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Flattop wrote:So, we started talking about Nephi, a . . . hmm, how to put this? . . a claimed author of two books in the Book of Mormon, because I quoted an LDS general authority who quoted Nephi and Paul from the New Testament in the same passage. You had a problem with this, stating that there was no historical context between the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. I responded that Nephi and Paul claimed to received revelations from the same God. My mistake here was that I didn't put qualifiers on the existence of Nephi and Paul. However, it was my statement that Nephi prophesied of Christ and Paul testified of Christ that really got the ball rolling into one of the most bizarre discussions I think we have ever had.
At some point I suggested that you were having trouble with the concept -- note the word "concept" -- of an all knowing and all powerful supreme being. You were arguing that Nephi could not have known this, done that or understood something else. I then had the temerity to say that if -- note the word "if" -- a supreme being existed that such a being could -- note the word "could" -- have given Nephi the necessary knowledge and capability. Now, it was no secret that I believe in a supreme being. Of course, it should also have been obvious that the LDS GA's primary audience for that passage I quoted believed the authors of both quotes were inspired by the same God, which for that audience was context enough.
That, as far as I can recall, is the first time you accused me of playing the "a miracle occurred" trump card. I found this surprising since, as should have been clear, I was explaining my beliefs at your request, and providing qualifiers because you do not believe. In a discussion where it had already been claimed that Nephi and Paul had received revelation from the same God, you found it completely illogical that Nephi used a particular word because his brother Jacob received that word from an angel. My mistake was not realizing that I could only explain my beliefs if I completely removed God from the process. You, not me, but you, suggested that because the whole train of logic was impossible that it solidified in my mind the truthfulness of the story.
A few posts later you started talking about logical discussions -- as if that is a thing, despite my inability to find a definition of such -- and that illogical answers were a diversion from such a discussion. Again, the discussion started with the claim that Nephi and Paul received revelation from the same God; was it not clear that we were having a discussion about religious beliefs? Why did you feel the need to confine me to your definition of "logical" responses? If I was trying to prove something to you, then I could see the point, but I know that I can't prove anything regarding my religious beliefs to you, and I have no interest in trying. You expressed interest in my beliefs and asked me questions which I then tried to answer, but at some point you felt I had to confine myself to what you considered logical.
Later in the discussion, after I suggested that supreme being would by definition be limitless, you said it was futile to use logic to ascertain the powers of a supreme being. But isn't using the logic of the meaning of words to ascertain the implications of an all knowing, all powerful being doing what you said was futile? If the implications flow from the power of a supreme being, it would be just as futile to ascertain them by logic.
Limitless means there is nothing an all knowing and all powerful being could not do. To suggest such a being is limited by foreknowledge is illogical. To suggest such a being could not use his knowledge to find a work around and use his power to implement it is illogical.
Flattop wrote:The "genius" thing was a shot, but I don't believe I have posted any others. I may be a little grumpy, but I admit that your apparent need to confine me what you consider logical responses is a bit frustrating.I never claimed I wasn't a frustrating person to deal with. It is just one of my many charms. It isn't however, meant to be a personal attack.
Who said you had to claim what you wrote as revelation? Wouldn't the purpose be to demonstrate that a book that does claim to be revelation isn't?Quite honestly, I have no idea what the purpose of such an exercise would be. I understand the original premise that you suggested it under but I would point out that there are numerous such writings in existance already. Adding one more to prove something can be done that has already been done over and over again throughout history seems a waste of time.
You have to learn to accept the fact that you don't know things before
you start or you will get into trouble. Any kind of assumption is deadly
because it allows you to skip over the real problem when it is right in
front of you.
I have a strong aversion to "then a miracle occurs" type statements. If
someone can't explain something without throwing such things in the mix
then they simply don't understand it. I don't accept such statements as
explanations but rather understand them to be assumptions that preclude
Flattop wrote:I apologize up front if what I am about to do is take these statements by you out of context:You have to learn to accept the fact that you don't know things beforeyou start or you will get into trouble. Any kind of assumption is deadlybecause it allows you to skip over the real problem when it is right infront of you.I have a strong aversion to "then a miracle occurs" type statements. If someone can't explain something without throwing such things in the mix then they simply don't understand it. I don't accept such statements as explanations but rather understand them to be assumptions that preclude actual understanding.
If you will permit me, the last sentence of the second statement is an assumption. Essentially, because it is true in some cases, it is true in all cases. I submit that this is an invalid assumption. This assumption is allowing you to skip over certain possible explanations.I would disagree with this assessment. I will try to explain why. First off, let's put this in context. I have a strong aversion to "then a miracle occurs" type statements. If someone can't explain something without throwing such things in the mix then they simply don't understand it. I don't accept such statements as explanations but rather understand them to be assumptions that preclude actual understanding.The whole process of understanding is hopelessly lost once such statements gain acceptance and no understanding is possible. I can understand that anomalies temporarily exist because we don't completely understand a lot of things yet. I suspect that will always be the case. However, any event that is wholly dependent on such a statement for it to be a possibility to have occurred has an astronomically high probability of simply being false to start with. In my long experience working on systems, I have yet to see one single case of "then a miracle occurs" being an accurate description of how a system actually functions. I have also yet to read of such a case that anyone else in the much longer history of the pursuit of useful knowledge where someone found that "then a miracle occurs" was an accurate description of how a system functions. In other words, over at least a thousand years of literally millions upon millions of examples this has never been found to be the actual cause of anything. In each and every case where such study has taken place a naturally occurring phenomena was the actual cause of all events. Understanding scientific theory, this means that I can put forth a theorem that says "then a miracle occurs" is actually simply an admission that the event is not understood and I would be 100% correct as far as every such incident that has occurred during any sort of actual research and testing of causes. That doesn't mean that this will be forevermore be the truth but so far it is 100% accurate. I could also accurately say that belief in "then a miracle occurs" statements leads directly to the whole process of actual understanding being completely lost as long as the "then a miracle occurs" statements is given credence. It is only when "then a miracle occurs" statements are abandoned as simple lack of understanding that actual progress in understanding occurs. This is another theorem that has a 100% accuracy so far. Again, it doesn't mean that this will forevermore be the truth but so far it is 100% accurate. This is the same accuracy level that basic math is based upon. 2 plus 2 equals 4 is accepted as fact because every single time it has been tested so far it is a 100% accurate statement. That doesn't mean that 2 plus 2 equals 4 will always be true but so far it is absolutely true. In other words all three theorems I have put forth so far are 100% accurate so far. If we look at the results we have achieved as a society from utilizing this methodology of recognizing truth I think we can all agree that they are substantial so the methodology of accepting theorems as fact UNTIL proven false seems to be a good one. Let's compare that methodology to the "then a miracle occurs" methodology for understanding how things work. I know of no advancements of any kind that have occurred based on this methodology. I know of thousands of instances where this attitude has retarded advancement and increased ignorance but I know of no advancements based upon this methodology. I also know of absolutely no instances where "then a miracle occurs" has been proven to be an accurate assessment of actual events throughout the history of man. I know of literally thousands of instances where such views were replaced by accurate understanding once "then a miracle occurs" was abandoned but I don't know of one single instance where the opposite occurred. Perhaps you can name one but I simply have no information throughout the history of mankind where a working scientific theorem was found to be wrong and replaced by a "then a miracle occurs" explanation. Therefore the only way this is an invalid assumption will be when we can somehow find that instance of "then a miracle occurs" proves to be a correct explanation. More directly to your assertion, we can't get there without first making the mother of all assumptions, that such a god exists. That unlikely possibility is the only possible explanation and we have zero factual evidence that has ever been presented to prove such an assumption. On the other hand, we have millions upon millions of explanations of how things work that were once widely believed "then a miracle occurs" assumptions that we now understand through the scientific method. I think any objective look at evidence from both sides of this argument will tend to tilt the scales towards believing my original statement is accurate.
There is simply no way around the fact that the Judeo-Christian God, if such exists, is a God of miracles who gives revelations to prophets, who sends angels, and otherwise exhibits his power. There is also simply no way around the fact that faith is an integral part of the system. While I believe I have received revelation from God, yet, as Joseph Fielding Smith put it:
"I know . . . that God lives; that Jesus Christ is the Only begotten Son of God in the flesh, and the Redeemer of the world. But I have not learned all that there is to know about him and our Father . . . for in this mortal life it is impossible for us fully to comprehend the mission of our Lord and Redeemer, to know him and just who and what he is, and the extent of the great work he accomplished . . . until we enter into their presence . . . we will not fully know the only true God and Jesus Christ who he has sent."
I have been studying my religion for many years, and I have learned much, though not as much as some others have, and I believe that I have received revelations and witnesses from God regarding the truth of the things I believe, but faith is still part of the picture because I have not learned all there is to know."If such exists" is of course the precursor to any further discussion. Everything else rests upon that assumption. I recognize this is what you believe and I understand everything else flows forward from that. However, since I do not believe such a being exists, at least not in the form of the Abrahamic god, the conversation is interesting but unconvincing.
Even so, to remove God and his power from the equation because of an assumption that may or may not be valid allows you to skip over what may be keystone. Just because I reference God and his power does not necessarily mean that I have no understanding, and in some cases, at least, I can actually explore the so-called miracle in some detail.Please explain further. I am at a loss to understand how you can explore a miracle in detail. I can see how you can accept a miracle as factual and proceed from there but without that first acceptance it is literally impossible to proceed in further exploration as far as I can tell. In other words, if I first accept that pigs can fly I can explore in detail where they might choose to go and how to protect myself from the fallout of them flying overhead. Without that acceptance it is simply an amusing conversation with some unsavory possible results from hog manure dropped from relative heights.
You do not believe and that is your choice. But you are mislead if you think I have no understanding because I reference God and his power in certain situations.Yes. It is my choice. I would suggest that you limit your understanding of actual cause and effect every single time you buy into "then a miracle occurs" explanations. As I pointed out above, I believe I have a lot of evidence to back that belief up.
You have to learn to accept the fact that you don't know things beforeyou start or you will get into trouble. Any kind of assumption is deadlybecause it allows you to skip over the real problem when it is right infront of you.
I have a strong aversion to "then a miracle occurs" type statements. If someone can't explain something without throwing such things in the mix then they simply don't understand it. I don't accept such statements as explanations but rather understand them to be assumptions that preclude actual understanding.
Flattop wrote:After several days of having this in the back of my mind, it seems to me that you have this desire to understand how I could believe what I do, but when I try to answer your questions you appear to expect me to answer them on your terms.That is not my intent. The first part of this statement is accurate. However, it isn't that I expect your answers to be on my terms it is just that I don't understand your acceptance of such things for the simple reason that I could never accept them. I find it curious that you do and usually further question them accordingly. As I outlined in my last response, there are at least two (and probably many more) methodologies for understanding how things work. Your methodology, to believe that miraculous things happened due to the actions of a mysterious all-knowing being, seems vastly inferior to the scientific methodology of theory and test. It seems inferior in practice and in result when the two are compared. I have a hard time understanding why anyone would choose that methodology for understanding accordingly. It is not a methodology that has proven to be effective or correct throughout history. I can accept that you choose it. I just have a very hard time understanding why.
In effect, I have to deny my beliefs in order to explain them, because certain answers are rejected outright. I believe in a god of miracles, yet you appear to expect me to find other explanations that are more acceptable to you, thus denying God's power. I believe in a book that claims to be scripture and which records that miracles occurred, while you do not accept that book or the idea of miracle, I do, therefore I see no reason to look for alternative explanations.Again..... this is the kind of reasoning I do not understand. The last sentence is the very definition of a closed mind and I don't know why anyone would choose to close their mind. I find such statements to be mystifying and confusing. It goes against everything I know to be true in knowledge and understanding to think this way.
It seems to me, btw, that there are at least two different reasons for saying "a miracle happened." The first being essentially the same as saying "beats me."
"Beats me, must have been a miracle."
The second being because a clearly defined miracle is said to have occurred.
"An angel appeared and said X."I consider the second to be a more elaborate but logically identical version of the first. Someone's explanation for something they couldn't understand. There is absolutely no difference in the two from a logical or scientific standpoint.
Now, I never actually used the phrase "Then a miracle happened" or even "a miracle occurred." Rather, I said God gave direction to Nephi on how to build a ship and that an angel spoke to Jacob. Such things are classified as miraculous events, but my statements had nothing of the "beats me" in them.I can see this, from your point of view. However, from the point of view of whoever originally wrote the Book of Nephi I believe that is exactly what is being said with the added possibility that this person was more interested in advancing their own power and standing in the world than spreading knowledge of any kind. It is no different than when I see anyone actively telling stories that seem unbelievable, my all too human reaction is to try to understand WHY they might be doing so.
Not that any such distinction will mean anything to you.Oh.... it definitely means something to me. I just means something that I suspect is much different from your interpretation.
Flattop wrote:Let me amend the statement:
I believe in a book that claims to be scripture and which records that
miracles occurred, while you do not accept that book or the idea of
miracle, I do, therefore I see no reason to look for alternative
explanations to satisfy you.As I have said numerous times on this thread and others. I have no problem with your belief for your own purposes. I also have no desire to have you to do anything to satisfy me concerning your faith. I simply don't understand why anyone would make the choice to believe in miracles and supernatural beings rather than accept the scientific method as a better means of getting to the truth.
The context of the statement, after all, was regarding these discussions and answering your questions. In any case, I find it amusing that you talk about the definition of a closed mind. My mind is open to miracles, yours is not. My mind is open to revelation from a supreme being, yours is not. You have stated quite clearly that you reject anything referring the miraculous.I reject all unlikely things in favor of what is more likely. In all studies of any type I think you will find this is a universally useful basic premise to start with. My mind is always open to miracles but as I stated before, in the very long history of everything that we know has happened on earth we have yet to find any of them to be caused by miracles. We have countless events that were once believed to be caused by miracles that we now understand the scientific cause of quite clearly. We have absolutely zero events that were once thought to be understood scientifically that we now know to be caused by a miracle. To accept miracles and supernatural beings as the cause of events instead of being open to finding actual causes is accordingly to believe in something that has never in the history of human existence been proven the best way to do anything. I find it astronomically unlikely to the point of approaching impossibility that this will suddenly reverse itself. On the contrary, this methodology has been adapted at various times in our history and in every single case it has retarded understanding and human advancement when it has. When you say you feel no need to look further you have indeed closed your mind. That is quite different than my saying I feel justified in saying that miracles are highly unlikely due to the fact that we have untold numbers of supposed miracles that we now know were nothing of the kind.
As soon as you show me evidence that there is some likelihood that I am wrong or that miracles have occurred at any point in the known history of the world I will change my thinking. That.... is the definition of an open mind. Surely you can see the difference in the two attitudes. One says "show me where I am wrong" the other says "I know I am right and have no need for further study". One is an open mind. The other is quite clearly a closed mind.
It isn't meant as an insult or a judgment of any kind. It is just an observation of the discussion and our relative views as I understand them. I have yet to meet a "believer" of any kind that didn't have a closed mind when it comes to their faith. It seems to be a necessary component of having faith.
Flattop wrote:Scientific method vs religious belief is a false choice. There are scientists, even some prominent ones, who also have beliefs in miracles and supreme beings. I reject the idea that I have to choose between science and religion.In making decisions as to how things occur, it is most decidedly a choice. I know of no scientific theorem that includes miracles. Feel free to point one out but as far as I know it simply doesn't exist for the simple reason that it would be nonsensical. I would also suggest that there is also no science that includes the idea of faith, which is an integral part of religion. This seems to make science and religion mutually exclusive unless one stretches either to the point non recognition in order to try to put them together.
I never said I have no further need of study, and I do continue to study. Nonetheless, I feel justified by what I have experienced and what I have learned that I am on the right track.Study your own belief system or alternative explanations? One is not the same as the other. Being on the right track is a little different than several statements you have made in this post suggesting that you see no need to look further.
The proposition that some things that were once thought or claimed to be miracles have since been discovered not to be only demonstrates that people were once too quick to claim miracles. In fact, not every claimed miracle has been discovered to be something else, which leads to their rejection as having actually occurred, and those who reject them put the burden of proof on those who continue to believe. That is not an open mind, instead it sounds like confirmation bias.No.... it does not "only demonstrate that people were once too quick to claim miracles". It does that AND much more than that, because in every single instance in the history of mankind where things that were once thought to be miracles are now understood; we understand the phenomena that was the actual cause. This suggests that any claim that a miracle is the cause is probably "too quick" of a claim. You are partially correct, we have an almost limitless number of "miracles" that have been proven to be natural phenomena and we have a lot of others that are not provable one way or another because they are based upon word of mouth stories that have been passed down. What we do not have, and what I am almost positive we will never have is one single instance since the beginning of recorded history where anything has been proven to be caused by a miracle. There is always the possibility that it will occur but it is a possibility that seems to be incalcuably unlikely if we consider how many times the opposite has ocurred vs. zero times it has went the other way. You can call it confirmation bias if you want but it is an extraordinarily logical confirmation bias based upon a limitless number of miracles that we have since found to be naturally ocurring phenomena vs. absolutely zero naturally ocurring phenomena that we have since found to be miracles. I would suggest that anyone who doesn't have a confirmation bias after analyzing the actual data doesn't understand statistical data very well.
This whole conversation reminds me of the Neil Degrasse Tyson quote:
“God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that's getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.”
How many times do I have to say that I have no desire to prove
anything to you? I will answer questions about my beliefs. I will
share with those who are interested. I will not force my beliefs onto
others.I never expected you would. I also don't expect to force my beliefs on you.
Flattop wrote:You stated that you rejected the religion you were raised with, and you have an obvious bias against god-based religions. As a result, you see science and religion as being in competition with each other. I do not. I also noted that there are scientists which do not, as well. Nonetheless, because of your bias, you present requirements that are downright silly. But such ludicrous requirements allow you to convince yourself that your mind is open. "I am willing to be convinced, but the burden of proof is on you. I will ask you questions so that I may understand, but these are the requirements you have to satisfy. And good luck because they are essentially impossible."Absolutely, I have a well oiled, deeply studied, intensely researched bias against the Abrahamic religions because I have spent a lot of time researching and studying their history. I also have a deep appreciation of the scientific method for the same reasons, I have studied it intensely and found it to be an eminently workable methodology for discerning truth. This leads directly to the idea that the burden of proof is ALWAYS on the person who puts forth a theory. It is the very root of the scientific method. As a matter of fact, the more falsifiable each theory is the better the system works. Therefore, if someone is truly interested in furthering knowledge and understanding they should always present such theories in such a way that they can most easily be falsified. This is 100% different than the way that religion is put forward as a theory. Almost all religion, specifically all Abrahamic religions are put forth in such a way as to assure they will never be falsified. I believe this is intentional for the simple reason that all of them have been sources of power, wealth, and political influence and control for their founders since their inception. I also do not think this is accidental. Taking all of that one step further, I use the methodology that I believe has been proven historically to be the most effective for discerning truth and that is the scientific methodology. A belief system that cannot stand up to that methodology is by its nature built upon a weak foundation, just like any other theory that is proposed as an explanation for how events occur. There is nothing ludicrous about such requirements, they are the most highly effective tools for discerning truth and understanding that man has yet found. I am open to the idea that I could be wrong. However, I will insist on using the most effective methodology for discerning truth in making that assessement. If that makes your task in defending your faith impossible that is no fault of mine. I am afraid the relative possibility of testing your beliefs with the scientific methodology is more of a reflection of the veracity of your beliefs rather than something ludicrous on my part. After all, I didn't invent the scientific methodology I just recognize its usefulness in discerning truth.
I guess I should be honest and acknowledge that I view it as highly unlikely that anyone will be able to challenge my beliefs. I don't think it is because my mind is closed, but rather that the efforts made so far have been ineffectual. While my studies in this area are primarily of my religion, I do not ignore arguments put forth by critics. For example, you once posted a link to a list of purported errors in the Book of Mormon. I checked the list and found it to be flawed with its own errors and inaccuracies.
As another example, the member known as LincolnsSparrow once presented something that was supposed to demonstrate a contradiction in the Joseph Smith story. I had no immediate answer and my initial searches for information proved unavailing. Months, even years, went by, and then I found the answer: Someone made a claim more than 30 years after the fact of a conversation he supposedly had with an individual long deceased. The point being, I did not reject anything out of hand, but persisted in looking for the answer until I found it. My search was not constant, but the question was always there in the back of my mind.I understand and appreciate your willingness to discuss such issues and I applaud you for doing so. There have also been several instances in this thread and others where you explicitly said you had no need to look further because you are convinced you already know the answer. Permit me to tell you as a friend that any such answers are an admission of a closed mind by my understanding of the term.
On the one hand, you said in every single instance where things were once thought to be a miracle that such are now understood to be a naturally occurring phenomena, but then on the other hand you said there are a lot of other "miracles" that cannot be proved or disproved. So, apparently, it is not in every single instance. Also, you said they were passed down by word of mouth, but I am sure you are aware that some were written down.Yes. I will also admit that since I know very little of the supposed golden tablets that Joseph Smith found I have no way of knowing how much of them was word of mouth. What I do know is that all of the Gospels of the New Testament were strictly word of mouth stories passed along for a considerable time period before they were ever written down. I am sure you will agree that this makes it impossible to prove or disprove such stories thirty to one hundred years after the events described. Anyone who understands word of mouth inaccuracies also understands this becomes a rather ridiculous discussion once we understand the reality of how such books came to exist. None of this changes that fact that we have no proof of a miracle ever occurring throughout the long history of mankind. Judging by this fact I feel safe extrapolating that we will not likely have that occur in the future as well. I am, however, open to that possibility. I just recognize the odds against such an occurrence are extremely high.
If you are waiting for me to prove that something is or was a
miracle, you will be waiting a long time as I have no interest in such
an endeavor. I have said repeatedly that I know that I cannot prove what I have experienced to anyone and I know that I would be a fool to try. At the same time, what I experienced cannot be disproved. You can call it unlikely and illogical and even look at theories of hypnosis to explain it, and you can do it until the cows come home, but it will not disprove my experience.I have no wish to do anything of the kind. I would like to understand it. This is where the hypnosis thread came from. I believe it makes a lot of sense.
Finally, if you sincerely desire not to force your beliefs on me, you might consider dialing it back a little in our discussions.I try to keep my responses fair and respectful. I probably do not always succeed in doing so from your perspective but it is my intent. When we plainly disagree I point out why and try very hard to explain my position in the hopes that you will understand my perspective as well.
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