“Doubt those who encourage you to doubt your doubts” — John Dehlin on his Facebook page, attacking President Uchtdorf’s talk. Mar 25, 2014
John Dehlin recently put together a comprehensive list of what he sees as all the issues with the LDS Church. He of course titled it “A Comprehensive List of Reasons Why People Leave or Stop Believing in the LDS Church” so as to position it as a helpful attempt to teach the Church how to stop people from leaving. However, as I read through the list, it’s not really clear to me how this document could ever be helpful in that regard since it makes no helpful suggestions at all and simply reads like an anti-Mormon tract.
Consistent with my policy of not advancing anti-Mormon tracts – intended or otherwise – like this, I am not going to be linking with it. Normally I make an exception for John because I at least believe he is well intended in what I see as a desire to reduce pain in the church through reduced ‘exclusion.’ (I am intentionally using that term the way John uses it – which really means fewer people feeling uncomfortable and therefore making their own adult choice to no longer participate with the LDS church.) But I’m still not really in favor of collecting every potential faith-breaking issue all in one place like this. I do, after all, still believe in the importance of belief itself when it comes to religion.
Does John Encourage Disbelieving the LDS Church?
I know John claims he is not trying to get people to disbelieve. I think this is true in limited a sense. If you really want to believe, I have no doubt John will not push you personally towards disbelief. And I think John doesn’t really see belief as in-and-of-itself some sort of evil. Continue reading
Okay, I guess I set myself up for this.
So I sort of waded into the discussion / argument on this post about Ordain Women. In those comments I mentioned that I have a dear friend that is believing LDS and has felt supportive of Ordain Women. She had asked me to contact Kate Kelly and ask her about her beliefs. (Presumably because I have experience with making the questions increasingly pointed until I either get an answer to my real question or the person refuses to answer.)
I made the mistake of mentioning this in the comments and attempted to run a middle ground between Hunter and Geoff’s points of views on Ordain Women. I have no doubt that a person can be a believing member of the Church — even in the most common and classic sense — and also support Ordain Women.
However, the big question we are asking here is if Ordain Women is actually being run by people that don’t believe the LDS church has a restored — through angels — priesthood in the first place. Nothing Kate Kelly has said to date has given me any reason to suppose she doesn’t and in fact she comes across very believing to me. But I also know that its easy to use misleading language and that many often do just this. So I really wanted to ask her directly, but I am prepared to take her word for it one way or the other.
I was actually live chatting with Kate for a brief moment. I wrote up for here my reasons for why I feel tranparency on her beliefs mattered as the leader of a public movement but did say that if she just wasn’t comfortable talking about her beliefs, I’ll accept that and leave her alone.
I wanted to show the argument I made to her, so I’m posting our conversation (which is like 99% me) here. [Edit: Kate made only three quick entirely public statements, so I felt there was not the slightest confidence being betrayed. The choice to show the conversation publicly was a choice to show my words publicly. But since I'm not being Bloggernacled on the fact that I made "Kate's prive words public" I am going to humor this very strange attack and remove Kate's words entirely and just summarized what happened for her side since this changes not a single thing in the post.] Continue reading
In a previous post I talked about Roger Penrose’s seven (depending on how you count them) SUPERB theories of science. Now I’d like to give you an alternative view that I think is equally fascinating, though it takes a completely different path.
David Deutsch, being a Popperian Epistemologist (i.e. Epistemology is the theory of how we gain knowledge), believes that what makes a theory one of our best theories is not its range and accuracy, but instead how much it explains. Based on these criteria, Deutsch believes our four deepest theories of science are the following:
- Quantum Mechanics
- Biological Natural Selection
- Popper’s Theory of Knowledge (Epistemology)
- Computational Theory
In fact, Deutsch believes that these four strands are the start of what he calls “a theory of everything.” Continue reading
Probably all of you have already read Richard Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, so this isn’t anything new to you. But I wanted to replicate his discussion and explanation for the Book of Abraham in its entirety here. If I merely summarize, I’ll run the risk of interpreting and I want to avoid that risk. Later on I’ll use this as the basis for future discussion that I can refer back to. So here it is: Richard Bushman’s take on the Joseph Smith Papyri and the Book of Abraham that it inspired.
The Abraham texts gave Joseph another chance to let his followers try translating. While working on the Book of Mormon in 1829, Joseph invited Oliver Cowdery to translate: he tried and failed. Now with the Egyptian papyri before them, Joseph again let the men with the greatest interest in such undertakings – Cowdery, William W. Phelps, Warren Parrish, and Fredrick G. Williams – attempt translations. … Continue reading
In my last two posts on Computational Theory, I first explained the Church-Turing Thesis which can be summarized as the idea that all (full-featured) computers are equivalent. I then went on to summarize some Computational Theory principles we can study and research once we assume that the Church-Turing Thesis is true. This research is primarily based around the limits of what a Turing Machine can do or how fast it can perform.
In this post I’m going to explore some of the philosophical ramifications of the Church-Turing Thesis, if it were to actually hold true. And at least so far (with one interesting exception) it has held true. Though in the end, I suspect many readers will feel they need to ultimately reject the Turing Thesis. But even if it does ultimately prove false, the very fact that it holds true in every case we know how to currently devise still makes it an useful scientific principle, for now. Continue reading