How Did People in the 19th Century Perceive Younger Wives?

Joseph SmithIn yesterday’s discussion on Meg’s first post I started to write a comment that (as sometimes happens) became a tangent that then became a whole post.

I’m not even sure what comment originally prompted this. But I was thinking about Joseph Smith’s younger wives, particularly Helen Mar Kimball. Meg and I also got talking and she pointed to Nancy Winchester as being about the same age when they ‘married’ Joseph Smith.

The evidence is currently against either having consummated their marriages to Joseph. Continue reading

How We Gain Knowledge

Popper and KuhnBefore I disappeared from blogging, I had finished up reposting my Wheat and Tares posts on epistemology (i.e. theory of how we gain knowledge. Good summary of my posts found here. Full series found here, in reverse order of course.) But the truth is that throughout my series, I never really had a single post that attempted to explain what epistemology really is.

Conjecture and Refutation

To summarize how epistemology works, the basic idea is that scientific progress is made through a process of conjecture, criticism, and then refutation. Essentially we see something in the world that we wish to have explained or (even more likely) a problem that we can solve if we can explain it. Continue reading

Introducing Meg Stout! Our Newest Millennial Star Blogger!

Finding a New Blogger… The Hard Way

I came across Meg Stout while reading her Amazon review of Brian C. Hale’s three volume series, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy. Her reviews were thorough and humorous. I made contact with her and we began to talk about her own studies of Joseph Smith’s polygamy and her personal views. She surprised me when she mentioned that her studies had suggested to her the possibility that Joseph Smith rarely consummated his plural marriages — with even a chance that maybe he consummated none of them.

Now of course this view easily falls into the “too good to be true” category, so I politely asked her a few more questions out of curiosity but also to gently challenge her.

She promptly proceeded to bury me. Continue reading

Kuhn’s Insight – John Polkinghorne and The Value of Value

In my last post, I declared victory for Scientific Realism over Positivism on the grounds that even if Positivism is right, it’s first “prediction” must always be that we ignore it as “truth” – at least to some degree – and be committed to our theories a “the truth” or else we can’t make scientific progress.

I therefore declared that on the point that Kuhn and Popper disagree, that Popper wins by default.

However, Kuhn had many insights that Popper missed or downplayed that help fill in the explanation gaps in Popper’s own theories. One of these is the fact that “refutation” really only happens between two (or more) competing theories. While Popper does not deny this, he really didn’t make it as clear as Kuhn either. We will eventually see that this insight is a key point in understanding the value of Theology.

Another explanation gap that Kuhn fills for Popper is explained in this quote:

Fortunately, there is also another sort of consideration that can lead scientists to reject an old paradigm in favor of a new. These are the arguments, rarely made entirely explicit, that appeal to the individual’s sense of the appropriate or the aesthetic – the new theory is staid to be “neater,” “more suitable,” or “simpler” than the old. (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, p. 155) Continue reading

Morality and Coercion

I have been working on a series of posts about morality for a while now. In some previous posts I talked about the following:

  1. The human perception of morality is not rationally justifiable and can’t be justified without an appeal to some supernatural Something-Like-God.
  2. That any attempt to explain objective morality will always end up being a religion, for religions are what you get when you assume morality to be objective and then come up with an explanation of how that can be.

In one of my older posts I mentioned in passing that morality is (almost) always non-personal and is perceived as applying to everyone. In fact, it so strongly applies to everyone that it even applies to people long dead. Continue reading