The Rev wrote:Neither does the consecrated host in Catholicism. It *is* the body of Christ. That's some pretty widespread fakery going on every mass around the world. Really? *Is* it the body of Christ? The body of a dead Jewish carpenter from the first century AD? Seriously?
While I agree, I think some more perspective is needed. There are two broad ways to assess historic beliefs, I'll call them positivist and postmodern. From the positivist perspective (Gemli), we compare the beliefs of the past rigidly by the best information we have available in our time and then pretty much laugh at everybody in history. Is it fair? Well, it's not totally unfair, because we're not going to stone people for adultery or cut holes in foreheads to air them out. By this standard, nothing Mormons believe is any worse than anything any other Christian believes. The postmodern alternative is to judge relative to the times. One of the best examples of the difference is that, by the positivist ruling, Galileo was hero who owned all the priests and it goes to show what intellectual honesty is capable of. How much further ahead could we be be if everyone in history was as intellectually honest as Galileo? The postmodern angle assumes people can't escape their culture, and so as Feyerabend and Richard Rorty argued, Galileo really struggled to make his case, and it wouldn't have been obvious that he was winning to the intellectually honest people of that time. It's only easy to make that call after the fact. The good of this method is obvious, but at the same time we can't give everyone a free pass.
Well, if we're going to judge how believable a religion is by a heuristic, it's probably going to be something along the lines of our best scientific knowledge (positivist) or along the lines of societal norms (postmodern). If Gemli is right, then pretty much no religion is more believable than any other. I know Physics Guy can't stand Rorty so I was a little surprised to see him take societal norms as the baseline -- I mean, I agree that it's probably the best we can do if we're going to give religion the benefit of the doubt, though. That pretty much guarantees that any NRM is hosed. Well, in some respects that doesn't seem fair, but in others, would you feel comfortable if some new cult leader mass converted hundreds of millions of Catholics, even if his beliefs were technically no less loony from a scientific standpoint? Social acceptability does seem to count for something. And I think the suggestion was particularly consistent with DCPs call for less research. Filter one is either social norms, Gemli, one of DCP's cognitive biases that land people right for the wrong reasons, or something ad hoc that is favorable to Mormonism but nobody else would use it.
From the "less research" standpoint, I think DCP shot himself in the foot twice, and Mormonism clearly loses. We can remind ourselves that we can select another kind of heuristic, Gemli, for instance, but DCP couldn't possibly agree with that. Sadly, as the Rev points out, that's a far better heuristic for defending Mormonism. But it gets confusing following a conversation where we're switching filters around without explaining why we are doing so.
What other options are there? One option is to remember that Oaks is up in the night, and do more research. Could that be favorable to Mormonism? Well, lol, ironically, it's probably more favorable than any reasonable heuristic approach.
Filter 2 is the trilemma. Never fit for Jesus since his most extraordinary claims are the most controversial as original to him. But for a modern figure, and as a heuristic, it isn't bad: once we have a baseline filter for what we consider "normal" whether it's science or religion, then the most extraordinary claims in terms of "normal" require the most extraordinary evidence. How far the prophet strays from our norms in justifying his claims sharpens the trilemma, like when Midgley claimed his buddy at FARMS got Reagan elected. lol. It's more obvious that this claim is "made up" then his agreements with Paul Tillich for most people. For a Gemli, it might not be.
But, further research does produce a Mendel now and again like DCP reminds us, or used to before he got brainwashed by Oaks, and quite honestly, if there is a God, who the f* is to say he isn't a contrarian or has any regard for our conventions? No one at the meridian of time followed Jesus (by christian accounts) by a social norm heuristic.
One point about Hubbard and his Science Fiction. A relative of mine who did some big college project on Scientology told me -- and I don't recall what My Sea Org friend said about this -- that many Scientologists believe his science fiction writings are real. It might not have happened with the exact names of places and people, but think about that. It's apocrypha! This is the very same claim that the apologists make of Joseph Smith: Joseph Smith misunderstood his mission. Hubbard may have had a slew of bad impulses not knowing what he had deep inside him. I really don't see why a con couldn't be the victim of God's irony, but that takes more research, as the proof is in the pudding for extraordinary claims. If you go OT8 and can jump into the Van Allen belt or trip people with your mind, or if you prove the Book of Mormon is 15th century channeling, then you win. You're the one in a billion, you followed the Mendel when nobody else did.
I think Lafayette and Joe are high fiving in the afterlife and comparing notches on their rob belts.