Tal Bachman wrote:
---Does that mean there's still some question in your mind about whether Smith told the truth about his experiences?
For me it's not really an issue of Smith "telling the truth," I believe he was truthful about speaking with God, angels, having possession of actual gold plates, etc. for example.
---But in all seriousness, when the most basic tenets of Mormonism simply cannot be reconciled with everything we know about the world, AND basic logic...how much sense does that really make?
You're begging the question a few times over. Your approach is showing aspects of that "black and white" thinking I noted while listening to your interview segments with Helen Whitney. Yes, I realize you believe there ain't no angels and visions and gold books. I personally don't subscribe to a strictly positivist or modernist view of reality. We're approaching the same subject from very different angles.
Aren't you or I kidding ourselves if we think, even for a moment, that "Mormonism is fundamentally compatible with reason"? It requires you to believe (amongst other things) that the sun gets its light from a star called Kolob, that "A equals not A", etc. (?)
I believe Mormonism is "fundamentally compatible" with reason. If you mean that Mormonism itself is irrational, I believe even irrationality has to be compatible with reason, else we wouldn't be able to talk about it or dissect it. But I don't believe that Mormonism is irrational, either.
---Why is it odd when we're talking about one book's characterization of Jesus? It's like saying "the Homerian Achilles...".
Just a personal preference. Some people (especially fundamentalist or "evangelical" Christians like to talk about the "Mormon Jesus" and the "Bible Jesus." A distinction which, I believe, is bent on poisoning the well rather than elucidation.
---Well, I'm curious to hear your explanations for why people leave the church if not because of some spiritual or cognitive defect. Indulge me. (Also, given all that "sincere of heart" business in Moroni 10...this might be tough!).
Well, my aunt left because her husband did, and said if she didn't leave too it would be splitsville. She really loves him, though, so I wouldn't feel right about saying that choice was based on a "defect."
Breaking it down to a "spiritual or cognitive defect" is much too broad imo. Everyone has some sort of spiritual and cognitive defects to work with, so just having those isn't the issue. Additionally, some people who I really believe have some sort of spiritual or cognitive defect actually join or remain in the Church. So again, that alone can't be it. "Apostasy" to use the common term is an interesting study, though. Maybe better suited for its own thread. Some people don't like to invest the time. Others have a higher purpose elsewhere for the time being. There are countless reasons why people leave, probably as many reasons as people.
It seems you want to deny that LDS believe they can utilize "facts and logic" in all things spiritual. I disagree with this. LDS can, and most often do, believe that facts, reason, logic, whatever, are involved in the spiritual process.
---"The Lord's Way" I think is the Oaks book you're referring to. I have it and have read it several times: it's a good example of a bright guy trying to make sense out of what, in the end, just doesn't make any sense. Hinckley's "Loyalty" talk was given in the 2003 GC, don't remember which session. But read it carefully...the true thrust of it is actually very disturbing.
I skimmed through it but didn't see it as "disturbing." (FWIW, I find your take a little disturbing. Not because it somehow frightens my little Mormon mind, but because it seems to be extremely fundamentalist in a positivist way, of course. I also don't want you to come over to my house and blow me up. ;))
---How many people who have come to acknowledge that Mormonism isn't what it claims, have you "re-converted"?
First, I don't see missionary work in terms of how many people I have converted or "re-converted." I have seen one woman, however, who struggled with some difficulties return to activity. People who have left the Church aren't really my "target audience," per se.
But missionary work from my perspective involves a lot more than convincing someone that the "Church is true," or that they need to be more active, or that they need to get baptized, or whatever. Sometimes missionary work can be helping people who want to leave the Church leave. It can include helping an Evangelical Christian deal with a problem they have in their own faith. It can involve helping someone cope with a spouse who believes in the Church while they themselves do not. Missionary work in that sense involves a lot more than scoring "converts."
---Main reason is I'm really interested in psychology, and identifying Bacon's "idols of thought" and how that whole process works....
I suppose Mormonism would provide an interesting grounding for your study, since you've had direct personal experience with it.