mormons and christians welcome to the world of my reasonable ramblings [an error occurred while processing this directive]

10/27 - 11/4/97 Messages

The most recent messages can be found here.

received 11/4/97
I am sorry that you have wasted so much time compiling this "information" against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints . . . but at least you have invested time apparently in reading much Mormon literature, and only have to take God up on his offer that he will testify the truthfulness of it unto you if you ask him, with a pure heart and real intent . . .

Perhaps you should look a little deeper at my pages. I am LDS for starters and my pages aren't "against" any certain church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of God, whom I had the blessing of being in the presence of today, to hear his words as the Holy Ghost bore witness to me of his divine calling.

I've also been in his presence many times. I've shaken hands with him about half a dozen times and even had a discussion with him about 10 years ago.

At that great day when we stand before our maker at the judgement bar, we will be held accountable for the law which was given to us. The true doctrine that you have read, rejected, and ridiculed will take new meaning to you I'm sure. Your web page at that point will mean nothing.

Mormonism believes that a person can not be saved in ignorance. Any maker that I can believe in will not condemn a person who searches rather than relies on blind faith. I'd be very interested in hearing which of my web pages you feel ridicule your doctrine and why.

If you finish your days on this earth, still rejecting the Church and its teachings, at least accept Christ, for only through him can any man be saved. But if you have faith in Christ, surely he will reveal the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and all of its doctrine unto you.

Give me one good logical reason why I should blindly accept Jesus and at the same time reject everyone else who Mormonism rejects through history who claimed to be god or act in god's behalf.

[to my comments above, the BYU student responded:] The fact that you are LDS is irrelevant, so I did not address it. I cannot give you a good reason to 'blindly' accept Jesus because you shouldn't. You should accept him with all the vision that God has given. You should accept Him because everything in this life typifies of Him and the Father.

I have found nothing in life that typifies of him or god. Do you have any examples? A careful study of history will show you that both he and god have evolved greatly over the past 2,000 years--yet Mormon doctrine (and Christian doctrine) claim that they are unchanging entities. The only thing in this life that may typify them is change--this life continues to change and so do their descriptions.

The Gospel sheds so much light . . . you have studied it, and seem to know enough . . . but you seem to have little or no faith in anything. You refuse to accept anything. Why?

I refuse to accept anything on blind faith because there is abundant evidence out there which should be fully explored before falling back on a faith position.

Obviously, you should accept Jesus as the Christ and reject "everyone else through history who claimed to be god or act in god's behalf" is simply because Jesus IS the Christ. You cannot comprehend that? That only one person could be the Savior? That He was preordained before the creation of this world and so it could only be Him? The fact that He is the one and only one how can and has atoned for your sins, IF you accept Him, is a pretty good reason to do so . . . is that not logical?

No, it isn't at all logical. It is circular reasoning at its worst. After reading this article rethink your position and then let me know if you still think the Jesus story is logical using something besides circular reasoning.

I'm not sure exactly what you are trying to say or prove. But the Church is true, and the message of the leaders of the Church come from God, so if you are saying anything else, it must be coming from elsewhere . . .

You could use this same argument regardless of which church you belonged to and "prove" any church true. I've heard better answers before, but even they weren't very good.

I am young. I have much to learn. I cannot give you any answers, but only add to the many testimonies you have heard no doubt that the Church is true, Jesus is the Christ, and that through Him we may be saved. I do not think you care, but that is all I will do.

Oh, I care--especially about truth. If you go forward in life with an attitude of "I have much to learn" then I applaud you. If on the other hand, you only look for answers which fit your pre-conceived notions then the mental gymnastics you will have to go through in life will be rough indeed. Good luck regardless of your choice.

received 10/31/97
This is my second e-mail to you--last time was posted 8/11/97.

All hail the Guru of Goodsense!

Thank you, thank you. You may now arise off your knees. ;)

I've enjoyed reading the mail you have been posting for the last few months, and particularly your clearly reasoned responses. I hope the True Believers recognize how much respect and honesty they are getting from you--they could get much worse from many hardened skeptics. Keep up the good work, oh Great and Honest One.

I'm blushing. It's a rare day when I'm heaped with praise instead of insults. ;)

received 10/31/97
[This is another response from
this author.] Thank you for your response, it is very interesting. I hope I am not using very much of your time; I did this sort of thing on Compu$erve for a few years until it became too exhausting.

I've done it too--far too many times. We'll have to just agree to disagree.

[After discussing how I pointed out that he created a circular argument the author says,] Jesus' advice to test his words, was an avoidance of the circularity. In other words, don't judge FIRST whether a thing is stone or jewel even before you pick it up (or, before you believe and try the words of Jesus). Pick it up (try the words), and the evidence will soon accumulate as to whether it is a stone or jewel. If it has both (frequently the case) then you must choose whether to throw out the jewel to get rid of the stone (what many intellectual LDS do), or keep the jewel and the stone clinging to it (what I do). A third way exists; keep the stone but argue about it... :-)

I agree. Unfortunately, the only reason why the stone has to be stuck to the jewel is because Mormonism (and other restrictive philosophies and religions) requires an 'all or nothing' approach. I readily admit that there are stones and jewels in Mormonism. I have not rejected the jewels, when I reject the stone, even though some TBM's have trouble realizing this is possible.

One comes round to risk; do you accept the "noise" in order to find the jewels?

Not in the long run. You have to discard the noise eventually or you can't go looking for any more jewels.

I consider the risk of denying God to be greater than the risk of inadvertently heeding the enemy of God. So I believe a lot, and am cautious about what I discard.

Once again, you are referring to the enemy of God as if it were some literal creature--yet the creation and evolution of your 'enemy of God' is as clear from history as that of Zeus or Isis. Don't you run the risk of inadvertently heeding them too? What if your God isn't the correct one? Aren't you running the risk of inadvertently denying the gods that are by definition different than yours?

What about the [Kinderhook plates]? [asked rhetorically in response to my question] For all I know, the hieroglyphs that the hoaxers put on the plates might well be legitimate characters, and it is possible that Joseph recognized a cartouche resembling Ham. It is irrelevant to me in any case, what is at issue for me is whether the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be; all other considerations have no merit in a theological debate.

The Book of Abraham translation is actually a very good case study to determine whether the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be. I noticed you didn't mention it even though I brought it up. Do you reject the Book of Abraham and still accept the Book of Mormon?

Brigham Young entertained the idea of Earth being 6 thousand, 6 million, or 6 billion years old; it didn't matter to him. As it happens, 6 billion seems to be about correct.

I've heard about this quote but have yet to see it. It may be a confusion of the quote I've discussed on this page in which Brigham Young doesn't say that the earth may be 6 billion years old--he says it may be as old as geologists claimed it to be at the time ("thousands and millions of years") instead of the 6,000 years believed in by the church leaders and members and canonized in such scriptures such as D&C 77:6.

[After my discussion of Satan, the author states,] Now you are becoming unscientific; equating a lack of mention with absence of existence. Of course the "most subtil beast" will be very adaptable!

Not at all. We can look at the context of the OT and the environment in which it was written. There is much evidence rather than a "mere absence". The 'most subtil beast' was not to the early Jews as Mormons (and other Christians) have since reinterpreted 'him' to be.

Feel free not to respond. Enjoy life regardless of where it takes you. My questions are more rhetorical than anything else. I'm trying to get you to think rather than to have you answer my questions with a faith-type response. If you think you have a good explanation based on something other than faith though, I'd be interested in hearing what you think.

received 10/31/97
BYU's censorship of the Rodin exhibit sent me scurrying to my scriptures. Perusing them, I found that Rodin simply sculpted the wrong prophet:

"In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it; At the same time spake the LORD by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt." (Isaiah 20:1-4)

Shall we next excise Isaiah from the canon?

Nadine R. Hansen

received 10/30/97
Run, don't walk, to
yet another example of silliness to come out of Utah...

My favorite line (written by someone who probably has a dozen kids ;) ) is "The LDS Church teaches that any form of nudity is improper".

received 10/30/97
I believe in, and use the scientific method; but it has serious limitations when applied to things that, by definition, cannot be seen, measured; nor (with a few exceptions) tested.

Can you give me any specifics here? If so, perhaps we can think of a way to measure and/or test these things using the scientific method.

I would rather see good debate on HOW things that have been described to have happened, may have happened, rather than the emphasis on proving that things did NOT happen.

I don't think my emphasis on the page you refer to is on proving what didn't happen. I've stated on other pages that it is impossible to prove that something didn't happen (unless the event is some sort of specific prophecy which had a fixed date associated with it's fulfillment).

Most of the books do in fact attempt to objectively describe HOW things have or may have happened.

received 10/30/97
The above author responded as follows:

We have definitions already in abundance, therefore we need only test the validity of the definitions. In most any scientific endeavor we start with postulates or premises; things believed to be true but now going to be proved. Naturally, careful selection is important to reduce the effect of too many variables. One of the rules, is that God cannot be tempted.

This is an interesting 'out' and an interesting parameter to place on something for which we have no evidence. I disagree with your assumption that we already have enough postulates or premises to believe God to be true. What would you say if I was trying to prove guardian angels to you and I said that before we can test guardian angels we must first set a rule that they can't be tempted? In other words, guardian angels can be prayed to and will answer you if you have faith in them, but if you tempt them by asking for some evidence or a sign, or if you get discouraged for their lack of an answer your "temptations" have become the cause for their silence. These ever moving rules remind me of a Carl Saganism.

This means, a test will work, but only insofar as the purpose of the test is to increase one's own belief; rather than to disprove God. A study reported in "Science News" which I found interesting revealed that people who are natural believers learn much more effectively;

Of course they do. The problem is that they also learn incorrect things more effectively. What good is learning and the efficiency with which you gain the knowledge if you blindly learn fiction as though it were fact?

[I have here snipped a long story about how God has spoken to this person's brain.] This story is not proof to you, since I could be making up details of it. It will be compelling to my friends, since they know that I am honest.

I don't doubt your honesty. What I do doubt is that anything happened outside of your own head. If an honest Muslim related the same story and claimed that his or her god was the one involved in the divine intervention, what would you think? Was it something the Muslim's god did? Was it the Mormon god doing the deed for someone who doesn't even believe in "Him"?

It is, to me, perfect proof of the following:
1. An invisible intelligence knew where I was going.
2. It was willing to help me on the way.
3. It gave valuable information that assisted me.
4. I did not, and could not have possessed that information prior to this event;

I've had similar experiences both as a believer and a non-believer. The problem I've run into is that many times I hear or feel the prompting and it turns out to be false. As a believer, I quickly forget those occasions. As a non-believer, I realize that there was no invisible intelligence guiding me. My mind just had an instinct that may or may not have been correct.

Naturally, this story doesn't come close to proving Joseph Smith; but you start somewhere!

Why not start with an exhaustive list of all of his prophecies. Then figure out what percentage came true. If a significant portion of all of his prophecies came true then he may be somewhat prophetic. If they all came true, then he can safely be called a prophet. If only a small number came true then we can probably write his correct prophecies off to chance. We also need to look at what may have prompted his "prophecies".

Why not use the Book of Abraham and the Kinderhook plates as evidence of his 'translation' abilities?

[I have here snipped another long story about how God has done things to this person's brain.] I have many other stories, but these two are sufficient to establish that there is a God.

I disagree. You haven't proven that there is a God by mere feelings and impressions that have taken place within you. To scientifically prove something, you have to be able to demonstrate it to others. A personal testimony based on internal feelings does not come close to this form of objective demonstration.

There is one test that seems to never fail. A priesthood blessing given to another person opens revelation like you would not believe.

Oh, I've heard stories--and spread plenty myself when I was in the priesthood blessing business. Once again, the incorrect blessings are quickly forgotten. The bishop of my old ward was promised in a priesthood blessing a complete recovery from a serious illness he had--yet he died less than a month later. Another close friend had cancer and it looked as if he too would die. His blessing consisted of comforting his family that they would be looked after when he soon departed to the Celestial Kingdom. They sold their family business to a brother the next day before he went into surgery later in the week. He made a complete recovery thanks to the skilled surgeons and had to buy his business back from his brother. These are the stories that, even though they occur quite frequently, you don't hear about in Fast & Testimony Meetings.

Patriarchal blessings are no different. My grandmother's says that she will live to see the second coming. She died over 20 years ago.

So, to the extent that certain methods of the scientific method can be applied, I consider the LDS proved beyond reasonable doubt; and that is all that anyone can ask for.

The scientific method can be applied to far more than what you have touched on. You can test prophecies. You can measure the contradictions in scripture. You can perform a full analysis based on the current evidence as to how close the Mormon canon comes to the creation and evolution of the universe and earth--including the history of people over the past thousands and millions of years.

The problem is the enemy of God; also invisible, willful, and with a certain amount of knowledge.

The problem is that if you study the history of this "enemy to God" you will find that "he" didn't exist until about 2,000 years ago and "he" has undergone some major evolution and innovations (just like God) along the way.

I'm not out to destroy your faith or anyone else's as I state on my introduction page. My pages are set up for people who want to intellectually explore the issues rather than rely on faith alone. From your stories and explanations, I think it is safe to say that you value faith more than the scientific method even though your original message didn't seem to indicate such. You seem to use the scientific method more when it is convenient or when it will produce the results you seek instead of using it as an overall guide for your life and for finding truth. That's fine by me if it makes you happy.

received 10/30/97
Here is a new book to add to your list--"The Conscious Universe" by Dean Radin. The book shows persuasive empirical evidence for the existence of psychic phenomena. It was surprising for me to see the extent to with this phenomena has already been acknowledged and exploited. Much of the book deals with the scientific method and how it has been carefully applied to this research.

Why don't the folks who claim empirical evidence (or the author) bother to take up the Randi challenge and collect an easy 1.1 million bucks? If they are really using the scientific method, then their claims should be measurable and testable and hence should be very capable of laying Randi and other skeptics to rest yet I don't see them challenging skeptics head on. Much has been written on the subject, but it seems to me that they are just trying to sell books to the believers in the supernatural rather than really use the scientific method to prove their claims.

Those who believe for example in the power of prayer, faith, spiritual experiences, the unexplainable premonitions etc. which people use as PROOF that THEIR religion is true--may all be related to this universal phenomena discussed in the book I mention above. I'm a skeptic, but I've not as yet felt comfortable in tossing out the whole body of religious experience as merely imagination. This book shows evidence in favor of these kinds of experiences. It pervasively looks at the idea that our minds, nature and consciousness are all interconnected.

I agree that they are all interconnected--but not in the way you suggest. Our minds, nature, and consciousness are all products of the real world. What you suggest hasn't been demonstrated to be part of the real world. Unfortunately for some, there is not evidence that our minds can accurately predict or change nature by thinking alone. Of course our minds can predict and change nature through the use of the scientific method and making applicable changes in our behavior. This is irrelevant to so called 'psychic phenomena' though. What I have witnessed in my own experience is that everyone experiences what some would call 'psychic phenomena'. The problem is that the event predicted may have been hinted at by other means (for instance, I can possibly predict rain if the sky is full of rain clouds) or the unfulfilled events are all conveniently forgotten. In other words, the accurately predicted events are nothing more than mere chance.

Your web site does so much to expose the folly and arrogance of those who have said that they KNOW (but obviously DO NOT KNOW). It just seems to me that some of the scientific theories of life's origins require just as much faith as any religion ever did and yet they are often talked about as if they were fact.

Which theories are these? If they require as much faith as most religions then they may be one scientist's speculations, but they haven't made it to the scientific theory stage (yet).

On the subject of humility... several times I have tried to explain my lack of belief to family members, but they refuse to listen and give me the standard "I know beyond a shadow of a doubt" routine. That has always come across as very arrogant to me--that they would shove me aside without the slightest question as to why I don't believe.

I can totally agree with and relate to you here.

received 10/30/97
Kudos to Maxine Hanks for telling it like it is!!
received 10/29/97
Here is something that appeared today in the LA Times. I think it is funny how the researches feel they have to make some sort of political religious statement, i.e., "These studies do not in any way negate the validity of religious experience or God". I have been thinking the last few days about how homo sapiens probably have some innate yearning and/or longing for "something" (what that something may be is a huge topic in its own right) and it manifests itself as god and religion. Being an animal with a relatively large amount of brain power, I too have this peculiar idiosyncrasy. God and religion appear almost everywhere you find humans. Other animals probably also have side effects of somewhat unique or extra accentuated evolutionary attributes.

I recently subscribed to the magazine "Natural History". In the first two issues I've received, there are several articles on just the topics you are referring to. How the brain works is truly an amazing thing. Along with that, why the brain evolved as it did (and why we all need some sort of philosophy or religion to live by) is also an interesting study. The 9/97 issue has some really thought provoking stuff in it. That is were I got the recommendation for the latest book I've added to the site.

I think you were the one that recommended "Origins Reconsidered" to me. As you know, that book too explores these issues.

I still plan on putting together a review of Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee [for your website], a fabulous book that should be read by every U.S. citizen.

Please do.

received 10/28/97
I did not see Aaron Lynch's book on your Mormon Book page. It has a chapter about the propagation methods of Mormonism.

Thanks for the tip. I have had his book listed on the site for a while, but I'll make mention of it here too so those interested only in the Mormonism portions of the pages can take a look at that chapter. The portion dealing with Mormonism that I have seen appears accurate, but his Mormon vocabulary is incorrect. For instance, Mormons don't really believe in the New Testament's "hell" (even though the Book of Mormon also uses the New Testament's view of hell). Mormons now believe in varying degrees of heaven--but no real "hell" in the Biblical sense. Therefore, by forcing as many of the supposed "pre-mortal spirits", by having tons of babies, into Mormon homes as possible (as opposed to 'gentile' homes) Mormons think they are helping to assist children into a higher degree of the Mormon heaven since non-Mormons can't go to the highest kingdoms.

This Mormon doctrine also makes it very difficult for non-believing Mormons to leave the faith as pressure put on by family who don't want the non-believer to wind up in a different kingdom becomes intense. Family will attempt to level guilt trips on those who choose not to raise their kids in the church by saying things like, "think what you are doing to your children and grandchildren". In a sense, Mormons care more about putting church memes (viruses) into future generations than they do about the here-and-now happiness and intelligence of those future generations. Mormonism is certainly an excellent source to find examples related to the study of memetics. Beliefs of the millions of members can change almost immediately after just a few uttered words from someone they perceive to be an authority.

received 10/27/97
I have looked through your link lists to see if I could find an article where you set forth your own beliefs. I get a sense, from the links you have chosen, as well as from some of the comments you have made about the beliefs of others, what it is you don't believe; but, it would be nice to know what you have chosen to replace that which you have critically rejected.

I believe in the natural world. I have sort of set forth my beliefs and purposes on this page.

I'm still a member of the LDS church although I (obviously) disagree with many of the doctrines. I think the church has many of the better religious doctrines available, but they no longer use them the way they could. The movement back to fundamentalism in the past few decades has left a poor mark on the LDS church and its members Imo. I would like to see the church move more in the way that Widtsoe, B.H. Roberts, and the folks at Dialogue have tried to move it. It doesn't really matter to the church what I think though and I realize that. To be honest, I don't even think about Mormonism much anymore. If it wasn't for the email I receive, thoughts of the church would seldom enter my mind. As far as what people perceive me to be. . . some call me a "liberal Mormon", some a "Sunstone Mormon" or non-orthodox member. Others, who love to paint everything in the world as very white or very black, write me off as an evil apostate anti-Mormon. I don't view myself as such though as I have explained in a few replies to messages.

In a nutshell, I've replaced my previous orthodoxy with bits and pieces of various philosophies which I think are true, honest, and able to make me a better and happier person. My methodology has also completely shifted. No longer do I rely on something as variable as feelings--nor do I blindly adhere to the opinions of others who think that they are in an authority position. The scientific method is the best way to find out truth.

For older messages click here.
Links Index [an error occurred while processing this directive]