Spiritual "Knowledge"

The catch-all forum for general topics and debates. Minimal moderation. Rated PG to PG-13.
Post Reply
User avatar
Kishkumen
Seedy Academician
Posts: 21117
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 4:00 pm

Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Kishkumen »

I am moving a discussion on this topic from the thread about John Gee's recent book so as not to derail that thread further. To kick it off, I am quoting our esteemed dean of Cassius University, Gadianton P. Robbers, and then follow his excellent commentary with my response.
I think if we were going to make a distinction between spiritual "knowledge" and "factual" knowledge, then we'd need to steer clear of the apologist shell game that simply uses notions of spirituality to defend against uncomfortable facts, or to just make up facts whole cloth. I think the key to any kind of authentic spiritual knowledge, to the extent that such a thing could actually be, is that spiritual knowledge must not be propositional. Now, that might wipe out nearly everything Mormons believe about spirituality because for Mormons, propositions such as the existence of God or Satan or the truth of the Book of Mormon, often as literal history, actually aren't suppositions of any different kind than statements about rain and snow. There really is no distinction between "spiritual knowledge" and "factual knowledge" if spiritual knowledge is merely a list of empirical claims except that they benefit some special narrative or power structure, while having no credible evidence. And I must point out, If the evidence were credible, then apologists wouldn't jump out of their seat to suppose some knew kind of knowledge such as "spiritual knowledge" that is exactly like ordinary knowledge except the believer gets to be right about whatever he wants by some invented criteria. We wouldn't be having this conversation if it were really believed that Mormon propositions are credible.

The holy ghost can "testify" to the truth of all things, right? And so an angel could come down from heaven and explain how light works while the Holy Ghost gives you a good feeling, and bam, you now know how light works in exactly the same way as you know Nephi built a ship. So what's the difference between "factual" and "spiritual" knowledge?

rev: " I do not believe that spiritual feelings or knowledge regarding scriptures establishes historical facts,"

Yes, that silliness must be flushed before any progress could be made to legitimize "spirituality" at all.
Mormonism is one of those movements that has grappled imperfectly with modernity, from what I have been able to gather. The Book of Mormon plates are exhibit A for that. Insisting that there is a physical object dug out of the earth that others have felt, handled, seen, etc., is an obvious move to validate spiritual truths as "real." The affidavits are the biggest tell here. To have 11 people affirm through documents that they had the experiences described in their testimonies is an obvious move to establish the actual factual nature of the plates as a product of real ancient civilizations.

So, on the one hand, there are the very problematic statements of the Book of Mormon witnesses, and on the other there is the invitation to get good feelings after praying about the truth of the Book of Mormon. My opinion is that the experiences the witnesses actually had were much closer to the experiences "Moroni" invites his reader to have. It was Joseph Smith who deliberately constructed the plates and their story in such a way that it would appear to belong to the realm of hard reality.

My hypothesis for his motivation is that it was less religious than it was mercenary. Joseph Smith was seeking to create a tourist destination for travelers taking trips down the Erie Canal. One of the primary goals of this hoax, which would have been an obvious hoax to this target audience, was to draw the interest of Freemasons. It could be that Smith was originally making a bid to make Palmyra the western center of New York Freemasonry. Unfortunately, however, by the time his plan came to fruition, he had to abandon his original Masonic project and replace it with a church project. The kidnapping of Morgan and the subsequent anti-Masonic hysteria scotched the original plan.

So, the hoax was no longer a hoax with winking approval from Freemasons. Now it was something else entirely. And yet I think something of the original plan survived in the insistence on the hard materiality of the plates themselves. At some point, however, Joseph decided he would not be able to use his fabricated plates in the way he hoped, and so he had to get rid of them. No two bits a gander after all. That would have to wait until Joseph's young church purchased the mummies and papyri. Then people actually were charged two bits a gander to see the artifacts. I see no reason to think that the Book of Mormon wasn't originally intended to be a similar thing.

The complications started to arise when Joseph was unable to create something that met his own requirements for a credible fake. Then he had to use some object as a stand in that no one would really be able to examine. And the danger of having someone discover that what was lugged around like plates was not actually gold plates with ancient writing on them at all was too great to let them hang around.

I do, however, think that Joseph believed in spiritual things, and probably thought that his special religious experiences were remarkable enough that what he produced in that vein had a kind of legitimacy and authority that the experiences and works of others did not have.
“God came to me in a dream last night and showed me the future. He took me to heaven and I saw Donald Trump seated at the right hand of our Lord.” ~ Pat Robertson
“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith

User avatar
Dr Moore
Endowed Chair of Historical Innovation
Posts: 756
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:19 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Dr Moore »

Joseph was famous around his county, according to Bushman, for bringing imaginary things to life in the hearts and minds of his “clients” who sought treasure buried in the earth. He never found anything of value, yet he drew more followers. How does that happen? Simple: incredible story telling and hidden spirit validation.

Moroni’s promise puts that skill to practice on every BofM reader who sincerely wants for the treasure to be there — for the stories to be true, literal history. It’s a self selecting group, by definition, but that’s OK. Joseph knew from experience that if many are called, the chosen will identify themselves. That all he needed to do to secure those chosen was to prompt that one, last encouragement: don’t take my word for it, ask the hidden spirit, believing with sincerity you’ll get an answer, and then you’ll know for certain. That’s how he secured followers and it still works today.

He was an innovator. A disruptor.

Consider: how many factually untrue things have Mormons “known” to be true because the hidden spirit told them via Moroni’s promise pattern?

User avatar
Dr Exiled
God
Posts: 3444
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:48 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Dr Exiled »

Kishkumen says:

My hypothesis for his motivation is that it was less religious than it was mercenary. Joseph Smith was seeking to create a tourist destination for travelers taking trips down the Erie Canal. One of the primary goals of this hoax, which would have been an obvious hoax to this target audience, was to draw the interest of Freemasons. It could be that Smith was originally making a bid to make Palmyra the western center of New York Freemasonry. Unfortunately, however, by the time his plan came to fruition, he had to abandon his original Masonic project and replace it with a church project. The kidnapping of Morgan and the subsequent anti-Masonic hysteria scotched the original plan.
Interesting hypothesis. What sources do you have to shed a little more light on this? I know that Hyrum was a freemason in the Palmyra days and the Smiths had a roadside stand where they would sell various items and so having an attraction for the new Erie Canal would fall along those lines. What do you think the hoax would have been to attract visitors and the freemasons? Why do you think Smith may have wanted to make Palmyra a center for freemasonry?
"Religion is about providing human community in the guise of solving problems that don’t exist or failing to solve problems that do and seeking to reconcile these contradictions and conceal the failures in bogus explanations otherwise known as theology." - Kishkumen 

User avatar
Dr Exiled
God
Posts: 3444
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:48 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Dr Exiled »

Regarding spiritual knowledge, I think Dean Robbers makes an excellent point that apologists use "spiritual knowledge" to hide the fact that not much supports the church's claims and supposed "spiritual knowledge" in their eyes is simply something to fall back on rather than coming to the obvious conclusion that church ain't what it claims to be.

Beyond that, what exactly would "spiritual knowledge" be? How can one be sure it isn't just one's desires and emotions that are the source of this supposed "spiritual knowledge" and that we are being fooled?
"Religion is about providing human community in the guise of solving problems that don’t exist or failing to solve problems that do and seeking to reconcile these contradictions and conceal the failures in bogus explanations otherwise known as theology." - Kishkumen 

User avatar
Kishkumen
Seedy Academician
Posts: 21117
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 4:00 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Kishkumen »

Dr Exiled wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:19 pm
Kishkumen says:

My hypothesis for his motivation is that it was less religious than it was mercenary. Joseph Smith was seeking to create a tourist destination for travelers taking trips down the Erie Canal. One of the primary goals of this hoax, which would have been an obvious hoax to this target audience, was to draw the interest of Freemasons. It could be that Smith was originally making a bid to make Palmyra the western center of New York Freemasonry. Unfortunately, however, by the time his plan came to fruition, he had to abandon his original Masonic project and replace it with a church project. The kidnapping of Morgan and the subsequent anti-Masonic hysteria scotched the original plan.
Interesting hypothesis. What sources do you have to shed a little more light on this? I know that Hyrum was a freemason in the Palmyra days and the Smiths had a roadside stand where they would sell various items and so having an attraction for the new Erie Canal would fall along those lines. What do you think the hoax would have been to attract visitors and the freemasons? Why do you think Smith may have wanted to make Palmyra a center for freemasonry?
See:
https://gospeltangents.com/2020/01/maso ... es-temple/
Don: Joseph, Sr. tells this guy [non-Mormon named Fayette Lapham] about the plates. He tells him that on the top plate there were the implements of masonry, as used by Masons of the present day. So I found this really interesting. Wow, Masonic stuff way back at the beginning of Mormonism.

...

In every single masonic lodge in the world, one of the things that they have in common is that there’s an altar. On that altar, there’s a sacred book, usually the Bible, and in Muslim countries/Islamic countries, it can be the Quran, and so on. There’s a sacred book. Do you know what’s on top of that book? A compass and square. You set a compass and the square on top of that sacred book.



Joseph, Sr. was very steeped in, at the very least, Masonic lore, but he is apparently also a member of a Masonic Lodge, apparently a Mason. He’s saying, based on Joseph, Jr.’s descriptions of the plates, and by this time he would have seen them himself, actually, as one of the eight witnesses, he’s saying, the basic Masonic implements, which at minimum, are going to be compass and square, were on the top of the Sacred Book. That’s how it is in masonic lodges. So, the specific Masonic implements that are on top of sacred books in the lodge are compass and square. So of course these are significant symbols for more than just Freemasons. They’re already showing up. Joseph Smith first goes to the hill, first sees the plates, first describes the plates to his father in 1823. Joseph Smith becomes a Freemason in 1842, when he’s 36. Almost 20 years before Joseph becomes a Freemason, he’s already describing the sacred relics of the Nephites in Masonic terms that have extra-Masonic/more than Masonic relevance for Latter-day Saints of sacred symbols. So again, why is it that it seems that Latter-day Saints would, post-Nauvoo, really recognize as part of our faith? He’s already there in the 1820s. Everything that I’ve talked about, where these Masonic or Nauvoo temple elements are popping up: First Vision, Joseph Smith’s first encounter with the plates in 1823, Joseph Smith’s translation of the lost pages in 1828, Joseph Smith’s translation of the extant Book of Mormon text–book of Ether, 1829. That’s all 1829, so far, before he, himself, becomes a Freemason, and already you’ve got loads of symbolic and structural content elements of the Nauvoo endowment. There’s something going on. Nauvoo endowment isn’t just Nauvoo. In fact, Nauvoo Mormonism is not really just Nauvoo. It’s already there, since you have Nauvoo elements in the stories of the brother of Jared, and Mosiah. [With] the Nauvoo temple, what Joseph is about is trying to bring people into the presence of God. This is what he says in his sermons. So you’re trying to give them keys. You can go talk to God yourself. You can stand in God’s presence.
“God came to me in a dream last night and showed me the future. He took me to heaven and I saw Donald Trump seated at the right hand of our Lord.” ~ Pat Robertson
“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith

mentalgymnast
God
Posts: 8438
Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:39 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by mentalgymnast »

Kishkumen wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:52 pm
Dr Exiled wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:19 pm


Interesting hypothesis. What sources do you have to shed a little more light on this? I know that Hyrum was a freemason in the Palmyra days and the Smiths had a roadside stand where they would sell various items and so having an attraction for the new Erie Canal would fall along those lines. What do you think the hoax would have been to attract visitors and the freemasons? Why do you think Smith may have wanted to make Palmyra a center for freemasonry?
See:
https://gospeltangents.com/2020/01/maso ... es-temple/
Don: Joseph, Sr. tells this guy [non-Mormon named Fayette Lapham] about the plates. He tells him that on the top plate there were the implements of masonry, as used by Masons of the present day. So I found this really interesting. Wow, Masonic stuff way back at the beginning of Mormonism.

...

In every single masonic lodge in the world, one of the things that they have in common is that there’s an altar. On that altar, there’s a sacred book, usually the Bible, and in Muslim countries/Islamic countries, it can be the Quran, and so on. There’s a sacred book. Do you know what’s on top of that book? A compass and square. You set a compass and the square on top of that sacred book.



Joseph, Sr. was very steeped in, at the very least, Masonic lore, but he is apparently also a member of a Masonic Lodge, apparently a Mason. He’s saying, based on Joseph, Jr.’s descriptions of the plates, and by this time he would have seen them himself, actually, as one of the eight witnesses, he’s saying, the basic Masonic implements, which at minimum, are going to be compass and square, were on the top of the Sacred Book. That’s how it is in masonic lodges. So, the specific Masonic implements that are on top of sacred books in the lodge are compass and square. So of course these are significant symbols for more than just Freemasons. They’re already showing up. Joseph Smith first goes to the hill, first sees the plates, first describes the plates to his father in 1823. Joseph Smith becomes a Freemason in 1842, when he’s 36. Almost 20 years before Joseph becomes a Freemason, he’s already describing the sacred relics of the Nephites in Masonic terms that have extra-Masonic/more than Masonic relevance for Latter-day Saints of sacred symbols. So again, why is it that it seems that Latter-day Saints would, post-Nauvoo, really recognize as part of our faith? He’s already there in the 1820s. Everything that I’ve talked about, where these Masonic or Nauvoo temple elements are popping up: First Vision, Joseph Smith’s first encounter with the plates in 1823, Joseph Smith’s translation of the lost pages in 1828, Joseph Smith’s translation of the extant Book of Mormon text–book of Ether, 1829. That’s all 1829, so far, before he, himself, becomes a Freemason, and already you’ve got loads of symbolic and structural content elements of the Nauvoo endowment. There’s something going on. Nauvoo endowment isn’t just Nauvoo. In fact, Nauvoo Mormonism is not really just Nauvoo. It’s already there, since you have Nauvoo elements in the stories of the brother of Jared, and Mosiah. [With] the Nauvoo temple, what Joseph is about is trying to bring people into the presence of God. This is what he says in his sermons. So you’re trying to give them keys. You can go talk to God yourself. You can stand in God’s presence.
In the comments section one of the commenters says this:
Towards the end of my mission in Japan many years ago, we tracted out a fellow who was into oriental mysticism of sorts (never could figure out what exactly). However, he did one thing that really caught my attention. In the course of our conversation he brought up out of nowhere that when Christ heals people, he does this with his hands (he then peforms the 2nd sign of the Melchizedek Priesthood). Then he mentions when Buddha heals people, he does this with his hands (he then peforms the 1st sign of the Melchizedek Priesthood).

Now, I’m pretty sure this guy knew nothing about Masonry etc. He certainly didn’t know anything about our church. So, it was very interesting when he performed these signs and how he associated them. Also, if you look at statues of Buddha, the statues always have interesting hand positions that are either identical or very similar to what is learned in the temple.

Partially based on that experience, I can easily make the jump into believing that their were masonic implements/symbols associated with the gold plates and the interpreters.

https://wheatandtares.org/2020/01/20/ma ... ost-pages/
In my reading over the years it becomes rather evident that the influence of masonry didn’t begin in Nauvoo. The influences of masonry ran parallel to the organization of the church.

I’ve read other things along the way that seem to show common elements between modern temple rites and the ancient world. Interesting stuff.

Regards,
MG

User avatar
Gadianton
Hermit
Posts: 9777
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 11:12 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Gadianton »

Reverend,

That's the most interesting theory of Mormon origins I've ever read. I highly, HIGHLY recommend you submit this theory to Interpreter. That theory as itself should have its own thread for comment outside of the context of "spiritual knowledge".

More thoughts later on the topic of spiritual knowledge.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

User avatar
Gadianton
Hermit
Posts: 9777
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 11:12 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Gadianton »

Dr. Exiled,

"Beyond that, what exactly would "spiritual knowledge" be?"

Very quickly, it would fall under "tacit knowledge" vs. "propositional knowledge". "know-how" like, what a black belt in Karate has vs. a list of propositions about the world.
FARMS refuted:

"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero

User avatar
Dr Exiled
God
Posts: 3444
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2015 9:48 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Dr Exiled »

Kishkumen wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:52 pm
Dr Exiled wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:19 pm


Interesting hypothesis. What sources do you have to shed a little more light on this? I know that Hyrum was a freemason in the Palmyra days and the Smiths had a roadside stand where they would sell various items and so having an attraction for the new Erie Canal would fall along those lines. What do you think the hoax would have been to attract visitors and the freemasons? Why do you think Smith may have wanted to make Palmyra a center for freemasonry?
See:
https://gospeltangents.com/2020/01/maso ... es-temple/
Don: Joseph, Sr. tells this guy [non-Mormon named Fayette Lapham] about the plates. He tells him that on the top plate there were the implements of masonry, as used by Masons of the present day. So I found this really interesting. Wow, Masonic stuff way back at the beginning of Mormonism.

...

In every single masonic lodge in the world, one of the things that they have in common is that there’s an altar. On that altar, there’s a sacred book, usually the Bible, and in Muslim countries/Islamic countries, it can be the Quran, and so on. There’s a sacred book. Do you know what’s on top of that book? A compass and square. You set a compass and the square on top of that sacred book.



Joseph, Sr. was very steeped in, at the very least, Masonic lore, but he is apparently also a member of a Masonic Lodge, apparently a Mason. He’s saying, based on Joseph, Jr.’s descriptions of the plates, and by this time he would have seen them himself, actually, as one of the eight witnesses, he’s saying, the basic Masonic implements, which at minimum, are going to be compass and square, were on the top of the Sacred Book. That’s how it is in masonic lodges. So, the specific Masonic implements that are on top of sacred books in the lodge are compass and square. So of course these are significant symbols for more than just Freemasons. They’re already showing up. Joseph Smith first goes to the hill, first sees the plates, first describes the plates to his father in 1823. Joseph Smith becomes a Freemason in 1842, when he’s 36. Almost 20 years before Joseph becomes a Freemason, he’s already describing the sacred relics of the Nephites in Masonic terms that have extra-Masonic/more than Masonic relevance for Latter-day Saints of sacred symbols. So again, why is it that it seems that Latter-day Saints would, post-Nauvoo, really recognize as part of our faith? He’s already there in the 1820s. Everything that I’ve talked about, where these Masonic or Nauvoo temple elements are popping up: First Vision, Joseph Smith’s first encounter with the plates in 1823, Joseph Smith’s translation of the lost pages in 1828, Joseph Smith’s translation of the extant Book of Mormon text–book of Ether, 1829. That’s all 1829, so far, before he, himself, becomes a Freemason, and already you’ve got loads of symbolic and structural content elements of the Nauvoo endowment. There’s something going on. Nauvoo endowment isn’t just Nauvoo. In fact, Nauvoo Mormonism is not really just Nauvoo. It’s already there, since you have Nauvoo elements in the stories of the brother of Jared, and Mosiah. [With] the Nauvoo temple, what Joseph is about is trying to bring people into the presence of God. This is what he says in his sermons. So you’re trying to give them keys. You can go talk to God yourself. You can stand in God’s presence.
Thanks for the link and explanation. I agree with Dean Robbers, this needs to be in the Interpreter. Also, I've been meaning to listen to more of gospel tangents for some time, thanks for the reminder.
"Religion is about providing human community in the guise of solving problems that don’t exist or failing to solve problems that do and seeking to reconcile these contradictions and conceal the failures in bogus explanations otherwise known as theology." - Kishkumen 

Themis
God
Posts: 13238
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Themis »

mentalgymnast wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:21 pm

I’ve read other things along the way that seem to show common elements between modern temple rites and the ancient world. Interesting stuff.

Regards,
MG
We see that with everything. Humans are really good at seeing weak relationships and think the ones we like are strong.
42

mentalgymnast
God
Posts: 8438
Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:39 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by mentalgymnast »

Themis wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:28 pm
mentalgymnast wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:21 pm

I’ve read other things along the way that seem to show common elements between modern temple rites and the ancient world. Interesting stuff.

Regards,
MG
We see that with everything. Humans are really good at seeing weak relationships and think the ones we like are strong.
Some humans are good at ignoring information that doesn’t fit their narrative. They reside on both sides of the tracks.

Ancient correlation? Nah.

Regards,
MG

Themis
God
Posts: 13238
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:43 pm

Re: Spiritual "Knowledge"

Post by Themis »

mentalgymnast wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 8:11 pm

Some humans are good at ignoring information that doesn’t fit their narrative. They reside on both sides of the tracks.

Ancient correlation? Nah.

Regards,
MG
It takes more then seeing similarities to establish some similarity from the ancient world is dependent on one we see today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareidolia
42

Post Reply