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Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:09 pm
by Doctor Scratch
Over on the aptly named MADboard, DCP is taking yet another opportunity to plug his special FAIR project, "Mormon Scholars Testify":

http://www.mormonapologetics.org/topic/ ... us-belief/

While he has said that he intended the site to be a "missionary effort" directed at some phantom audience, he's now shifting back again to treating it as an apologetic endeavor, and a testimony safety net:

Daniel Peterson wrote:"The world," a poster on another message board has just announced, "is comprised of two classes of people: intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence."

In partial response, I again offer

http://mormonscholarstestify.org/

Obviously, much more could be said (e.g. "Alvin Plantinga," "Dante Alighieri," "Francis Collins," "T. S. Eliot," "Thomas Aquinas," "Sir Isaac Newton," "William Lane Craig," "N. T. Wright," "Richard Swinburne," "Keith Ward," etc., etc., etc., etc.). But http://mormonscholarstestify.org/ will do for now.



Obviously, this presents a problem. This was an extremely sneaky tactical move on Dr. Peterson's part. *Of course* he'd like to place LDS Ph.D.s on a par with Dante, Newton, and Aquinas---but I'd like to pose this question to him in reply: How many of these very famous, world-class people are LDS? How many of them have contributed blurbs to "Mormon Scholars Testify"? How many of them, either explicitly or implicitly, lend genuine support to the truth claims of the LDS Church? How many of them would like to be lumped in with the contributors of MST in this manner?

Because let's face it: MST is not about defending belief in general. (And if it were, would Dr. Peterson include testimonies from Scientologists? Moonies? JWs? Calvinists?) It's about defending Mormon belief in particular. Thus, I find it extremely problematic that he would make the rhetorical move of linking MST up with such luminaries as Eliot, Newton, Aquinas, etc. In attempting to do this, DCP only acknowledges atheist criticism of Mormonism while neatly sidestepping the fact that a large percentage of theist scholars think that LDS beliefs and truth claims are hokey, blasphemous, and stupid.

Although I won't be holding my breath, I hope that the Good Professor steps up to the plate on these problematic issues.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:31 pm
by harmony
Doctor Scratch wrote: It's about defending Mormon belief in particular.


Well, DUH!

Although I won't be holding my breath, I hope that the Good Professor steps up to the plate on these problematic issues.


You're going to be very blue in the face before that happens.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:36 pm
by Darth J
Doctor Scratch wrote:Because let's face it: MST is not about defending belief in general. (And if it were, would Dr. Peterson include testimonies from Scientologists? Moonies? JWs? Calvinists?) It's about defending Mormon belief in particular.


Dr. Scratch, I would like to interject that MST is about defending LDS belief in particular.

Otherwise, would it include testimonies from members of the Community of Christ? Of the FLDS Church? Bickeronites? Strangites? The Nephite Church of Christ?

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:38 pm
by MrStakhanovite
I like how he name drops the same people over and over like the rest of the unwashed masses have never heard of them. I also like how he hunts down the worst of the worst and wittily rebuts them on a message board that protects him.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:47 pm
by The Dude
I remember back in the day when I was freshly skeptical about religion, I got my TBM father to read some Carl Sagan. Half-way through The Demon Haunted World my father was so impressed with Sagan's clear thinking that he said Carl Sagan would have made a great Mormon. Some TBMs take for granted that bright people would be Mormon if they only were given the chance. Perhaps this is where DCP is coming from with his comparison.

I could believe Isaac Newton would be a very eccentric Mormon if he'd grown up in Utah instead of England. He probably would have gone crazy from drinking massive amounts of Noni juice instead of taking mercury tinctures.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 6:51 pm
by Darth J
The Dude wrote:I could believe Isaac Newton would be a very eccentric Mormon if he'd grown up in Utah instead of England. He probably would have gone crazy from drinking massive amounts of Noni juice instead of taking mercury tinctures.


Not to derail, but if the Church would claim to be a Native American religion because of the Book of Mormon so we could take Noni juice and peyote for the sacrament, many issues could be resolved at once.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:11 pm
by EAllusion
Newton's interest in the occult and whackadoodle beliefs was unorthodox for his own religious background, so I think we could transplant those into a Mormon context just the same. He'd have a hard time not getting excommunicated. Kerry Shirts sticks around, so it's not impossible, but he'd at least be walking a fine line.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:22 pm
by harmony
Darth J wrote:Not to derail, but if the Church would claim to be a Native American religion because of the Book of Mormon so we could take Noni juice and peyote for the sacrament, many issues could be resolved at once.


We'd never have a problem finding people to convert, but tithe payers might be few and far between.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:17 pm
by Blixa
Dante Alighieri and T. S. Eliot are two of the influences that led me out of the church...

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:59 am
by zeezrom
When you realize how boring Joseph Smith and some of the other church leaders are when compared to ALL of the great thinkers of this world, you realize something else very important.

MST is also very boring - kind of like reading the same boring manual in EQ week after week after...

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:03 am
by harmony
zeezrom wrote:MST is also very boring - kind of like reading the same boring manual in EQ week after week after...


That's what happens when people say the same thing over and over and over.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:10 am
by EAllusion
The Dude wrote:I remember back in the day when I was freshly skeptical about religion, I got my TBM father to read some Carl Sagan. Half-way through The Demon Haunted World my father was so impressed with Sagan's clear thinking that he said Carl Sagan would have made a great Mormon. Some TBMs take for granted that bright people would be Mormon if they only were given the chance. Perhaps this is where DCP is coming from with his comparison.

I could believe Isaac Newton would be a very eccentric Mormon if he'd grown up in Utah instead of England. He probably would have gone crazy from drinking massive amounts of Noni juice instead of taking mercury tinctures.
DCP is just a fan of wrestling with the strawman argument that only unintelligent people can believe in God/The LDS faith. This gives him opportunity to pimp famous/well credentialed intellects who endorse his beliefs as a way of propping up their credibility. I say this is a strawman as it is not exactly a popular or nuanced argument, and almost all halfway thoughtful critics will accept that even very gifted people can believe in very questionable things. The aforementioned Issac Newton is a classic case of that. So DCP occasionally has to go dumpster diving to find someone, anyone willing to make the argument he wants to rebut so he can topple it in proud glory.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 12:46 pm
by Some Schmo
It never ceases to crack me up how so-called "intellectuals" will drop names of people who happen to agree with one particular stance of theirs or another, as though the very mention of their name puts these people on par with each other.

The most oft used name for this seems to be Einstein, but as we see up thread, he's not alone.

It's amusing to me; that's all. One would think that if you were a truly intellectual person, you'd have enough confidence in your intellect to avoid name dropping for the sake of credibility. It's one thing to cite a reference; it's something completely different to drop a name without clearly stating the reason for doing so. And that's to say nothing for the fact that just because someone is smart, it doesn't mean they can't be a complete whack job on certain issues.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:57 pm
by Ray A
Doctor Scratch wrote: In attempting to do this, DCP only acknowledges atheist criticism of Mormonism while neatly sidestepping the fact that a large percentage of theist scholars think that LDS beliefs and truth claims are hokey, blasphemous, and stupid.


Non-Mormon scholars might indeed see some kind of, if you like, general "spiritual and moral legitimacy" in Mormonism, another religion in quest of "religious truth", and another speck in some "universalist quest" for "unity". Apart from that, it's just another monkey shouting for attention in the Religious Zoo.

We who know better realise that "to be learned is good"....if you eventually follow the straight and narrow path of Mormonism.

The real irony here, is how the Church actually treats some Mormon scholars in fields that could threaten its "only true Church" claim. You have to ask the right questions, and provide the right answers, and don't rock the boat too much. EAllusion has a point - Newton would have been unlikely to last too long in Mormonism.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:59 pm
by Gadianton
Zeez wrote:MST is also very boring - kind of like reading the same boring manual in EQ week after week after...


I can't emphasize enough how important this observation is. Now, I am not arguing this as a critic of apologetics, I claim this based on the reactions of other apologists to the site. LoaP for one, who is one of the biggest supporters of apologetics ever, has said that he "tries" to read one or two entries a week. LOL! Are you kidding? This is a young man who devours book after book and presumably reads capably and quickly; he has also been forthrightly critical of himself for his love of reading on his blog because this desire is so intense within him. Yet, he has to "try" to get to a single MST testimony in every week? That's like saying, "The Book of Mormon is fantastic, it's thrilling, Mark Twain's opinion is a joke and I say this as an extensively published scholar and researcher; this year it's my goal to get through the first 52 pages of it by reading a page a week."

Also, I remember questioning ttribe at one point on MST and he was surprisingly unfamiliar with the content there even though he was promoting it heavily, IIRC. In fact, I have yet to see an apologist beyond DCP, who carefully edits the work, say much of anything that indicates a thorough knowledge of the testimonies on the site.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:15 pm
by Doctor Scratch
Gadianton wrote:
Zeez wrote:MST is also very boring - kind of like reading the same boring manual in EQ week after week after...


I can't emphasize enough how important this observation is. Now, I am not arguing this as a critic of apologetics, I claim this based on the reactions of other apologists to the site. LoaP for one, who is one of the biggest supporters of apologetics ever, has said that he "tries" to read one or two entries a week. LOL! Are you kidding? This is a young man who devours book after book and presumably reads capably and quickly; he has also been forthrightly critical of himself for his love of reading on his blog because this desire is so intense within him. Yet, he has to "try" to get to a single MST testimony in every week? That's like saying, "The Book of Mormon is fantastic, it's thrilling, Mark Twain's opinion is a joke and I say this as an extensively published scholar and researcher; this year it's my goal to get through the first 52 pages of it by reading a page a week."

Also, I remember questioning ttribe at one point on MST and he was surprisingly unfamiliar with the content there even though he was promoting it heavily, IIRC. In fact, I have yet to see an apologist beyond DCP, who carefully edits the work, say much of anything that indicates a thorough knowledge of the testimonies on the site.


Yes, you're absolutely right, Dr. Robbers. What has MST accomplished? What has it done? Beyond DCP listing off some rather bland compliments from people who've visited the site, what has been the point?

Again and again we see Dr. Peterson pointing to MST as "evidence" that even folks with Ph.D.'s can believe in Mormonism.... but so what? It occurs to me that there are a couple of components of his basic argument here, and both components are astonishingly mercenary and cynical. The first is the volume argument, which involves DCP linking to the site and exclaming, Oooh! Look how many scholars we have! I really cannot begin to tell you how cheesy this argument is. It reminds me of the Hollywood producer who wants to tell you how great his new re-boot of The Mod Squad is on account of its box office tally. The other, far more "TBM"-ish component of this is what might be referred to as the "palpability" argument. (Terryl Givens and others have alluded to this.) This argument suggests X piece of evidence helps out the Church's truth claims for no other reason beyond the fact that X exists. E.g., we have published copies of the Book of Mormon, so the Church must be true! Similarly, Mormon Ph.D.-holders exist, so the Church must be true! DCP's MST argument really doesn't have any complexity beyond this. If it did, you'd expect the LoaPs and Maklelans and Simon Belmonts of the world to engage with the "content" on the site, but of course they don't.

I think that you may have unearthed the reality that MST is an inadvertently chilling commentary on the lack of substance in even the smartest TBM scholars' testimonies.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:22 pm
by ttribe
Gadianton wrote:Also, I remember questioning ttribe at one point on MST and he was surprisingly unfamiliar with the content there even though he was promoting it heavily, IIRC.

No, you don't RC.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:56 pm
by Gadianton
thanks for the additional insights Doctor Scratch, I have a great idea, stay tuned...and you stay tuned as well ttribe, a new thread will allow you to show me just how bad my memory is.

Also, take note that within the next few days I will be publishing an article that relates to MST and the MI, I've stumbled across a little something that's just stunning. It's damning to the apologists in a way that I'd never have imagined possible.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:46 am
by The Nehor
Gadianton wrote:thanks for the additional insights Doctor Scratch, I have a great idea, stay tuned...and you stay tuned as well ttribe, a new thread will allow you to show me just how bad my memory is.

Also, take note that within the next few days I will be publishing an article that relates to MST and the MI, I've stumbled across a little something that's just stunning. It's damning to the apologists in a way that I'd never have imagined possible.


They have ads on the site?

They actually solicited these testimonies?

They used the printer in another building on campus to print out one page of someone's testimony without getting the other department's permission?

They used the blood of virgins to operate a steam powered generator that keeps their computer online?

They held the children of the testifiers hostage until they got the kind of testimony they wanted?

The possibilities are endless. I for one eagerly await this damning evidence.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:54 am
by Ray A
I think The Nehor is really struggling with his Mormon beliefs.

I pity you, my friend, and you don't know how obvious your intellectual and "spiritual" struggle is. With nearly every post you write here, I see a real closet unbeliever.

You just love the company of apostates.

Because you are one in the making.

Re: Another Problem with "Mormon Scholars Testify"

Posted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:02 am
by The Nehor
Ray A wrote:I think The Nehor is really struggling with his Mormon beliefs.


You don't think very well.

I pity you, my friend, and you don't know how obvious your ntellectual and "spiritual" struggle is. With nearly every post you write here, I see a real closet unbeliever.


LOL

You just love the company of apostates.


I feel the same way the eminent Edmund Blackadder did:

Percy: I must say, Edmund, it was jolly nice of you to ask me to share your breakfast before the rigors of the day begin.

Edmund: Well, it is said, Percy, that civilized man seeks out good and intelligent company, so that, through learned discourse, he may rise above the savage and closer to God.

Percy: Yes, I've heard that.

Edmund: Personally, however, I like to start the day with a total dickhead to remind me I'm best.

Because you are one in the making.


I'm not as weak in my faith as you were.