Reason, logic, facts and other nonsense

1/26 - 2/8/98 Messages

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received 2/8/98
Have you read Miracles, by C.S. Lewis?

Not yet. It's on the list.

A philosophical treatment of nature and supernature, and the limits of reason. An excellent read.

Any book that reasons that reason is limited may certainly be interesting (or entertaining--but excellent?). This reminds me of a message I received yesterday...

received 2/7/98
This isn't really a well planned thought, but here goes...

After reading a couple of 'enlightenment' tales, that is, tales of people becoming atheist, I must feel the need to point out the trap that is reason.

Are you going to use reason to do so? Perhaps you are 'trapping' yourself in so doing. ;)

When there is no sole reference point, no supreme and benevolent being in one's heart, there is still the yearning to know WHY. I myself have never had any inclination to worship anything, -one, -clan, -or council, and have instead been following the path of scholarly knowledge for quite some time. I have tried the systems of Wicca, Masonry and Rosicrucian, Mediation, (&) Acid, and other forms of 'mental power'. I found all lacking, mostly due to the derivations we see in the modern commercial world: self help books are a prime example. Criticism.

Reason, facts and logic are also all flawed.

Perhaps you can use logic and some facts to explain why for me? ;)

This is not a way of saying I beleive in nothing. I personally beleive there was someone named Jesus who was either blessed by 'The Being', simply posessed exceptional personal charisma, or was planted here by aliens!

Don't trust the Bible, and definately draw no axioms for living from it, also, don't neglect and axioms in it. There are wonderful analogies and beautiful passages in it.

I agree.

Problem is these books were not written by anyone we know as Jesus. They were written by Others, and then the Shebang was turned in to a money-making and landgrabbing scheme.

Amen brother. You are preaching to the choir here.

Reason will lead you into a spiral of suspicion, and will ultimately withdraw you from the world IF YOU WORSHIP it.

Simply, I live in a world where there is one law: do everything as long as you never intentially hurt anyone.

That sounds reasonable. Damn! I keep 'worshipping reason'. Sorry.

... I just read the 'argue from faith' essay, quite apt.

Fear your mind, it is as duplicitous as they come when it thinks it can win.

Everything I have just said is false.

I doubt it. In fact I'm very 'suspicious' about this last statement. And my head is spiraling... ;)

received 2/5/98
hello, i am looking for a book. it is called "the fait of the persurcuters of joseph smith" i hear it is out of print but don't know for sure, anyway you can let me know where i may find a copy of the book? i line in virginia... thanks

I'm not sure if this is a serious request or some sort of attempt at mockery, but assuming it is the former, here goes:

"Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith" is very much out of print.

I read this book while in high school. It was certainly faith-promoting. Unfortunately, there is a bunch of fiction in it written as though it were fact.

One of the stories, if I remember correctly, had a bolt of lightning coming out of the sky and zapping someone dead who tried to cut off Joseph Smith's head.

received 2/5/98
The following is a sarcastic message (in case you were wondering)

Well now, this may be all fine and good and true as far as facts go.. but how do you explain these very same founders of our nation coming back and appearing to [President Wilford Woodruff] and begging for baptism into the Mormon Church? I guess that pretty much trumps any of these historical facts, they obviously changed their minds. I'm so glad the restored gospel has an answer for everything.

Although I no longer have the time (or the patience) to continue to put together many things on Mormonism for the site, a friend of mine and I had an interesting idea a few weeks ago which you (or anyone else) is more than welcome to take up.

Why not create a "Famous Mormons" website? You have your "Famous Atheists" and "Famous this, that, and the other" websites all over the net so why not put one together for Mormonism? The answer, of course, is that there are only a dozen or so famous Mormons that people outside of Mormonism know about so it wouldn't be much of a site.

But what if you included all those who are dead who the church has assimilated since their death via Baptism for the Dead? You could put together a great website including people like Hitler, George Washington, Charles Darwin, Epicurus, Voltaire, David Hume, Napoleon Bonaparte, and just about anyone else who is dead and has decent genealogical records on them since the church has probably baptized them into the fold.

No other church can claim as many famous members as Mormonism! ;)

received 2/5/98
Here's [link that no longer works] a major example of fraud in science.

I don't place my trust in a person or a study. Science is a method--not a conclusion.

received 2/5/98
I was reading "What is Athiesm", no listed author, and at the end of it I just had to wonder what the working definition of God/god is--how can you say whether or not something is there if you cannot even define what "it" is.

I'm the author of the above. As I state on the page, Atheism isn't "saying whether or not something is there". It is a lack of belief. "Saying whether or not something is there" would fall under agnosticism which deals with knowledge rather than belief.

Atheism is always with respect to a certain, defined god. Christians, for example, are atheists with respect to all gods except their own. I was using the term "atheist" in sort of a generic way to deal with all the gods I have heard of, and studied, and not with respect to any specific god.

Some choose to define god (because they see no evidence of the traditional gods) as "love" or "mystery" or some other word for which the word "god" need not be attached Imo. I wasn't using the term in this sense. Imo, being an atheist of all the gods you have heard of doesn't mean that you lack a belief in love, mystery, or other such words.

Do you know of any non-religion links (i.e. Christian, pagan...) that define who God/god is?

No, because everyone defines god differently. Karen Armstrong provides good definitions of what numerous people over the centuries have defined god to be.

Generally, "god" is defined as a supernatural entity or energy that created the universe (and therefore everything in it). Most Bible believers think that "god" is far more personal (in that "he" can, and does, supposedly intervene in the lives of humans).

received 2/4/98
I enjoy your site and visit occassionally. I have a friend who is very intelligent and very religious. He considers me a challenge. I have discovered some very good arguments at your site.

I received this joke from a joke list and thought you might enjoy it:

Two different theories exist concerning the origin of children: the theory of sexual reproduction, and the theory of the stork. Many people believe in the theory of sexual reproduction because they have been taught this theory at school.

In reality, however, many of the world's leading scientists are in favour of the theory of the stork. If the theory of sexual reproduction is taught in schools, it must only be taught as a theory and not as the truth. Alternative theories, such as the theory of the stork, must also be taught.

Evidence supporting the theory of the stork includes the following:

1. It is a scientifically established fact that the stork does exist. This can be confirmed by every ornithologist.

2. The alleged human fetal development contains several features that the theory of sexual reproduction is unable to explain.

3. The theory of sexual reproduction implies that a child is approximately nine months old at birth. This is an absurd claim. Everyone knows that a newborn child is newborn.

4. According to the theory of sexual reproduction, children are a result of sexual intercourse. There are, however, several well documented cases where sexual intercourse has not led to the birth of a child.

5. Statistical studies in the Netherlands have indicated a positive correlation between the birth rate and the number of storks. Both are decreasing.

6. The theory of the stork can be investigated by rigorous scientific methods. The only assumption involved is that children are delivered by the stork.


Keep up the good work,

received 2/3/98
I totally agree with you on Atlas Shrugged. It is by far the best book I have ever read.

I don't go quite that far. I now think that it is one of the best books I've read--but probably not the best. There are a few problems with the philosophy (mostly due to the fact that she was writing so many decades ago) and Rand's brand of fiction Imo. (I like completely believable, realistic fiction)

I had seen it on many people's favorite books lists (everyone from Timothy Leary to Bill Gates), but I put off reading it for several years because of the sheer undertaking of reading 1000+ pages. I recently finished it over Christmas break and am sorry I didn't read it sooner. Although I recommend reading The Fountainhead first, as it is sort of an introduction to egoism and objectivism.

I plan on reading "The Fountainhead" someday. I'm waiting to put a few years between it and "Atlas Shrugged" since they are similar.

I haven't read Anthem, but I definitely will. I own the 2112 album and love it.

Rush's last tour included a *complete* rendition of Side 1 of "2112". It was excellent and almost moved me as much as their resurrection of "Natural Science" for the tour.

Love the site,

received 2/1/98
Enjoy your site, will return many times.

A question I have asked and never had a quality answer given is as follows, 1st commandment-Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. Does this not imply that there are other gods? The statement does not refer to 'false gods'. I feel this would indicate serious competition in the holy field.

There are many books on this subject of how the Hebrews transformed portions of Paganism into Judaism. I'm no longer reading up on the subject--sort of past that point in my studies--but you may want to check into some of the titles on the Bible and Christianity page. Karen Armstrong's book called "A History of God" discusses the fact that the early Jews still believed in the "other gods" of Paganism. One can see this simply by reading the Old Testament. It wasn't until the Christian Era, I believe, that the "other gods" were finally deemed to no longer be anything more than myths.

It is ironic that our secular schools teach children about the myths of other cultures (like the Greeks, Egyptians, etc.) but they don't bother to bring up the myths of Western Cultures found in the Bible. Imagine the look on a fundamentalist parent's face if they were looking in on a class of their child's and the teacher got up and said, "Today we shall discuss Greek and Christian mythology". ;)

received 1/29/98
You anti's kill me. You scoff at Hugh Nibley when he disagrees with you and call him a joke.

Where have I called him a 'joke'? Where have I scoffed at him simply because he disagrees with me? Your assertions would pack a little more punch if they were based on something I have actually said.

And when you think he is doubting the markings on the Lehi Stone, he is a scholar. Guys you can not have it both ways. Get a life.

Now who is doing the scoffing? Can the head of BYU's Religion Department have it both ways? He picks and chooses what portions of Nibley he finds scholarly and which portions he has "serious misgivings about [with regard to] his methodology".

Those who look at things without an "everything must be black or white" attitude have no problem finding both truth and falsehood with a person's writings. Relying on evidence on a case-by-case basis is the key to "getting a life". Those who rely on an authority without being able to honestly examine the facts for themselves are the ones you should be calling to repentance.

received 1/28/98
I don't know why but I usually find myself grinning and chuckling as I surf your web-site. WELL DONE rpcman.

I'm grinning and chuckling at your alias and email address. ;) (only Mormons will understand it--mahanna uugly eightcowwife)

I ran across this quote attributed to Winston Churchill the other day and it seems especially appropriate to the subject matter so clearly elucidated on your site. He said "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened". This seems to be the most common reaction when people learn truths that compromise their existing belief system. As for me, the more I investigate my Mormon roots (yeah, I'm a 5th generation Mormon too...we should get badges!!) the more it reminds me of the movie "Being There" where Peter Sellers plays Chauncey the gardener and even though he is a fool, somehow people believe he is a great sage and thus no matter what he does others interpret his ramblings to be profound truths.

Let's take the boys at FARMS for instance. I have to agree with Sterling McMurrin in stating that they are "just making fools of themselves" as they try to explain away all the nonsense that critics of the church continue to unearth.

Yes. I agree. I sent a message to a mailing list a while ago which contained some of the methodology problems that the folks at FARMS suffer from. These include:
1) They overgeneralize ("Critics say this ... [insert some anti-Mormon nonsense that someone said]"--when in reality only some or one critic(s) made those false claims.
2) They start with the answers and then use (and ignore) evidence in order to bolster their pre-determined conclusions.
3) They flatly distort when they have to in order to make the 'critics' they are attempting to refute say something they didn't or the Mormon 'evidence' they are attempting to 'prove' look like something it probably isn't.

Even though Shermer's book doesn't deal with Mormonism, the faulty reasoning and tactics he points out in other 'apologists' apply equally as well to the folks at FARMS.

An interesting thing about FARMS is that ultimately they can and do raise questions for people who may not otherwise dream up those questions which then lead to doubt. Hugh Nibley's 'scholarship', for instance, was influential in my departure from Mormonism. Look at the first "Review of Books on the Book of Mormon" FARMS put out. Two of their authors have been subsequently excommunicated. Another recently wrote a very controversial book. Many apologists, besides myself, have turned into 'critics'. Ed Ashment, D. Michael Quinn, Thomas Ferguson, and Stan Larson are a few other examples.

In fact it was a statement by John L. Sorenson in his paper entitled "When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?" which finally broke the final thread of belief that I held in the church. He explained that YES there must have been large numbers of people in the land already when Lehi and company arrived "But neither Mormon nor any other Nephite writer would waste time and precious space on the plates by adding pointlessly, 'Incidentally, there were some other bunches of people hanging around too'." Maybe, it's just me but that sounds like a pretty foolish statement in light of the fact that their finding of "other bunches of people hanging around" would have been one of the most important events of their lives. Chauncey wins again! There is plenty of space to write needlessly "And it came to pass" about a bazillion times but no, not even one tinsy wincy line to let us know about the millions of people that were already there in the "land of promise, yea even a land which I have prepared for you" (God speaking) when they got there.

If space was so precious, why include all the Isaiah verses? Why repeat so much out of the KJV of the Bible? The arguments of those at FARMS can, in many cases, turn around and bite the hand that feeds them.

Anyway, in closing let me just assure you that when the time comes that you can't get any food and the good Mormons won't give you any (as they have repeatedly stated)...just let me know ...I have a couple of tons of wheat I've been dragging around for about twenty years that I would be happy to share with you. Good luck!!

I'm not a big fan of wheat. I think I'd rather starve. Do you have any pasta? How about some Chinese food? If so, let me know when and where the party is. ;)

received 1/26/98
It looks like you and I have been reading the same books. This not only includes the scientific/skeptical books but the Book of Mormon also (I was raised Mormon). I notice you do not have Dennett's book Consciousness Explained listed. If you have not read it then please do. I think it is one of the best books on consciousness around. It changed some of my dearly held beliefs to their exact opposite (which is rare since I am quite stubborn).

Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't read "Consciousness Explained" yet, but I plan to. If Dennett or Little Brown & Co. get around to sending me a copy, it will certainly speed up the process. ;)

I have read a couple of other books by Dennett including "The Mind's I" and "Kinds of Minds".

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