There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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Jason Bourne
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by Jason Bourne »

drumdude wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 12:05 am
DP wrote:Several times, I’ve been confronted with an interesting question: “Can there be any valid criticisms of the Church?” I’ve posted a response to the challenge at least twice, and I’ve been attacked each time for what I wrote, by people who plainly didn’t understand what I wrote and, it seems, couldn’t be bothered to try to understand it. And now the question has come across my radar screen yet again. So, in strict conformity to a common definition of the term insanity, I’ll try once more:

Yes, there can be valid criticisms of the Church. Both of the Church as an assemblage of people and of the Church as an institution.

To choose a few trivial examples:

We, as Saints, could and should be doing better in our ministering and at attending the temple more often. We should be more active missionaries, be better at family history research, be more charitable in our behavior, be more service-oriented. (If nobody else in the Church is defective in those areas, I am. Which means that, even if I’m the only one, the Church membership isn’t living up to its full potential.) More of our youth should be serving as missionaries. Our musical and artistic tastes might be better. Our movie-going and novel-reading preferences might be more consistent with our values, more elevated. We should ourselves generate better literature and movies and art.

As far as the Church itself goes: The Lord himself has been critical of it from time to time, as have its leaders. But here are some fairly insignificant criticisms that I myself have offered: Our art and architecture have sometimes been pretty uninspiring. Our Sunday school and other manuals have often been quite uninteresting. Our meetings are sometimes boring. (And so forth.)

(I expect that some readers will want me to share some more serious areas of disagreement with Church leaders and some weightier criticisms. I’m afraid that I’ll have to disappoint them. I’m not going to be lured into public attacks on my church. And anyway, [a] that’s not the point of this post and [ b] I don’t really have any truly serious criticisms or areas of disagreement. I am, to use the silly language favored by one tiny faction of critics, a “chapel Mormon.” Mainstream and orthodox. Not for the sake of being mainstream and orthodox but simply because that’s what I actually believe.)

Here, though, is the more serious question that some really want to ask:

Can there be any valid evidence against the Church?

To which my answer is No, there cannot.

This is the point at which some of my critics began to froth years ago, and over which some continue to wax occasionally indignant still today. So permit me to explain:

My answer presumes the Church to be true. Why? Because I believe it to be. (The question is about my personal opinion on the matter, right?)

Since the Church is ex hypothesi true, there can be no genuine evidence that it is false. Of course, there can be seeming evidence against its claims, evidence that reasonable people might well regard as genuine and damning. In the end, though, on the assumption that the claims of the Church are true, what seems to be genuine, damning evidence against it must ultimately prove not to be such.

There is evidence that parallel rails on a train track converge in the distance. However, they don’t actually converge at a distance; they remain parallel. The visual evidence that they converge proves to be illusory.

There is evidence that the Sun goes around the Earth. For millennia, close watchers of the sky thought that it did, and they had reasons for thinking so. However, we can now explain those reasons, that evidence, in other ways.

There might be evidence strongly suggesting that Frank killed Bob. But if, in fact, it was Jim who killed Bob, and not Frank, the evidence suggesting that Frank was the murderer must eventually be reinterpreted as demonstrating no such thing.

It’s in that sense that I say that there can, in the end, be no valid evidence against the claims of Mormonism. Ultimately, you see, there can never be proof that something that is true is actually false.

Now, before closing, I need to make a few points:

I’m not advocating a closed mind. I’m not saying that I refuse to consider evidence contrary to my religious beliefs. I’m not saying that there are no substantial arguments against Mormonism that deserve consideration. I’m not saying that every objection has been answered to the satisfaction of every rational and honest mind. I am saying that my conviction that the claims of Mormonism is true entails the corollary conviction that arguments against its truth are, in the end, wrong.

I hope that helps. Though I really doubt that it will help some folks in certain circles of my critics.

Good critics can be a blessing. As a grinding wheel sharpens a knife, they can (and often do) sharpen arguments and help to clarify propositions.

Incompetent critics, by contrast — e.g., those who regularly, grossly misread what their opponents say and who fail to grasp arguments and issues — are pretty much useless and a waste of time. Unfortunately, though, they’re both prolific and extremely vocal, across the web. It takes real discipline to ignore them. Discipline that I’ve too often lacked. As the saying goes, I’m a work in progress.
Can you think of any proposition that you believe so blindly, that reality itself must bend, twist, warp, and contort in impossible ways to conform to the truth of your belief in the face of all the evidence to the contrary?

I think the ability for me to live my life without that burden, without performing those impossible mental gymnastics, and to live without that constant cognitive dissonance has been one of the greatest gifts of my adult life. It saddens me that Dan has never experienced it.

That is the very definition of having an open mind: the ability to change your deepest held beliefs in the face of new evidence. Having an open mind also gives you the ability to have a non-binary opinion on things like the idea that "Mormonism is true." Mine is non-zero, by the way. Call it a one in a million chance that Mormonism is true.

I would have expected Dan to admit at least some small possibility that the church is not true, that there is a real possibility that the evidence against Mormonism is what it seems to be. But it sounds like he is 100% convinced the church is true. And that, it seems to me, is the very definition of a closed mind.
I agree with your conclusion but Dan is at least being an honest apologist. Apologists for any religion start with the premise that what they are defending is simply true and argue from there. No evidence is sufficient for the entrenched apologist to back away from their truth claims. But some do, I did. Others here did as well. Kerry, RFM, John Williams etc. We were all defendider that are now non believers. What is the difference? I am not sure. Did we have more integrity and honesty? Believe me I did not want to give up my belief in Mormonism at all. But here I am. So yea I get Dan's comments. I think it is a piss poor way to deal with any search for truth. But more power to him. As noted, at least he is being honest about his lack of intellectual rigor when it comes to his faith.
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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Doctor Scratch wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 2:48 am
The whole blog entry just underscores what a fraud he is as an “intellectual.” God forbid anything might challenge his precious belief in the Church! He’s never known doubt or struggle or inner conflict. He’s just breezed through life, always knowing that “the Church is true!” It sure does explain a lot, such as his massive lack or empathy and understanding. He bristles if you accuse him of not understanding atheism, but he *doesn’t* understand it—not even close. I really wonder what it must be like to go through life without the ability to question your own assumptions.
Of course. Apologetics is not an honest intellectual enterprise.
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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Philo Sofee wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 12:18 pm
How is Peterson's modus operandi any different from William Lane Craig's who also thinks the same thing of his version and brand of Christianity? And yet those two angles are indeed, quite separate, distinct, different, and end up at different goals entirely, and not to say blatantly contradictory conclusions! I would LOVE to see a Peterson/Craig debate on that thinking...genuinely.
Well it is the same. Craig takes the same apologetic approach Peterson does. They both start with "it is true..."
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by Philo Sofee »

Marcus wrote:
Tue Aug 02, 2022 5:50 am
from DCP:
I knew from extensive past experience that my assertion would be received by The Usual Suspects with derision and indignation. Why? Because I knew that they would misunderstand it. And why did I know that they would misunderstand it? On the simplest level, of course, because they have a long track record of hostile incomprehension and there was no reason to expect a sudden improvement on their part. Over the course of roughly fifteen obsessively-focused years, they’ve built up an image of me as cartoonishly incompetent, fundamentally dishonest, unashamedly malicious, greedily mercenary, and impervious to even basic logic. And, given that background, absolutely everything I do or say is immediately understood in a manner that is not only consistent with that image but that reinforces and confirms it.
incorrect. Peterson's comments were evaluated with respect to the logic inherent in his statements.
So what did I mean when I wrote that, in a sense and from a certain perspective, a believer’s answer to the question of whether or not there is any valid evidence against the claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must ultimately be “No”?

Here are some things — drawn from real online claims asserted about me — that I definitely didn’t mean:

I wasn’t coming out of the closet as a fundamentalist or as a solipsist. I wasn’t acknowledging that my mind is utterly closed or that my beliefs are true “by definition” or declaring that no conceivable evidence can count against them. I didn’t declare my refusal to consider contrary evidence. I wasn’t saying that the Church is true simply because I believe it to be true or that all counter-evidence can simply be dismissed because it’s false “by definition.” I didn’t advocate “confirmation bias” or assert that one should never question one’s assumptions, or that evidence is irrelevant to my predetermined conclusion. I didn’t say that supporting reasons are irrelevant for belief, or that subjective “feelings” are enough. I didn’t dismiss reality. I certainly didn’t appeal to my own “feelings” and I didn’t announce that the truth doesn’t matter.
he is backpedaling. Hard.

Here are his words, quoted by himself:
A few days ago, I posted a blog entry entitled “Do any arguments against the Church have any merit?” My answer to that question was that, in a sense and from a certain perspective, a believer’s answer must be “Ultimately, no.” Here is what I wrote:
"Since" does NOT mean "If."

He continues for several paragraphs, but it is more of the same. he didn't mean what he said, and it's your fault if you thought he did.

i don't think i've ever seen such a wishy-washy Mormon!
He is a very clever rhetorician, the kind of man his own worshipful, righteous, scholarly hero Hugh Nibley utterly and unabashedly rejected and truly deplored. Literally hated.
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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dastardly stem wrote:
Sat Jul 30, 2022 3:43 pm
I don’t see why paulogia has much more an obligation then respond to Craig’s words.

Not “respond” Stem, but seek to understand the man and meaningfully engage the substance of his thoughts. Daniel Peterson responds to people, but he doesn’t engage them. That is what makes him so shallow.
dastardly stem wrote:
Sat Jul 30, 2022 3:43 pm
But if Craig thinks quite the opposite of what he said, then we’re dealing with something much different then paulogia mistaking him. Sounds like Craig would then be guilty of speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

Because Craig isn’t using words and concepts in the same manner you do, it follows that he is talking out of both sides of his mouth? Stem, if all you are doing is just comparing what someone says to what you already believe and then rejecting it when it doesn’t match up, why bother reading any of this stuff in the first place?
dastardly stem wrote:
Sat Jul 30, 2022 3:43 pm
Whether or not evidentialism or empiricism has its problems, has little to do with Craig assuming his beliefs are true and disregarding any contrary evidence, as he himself, essentially, suggested he does—not much different than Peterson.

It has everything to do with *you* thinking your beliefs are true and then assuming the worst about Craig when he doesn’t parrot them back to you.
dastardly stem wrote:
Sat Jul 30, 2022 3:43 pm
I’m not feeling too concerned about putting people in certain hierarchically derived categories based on their grasp of philosophy and whether that means they have or good points to argue for or not. More interested in ideas shared rather than the people sharing them.
If this were true then you would have been all over the opening post for this comment:
drumdude wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 12:05 am
Can you think of any proposition that you believe so blindly, that reality itself must bend, twist, warp, and contort in impossible ways to conform to the truth of your belief in the face of all the evidence to the contrary?
Mormon Apologists are some of the lowest quality apologists in the English speaking world and that lulls you (Stem) into thinking other apologists are too. If someone with an M.A. in Apologetics from Talbot who studied under Craig and J.P. Moreland came into this thread, they would shred drumdude’s comment.

You didn’t Stem, why? Is it because drumdude is part of this community, agrees with you on the topic of Mormonism, and so you put him in a “hierarchically derived” category? I mean we all believe propositions so blindly that it twists reality to make them fit, this is trivially true of everyone and can be demonstrated a hundred different ways using brain science, cognitive science, and social psychology.

The uninterrupted stream of your vision is an illusion foisted on you by your brain through a process where only a minority of information is provided by your senses and the rest is manufactured wholesale to fill in the gaps.

You go through life as if you live in a three dimensional world when the undeniable reality is that it has more beyond that.

The very organ that generates your consciousness lies to you *all* the time. To which, a hypothetical atheist might reply:
hypothetical atheist wrote:Well I suppose I could modify my understanding of the concept of evidence and then use it in ways that are more appropriate given the facts of the human condition.
Oh, you mean like William Lane Craig?
dastardly stem wrote:
Sat Jul 30, 2022 3:43 pm
Admittedly as much as I’ve tried to hear him out, it never seems like he has much.


You are hearing him, but are you listening?
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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Philo Sofee wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 12:18 pm
How is Peterson's modus operandi any different from William Lane Craig's who also thinks the same thing of his version and brand of Christianity?
(a) In 2015 Daniel Peterson gave a talk where he articulated a multi-volume book project that would take all the evidences for and against the inductively acquired belief in God (and by extension Mormonism) and parse them according to Bayesian probability that would hopefully generate an epistemically justified belief in the claims of the LDS Church that take criticisms fully into account.

(b) In 2022 Daniel Peterson posted a blog entry where he articulated an opinion that if one believes their inductively acquired belief in God (and by extension Mormonism) are true then there can be no valid evidence against the inductively acquired belief that are believed to be true. Why? Because if the inductively acquired belief is true, anything that entails the falsity of that inductively acquired belief is in itself false due to the logical principle of the excluded middle.

As it happens, (a) and (b) are contradictory. In (b) inductively acquired beliefs are bivalent, meaning they are assigned one of two values: true or false. Therefore, the assumption of the truth of an inductively acquired belief necessarily implies that the negation of the same inductively acquired belief be assumed false.

Yet in (a) inductively acquired beliefs are multivalent, bound by the values 1 and 0 with an infinite number of values in between. Once all the relevant values have been assembled and the appropriate calculations have been made, the result generated is a value that is supposed to represent justificatory strength of a belief which is suggestive of its truth.

Why did Daniel contradict himself? Based off this comment, I don’t think he intended to:
Daniel Peterson wrote:I’m not advocating a closed mind. I’m not saying that I refuse to consider evidence contrary to my religious beliefs. I’m not saying that there are no substantial arguments against Mormonism that deserve consideration. I’m not saying that every objection has been answered to the satisfaction of every rational and honest mind. I am saying that my conviction that the claims of Mormonism is true entails the corollary conviction that arguments against its truth are, in the end, wrong.
I think the spirit of the above fits better with (a) than (b), but because Daniel has absolutely no familiarity with any logical conventions, his meditations on epistemology are painfully confused. Kind of like someone tracing an image as opposed to drawing it freehand, he wants to give the illusion of competency instead of acquiring it by honest means.

Craig has written over a thousand pages across multiple peer reviewed books published by academic presses, he has never made such a basic conceptual error in any of them. Daniel Peterson is credentialed, but William Lane Craig is educated. Do not underestimate Evangelical scholars because they are popular punching bags for Youtubers.
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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I really think Dan is losing it. He says he read that Vin Scully was a “quietly devout” Catholic. In a eulogy somewhere. He thinks.

Vin Scully who “was instrumental, along with Catholic Athletes for Christ, in arranging for Masses to be celebrated in the media interview room of Dodgers Stadium. For at least one of his games, he placed a framed portrait of Pope Francis in a chair next to him.”

Vin Scully who “created a two-CD audio recording of the rosary.”

Literally the opposite of quiet. I swear Dan has the reading comprehension ability and research skills of a 4 year old. What motivates him to post random completely false thoughts on so many myriad topics? It’s simply bizarre.
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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DrStakhanovite wrote:
Thu Aug 04, 2022 12:46 am
Not “respond” Stem, but seek to understand the man and meaningfully engage the substance of his thoughts. Daniel Peterson responds to people, but he doesn’t engage them. That is what makes him so shallow.

Because Craig isn’t using words and concepts in the same manner you do, it follows that he is talking out of both sides of his mouth? Stem, if all you are doing is just comparing what someone says to what you already believe and then rejecting it when it doesn’t match up, why bother reading any of this stuff in the first place?
I'm not sure where these accusations are coming from. Where did I suggest any of this? I've caught Paulogia's video. I went back to the original podcast episode featuring Dr Craig and I don't think Paulogia is doing anything but meaningfully engaging with what Dr Craig said. He's not taking him out of context, as we've established, I can't find any hidden meaning in any tricky words or concepts Craig uses. And I say with that, I could be wrong. I'm interested in hearing you out. What deeper meaning is hidden in the concepts Craig says? Here's the whole quotation:
When I first heard the message of the Gospel as a non-Christian high school student, that my sins could be forgiven by God, that God loved me, he loved Bill Craig, and that I could come to know him and experience eternal life with God, I thought to myself (and I'm not kidding) I thought if there is just one chance in a million that this is true it's worth believing. So my attitude toward this is just the opposite of Kyle's. Far from raising the bar or the epistemic standard that Christianity must meet to be believed, I lower it. I think that this is a message which is so wonderful, so fantastic, that if there's any evidence that it's true then it's worth believing in, especially when you compare it to the alternatives like naturalism or atheism or other forms of life. If Kyle really knows what it's like to experience the love of God and to have this hope in eternal life and forgiveness of sins then it seems to me that he will gravitate toward that alternative. It will be so attractive and that it would take really, really decisive disproofs to make him give up his Christian faith and abandon it. Now, when I talk about the witness of the Holy Spirit I don't mean God speaking to me directly in the way Kyle describes. God doesn't speak to me directly either in that sort of way as an inner voice. But I just mean a kind of fundamental assurance that one's faith is true. People often talk about this as the assurance of salvation, and I think that is the privilege of every born-again Christian. I hope that Kyle is more than just a nominal Christian, that he's really come to experience the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit and that he's indwelt and filled with the Holy Spirit because I think then that removes the huge epistemic bar that he thinks you need to get over in order to become a Christian.
https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/r ... resistance

If he doesn't mean "lower the bar" or "any evidence" is sufficient, what does he mean? Granted, it seems to me Craig kinda wants to make the questioner feel small for questioning (as his last line makes clear), so there's that to consider. Is he playing an apologetic game? I don't care. If all he requires is any shred of evidence, its no wonder his arguments are so bad. ON the other hand, if his arguments are so good and his position is so good, as you seem to want to contend, then I'm more than happy to understand what you are saying. I don't think that's me being anything near what you are accusing. Like this:
It has everything to do with *you* thinking your beliefs are true and then assuming the worst about Craig when he doesn’t parrot them back to you.
I have no idea what you're talking about. Why do you think I've done this?
If this were true then you would have been all over the opening post for this comment:
drumdude wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 12:05 am
Can you think of any proposition that you believe so blindly, that reality itself must bend, twist, warp, and contort in impossible ways to conform to the truth of your belief in the face of all the evidence to the contrary?
Why? Why would I be obligated to respond to everyone's comment? Or get after people every time I disagree?
Mormon Apologists are some of the lowest quality apologists in the English speaking world
I mean have you heard anything from Ken Hamm or Kent Hovind (and they are just the tip of the iceberg)? I don't even know which Mormon apologist to compare these types of apologists too, they are so problematic. Gee? I don't know...even that feels like a stretch.
and that lulls you (Stem) into thinking other apologists are too.
I don't think so.
If someone with an M.A. in Apologetics from Talbot who studied under Craig and J.P. Moreland came into this thread, they would shred drumdude’s comment.
ANd that could turn into an interesting discussion. But they aren't here.
You didn’t Stem, why? Is it because drumdude is part of this community, agrees with you on the topic of Mormonism, and so you put him in a “hierarchically derived” category?
No. I don't remember the comment at all. I don't even know if I read it originally or if the first time I saw it was here when you quoted it. Other than that, I don't know why. If I saw it, I might not have thought much of it (no offense to drumdude). If I saw it, maybe I forgot it the next moment as something else caught my eye. I'm not seeing what me missing his comment has to do with any of this.
I mean we all believe propositions so blindly that it twists reality to make them fit, this is trivially true of everyone and can be demonstrated a hundred different ways using brain science, cognitive science, and social psychology.
That sounds interesting and I'd love to hear more on this.
The uninterrupted stream of your vision is an illusion foisted on you by your brain through a process where only a minority of information is provided by your senses and the rest is manufactured wholesale to fill in the gaps.
Yes.
You go through life as if you live in a three dimensional world when the undeniable reality is that it has more beyond that.
ALright. Let's hear more on this too, if you would.
The very organ that generates your consciousness
I agree. Our organs seem to generate our consciousness.
lies to you *all* the time. To which, a hypothetical atheist might reply:
hypothetical atheist wrote:Well I suppose I could modify my understanding of the concept of evidence and then use it in ways that are more appropriate given the facts of the human condition.
Oh, you mean like William Lane Craig?
No.
You are hearing him, but are you listening?
um...I feel like I went back to my youth and my mom just took me through a lecture. Let's just say I'm eagerly awaiting your elaboration on why Paulogia did poorly (which is less interesting to me) and why Craig meant something other than what it appears he said (which I'm more interested in). If Craig has a great position, I'd love to understand how or why that is. As I've tried to ascertain it, his arguments never really hold up...and his position feels weak. His tactics, as demonstrated in this little snippet, feel problematic if taken seriously. But I'd be happy to be shown I'm wrong here.
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

Post by Philo Sofee »

Daniel Peterson,

A PERSONAL CHALLENGE for you. If there is no criticism against the church that is true, HOW will you continue defending church leaders who COVER UP sexual abuse, and pay out HUSH MONEY on cases (to the tune of many, many, many MILLIONS of dollars, if not BILLIONS) where even 5 year old girls (daughters are RAPED, and videoed for SICK SAKE!!!)) and the BISHOPS and STAKE PRESIDENTS are TOLD NOT TO TELL ANYONE... just WHO do you think is telling them to remain silent Daniel C. Peterson? Their ward members? :roll:

So if the church is still true, Are your sexually perverted leaders (the Apostles and Prophet who KNOW THIS IS HAPPENING AND DO NOTHING, THEY DO ***NOTHING*** about the problem, but hide it and PROTECT the leaders, not the victims) also still true Daniel? Do you still continually sustain these morally perverted cowards who lie about Jesus guiding them Daniel C. Peterson? Are you going to do the morally proper thing and stand up and denounce them? Or are you too a moral coward cut from their cloth?
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Re: There can be no evidence that Mormonism is false

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dastardly stem wrote:I'm not sure where these accusations are coming from.
Let’s try from the beginning. Do you think Craig would answer this question in the affirmative or negative? "I don't know" would be an acceptable answer.
Paulogia wrote:Should we not apportion our belief to the amount of evidence provided?
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