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eta:

Abraham and Sarah - Sarah kicked Hagar out.  Jesus - one and only born to a handmaid - Mary had another husband.  For anyone still needing to go on the scriptural route on this one.

For those more universal in their beliefs, or making the transition - life events force us to become self-reliant, don't feel bad about taking ownership of your own authority.  Most make the transition on their own, without support or direction from others.  That is what personal authority is, taking ownership of your own self-reliance, protect yourself (women are the protectors btw in these situations NOT men).  No one saves anyone else, we all save ourselves.  If there is a god, all the different groups, all the pain - the goal is to force you to take ownership of yourself, find your own inner light and all that.  Not all make the transition, not all are strong enough to in this life... plus someone has to be around to support those in the lower stages of development who do need authority figures (even though those authority figures are imperfect).  Best wishes to all.

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2 hours ago, gav said:

My take is that it is anything that destroys the wholesome perpetuation of the species i.e. destroys good family structure and societies.

So the potential candidate behaviours are myriad and cumulative.

The scriptures are full of destruction stories and the circumstances leading up to said destructions. Child sacrifice features prominently, even among the lead up of the scattering of Israel and the Judah. I always wonder if abortion somehow falls into that category and that, among many other anti-family trends, is pretty pervasive.

Exactly.  Any act that intentionally go against God's work and glory by living lives that intentionally prevent or proclude the process of bringing his spirit children to earth to a position where they receive immortality and eternal life.  This is the category you describe.  We are as the cursed fig tree failing to fulfill the measure of our creation when we intentionally completely block this process by our choices.

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9 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I have a hard time believing that the fatal act of self-destruction will be caused by a small minority of the population and due to a desire which most of humanity has no interest in. The small lgbt minority is going to condemn all of mankind and strike the final blow to end civilization? Shouldn’t God pick a more predatory sin to burn us down over? Something a little more pervasive?

The one fatal sin that will doom humanity always has to be that thing that someone else very different from me is doing, never that thing that I like to do. 

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1 hour ago, pondering said:

No one saves anyone else, we all save ourselves. 

Do you mean spiritually?  Because physically we depend on others for our lives…police and government, doctors, food and essentials suppliers, power for our utilities, picking up our garbage, etc.  Mentally we depend on others for our intellectual lives as well as basic life skills, first through parents school, maybe church and extracurricular activities and then through learning what others have explored and shared their observations and experiences…very few of us tread where no one has gone before, we take shortcuts by reading instruction manuals, cookbooks, driver’s education, etc.  Emotionally…have you spent much time on your own?  When was the last time you spent a whole day without seeing a person face to face?  Or no communication by phone or internet?  You have been trained to live with others and it can be disorienting being isolated (there was a very good reason depression went up during Covid quarantines and it wasn’t all fear of infection or pain because of the tragedies).

Even spiritually…you follow the paths of others even if you are picking and choosing which paths to follow and what to keep and what to discard.  While a few might benefit spiritually by living a hermit’s life in the desert, most imo are better informed by interacting with others and realizing spiritual lessons that way.

So in my opinion in every way salvation is a group effort. Depending solely on yourself is a great way to end up stagnated, depressed, maybe even dead.  Glorifying the individual effort leads to tunnel vision, arrogance and shortsightedness, again imo.  Humility, recognizing we have so much to learn from others and the world around us and being willing to listen…that is what opens our spiritual awareness more.

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7 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Hold on, could we start by you answering my questions? They were in the first reply to your OP.

This one?  

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Is there anything any LDS leaders could have done historically to reduce or prevent these crimes especially insofar as they were inspired by the LDS church? Is there anything further that could be done now?

I don't know what you mean by "insofar as they were inspired by the LDS church."

Putting that aside, yes, the 19th-century leaders of the Church - particularly Joseph Smith and Brigham Young - "could have done" some things differently.  Joseph "could have" been more forthright, for example.  But I'm not really into "woulda / coulda / shoulda" speculations like this.  Joseph is long dead, so I'm not particularly inclined to fault him for not giving sufficient consideration to questions like "Hey, nearly 200 years from now some guy might read about my actions, use them as a pretext to justify his lascivious predilections, proclaim himself a 'prophet' and persuade a group of others to follow him, buy himself a Bentley, and have a bunch of his victims hauled around in a trailer with a bucket for a toilet."

Do you measure your words and behaviors based on what someone might two in relation to them 200 years into the future?

I think Joseph made some serious errors in judgment relative to polygamy.  See, for example, these recent remarks by Todd Compton:

Quote

Who was the youngest in the 33 {to marry Joseph Smith}?

Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Heber Kimball and Vilate Kimball. She married Joseph Smith when she was 14. I think she was three months away from 15. Later, after Joseph Smith’s death, she married Horace Whitney. So she’s known as Helen Mar Whitney. … [People want to know]: Was there a consummation [with Joseph Smith]? I don’t think there’s any good evidence for consummation. I don’t think there’s evidence against consummation, you know, but my personal feeling is probably it wasn’t consummated. I used the parallel from Utah history where sometimes a very young girl married into a polygamist family and then there were no sexual relations for a few years.

Critics have used that marriage to Helen and a few other young ones to say that Joseph Smith was a pedophile. Do you see him that way?

No, I don’t. I think that marrying a 14-year-old was not a wise thing to do … Her father wanted the marriage because it would tie the Kimball family with the Smith family. I think that was one of the main motivations for the marriage.
...
After all your research, what’s your assessment of Smith’s motivation for plural marriage? Was it based on theology as he claimed, or was it for a more earthy reason?

I think it was very biblical. He loved the Old Testament so much, and he was very into restoring all these things from the Bible and especially the Old Testament, like prophets and temples. He was very close to Abraham as a prophet, and Abraham was a polygamist. So, I think it definitely was theologically driven.…And you have all these interesting motivations like connecting prominent families. You know, the Kimball family and the Smith family, which I call dynastic. [Still], I believe in any marriage, the physical and sexual relationship should be there also.

As I have said previously: "I think the 19th-century Saints had far more to do with 'dynastic' concepts (marriages, adoptions, etc.) than we do.  See, e.g., here and here."  See also here.

In the main, however, I leave such matters to God.  

For me, polygamy is more an abstraction and part of history than a present day point of concern.  As is animal sacrifice.  Again, both offend, via presentism, our modern sensibilities, and understandably - but not objectively - so.

Thank you,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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49 minutes ago, smac97 said:

...For me, polygamy is more an abstraction and part of history than a present day point of concern.  As is animal sacrifice.  Again, both offend, via presentism, our modern sensibilities, and understandably - but not objectively - so.

I'll refrain from pointing out the irony of your claim that prophets shouldn't be faulted for not being able to see in the future.

I will object, however, to your postmodern claim that our modern sensibilities on morality are not objectively better than those of people in days past. In Old Testament times, people claimed to be prophets just like Samuel Rappylee Bateman did. Back then, they not only used that as a pretense to claim any number of slavish and underaged wives, they also claimed that their God Jehovah made all sorts of commandments that were even eviller than that (let me know if you'd like a list).

I'm sure if you or I were raised in a society that didn't know anything about the nature of reality we would both be swept away by the culture of the times--I'm not claiming that we are intrinsically superior human beings compared to them. But I am claiming that our moral sensibilities are based on objectively better principles than theirs. 

True morality isn't something that changes with fads, with no morality system being objectively better or worse than any other. Our modern Western morality is objectively better than these other systems, because we are objectively more enlightened than they were.

Edited by Analytics
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47 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I'll refrain from pointing out the irony of your claim that prophets shouldn't be faulted for not being able to see in the future.

Prophets operate in their own time and cultural circumstances... Occasionally they see the future, for very specific purposes, but it's definitely not their full time pursuit or via broad all encompassing visions.

 

Quote

True morality isn't something that changes with fads, with no morality system being objectively better or worse than any other. Our modern Western morality is objectively better than these other systems, because we are objectively more enlightened than they were.

To whom much is given, from them much will be required. To whom less is given, less is required. We would do well to remember that as we look out from our Rameumptom perch and cast wide aspersions on those that lived in times past under vastly different circumstances.

Edited by gav
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51 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I'll refrain from pointing out the irony of your claim that prophets shouldn't be faulted for not being able to see in the future.

I will object, however, to your postmodern claim that our modern sensibilities on morality are not objectively better than those of people in days past. In Old Testament times, people claimed to be prophets just like Samuel Rappylee Bateman did. Back then, they not only used that as a pretense to claim any number of slavish and underaged wives, they also claimed that their God Jehovah made all sorts of commandments that were even eviller than that (let me know if you'd like a list).

I'm sure if you or I were raised in a society that didn't know anything about the nature of reality we would both be swept away by the culture of the times--I'm not claiming that we are intrinsically superior human beings compared to them. But I am claiming that our moral sensibilities are based on objectively better principles than theirs. 

True morality isn't something that changes with fads, with no morality system being objectively better or worse than any other. Our modern Western morality is objectively better than these other systems, because we are objectively more enlightened than they were.

 

In ancient Israel Yahweh (Jehovah) asked Israelites for human sacrifice - for them to sacrifice their firstborn children to him. You see that in Exodus 22:29. Ezekiel in commentary on that commandment (Ezek 20:25-26) later reinterprets that commandment as a punishment for Israel's disobedience. Dan McClellan covers it briefly here:

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Eschaton said:

 

In ancient Israel Yahweh (Jehovah) asked Israelites for human sacrifice - for them to sacrifice their firstborn children to him. You see that in Exodus 22:29. Ezekiel in commentary on that commandment (Ezek 20:25-26) later reinterprets that commandment as a punishment for Israel's disobedience. Dan McClellan covers it briefly here:

 

 

Dan McCellan is great. Does he still work for the Church? I would think his job there isn't very secure at this point (and if I'm wrong about that, kudos to the Church).

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55 minutes ago, Analytics said:
Quote

Again, both offend, via presentism, our modern sensibilities, and understandably - but not objectively - so.

I'll refrain from pointing out the irony of your claim that prophets shouldn't be faulted for not being able to see in the future.

I won't refrain from responding.  There is no irony here, IMO.  Per Joseph Smith's well-known aphorism, “a prophet {is} a prophet only when he {is} acting as such.”  And he is only "acting as such" when moved upon by the Holy Spirit.  Prophecy, then, is a gift from God, not an unlimited free pass to see into the future.  A prophet can only "see in the future" what the Lord allows him to see.  And in any event, prophecy of future events is, broadly speaking, a minor province in the makeup of a prophet, seer and revelator.

55 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I will object, however, to your postmodern claim that our modern sensibilities on morality are not objectively better than those of people in days past.

And I will object to your mischaracterization of my statement.  

"Our modern sensibilities on morality" are a very mixed bag, as were those sensibilities held by our predecessors.  Both are a mixed bag.  Nevertheless, as we are "downstream" from those who have come before, we have advantages they did not, such as hindsight.  We have learned from prior mistakes and improved in many ways. 

But all is not grape juice and roses.  "Our modern sensibilities on morality" include all sorts of things with questionable/dubious moral value. 

55 minutes ago, Analytics said:

In Old Testament times, people claimed to be prophets just like Samuel Rappylee Bateman did.

And Frank Abagnale Jr. "claimed to be" a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, etc.  By your reasoning, then, there are no actual pilots, doctors or lawyers anywhere.

But there are actual pilots/doctors/lawyers, so your reasoning - such as it is - doesn't really hold up well.

55 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Back then, they not only used that as a pretense to claim any number of slavish and underaged wives, they also claimed that their God Jehovah made all sorts of commandments that were even eviller than that (let me know if you'd like a list).

Broad strokes, caricatures, and presentism on steroids.  

55 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I'm sure if you or I were raised in a society that didn't know anything about the nature of reality we would both be swept away by the culture of the times--I'm not claiming that we are intrinsically superior human beings compared to them.

Funny.  Your rather plain implication that "our modern sensibilities on morality are objectively better than those of people in days past" sure seems to come across that way.

Yes, we have progressed in many ways, often by learning from the mistakes of the past.  And here you sit, the beneficiary of all that learning and experience and progress, and presume to issue wholesale condemnations of past generations.

By all means, proceed to sit at your laptop in 2022, surrounded by artificial lighting and heating and all sorts of technological innovations, likely packing extra poundage owing to the insane amounts of food we have (together with sedentary lifestyles), and protected by laws and law enforcement and armies, and regale us with how much more "objectively" superior "our modern sensibilities" are to biblical cultures thousands of years ago.  Right.  No problem with presentism there.

For myself, I'll go with Mormon 9:31: "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."

55 minutes ago, Analytics said:

But I am claiming that our moral sensibilities are based on objectively better principles than theirs. 

Claim away.  Your not entirely wrong, as we have centuries of history to learn from, and from which we can - and have - developed "better principles."

But we also have a lot to learn from our predecessors, as there are a lot of things we are screwing up in major ways.

55 minutes ago, Analytics said:

True morality isn't something that changes with fads,

Of course it can.  The very fact that you choose to label your preferred set of ethics "true" morality bespeaks that.

55 minutes ago, Analytics said:

with no morality system being objectively better or worse than any other.

I think there are aspects of morality systems that are "objectively better or worse" than others.

For example, consider the current practice of bacha bazi, "a custom in Afghanistan involving child sexual abuse by older men of young adolescent males or boys, called dancing boys, often involving sexual slavery and child prostitution."

Or consider the practice of slavery, both past and present.  Consider this quote from King Ghezo of Dahomey, recently played by John Boyega in the 2022 film The Woman King:

Quote

AFRICAN SLAVE OWNERS

Many societies in Africa with kings and hierarchical forms of government traditionally kept slaves. But these were mostly used for domestic purposes. They were an indication of power and wealth and not used for commercial gain. However, with the appearance of Europeans desperate to buy slaves for use in the Americas, the character of African slave ownership changed.

GROWING RICH WITH SLAVERY ROYALTY

In the early 18th century, Kings of Dahomey (known today as Benin) became big players in the slave trade, waging a bitter war on their neighbours, resulting in the capture of 10,000, including another important slave trader, the King of Whydah. King Tegbesu made £250,000 a year selling people into slavery in 1750. King Gezo said in the 1840's he would do anything the British wanted him to do apart from giving up slave trade:

"The slave trade is the ruling principle of my people. It is the source and the glory of their wealth…the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery…"

See also these justifications for antebellum slavery in the U.S.

I submit that, relative to slavery and the sexual abuse of children, there are some "systems of morality" which are "objectively" better than others.

55 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Our modern Western morality is objectively better than these other systems, because we are objectively more enlightened than they were.

In some ways, yes.  In others, no.

And much of the "enlightenment" comes from learning from the mistakes and errors of our predecessors who did not have comparable access to hindsight.  And yet you condemn them anyway.

And that is not "presentism"?

Thanks,

-Smac

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33 minutes ago, gav said:

Prophets operate in their own time and cultural circumstances... Occasionally they see the future, for very specific purposes, but it's definitely not their full time pursuit or via broad all encompassing visions.

 

To whom much is given, from them much will be required. To whom less is given, less is required. We would do well to remember that as we look out from our Rameumptom perch and cast wide aspersions on those that lived in times past under vastly different circumstances.

Acknowledging where we stand in the arc of history and acknowledging that we know what we know isn't casting aspersions on people who lived in other times and places.

Quoting Richard Dawkins, "The Bible story of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho, and the invasion of the Promised Land in general, is morally indistinguishable from Hitler’s invasion of Poland, or Saddam Hussein’s massacres of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. The Bible may be an arresting and poetic work of fiction, but it is not the sort of book you should give your children to form their morals."

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11 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Dan McCellan is great. Does he still work for the Church? I would think his job there isn't very secure at this point (and if I'm wrong about that, kudos to the Church).

Last I heard yes, he is still working for the church translation department. 

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27 minutes ago, Eschaton said:

 

In ancient Israel Yahweh (Jehovah) asked Israelites for human sacrifice - for them to sacrifice their firstborn children to him. You see that in Exodus 22:29. Ezekiel in commentary on that commandment (Ezek 20:25-26) later reinterprets that commandment as a punishment for Israel's disobedience. Dan McClellan covers it briefly here:

 

 

"People sacrificed children to Baal, people also sacrified children to Adonai, the God of Israel, as they were explicitly commanded to do in Exodus 22, verse 29."

From FAIR: Question: Does the Bible endorse human sacrifice?

I would think that Dan would benefit from considering and accounting for the guidance offered by modern prophets and apostles when he reviews the "academic consensus" on issues like this.  I hope he does.  But not having been particularly impressed with his outlook when expressed on this board (which outlook seems to privilege political ideology above anything else), I'm not exactly holding my breath.

Thanks,

-Smac

 

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9 minutes ago, smac97 said:

"People sacrificed children to Baal, people also sacrified children to Adonai, the God of Israel, as they were explicitly commanded to do in Exodus 22, verse 29."

From FAIR: Question: Does the Bible endorse human sacrifice?

I would think that Dan would benefit from considering and accounting for the guidance offered by modern prophets and apostles when he reviews the "academic consensus" on issues like this.  I hope he does.  But not having been particularly impressed with his outlook when expressed on this board (which outlook seems to privilege political ideology above anything else), I'm not exactly holding my breath.

Thanks,

-Smac

 

Dan is talking about academic Biblical scholarship, not apologetics or LDS doctrine. LDS doctrine is of course opposed to human sacrifice, as is the doctrine of just about every contemporary religion. 

In critical scholarship one does not try to "smooth over" a difficult text to make it conform to modern beliefs and sensibilities, but rather to understand the text in its own historical context. 

ETA, from your FAIR source, it's true that later editors, redactors and writers strongly opposed human sacrifice in Israel. But the Bible is a tapestry of different viewpoints, not a single set of unified doctrines. The more ancient Israelite view was that infant sacrifice was demanded by Yahweh. It's commendable that they overthrew that view and established a more moral framework. 

Edited by Eschaton
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Just now, Eschaton said:

Dan is talking about academic Biblical scholarship,

I acknowledge that.

Just now, Eschaton said:

not apologetics or LDS doctrine.

The two ("academic Biblical scholarship" on the one hand and "apologetics or LDS doctrine" on the other) are not, contrary to your implication, mutually exclusive.d

I also reject the (apparently) implied notion that "academic Biblical scholarship" is ultimately definitive (or objective) when interpreting the Bible.

Just now, Eschaton said:

LDS doctrine is of course opposed to human sacrifice, as is the doctrine of just about every contemporary religion.

I agree.

Just now, Eschaton said:

In critical scholarship one does not try to "smooth over" a difficult text to make it conform to modern beliefs and sensibilities, but rather to understand the text in its own historical context. 

No presuppositions or biases are present in critical biblical scholarship, then?  Are you sure?

Thanks,

-Smac

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1 hour ago, Eschaton said:

In ancient Israel Yahweh (Jehovah) asked Israelites for human sacrifice - for them to sacrifice their firstborn children to him. You see that in Exodus 22:29. Ezekiel in commentary on that commandment (Ezek 20:25-26) later reinterprets that commandment as a punishment for Israel's disobedience. Dan McClellan covers it briefly here:

Have you actually read the Old Testament? More crucially do you understand much of it?

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53 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Quoting Richard Dawkins, "The Bible story of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho, and the invasion of the Promised Land in general, is morally indistinguishable from Hitler’s invasion of Poland, or Saddam Hussein’s massacres of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. The Bible may be an arresting and poetic work of fiction, but it is not the sort of book you should give your children to form their morals."

Richard is great on some things but when it comes to his understanding of the Bible, it's shallow and slanted. I doubt he is considered a great unbiased source on Biblical matters. You can add Hitch to that category as well.

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57 minutes ago, Eschaton said:

In critical scholarship one does not try to "smooth over" a difficult text to make it conform to modern beliefs and sensibilities, but rather to understand the text in its own historical context. 

Critical Scholarship should be a little more critical of its criticisms... It is often so busy being critical that it misses the plot altogether.

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55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

"Our modern sensibilities on morality" are a very mixed bag, as were those sensibilities held by our predecessors.  Both are a mixed bag.  Nevertheless, as we are "downstream" from those who have come before, we have advantages they did not, such as hindsight.  We have learned from prior mistakes and improved in many ways. 

That's true. Not everybody alive today understands morality as well as Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, or Sam Harris.

55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

But all is not grape juice and roses.  "Our modern sensibilities on morality" include all sorts of things with questionable/dubious moral value. 

How do we know they are of questionable/dubious moral value? The Bible? Revelation? 

Or is it because of humanist philosophers?

55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

For myself, I'll go with Mormon 9:31: "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."

How dare you use this passage as an excuse to insinuate that Mormon and Moroni had imperfections, and thereby condemn them! 

55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Of course it can.  The very fact that you choose to label your preferred set of ethics "true" morality bespeaks that.

I never did any such thing. All I did was claimed that true morality exists. 

55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think there are aspects of morality systems that are "objectively better or worse" than others.

Thank you for agreeing with me.

55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

See also these justifications for antebellum slavery in the U.S.

Are you condemning George Fitzhugh for rationalizing slavery?

The big irony here is that his 19th-century rationalizations for slavery are similar, and in some cases identical, to 20th-century rationalizations of the priesthood ban by prophets. Compare the following:

Fitzhugh in 1854: "Now, it is clear the Athenian democracy would not suit a negro nation, nor will the government of mere law suffice for the individual negro. He is but a grown up child, and must be governed as a child, not as a lunatic or criminal. The master occupies towards him the place of parent or guardian."

George Albert Smith in an Official Statement of First Presidency dated on August 17, 1951: "The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre‑mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality."

In both cases, the argument is basically the same. The negro can't handle the responsibility of freedom (the priesthood). And it's his own fault because of his intrinsic nature (his conduct in the pre-mortal existence).

Of course George Albert Smith had the advantage of nearly 100 years of hindsight in forming his rationalizations. 

The outstanding issue is whether his religious beliefs were an aid or a detriment in the development of George Albert Smith's views on morality. 

55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I submit that, relative to slavery and the sexual abuse of children, there are some "systems of morality" which are "objectively" better than others.

I'm glad we agree!

55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

And much of the "enlightenment" comes from learning from the mistakes and errors of our predecessors who did not have comparable access to hindsight. 

Exactly! It comes from hindsight, human experience, history, and philosophy. 

And religion, with its adoration of prophets from less enlightened generations, is typically a drag that slows down our ability to learn these lessons.  

55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

And yet you condemn them anyway.

I didn't condemn anyone. I explicitly said, "I'm not claiming that we are intrinsically superior human beings compared to them. But I am claiming that our moral sensibilities are based on objectively better principles than theirs. "

55 minutes ago, smac97 said:

And that is not "presentism"?

Maybe, maybe not. If I'm guilty of presentism because I think objectively, human sacrifice and genocide are morally wrong, then so be it.

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1 hour ago, gav said:

Richard is great on some things but when it comes to his understanding of the Bible, it's shallow and slanted. I doubt he is considered a great unbiased source on Biblical matters. You can add Hitch to that category as well.

It sounds like you need a lesson on the Bible.

It reminds me of something that is very important to the Church right now: religious freedom. What does the Bible say about freedom of religion? When some Israelites were worshiping God the wrong way (or if you are the kind of person that insists that, say, Mormons and Evangelicals worship two different Jesuses, then when some Israelites were worshiping the wrong God), God commanded Moses to murder 3,000 people (see Exodus 32:27). Religious Freedom baby!

Hitch notes that only 3,000 people being murdered for following their sincere religious convictions is:

"A small number when compared to the Egyptian infants already massacred by god in order for things to have proceeded even this far, but it helps to make the case for “antitheism.” By this I mean the view that we ought to be glad that none of the religious myths has any truth to it, or in it. The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.

"It goes without saying that none of the gruesome, disordered events described in Exodus ever took place. Israeli archaeologists are among the most professional in the world, even if their scholarship has sometimes been inflected with a wish to prove that the “covenant” between god and Moses was founded on some basis in fact. No group of diggers and scholars has ever worked harder, or with greater expectations, than the Israelis who sifted through the sands of Sinai and Canaan....

"Their conclusion is final, and the more creditable for asserting evidence over self-interest. There was no flight from Egypt, no wandering in the desert (let alone for the incredible four-decade length of time mentioned in the Pentateuch), and no dramatic conquest of the Promised Land. It was all, quite simply and very ineptly, made up at a much later date...

"There is great pleasure to be had from the study of archaeology and of ancient texts, and great instruction, too. And it brings us ever nearer to some approximation of the truth. On the other hand, it also raises the question of antitheism once more. In The Future of an Illusion, Freud made the obvious point that religion suffered from one incurable deficiency: it was too clearly derived from our own desire to escape from or survive death. This critique of wish-thinking is strong and unanswerable, but it does not really deal with the horrors and cruelties and madnesses of the Old Testament. Who—except for an ancient priest seeking to exert power by the tried and tested means of fear—could possibly wish that this hopelessly knotted skein of fable had any veracity?"

Hitchens, Christopher. God Is Not Great (pp. 174-177)

 

Edited by Analytics
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14 minutes ago, Analytics said:
Quote

"Our modern sensibilities on morality" are a very mixed bag, as were those sensibilities held by our predecessors.  Both are a mixed bag.  Nevertheless, as we are "downstream" from those who have come before, we have advantages they did not, such as hindsight.  We have learned from prior mistakes and improved in many ways. 

That's true. Not everybody alive today understands morality as well as Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, or Sam Harris.

Quite the non sequitur, this. 

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:
Quote

But all is not grape juice and roses.  "Our modern sensibilities on morality" include all sorts of things with questionable/dubious moral value. 

How do we know they are of questionable/dubious moral value? The Bible? Revelation? 

Yes.  And more.

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Or is it because of humanist philosophers?

I suppose they have had some influence.

Are you capable of accommodating something other than an "either/or" dichotomy on this point?

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

How dare you use this passage as an excuse to insinuate that Mormon and Moroni had imperfections, and thereby condemn them! 

Yawn.

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:
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True morality isn't something that changes with fads,

Of course it can.  The very fact that you choose to label your preferred set of ethics "true" morality bespeaks that.

 

I never did any such thing. All I did was claimed that true morality exists. 

It does?  And you are not a devotee of it?

I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:
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I think there are aspects of morality systems that are "objectively better or worse" than others.

Thank you for agreeing with me.

You're welcome?

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Are you condemning George Fitzhugh for rationalizing slavery?

I'm condemning behavior and the rationalization of it.

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

The big irony here is that his 19th-century rationalizations for slavery are similar, and in some cases identical, to 20th-century rationalizations of the priesthood ban by prophets.

The even bigger irony here is that 19th-century rationalizations for slavery are similar, and in some cases identical, to 20th-century rationalizations for elective abortion.

"It's not a person, it's a clump of cells" = "It's not a person, it's my chattel property."

Denying the personhood of a fetus is the sine qua non, the fountainhead, of essentially all justifications for elective abortion.

Denying the personhood of a slave was the sine qua non, the fountainhead, of antebellum justifications for slavery.

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Compare the following:

Fitzhugh in 1854: "Now, it is clear the Athenian democracy would not suit a negro nation, nor will the government of mere law suffice for the individual negro. He is but a grown up child, and must be governed as a child, not as a lunatic or criminal. The master occupies towards him the place of parent or guardian."

George Albert Smith in an Official Statement of First Presidency dated on August 17, 1951: "The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre‑mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality."

In both cases, the argument is basically the same. The negro can't handle the responsibility of freedom (the priesthood). And it's his own fault because of his intrinsic nature (his conduct in the pre-mortal existence).

Yes, these categorical disparagements were both unfortunate and false.

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:
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I submit that, relative to slavery and the sexual abuse of children, there are some "systems of morality" which are "objectively" better than others.

I'm glad we agree!

I'm not really surprised.  I think we likely agree far more than we disagree on most things.  But that's as to the "what," and not so much as the "why."

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:
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And much of the "enlightenment" comes from learning from the mistakes and errors of our predecessors who did not have comparable access to hindsight.  And yet you condemn them anyway.

Exactly! It comes from hindsight, human experience, history, and philosophy. 

"Philosophy" would seemingly include . . . religion, yes?

How do you account for the decades-long efforts of William Wilberforce to eradicate slavery in the British Empire?  AFAF.

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

And religion, with its adoration of prophets from less enlightened generations, is typically a drag that slows down our ability to learn these lessons.  

Meh.  Religion, sociopolitical ideologies, socioeconomic ideologies, nationalism, racism/tribalism, and various other -isms all advance and impede societal progress in various and sundry ways.

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I didn't condemn anyone. I explicitly said, "I'm not claiming that we are intrinsically superior human beings compared to them. But I am claiming that our moral sensibilities are based on objectively better principles than theirs. "

You're right.  I retract my statement and apologize.

14 minutes ago, Analytics said:
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And that is not "presentism"?

Maybe, maybe not. If I'm guilty of presentism because I think objectively, human sacrifice and genocide are morally wrong, then so be it.

That's not where I was going.

Thanks,

-Smac

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3 hours ago, smac97 said:

I acknowledge that.

The two ("academic Biblical scholarship" on the one hand and "apologetics or LDS doctrine" on the other) are not, contrary to your implication, mutually exclusive.d

They are mutually exclusive areas of study and ways of approaching texts. That doesn't mean they always conflict.  

 

3 hours ago, smac97 said:

I also reject the (apparently) implied notion that "academic Biblical scholarship" is ultimately definitive (or objective) when interpreting the Bible.

It's definitive of a historical approach to the text, as opposed to an apologetic or devotional approach to the text. 

 

3 hours ago, smac97 said:

No presuppositions or biases are present in critical biblical scholarship, then?  Are you sure?

Thanks,

-Smac

Did you mean to ask this of someone else? I didn't say anything resembling this. 

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