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Lindin
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First time posting...Hi, everyone!

I just finished Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer. A very interesting read. The theme of the book is how the basic tenets of Mormonism lead to violence.

The big mistake that Joseph Smith made in the very beginning was to declare that God could speak to any "saint" (what the Mormons call themselves) directly. he realized shortly thereafter that this meant that his followers might recieve revelations from God that told them not to do what he said! But that decree has also led to murder. If you cross me and I hate you, God can tell me that you need to die and I would be completely justified - under Mormon law - in killing you. This doesn't generally happen among mainstream Latter Day Saints, but seems to be happening fairly often within Fundamentalist Mormon sects.

Anyway, I found it quite interesting. Although I had to shake my head in disbelief when the author declared that he still had respect for the Mormon faith after researching it in such depth!

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The theme of the book is how the basic tenets of Mormonism lead to violence.
That would be consistent with Rand's observation that "faith=force".

being a former mormon, i gotta say, it never gave me a penchant for violence...

Actually, it did, essentially. Not violence towards others, perhaps, but towards yourself. If you accept something on faith, you are essentially committing violence to your own mind, by disregarding a proper rational thought process, and cramming the idea down your own throat, unquestioned, untested, unproved.

Such a "disconnect" between your reasoning mind and reality is precisely what any initiator of violence/force is hoping to achieve in his victim, and that's what any religious zealot is trying to accomplish in the mind of anyone he tries to indoctrinate. "Don't be reasonable, just do/believe as I say!"

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Found this article that basically deconstructs the Mormon Bible, The Book of Mormon, bringing to light various obvious fallacies the book presents. The Book of Mormon makes such ludicrous claims it is actually amusing.

Has anyone else seen read this or have any opinions?

http://www.secweb.org/asset.asp?AssetID=367

I read the article. I was impressed with the amount of evidence the author put together against the Mormon view of history. But I was disappointed in that all of his argumentation centered around non-fundamentals to a religion. He did not attack the mysticism, faith, and self-sacrifice. Rather, he showed how the Book of Mormon is not historically accurate (duh!) and how Joseph Smith didn't really translate anything. He just made it all up. (again, duh!).

As we've seen with Judaism and Christianity, attacking the historical evidence and honesty and integrity of "prophets" does very little to turn religious people away from their faith. Their ability to reject this world, turn their gaze to Heaven, and embrace the arbitrary is fairly unlimited.

A telling quote from the article is this:

"f Egyptologists had corroborated Joseph's translation of the Book of Abraham, then it would be impossible to escape the conclusion that a supernatural power had been at work."

I don't think that is the proper criteria for determining whether God exists. If secularists, like the author of this article, want to "discredit" the Book of Mormon, they need to discredit the idea of God and the supernatural. As long as God has any meaning to the bulk of this culture, religions will continue to adapt and thrive.

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  • 1 year later...

I've a few things to establish. firstly, I am an Objectivist, And LDS (Mormon). If you would like to point out the obvious problems that you see, please pm them to me. I rather enjoy them and would love to put your mind at ease about me. however, on this thread i am only interested in in rebuttals of facts i lay out here.

The big mistake that Joseph Smith made in the very beginning was to declare that God could speak to any "saint" (what the Mormons call themselves) directly. he realized shortly thereafter that this meant that his followers might recieve revelations from God that told them not to do what he said! But that decree has also led to murder. If you cross me and I hate you, God can tell me that you need to die and I would be completely justified - under Mormon law - in killing you
This is inaccurate, for both then and now. for the sake of my grammar, i will speak in the present tense.

It is true that the "saints" are able to receive revelation from God. or that "god can talk to any "saint" directly". however, he is Not able to receive revelation concerning anyone but himself, his family if he has one, his ward if he is a bishop, and for the church only if they are the sustained prophet, seer, and revelator of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If a man claim to have been told by God something about anyone outside of his authority, he is lying.

Has anyone else seen read this or have any opinions?

the article's link was dead when i found it. do you have another? otherwise I am unable to answer any problems put forth. however, it was also said:

"f Egyptologists had corroborated Joseph's translation of the Book of Abraham, then it would be impossible to escape the conclusion that a supernatural power had been at work."

therefore, I am led to believe that the article addressed the book of Abraham that Joseph Smith purportedly translated. I am inferring that it might discuss such problems as when the scrolls were later recovered and translated by actual linguists and found to say something completely dissimilar, for instance death rites and portions of the book of the dead. if this is indeed the case, i would ask you to consider some facts. firstly, there were scrolls that were exactly that. second, Joseph Smith translated those as well and considered them unimportant. the Book of Abraham was seperate, and the scroll(s) it was taken from are unavailable. you may see this as too convenient or not, as you wish.

Actually, it did, essentially. Not violence towards others, perhaps, but towards yourself. If you accept something on faith, you are essentially committing violence to your own mind, by disregarding a proper rational thought process, and cramming the idea down your own throat, unquestioned, untested, unproved.

finally, this is also innacurate of the LDS church. Faith is defined by a prophet in the book of mormon (ask me for a reference in a pm if you genuinely care, which i dont suppose) as "Belief in things which are not seen but which are true" which does not automatically or even usually include any irrationalities.

You've been fed inaccuracies. if you disagree with me on any particular point, i am confident i will be able to answer it to your satisfaction. i do not however wish to convert anyone, defend the entirety of LDS doctrine or scripture, or any one person who belongs to the church. this just happens to be a story i have researched and had my doubts answered to satisfaction by facts, not by what someone else told me.

i do not generally hold a high opinion of south park. i have not seen it, do not plan to, and would not consider it an accurate depiction of so much as a hot dog, much less a complex system of belief such as "Mormonism" or "Objectivism" if they ever chose to do so.

Post Script: I do not wish to pick fights. i look forward to amiable relationships with all. I assure you I am a lover of reason and self esteem, as well as Ayn Rand's works. I just happen to find the LDS church to be compatible with reason, selfesteem, and Objectivism so far as the premise "God Does Not Exist" is removed. a full support of this would require a book, which i am writing. please offer all rational refutations of my beliefs in PM or on a seperate thread. again, i would very much like to be friendly with all rational individuals, which i know to be true of almost all of the people who post on this forum. i do not anticipate too many problems.

Edited by Matthew J
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I'll leave most of this to the more experienced students of Objectivism, but I want to ask about this:

Faith is defined by a prophet in the book of mormon (ask me for a reference in a pm if you genuinely care, which i dont suppose) as "Belief in things which are not seen but which are true" which does not automatically or even usually include any irrationalities.

How can you know things are true if you cannot see them? Man operates in the world by observing it and making logical conclusions, based on what he sees.

Edited by tnunamak
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It is true that the "saints" are able to receive revelation from God. or that "god can talk to any "saint" directly". however, he is Not able to receive revelation concerning anyone but himself, his family if he has one, his ward if he is a bishop, and for the church only if they are the sustained prophet, seer, and revelator of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If a man claim to have been told by God something about anyone outside of his authority, he is lying.
This might be your belief, but it is untrue or at least incomplete. In addition the above, bald men can receive revelation concerning a first cousin's child. If mormons don't understand this simple fact, they're wrong.
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I've a few things to establish. firstly, I am an Objectivist, And LDS (Mormon).

Then you are not an Objectivist and you should not call yourself one. That is *much* worse than any outright antagonism to Objectivism. As Ayn Rand noted about the religious right, they have done far more damage to capitalism by posing themselves as defenders of it while being, in reality, philosophically opposed to it, than have the outright communists. In point of actual fact and in reality, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, Objectivism and any religion are utterly, absolutely, irresolutely contradictory and incompatible. Period. At best it is delusional and at worst wholly dishonest to say otherwise. Somebody had to say it.

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Out of all the religions with which I am familiar, I have to say that Mormonism is the most ridiculous. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam at least deal with actual historical figures, places, and civilizations. The ones in the Book of Mormon never even existed.

You must not be familiar with Scientology. They believe that 75 billion years ago the Galactic Overlord Xenu intiated an event which caused human bodies (which existed 75 billion years ago) to be inhabited by alien spirits called Body Thetans, which are the cause of all human psychological ailments. Click on my blog. I've posted about the Scientologists twice--once about their ridiculous beliefs and another time telling the story of my visit to the Church of Scientology to recieve one of their "personality tests."

Oh yeah, and when they get high enough up in the Church, they learn that L. Ron Hubbard is God, and that Jesus was a pedophile.

Then you are not an Objectivist and you should not call yourself one...

Agreed 100%. An Objectivist is one who understands an agrees with the entire body of Ayn Rand's philosophical thought. Atheism is part of that. Someone who believes in a god is not an Objectivist, and it is dishonest to present oneself as one. It would be more proper to say, "I agree with most of Objectivism," which is perfectly fine.

Edited by dondigitalia
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You must not be familiar with Scientology. They believe that 75 billion years ago the Galactic Overlord Xenu intiated an event which caused human bodies (which existed 75 billion years ago) to be inhabited by alien spirits called Body Thetans, which are the cause of all human psychological ailments. Click on my blog. I've posted about the Scientologists twice--once about their ridiculous beliefs and another time telling the story of my visit to the Church of Scientology to recieve one of their "personality tests."

Oh yeah, and when they get high enough up in the Church, they learn that L. Ron Hubbard is God, and that Jesus was a pedophile.

I am familiar with the Xenu story, but do not consider scientology to be a religion. It is a cult. Even if it could be called a religion, I was using limiting my use of the word to religions that actually have a substantial following. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Mormonism all have a subsantial following. Scientology does not.

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Firstly, you are correct in regards to my status as an Objectivist, and I apologize for my Naivete. It has recently come to my attention that I cannot rightly call myself an Objectivist simply because I value reason, self-esteem, motivation, life and intelligence. Indeed, a 100% agreement seems to be required. So, thank you for correcting me, however improperly implying slander on my part. If any slander was done, it was in ignorance.

As for the rest, I would like you to read the posts above and ask yourself why there is not a single proper question, fact or coherent argument in the whole lot of drivel, which I could only classify as a smear. I did not suspect it of people who emulate Ayn Rand.

Tnunamak, thank you for your question, and I shall respond to it. It is true that sight is our primary tool of perception, but reason allows us to integrate them into conceptions that will give us knowledge outside that of our perceptions. For instance, I have never perceived the police protecting freedoms of individuals from criminals, but I Have studied the laws that govern my people and the codes of behavior the police follow and have faith that they do it and probably on a regular basis. This is very different context than a faith in God you might argue, but it is still a valid use of the word Faith as define above. I have faith that God has a perfected body of flesh and blood, though I have never perceived it, I have studied scripture and the perceptions of the nature of consciousness and existence and have concluded that it is true. that, in both instances, is faith.

For those I may offend, please send all personal insults to my PM box or my E-mail address. I did not believe I had reason to expect any until now. All proper questions and arguments directed at myself may be posted here, on a different thread, or sent to myself as you please.

Edited by Matthew J
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There were no "smears". Each poster would tell you that they have just as much "faith" in what they say as you have in what you say. Each poster could tell you that they too have studied books and "the perceptions of the nature of consciousness and existence" and have concluded that what they say is the truth. So, don't call it a smear. Say, perhaps, that their reason and conclusion is different from yours.

I, for instance, claimed that "bald men can receive revelation concerning a first cousin's child." Please don't call that a smear. Prove me wrong if you can!

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I did not suspect it of people who emulate Ayn Rand.

In what sense do you mean "emulate"? Emulating another person, no matter how admirable their traits may be, is not the hallmark of an individual. It could be misconstrued to mean that folks on this forum are merely parroting or imitating Ayn Rand as opposed to thoughtfully considering the principles of the philosophy she developed and deciding based on one's own reasoning and logic that those principles reflect reality.

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With regard to the claim that learned knowledge of actual, but not-personally experienced, existents/events is as much 'Faith' as any claimed knowledge of mystical beings/revelations I would like to point out to Mathew J that he is ignoring what Mr. L. Peikoff calls "a venerable rule of logic" (OPAR pg167). "The onus of proof is on him who asserts a positive, and that one must not attempt to prove a negative".

Although you may never have seen police in action to protest rights I am certain that had you felt the need to discover the phenomenon for yourself you would be able to take the necessary actions to get a first-person perspective on the situation. If you have reason to doubt any source of information, or that information invalidates/contradicts other information you possess then it is possible to further research to validate the truth from the false. Have you any proof aboput these mystical revelations supposedly offered to the LSD or any proof that your 'God' exists? Would I, or you, be able to offer any avenues of scientific testing to verify your claims? I am quite confident that given time (and a focused mind in the learner) I can prove the validity of the real world and all it's existents - can you make such a claim about your 'beliefs'?

I mean this post not as an attempt to disparage, but as a statement about a piece of logic that is rather important to Objectivism that you may have missed previously. O'ism refutes ALL mysticism as irrational and, to whatever extent it holds sway in the mind of the believer, it is damaging to his or her mind.

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I think the ridiculousness of Mormonism goes far beyond belief in the existence of God. With God, it is at least understandable that there is the argument that he exists beyond our understanding and so there may not be evidence. Irrational yes, but not as irrational as other beliefs.

I am talking specifically about the Native American culture that Mormon's claim existed. They also claim that all evidence for its existence is gone. A human civilization is certainly within human capacity for understanding, yet the evidence is not there.

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Tnunamak, thank you for your question, and I shall respond to it. It is true that sight is our primary tool of perception, but reason allows us to integrate them into conceptions that will give us knowledge outside that of our perceptions. For instance, I have never perceived the police protecting freedoms of individuals from criminals, but I Have studied the laws that govern my people and the codes of behavior the police follow and have faith that they do it and probably on a regular basis. This is very different context than a faith in God you might argue, but it is still a valid use of the word Faith as define above. I have faith that God has a perfected body of flesh and blood, though I have never perceived it, I have studied scripture and the perceptions of the nature of consciousness and existence and have concluded that it is true. that, in both instances, is faith.

I believe that there are penguins living in New Zealand. I believe that New Zealand actually exists, even though I have not been there. These facts have been observed and recorded by others, and have been communicated to me through different means. But there is a difference in forming a conclusion from what scientists tell me happens in their labs, and from an arbitrary person, who someone has told him, rather than explained to him, that some higher power exists and he has a bunch of conditions that he wants us to respect.

I was actually raised in the LDS church until I was about 13, when my parents split up and my father, who I lived with, stopped going. My brother and my mother are still adamantly "faithful" in the church, as you might say. When I was younger, I believed all of it, because you believe what people tell you when that is your primary means of forming conclusions (as it is for children). Right about the time that I started making my own conclusions about what I believed to be true or false, right or wrong, was when I was no longer active in the church and could get a broader perspective on it. I would question the validity of it all on a regular basis, I prayed and basically said, "God, people are telling me you're there and that if I just listen, I will know you are there." I was very earnestly trying to find some reason to keep believing it all, but as time went on, I fell away from it because no one gave me a reason not to, except for "because I know it's true."

Every once in a long while, when I am visiting my mother she will convince me to go with her to church for just one day, and I will go, and I will listen, and I will think to myself that all they are doing, is saying that they love God, saying that someone from hundreds-thousands of years ago told them they should love God, saying that they will do anything God tells them to, and I'll think that they haven't given me a single reason why, or how their statements can be interpreted as true.

Where is the evidence that any of it is true? Some religious extremists are willing to, and often do, die for what they believe is true. They can "feel" that their beliefs are true, their god speaks to them... and I'm sure you think that those people are mistaken. Do you really think that they are lying when they say that they believe it? If they aren't, if they really do believe all of it, how can someone of another faith, Mormon included, makes the same claims about their own religion as a means of validating their beliefs?

How have you rationally concluded that your faith is not faulty?

Edited by tnunamak
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finally, this is also innacurate of the LDS church. Faith is defined by a prophet in the book of mormon (ask me for a reference in a pm if you genuinely care, which i dont suppose) as "Belief in things which are not seen but which are true" which does not automatically or even usually include any irrationalities.

This does not distinguish between rational and irrational beliefs. The problem with this is that it is a definition by non-essentials. Faith is belief in things which are not seen, in the same sense that man is a two-legged animal, but both of these characteristics are not essential to the referents of the concept, so they do not properly constitute a definition.

The term faith, in anyone's usage, does not refer to anything that they haven't personally seen but is true. It refers to things that cannot be seen and are not provably true. In fact, most religions (Christianity especially) repudiate the idea of a provable God, because such a God would leave no room for faith.

I believe in the existence of New Zealand because I can actually travel there and verify its existence for myself should I so desire. I have no reason to disbelieve New Zealand-attestors because they have nothing to gain by convincing me that this island in the Pacific which I don't care two beans about exists.

I have excellent reason to disbelieve the protestations of anyone trying to convince me that there is a God, because they very definitely have something to gain by doing so. I cannot verify his existance for myself, I have to take it strictly on someone else's word.

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I believe in the existence of New Zealand because I can actually travel there and verify its existence for myself should I so desire. I have no reason to disbelieve New Zealand-attestors because they have nothing to gain by convincing me that this island in the Pacific which I don't care two beans about exists.

I was there for 3 weeks. It's actually quite a beautiful place if you ever get the chance to go.

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