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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:47 pm 
God
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rcrocket wrote:
The last time we covered this subject, Scratch called me a liar and accused me of making this stuff up. [He had never heard of the "Spy Ring" incident and thought the term applied to recent monitoring of homosexuals. Now, there's naïveté.]


If I recall, the "spy ring" was discussed in Greg Prince's bio of David O' Mckay. Interesting story.

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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:10 pm 
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Scratch:
"Apart from the "need to be better known" and the "promot[ion] of publicity" mentioned by Noel Reynolds, what would have persuaded the Brethren to associate themselves with FARMS in this way? Clearly, there would have been a number of problems involved:[1]it would be a tacit acknowledgment of weaknesses in the Church; [2]it would also be a kind of "winking" support for the belligerent attitudes and methods of many apologists. The attempts by FARMS to maintain its independence are evident in the omnipresent disclaimer:

Quote:
The opinions expressed in the articles and books [FARMS] distributes are not necessarily the opinions of anyone except the authors."

[Emphasis 1 and 2 added]

Perhaps a definition is in order. I have mentioned this point before but here goes again. The first time I came face-to-face with "Christian apologetics" was when I listened to a debate between a Christian apologist who defended the doctrine of creation and an atheist scientist who explained the theory of evolution. The two men were friends and they conducted a friendly discussion. I expected nothing less as that was my experience with Christianity to date, that civility and friendship were paramount. The Christian debater had a widely known good reputation and enjoyed respect from all sides. I never had the idea that apologetics were a negative pursuit or that it had anything to do with apology which tends to suggest that one has been in the wrong and is seeking to make amends.

I went on to listen to many such discussions on different topics and have heard professors and pastors and other Christian leaders with professional training in these matters as well as many, many discussions between believers and non-believers. There was/is never any suggestion that I am aware of that apologetics as an endeavour is by definition a negative undertaking, much less a scurrilous one.

I have read some posts, here and elsewhere, that explain a person's negative attitude towards Mormon apologists - if they have had negative experiences in Mormonism and/or feel strongly that there are past or present practices that are questionable or worse, they take issue with people who defend Mormonism. I can understand that and even relate to it in some ways. Some have expressed that they cannot respect anyone who would defend what to them is indefensible. This makes sense, although those on different sides will see these things differently.

In light of the various definitions and usages of the term apologetics, though, I don't agree with Mr. Scratch's conclusion as expressed in #1 emphasis above. I don't think it is inherent that in having church apologists the leaders admit there are weaknesses in the church. Please see the Wiki excerpts below for more information on the definitions and usages of the term apologetics. This is the biggest reason for my disagreement with Scratch on this point. In short, I don't feel that engaging in apologetics is by definition a negative, scurrilous pursuit, although that is certainly one colloquial understanding and usage of the term, the one that many seem to use exclusively when it comes to Mormon apologists.

I am not necessarily objecting to that usage but just want to point out that that is not the only possible understanding and usage of the term. From this my point is that, according to definition, being a Mormon apologist does not automatically make one an evil, scheming, underhanded, malicious, lying, clueless, uneducated person, as some seem to insist. One may be so but it is not inherent in the term apologist. In my (EV) world, in my experience and observation, apologists are considered well educated, committed, active Christians who are informed, respected and well spoken - those who can "defend the faith", which is seen as a positive and admirable endeavour. (NT tells us to "give reason for the hope that is within you", which is used as a reason to engage in both evangelism and apologetics).

Definitions (I know I could just give the Wiki link but I wanted to emphasize the parts that underscore my points):

From Wikipedia:

Definition:

Apologists are authors, writers, editors of scientific logs or academic journals, and leaders known for taking on the points in arguments, conflicts or positions that are either placed under popular scrutinies or viewed under persecutory examinations. The term comes from the Greek word apologia (απολογία), meaning a speaking in defense.
The term Apologist applies especially to early Christian writers (c 120-220) who took on the task of recommending their faith to outsiders.

Colloquial Usage:

Today the term "apologist" is colloquially applied in a general manner to include groups and individuals systematically promoting causes, justifying orthodoxies, or denying certain events, even of crimes. Apologists have been characterized as being deceptive, or "whitewashing" their cause, primarily through omission of negative facts (selective perception) and exaggeration of positive ones, techniques of classical rhetoric. When used in this context, the term generally has a pejorative meaning.

Technical Usage:

The term apologetics etymologically derives from the Classical Greek word apologia. In the Classical Greek legal system two key technical terms were employed: the prosecution delivered the kategoria (κατηγορία), and the defendant replied with an apologia. To deliver an apologia then meant making a formal speech to reply and rebut the charges, as in the case of Socrates' defense.

This Classical Greek term appears in the Koine (i.e. common) Greek of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul employs the term apologia in his trial speech to Festus and Agrippa when he says "I make my defense" (Acts 26:2). A cognate term appears in Paul's Letter to the Philippians as he is "defending the gospel" (Philippians 1:7 & 16), and in 1 Peter 3:15 believers must be ready to give an "answer" for their faith. The word also appears in the negative in Romans 1:20: unbelievers are αναπολόγητοι (anapologētoi) (without excuse, defense, or apology) for rejecting the revelation of God in creation.

The legal nuance of apologetics was reframed in a more specific sense to refer to the study of the defense of a doctrine or belief. In this context it most commonly refers to philosophical reconciliation. Religious apologetics is the effort to show that the preferred faith is not irrational, that believing in it is not against human reason, and that in fact the religion contains values and promotes ways of life more in accord with human nature than other faiths or beliefs.

In the English language, the word apology is derived from the Greek word apologia, but its use has changed; its primary sense now refers to a plea for forgiveness for a wrong act. Implicit in this is an admission of guilt, thus turning on its head the "speaking in defense" aspect of the original concept. An uncommon secondary sense refers to a speech or writing that defends the speaker or author's position.

Christian Apologetics:

Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views.[4] Christian apologetics have taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul of Tarsus, including writers such as Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, and continuing currently with the modern Christian community, through the efforts of many authors in various Christian traditions such as C.S. Lewis. Apologists have based their defence of Christianity on favoring interpretations of historical evidence, philosophical arguments, scientific investigation, and other disciplines.

Mormon Apologetics:

Within Christian apologetics there are apologists who specialize in Mormonism, including several well-known Mormon apologetic Organizations, such as the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (a group of scholars at Brigham Young University) and Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (an independent, not-for-profit group), which have formed to defend the doctrines and history of the Latter Day Saint movement in general and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in particular).

(end of Wiki excerpts)


Re #2 emphasis above (Scratch quote): I don't see how your conclusion follows. The reasoning seems cloudy there. It's more like a wild surmise than a studied conclusion based on fact or even just common sense.


Scratch:
"Why did FARMS want so badly to remain independent?"

My first thought here was that it could be to be able to state accurately that the theories, opinion, conclusions of the various authors or the body itself (if any?) are a result of independent study, research, thought, not handed down from on high. If Mormon leaders were to hand FARMS its material on a plate, what would be the point of FARMS at all? All the desired facts and conclusions could just be written in church publications. That would save some millions right there.

I don't see anything sinister or strange at all in the members of an independent body seeking to retain their independence, for many reasons, and they would be especially vigilant about this aspect of any proposed merger to ensure they wouldn't end up in an undesirable situation they had not taken the time to foresee and prevent.

I'm not intending to support one side or the other here. Rather, with very limited information, I am just trying to look at the thing objectively.

For those who hate long posts, the bottom line is:

1. Apologetics is not automatically a negative field.

2. Having an apologetic body within the church fold does not necessarily indicate that Mormon leaders fear there are weaknesses in their church.

3. Having an apologetic body within the church fold does not necessarily indicate that Mormon leaders "wink" at belligerence or other non-desirable apologetic approaches.

4. Being an apologist is not, by definition, worse than mass murder.

5. There could be something sinister in the mix here. I mean, that is always an (outside) possibility but I don't see it on Scratch's evidence so far. I don't think you can read absolute fact into any of the material presented so far except for what is undeniably actual fact (iow, guessing at motives and other non-seen entities is a fast way to end up WRONG).

etc...


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:36 pm 
Master Mahan

Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:13 pm
Posts: 5604
Nightingale wrote:
Scratch:
"Apart from the "need to be better known" and the "promot[ion] of publicity" mentioned by Noel Reynolds, what would have persuaded the Brethren to associate themselves with FARMS in this way? Clearly, there would have been a number of problems involved:[1]it would be a tacit acknowledgment of weaknesses in the Church; [2]it would also be a kind of "winking" support for the belligerent attitudes and methods of many apologists. The attempts by FARMS to maintain its independence are evident in the omnipresent disclaimer:

Quote:
The opinions expressed in the articles and books [FARMS] distributes are not necessarily the opinions of anyone except the authors."

In light of the various definitions and usages of the term apologetics, though, I don't agree with Mr. Scratch's conclusion as expressed in #1 emphasis above. I don't think it is inherent that in having church apologists the leaders admit there are weaknesses in the church.


Hi there, Nightingale. I agree with you: there is nothing wrong--in an of itself--with being an apologist. Nor does having church apologists mean that there are "weaknesses" per se in said church. But, we are talking about the LDS Church here. Various officials have noted repeatedly that a key function of FARMS is to rescue those Saints with wavering testimonies, and this is done in part by concocting various theories about the most problematic facets of Mormonism: the Book of Abraham, Book of Mormon historicity, Lamanite DNA, and so forth. I think we need to bear in mind that the LDS Church has a long history of being very uncomfortable about its past, and the attempts on the part of Church leadership to hide or "squirrel away" uncomfortable tidbits has been pretty thoroughly documents.

And please note that I was careful to describe the Brethren's actions as a "tacit admission." Of course they would never come out and just admit the truth about this stuff.

Quote:
This is the biggest reason for my disagreement with Scratch on this point. In short, I don't feel that engaging in apologetics is by definition a negative, scurrilous pursuit,


We don't disagree on this, Nightingale. A small portion of FARMS apologetics is well-meaning and done in a positive, Christian spirit. Far too much of it, though, is very negative. It is designed to destroy and attack rather than build up.

although that is certainly one colloquial understanding and usage of the term, the one that many seem to use exclusively when it comes to Mormon apologists.


Quote:
Re #2 emphasis above (Scratch quote): I don't see how your conclusion follows. The reasoning seems cloudy there. It's more like a wild surmise than a studied conclusion based on fact or even just common sense.


Why do you say that? Presumably the Brethren were familiar enough with FARMS work to have seen the attack pieces written by DCP, John Tvedtnes, Bill Hamblin, Louis Midgley, and others, right? Or, are you suggesting that the GAs were "spoon fed" only those pieces which would paint the apologists in the best-possible light?


Quote:
I don't see anything sinister or strange at all in the members of an independent body seeking to retain their independence, for many reasons, and they would be especially vigilant about this aspect of any proposed merger to ensure they wouldn't end up in an undesirable situation they had not taken the time to foresee and prevent.


Well, my suspicious is that they did indeed try to ward off the Brethren's (especially Merrill Bateman's) advances. They feared having to take orders from the men they supposedly serve.


Quote:
3. Having an apologetic body within the church fold does not necessarily indicate that Mormon leaders "wink" at belligerence or other non-desirable apologetic approaches.


Actually, maybe you're right about this. DCP said that there was some "quip" made about the FARMS Review, so maybe they did express disapproval regarding the "non-desireable apologetic approaches"?


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:48 pm 
God

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How long did it take you to construct the opening post? It seems like that took quite a while to amass all that information and interpretation.

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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:50 am 
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Nightingale wrote:
...
For those who hate long posts, the bottom line is:
...
4. Being an apologist is not, by definition, worse than mass murder.
...
etc...

The paragraph 4. accepted.

Then:
a.) It is the same
b.) It is better
c.) They can not be compared
d.) They could be compared but the church has no official definition
e.) Don't criticize apologists even the criticism is established

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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:32 am 
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Nightingale wrote:
...
For those who hate long posts, the bottom line is:
...
4. Being an apologist is not, by definition, worse than mass murder.
...
etc...


I feel that this statement went over the top. Unnecessary comparison. No one has stated or implied this to the best of my knowledge.

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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:59 am 
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Daniel Peterson wrote:
beastie wrote:
Was the only contested point who would have the ultimate control over that research?

I don't know precisely what the then-chairman of Ancient Scripture had in mind when he asserted his suzerainty over the Hebraists in Asian and Near Eastern Languages. The response (not only from me but from others, including his dean) was so immediately negative that we never got into the details.


I've emailed the then-chairman of the Department of Ancient Scripture to determine what he had in mind when he asserted his suzerainty.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:13 am 
God

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Tom wrote:
I've emailed the then-chairman of the Department of Ancient Scripture to determine what he had in mind when he asserted his suzerainty.


He's still alive? And you know him? Hmmm... *contemplating all the exercise I could get leaping to conclusions this morning*

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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:49 am 
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harmony wrote:
Tom wrote:
I've emailed the then-chairman of the Department of Ancient Scripture to determine what he had in mind when he asserted his suzerainty.


He's still alive? And you know him? Hmmm... *contemplating all the exercise I could get leaping to conclusions this morning*


Yes, he's still alive. I know of him, but he's not a friend or an acquaintance of mine.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:04 am 
Elder

Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:31 am
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Pokatator wrote:
Nightingale wrote:
...
For those who hate long posts, the bottom line is:
...
4. Being an apologist is not, by definition, worse than mass murder.
...
etc...


I feel that this statement went over the top. Unnecessary comparison. No one has stated or implied this to the best of my knowledge.


Fair enough. I didn't take the time to come up with a reasonable or accurate comparison, which I regret. My apologies.

What can I change it to?

"Being an apologist does not, by definition, equate with being uneducated, untrustworthy, a liar or a person who does not even believe what s/he is saying about the Mormon Church and its history and doctrine."

There. I think that statement better reflects what some people do say about apologists in general. My point was that using the term apologist as an epithet is somewhat skewed. Especially I do not believe that most apologists are consciously lying about what they say they believe. I have no reason to disbelieve their testimonies about what they say they believe. In fact, it makes sense to me that the only reason they would do what they do is that they believe in what they say. I can understand that many people with questions, doubts or even frank disbelief in Mormonism would, nevertheless, still fill a pew for various reasons, such as family. I can't see how someone would spend extra time on apologetics or even make it their life's work or at least major hobby if they were not convinced of their belief and purpose. What would be the point of that?

I know that some of the apologetic explanations strain credulity, in the minds of some ex- and never-members, but that does not automatically mean that members and apologists see it or know it in the same way as we do but choose to lie about it. When I see them verify their belief in Mormonism I just accept that at face value and I understand why they would "defend" it.

From my point of view as a Christian, well used to the call to "preach the word" and "spread the Gospel" and "make known the reason for your faith", I understand where they are coming from. I do realize that from some non-believers' points of view none of any of it makes sense at all.

In any case, thank you for picking me up on my sloppy comment. That's what I get for not focusing and also rushing while posting. Hopefully, I won't do it again for a while. I'm usually more careful about being as precise as possible.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:15 am 
Elder

Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:31 am
Posts: 323
ludwigm wrote:
Nightingale wrote:
...
For those who hate long posts, the bottom line is:
...
4. Being an apologist is not, by definition, worse than mass murder.
...
etc...

The paragraph 4. accepted.

Then:
a.) It is the same
b.) It is better
c.) They can not be compared
d.) They could be compared but the church has no official definition
e.) Don't criticize apologists even the criticism is established


I'm not sure I grasp your exact point but if it's the same as the one Pokatator made, please see my response below. I can see in the light of day that my comment was OTT and not helpful in making my point.

As for your (e) point, I am not saying don't criticize apologists. Quite the opposite actually. They open themselves up to criticism - but hopefully of their material and not off-target criticism of themselves and especially not reading their minds (a particularly non-useful enterprise as who can do that with any reasonable accuracy).

I'm just saying that merely being engaged in apologetics for your beliefs does not automatically make one evil, underhanded, or a liar. If you are evil, underhanded or lying, though, or definitely if your reasoning or facts are demonstrably incorrect, then sure, the more criticism the better.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:19 pm 
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Great post, Mr. Scratch. I also appreciate Dr. Peterson's responses. I find the FARMS/BYU issue compelling. When I started at BYU in 1993, FARMS was operating out of a little building on the south end of campus. They had a few pamphlets for sale at the bookstore and some compilations of Nibley's work. I used to browse through them at lunch. It has grown much since then. I remember discussing the idea that it would become officially connected with BYU with a few biology professors. They didn't endorse it (not that that matters) and they still don't like it. But, that's BYU. It seems from Dr. Peterson's remarks that President Hinckley wanted it to happen, so it happened.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:14 pm 
Master Mahan

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harmony wrote:
How long did it take you to construct the opening post? It seems like that took quite a while to amass all that information and interpretation.


Oh, not all that long. I owe a lot of credit to people who provided me with links and information via PM. The main thing I did was cobble all the information together.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:25 pm 
God
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How much much more pathetic this demagoguery can get?
4. Being an apologist is not, by definition, worse than mass murder.
How would you equate apologetic job to mass murder?
You are basically brown-nosing these apologetic guys, legitimizing their work. FAIR is nothing but a legitimate
front/puppet company established legitimately by Brethren and BYU.
Do you know why? Or you don't?
There is almost no single sound doctrine & historical truth about the LDS past; starting from Gold Plates, First Vision, Book of Mormon, Temples, step by step every claim is almost soundly refuted and documented.
Do you think Brass is stupid enough to engage in such polemics? Did you watch the GK? Do they ever teach the doctrine to the masses like BY & Chronies used to?
They have peons like FAIR to do footwork. This is a damn good network for the sheep who swallow most of the stuff.
Why do you think FAIR inserts that stupid sounding ridiculous disclaimer in every article/publication?
I'm just saying that merely being engaged in apologetics for your beliefs does not automatically make one evil,
Why should I think any of these guys are evil, they are just doing their job, they take the risk of ridicule, marginalizing, made fun of. Do they deserve the treatment they get from outsiders? Damn right, they do, if you claim snake oil cures cancer prepare to handle consequences.
Frankly I wouldn't touch any of their jobs even if they offered me seven figure salary.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:10 pm 
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solomarineris wrote:
How much much more pathetic this demagoguery can get?


Demagoguery? What the ???

Wiki Definition:
"...a political strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the popular prejudices, emotions, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist or populist themes."

I was discussing the definition of apologetics. How on earth is that anything to do with demagoguery?


solomarineris wrote:
(Quoting NG): 4. Being an apologist is not, by definition, worse than mass murder.

How would you equate apologetic job to mass murder?


Someone else made that point and I edited it above. Excuuuuuuuse me for posting while otherwise occupied or iow it's hard to multi-task after a very long day's work. I slipped for a moment and made an exaggerated statement, rushing to finish up my post.

solomarineris wrote:
You are basically brown-nosing these apologetic guys, legitimizing their work. FAIR is nothing but a legitimate
front/puppet company established legitimately by Brethren and BYU.
Do you know why? Or you don't?


{{Sigh}} All too often with exmos discussing Mormonism, especially LDS apologetics or 'gists, any hint of trying to bring some degree of rational thought into the discussion is met with the extreme (and extremely bizarre) accusation of brown-nosing, etc. How on earth does pointing out a common usage and understanding of a certain term turn into me supporting apologists or "legitimizing" Mormon apologetics? (As if they need or want me to do such a thing, if it were even possible).

I don't know about the origins of FAIR or FARMS. I am not too knowledgeable about the various bodies and affiliates of the Mormon Church or its or their inner workings. Does your question have anything to do with Scratch's original post? I can't see how it relates to anything I said.


solomarineris wrote:
There is almost no single sound doctrine & historical truth about the LDS past; starting from Gold Plates, First Vision, Book of Mormon, Temples, step by step every claim is almost soundly refuted and documented.


Yeah, well, that's what they say about Christianity in general re the resurrection, the scriptures, the history, etc. There are still billions of Christians worldwide and apologists among them who are widely respected, learned, accomplished people of faith. That was pretty much my point. As long as people find a reason to believe they will defend their beliefs and a non-believer merely stating that it is not true will not be seen as heavy persuasion to the contrary.

Even so, your statement doesn't relate to my point, which is that the field of apologetics itself is respected and has value in many circles. Because we don't happen to be Mormons and may even greatly dislike Mormonism (or the church) does not automatically mean that those who believe it or especially defend it possess all these negative characteristics that many insist they do. In short, our feelings or beliefs about something definitely colour our perceptions but do not necessarily make our stand true and the other guy wrong.


solomarineris wrote:
Do you think Brass is stupid enough to engage in such polemics? Did you watch the GK? Do they ever teach the doctrine to the masses like BY & Chronies used to?
They have peons like FAIR to do footwork. This is a damn good network for the sheep who swallow most of the stuff.
Why do you think FAIR inserts that stupid sounding ridiculous disclaimer in every article/publication?


I don't know. I don't have an opinion about it from that direction. I am more interested in other aspects. I don't know what GK is. Maybe General Conference? If so, no I did not watch it. It is not actually broadcast on TV up here. If you want to see it you have to personally attend a Stake Centre, iirc.

solomarineris wrote:
(Quoting NG) I'm just saying that merely being engaged in apologetics for your beliefs does not automatically make one evil,

Why should I think any of these guys are evil, they are just doing their job, they take the risk of ridicule, marginalizing, made fun of. Do they deserve the treatment they get from outsiders? Damn right, they do, if you claim snake oil cures cancer prepare to handle consequences.
Frankly I wouldn't touch any of their jobs even if they offered me seven figure salary.


I am saying that I have read the opinions of some who do think they are evil, and that is the word that is used. I'm not saying they are evil or that you think they are or said they are.

If you think that reasonable discussion includes ridicule, marginalization and making fun of others that's fine. I'm not telling you what to do. I just don't happen to think that is a reasonable approach, no matter how much you disagree with another person's point of view. It depends what you want to get out of the interaction I guess.

I wouldn't touch the job either, for many reasons. But if I believed in the doctrine and enjoyed explaining, teaching, discussing, debating it with others, hey, who knows. For seven figures I'd definitely be tempted.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:29 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:31 am
Posts: 323
Mister Scratch wrote:
Hi there, Nightingale. I agree with you: there is nothing wrong--in an of itself--with being an apologist. Nor does having church apologists mean that there are "weaknesses" per se in said church.


Hi Scratch. Whew. OK. So somebody got what I was trying to say. That's pretty much all I wanted to clarify. Some of my best friends are apologists. :lol:


Mister Scratch wrote:
But, we are talking about the LDS Church here. Various officials have noted repeatedly that a key function of FARMS is to rescue those Saints with wavering testimonies, and this is done in part by concocting various theories about the most problematic facets of Mormonism: the Book of Abraham, Book of Mormon historicity, Lamanite DNA, and so forth. I think we need to bear in mind that the LDS Church has a long history of being very uncomfortable about its past, and the attempts on the part of Church leadership to hide or "squirrel away" uncomfortable tidbits has been pretty thoroughly documents.


Ah. I did not realize that FARMS objective. Do people with wavering testimonies tend to consult FARMS material? I only just barely heard of FARMS as a member because I frequented the LDS bookshop (in another town or even sometimes across the border) in search of more info than I could get at church. (The library there was most often curiously unavailable). I have always been keenly interested in getting at least a comprehensive outline of the major doctrines.

Mister Scratch wrote:
And please note that I was careful to describe the Brethren's actions as a "tacit admission." Of course they would never come out and just admit the truth about this stuff.


OK, so we have to make assumptions. Not an exact science.

Mister Scratch wrote:
(Quoting NG)
Quote:
This is the biggest reason for my disagreement with Scratch on this point. In short, I don't feel that engaging in apologetics is by definition a negative, scurrilous pursuit,


We don't disagree on this, Nightingale. A small portion of FARMS apologetics is well-meaning and done in a positive, Christian spirit. Far too much of it, though, is very negative. It is designed to destroy and attack rather than build up.


Great. Another point of agreement. I love it. I'm interested to see your opinion on this because I've never read that from you before. I may be just beginning to understand you. Your quarrel then is with those LDS apologists that you consider to be outside the group you describe above?


Mister Scratch wrote:
(Quoting NG)
Quote:
Re #2 emphasis above (Scratch quote): I don't see how your conclusion follows. The reasoning seems cloudy there. It's more like a wild surmise than a studied conclusion based on fact or even just common sense.


Why do you say that? Presumably the Brethren were familiar enough with FARMS work to have seen the attack pieces written by DCP, John Tvedtnes, Bill Hamblin, Louis Midgley, and others, right? Or, are you suggesting that the GAs were "spoon fed" only those pieces which would paint the apologists in the best-possible light?


I've lost track - I'll have to go back and look at that part again. I'll get back to you on it.


Mister Scratch wrote:
(Quoting NG)
Quote:
3. Having an apologetic body within the church fold does not necessarily indicate that Mormon leaders "wink" at belligerence or other non-desirable apologetic approaches.


Actually, maybe you're right about this. DCP said that there was some "quip" made about the FARMS Review, so maybe they did express disapproval regarding the "non-desireable apologetic approaches"?


I don't know. My point was just that having FARMS at BYU doesn't necessarily mean that everything they do and say and how they perform their functions is endorsed by the leaders. In fact, I think they say the opposite,no? It's hard to imagine that the Big-3 would "wink" at very questionable goings-on but I wouldn't be shocked to death to find out that they may.

Gotta rush off but will get back re that one last question of yours that I did not answer.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:53 pm 
Hermit
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 10:12 pm
Posts: 5738
Location: Cave
Tom wrote:
I've emailed the then-chairman of the Department of Ancient Scripture to determine what he had in mind when he asserted his suzerainty.


Hi Tom,

I'm glad you did this and I think it will be very interesting if he responds. If you happen to get into an extended conversation, be sure to ask him what his views were on the location of the Hill Cumorah at that time. I'm 85% sure that this will be our answer, though, I hope not. I look forward to the issue being a layer or too deeper than this.

_________________
Elliot Sober: "Our current ignorance is no evidence for the truth of any explanation, creationist or otherwise."


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:16 pm 
Master Mahan

Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:13 pm
Posts: 5604
Nightingale wrote:
Mister Scratch wrote:
But, we are talking about the LDS Church here. Various officials have noted repeatedly that a key function of FARMS is to rescue those Saints with wavering testimonies, and this is done in part by concocting various theories about the most problematic facets of Mormonism: the Book of Abraham, Book of Mormon historicity, Lamanite DNA, and so forth. I think we need to bear in mind that the LDS Church has a long history of being very uncomfortable about its past, and the attempts on the part of Church leadership to hide or "squirrel away" uncomfortable tidbits has been pretty thoroughly documents.


Ah. I did not realize that FARMS objective. Do people with wavering testimonies tend to consult FARMS material?


I think it's generally agreed that a certain type of wavering member will consult FARMS material. Other times, hardcore TBMs will use it to try and defend aspects of Church history and doctrine in light of a wavering friend or family member, or in the face of criticism.


Quote:
Quote:
We don't disagree on this, Nightingale. A small portion of FARMS apologetics is well-meaning and done in a positive, Christian spirit. Far too much of it, though, is very negative. It is designed to destroy and attack rather than build up.


Great. Another point of agreement. I love it. I'm interested to see your opinion on this because I've never read that from you before. I may be just beginning to understand you. Your quarrel then is with those LDS apologists that you consider to be outside the group you describe above?


Yes: my beef is with apologists like Daniel C. Peterson, William J. Hamblin, Louis Midgley, and Gary Novak: people who have published and written far too much material which is negative both in tone and purpose. I believe that these apologists need to be taken to task.


Quote:
I don't know. My point was just that having FARMS at BYU doesn't necessarily mean that everything they do and say and how they perform their functions is endorsed by the leaders.


Perhaps. But then again, the LDS Church is a very hierarchical, authoritarian organization that insists on "keeping tabs" on the membership. Basically, I assume that on some level, the Brethren decided that they were willing to put up with the hostility and personal nastiness that flows with regularity from the pens of Peterson, Hamblin, Midgley, & et al.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:19 pm 
Master Mahan

Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:13 pm
Posts: 5604
Gadianton wrote:
Tom wrote:
I've emailed the then-chairman of the Department of Ancient Scripture to determine what he had in mind when he asserted his suzerainty.


Hi Tom,

I'm glad you did this and I think it will be very interesting if he responds. If you happen to get into an extended conversation, be sure to ask him what his views were on the location of the Hill Cumorah at that time. I'm 85% sure that this will be our answer, though, I hope not. I look forward to the issue being a layer or too deeper than this.


I think I see what you are getting at, Dr. Robbers. There was probably a (perhaps subconscious) understanding on the part of the parties involved of the massive stakes involved: i.e., who would get to control doctrine--and the interpretation thereof--in the Church.


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:06 pm 
Elder

Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:31 am
Posts: 323
Scratch said:
"...it would also be a kind of "winking" support for the belligerent attitudes and methods of many apologists."

NG responded:
..."I don't see how your conclusion follows. The reasoning seems cloudy there. It's more like a wild surmise than a studied conclusion based on fact or even just common sense."


Scratch asked:
"Why do you say that? Presumably the Brethren were familiar enough with FARMS work to have seen the attack pieces written by DCP, John Tvedtnes, Bill Hamblin, Louis Midgley, and others, right? Or, are you suggesting that the GAs were "spoon fed" only those pieces which would paint the apologists in the best-possible light?"

I think I did answer this and we ended up agreeing, no? I don't think that the amalgamation of FARMS into BYU at the invitation of GBH, apparently, automatically equates to the church leaders "winking" at the apologetic behaviour you describe. I think it is possible that they are not aware of it or at least not all of it or that they don't see it in the same light as you do or certainly as non-members do (especially those who consider apologists to be defending any and all questionable and even objectionable (to them) past and present actions and words.

I think this is a case where perception is everything. What some may see as "attack pieces" apologists and other TBMs may see as really good (and winning) debate. If they don't see it as "attack" then they aren't winking at it or allowing it, they're just thinking it's all good stuff.

Scratch:
"Yes: my beef is with apologists like Daniel C. Peterson, William J. Hamblin, Louis Midgley, and Gary Novak: people who have published and written far too much material which is negative both in tone and purpose. I believe that these apologists need to be taken to task."

"...the LDS Church is a very hierarchical, authoritarian organization that insists on "keeping tabs" on the membership. Basically, I assume that on some level, the Brethren decided that they were willing to put up with the hostility and personal nastiness that flows with regularity from the pens of Peterson, Hamblin, Midgley, & et al."

OK, I get you now. You accept apologetics, you just don't like how these particular guys do it.

Do you think the B. read FARMS stuff?

And I was right the first time - I felt confused when solo started talking about FAIR. Then I thought maybe I had missed the plot. But no, this is FARMS. FAIR is not part of BYU is it?


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 Post subject: Re: Building the FARMS Ziggurat
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:54 pm 
Elder

Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:31 am
Posts: 323
Whew, I think I just did a 180 on this.

OK, I see how the Big-3 do want to control the message, for sure.

I see that it is possible that DCP, certainly having closer ties to how things work in the inner circle than I do, could have experience enough to think it a distinct possibility that FARMS could lose editorial control, at least, on being subsumed by BYU (especially as it came in the form of a direct "invitation" from GBH). I think that is an invite you heed. (Reminds me of a mishie who told me off for my desire to stay single, quoting "be fruitful and multiply" to me and opining that it is a commandment and who was I to disobey a commandment. I replied that it was not a commandment but maybe a suggestion. Red in the face he stressed to me that a "suggestion" from The Lord holds the weight of a commandment and then we got back to so who am I to disobey...). I'm guessing that a GBH invitation may be seen in somewhat the same way.

So maybe Scratch is not that far out in left field as some may think?

I guess the main thing I object to at this point is stating a surmise as if it is a fact. There is factual evidence. There is circumstantial evidence (which can often be seen as very weighty, contrary to popular understanding). There is surmise, conjecture, opinion, guess and so on, in decreasing order of trustworthiness (when you are attempting to ascertain fact). I often see surmise stated as fact and it doesn't hold much water with me if I am interested in knowing something for sure, as far as that is possible.

But I am prepared to accept that in this case, circumstantial evidence and even some surmise based on past experience could well come close to describing what went on.

Don't mind me. I'm just thinking things through...(more ready now to accept that all is not always sweetness and light) :/


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