and Thummim. 

Phelps' speculation gained quick popularity to the point where LDS writers used the term Urim and Thummim to refer to both the mystical interpreters Joseph Smith said were with the gold plates, and to the seer stone Joseph placed in his hat while dictating the Book of Mormon. As a result, many LDS writings used the term Urim and Thummim synonymously for seer stone.

 

Here's a quote by Joseph Fielding Smith that shows the confusion at times:

'The statement has been made that the Urim and Thummim was on the altar in the Manti Temple when that building was dedicated. The Urim and Thummim so spoken of, however, was the seer stone which was in the possession of the Prophet Joseph Smith in early days. This seer stone is now in the possession of the Church.'"

 

 

Edited by ALarson
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13 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

..............This is the key to it all.  We ARE a "secular" faith which seeks to glorify humanity, as it can be without the supernatural.  In fact, for us there IS no "supernatural". 

A number of cognitive scientists are now studying the "cognitive science of religion" and yes, there are believers among those studying these issues.  One is Justin Barrett, whom I have been aware of for years.  He is a practicing Evangelical Christian who has beliefs very like ours about God and anthropomorphism.......................

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-24/edition-4/cognitive-science-religion ..............................

The tacit assumptions here include the notion that personal revelation is a form of inborn intuitive communication between humans, including The Father of us all.

Glad you added that material, and several things stand out:

--very young children adopt an egocentric approach: whatever the child knows she assumes all other agents know as well 

--once religious ideas and practices emerged in human groups, they endowed these religious folk with survival and reproductive advantages over non-religious competitors. That is, religious practices are thought to be adaptive, and this adaptiveness would have encouraged their persistence (either through genetic selection, cultural selection, or gene–culture co-evolution dynamics)...religious ideas and practices somehow yield communities of people that are more cooperative or prosocial than they would be otherwise. 

--religious ideas and practices somehow yield communities of people that are more cooperative or prosocial than they would be otherwise. ...a connection between religion-related primes and a forgiving attitude to an unseen harsh critic.

--religious participants gave significantly more money when they had been primed with religious words, as if being subtly (and perhaps unconsciously) reminded of their religiosity was sufficient to make them more generous.

--a new wave in research supporting a causal connection between religious ideas and prosocial behaviour. 

--What aspects of religion (e.g. beliefs, social identification, existential security, moral teachings, ritual participation) encourage prosocial attitudes and actions?  ...religious practices take on common characteristics across cultures,

--an evolved system for detecting human-like intentional agency in our environments may encourage belief in gods ...Hypersensitive Agency Detection Device (HADD)

--the teleological bias of children: a bias toward explaining the natural world in a teleological manner....Research concerning teleological reasoning about the natural world affirms and extends Kelemen’s earlier argument. Not only might such a teleological bias occur across cultures, it also appears to extend into adulthood. If so, these early developing biases may continue to anchor reasoning about the world and lend support to theologies that include gods that bring about natural states of affairs. ...propensities to see things in the natural world as purposefully designed. Because of this ‘teleological bias’

I find this last very intriguing:  As it turns out,  a surfeit of physicists now say that every aspect of the universe is fine-tuned for life:

Brian Greene, “Why is our universe fine-tuned for life?” TED, April 23, 2012, online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf7BXwVeyWw ,  At the heart of modern cosmology is a mystery: Why does our universe appear so exquisitely tuned to create the conditions necessary for life?  Dark energy in our universe, for example, is precisely the amount hospitable to life.  Greene thinks that the idea of a multiverse may hold the answer to the riddle.

Geraint F. Lewis, “A universe made for me? Physics, fine-tuning and life,” Cosmos Magazine, Dec 19, 2016, online at https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/a-universe-made-for-me-physics-fine-tuning-and-life?ref=yfp ,  We live in a Goldilocks universe – straying even slightly from our specifications paints an entirely different picture (or even no picture at all).

Geraint F. Lewis and Luke Barnes, A Fortunate Universe: Life in a finely tuned cosmos (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Sean Carroll, “Cosmology and the arrow of time,” TEDxCaltech, 2011, online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMaTyg8wR4Y .  --the smooth early state of the universe was very finely tuned.

 

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On 7/25/2019 at 12:27 PM, JulieM said:

But, I think I just read that he was writing that for anti-Mormons of that day and as an apologist (wanting to hide the truth about the rock in the hat translation).  (I will try to find where I read that!)

All other eye witnesses disagree with him, iirc.

Correct.  We'd need to ignore many of the eye witness accounts that state Joseph used the seer stone in his hat method to translate (or transcribe) the Book of Mormon that we have today.

Here's some information regarding how we should read Oliver Cowdery's statement as being more of an apologetic version (this may be what you are referring to?):

https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/knowhy/how-are-oliver-cowderys-messenger-and-advocate-letters-to-be-understood-and-used

Quote

During his early tenure as editor of the paper, Oliver wrote a series of letters to William W. Phelps, another prominent Mormon figure, detailing the early history of Joseph Smith, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the gospel, and the gathering of Israel. These letters, eight in total,2 were written partly to combat anti-Mormon opposition and partly to increase the faith of Church members by publishing “a more particular or minute history of the rise and progress of the church of the Latter Day Saints [sic]; and publish, for the benefit of enquirers, and all who are disposed to learn.”3

 

Quote

Even though Oliver’s history was undoubtedly popular among early Mormons, historians recognize that it does not tell the whole story and cannot be taken entirely at face value.

 

Quote

 This is not to say Oliver’s letters should be dismissed wholesale, only that they should be used carefully in historical reconstructions.

I believe that Oliver was attempting to omit the fact that the seer stone in the hat method was actually how the Book of Mormon was translated.  Like many others, I don't have an issue with this method.....but I can understand why Joseph and others may have wanted to distance themselves from it.

Edited by ALarson
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6 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Glad you added that material, and several things stand out:

--very young children adopt an egocentric approach: whatever the child knows she assumes all other agents know as well 

--once religious ideas and practices emerged in human groups, they endowed these religious folk with survival and reproductive advantages over non-religious competitors. That is, religious practices are thought to be adaptive, and this adaptiveness would have encouraged their persistence (either through genetic selection, cultural selection, or gene–culture co-evolution dynamics)...religious ideas and practices somehow yield communities of people that are more cooperative or prosocial than they would be otherwise. 

--religious ideas and practices somehow yield communities of people that are more cooperative or prosocial than they would be otherwise. ...a connection between religion-related primes and a forgiving attitude to an unseen harsh critic.

--religious participants gave significantly more money when they had been primed with religious words, as if being subtly (and perhaps unconsciously) reminded of their religiosity was sufficient to make them more generous.

--a new wave in research supporting a causal connection between religious ideas and prosocial behaviour. 

--What aspects of religion (e.g. beliefs, social identification, existential security, moral teachings, ritual participation) encourage prosocial attitudes and actions?  ...religious practices take on common characteristics across cultures,

--an evolved system for detecting human-like intentional agency in our environments may encourage belief in gods ...Hypersensitive Agency Detection Device (HADD)

--the teleological bias of children: a bias toward explaining the natural world in a teleological manner....Research concerning teleological reasoning about the natural world affirms and extends Kelemen’s earlier argument. Not only might such a teleological bias occur across cultures, it also appears to extend into adulthood. If so, these early developing biases may continue to anchor reasoning about the world and lend support to theologies that include gods that bring about natural states of affairs. ...propensities to see things in the natural world as purposefully designed. Because of this ‘teleological bias’

I find this last very intriguing:  As it turns out,  a surfeit of physicists now say that every aspect of the universe is fine-tuned for life:

Brian Greene, “Why is our universe fine-tuned for life?” TED, April 23, 2012, online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf7BXwVeyWw ,  At the heart of modern cosmology is a mystery: Why does our universe appear so exquisitely tuned to create the conditions necessary for life?  Dark energy in our universe, for example, is precisely the amount hospitable to life.  Greene thinks that the idea of a multiverse may hold the answer to the riddle.

Geraint F. Lewis, “A universe made for me? Physics, fine-tuning and life,” Cosmos Magazine, Dec 19, 2016, online at https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/a-universe-made-for-me-physics-fine-tuning-and-life?ref=yfp ,  We live in a Goldilocks universe – straying even slightly from our specifications paints an entirely different picture (or even no picture at all).

Geraint F. Lewis and Luke Barnes, A Fortunate Universe: Life in a finely tuned cosmos (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Sean Carroll, “Cosmology and the arrow of time,” TEDxCaltech, 2011, online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMaTyg8wR4Y .  --the smooth early state of the universe was very finely tuned.

 

Regarding that last point, of course it is possible not that the universe was fine tuned for us, but that evolution has fine tuned US for survival here, making the universe appear that way.

We look out at the Mirror Universe, through  a glass darkly, and see ourselves looking back. Science tells us more about how we PERCEIVE the universe than perhaps,  how the universe "really is."

You cannot remove the point of view of the observer from that which is observed.

As an argument few see how question begging it is to pick the former view that the universe is tuned for us

On the other hand as theists we know that we each must choose our own interpretation, hoping for things unseen.

So unsurprisingly it cuts both ways. We get to pick how to see it.

I think in the olden days they used to call that "faith". ;)

Of course now it is an "alternative paradigm." ;)

And that is precisely how one can be a secular humanist and  a theist at the same time.

 

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On 7/26/2019 at 6:10 AM, champatsch said:

There are more dictation witness statements out there that must be considered carefully as well.

Correct.  I'm not sure why those from the Joseph Smith Foundation, call this method of translation anti-Mormon (or coming from anti-Mormon sources)?  What do we know about this foundation?  (I'll read more about them as well....)

Here are some of the eye witness statements:

 

Quote

 

From Emma:

Quote

  Quote
Now the first that my husband translated, was translated by use of the Urim and Thummim, and that was the part that Martin Harris lost, after that he [my husband] used a small stone, not exactly black, but was rather a dark color.” 

If the above is true, then the Book of Mormon we have today was translated entirely from the seer stone.  

Emma:

Quote

  Quote
"In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us."

 

David Whitmer:

Quote

  Quote
"By fervent prayer and by otherwise humbling himself, the prophet, however, again found favor, and was presented with a strange, oval-shaped, chocolate-colored stone, about the size of an egg, only more flat, which, it was promised should serve the same purpose as the missing urim and thummim. ... With this stone all the present Book of Mormon was translated."

 

David Whitmer again:

Quote

  Quote
"I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man."

 

Martin Harris:

Quote

  Quote
"By aid of the Seer Stone, sentences would appear and were read by the prophet and written by martin, and when finished he would say 'written' and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used."

 

Michael Morse (Emma's brother-in-law):

Quote

  Quote
"When Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon, he, (Morse), had occasion more than once to go into his immediate presence, and saw him engaged at his work of translation. The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph's placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely cover his face, resting his elbows upon his knees, and then dictating word after word, while the scribes - Emma, John Whitmer, O. Cowdery, or some other wrote it down."

 

 
Edited by ALarson
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I guess the stone did not spell well if it was letter by letter... ;)

I would suggest that it was sentences delivered directly into Joseph mind.

Of course there is no way to find out if his description was precise

It was Joseph's subjective experience which he could describe however would be most convincing for his audience considering his already unorthodox methodology.

I personally believe that he used the papyrii as a stimulus or crutch in a similar way he used the stone to translate the book of Abraham

Later as he matured he dropped all pretense of needing any kind of crutch or device to receive his Revelations

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10 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

Magic world view indeed! Whichever method Joseph used to translate, it has good friends in the Jewish traditions of how the original Urim and Thummim functioned...

As I alluded earlier Don Bradley notes that the Interpreters explicity have this function in the lost 116 pages. There's considerably element from Exodus related to what we'd call temple imagery. While historians typically dated the connection to around 1835 I think Don's work strongly suggests Joseph was making that connection from the time Martin Harris was a scribe.

17 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

It was primarily non-LDS scholar Jan Shipps who emphasized the fact that magic was an integral part of religion, something other non-LDS historians had been saying all along:  So Jon Butler, “Magic, Astrology, and the Early American Religious Heritage, 1600-1760,” American Historical Review, 84/2 (Apr 1979):318, “the survival of European occult or magical practices in the American colonies,” and 319, “magic and Christianity in colonial America were not generically different entities but were subsets of the same phenomenon – religion.”  Mike Quinn and others merely fell in line with that understanding.  I had already been trained to think that way at the Hebrew Univ in Jerusalem.

While I don't dispute what you say, and note that BYU Studies issue I raised also deals with the magic issue. However it's really Quinn's 1987 work that really galvinizes it. Again I'd never suggest what he does is novel. He is dependent upon earlier work and frequently credits it. Esoteric elements going back to pre-Enlightenment thinking definitely had been discussed earlier. Yates groundbreaking work on the Renaissance was in the mid-60's and in the 70's a lot of historians started looking for elements in later Modern periods. So I'm certainly not trying to oversimplify here. But you're completely right that Shipps is due a lot of credit here and I'm glad you brought it up.

I think what the earlier work you mention shows is that by and large the "magic world view" was accepted by historians already. Where I think Quinn got people ruffled was in trying to theoretize "magic" in Joseph's environment and making loose (dare I say apologetic like?) parallels to argue this. Some of his work is deeply persuasive. Other elements not just by him but by others like Brooke are far less compelling. (Say astrology or so called hermetic counterfeiting in Kirtland)

17 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Your two above articles are an excellent summary, and I am glad that you pointed out the ease any ordinary Latter-day Saint would have in prior years finding all the early accounts of seer stone use -- if they bothered to look.  I have argued that for years to basically deaf ears. 

Yup. I'll fully admit it wasn't frequently discussed, but I knew about it as a kid and it was not hard to find if people did even modest inquiry. It's just that most people barely hear the minimum discussed in Sunday School and Priesthood let alone do their own research.

2 hours ago, ALarson said:

I believe that Oliver was attempting to omit the fact that the seer stone in the hat method was actually how the Book of Mormon was translated.  Like many others, I don't have an issue with this method.....but I can understand why Joseph and others may have wanted to distance themselves from it.

The other alternative is that Oliver knew the Interpreters were used for part of the translation process and emphasized that as the main tool. That emphasis may well have been apologetic in nature, but I don't think we can dismiss him to suggest only the brown stone was used post-Martin Harris. I'd add that just as the seer stone came to be included with the Interpreters under the rubric of "Urim and Thummin" I'd suggest the opposite happened as well. That is the Interpreters were seen as seer stones despite their larger size and the spectacles holding them. There as some suggestions Joseph popped one of the stones out to use more akin to how he used the seer stone -- which would make the connection even more obvious.

 

Edited by clarkgoble
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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Regarding that last point, of course it is possible not that the universe was fine tuned for us, but that evolution has fine tuned US for survival here, making the universe appear that way.

Related to what you and Robert are discussing is that if there is a divine realm that is also material in some sense than is causally interacting with our world, evolution would select for some degree of sense of such phenomena. It'd have obvious survival benefits. 

I know some atheists like to use the agent detection part of our cognition to argue belief in God is just reducible to false positives that get amplified in a social environment of large groups. There's then added evolutionary (both biological and memetic) benefit of all this allowing larger groups to form. Cities as political bodies and religion develop side by side. Yet again if there are things "out there" affecting us then we'd gain evolutionary benefits as well.

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9 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

As I alluded earlier Don Bradley notes that the Interpreters explicity have this function in the lost 116 pages. There's considerably element from Exodus related to what we'd call temple imagery. While historians typically dated the connection to around 1835 I think Don's work strongly suggests Joseph was making that connection from the time Martin Harris was a scribe.

While I don't dispute what you say, and note that BYU Studies issue I raised also deals with the magic issue. However it's really Quinn's 1987 work that really galvinizes it. Again I'd never suggest what he does is novel. He is dependent upon earlier work and frequently credits it. Esoteric elements going back to pre-Enlightenment thinking definitely had been discussed earlier. Yates groundbreaking work on the Renaissance was in the mid-60's and in the 70's a lot of historians started looking for elements in later Modern periods. So I'm certainly not trying to oversimplify here. But you're completely right that Shipps is due a lot of credit here and I'm glad you brought it up.

I think what the earlier work you mention shows is that by and large the "magic world view" was accepted by historians already. Where I think Quinn got people ruffled was in trying to theoretize "magic" in Joseph's environment and making loose (dare I say apologetic like?) parallels to argue this. Some of his work is deeply persuasive. Other elements not just by him but by others like Brooke are far less compelling. (Say astrology or so called hermetic counterfeiting in Kirtland)

We were all working on these issues at BYU in the years leading up to 1987.  Ron Walker asked me to take a closer look in my own areas of expertise for work he had in preparation (he came over to FARMS), and I did so.  Quinn saw my work in Walker's inbox in the history dept and made a copy -- Quinn used it freely, only crediting me on one item.  Yep, plagiarism.  I know because I had an insider in the history dept.  I and others were looking at prime material from the LDS Archives and we published a lot of that at FARMS.

Quote

Yup. I'll fully admit it wasn't frequently discussed, but I knew about it as a kid and it was not hard to find if people did even modest inquiry. It's just that most people barely hear the minimum discussed in Sunday School and Priesthood let alone do their own research.

The other alternative is that Oliver knew the Interpreters were used for part of the translation process and emphasized that as the main tool. That emphasis may well have been apologetic in nature, but I don't think we can dismiss him to suggest only the brown stone was used post-Martin Harris. I'd add that just as the seer stone came to be included with the Interpreters under the rubric of "Urim and Thummin" I'd suggest the opposite happened as well. That is the Interpreters were seen as seer stones despite their larger size and the spectacles holding them. There as some suggestions Joseph popped one of the stones out to use more akin to how he used the seer stone -- which would make the connection even more obvious.

Priesthood and Sunday School were never the appropriate venues of that stuff, even though lazy people assume that to have necessarily been the case.  I had the same experience you describe.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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3 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Regarding that last point, of course it is possible not that the universe was fine tuned for us, but that evolution has fine tuned US for survival here, making the universe appear that way.

We look out at the Mirror Universe, through  a glass darkly, and see ourselves looking back. Science tells us more about how we PERCEIVE the universe than perhaps,  how the universe "really is."

You cannot remove the point of view of the observer from that which is observed.

As an argument few see how question begging it is to pick the former view that the universe is tuned for us

On the other hand as theists we know that we each must choose our own interpretation, hoping for things unseen.

So unsurprisingly it cuts both ways. We get to pick how to see it.

I think in the olden days they used to call that "faith". ;)

Of course now it is an "alternative paradigm." ;)

And that is precisely how one can be a secular humanist and  a theist at the same time.

You may be taking social construction a bit far here, Mark (is perception everything?), but it is also true that this may all be a simulation by our descendants, or by an alien sentience.  

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15 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Priesthood and Sunday School were never the appropriate venues of that stuff, even though lazy people assume that to have necessarily been the case.  I had the same experience you describe.

But if taught (the translation method or process), shouldn’t it have been more accurate?  Or do you believe our leaders didn’t know the truth either and were just teaching what they had been taught?

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28 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You may be taking social construction a bit far here, Mark (is perception everything?), but it is also true that this may all be a simulation by our descendants, or by an alien sentience.  

Can you tell me one thing about "the world" which is NOT linked to human perception OF "the world"?

I stand by the Rorty quotes in my siggy.

Of course there are "causes" of perceptions/mental states but we can know nothing about them because we cannot escape seeing through a human mind. 

Quote

 

" To say that the world is out there, that it is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states....

  Truth cannot be out there- cannot exist independently of the human mind- because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there.  The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not. 

 

And since God is a Human, that changes everything about what people might ordinarily think about these sentences.  The humanism here becomes theology.

Truth and the world cannot exist independently of God's Human Mind

Section 93:30

Quote

All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

Everything we know was created by the WORD!

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 7/25/2019 at 12:05 PM, David Waltz said:

Fact #1 - Up until the 21st century, the vast majority of Latter-Saints had an understanding of the method/process of the translation of the Book of Mormon as one which had Joseph Smith using the "Interpreters" over the golden plates to translate those said plates. Such a method was supported by statements from Oliver Cowdery and SOM move towards accepting the 'peepstone' in the hat method as fact began to gain broader acceptance.

QUESTION: Why has this happened? What has compelled so many to accept the 'peepstone' in the hat method promulgated by a number of early anti-Mormons (also later adopted by apostates such as David Whitmer and others who left the CoJCoLDS) ???

Regarding Fact #1, do you believe all of Cowdery’s statements?  How about when he stated:

...in January 1838, Cowdery wrote his brother Warren that he and Smith "had some conversation in which in every instance I did not fail to affirm that which I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger's was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself."

Regarding your question.  You do know that Cowdery left the church too, right? (Although he did return years later.)

And do you also discount David Whitmer as one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon?  Why would he never deny that testimony but lie about how it was translated?

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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Can you tell me one thing about "the world" which is NOT linked to human perception OF "the world"?

I stand by the Rorty quotes in my siggy.

Of course there are "causes" of perceptions/mental states but we can know nothing about them because we cannot escape seeing through a human mind. 

And since God is a Human, that changes everything about what people might ordinarily think about these sentences.  The humanism here becomes theology.

Truth and the world cannot exist independently of God's Human Mind

Section 93:30

Everything we know was created by the WORD!

Yes, we are prisoners of our senses, and we are trapped within our linguistic categories of expression (even our thoughts are either verbal or imagined qua imagery), but it seems so solipsistic not to be able to engage in independent scientific observation -- except that the very act of observing seems to change the results.  Is quantum entanglement our fate, or is it an opening?  And would independent AI be able to break out of that Möbius loop?  Are we really consigned to human ignorance, with only faith that we will one day be able to truly know as we are known?

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44 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Yes, we are prisoners of our senses, and we are trapped within our linguistic categories of expression (even our thoughts are either verbal or imagined qua imagery), but it seems so solipsistic not to be able to engage in independent scientific observation -- except that the very act of observing seems to change the results.  Is quantum entanglement our fate, or is it an opening?  And would independent AI be able to break out of that Möbius loop?  Are we really consigned to human ignorance, with only faith that we will one day be able to truly know as we are known?

Well the consolation is that those kinds of ideas, like being "really consigned to human ignorance" is still a statement of "what really is" as if there would be a way to verify that against our perceptions.

Seen that way, it is just as good or bad as "man is that he might have joy."

There is no way to distinguish those two opposites "in reality".

It's up to us to decide how we want to see it.

I would say that the very act of observing CREATES the results since we cannot observe anything beyond what we can observe. The results of our observations is what is observed

And that is not solipsism either,  because we are all in it together as peers, doing "peer review" and pooling the community's observations, and we are correct when we agree on our observations, that yes, that IS the communal observation upon which we all agree.

That's what they call "science" until someone makes an observation that shakes the paradigm.

So THAT is the essence of social constructivism. Reality is what we all agree it is. 

If you differ more than a little bit you can end up in a funny farm. ;)

After all 60 million Frenchmen can't be wrong. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixty_Million_Frenchmen_Can't_Be_Wrong

Edited by mfbukowski
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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

 

On 7/25/2019 at 3:29 PM, pogi said:

 

 

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Hi Julie,

Earlier today you asked:

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Regarding Fact #1, do you believe all of Cowdery’s statements?

I have not researched "all of Cowdery's statements", so I do not feel informed enough to say yes or no. But I have researched his statements concerning the translation method of the Book of Mormon, and I believe them for two important reasons: first, he was the scribe for almost all of the Book of Mormon; and second, his statements concerning the translation method of the Book of Mormon are virtually identical with those from Joseph Smith.

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You do know that Cowdery left the church too, right?

Yes.

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And do you also discount David Whitmer as one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon?

No.

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Why would he never deny that testimony but lie about how it was translated?

 

 

I think "lie" is much too strong of a term; I personally would use confused. One must keep in mind that David's statements concerning the translation method came decades after those of Oliver and Joseph. I do not think this fact should discounted when pondering over the issue of translation.

Grace and peace,

David

Edited by David Waltz
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12 hours ago, David Waltz said:

I think "lie" is much too strong of a term; I personally would use confused. One must keep in mind that David's statements concerning the translation method came decades after those of Oliver and Joseph. I do not think this fact should discounted when pondering over the issue of translation.

And what about all of the other eye witnesses who state the same thing as David Whitmer?  Do you believe they are all also just confused?

I honestly cannot imagine them confusing Joseph using the ancient instrument with Joseph putting a stone in his hat and putting his head in it to translate.  There's quite a stark difference there.  No matter how many years had passed, I have to believe that memory was still pretty vivid for anyone involved in the translation process.

I respect that you have done your research and come to your own conclusions (we each need to do that).  But most of the eye witnesses would have had to agree to pass on what has been labeled here as anti-Mormon lies or untruths in favor of telling the truth (what you believe is the truth).  That's quite the conspiracy!  Do you believe Emma was also confused regarding her statements that support David's?  Just curious what you may believe...

Here are David's statements, does he sound confused?

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By fervent prayer and by otherwise humbling himself, the prophet, however, again found favor, and was presented with a strange, oval-shaped, chocolate-colored stone, about the size of an egg, only more flat, which, it was promised should serve the same purpose as the missing urim and thummim. ... With this stone all the present Book of Mormon was translated."


 

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"I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man".

 

 

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 …he used a stone called a "Seers stone," the "Interpreters" having been taken away from him because of transgression. The "Interpreters" were taken from Joseph after he allowed Martin Harris to carry away the 116 pages of Ms [manuscript] of the Book of Mormon as a punishment, but he was allowed to go on and translate by use of a "Seers stone" which he had, and which he placed in a hat into which he buried his face, stating to me and others that the original character appeared upon parchment and under it the translation in English.

 

 

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12 hours ago, David Waltz said:

Hi Julie,

Earlier today you asked:

I have not researched "all of Cowdery's statements", so I do not feel informed enough to say yes or no.

Are you not familiar with what Oliver Cowdery stated about Fanny Alger and Joseph? (I supplied the quote for you above).  If you’re not familiar with Joseph’s relationship with Fanny, I understand.

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12 hours ago, David Waltz said:

I think "lie" is much too strong of a term; I personally would use confused.

But don’t you believe that as an apostate, David was repeating made up anti Mormon information rather than telling the truth?

(And same with Emma, if I’m understanding your position here?)

Edited by JulieM
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On 7/26/2019 at 9:39 PM, Robert F. Smith said:

 

The three paradigms you lay out as Supernatural A, Supernatural B, and various secular naturalists is only correct insofar as we attribute those surface views to the unsophisticated.  Scholars take the view that formal LDS theology is entirely naturalistic & humanistic (LDS theology emphatically denies the legitimacy of normative Judeo-Christian supernaturalism), and sees the secular anti-Mormon crowd as making a simple category mistake -- guilt by association with other Christian religions.

By the way, David, the LDS Hymnal includes a song by John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Hi Robert...with regards to Newman, Praise to the Holiest?

Its been in the last few weeks that you explained to me that strictly speaking, "miracles" do not exist for LDS because of it being entirely naturalistic. I think you went on to explain that God simply knows how to use "nature", in such a way that to us it appears to be "supernatural" when something unexplainable appears, such as the translation of the Book of Mormon. I think I remember you suggesting that the translation came about through some kind of advanced technology which enabled Joseph to hear or see the words in English.

I am wondering when in your view, did the Latter-day natural theology appear, with a technological/scientific explanation for signs and wonders. Did the Apostles of Christ understand as does "formal LDS theology"? What about Moses and the Old Testament prophets? It is certain in your view that through Joseph Smith, God revealed Himself and the Cosmos this way, right? Or does that come through even later revelations of the prophets? Thanks.

Rory

 

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2 hours ago, 3DOP said:

Hi Robert...with regards to Newman, Praise to the Holiest?

Its been in the last few weeks that you explained to me that strictly speaking, "miracles" do not exist for LDS because of it being entirely naturalistic. I think you went on to explain that God simply knows how to use "nature", in such a way that to us it appears to be "supernatural" when something unexplainable appears, such as the translation of the Book of Mormon. I think I remember you suggesting that the translation came about through some kind of advanced technology which enabled Joseph to hear or see the words in English.

I am wondering when in your view, did the Latter-day natural theology appear, with a technological/scientific explanation for signs and wonders. Did the Apostles of Christ understand as does "formal LDS theology"? What about Moses and the Old Testament prophets? It is certain in your view that through Joseph Smith, God revealed Himself and the Cosmos this way, right? Or does that come through even later revelations of the prophets? Thanks.

Rory

 

I will intervene here this way - I think for instance the miracles of Egypt can be explained in a mostly scientific way. Turning the Nile into blood was probably a result of volcanic gases leaking into the Nile and turning the iron in the Nile sediments to iron hydroxide or possibly causing an algae bloom. Either can use up all the oxygen in the water causing the fish to die and leading to the next plague of frogs which simply leaped out of the water. The dying fish would naturally lead to gnats and flies which were the next plagues. Particular flies can carry diseases which lead to pestilence in livestock. Additional dead animals would only lead to more disease carrying flies - some of which carry diseases causing boils. 

I don't think Yeshua ever called His healings miracles. That was the term used by His apostles. On one occasion He used mud and spittle to heal a blind man. Why? He asked how the man saw, and then did more. This has always made me curious. Did He have to not only heal the eyes but then the mind so the man's brain could process the light correctly? What to us seems like a miracle was probably to Yeshua simply a matter of manipulating matter in ways we don't understand. This is essentially what causes LDS to teach this way. We are taught in D & C that spirit is matter. As matter spirit can apparently manipulate other matter in ways we don't appreciate yet because we believe our spirits are confined to our bodies. We believe God essentially created the world this way. It was not some miracle of creating something out of nothing, but a process of manipulating existing matter by God's spirit into something more like our present earth. This is something taught by Joseph Smith and subsequent LDS leaders. I also believe it is most consistent with the Bible. Essentially God does things in accordance with the laws of nature - in that sense they are not "supernatural." God creates using the laws of nature. He is not outside of nature, time or the universe, and really has never given us any reason to believe He is. 

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Hi Rory,

 

Hope you do not mind that I am jumping into the conversation and sharing my own musings on the topic of 'supernatural'—I feel compelled to do so.

 

I am theist, through and through. The type of theism that I affirm is primarily based on the Bible. As such, I reject certain subcategories of theism such as deism and pantheism. The God I acknowledge is fully active and present in the realm termed by many as the 'universe'. I concur with the apostle Paul who wrote:

 

"For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." (Acts 17:28)

 

I also embrace the following:

 

"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" (Psalm 139:7)

 

The above verses bring to memory something the LDS philosopher Blake Ostler wrote; note the following:

 

>>In 1832, Joseph Smith received a revelation which elucidated God's immanence—the doctrine that God is present to but is not identical with all realities. Immanence is more than omnipresence or being present at all places.  Immanence includes the notion that God is: (1) present in terms of power and awareness at all places; (2) able to effectuate his will at all places without intermediary; and (3) the experience or information of every reality is included within God's experience and knowledge. Put another way, all things indwell in God and God indwells in all things. Immanence, as conceived by Joseph Smith, is preeminently a reciprocal relation, for it is true that God is in and through all things as that all things are in and through God. A revelation to Joseph Smith referred to God's power and knowledge in terms of supreme relatedness and immediacy to all aspects of the physical universe" "He comprehended all things, that the might be in all and through all things, the light of truth. . . . Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space" (D&C 88:6, 12).>> [Exploring Mormon Thought - The Attributes of God, pp. 75, 76 - bold emphasis mine.]

 

With the above in mind, I maintain that it is 'unnatural' to believe in a universe devoid of God, and that the 'natural' order of reality concerning the universe we reside in must affirm a God who "indwells in all things", and that "all things indwell in God".

 

Moving on, I personally restrict the term 'supernatural' to events, manifestations and realities which lie beyond current 'scientific' explanation. For instance, science can neither affirm nor deny 'spirit'/'spirits' as mentioned in the Bible and LDS quad. I believe that when I 'die' (or any other human), there is a component of my being which continues to exist—i.e. my 'spirit'. I also believe that there are 'spirit' entities termed 'devils'/'demons' in the Bible and LDS quad that are able in reside/cohabit in human bodies (and pigs !!!), and that these evil entities can be expelled/exorcised. In one sense, the above is 'natural' in that we are talking about reality; but in another sense, 'supernatural' due to the fact that we are dealing with aspects of reality that science can neither affirm nor deny.

 

 

Grace and peace,

 

David

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23 hours ago, JulieM said:

But if taught (the translation method or process), shouldn’t it have been more accurate?  Or do you believe our leaders didn’t know the truth either and were just teaching what they had been taught?

I think it was complicated and that yes, many of the leaders didn't know the truth themselves and believed the version they'd been taught.  Then when they began learning more of the truth about the translation process, they were in a rough spot.  They knew the reaction they'd get from the members (and they were right....).  I do not believe there was any orchestrated cover-up though and I applaud and support them for now working towards more accuracy.

I also believe that members do have a responsibility to read and study about church history on their own and cannot put all the blame on the leaders for not teaching them about Joseph using the seer stone in his hat as a method of translation.  The information was there, it just was not taught (or at least commonly taught).

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Here's an account of a black African american seer named Mike who used a similar method as Sally Chase and Joseph Smith to make a living helping others find lost treasure.

"Deriving no wisdom from experience, about a 
dozen years after, it began to be whispered about 
that a negro boy named " Mike" had a rare faculty 
bestowed on him. He could place a perforated 
stone which he had in his possession, in his hat, 
and immediately he could reveal the hiding places 
of buried treasure.
This '■^medium'''' declared, with- 
out the aid of ^^ spiritual communication,''^ that 
money had been deposited among the pebbles in 
Pittston, and that it was very deep, for, though 
originally it was near the surface, the water had 
rolled the stones over it, and now, he said, he could 
see it down very deep. So his dupes digged eighty 
feet, and found nothing. The conclusion left on 
the minds of posterity is this, that the excavations 
were deeper than the people who made them." 

[History of Gardiner Pittston and west Gardiner, with a sketch of the kennebec indians, and new plymouth purchase, comprising historical matter from 1602 - 1852 with genealogical sketches of many families.

By J. W. HANSON, Author of "History of Norridgewock and Canaan, Me. ;'' 
" History of Danvers, Mass. ;" &c. &c. GARDINER:   PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM PALMER. 1852. pg169]

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