I couldn't care less if Smith was gay, visited the Nauvoo whorehouse like Sarah Pratt said, had a harem of five thousand Nubian princesses, had an "open marriage". Who cares? I sure don't.
Oh, but you do! By all indications, you care very, very much.
The point here is whether Mormonism - really - is what it claims to be.
But then you promptly admit that what Mormonism claims to be is inextricably tied to Joseph Smith and
… his credibility as a witness.
And, in the mind of Talmage Bachman, the credibility of Joseph Smith is suspect primarily because . . . he attempted to conceal, to the public, his practice of plural marriage. Presumably, had Joseph Smith been completely open about his polygamy, then his credibility when it comes to gold plates and angels would be greatly enhanced.
But, since he obviously dissembled when it came to his practice of marrying multiple women, then everything else becomes suspect as well.
This is about one case in which you concede Smith "concealed the truth" (another nice euphemism).
Well, it may be a nice euphemism, but I didn’t employ it. It is of your manufacture. The only thing I conceded – and endorsed – was Joseph Smith’s attempts to conceal his practice of plural marriage from the general public.
As for the general philosophy of “concealing truth” consistent with greater strategic aims, I will go on the record as also endorsing that practice, under certain circumstances. Indeed, in many cases, “concealing truth” is absolutely imperative. You may be familiar with the somewhat famous World War II episode where Churchill permitted a German bombing attack to occur unopposed rather than expose the truth that the German code had been broken. In that case, Churchill’s decision condemned innocent people to death for a greater strategic end.
In the case of Nauvoo-era plural marriage, Joseph Smith’s secrecy also pursued a strategic end – albeit not the one that his critics assume.
Nevertheless, the question remains, is there a logical connection between Joseph Smith’s dissembling on the issue of his practice of plural marriage and the “truth” of his other prophetic claims?
You would have us believe (despite your inconsistent protestations to the contrary) that if he “concealed the truth” about this particular religious
thing, then it follows that any other of Joseph Smith’s religious
claims are likewise tainted. Is this logical? Well, of course not. Except in the minds of fundamentalist exmormons.
Well might we also argue that Winston Churchill is not to be believed when he informs us that Hitler is a bad man, or that Communism is a evil, since (were we privy to the “truth”) we know Churchill is someone who is willing to conceal the truth
to achieve his ends.
As long as we keep the outrageous lengths Smith went to, to perpetuate a matter which very much was not a laughing matter to the husbands whose wives he slept with, to the women he slept with, to his own wife …
Yes, I can see that you don’t really have a problem with Joseph Smith’s sex life, per se
. And, were it not immaterial to our particular discussion, I might note that I have yet to see any persuasive evidence that Joseph Smith ever consummated his eternal sealings to previously-married women.
But the truth is, that in any investigation of Mormonism, Smith's reliability as a source about his religious experiences is an issue.
The problem, dear Talmage, is that even if Joseph Smith ran amok in Nauvoo, became a sexual predator, and lied to anyone and everyone about it, there is no logical reason to conclude that EVERYTHING he ever claimed was a lie.
And by the way, that Smith "concealed" his sexual/marital behaviour from others does not mean that he "lied about everything else", nor would I ever suggest something so daft.
What? Can you not see how ridiculous you sound when you say this?
This is precisely
the conclusion you desire us to reach when you point to Joseph Smith’s public dissembling on the question of plural marriage. Your argument is implicit throughout: Joseph Smith lied about his practice of polygamy, therefore the Book of Mormon, the alleged visions, the angelic ministrants – it’s also all a lie.
However, to those who seriously consider the complex issues surrounding Joseph Smith, this kind of simplistic approach proves deficient. This is something the authors of the Nauvoo Expositor
understood quite well. If you read its one and only issue, you will find interspersed throughout it numerous references to the divine origins and authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Here we have a group of men who were there; who condemned Joseph Smith as a sexual libertine, and yet they believed that he was but a “fallen prophet” – not that he was never a prophet at all!
… wherever did we even get the idea in the first place that you could read and pray about the Book of Mormon to find out it was an authentic historical record? Nowhere but the Book of Mormon. And who brought us the Book of Mormon?
Interesting that on this very point, your apostate forbears don’t agree with your analysis. How could that be? Perhaps because they perceive the very things I do when considering these questions:
1. The Book of Mormon can be considered independent of any questions surrounding Joseph Smith.
2. The Book of Mormon has other
witnesses besides Joseph Smith.
3. The Book of Mormon invites readers to obtain a witness of its truthfulness via means independent of Joseph Smith.
The morality or immorality of plural marriage is entirely irrelevant to my points here. But even if it was relevant, my view wouldn't matter, since I couldn't possibly care less if some dude 170 years ago had a polygamous marriage with consenting adults. I couldn't care less if a dude (or woman) does that NOW. I don't care if my neighbours are swingers; I don't care if you're a swinger. I don't care if a guy's celibate or anything else. As long as the participants are consenting adults, I couldn't care less. I think the Edmunds-Tucker Act was a joke, and I think polygamy between consenting ADULTS shouldn't be illegal now. I couldn't care less about the "marriages" or the sex itself.
Of course, the residents of Illinois circa 1844 weren’t as accommodating of alternative life styles as you are in 2008. They probably wouldn’t have pursued a “live and let live” approach to neighbors they considered to be sexual profligates.
But plural marriage is not the issue here, is it, William?
Thou sayeth. Over and over and over again.
We could be talking about any other topic about which Smith engaged in "concealment", and it would raise the same questions about trustworthiness.
Again, your failure to understand that, in an adult world, there are times, places, and circumstances where it is not only appropriate, but in fact morally incumbent
upon one to conceal information, is a telling commentary on your particular brand of naïvété.
His prowess in dissembling on this issue, however, does unavoidably tell us that he was - well, good at dissembling.
And this cannot help but open the door to the serious possibility that he did so just as boldly, repeatedly, and convincingly about other issues.
As I indicated above, we may likewise justifiably doubt Winston Churchill’s conclusions about Adolf Hitler.
I hope for your sake that Tarski, Beastie, Dr. Shades, and others aren't reading this thread - the people who were around when Runaway Dan Peterson himself refused to engage with ME on this very board last year.
I was around then. I followed what happened. Your characterization of the episode is, to say the least, comical.
If you think you have the balls to venture onto the much larger stage of the MAD board, I’m sure you could be granted “Pundit” status for the purpose of engaging in intellectual discussions of these questions. Of course, that would mean that you’d have to abandon the security of this little pond of sycophants in which you seem to have found a comfortable home of late. And most of all, it would mean that you would have to meet the standards of decorum required there. If you don’t understand what those standards are, you should speak with The Dude, or Dan Vogel, or Brent Metcalfe, who have mastered the art of being a critic without being an asshole. You, my friend, could learn much from them in that respect.
I would be more than willing to initiate a thread in the School of the Pundits on a question that would engage your interest, and instead of us bantering back and forth before an audience of a half dozen or so, we could take this show to a venue that sees over a thousand unique users each week.
I come over here and play with the piranhas quite frequently, despite the fact that believers are the distinct minority here. Are you brave enough to present your “ironclad” arguments in a highly-moderated setting that demands a dispassionate approach?
Finally, speaking of the question of revelation, and my characterization of it as “articulated intelligence,” you wrote:
I think, rather, that the important question is the one you yourself would ask of a local Baptist who came over to your house and told you you would go to hell if you didn't leave the Mormons, and who said he knew that was true because "Jesus himself" had told him that. In other words, you and I are in the same boat when it comes to all other claimants to "clearly-articulated intelligence from heaven". If a Muslim told you that God had told him X (that you should join Islam, that we should impose sharia, etc.), you would simply wonder the same things I do know, even though you would know how real that experience was for the Muslim. Wouldn't you? I think you would, and that is only where I am now with you (I'm exactly the same as YOU, with a 100% certain Muslim, Catholic, or Moonie, who also claims to have received intelligence). Once again, in truth there is very little difference between us on this point, isn't there? It is just that you make an exception for these "transmissions" when received in your very own case.
You exhibit an extraordinarily deficient understanding of the religions to which you refer above. You see, none of them believe in nor make appeal to personal revelation.
A Muslim would never
tell you that God told him anything, nor a Baptist. They entirely reject Latter-day Saint notions of communication with God. Your entire paragraph, and the thoughts that surround it, is nothing but a non sequitur
I think what is fundamentally at issue here, though, [is] … whether Mormon belief, at its core, ultimately accepts or denies the constraints imposed by empiricism and logic.
Why don’t you describe for us how you
believe “Mormon belief, at its core, ultimately accepts or denies the constraints imposed by empiricism and logic.” Let’s see if you can make a compelling argument, without making an appeal to the inherent unreliability of anything Joseph Smith ever said, purely on the basis of his public pronouncements regarding the practice of plural marriage.
Consider, William, that for Mormon belief to accept those constraints, is inexorably for Mormon belief to allow the possibility of the exposure of Mormonism as a fraud via empirical evidence and/or logical proof. There is no way around this; so I ask you here, in front of everyone:
Is that really what you believe? Yes or no?
What I believe is that you are incapable of understanding that “empirical evidence” and “logical proof” are language constructs used to describe a wide range of arguments – from the reproducible objective properties of gravity to the highly-debatable “evidence” of anthropogenic global warming. As such, one man’s empirical evidence is another man’s unproven theory.
That said, I discern no substantial difference between the intelligence I obtain via “supernatural” means and that which I obtain through exclusively “naturalistic” means. Truth, regardless of its origin or means of transmission, does not conflict with itself. Any perceived conflict is always incident to a flaw in the one making the observation.
I think you hung around on the long Tarski thread last year about epistemology - the one where Peterson once again refused to engage. What'd you make of poor William's triumphant claim about me being the one who assiduously avoids "battle" with Mormonism's apologetic heavies?
I actually feel sorry for the guy! It's like I'm starting to relive all my own sobering realizations of just how lame those guys really were....ouch.
This is almost cartoonish!
That’s right, Talmage. Get your good friends here to reinforce your self-image. They can be counted on, I’m sure. They’ll tell you, over and over again, that Dan Peterson and Bill Hamblin and all those FARMS-related bozos (not to mention amateurs like Will Schryver and Russ McGregor) are simply shaking in their boots at the prospect of having to engage a rhetorician of your stature.
Classic . . .