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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:36 am 
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Speaking of fair...I'm at the Oregon State Fair all week on a smartphone. So I will not be able to do a thousand word essay. I will read the article and give my opinion based on the scale you provided.

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:24 am 
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The intro for Vol. 2, Issue 1 was published clear back in 1990 (Rodney Stark's theories on the growth of Mormonism are treated as plausible), and is entitled, "By What Measure Shall We Mete?" The essay begins by arguing, more generally, the Mormonism is worth studying and worth taking seriously, but it eventually becomes a more specific argument on the reasons why the Book of Mormon shouldn't be dismissed. Over the course of the essay, Dr. Peterson disagrees with roughly a dozen different individuals, but for the most part, he directs his criticism at Paul Quiring, whom the author describes as, "a non-Mormon doctoral candidate at the Claremont Graduate School." (Peterson also engages in some speculation about Quiring's training and motives: "(Although I suspect that it was not people like Mr. Quiring that Pres. Hinckley had in mind when he remarked that "we don't need critics standing on the sidelines.")19 His perspective as a "pluralist"--and perhaps (I am guessing) as a student of John Hick--is extremely interesting.))

As far as scoring per the Graham scale is concerned, I think that this essay probably falls somewhere in between 3 and 4. Dr. Peterson says that he takes "strong exception to some of his observations" (and the like-minded observations of others), but it's not always evident that Quiring even holds the views that Peterson ascribes to him, as in this remark:

Quote:
Quiring is simply mistaken if he thinks that reader reactions to his Penguin canon have been uniformly awestruck or reverential, and the case of the Qur'an provides abundant illustration of that fact:
(emphasis mine)

It would probably be better to rely on what Quiring actually said than to speculate on what he might think.

Some of the counter-argument in "By What Measure Shall We Mete?" is also quite strange. The underlying premise is that the Book of Mormon is a "good" book--that it deserves to be taken seriously, that it's not "boring" (multiple passages that describe the book unfavorably are quoted), and that it's "true" scripture. This argument is developed via the following tactics:

1) Pointing out that criticism of the Book of Mormon's "dullness" is invalid because lots of people also think that the Bible and Qur'an are "dull." If these works of scripture have been panned in this manner, and yet are still canonical, then why shouldn't we regard the Book of Mormon in the same way? Peterson quotes Quiring: "To Quiring, the "narrative material" of the Book of Mormon "seems flat, monotonous, imitative of the King James Version of the Bible, and lacking in vitality in contrast to the Bible itself and other scriptures of Penguin Classics stature," but he (Peterson) does not say anything about the "narrative material" of the Bible or the Qur'an (or the Book of Mormon, for that matter); instead, he chooses to focus on the fact that people throughout history have said critical things about both the Book of Mormon and other works in the Penguin Classics canon. It might have been interesting to see the author of this editorial engaging with the question of the Book of Mormon's seeming imitation of the KJV, but this isn't addressed in a substantive way.

2) Arguing that poor opinion of the Book of Mormon is due to lack of familiarity, context, or belief. Comparing the Book of Mormon to the Qur'an, he writes "In coming to such evaluations of the scripture of Islam, these Western orientalists have simply begun to approach a bit more closely to the attitude which has always characterized believers," though he also acknowledges that, "t would be wrong to suppose that a knowledge of Arabic, coupled with a freedom from the hostility of earlier generations of Western Christian scholarship, leads necessarily to appreciation of the Qur'an as literature."

3) Arguing that Quiring's point about "originality" doesn't matter, or, at least, that it's not enough of an issue to concern oneself with: "Quiring's allegation of a "derivativeness" in Joseph Smith's revelations reminds me somewhat of Fawn Brodie's complaint that Mormonism offered "no new Sermon on the Mount, no new saga of redemption."36 I had thought the old ones good enough! Quite seriously, though, I believe that both Mr. Quiring and Mrs. Brodie underestimate the presence of original elements within Mormonism and its scriptures, and that Quiring overestimates the originality of the Qur'an."

4) That the literary merits of the book are "irrelevant," or, to put it another way, that the Book of Mormon is "true," and therefore opinions about it don't matter:

Quote:
"Its literary or artistic qualities," Hugh Nibley has remarked, "do not enter into the discussion: it was written to be believed. Its one and only merit is truth. Without that merit, it is all that nonbelievers say it is. With that merit, it is all that believers say it is. And we must insist on this truism."37 It would be foolish, would it not, to disregard a warning that your home was on fire simply because that warning had not been couched in iambic pentameter? In a very real sense, our house is on fire, and the prophets are warning us. If they can do so in literarily appealing ways, well, so much the better. But the message itself is the important thing.


5) That the question of whether or not the Book of Mormon is "dull" is irrelevant (how this really differs from some of the previous subsections of the essay is unclear). He quotes Elder Holland:
Quote:
Jeffrey R. Holland, referring to Aristotle's Poetics, has expressed his opinion that "by Aristotle's standard the Book of Mormon is not only a good book; it is a classic . . . unified, whole, verses fitting with verses, chapters fitting with chapters, books fitting with books, and always that strong beginning."


Though for anyone who's read the Poetics, this comment is, to say the least, quite bizarre.

6) That people will appreciate the Book of Mormon more if they learn more about it (essentially a reiteration of 2).

* * * * *

The Graham scale is tuned specifically to disagreements, and "By What Measure Shall We Mete?" is primarily focused on disagreement with Quiring, and in that regard, I say once again, the essay merits something like a 3.4. All too often, the essay seems concerned more with what Peterson assumes or guesses what Quiring thinks, rather than what he has actually said, e.g., in this passage:

Quote:
(Quiring places the Bible above the peculiarly Latter-day Saint canon--but surely he is only referring to certain parts. Is Exodus 37, say, demonstrably superior to Doctrine and Covenants 88, or to Moses 7, or to 2 Nephi 4?)


The essay argues that the Book of Mormon deserves more attention, but, of course, it's filled with evidence of the Book of Mormon having received all kinds of attention. There is thus a conflict at the center of the argument: a desire to get more attention for the Book of Mormon (and Mormonism as a whole), but also a hope/insistence/desire that that attention be overwhelmingly positive and accepting. The way that this basic conflict is negotiated is the main reason why I assess it overall as a 3.4.

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:19 am 
B.H. Roberts Chair of Mopologetic Studies
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Here, by the way, is Quiring's original text:

http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-conte ... 03_153.pdf

It's overwhelmingly positive towards Mormonism, though he does advocate moving away from a historical BoM--something that no doubt made the Mopologists bristle. Ultimately, I have to say that DCP's article feels sort of like a straw-man argument. It's not that people dislike the Book of Mormon, or that no one has ever said anything negative about it--his essay demonstrates quite ably that there has been quite a lot of negative criticism. The problem is that no one seriously dismisses the text on the grounds he's describing. Quiring gives specific reasons why he finds the Book of Mormon derivative (he cites specific scriptures and provides compare & contrast examples), but Dr. P. doesn't deal with any of this.

Imagine someone saying, in passing, "Man, I thought Zabriskie Point really sucked," only to have a die-hard Antonioni fan responding with a long sermon on non-narrative film-making technique, the auteur theory, method acting, and Antonioni's oeuvre. While this detailed response might be interesting in and of itself, as a form of disagreement, it seems seriously misguided. Quiring *did* have some thoughtful and scholarly reasons for saying what he said about the Book of Mormon, but they go mostly ignored in DCP's essay.

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:01 pm 
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For one of Analytic's "control group" for considering the level of DCP's argumentation vis–à–vis the Review editorship in general, this is my evaluation of Louis Midgley's 2005 "Editor's Introduction: The First Steps", FARMS Review, Vol. 17, Issue 1, pp xi-lvi, http://maxwellinstitute.BYU.edu/publica ... l=17&num=1.

Since "The First Steps" is to serve as part of a 'base line' of Review editorship against which DCP's argumentative level is to be compared, I will focus on Midgley's level and tools of argumentation rather than the substance of his introduction.

Midgley begins by peeling back on the analysis of Martin E. Marty (Protestant historian), that Mormon truth claims turn on its 'first steps'—the First Vision and the Book of Mormon. Marty postulates that Mormonism hinges on its historical events (fate) rather than as many other religions hinging on theology (faith). So Midgley delves into the etymology of the word 'fate' (an ancient meaning of obedient love and trust in God, linked to faith). In doing this, Midgley tries to blur the modern denotation and use of 'fate' by Marty, and conflate it with 'faith'. Apparently an attempt to show Marty makes no real distinction at all. FOR THIS: 4 (this etymological blurring is a lead in for Midgley to ultimately claim that like other religious beliefs, LDS faith claims are either accepted as a matter of faith or rejected, but not a 5 or 6 because he does not refute Marty's point that all of LDS truth claims hinge on two historical claims, the FV and Book of Mormon)

Midgley cites Davis Bitton for 'pointing out' that there is little in the promenade of Mormon historical events that are anything more than "political embarrassments". He touts the Review as, compared to Marty, "more richly detailed, carefully written, fully documented accounts of the crucial texts and events in the Mormon past". In the same paragraph however, Midgley lowers expectations and concedes the Review has "not striven to prove the Book of Mormon. From the perspective of sound historical method, only more or less plausible accounts and not final proofs are possible."FOR THIS: 3 (Midgley never explains why later 'breaks in the chain' of truth would not be problematic too, just cites Bitton. Marty's point was that the FV and Book of Mormon are critical to LDS, not that the subsequent events were irrelevant, just that the subsequent events could not revive the faith if the FV or Book of Mormon are false.)

A recurring theme of Midgley's is Mormon dissident "skirmishes … taking place along the Wasatch Front" (a notion he attributes to Fawn Brodie having identified). He mentions his father describing such as "Fools mock, but they shall mourn." Midgley attributes various reasons for Mormon dissidence, which he "came to describe as cultural Mormons" (or now, DNA Mormons)—"fuzzy" liberals:
1. "those eager to signal that they were liberated from what they imagined was a stifling provincialism",
2. "yield[ing] to the incessant sybaritic siren call of worldly concerns and self-indulgent luxuries, or were never really fully converted, or for various other understandable though not necessarily laudable reasons—they have gone missing", giving in to "the temptations of wanton, high-end, attractively packaged consumerism."FOR THIS: 2 ("Of course apostates, such for a variety of unsavory reasons, imagine themselves liberated from provincialism)

Midgley feigns praise on Sterling McMurrin for his occasional praise on cultural aspects of Mormonism, but insists McMurrin offered up "little genuine scholarship" regarding the LDS Church, just "amusing anecdotes" from a man who "liked to boast that he had 'never read the entire Book of Mormon'" but was nevertheless willing to denounce it as "confused theology and … a mixture of good and bad religion."FOR THIS: 2 (ad hom)

Midgley writes about the use of mockery against religious and in particular Mormon beliefs, once again diverting into the etymological and associating the word 'mock' with words like mucus, snot and snotty.FOR THIS: 1 (here, Midgley is subtly calling people who mock religion, "snotty")

Midgley believes that the Web, with its "current flush of unseemly blogs and message boards", has enabled online communities of Mormon dissidents worldwide, that previous to the Web would have been isolated out the Wasatch Front and as a result of that individual isolation possibly return to Mormonism. Midgley quotes Brodie in her disparaging description of the isolated as, for need of society, looking "at history again through the parochial lens of Mormon dogma". The Wasatch Front collections of dissidents "toadstooled into an industry reaching the entire world" with the advent of the 'net. Midgley describes such online discussions as "self-serving, unsavory, even obscene, and quite unfair", "bloated with pride." The online communities "form a kind of surrogate … 'electronic antichurch'", posting lurid 'exit stories' that are "larded with self-righteous sentimentality and blatant falsehoods" and "outright lies", dissidents who "love to picture themselves as powerful intellectuals." The online community "effectively shield themselves from the recovery they might otherwise have from their disease." He calls them "hoods hiding behind handles" that are "rhetorical beehive-burning bigots who in some ways resemble the hooded cross-burning Ku Klux Klansmen", who imagine they are "somehow free to think new thoughts never before thought" who "pride themselves on having figured it all out … indulging in an unloving wholesale madness."FOR THIS: 1 (good ol' name calling)

Midgley castigates "the countercult industry on the margins of conservative Protestantism" as a "noisy, corrupt industry", singly out Walter Martin, putting his title in scare quotes, "Dr." He describes their criticisms of Mormonism, and even internal disagreements as an "urge for revenge, the narcissism of small differences" in "ugly turf fights", and grossly distorting Mormon history. Midgley recites how when Reverend Dennis Wright replaced in Utah the "pugnacious Mike Reynolds" in 2000, Wright promised he would raise rhetorical standards, but "the nonsense did not cease—in some ways it got worse", citing Wright's proclamation of the "fundamental dishonesty" of the LDS. Midgley refers to John L Smith as the "always befuddled", and mentioned Richard Stout's "turgid rampage" (from which we got the 'turgid' nickname "Hambone" for Hamblin). FOR THIS: 2 (boils down to ad homs here from Midgley)

As to evangelicals, Midgley laments, "Unfortunately, some of the better informed evangelicals cannot quite decide whether they desire respectful conversations" with LDS, which they perceive as a challenge to "authentic Christianity". Midgley notes that it 'appears' that Ronald V Huggins "thinks that unless the Saints get down in the rhetorical gutter with the likes of Sandra Tanner or Luke Wilson or some other virulent anti-Mormon, [the LDS] are not interested in an 'authentic dialogue with Evangelicals.'"FOR THIS: 3 (Midgley goes into a tit for tat, tonally.)

Midgley refers to Clyde Forsberg's Equal Rites comparison of Mormon and Freemasonry rites as showing an "ignorance of Freemasonry", "whose command of both Freemasonry and Mormonism is confused and deeply flawed"—a "remarkably inept book … that the Columbia University Press published" amazingly, that "garbles both the Latter-day Saint and Masonic sides. But [Forsberg] is always highly opinionated and confident." Midgley also demonizes Martha Beck's "patently absurd charges maliciously calculated to misrepresent her father…striving to destroy his reputation and to mock the church he sought to defend."FOR THIS: 2.5 (contradiction without supporting reason or evidence, then ad hom)

OVERALL, I GIVE THESE ELEMENTS CITED: 2.2

WHEN CONSIDERING THE INTRODUCTION AS A WHOLE: 4.1


1st ETA: spelling and grammar corrections

2nd ETA: ascribe points


Last edited by sock puppet on Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:02 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:57 pm 
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nicely done.

i will take an assignment by the darts method. i will throw them left handed, and give you the results in the in order of their distance from the center. the probability of 1-20 is higher, and there are some prime numbers between 21 and 39 that will be omitted from this random method.

14

backup numbers are 12 and 8

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:06 pm 
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Mayan, will you take my assignment?

I know my limitations. I'm way out of my league here, and feel way inadequate to critique this kind of review and work. I don't think it would be a fair evaluation for the purpose of this thread..

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:46 pm 
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Doctor Scratch wrote:
The intro for Vol. 2, Issue 1 was published clear back in 1990 (Rodney Stark's theories on the growth of Mormonism are treated as plausible), and is entitled, "By What Measure Shall We Mete?" The essay begins by arguing, more generally, the Mormonism is worth studying and worth taking seriously...

The way that this basic conflict is negotiated is the main reason why I assess it overall as a 3.4.

Excellent review, than you Doctor Scratch!

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:51 pm 
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Mayan Elephant wrote:
nicely done.

i will take an assignment by the darts method. i will throw them left handed, and give you the results in the in order of their distance from the center. the probability of 1-20 is higher, and there are some prime numbers between 21 and 39 that will be omitted from this random method.

14

backup numbers are 12 and 8

In order to avoid the appearance of cherry-picking introductions to review (not to mention keeping this manageable for the peer-review team), no further essays will be reviewed for this project.

But with cwald's consent, you are now officially the primary reviewer of the essay assigned to him.

Cwald, thanks for your willingness to support this project. With your essay successfully delegated, you are officially relieved of your commitment to this thread and are free to enjoy the fair. Have a candied apple for me (or whatever it is one eats at the Oregon State fair)!

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 1:55 pm 
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cwald wrote:
Mayan, will you take my assignment?

I know my limitations. I'm way out of my league here, and feel way inadequate to critique this kind of review and work. I don't think it would be a fair evaluation for the purpose of this thread..


I suck at this type of thing....if anyone wants to take my assignment I will be grateful !


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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:00 pm 
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Doctor Scratch wrote:
Here, by the way, is Quiring's original text:

http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-conte ... 03_153.pdf

It's overwhelmingly positive towards Mormonism, though he does advocate moving away from a historical BoM--something that no doubt made the Mopologists bristle. Ultimately, I have to say that DCP's article feels sort of like a straw-man argument. It's not that people dislike the Book of Mormon, or that no one has ever said anything negative about it--his essay demonstrates quite ably that there has been quite a lot of negative criticism. The problem is that no one seriously dismisses the text on the grounds he's describing. Quiring gives specific reasons why he finds the Book of Mormon derivative (he cites specific scriptures and provides compare & contrast examples), but Dr. P. doesn't deal with any of this.

Imagine someone saying, in passing, "Man, I thought Zabriskie Point really sucked," only to have a die-hard Antonioni fan responding with a long sermon on non-narrative film-making technique, the auteur theory, method acting, and Antonioni's oeuvre. While this detailed response might be interesting in and of itself, as a form of disagreement, it seems seriously misguided. Quiring *did* have some thoughtful and scholarly reasons for saying what he said about the Book of Mormon, but they go mostly ignored in DCP's essay.


Interesting point. The truth is that between my limited attention span and Peterson's long-windedness, there are very few things he writes that I can make it through. Thus, I've never been in a good position to judge.

But another way to test the strength of a FARMS review would be this: based upon review, can a reader correctly surmise the main point of the work being reviewed?

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:05 pm 
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sock puppet wrote:
For one of Analytic's "control group" for considering the level of DCP's argumentation vis–à–vis the Review editorship in general, this is my evaluation of Louis Midgley's 2005 "Editor's Introduction: The First Steps", FARMS Review, Vol. 17, Issue 1, pp xi-lvi, http://maxwellinstitute.BYU.edu/publica ... l=17&num=1.

Since "The First Steps" is to serve as part of a 'base line' of Review editorship against which DCP's argumentative level is to be compared, I will focus on Midgley's level and tools of argumentation rather than the substance of his introduction....

Midgley also demonizes Martha Beck's "patently absurd charges maliciously calculated to misrepresent her father…striving to destroy his reputation and to mock the church he sought to defend."


Excellent essay, sock puppet. A required part of the assignment is to map your nuanced evaluation into a single number on the Graham scale, as described on the first page of this thread.

It pains me to say this, but I have to give your essay an "I" until the numerical score is provided. I assure you, however, your final grade will not be docked for not giving the score on your first draft.

One approach you might take is to grant a score to each of the salient points you've identified, and then average them.

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:12 pm 
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Analytics wrote:
Doctor Scratch wrote:
Here, by the way, is Quiring's original text:

http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-conte ... 03_153.pdf

It's overwhelmingly positive towards Mormonism, though he does advocate moving away from a historical BoM--something that no doubt made the Mopologists bristle. Ultimately, I have to say that DCP's article feels sort of like a straw-man argument. It's not that people dislike the Book of Mormon, or that no one has ever said anything negative about it--his essay demonstrates quite ably that there has been quite a lot of negative criticism. The problem is that no one seriously dismisses the text on the grounds he's describing. Quiring gives specific reasons why he finds the Book of Mormon derivative (he cites specific scriptures and provides compare & contrast examples), but Dr. P. doesn't deal with any of this.

Imagine someone saying, in passing, "Man, I thought Zabriskie Point really sucked," only to have a die-hard Antonioni fan responding with a long sermon on non-narrative film-making technique, the auteur theory, method acting, and Antonioni's oeuvre. While this detailed response might be interesting in and of itself, as a form of disagreement, it seems seriously misguided. Quiring *did* have some thoughtful and scholarly reasons for saying what he said about the Book of Mormon, but they go mostly ignored in DCP's essay.


Interesting point. The truth is that between my limited attention span and Peterson's long-windedness, there are very few things he writes that I can make it through. Thus, I've never been in a good position to judge.

But another way to test the strength of a FARMS review would be this: based upon review, can a reader correctly surmise the main point of the work being reviewed?


In this case, the answer would be "No," but this isn't really a "review" in the strictest sense. Instead, this was more like a classic argumentative editorial: he's simply making an argument, and drawing upon Quiring's essay/letter to help make his point.

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:39 pm 
Analytics wrote:

I implore everyone to refrain from prejudging Dr. Peterson and his work on this thread. No name calling, sarcasm, witticisms, attacks, etc. Rather, the thread is dedicated to making a fair and substantial evaluation of the question at hand: what is the quality of Dr. Peterson's apologetics?


Analytics wrote:
Interesting point. The truth is that between my limited attention span and Peterson's long-windedness, there are very few things he writes that I can make it through.
DH2


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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:41 pm 
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I'll go ahead and take on Arrakis's assignment.

The Introduction called, "Through a Glass, Darkly," appeared in FROB 9:2, and was published in 1997. The byline indicates that the essay was actually co-authored by John Gee, which perhaps complicates this analysis somewhat.

As with the other editorial I analyzed, this one begins broadly by call for skepticism of science in general, or what the authors call "scientific dogmatism." The authors write that:

Quote:
It does little harm, it seems to me, to maintain a healthy skepticism whenever anybody or any book asserts something contradictory to the restored gospel as being "the assured result of modern biblical scholarship" or denies the possibility of something else because archaeology has failed to find proof or evidence for it.


In other words, the editorial is a call for skepticism of academic inquiry and science. (This same sort of skepticism, it's implied, is not to be applied to the Restored Gospel.) More specifically, the authors are calling for a rather harsh skepticism of the entire field of biblical studies, and especially of source criticism.

The centerpiece of the essay is what appears to be a sort of roman a clef: an apparently real anecdote about a real biblical studies scholar, but with the names changed. The authors summarize in an endnote:

Quote:
I [sic] know both the students and the scholar and have heard something of this incident from both sides. The student whom I term Gadfly supplied the test-documents and Prof. Wellhouse's responses to me, for which I am grateful. I suppress the names of the participants in the test because the intent here is to illustrate a general point, not to embarrass any particular person. I have also corrected obvious minor typographical errors, to avoid possible distraction--but only where they are not relevant to the discussion.


Of course, by using pseudonyms, the story is unverifiable, and therefore a problem. In any event, the anecdote has a trio of enterprising students attempting to undermine the entire field of source criticism by writing a set of bogus biblical texts:

Quote:
The test that the students proposed was devised to measure the ability of Dr. Wellhouse to separate accurately the various authors of an allegedly composite document. Accordingly, Gadfly wrote up three quasi-biblical narratives, of about one page each. He was then to give each to one of the other students, who would do to it what tendentious biblical editors are supposed to have done in ancient Israel.


The test was given to the Professor (who for some reason is a woman in this re-telling), who fails miserably at accurately deconstructing the authorship. As a result of this failure, the authors draw the following conclusion:

Quote:
And it must be stressed that Professor Wellhouse is one of the more intelligent and proficient of contemporary biblical scholars. One wonders, therefore, how much we can actually rely on the supposedly "assured" results of contemporary biblical scholarship. For, as we have noted, such scholarship, in turn, rests to a substantial degree on confident claims of ability to dissect the books, the chapters, and even the verses of the Bible in minute detail. If a professor who knows her students well finds it difficult to take apart a text that they have composed in her native language, how likely is it that modern scholars can, with any degree of accuracy, untangle ancient texts from foreign cultures, based on varying manuscripts, written by people they can never have met, in old languages imperfectly known, where multiple authorship is less a demonstrated fact than a postulate?


* * * * *

As with the first editorial I examined, this is not really a "review" in the strict sense, as it does not review any specific work or author. Instead, we might call this a "review" of an entire academic discipline. The way in which it goes about disagreeing, though, is highly problematic. Using the Graham scale, this one, overall, merits something between a 1 and a 2, I think. Though there is no "name-calling," and this isn't an extended argumentum ad hominem so to speak, the fact remains that, as disagreement, this seems awfully fishy. As I indicated above, the centerpiece of the essay is an anecdote that's completely unverifiable, and it probably goes without saying that a made-up exercise cooked up by a bunch of students probably isn't the best measure of whether or not an established academic discipline is methodologically rigorous. If biblical scholarship and source criticism are problematic, why not draw examples from the actual field? My point is, I think there are lot of better ways to go about disagreeing. So: I rate this a 1.8.

To think of this another way: consider the various ways you could test out the fallibility of doctors--the ways that some "gadfly" medical student could "trick" a doctor into making an incorrect diagnosis. (And in fact, IIRC, there was a Stanford study that looked at the accuracy of diagnoses and concluded that doctors get it right only ~30% of the time, or thereabouts.) If a trio of students manage to fool their med school professor--along the lines of what's described by Peterson and Gee--how much more skepticism are you going to apply to the medical field? Are you suddenly going to have a Big Mac for lunch each day, topped off by sucking down a pack of Pall Malls each afternoon and a nightly pint of absinthe, with a meth nightcap?

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:08 pm 
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RayAgostini wrote:
Analytics wrote:

I implore everyone to refrain from prejudging Dr. Peterson and his work on this thread. No name calling, sarcasm, witticisms, attacks, etc. Rather, the thread is dedicated to making a fair and substantial evaluation of the question at hand: what is the quality of Dr. Peterson's apologetics?


Analytics wrote:
Interesting point. The truth is that between my limited attention span and Peterson's long-windedness, there are very few things he writes that I can make it through.
DH2

Touché. In an effort to keep this thread at the highest of standards, please allow me to re-write that paragraph:

Interesting point. The truth is that between my limited attention span and the typical lengthiness of Peterson's essays, there are very few things he writes that I can make it through.

Better?

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:24 pm 
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Doctor Scratch wrote:
I'l
As with the first editorial I examined, this is not really a "review" in the strict sense, as it does not review any specific work or author. Instead, we might call this a "review" of an entire academic discipline. The way in which it goes about disagreeing, though, is highly problematic. Using the Graham scale, this one, overall, merits something between a 1 and a 2, I think. Though there is no "name-calling," and this isn't an extended argumentum ad hominem so to speak, the fact remains that, as disagreement, this seems awfully fishy....

Interesting analysis, Doctor Scratch. On the one hand, somebody could give this essay a 5 or 6. After all, if the central point that it takes issue with is "the assured results of modern biblical scholarship," then this little experiment (sort of) addresses whether or not the methods of that field are reliable and provides evidence (of sorts) that refutes it.

But on the other hand, using this anecdote to discredit Biblical scholarship in general doesn't address the actual reasons why scholars come to the conclusions they do, much less how much confidence they have in their various conclusions and whether or not that level of confidence is in fact warranted.

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:41 pm 
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Analytics wrote:
Doctor Scratch wrote:
I'l
As with the first editorial I examined, this is not really a "review" in the strict sense, as it does not review any specific work or author. Instead, we might call this a "review" of an entire academic discipline. The way in which it goes about disagreeing, though, is highly problematic. Using the Graham scale, this one, overall, merits something between a 1 and a 2, I think. Though there is no "name-calling," and this isn't an extended argumentum ad hominem so to speak, the fact remains that, as disagreement, this seems awfully fishy....

Interesting analysis, Doctor Scratch. On the one hand, somebody could give this essay a 5 or 6. After all, if the central point that it takes issue with is "the assured results of modern biblical scholarship," then this little experiment (sort of) addresses whether or not the methods of that field are reliable and provides evidence (of sorts) that refutes it.

But on the other hand, using this anecdote to discredit Biblical scholarship in general doesn't address the actual reasons why scholars come to the conclusions they do, much less how much confidence they have in their various conclusions and whether or not that level of confidence is in fact warranted.


I agree with you, and thought that this one was kind of a tough call, since Graham's scale clearly didn't envision something like the FARMS Review. And, of course, "Through a Glass, Darkly" *does* cite evidence. It utilizes "quotes," but these are unverifiable, and perhaps totally made up. My understanding is that Graham's entire scale is meant to improve the effectiveness of disagreement. If that's the case, then I think we have to rate this editorial pretty low, because it just doesn't seem to be engaging the issue in a "good faith" sort of way. The essay would have been a lot more effective if they'd just confronted real biblical scholarship, and had dispensed with this rather strange, pseudonymous anecdote.

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:00 pm 
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Arrakis wrote:
cwald wrote:
Mayan, will you take my assignment?

I know my limitations. I'm way out of my league here, and feel way inadequate to critique this kind of review and work. I don't think it would be a fair evaluation for the purpose of this thread..


I suck at this type of thing....if anyone wants to take my assignment I will be grateful !

Analytics, I have similar feelings of inadequacy here. However, I am more than willing to give it a go if you would like to overlook my lack of 'cred' and use me as a different kind of 'control'. I have done some technical editing, so perhaps I can adapt my toolset for the job - you can be the judge of my success in that, if you wish.

It's completely your choice, since I will be quite ambivalent about having it taken away from me. :smile: :cry: :neutral: :cry: :smile:

Do you have a deadline in mind?

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:27 pm 
Analytics wrote:
Touché. In an effort to keep this thread at the highest of standards, please allow me to re-write that paragraph:

Interesting point. The truth is that between my limited attention span and the typical lengthiness of Peterson's essays, there are very few things he writes that I can make it through.

Better?


It's better, but it's not what you really think, is it? What you really think is encapsulated in the first comment. The second revised comment is an attempt at being more PC, and acceptable to the high standard you set in the OP. Most of the "reviews" so far rated the FR articles/essays between DH1 and DH2. I'd be interested to see other evaluations, when they're posted.

If the "Graham Scale" was applied to MormonDiscussions.com on the whole, I'd be surprised to find a single thread that rises above DH0. That's the "nature of the beast" (and yes, I'm part of "the beast" when I post here). And bear in mind that How to Disagree is primarily focused on:

Quote:
...threads, on forums, and in their own blog posts.
(Emphasis added)

And:

Quote:
The result is there's a lot more disagreeing going on, especially measured by the word. That doesn't mean people are getting angrier. The structural change in the way we communicate is enough to account for it. But though it's not anger that's driving the increase in disagreement, there's a danger that the increase in disagreement will make people angrier. Particularly online, where it's easy to say things you'd never say face to face.

If we're all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well.
What does it mean to disagree well? Most readers can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages. So here's an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy:
(Emphasis added)

So your attempt to focus on the FR, which contains articles 20+ years old, in hardcopy, though later made available online, is somewhat off course.

The focus should be right here, on MormonDiscussions.com, which is a discussion forum, and directly applicable to the touted scale.

That should be an interesting exercise.


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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:55 pm 
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Analytics,

Will get to my assignment over the weekend. by the way, I ended up with a piece that was more of a stream of DCP self-reflective consciousness than an apologetic. Anyway, my assigned piece is short (and I thank you for that) and I will have something back in a couple of days or so.

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 Post subject: Re: Facts, Appearances, and Professor Peterson
PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:57 pm 
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I have been assigned to review Lou Midgley's introduction to volume 15, Issue 1.

http://maxwellinstitute.BYU.edu/publica ... m=1&id=482

Midgley announces that the FARMS Review will now expand its scope beyond merely reviewing books and in this first installment, introduces this edition of the FARMS review taking on the countercult movement. His introduction is not brief, and he is not off to a strong start with these statements in the opening paragraphs:

Midgley wrote:
Only a few anti-Mormons seem to have read the literature published under the FARMS imprint. Some even boast that they have not read the literature they criticize


Midgley wrote:
They eventually admitted that they had not read what I had sent. This is understandable, if not excusable, since they are busy lecturing in Protestant churches on, or ironically perhaps illustrating, what they call "Counterfeit Christianity.


He offers no examples here nor any footnotes to back his claim. We are left to take his word that these critics are willfully and proudly ignorant, and Midgley earns a single point for his efforts.

Midgley moves on with more ad hominem argumentation by citing evangelical Douglas Cowan's work that criticizes the countercult movement, confirming what the apologists "already know" but taking a step further to describe the politics behind the countercult scene and expose the "internecine quarrels" among them. Cowan's work might be interesting, but no examples are provided of the in-fighting, and thus Midgley keeps up his pace of level one discourse.

Beginning somewhere in the middle of Midgley's review of our once fellow poster Richard Abanes and stretching nearly to the end of his essay, Midgley puts a microscope on "cult" terminology. He observes, quoting evangelical authorities, that the word "cult" is used for ridicule. But then referencing another EV countercultist later on,

Midgley wrote:
Thus, though the word cult was until rather recently a harmless, even useful, word and remains so in a number of academic disciplines, the word was given a radically different, highly pejorative meaning by ranting preachers,


The discussion of how the word "cult" is used, who uses it and in what sense they use it, who has backed away from using it, and who takes up other terminology without altering the substance of their bigotry goes on and on. It's telling that throughout Midgley's extended consideration of countercult invective, he manages to drop the pejorative "anti-Mormon" twenty-three times! Sure, "anti-Mormon" can simply mean someone who is opposed to Mormonism as we are often reminded, just like "cult" can be used absent judgment, but it's also used in a narrow sense for those Midgley describes,

Midgley wrote:
while they pose as staunch defenders of the orthodox religion. They are not the pure in heart who long for or are open to further light and knowledge, but instead are mere mercenaries in the business of selling something.


So using the word "anti-Mormon" is problematic for the precise reasons using the word "cult" is. Midgley would be more convincing if he would reduce his use of this word, his reliance on it makes it all to easy to interpret the situation as a war between equally bitter foes. for these sections we must take the average of four and zero, and that would be two.

In the section Countercult Notions Seep into Serious Evangelical Scholarship Midgley begins by commending more serious EV scholars for seeing the reality that the history of Christianity does not make it easy to tell what beliefs are orthodox. They seem to be making progress, but ultimately these scholars succumb to the base elements of the countercult network. Roger Olson was fine until:

Midgley wrote:
Olson then takes a gratuitous jab at the Church of Jesus Christ: "Mormons appeal to the Bible and Jesus Christ (as well as their own additional sources) to promote their own . . . denials of God's transcendence (wholly and holy otherness)."


Why is such an accusation necessarily gratuitous? And why the baiting, "jab at the 'only true church on the face of the earth'"? The nature of God seems to be a core issue where modern Christians and Mormons admit to not being on the same page. Midgley further explains,

Midgley wrote:
As Olson explains elsewhere, Christians eventually borrowed heavily from elements of Greek philosophy. It was from such categories that they fashioned the notion that God is a "simple substance, completely free of body, parts or passions, immutable (unchangeable) and eternal (timeless)


So Midgley makes his case that there is legitimate reason to accept the Mormon deity as Biblically based, but unfortunately, this is not central to his point of countercult invective "seeping into serious scholarship." The Mormon deity might not be contrary to the Bible, but Olson's assertion otherwise is not proven to be a "gratuitous jab". If merely making an unflattering case is a jab, then Midgley is jabbing right back with the old charges that Christians worship the God of Greek philosophy rather than the God of the bible. Had the topic been slightly different, this could have been a 5, as it is, we must throw it out.

Midgley's final score then is 1.6.


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