Posts Tagged ‘ truth ’

102–103: Pragmatism, William James, and Mormon Sensibilities

June 7, 2012
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102–103: Pragmatism, William James, and Mormon Sensibilities

Pragmatism is the name of a philosophical approach for judging between competing truth claims. It essentially says that if you are presented with two ideas and there is no clear way to determine which is superior to the other, you should consider the difference it would make to you if you decided to accept one or the other as the true one. For instance, one of philosophy’s long-standing discussions is about whether or not human beings have free will or if they are fully determined. Since there are good arguments and evidences on both sides, the pragmatic method suggests we…

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63: Oh Say, What Is Truth?

December 7, 2011
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63: Oh Say, What Is Truth?

We Mormons have heard it countless times: “I know the Church is true?” But what does  this mean? Heck, even more basic, what does “true” mean? In this podcast, host Dan Wotherspoon and panelists Joanna Brooks, Dennis Potter, and Rhett Tenney take a deep dive into these questions. Explorations include overviews of major philosophical approaches, especially those most relevant to thinking about religious beliefs and practices, the shifts in thinking that in the past century have revolutionized thought about the nature of truth, including strong recognition of the way we all inhabit discourses that shape our views of truth and…

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Mormon Therapist on Cutting Self

September 1, 2010
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I first noticed signs of depression and anxiety when I was in Jr. High School. I am now happily married with two young children. With the help of counseling and medication, I am as stable and well adjusted as the next girl. My friends would never guess I had such a rough patch in my life. The scars in my heart have healed, but unfortunately, the ones on my arms have not.

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Resolving the Conflict between the TBM and the ExMo

August 12, 2010
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Today’s guest post comes from Ulysseus, a frequent commenter at Mormon Matters and elsewhere in the b’nacle.  His website can be found here. To take a line from Shakespeare — a pox upon both your houses. The Ex-Mos and TBMs continue to argue past each other and never the twain shall meet. While the thought of a kind, loving heavenly being comforts and then closes the ears of the believer, the list of inconsistencies, logical disconnects and “anti-Mormon” cliches assuages and then closes the ears of the non-believer.

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Why Mormon History is Not What They Say

August 2, 2010
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Why Mormon History is Not What They Say

Our controversial guest post today is from Rock Waterman.  Check out the original unabridged post at his blog, Pure Mormonism, so titled from his observation that the organic religion founded by Joseph Smith was nondogmatic and libertarian. A couple of weeks ago Jeff Riggenbach sent me his latest book, Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction To Revisionism. I’ve had a passion for revisionist history for as long as I can remember, but something I read in Riggenbach’s informative volume caught me up short. It was an essential factor that I had never known or considered before,…

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Faith, Knowledge, Belief, and Stochastic Theory Part 4: Finding Truth – An Optimization Problem

June 30, 2010
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In part two of this series I discussed Bayesian inference. Specifically, I discussed how Bayesian inference provided us with a mechanism for deciding in what we should place our confidence given all the information we possess and will yet obtain. This was all framed in the context of confidence. I’d like to discuss an alternative way of looking at Bayesian inference – namely optimization.

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Official Doctrine vs. Personal Speculation

June 21, 2010
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Mormonism, in its very short history, has a rich tradition of theological speculation.  The foundations of the Church were based on burning desires to know concrete answers about the great mysteries.  The existing answers in the early 19th century felt stale or unsatisfying as the world was changing and new frontiers opened up.  Formerly settled religious questions were thrown back into the ring for debate.  This happened within a frontier tradition attempting to interpret and combine ideas from the newly forming materialistic sciences with the long-established magical world view held in western culture.

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Absolute Truth, Inclusivism, Lumen Gentium, and Emeth

June 7, 2010
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Guest post by Thomas In C.S. Lewis’ final Narnia book The Last Battle, there is a powerful scene of an encounter between the Christ-symbolizing lion Aslan and Emeth, a noble-minded worshipper of the false Calormene demon-god Tash: “[The Lion] touched my forehead…and said, Son, thou art welcome.  But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.  He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.  Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and…

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Should truth be simple, easy to comprehend?

May 12, 2010
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Should truth be simple, easy to comprehend?

OK, friends and pals of MormonMatters…let’s play a game. (You just can’t get this at any of the other blogs, btw.) Some of you may have played this game before…or understand how it is played. If you do, then think back to the first time you played the game (when it was as unknown to you as it is to many), and don’t spoil it for the rest. There will be prizes. Although, they will be the nonphysical kind. OK. So, here’s the game. There are three doors in front of you. What I can tell you is that one…

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A Rational Theology Part 2: The First Four Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel

April 30, 2010
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A Rational Theology Part 2: The First Four Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel

In my previous discussion of “A Rational Theology” by John Widstoe, I discussed two methodologies of deriving a full LDS theology in use during the time Widstoe was writing this book.  We then compared such strategies with modern church apologists. In this installment, I’d like to discuss the first four principles and ordinances as we view them today, and contrast them with what Widstoe lays out in his rational theology.

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Joseph Fielding McConkie and the Lens of Literalism

March 30, 2010
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In a recently published book ‘Between the Lines: Unlocking Scripture with Timeless Principles’ (2009), Joseph Fielding McConkie tries to deal with the issue of discerning between what is ‘Literal’ and what is ‘Figurative’ in the scriptures. I think there are large problems in his brief account and I want to try and deal with them here. These problems arise because he (inadvertently?) wants to establish a particular set of orthodox readings for two different groups of readers.

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Mormon Myths as Transferable Charisma

March 23, 2010
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Richard Bushman has recently given a presentation on ‘Joseph Smith and the Routinization of Charisma’. One of Bushman’s arguments seems to be that Charisma was located in the office rather than the person. That these divine or supernatural powers were transferred to whoever held a particular office.  Moreover, it was through this coupling of bureaucracy and charisma that Joseph led the early Church and through which it was transferred to Brigham Young. Yet, as the bureaucracy and membership grew it would seem that the ability of both members and leaders to draw upon or demonstrate this office-based charisma became more limited.…

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Church as a Social Network

March 1, 2010
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Church as a Social Network

There are those among the disaffected who would like to reap the benefits of the church as a community although they may no longer share the belief system that is the foundation of the church.  For some, this works very well; for others, it’s an endless source of frustration.  I recently read a great book called Connected:  The Power of Social Networks that described how social networks work.  As a result, I have drawn up 7 Rules (tips, really) for making church work as a social network.

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On Failed Patriarchal Blessings

January 17, 2010
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Some time ago I spoke to someone I knew about a Patriarchal blessing they had received which seemed to have failed to come to pass.  We discussed it at some length and I then asked them if I could have some time to think about the issue more.  I tried to find reasons to explain the failure and then we discussed each one according to their circumstances, but I raised all as possibilities.  I admit that I was trying to be both comforting and honest, which in this situation was not easy.  The possible reasons I gave the person, as I wrote them down…

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Richard Dawkins, God and Santa Claus: Belief as a Form of Abuse

January 3, 2010
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Between Christmas and New Year I had the opportunity to meet with some friends and at one point during the evening we began discussing the role of Santa Claus in raising children.  As I was thinking about what was said on the way home I recalled an article I had read in the ‘New Scientist’ which discussed whether teaching children about Santa Claus is a ‘harmless fantasy’ or whether it is a ‘cruel deception’ [1].  This then led me to consider whether believing in God is a similar relationship?

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The Word of Wisdom and the Temple: Personal, Political and Prophetic Dimensions

December 28, 2009
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The Word of Wisdom and the Temple: Personal, Political and Prophetic Dimensions

Obedience to the Word of Wisdom, it is commonly known, was not always a requirement for entering the Temple or advancement in the Priesthood.  What is less clear from the historicl record is when this principle moved to become a requirement.  President Joseph Fielding Smith believed the change occurred in 1851, but an excellent article by McCue has shown this cannot be the case [1].  Others have argued that it occurred under the Joseph F. Smith administration (he seems to have been the first to have said it was a commandment – but it was only made a test of fellowship in…

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To Those Struggling In Their Faith

November 13, 2009
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There are many within Mormonism who struggle daily with their faith. They have been exposed to historical information they were not aware of, they were torn in political battle, they dislike the culture, or in some other way awoke to a “reality” they had not known before. It can be a lonely place in a tight knit community with such strong beliefs. And when a person is in that frame of mind, it often feels like the solution is to crawl in a hole and disappear. To further throw salt in the wound, the church doesn’t have any sort of…

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“Knowing” It All

November 2, 2009
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“Knowing” It All

Mormons love to use the word “know.”  We say we know God lives.  We say we know that Jesus is the Christ.  We say we know that families can be together forever.  Some say that they know the church is true or that Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet (the middle initial makes him truer somehow).  People say they “know” a lot of things.  What does “know” mean in Mormonism?  Has it been overused to the point that its meaning has changed or that is has become meaningless?

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Egon Friedell and the Christian ‘Bad Conscience’

October 18, 2009
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Egon Friedell and the Christian ‘Bad Conscience’

This photograph was taken by Sebastiao Salgado at a gold mine in Brazil.  I first saw it in a room at the University I attend.  As an idealistic and aspiring academic I felt moved by the raw power of the worker as he resisted the guard.  Ever since then I have had a copy of this picture in my study areas.  It reminds me that my life is not just about doing good, but that I have a moral duty to alleviate as much suffering in this world as I can.  It reminds me that sometimes I need to resist those in…

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On Agency and Accountability: An Inter-dependent View

September 20, 2009
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On Agency and Accountability: An Inter-dependent View

Jeff Spector wrote a post on Agency a few months ago which I enjoyed alot.  The discussion led me down a slightly different path and I wanted to write a supplement to his ideas in light of some of my own thoughts on agency and how they relate to accountability.  My major contention is that the notion of individual accountability is a fallacy, or, perhaps more accurately, it is not the whole story.

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