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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:49 am 
Dark Lord of the Sith
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RayAgostini wrote:
Darth J wrote:

Thanks for sharing your belief that 19th-century American folk magic really worked, Ray. I'm not going to bother asking what your basis is for saying so.


I wouldn't grace you with a reply anyway, my pseudoskeptical fiend.


Arthur C. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Maybe Joseph Smith got his seer stone from a UFO. You never know!

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 10:59 am 
Darth J wrote:
Arthur C. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Maybe Joseph Smith got his seer stone from a UFO. You never know!


Looks like you need something to play with. Here ya go.

Spend the next six months spitting your dummy over that. All good entertainment. You're really angry at Mormonism, aren't you?


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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:06 am 
Dark Lord of the Sith
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RayAgostini wrote:
Darth J wrote:
Arthur C. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Maybe Joseph Smith got his seer stone from a UFO. You never know!


Looks like you need something to play with. Here ya go.

Spend the next six months spitting your dummy over that. All good entertainment. You're really angry at Mormonism, aren't you?


Just to clarify, Ray, when a person specifically says he cannot eliminate the possibility that space aliens exist, but he has not seen any convincing evidence to make him believe that, he's a psedoskeptic, right?

You never explained why you're not a Scientologist, Ray. How can you be sure that Scientology isn't true?

For that matter, how do you know that pseudoskepticism isn't true?

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:13 am 
Darth J wrote:
You never explained why you're not a Scientologist, Ray. How can you be sure that Scientology isn't true?


Did I ever explain why I'm not a Mormon? Oh, I forgot.

I may be back later if I'm in the mood for mind games. Enjoy your board convulsions in the meantime anyway.

The morning breaks, the shadows flee;
Lo, Zion’s standard is unfurled!
The dawning of a brighter day,
Majestic rises on the world.
The clouds of error disappear
Before the rays of truth divine;
The glory bursting from afar,
Wide o’er the nations soon will shine.

(Hope that doesn't send shivers down your spine)


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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:16 am 
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The clouds of error disappear
Before the rays of truth divine;


Yup. but not the way the writer of those words was expecting.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:19 am 
Dark Lord of the Sith
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Is it possible to make Pascal's Wager its own religion, as well as a branch of science?

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:20 am 
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Why am I getting dragged into this discussion? What is your main point, exactly, Ray? As I understand it, your present sympathy from Mormonism is based on two personal things: (1) because a critic insulted one of your kids, and (2) because you felt "moved" by DCP's interview on (of all things) "Mormon Stories."

Is there more to it than that? I don't really know what you're arguing here, exactly.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:28 am 
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Darth J wrote:
No, that's not interesting. That's banal. I never needed convincing that the Eight Witnesses were shown a set of plates.


And why do not need convincing? Tell the truth? Is it because the evidence points you to think that he really did have plates? Without the testimony of the 8 one might still conclude he had some plates, right? But with it, the evidence mounts that much more.

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That's funny, because earlier in this thread you said you were not claiming that the Testimony of the Eight Witnesses is circumstantial evidence that the Book of Mormon is true. viewtopic.php?f=1&t=23924&p=588472&hilit=circumstantial#p588472


It's one claim at a time. Did he have plates that appeared ancient and had writing on them? Even you, an avowed critic have said yes to that. I say you say yes because the evidence suggests he did, as he claimed. Thus, one claim is considered true, as you say, by all serious people looking into it. And why is it considered true? Because the evidence is too strong for you, an avowed critic, to dispute it.

Quote:
Oh, well then it must be the LDS Church that's all confused about what their statement meant.

The Book of Mormon: Introduction

In addition to Joseph Smith, the Lord provided for eleven others to see the gold plates for themselves and to be special witnesses of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon. Their written testimonies are included herewith as “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses.”


Let's not try and redirect this, just yet, DJ. You have yet to acknowledge the simple facts here.

Quote:
Why not?


The testimony of the 8 is in itself a piece of data. This piece of data on its own does not in anyway suggest there was fraud. It does suggest that were plates.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:56 am 
Dark Lord of the Sith
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Doctor Scratch wrote:
Why am I getting dragged into this discussion? What is your main point, exactly, Ray? As I understand it, your present sympathy from Mormonism is based on two personal things: (1) because a critic insulted one of your kids, and (2) because you felt "moved" by DCP's interview on (of all things) "Mormon Stories."

Is there more to it than that? I don't really know what you're arguing here, exactly.


Doctor, to understand why you're getting dragged into this, I think you would need to figure out what, if anything, Ray's point is. I wish you the best of luck in that endeavor.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:03 pm 
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stemelbow wrote:
The testimony of the 8 is in itself a piece of data.
What is the weight to be given that piece of data?

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:13 pm 
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Maybe if our resident Mopologists act just crazy enough they'll convince us nothing exists, there is no truth, and that everything is subjective; therefore, Mormonism is the most likely of all Explanations of Everything.

Apple.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:16 pm 
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stemelbow wrote:

Let's not try and redirect this, just yet, DJ. You have yet to acknowledge the simple facts here.


I can understand why you wouldn't want to discuss the church's statement on the witnesses. It totally destroys your point.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:17 pm 
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The testimony of the Eight (among other evidence, of course) is evidence that Joseph Smith was a real person who lived. It is evidence that Palmyra, NY was a real place in the 19th Century.

In and of themselves these pieces of data do not demonstrate that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record, perhaps.

But it's a start, as they say.

Because of the testimony of the Eight (among other evidence, of course) even an avowed critic like DJ is forced to accept that Joseph Smith was a real person who lived.


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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:23 pm 
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Sophocles wrote:
The testimony of the Eight (among other evidence, of course) is evidence that Joseph Smith was a real person who lived. It is evidence that Palmyra, NY was a real place in the 19th Century.

In and of themselves these pieces of data do not demonstrate that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record, perhaps.

But it's a start, as they say.

Because of the testimony of the Eight (among other evidence, of course) even an avowed critic like DJ is forced to accept that Joseph Smith was a real person who lived.


I used to joke with my friends about my possible NOM testimony, wondering whether anyone would catch on:

"I would like to stand up and bear my testimony that I know, with every fiber of my being, that Joseph Smith brought forth the Book of Mormon, that he founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that president Monson truly stands at the head of this Church today," etc.

I always wondered what kind of response that "testimony" would get.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:30 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
"I would like to stand up and bear my testimony that I know, with every fiber of my being, that Joseph Smith brought forth the Book of Mormon, that he founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that president Monson truly stands at the head of this Church today," etc.


Hilarious!

"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of Joseph Smith, this is the testimony, last of all, which I give of him: That he lived!

For my ancestors saw him, even on the left hand of Sidney Rigdon..."


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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:31 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
"I would like to stand up and bear my testimony that I know, with every fiber of my being, that Joseph Smith brought forth the Book of Mormon, that he founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that president Monson truly stands at the head of this Church today," etc.

I always wondered what kind of response that "testimony" would get.

lol. nice.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:41 pm 
Dark Lord of the Sith
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stemelbow wrote:
Darth J wrote:
No, that's not interesting. That's banal. I never needed convincing that the Eight Witnesses were shown a set of plates.


And why do not need convincing? Tell the truth? Is it because the evidence points you to think that he really did have plates? Without the testimony of the 8 one might still conclude he had some plates, right? But with it, the evidence mounts that much more.


You keep acting as if evidence is a self-existent thing, and you can just point to various facts and call them "evidence." "Donna Summers died today! That's evidence!" "I saw a bag of Cheetos at the store! That's evidence!" "There's a cloud in the sky today! That's evidence!"

The concept of evidence only means something in relation to a given claim. Because you can't wrap your brain around that idea, you're continuing with your tautology of "Evidence that Joseph Smith had some plates is evidence that Joseph Smith had some plates." No, I don't dispute that the Testimony of the Eight Witnesses is evidence that Joseph Smith showed them a set of plates. The testimony of James Strang's witnesses is also evidence that he had some plates. The Patterson film is also evidence that Patterson had some footage. Charles Ponzi's postal reply coupons are also evidence that he had some postal reply coupons. But in none of these cases was the proponent of the evidence trying to prove the bare fact that they had a tangible object. Joseph Smith did not start a church based on, "I have some metal plates! Ta-dah! The End!"

EDIT: fixed another typo in the above paragraph

Quote:
Quote:
That's funny, because earlier in this thread you said you were not claiming that the Testimony of the Eight Witnesses is circumstantial evidence that the Book of Mormon is true. viewtopic.php?f=1&t=23924&p=588472&hilit=circumstantial#p588472


It's one claim at a time.


That's what circumstantial evidence means, stemelbow. Fourteen pages into this thread and you're still showing that you don't understand basic, commonly accepted terminology.

Quote:
Did he have plates that appeared ancient and had writing on them? Even you, an avowed critic have said yes to that.


No, I specifically said no to that. The Eight Witnesses had no way to know what ancient plates would look like, and they had no way of knowing whether the etchings on the plates were in fact writing. EDIT: fixed a typo in this sentence.

Quote:
I say you say yes because the evidence suggests he did, as he claimed.


A statement by eight people who had no idea what they were looking at and had no way to verify what Joseph Smith claimed about the plates has no foundation as evidence. I think there's a thread about that on this board somewhere.

Quote:
Thus, one claim is considered true, as you say, by all serious people looking into it. And why is it considered true? Because the evidence is too strong for you, an avowed critic, to dispute it.


No, stemelbow, it's not a separate claim. It is one element of Joseph Smith's claim. On my mission, I never told people, "Here's the testimony of Eight Witnesses. This statement is completely independent of the Book of Mormon."

Quote:
Oh, well then it must be the LDS Church that's all confused about what their statement meant.

Quote:
The Book of Mormon: Introduction

In addition to Joseph Smith, the Lord provided for eleven others to see the gold plates for themselves and to be special witnesses of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon. Their written testimonies are included herewith as “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses.”


Let's not try and redirect this, just yet, DJ. You have yet to acknowledge the simple facts here.


No, you don't get to argue about evidence in a vacuum. You still don't understand what the OP is about or what this thread is about. A thing's value as evidence can only be assessed in relation to the ultimate claim to be proved. The primary consideration---whether a proffered item of evidence is relevant---cannot be decided independent of the claim that is at issue. You have to look at what the claim is to determine whether alleged evidence tends to prove or disprove that claim.

Quote:
Quote:
Why not?


The testimony of the 8 is in itself a piece of data. This piece of data on its own does not in anyway suggest there was fraud. It does suggest that were plates.


Umm, stemelbow, this thread is about the distinction between proof and evidence. I'm not asking if it is proof of fraud. I am asking if it is evidence of fraud. "Evidence" means a piece of data related to a given claim. "Proof" means a given claim has been shown to be true. Let's show everyone you're wearing your big boy pants today and you understand what this thread is about after you have babbled on and on purporting to address the OP.

Is the Testimony of Eight Witnesses evidence that the Book of Mormon is a fraud?

___Yes ___No

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Last edited by Darth J on Thu May 17, 2012 2:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 12:48 pm 
God
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CaliforniaKid wrote:
Kishkumen wrote:
"I would like to stand up and bear my testimony that I know, with every fiber of my being, that Joseph Smith brought forth the Book of Mormon, that he founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that president Monson truly stands at the head of this Church today," etc.

I always wondered what kind of response that "testimony" would get.

lol. nice.
Someone suggested (I don't remember who, but the idea is not original with me, so I don't want to imply that it was), that the purpose of the 3 and then the 8 witnesses were to keep Joseph Smith from being hauled into court again on glass looking charges as it could be easily anticipated that he would soon become much more well known upon publication of the Book of Mormon.

Mary Whitmer, although she claimed to see the plates, was not included as a witness in the publication, as a woman, she would not have been allowed to testify in court during that period.

Just because 11 people (who would be qualified to testify in court) say that they saw me wipe my finger prints off of the gun doesn't mean that I shot him. But why was I wiping my finger prints off?

Sometimes when you return to the scene of the crime to tidy up, you just end up incriminating yourself.

Are the witnesses evidence of the plates or of fraud? Why didn't he just show them to everyone?

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Last edited by lulu on Thu May 17, 2012 1:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 1:22 pm 
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lulu wrote:
Someone suggested (I don't remember who, but the idea is not original with me, so I don't want to imply that it was), that the purpose of the 3 and then the 8 witnesses were to keep Joseph Smith from being hauled into court again on glass looking charges as it could be easily anticipated that he would soon become much more well known upon publication of the Book of Mormon.

Mary Whitmer, although she claimed to see the plates, was not included as a witness in the publication, as a woman, she would not have been allowed to testify in court during that period.


Very interesting, lulu. It is certainly worth exploring.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 1:44 pm 
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Quote:
I admired your posts, when, I believe, you were well aware of the problems. It wasn't just the Book of Abraham that sent you spiraling. You made some very good arguments as to why one should still remain a faithful Mormon, in spite of the difficulties, problems and challenges. I wish I had access to those posts now. They are gone, but still embedded in my memory, because you were prodding me to think much more about my own opposition.

Then all of a sudden, I see this aggressive Kevin Graham.

Nothing you ever did as a critic, ever inspired me as much as what you did as an apologist.


Ray, there were some arguments I made during the waning phases of my faith that were designed to justify belief despite the evidence. That you were inspired by them only indicates your desire to maintain belief despite the evidence as well. For example I forwarded an argument that the Book of Mormon could be fiction, and still be "true." Others appreciated my position and I was even asked to publish on this theory. But the way I was treated by Bill Hamblin on that issue, for example, made it clear to me that this was not a position that would ever be acceptable. There was simply no room for such neo-orthodoxy in the Church.

I look at so many members who engage in the same kind of mental gymnastics just to maintain status in the Church. Just to give you an example I just returned from Utah after attending my niece's wedding reception. She was sealed in the Salt Lake City temple. Her parents have been members all their lives and they've been living in Utah for more than twenty years after moving from Brazil. While staying at their home, I realized the father, who is "temple worthy," drinks decaffeinated coffee and puts alcohol in the food he cooks.

He rationalizes that the cooking kills the alcohol and that the reason coffee is forbidden in the Church is due to the caffeine. When I, the lowly apostate, tried to explain to him that caffeine has absolutely nothing to do with the word of wisdom, he flipped out on me. He kept saying "for me it is the caffeine." To which I would respond, but "for the Church it is the coffee." He then said "you're like so many members of the Church who take little things and twist them with to be like they want." He was obviously projecting since that is precisely what he was doing.

I dropped the matter after a few minutes because he was becoming enraged and I was supposed to be celebrating my 10th anniversary. The reason he was acting that way was obvious. He didn't want to come to gripes with the fact that he was deceiving himself and the Church for so many years. What I was telling him pissed him off. I wasn't "inspiring" him, even though what I said was 100% accurate.

So you see, it doesn't matter if you feel inspired by what I said because your feelings are driven by your own predetermined desires of what you want to be true. So when I was an apologist trying to justify belief in a false belief system, you liked that because you too were trying to justify your own belief and participation in Mormonism.

But the fact is I was kidding myself the whole time just like others like Darth J. I stopped trying to juggle so many untenable apologetic arguments and gave in to my God-given ability to reason. I don't know why this is hard for you to understand. The fact that you don't like where my path of following the evidence has taken me, is irrelevant. It doesn't make me a bigot just because it pisses you off. Calling me names and bringing up stuff from years ago only reflects poorly on you. I am a much, much better person than I was ten years ago when I was spitting fire trying to justify intellectual belief in Mormonism.

I had two wonderful conversations with Brian Hauglid and David Bokovoy last week and they both understood this perfectly well. They aren't inclined to hold apostasy against the person, unlike people such as you and Dan Peterson, because they understand our position that, if we are wrong, then we have no one else to blame but God since he is the one who gave us a brain and the capacity to reason. They do not fault us for that and you shouldn't either.

If you want to belief Mormonism is in some way "true," then I have absolutely no problem with that. As I told these guys last week, the Church does a wonderful service for some people. But it is also responsible for screwing up others. If people find happiness in the Church, then as far as I am concerned, more power to them. How does that make me a bigot?

As I explained to them, what I feel obligated to do is make sure people who are tinkering with the idea of converting to Mormonism, have a better understanding of what it is they're getting into. As an educator by trade I feel obligated to see that people make informed decisions with their eyes wide open. People like Dan Peterson hide truths from people because he wants them to reach a certain conclusion. That's not me.

People born and raised in the Church, they are the responsibility of their parents. I don't go out and try to convert Mormon kids. Even when they come at be with full force and try to reconvert me back to Mormonism, I never bring up the troubling issues of the Church because I don't want to be responsible for any loss of faith they encounter. Going through that process can be devastating to folks raised in the Church. My wife's brother from Brazil is a bishop, and she kept trying to get me to debate him on things like the Book of Abraham. I refused. This guy clearly knows nothing about even the basics, and I didn't want to make him feel stupid in front of the family. They already worship this guy just because he is a bishop and he is eating up that role while they treat him as if he is so much more "spiritual" than the rest of us. He is always asked to do the prayer, to answer gospel related questions, etc. But I know that there is nothing I could say to him that would make a difference because the Church has become such a huge part of his life and identity. It defines who he is, his purpose in life, etc. Whether it is based on actual truth claims becomes largely beside the point for people like him. They don't want to know the truth just like my wife's uncle didn't want to know the truth about the Word of Wisdom.

At any rate, I hope one day you'll consider the possibility that I'm not quite the monster you and Dan Peterson have constructed from exaggerated or even false inferences. Just because I do not make you feel warm inside when I post my arguments, shouldn't mean I'm a bigot.

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 Post subject: Re: Decent Post on Proof and Evidence at Sic et Non
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2012 1:50 pm 
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lulu wrote:
What is the weight to be given that piece of data?


In regards to what question?

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