The Mormon Apogee of Affirming the Consequent


From Wikipedia:

Affirming the consequent, sometimes called converse error or fallacy of the converse, is a formal fallacy of inferring the converse from the original statement. The corresponding argument has the general form:

  1. If P, then Q.
  2. Q.
  3. Therefore, P.

An argument of this form is invalid, i.e., the conclusion can be false even when statements 1 and 2 are true. Since P was never asserted as the only sufficient condition for Q, other factors could account for Q (while P was false).

If you understand the above, now read the following and try to convince me that it is not a textbook case of affirming the consequent:

Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

In proposition form:

  1. If you ask god if the Book of Mormon is true, god will confirm it through a feeling.
  2. You feel something.
  3. The Book of Mormon is true.

Could your feeling be due to virtually infinite alternative causes?  Absolutely.

And if you don’t feel something?  You did it wrong.

The irony of this just struck me: the core logic of the missionary message is a logical fallacy.  🙂


158 thoughts on “The Mormon Apogee of Affirming the Consequent

  1. Nope. Never said it was. But the assertion that certain things deserve to be taken on faith IS an argument.

    See how it works, Seth? You actually try to form a statement that makes sense and uses words the way other people do.

  2. Love is a circular argument? I’m calling that bullshit.

    I didn’t “love” my wife then “meet my wife.” I spent countless hours with her before the thought of “loving” her ever occurred to me. And that entire time she was interacting with me. Love didn’t come before the reason to love. Love was the result of the reasons to love.

  3. Because she was my dance partner. I knew her for over 6 months before we started seeing each other. Then an intimate relationship developed. I didn’t spend countless hours with her because I loved her. I spent them with her because I liked to dance and so did she.

  4. From dancing with her? Sure. It’s called “internal body temperature rising from doing ballet”.

    Or are you talking about now? Now I would say I “love” my wife (in quotes because love is so hard to define). I have feelings for her. But they are not unconditional. And they are reciprocated, coextensive, and autocatalytic.

    Or are you talking about when we first started seeing each other? Then, I would say I was intrigued. Are you going to count that as “warm fuzzy feeling”?

  5. Well, you do it to church-goers. So sure. Warm fuzzy feeling.

    You’re an intelligent fellow, surely you see where this is going.

  6. We’ve already dealt with Seth’s failed efforts to prove that something analogous to religious faith is the basis for most of our everyday actions. See this thread:

    starting in particular with this comment:

  7. So, this is going toward: At some point in time (perhaps a completely negligible and irrelevant point in time) I manifested “faith” in my now wife, which led me to express my “intrigue” in her, which resulted in her confirming my “intrigue”?

    Um, yeah. Why would “faith” be required to express “intrigue”/”interest” in someone? That makes no sense. It’s not like I walked up to a completely random stranger and said, “Hey, you look interesting. Want to get married?”

    I got to know someone over a 6 month period, found her intriguing, spent time with her, grew closer to her, and eventually fell in love with her. The entire time, she and I were reciprocating.

    If there was no reciprocation, it would have ended. Why? Because love is rational. It’s empirical. At least for me it is. I don’t love people who treat me like shit.

    This is part of the reason why I lack a belief in god. I made overtures. God didn’t reciprocate. Logical course of action: there is no reason to invest any more time in this useless enterprise. Moving on…

  8. If by empirical – you mean you had positive experiences and drew conclusions from them – then Mormons do that with God and faith all the time. Does that mean our faith is rational?

  9. Nice try, Seth. Your point here has been that you have faith, then god gives you those “positive experiences”. My point is that I had positive experiences, then began to love my wife. You are saying faith comes before the experience. I’m saying just the opposite is the case with love.

    And, frankly, I’d concede that faith can appear rational when people base it on what they perceive to be divine experiences. The problem, of course, is that they have been taught to interpret those experiences as having a divine or supernatural origin. Independent, objective observers are likely to disagree with that interpretation.

  10. No one is arguing you have to have complete faith before connecting with God anymore than anyone is claiming you have to have complete love before dating.

  11. And you can talk yourself out of being in love with your wife just as easily as you can talk yourself out of believing in God.

    People do it every day.

  12. Well, maybe you can talk yourself out of being in love with your wife. Other people don’t find it so simple.
    But then my wife is a real person.

  13. I’ve fallen in love at first sight. There are people I love unconditionally, and there are people I cannot talk myself out of loving, and there are people I will love as long as I am able to feel anything at all.

    Loving people has not required one iota of faith.

    Building relationships, however, has required a great deal of trust.

    I understand when people say they love the church. I don’t understand when they say they trust it or its leaders.

    The leaders are not trustworthy. And why should they be? So much of what they say and do is based on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith is not trustworthy. The book he tried to pass off as scripture is not trustworthy.

    Sure, you can talk yourself into trusting all that. It’s probably especially easy for the type of people who are somehow able to talk themselves out of loving someone. Doesn’t mean it’s a wise decision or the basis for a moral life or an approach to life anyone else should take seriously or respect.

  14. Ah, so this discussion has moved on to the “Oh, yeah, well love isn’t logical either,” phase. 😀

    I agree with Holly @67. Logic and evidence may not be relevant when deciding who to love — simply because people don’t generally consciously decide who to love. However you can consciously decide who to trust and who to build a relationship with, and for those questions, evidence can be very helpful.

  15. Talk out of? I think Elizabeth Bishop said it better, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master”

    My cat is ashes on my bookshelf.
    I first met her when she was a week old and she crawled up my chest and snuggled under my chin against my neck. And I knew I was buying her a house with a yard to explore.
    She ruined my chinese rug, shredded my couches, sprayed my books.
    When I was sick with pneumonia and she yowled for breakfast, I asked to sleep a little longer. She jumped up on me, gave the dirtiest look and opened the floodgates of her bladder. I got up washed my sheets, took a shower, but first I feed her.
    And still, still if I could, I give her my life.

  16. A very nice poem Suzanne, but doesn’t it apply to faith as well?

    A clarification – my intent is not to say religion is logical, or love is irrational. My point is to say that the two impulses are both equally rational and irrational.

    Actually, that doesn’t really capture what I think either. I think our working definition of what rationality is, is defective. And I think there is a massive double-standard being applied to faith, by people who use similar paradigms to those advocated by faith communities in their own daily lives in other contexts.

  17. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to the discussion/too inexperienced in both areas, but I’m not quite getting the comparison of love to faith.

    can someone spell this out? Maybe email me if this is too off-topic. I’m just thinking that you would never make Moroni 10:4 conclusions in a love type situation.

  18. If I were inclined to do as Seth does and tell other people what they think, I would say that the reason he can’t really capture what he thinks is because on some level he realizes, as Andrew points out, that the comparison really doesn’t make sense.

    Love itself–who we love, how long we love–may be irrational, but our reactions to it are dependent on specific cues from the object of our love–at least, they are if we’re not psychotic. We consider evidence for how those we love feel about us and, especially as we age, we make our decisions for what to do with and about our love based on that evidence and reasonable understandings about how likely we are to make each other happier, better people.

    With faith, you’re supposed to have particular reactions regardless of the way the object of faith behaves.

    For instance, to go back to profxm’s original point, and LDS Anarchist’s restatement of it:

    In Mormonism, if you absolutely believe that what you absolutely believe is right, and you say to the universe, “Hey! All that stuff I believe absolutely is right, isn’t it?” then what you absolutely believe is right will find ways to let you know that you are, in fact, right to absolutely believe it. That circularity is how you know that you’re doing it right, despite the lack of externally verifiable evidence that you’re right, and in the fact of evidence that you’re actually wrong.

    pause for people to shake their heads at how, um unbelievably messed up that is.

    If you were to apply that approach to love, you would work hard to increase your love for whomever/whatever you love no matter what else you feel–fatigue, a persistent sense that having the crap beaten out of you isn’t really all that good for the relationship, resentment that they sold your computer to a pawn shop for drug money–and you would find ways to interpret ANYTHING–a restraining order (“their love for me is so great they can’t bear to be near me!”), declarations of indifference (“they can’t admit how much they love me!”), mere everyday politeness (“Wow! They smiled and said hi! That’s obvious encouragement”)–as evidence that you are right to love and, more importantly for this analogy, that your love is returned.

    “Irrational” is a mild term for that sort of behavior.

  19. My cat was a real tangible being who existence I verified through my senses. I could see her, physically feel her, definitely hear her vocalizations and most noticeably smelt her markings.
    I suppose one could fall in love with fictitious online feline or a girlfriend. That leap of faith could well be a disaster.
    I could also be moved by a great novel. I have faith that fiction can inspire. While the novel is real, the characters are not. I feel the book in my hand. Read the words on the page.
    I’m not seeing a double standard. Nor do I think both are equally rational and irrational.

  20. Any divorce attorney can tell you that people reach all those whacky and bizarre conclusions about their relationships – with regularity.

  21. As it happens, Seth, I am related very closely to a divorce attorney, and I would bet I know more about the sorts of things divorce attorneys hear than you do.

    I’ve mentioned this before, several times. It has influenced my own views on marriage and divorce. I don’t expect you to remember anything anyone else has said in a previous conversation, especially given that you so often can’t keep track of what you yourself have said in an on-going conversation, but you might seriously consider the possibility that hearing about the sorts of things people in divorces say to their lawyers is one reason I was able to come up with a list of the sorts of really stupid, destructive things messed-up people in messed-up relationships say.

    But here’s the salient point, which you resolutely missed: those types of statements from those types of people are examples of what sane, healthy people should avoid, not what we should emulate.

    Whereas, for your whole “faith and love are both equally rational and irrational” thing to work, those messed-up thoughts by messed-up people in messed-up relationships would have to serve as examples of appropriate behavior.

    And they’re just not.

  22. Years ago I remember some self-proclaimed love guru teaching that people fall in love with someone when they are not around that person. I can’t remember the exact quote but essentially it was based on the absence makes the heart grow fonder principle. When we think about someone who is not present, the concept of “falling in love” occurs. In other words, we do it to ourselves by constantly thinking about that person and imagining our lives with that person. The process occurs, according to this man, when the love interest is not present because our imagination focuses on the all the good qualities and creates the illusion of future bliss.

    Any way, the same process can be applied to faith because scriptural faith is exercised by constantly looking to Christ, constantly praying to God in His name and constantly yielding to the enticings of the Holy Ghost. This constant mental and heart attention, while the object of the attention is not around, creates the same kind of bond that falling in love does.

    My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever. (Moroni 9:25)

    What most people “of faith” do is give sporadic attentions to God, not constant as is required. Since “constant attentions” is the scriptural faith standard, the Lord, for His part, responds either sporadically, minimally or not at all. Like a lover whose professed love interest is neglectful, He withdraws from those who profess to love Him, but do not dedicate their attentions to Him, and He draws close to those who draw close to Him.

    The gospel is designed around testimonies. So, a person hears someone testify of their experiences with God and how great and wonderful He is, or they read a testimony in the scriptures, and if they believe these testimonies and the descriptions of the witnesses of the qualities of God, they start to desire a relationship with God, too. They start to think of God, etc. Those who go through the faith process, dedicating constant attention to Him, suddenly discover the Holy Ghost manifesting, communicating some bit of information, or they get baptized with fire, an angel ministers, they hear the voice of the Lord speaking from the heavens, etc. In other words, they discover that God sends messengers and messages to those who dedicate all their thoughts and heart to Him, which is what lovers who have fallen in love do. These messages are accompanied by feelings of love, indescribable joy and bliss. So, it is the most satisfying of all possible relations.

    My own experience with the divine exactly conforms to this pattern. When I have turned my attentions to the Lord, as is required, with constancy, the Holy Ghost manifests, the visions ensue, the angels are seen, the baptism of fire is experienced, revelations are received, prophecies are spoken, etc. In other words, life becomes real good, very satisfying. But when I have been remiss in my mental and heart attentions, becoming distracted by life’s many enticements, the heavens close and my prayers bounce off the ceiling.

    So faith and love do have something in common.

    I might also add that testimonies work for mortal lovers, too. So, a woman enters a room and begins to relate about her new lover to all the other women in the room. Her descriptions get their imaginations rolling and some start saying that “he sounds dreamy.” They begin voicing the opinion that “I wish I had a man like that.” They begin to fantasize about this man they’ve never seen or heard. It’s all a similar process.

  23. Like I said, the messed-up behaviors of messed-up people in messed-up relationships–which LDS anarchist describes so well in terms of his own relationship with the object of his faith @76–are examples of what sane, healthy people should avoid, not what we should emulate.

  24. Yeah, I was about to say, LDS Anarchist is describing any type of extreme fixation on an object of devotion. If I spent all day, every day for a month, staring at a piece of shit on my doorstep, I’m guessing it would start talking to me by about the third day. My slavish devotion to it would eventually result in me hallucinating and even feeling warm fuzzies about it, but it’s still a piece of shit.

    Turn that kind of attention to any object and eventually you’ll convince yourself that it’s communicating back.

  25. profxm, that’s not even worthy of a response.

    That’s foul-minded MADB talk. You’re going to have to offer something more than bitterness and cynicism if you want to be persuasive.

  26. OMG! We were just laughing about this facebook: how pathetic people are when, in response to something that offends them, they make comments like, “That’s not even worthy of a response.”

    If it’s not worthy of a response, Seth, why did you respond? You do realize that you just demonstrated that for you, it was not only worthy of a response, it demanded one? It’s not worthy of a response–but Seth R felt it was too important to ignore? What’s up with that?

  27. Come on, Seth. That’s a cop out. My point was that you can fixate on anything. Fixate on god. Fixate on a cat. Fixate on a piece of poo on your doorstep. It doesn’t matter. Slavish devotion will result in hallucinations.

    You can dismiss it by claiming it’s “foul-minded”, but it’s true.

  28. Obviously religion isn’t comparable to this profxm. Like human relationships, it has a lot more going for it than an inanimate object.

  29. It’s basically a different version of the “flying spaghetti monster” stupidity that plays well on atheist echo chambers, but just sounds ridiculous everywhere else.

  30. it has a lot more going for it than an inanimate object.

    Like… an invisible object? An object you can’t see or smell or touch?

    At least you can see and smell and touch the shit. You might not want to, but you can.

  31. profxm is actually exactly right about the inanimate objects–people often invest them with an almost if not explicitly religious importance.

    Think about statues and images of gods. The bible wouldn’t have any reason to forbid them if people didn’t treat them as actually powerful, if they didn’t have relationships with them, if they didn’t have faith in the specialness of the images and the things that happened when they worshiped them.

    Or think about groves of trees or pillars of rocks in special locations. The bible wouldn’t have any reason to say they should be cut or torn down if people didn’t treat them as actually powerful, if they didn’t have relationships with them, if they didn’t have faith in the specialness of the place and the things that happened there.

    Or think about a kid with a beloved blanket or teddy bear he’s really emotionally attached to, that he believes has some sort of mystical significance. He has a relationship with it; he has faith in its ability to comfort and protect him. Sometimes kids love their blankies more than their siblings.

    So actually Profxm is exactly right about the extent to which faith can be focused on inanimate objects, and Seth is wrong that religion “has a lot more going for it than an inanimate object.” Not only is the relationship with an entity that can’t talk to you because it’s invisible and/or incorporeal basically analogous to a relationship with an entity that can’t talk to you because it’s inanimate, but a lot of religion is focused on inanimate objects–and it has been for millennia.

  32. Seth, I’m not trying to be demeaning. Truth is, meditation, if done long enough and intensely enough, can induce hallucination. This has been known for quite some time:

    All I was suggesting is that any object of devotion can lead to altered states of consciousness, hallucinations, and warm fuzzies if attention is focused on it sufficiently. Pray long enough and eventually something will happen – you’ll fall asleep, you’ll hear voices, you’ll see things, etc. That’s just the way the mind seems to work.

  33. This discussion has veered (not that it shouldn’t or isn’t interesting) from the direction Seth was heading way back where he was trying to compare the confirming “burning in the bosom” with the emotive experience we label love, to somehow argue that an emotional experience is a sufficient test of a religious proclaimed truth. I am with Andrew #71 that that analogy doesn’t work in addressing profxm’s original assertion “that the core logic of the missionary message is a logical fallacy.”

    I keep wondering, since I am enjoying the discussion, that is, loving it, is that a sign verifying religious faith, and confirming the existence of God? Sorry, it is early in the morning and I haven’t had my cup of postum.

  34. I keep wondering, since I am enjoying the discussion, that is, loving it, is that a sign verifying religious faith, and confirming the existence of God?

    No, it doesn’t confirm the existence of God. (Don’t ask why not. That’s not important. I don’t care about that. Which translates into “I said so,” but I’m not willing to admit to being that arbitrary. So just don’t press me on the point, because I don’t want to have to make up some justification for something I can’t justify.) But the fact that you love and enjoy the thread and have warm feelings about it does prove that the thread is true–and, by extension, everything else in your worldview related to the thread. (Except the existence of God, of course.)

    Also by extension, because it’s related to this thread, the current silence of LDS Anarchist and Seth R PROVES that THEY KNOW that this thread is true.

    The thread proves all this despite the fact that logically it really doesn’t prove anything at all–they could be busy, or dead, or too frustrated with the thread to bother anymore, or unable to formulate a response to recent comments even though unwilling to cede that they’re wrong, or have lost their internet connection, or any number of things. But logic isn’t what really matters here, because this is the realm of faith, and in that realm, we can KNOW what LDS Anarchist and Seth are thinking. We don’t need to ask them what they think or listen when they tell us, flat out, what they think, because we have this nifty little epistemological trick that confirms for us our own perceptions–about faith, about the unseen world, and about what’s going on in their minds. If their statements contradict our knowledge of what they think, they’re obviously lying.

    I love the world of faith! It’s so easy here–the circle keeps you safe; the circle tells you to keep believing what you believe, because why would you believe it if wasn’t true?

    Why would anyone live anywhere else?

  35. Holly,

    This is likely the last time I’ll address you since you’ve shown yourself to be a pompous ass with all the condescending mocking you’ve done. I don’t mind discussing things with civilized people who can carry on a conversation with someone they disagree with, but your mocking rants reveal that is is not worth the time or effort to respond to you. I am only doing so this once so that you know my silence doesn’t indicate that I concede your case, only that I concede your foolishness.

    In the short time I’ve spent on this blog, profxm and now you have come across as mockers. If the blog had a way to rate it, I’d give a thumbs down just based on the performance of you two. Perhaps that is the standard for ex-mo’s? I don’t know. I certainly hope not because mocking is a sign of the fool and I don’t want to think that all ex-mo’s are fools. If and when you and profxm learn to be diplomatic and civil, I may engage you again, but until then, I’ll just sit out of your bitter, condescending rants.

  36. Continuing on with @24,

    The Book of Mormon is a redaction, Mormon being the redactor who selected the material. Some of that material was written by Mormon himself, while other parts were written by other individuals. In the case of the material that Moroni wrote, he makes it plain that what he wrote was done under his father’s commandments. So even the material that Moroni engraved on the plates was redacted by Mormon before his death.

    The instructions given to Moroni could have been prioritized. In other words, “Be sure to include this, that and the other. If there is still some room on the plates and you have a chance to write more before sealing them and burying them, include this, that and the other.” Etc.

    We don’t know the instructions Moroni received, only that he received them. This shows why Moroni didn’t list himself as an author, choosing instead to ascribe the whole work to his father. So the “and when you shall receive these things” phrase must have been talking of the whole work because Moroni did not see his own writings as separate from Mormon’s work.

  37. You clearly are very good at reading into the Book of Mormon, without reading the book itself. Why don’t you carefully read the Book of Moroni. Moroni finished his father’s book–the last two chapters of the Book of Mormon (small book not total book). And then he begins his book, by saying I thought I would be dead, but I’m not so I’m going to write a few more things, and I’m writing to the Lamanites. If he was writing his father’s prioritized list of topics he would have just continued his father’s book.

    Now if your interpretations have come by an angelic visitation, then say so. Otherwise simply list it as speculation on your part. There are all sorts of could have beens, but at some point you have to stay with what is given. Unless, of course, as I say, an angel took you beyond what the book actually says. And while you are at it, go back and read the D&C 121.

  38. profxm, let’s just assume for the sake of argument that your bit about meditation creating altered states of mind is true and there’s a neurochemical explanation for this.

    So what?

    You’ve gotten no closer to proving or disproving God at all. Perhaps the neurochemical explanation is simply the method for interfacing with a valid divine reality. If that’s the case, this atheist quest to explain away God with biology and chemistry is an utter pipe dream.

    By the way, how did we get onto the topic of whether faith in general is a valid and rational approach to life? The original topic was Moroni’s argument, right? Did I get us off track here?

  39. @90: Oh, LDS Anarchist, did I hurt your fragile feelings so badly that you have to go away? Ohhhh…..

    You are welcome to believe that mocking is the sign of a fool, though of course, you would have to include yourself in that category, since you have been guilty of mocking. Consider this comment from you on a previous thread that I was not involved in:

    It appears that my comments have exposed your ignorance of these things. Mocking is a natural response when someone feels threatened by something they cannot understand or comprehend or which they never heard of before and do not believe to be true. I truly am sorry if I have made you feel bad. My intention was to teach, not to make you look like a fool.

    That’s mocking, my little anarchist friend. It’s not especially sophisticated, but it’s mocking.

    I don’t hold it against you, however. After all, the sort of mocking you’ve engaged in is a natural response when someone feels threatened by something they cannot understand or comprehend or which they never heard of before and do not believe to be true. I truly am sorry if I have made you feel bad. My intention was to teach, not to make you look like a fool–I mean, you did a good enough job of that all on your own, with your own ridiculous comments.

    Enjoy your Sunday! You’ve certainly brightened mine.

  40. Seth @92:

    By the way, how did we get onto the topic of whether faith in general is a valid and rational approach to life? The original topic was Moroni’s argument, right? Did I get us off track here?

    Short answer: yes, this is pretty much your fault.

    Long answer: You certainly helped, way back in @7:

    verse 3 isn’t actually circular.

    It’s an invitation for the reader to look at the entire sweep of history and see how well the Book of Mormon fits into the knowledge we have of history and how God deals with humanity.

    Yes, it does presume a belief in God – since God’s existence was a presumption in those days – even among Moroni’s enemies. But that doesn’t have to be a particular problem here. We merely view the argument as – “presuming a belief in God – study the history of his dealings with humanity and see how well this fits.”

    You can’t very well “see how well the Book of Mormon fits into the knowledge we have of history and how God deals with humanity” without considering whether the approach to god and faith advocated by the BOM is actually a valid one, can you?

    Or @11:

    Next time you meet Jeffrey R. Holland, or Thomas S. Monson, or any of the general authorities… ask them the following verbatim:

    “Do you think Moroni’s Promise in chapter 10 says we should just pray to get a spiritual feeling, or does it talk about reading the entire Book of Mormon, studying it, comparing it with God’s dealings with humanity throughout history, and seeing whether the evidence favors it?”

    Ask them that. I’m willing to guarantee you they’ll pick option B. Your argument here is without merit – because my reading is explicitly based on the text itself. And anyone familiar with the text will recognize it.

    the OP wanted to make it just about the BOM. You stressed that it’s about so much more than that. You stressed that the promise is about “God’s dealings with humanity throughout history”–or in other words, all of human life throughout all of human existence.

    or look at @44 from Profxm and @45 from you:


    So, believe for no reason, then god will give you a reason?

    Yup, that makes sense.


    If we’re not talking about just the Book of Mormon, but merely faith in God, then yes – it is a circular argument.

    And that’s a good thing.

    which of course you followed up @47:

    Why? Love and friendship are circular arguments too. So are a lot of things that matter.

    So, “whether faith in general is a valid and rational approach to life” and all of God’s supposed dealing with humanity throughout all of human history is the direction you were always steering.

    thanks for proving so clearly my point about you @75:

    I don’t expect you to remember anything anyone else has said in a previous conversation, especially given that you so often can’t keep track of what you yourself have said in an on-going conversation.

    You really ought to review your own comments before you ask a question about them.

  41. How are warm fuzzy feelings calibrated?
    Back when I was in primary, I would ask–Maybe the Holy Ghost is a liar? It seemed to me back then, there was no way to prove or disprove the existence of God.
    Sitting through endless testimony meetings, it struck me while listening to people who testified to knowing all sorts of contradictory things, that it wasn’t a particularly useful way to ascertain the truth.
    I am skeptical of information that comes from toking on a pipe.It can, however, be beautiful.

  42. Oh, and don’t forget @60, Seth:

    If by empirical – you mean you had positive experiences and drew conclusions from them – then Mormons do that with God and faith all the time. Does that mean our faith is rational?

    That’s the point at which you, Seth, made the thread explicitly about whether faith is rational, after moving it that direction all along.

    Like I said, you really ought to read your own comments before asking about them. At least you seemed to suspect that you were at fault, given the way you phrased your question: “Did I get us off track here?”

    So, you did fully expect someone to come along and confirm that you were indeed the one responsible for the change in direction, right?

    Not that anyone else especially seemed to care about the twists and turns the conversation has taken…. This is something you’ve done more than once: derail a conversation, then wonder how on earth the conversation strayed so far afield from the OP.

  43. Considering for @96 the way Seth formulated his question @92 got me to thinking about LDS Anarchist’s claim @39:

    What you and profxm fail to understand is that Moroni’s use of “not true” signifies that the reader already believes the text is true. The reader is asking God to confirm a belief, not asking God to negate a doubt. Like I said, a world of difference.

    Profxm and I insisted that the question was an either/or. LDS Anarchist wanted to say that it’s not either/or, that one of those possibilities has been removed.

    So then I actually stopped to think about how we ask and answer a question like, “Are these things not true?”

    I mean, what’s the right answer? What would God actually say?

    Neither answer is unambiguous.

    If he says, “Yes,” he’s affirming that the things are not true, but because it affirms a negative, it’s confusing.

    If he says “No,” he’s denying that they’re not true–he’s saying that they are not not-true–but that’s not the same as affirming that they are, in fact, true, as George Orwell, who loathed the not-un construction, would point out. Something that is not-not true could be still be a distortion, a misunderstanding, a statement out of context that, although not-not-true, still doesn’t accurately capture the full truth. Their Orwellian not-not-true-ness doesn’t automatically render them true.

    If someone asks you, “Are these things not true?” the best way to fully and intelligibly answer that question is to restate it as a statement, with or without the not: “These things are not true” or “These things are true.”

    So really, if LDS Anarchist is going to insist that there’s something special about this question, that it matters that it’s phrased precisely this way, that it’s not really an either/or, we’re left with the fact that, sadly, it’s a really bad question. It’s the wrong question. It’s a dumb question, written by someone who doesn’t understand good writing or good logic.

  44. RE #92: Seth, I’m not trying to prove or disprove the existence of god. My whole argument about the brain’s ability to hallucinate and have conversations with invisible and inanimate objects of adoration was in reference to LDS Anarchist’s post about how one must have slavish devotion to god in order to receive “witnesses” and “experiences” that confirm the existence of that god.

    My point was that you could expect the same “witnesses” and “experiences” from pretty much anything if you gave it enough attention and focus. Maybe his experiences are god communicating with him. But the likelihood of that is the equivalent of the likelihood that that my hypothetical piece of shit on my doorstep is also a god. Your god is just as likely to exist based on LDS Anarchist’s argument for how “evidence” is derived as is my shit-god.

    I’m not saying your god doesn’t exist. I’m just saying that my shit-god is equally likely to exist.

  45. No, I don’t think it is “just as likely” to exist. The evidence for the Christian God may not be conclusive in your mind, but there’s an awful lot more of it than there is for your example.

  46. @99: Once again, Seth spells it out: “I’m right to believe what I believe without any real evidence because so many other people also believe it without any real evidence. That makes it superior to anyone else’s competing claim that they’re right to believe without any real evidence something that contradicts my beliefs, because they don’t have nearly as much completely inconclusive evidence for their beliefs as I do.”


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