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Comments about ‘Mormon apologists gather, but not to apologize’

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Published: Thursday, Aug. 2 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"A scientist starts out with a hypothesis and then looks for evidence to see if the hypothesis is accurate," he said. "That's not all that much different from what we do as apologists."

Correct. It is not much different up to that point. where it becomes different is that a scientist has to go where the evidence leads him. And it may lead him to acknowledge that the hypothesis is false.

For the LDS, contradictory evidence must be explained away. And sometimes those explanations are just too much of a stretch. Why even look at evidence if your mind is already made up?

"The ideal solution is for people to just be so strong in their belief that they don't even worry about what others think or say,"

The ideal solution for who? Wouldn't it be more prudent to gather as much information as one can and make an informed, rational decision?

fkratz
Portland, OR

Dr. Peterson, I've read several of your articles published on the Maxwell Institute site. While you defend your positions with great skill, you also attempt to discredit not only the ideas to which you are opposed, but those that are offering them. The basis of your argument begins with the belief that your position is correct, so you're not searching for answers, your defending your basis. That is not the scientific method or anything like it.

Scientists use source data to prove or disprove a hypothesis. There must always be an open mindedness to new understanding and better data. Research is also scrutinized by peer review. Sorry, but this is nothing like the apologetic work I've read from the Maxwell Institute.

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

Article, quoting Jeffrey: "In apologetics, you start with a position and look for evidence to support it."

(Echoing JoeBlow) That's the problem. As one who avocationally follows the creation/evolution debate, I see this a lot. Instead of starting with a neutral null hypothesis, apologetics starts with a preconceived outcome. This leads to cherry picking the data. That data point doesn't fit the model? No problem, just discard it-- the model is known to be true, so contradictory data are flukes or statistical noise.

LValfre
CHICAGO, IL

This is why I don't buy into any LDS groups, BYU studies, or any other LDS academia. It's usually biased and skewed.

Native American's are of Asian descent .... random comment but unbiased DNA evidence leads to this. This wasn't an anti-LDS study, it was just a study that didn't support LDS beliefs.

sharrona
layton, UT

Re: Mormon Apologetics VS Christian Apologetics.

*Peterson likes to cite 1 Peter 3:15, in which Peter says believers should "… be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you."

He misses the subject of 1 Peter 3:15NLT, Instead, you must worship “Christ as Lord of your life”. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
Example,
That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus(Phil 1:6)

*Barney: second, defending the gospel (euangelion,2098)Good news of Christ, not Mormonism) against attacks;Jude 1:3….ye should earnestly Contend(1864, epagōnizomai,agonize) for the faith which was Once Delivered unto the saints. The truth has finality and not subject to change. Example,
JS,” In the very beginning the bible shows there is a plurality of Gods. Beyond the power of refutation”.(Hof C v. 6 p.476)Wrong,
Genesis 1:1 Septuagint, In the beginning God (*o Theos, Grk. 2316). Clearly God, singular. *Nominative singular article.

Abeille
West Haven, Utah

JoeBlow, fkratz, Lagomorph, LValfre -

Interesting. In your responses, each one of you show your bias, ignoring 'data points' that go contrary to your individual perceptions and beliefs. Strangely enough, this is also part of the scientific method. An hypothesis is formulated, some type of testing occurs, and results occur. What should happen next is an unbiased approach where the results either strengthen or refute the original hypothesis. However, there are very, very few who are honest enough to take this approach. JoeBlow and Lagomorph makes the assumption that all LDS members ignore contradictory evidence. That is not true. Many of us have researched it and find our beliefs remain intact...and most often our testimonies strengthened. This goes against your hypothesis, so this data point must be discarded by you - right? fkratz believes Dr. Peterson is discounting opposing opinions and people. However, two intelligent people can have opposing views. That does not discount a person. This goes against your hypothesis - and you ignore it. LValfe ignores DNA tests which HAVE found Hebrew DNA in Native Americans, but misses the fact that no DNA study with Hebrew or Asian DNA proves anything about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

skeptic
Phoenix, AZ

Apologists are like hot air balloons, they are sometime entertaining, but they are just a bunch of hot air trying to make themselves look pretty and important while convince others of their exclusive conduit to their imagined gods.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

"JoeBlow and Lagomorph makes the assumption that all LDS members ignore contradictory evidence."

That is not what I believe. However, time and time again, the LDS are counseled that they should only read "faith-promoting" information.

I will say that it appears to me that the LDS oftentimes discard the most logical conclusion in favor of one that fits the narrative.

The faithful will use the historical words of their leaders at times, but discount them as words of "fallible man" when they are proven to be incorrect.

Certainly you can point to certain "data points" that bolster the religious claims. But from a scientific standpoint, they are weak at best. And, we all know that it is very difficult to prove a negative.

But, at the end of the day, there is virtually no non-LDS scientists or historians who hold the BOM to be an historical account of history.

Doesn't make it false, but one would logically think that there would be evidence of the great civilizations and great battles that were detailed in the BOM.

And, that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

gray man
Orem, UT

JoeBlow said:
"Correct. It is not much different up to that point. where it becomes different is that a scientist has to go where the evidence leads him. And it may lead him to acknowledge that the hypothesis is false."
hah! yeah in the fantasy world! In the real world many so called scientists do everything for their pet theory, quite often regardless of the evidence. ie man made global warming.

fkratz said:
"Scientists use source data to prove or disprove a hypothesis. There must always be an open mindedness to new understanding and better data. Research is also scrutinized by peer review."
if only that were true - peer review now days means nothing more than having a bunch of "scientists" who already agree with you - agree with you.

fkratz
Portland, OR

Abielle- I said that Dr. Peterson attempts to discredit those with which he does not agree. How many scientific journals have you read where this is done? Apologetic religious defense definitely does not conform to scientific convention and is not within that realm. It is not science because it is strongly biased.

When you make a statement like "there are very, very few who are honest enough to take this approach", tells me you have never done research. And if you have done scientific research and still believe this, prove it.

LValfre
CHICAGO, IL

I mean this is a Church defense organization .... what do you think their hypothesis's are? It's whatever fits their beliefs and keeps the faith. Have you ever seen a study or research discussed by these organizations that actually gives light to problems without giving an irrational explanation for it or downplaying it?

It's funny how BYU scholars have uncovered things in the past and lost their faith, or questioned it, and then were excommunicated when they started discussing their findings. Are we suppose to 'seek the truth' or not?

Shelama
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Interesting thing about FAIR (and BYU-Neal Maxwell). The intellectual elites will admit that the evidence is not strong enough to compel an affirmative conclusion and that it's rational to conclude from the evidence that there's nothing divine about Mormonism or the BoM or BoA (or even the Bible, although Mormon apologetics has virtually nothing to add to the serious, critical study of the Bible). Pretty much the only people who conclude from the evidence that it's divine are those who already believe it.

fkratz
Portland, OR

gray man - OK, so lets assume I've got a theory that a correctly sized wetland can reduce acid mine toxicity of a small stream in Montana. There have been laboratory studies done, many of which I've read, but I want to understand how to size a wetland for a certain stream toxicity. I set up small scale models and collect data for parameters I want to measure. I analyze these data using linear regression techniques and develop a set of equations that will be a part of a body of work which will help industry and government deal with stream toxicity. I'm not defending anything, or discrediting anyone. I'm doing scientific research.

Lagomorph
Salt Lake City, UT

Abeille: "...Lagomorph makes the assumption that ALL LDS members ignore contradictory evidence." [emphasis added]

Please reread my post and explain how this statement is supported by what I said. I fear you are projecting other ideas onto my words. I was speaking of the practice of apologetics in general, whether LDS, Christian (generally), creationist, Islamist, or whatever. The quote I responded to was from a woman identified in the article as a nonLDS evangelical. I never mentioned Mormonism in my post at all (although it was posted in the context of reporting on an LDS conference in an LDS newspaper).

The practice of apologetics as described in the article (and as I have observed in other areas, namely nonLDS creationism) does require the selective acceptance of data (or the rejection of contradictory data-- same thing). People (including LDS) can come to their beliefs through many pathways, including apologetics. Just because some in the faith practice apologetics, and apologetics can entail selective acceptance of data, doesn't imply that ALL adherents of a faith reject contradictory evidence. Please reconsider your reply.

Shelama
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Lagomorph, people can, indeed, "come to their beliefs through many pathways," but not often, if at all, based on the conclusions of serious, honest, critical study. That's not to say that missionary contacts can't or don't delve somewhat into the apologetics but it's doubtful that conversion to Mormonism is ever based on the conclusions of such study. It's the same for Christianity: the serious, honest, critical study of the Bible does not lead to the conclusion that it is either divine, or as literal or substantially literal history, or to conversion to Christianity. There is nothing about the Bible that compels or even strongly argues for it being anything other than man-made. Lynch and Densely will both admit that the common body of evidence regarding the BoA, for instance, is not strong enough, either.

With few if any exceptions critical study leads people out of both Mormonism and Christianity and not into it.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

So the big point of contention is that faith uses different methods than science?

I kinda thought we all knew that already (paging Galileo Galilei . . .)

Science uses the best tools available to find out how things work. Typically via direct observation (or the closest corollary thereto). It is generally impersonal and reproducible.

Faith is an understanding that, by definition, is not something that comes from exterior observation. Instead it comes from personal experience. It is highly personal and is reproducible only via another's personal experience.

Shelama,

I could not disagree more. I have ONLY found folks converted to the gospel via serious, honest, and critical study. Nothing else will do. Even those raised in the church must ultimately pass that way if they would retain and grow the testimony of their youth. A serious, honest, and critical study of the gospel and of one's own self is the heart of gospel teaching.

Shelama
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Twin Lights, different people, it is true, have different concepts of what "serious, honest, critical" study is. I agree. Concerning the Bible, it really refers to critical textual and historical-critical study. That doesn't mean that BELIEVERS can't do it and retain their faith.

As far as I can tell, Mormon apologetics doesn't extend much, if at all, to the Bible and Mormons pretty much rely on standard Bible apologetics that have been accumulating for centuries. Without believing the Bible is the word of God and substantially literal history it's pretty hard to become a Mormon. The conclusions of critical textual and historical-study of the Bible just simply do not result in conversion from Unbelief to Belief.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Twin Lights, but the study that your speaking of pretty much begins with the belief in the Bible as the word of a god and the Gospels as literal history.

gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah

Now this is news right here in deseret. What say you about the faith? Inquiring minds want to know.

gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah

Where is the answer Dr. Doctrine?

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Shelama,

I agree that LDS apologetics covers the Bible lightly because others are already doing the heavy lifting. Interesting that you say that LDS belief requires a Biblical belief. So many criticize us for the exact opposite. Generally I agree that most LDS converts in the Americas come from a Christian and hence Biblical background.

I agree that Biblical study in and of itself (like Mormon Studies) does not always result in conversion. As to where the study begins. It depends a lot on the individual and their peculiar background. I have a friend who was Hindu prior, so not much Biblical background but that would more be the exception in the US at least. I had a Christian background but had rejected traditional Christianity. For me and others there has to be a conversion to the Bible as well as to the other LDS scriptures.

For me the experience of conversion came early in the process, the more serious study came later. Perhaps I was a bit backwards from most. I first gained a testimony of modern prophets and the D&C. Joseph Smith and the BOM came later.

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