Steve Benson's bizarre behavior on the RfM board

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Gazelam
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Post by Gazelam »

Tarski, Scientists can't even peg down a date for the great leap of animal to man. You yourself state that its just a theory.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. - Plato

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Tarski
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Post by Tarski »

Gazelam wrote:Tarski, Scientists can't even peg down a date for the great leap of animal to man. You yourself state that its just a theory.


There was no great leap and I see you have the usual creationist confusion about the uses of the word "theory".

Theory of Evolution
Number Theory
Set Theory
Gravitational Theory
Quantum Theory
The Theory of Electromagnetism.
The Germ Theory of contageous disease.

Theory often refers to that conceptual structure that we use to make sense of the "raw" facts. In this context it certainly doesn't mean something like a "tentative hypothesis". Natural selection is way way past that.

By the way, "great leap from animal to man"???? Humans are animals.

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Dan Vogel
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Post by Dan Vogel »

Marg,

I hope you don't mind if I take issue with some of your statements here of the past few days. For convenience, I have arranged my comments by topic. Sorry for length.


WHY I STARTED POSTING ON RFM

Apparently D. Vogel didn’t post on the RFM board with the intent of debating/discussing whether or not J.Smith was a “pious fraud”, but others forced him into that debate. Smith as “pious fraud” is his position, it’s in his book (an insignificant aspect of it) and he’s not backed away from this position so far in discussions on MB’s. He also knows the overall general sentiment of vocal RFMers are dead set against PF theory, so given his position and experience there isn’t much point for him to continue discussing it there.


I have no reason to back away from my position. And why should the vocal critics of pious fraud be allowed to run the board?

But I didn't go there to start a debate, but to discuss the Helen Whitney documentary. Ken Clark and I were having a nice discussion, when Cabbie showed up to start trouble. He had used Clark in the past to support his Narcissistic Personality Dissorder theory, which he uses to argue against the pious fraud theory. Cabbie started taunting me to bring up PF and see how I would be received. I pointed out to him that Clark had just said:

"I also added that I thought Joseph Smith was a world champion rationalizer. I told her [Whitney] that everything I read indicated to me that he could rationalize anything, if he thought it benefitted him or someone else in some way. I pointed out that Dan Vogel had it right when he pointed out examples of Joseph Smith's willingness to lie (pious liar) if it helped bring a soul to God (or not)."

Clark had also just complained:

"I put myself in a no-win position. Exmos will criticize my effort for not being critical enough. ... Loyal members will criticize me for my disloyalty after the church paid me 'sacred thithing junds' for 27 years. But I still feel good about my efforts."

I said, welcome to my world Ken. Cabbie has threatened me several times, claiming that he will use his (armature) knowledge of psychology to hurt me. What a nut! Any way, Cabbie never responded to any of my arguments against NPD, but instead organized some of the attacks, during which he would post in the guise of an understanding therapist and try (rather incorrectly) to diagnose me and imply that I was in denial about Joseph Smith. Give me a break!


DEBATE BECOMES GRANDSTANDING

Beastie, what I remember is people arguing against the "pious fraud" theory, not people jumping on Vogel as a person. The fact that someone argues against an idea such as "pious fraud" regarding Smith does not mean they haven't considered it. You seem to refuse to accept that people can rightly criticize the Smith "pious fraud" idea.


There was some substantive discussions, but there was also a lot of unnecessary ridicule of anyone who defended the theory or objected to some of the weak criticisms. Many at RfM were not satisfied with debating the topic and letting everyone decide for themselves what they wanted to believe. It quickly degenerated into a campaign of ridicule and intimidation, where it became impossible to have meaningful dialogue.

Some over there, Benson in particular, think that when one of them has responded to me that debate is over and it's time for a victory dance. They seem to believe that there has to be a winner. They can't believe that their arguments might not be convincing to some, and it is this attitude that carries them into their excesses. I do not insist that everyone must believe Joseph Smith had sincere motives; it's just a theory that makes sense of some of the evidence that opponents want to overlook. I notice that sometimes when I respond to their response, there is no follow up by them.

You are not innocent Beastie. I went and looked at the RFM board. Jan 21 you started a thread "New Religious Movement Leaders (related to pious fraud)." Essentially it was an attempt at presenting evidence (a quote taken from an FBI site) to be used in support of the Smith "Pious Fraud" theory.

Benson (only one of the responders to your post) responded with "Smith was an irreligious and insincere reprobate, anything but personally pious and everything fraudulent. New Testament "

And what was YOUR response to his post Beastie? subject: So Says Benson!!
content: All bow your heads and say "yes".

He has a right to an opinion. But you are attacking him personally and in doing so it is YOU who is escalating that discussion into personal attack and derision. It didn't develop much further, but it could have.


It's not easy getting Benson's attention. Beastie probably shouldn't have said it that way, but once Benson and others polarize the board that's generally how things escalate. All I know is, many on the board were offended by the behavior Benson and Co., and chewed them out. But they remain unrepentant. Benson acknowledged he was out of line, but argued that it wasn't necessary to get along. So, not even Benson agrees with your defense of his behavior here. What Beastie was trying to say to Benson was: Do you have more than your assertion to offer in response? Apparently, the answer was, No.

In general I found Steve's post to be spot on, with whomever he was responding to. I came across a post or two of Dan's, in response to Steve which seemed to me to be evasive.


I don't know which ones you refer to, but I think it's possible that you are confusing careful with evasive. Steve seemed to make the same mistake. When he asked if Joseph Smith had sex with Helen Mar and I responded that I "assumed" he did, Steve accused me of being evasive. From my perspective, he is too willing to jump to (unqualified) conclusions with little evidence. Compton said the evidence is "ambiguous". Now, since I was "assuming" he was right about Joseph Smith having sex with Helen Mar, why didn't he just proceed with his argument? Why did he focus on what he thought was a character flow of mine and accuse me of hedging and not being "forthright" in my answers? He then proceeded with his ad hominal attack on the strawman that he had constructed.


DOUBLE STANDARD

You didn’t “simply” report what went on, you made Steve out as a moron who didn’t understand the concept of “proof” so you had to explain it to him and he was unable to answer your questions.

Perhaps Steve wasn’t focused on or interested in your question of legal age of rape at the time in Illinois. Perhaps by underage Steve meant maturity level. Perhaps it wasn’t a matter of Steve “couldn’t answer” your question but that it wasn’t important to the issue of his point, so why should he.


Now, I'm wondering why you are so willing to make excuses for Steve, when in the very same situation you would accuse me of being evasive? It seems your assessment is based on a double standard. Little wonder your opinion is contradicted by many posters, who were during the exchange and even now continue in an attempt to hold Steve and the others accountable for their behavior.



MODERATE APOLOGIST VS. RUDE DEFENDER OF TRUTH

I can understand why people such as Steve would refer to him as an apologist. Dan seems more interested in holding a position of being a moderate with regards to Smith than of where the evidence leads to. And this is understandable. By being moderate he has a greater chance of being tolerated and heard by the Mormon community and apologists, than someone who takes a harsher position with regards to J. Smith. And one can not persuade anyone, unless one can get them to listen.


Being moderate is not what I aim for; it's being credible. Being moderate is a relative label that can change depending on who is doing the assessment.

So Dan and Steve’s objectives are in my view different. Steve doesn’t seem to care about persuading Mormon apologists. He seems interested in where the evidence leads to or “truth” rather than in persuading the other side using tactics. Dan has a vested interested in being heard via his book. He would lose a large potential audience if he didn’t offer a moderate view which leaves open the possibility of Smith being sincere.


This is an interesting analysis--too bad it's not true. First, I'm forming my historical interpretations to intentionally be moderate so as to persuade apologists. My main audience are other scholars, who quite frankly have no patience for debunkers like Benson. I also try to write in such a way as to be accessible to any audience. Anyone who writes or speaks is trying to persuade. However, I have been criticized for alienating all believers in the supernatural in the first pages of my introduction.

Second, that you characterize Benson as the fearless defender of the "truth" is rather naïve. Everyone is trying to defend the truth as they see it. One can do it just as well without resorting to tactics like grandstanding and shutting the discussion down. To suggest that I'm not interested in the truth is presumptuous and insulting. This seems to be a RfM trait: assume all those who disagree with the party line are disingenuous. That's kind of like Mormons who assume anti-Mormons are liars.

So the objectives one has makes a difference in the approach one should or needs to take in discussion. If the objective is persuasion then “truth” and/or harshness is not the best tactic to take when arguing with the other side. If “truth” is one’s main objective then substance and evidence not process or how one argues is what is primarily important.


Are you serious? You really believe that being persuasive involves lying and civility? And speaking the truth involves harshness, or at least harshness is excusable if one speaks the truth? Who decides that? And since everyone thinks they are right in a debate, everyone therefore has the right to speak harshly. So, apparently, those who speak respectfully know they are wrong and, because their argument has no substance, must resort to persuasion (i.e., lying and civility).

Benson doesn't simply follow the evidence to the truth, because nobody does that. We all approach the evidence with presuppositions. The facts don't simply speak for themselves. Facts become facts when we use them as evidence. We come to the facts with a perspective that gives them meaning. I try to understand Joseph Smith's actions from the perspective of his own times, and those who want to call Joseph Smith a rapist aren't. That's not trying to be moderate; it's trying to be historically minded and avoiding the presentist fallacy. You say you want to just follow the evidence, then why not include that perspective in your assessment of the evidence? It's like judging Thomas Jefferson harshly because he owned slaves. No one expects you to approve of slavery or not be morally outraged by it, just to suspend your present-minded assumptions.


PIOUS FRAUD AND SHUTTING DOWN DISCUSSION

I think while there is little toleration for anything said pro Mormonism on the RFM board, I also think on this particular issue of “pious fraud” that there has been an attempt by those who consider the possibility that Smith may have been a sincere individual and “pious fraud” to dismiss critics of the Pious fraud theory as..extreme, closed minded, intolerant, irrational, angry, unable to objectively evaluate J. Smith because of emotional baggage. That is arguing against critics fallaciously using ad hominem. In otherwords the argument being made is that the critic’s argument against the pious fraud theory should be dismissed because they are too angry and emotional to be objective about J. Smith.


That's not the position of those defending PF. It stopped being about PF with the extreme behavior. We wanted those kind of antics to stop, so that meaningful dialogue could resume. But that hasn't happened yet. But when one acts in such a manner, one does risk losing the point. It's a good tactic if you are losing, but a bad one if you are winning.


APPOLOGIST

I don't view him as an apologist. He certainly is not a believer that the Book of Mormon is God inspired. But I do think some of his ideas can be viewed as leaning towards or in support of an apologist's position.


RfMers are not always right, and apologists are not always wrong. But what apologist believes Joseph Smith is a fraud or the Book of Mormon is fiction?


RAPE

Right but were critics such as Randy J or Steve arguing for legal rape conducted by J. Smith? If not, legal evidence of what constitutes rape at the time is not very relevant. Do you think that H. Mar appreciated fully what the marriage entailed? Do you think coercive unethical tactics were used on H. Mar by people who had or represented authority over her? Do you think she was fully informed and willingly with the mental maturity of an adult married Smith?


Yes, the issue was about the legal definition of rape. I started a thread with the question: on what grounds do some RfMers call Joseph Smith a rapist. Matt and Deconstructor, IIRC, presented arguments for "statuary rape" and rape by deception, and insisted that Joseph Smith violated 19th century law. I believe they (and like minds) still hold that position. Your questions above imply the legal definitions we discussed.

When Benson got involved he seemed to back off the term rape, and said Joseph Smith's behavior was lecherous. So, I said, it seems we agree and offered other terms like sexual and emotional abuse. Then, he started asking leading questions of me (much like you have here) that were obviously headed in the direction of using rape in the legal sense. I objected to his tactics, and told him to stop asking cagey questions in an effort to entrap me in contradiction and just state his case. And you say Benson doesn't use tactics. It was at this point, that Steve began his barrage of intimidation, taunting, and insult. Needless to say, he shut down the discussion. And whenever I showed up, he and his cohorts would start the same tactics to run me off.

On your quote of Ambrosia Moretta: crass sexual motivations vs. pious fraud is a false dichotomy. As I have said over and over, what Joseph Smith did in 1843 to Helen Mar has very little to do with why he began dictating the Book of Mormon in 1828.

Proof of what? That Smith had sex with Kimballl? And do you think Steve doesn’t appreciate that he doesn’t have conclusive evidence for that? But one shouldn’t dismiss the most probable likely conclusion that the data leads one to conclude with probability ..just because there isn’t conclusive evidence. Surely given what is known about Smith, it is reasonable to assume his intent was a sexual relationship with Kimball whether or not it occurred is moot in judging Smith’s ethical character.


You just said "probable" and "assume" with regard to Smith having sex with HMK. That kind of care is what Benson attacked. So, watch out!

I personally do think that the description rape is appropriate given Kimball’s statement of not appreciating what the marriage entailed. The inference which can be drawn while not conclusive indicates she likely meant she didn’t appreciate the marriage entailed sex in the present life. Smith as an authority figure used his power to coerce both her parents and her into the marriage. Assuming she had sex, she would have been raped by deception. That some individuals might take offense to the use of the word rape because they find it inflammatory does not mean the word is inappropriate. Or that some individuals might assume the word rape can only be used in a legal sense is their mistake. Can you think of a better word to use to describe an individual who has been coerced by means of undue influence into a marriage (which would entail sex)?


HMK said she didn't know the ceremony would restrict her attending dances or other activities with her peers. She said nothing about sex. You seem to assume that someone intentionally deceived Helen Mar, when apparently the misunderstanding her's. Sure, she was coerced by her parents, but what arranged marriage isn't? But does that fulfill the legal definition of marriage by deception? In the discussion before Benson arrived, I was quoted these statutes. So, I responded to the legal definitions. When it became obvious that that line of argument wasn't working, then moral definitions were offered, which are misleading, inaccurate, and inflammatory.


Dan focuses on legal def’’n of rape. It’’s obvious to me that people would not likely in this discussion be referring to legalities of rape when they say ““rape by deception.”” The only way he can argue there was no deception is if one is to assume Smith in his marriages truly thought God was telling him to marry. But given Smith’’s ethical character and history, it is a stretch to assume that he employed no deception.


Yes, I think it was Matt and some other poster, who cited three conditions for legal statutory rape. One was marriage by deception. My argument was that the statute didn't obviously refer to Joseph Smith's situation, but to those men who pretended to be single. In Joseph Smith's case, those involved knew he was married and were voluntarily violating the law. I also explained in another place that to use the statute in the manner suggested would require the court to determine Joseph Smith's revelation was false--not likely. The court would likely bypass religious claims and the charge would be bigamy or adultery.

Hold on a sec. Yes we can determine whether Smith had sex with underage women. We can look at the norms of the time, we can look at the circumstances surrounding the various cases (his polygamous marriages.) What is really important here is Smith’s ethical character. Did he break laws, did he use undue influence over others, did he take advantage of the vulnerable that sort of thing. Limiting the discussion to ONLY whether or not Smith broke the law of his time, is not the heart of the matter.


We all agreed Joseph Smith was unethical. The issue was about using the word rape.


SPAULDING ARGUMENT AGAINST PIOUS FRAUD

When this discussion was going on many months back in which you participated as did Dan, I remember Craig Criddle asking Dan if he'd like to argue/discuss the Spalding/Rigdon theory with him. Dan's response was along the lines that he was not fully informed to be able to debate/discuss it with Craig. He deferred to others knowledgeable on the theory in basing his rejection of it(I believe 2 individuals but don't remember their names).


They didn't just ask if I wanted to discuss the Spaulding theory, they were wanting a knockout, drag-out fight over it. I was new to the board and wanted to talk about more meaningful things. I told them that I was no expert in the Spaulding theory and would rather defer to Lester Bush (in an old issue of Dialogue) and Matthew Roper (in FARMS Review). That was my way of trying to shift the discussion to what I know best--JS and the Book of Mormon.

Later, when Spaulding came up and someone made an argument, I responded to the argument. Of course, they said, "We thought you didn't know anything about the Spaulding theory?" To which I responded, "I said I wasn't an expert; I didn't say I didn't know anything about it."

If Rigdon was the main mastermind behind the Book of Mormon and start-up of Mormonism that would put a large kink in the Smith "pious fraud" theory. As knowledgable as Dan is on Mormonism and Smith, if he isn't fully knowledgable on the Rigdon/Spalding theory he lacks a vital component affecting the Smith "pious fraud" theory.


Look, Marg, I know enough about the theory, to know that it's a waste of precious time. I can't believe any former Mormon would give it any credence; I thought it was just the pet theory of Evangelicals. To those who know the contents of the Book of Mormon thoroughly, as I and others do, the Spaulding theory makes no sense whatsoever. There are just too many autobiographical elements in the book and post-1816 environmental influences. There is no evidence linking Rigdon with the production of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith dictated it in front of witnesses, who explicitly state he used no manuscript. His head was in the hat, and he dictated from his own brain (except for the long chapters from the KJV).

Now, as to the use of the Spaulding theory to discount the pious fraud theory. You are attempting to shift the burden of proof to me to disprove the Spaulding theory in order to prove the pious fraud theory, when the onus is on you to prove your thesis. So far, the Spaulding theory has very little to support it, and very little support from serious Book of Mormon scholars.

I think most people if not all, respect Dan for his research, his writing abilities, his gentlemanly conduct in discussions, but they aren’’t completely sold on him being open to objectively looking at all the data which could impact the Smith as pious fraud theory. And the question is why isn’’t he open to all the data? Why does he defer to others on the Rigdon-Spalding theory, given his position of being a researcher/historian in Mormonism?


This is where I think you are naïve about what a scholar does. Because it is impossible to follow every strand in the evidence, a scholar follows the best leads--those that are most likely to pay off. No theory is thoroughly investigated, because it is impossible. In the philosophy of science it's called the problem of underdeterminism. Controlling all the data in a subject is also not possible, and so I have reviewed the evidence for and against the Spaulding theory and have concluded that it is a false lead. I don't need to become an expert in the Spaulding theory to know that it is weak and has no real explanatory power.

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Post by Jersey Girl »

Hello Dan,

Do you have handy, the quote by HMK that they used in those discussions as "proof" of a sexual relationship between Joseph Smith and HMK? I believe it was Deconstructor who originally posted it and referenced by Benson.

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Post by asbestosman »

The Dude wrote:When relying on scripture, why believe the Hebrew system instead of the Hindu? (There are more Hindus, by the way.)


Last I checked, there were far more Christians than Hindus.
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Post by harmony »

asbestosman wrote:
The Dude wrote:When relying on scripture, why believe the Hebrew system instead of the Hindu? (There are more Hindus, by the way.)


Last I checked, there were far more Christians than Hindus.


Depends on how you define "Christian".

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Post by asbestosman »

harmony wrote:
asbestosman wrote:
The Dude wrote:When relying on scripture, why believe the Hebrew system instead of the Hindu? (There are more Hindus, by the way.)


Last I checked, there were far more Christians than Hindus.


Depends on how you define "Christian".


http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.htm
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Post by The Dude »

asbestosman wrote:
The Dude wrote:When relying on scripture, why believe the Hebrew system instead of the Hindu? (There are more Hindus, by the way.)


Last I checked, there were far more Christians than Hindus.


I assume Gazelam is LDS. I also assume he is a troll and not really a bone-headed creationist. I could be wrong on both assumptions, I guess.

(I notice your link doesn't count Mormonism as it's own religion. Ouch! Kind of a slap in the face if you ask me.)

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Post by Mephitus »

hehe, time for me to throw a good sized wrench in the argument as well, There is just as much scientific evidence supporting christian creation story as there is in Asatru creation story. For those that are unfamiliar with it, ill post it below.

In the beginning there was no earth or heaven, no sand nor sea nor cooling waves. There was only Ginnungagap, a great void. In the north there was Nilfheim, and from Nilfheim's spring flowed eleven rivers, known as Elivagar. As the rivers flowed south, they cooled and hardened into ice. In the south, there was the world of Muspelheim, a firey world. The northern part of Ginnungagap became filled with the ice and hoar frost from the Elivagar. When that ice formed and was firm, a drizzling rain arose from the venomous rivers and poured over the ice where it cooled into rime, and one layer of ice formed on top of the other throughout Ginnungagap. The southern part of Ginnungagap was lit by the sparks and glowing embers which flew out of Muspelheim. Where the heat from the south met the coolness in the north the ice was thawed and it began to drip and by the might that sent the heat, life appeared in the drops of the running fluid and this fluid formed into the likeness of a man. He was given the name Ymir.

As the frost continued to thaw another form was created. This form became a cow called Audhumbla. From her teats flowed four rivers of milk and it was upon this that Ymir was fed. While he fed, Ymir slept, and while he slept a male and female frost giant grew from his armpits and one leg fathered a six headed troll with the other leg.

Audhumbla lived by licking the ice-blocks which were salty, and by the evening of the first day there appeared a man's hair where she licked. On the second day, a man's head appeared, and by the third day the whole man was freed from the ice. This man was called Buri. He had a son name Bor who married Bestla, who was the daughter of the giant Bolthurn. Bor and Bestla had three sons, Odhinn, Vili, and Ve.

There was great strife between the offspring of Ymir and the children of Bor and Bestla. Odhinn led his brothers against Ymir and they killed him. Ever since that time there has been hatred and enemity between the gods and the giants.

Odhinn and his brothers dragged Ymir's body into the void. His flesh became the earth, his blood the sea. His bones became the mountains, his hair the trees, and his teeth the stones. Odhinn and his brothers discovered maggots living in what had been Ymir's flesh. They turned these into the dwarves and dark elves and these beings reside in the depths of the earth, mining the ore and minerals beneath the mountains and hills. The world of the dwarves is known as Nidavellir and the world of the dark elves is called Svartalfheim. Odhinn and his brothers also discovered some fine creatures living in the soil formed from Ymir's flesh. They named these creatures light elves and placed them in the world known as Alfheim. As Ymir's blood flowed, it created a flood that killed all the giants, save one. Bergelmir escaped with his household and they made their escape in the first boat, a hollowed out tree-trunk.

The sons of Bor then took Ymir's skull and fashioned from it the sky and set it over the earth. Under each corner they placed a dwarf and it is from the names of these dwarves that we get the directions, North, South, East and West. The sons of Bor then took the sparks and burning embers that were flying about and cast them into the midst of Ginnungagap to light the heavens and the earth. They gave stations to all the stars and planets.

They then fashioned a world for the families of giants and this world is known as Jotunheim. Away from this land they fashioned a stronghold to surround the world, to defend it from the giants. This land was fashioned from Ymir's eyebrows, and it is called Midgard. They then took the brains of Ymir and cast them into the air and these became the storm-threatening clouds.

One day while Odhinn and his brothers were walking along the sea shore they came upon two tree trunks. The gods saw great beauty in the trunks and set forth to bring them to life. Odhinn gave them soul, Vili gave motion and sense, and Ve gave being and blooming hue. These beings were the first humans and they were called Ask and Embla. Midgard was given to them to inhabit.

Once the world had been created and the gods had placed the sun and moon in the sky they made night and day. Night is a beautiful giantess with a dark complexion and hair of midnight black. Night's first husband was a man called Naglifari. Their son is called Aud. Next, Night married Annar and their daughter is called Earth. Last she married Delling and their son was Day. Odhinn then took Night and Day and gave them horses and chariots to ride across the heavens.

The sun and moon are guided across the heavens by the children of Mundilfari. They were so fair and beautiful that he called the son, Moon, and the daughter, Sun. The gods became angry at his arrogance and took the brother and sister and put them in the sky where they draw the sun and moon across the sky in chariots. They made Sun drive the horses which drew the chariot of the sun that the gods had made to light the worlds from a spark which had flown from Muspelheim. The horses which draw this chariot are called Arvak and Alsvidh. Moon is made to guide the chariot that draws the moon across the sky. This chariot is drawn by Aldsvider. Sun and Moon can never pause in their journey because they are constantly pursued by the wolves Skoll and Hati.

Now that the earth was made and had been filled with all manner of beings the gods created a home for themselves. The gods then built for themselves a stronghold in the middle of the world and it is known as Asgard. They built a bridge to connect Asgard and Midgard, and this bridge is Bifrost. Asgard is sheltered by the great world tree, Yggdrasil, which touches upon all of the worlds.


And to think, this story PRE-DATES christianity. so which is more valid an argument?
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Post by Bond...James Bond »

The Dude wrote:
asbestosman wrote:
The Dude wrote:When relying on scripture, why believe the Hebrew system instead of the Hindu? (There are more Hindus, by the way.)


Last I checked, there were far more Christians than Hindus.


I assume Gazelam is LDS. I also assume he is a troll and not really a bone-headed creationist. I could be wrong on both assumptions, I guess.


If Gazelam is a troll he's the longest serving troll in history. As many rounds as we've gone I doubt he's a troll.

Bond
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Post by truth dancer »

Hi Gazelam...

The Story of Adam and Eve as presented in the various accounts throughout scripture is a foundational doctrine in all christian faiths. It is not possible to believe in Christ without believeing in The Fall of Adam.

To preach against Adam and declare that the story of the Fall is nothing more than a story is to preach against Christ. It is not possible to blend the two, either the creation of this world occured as testified in the scriptures and by the Holy Ghost or it did not.

I stand with the prophets. There is no evidence concerning the theory of human evolution, just speculation and nothing more.


Assuming you really believe this.... Are you unaware that many of the Brethren do indeed believe in Evolution? Do you think you could find even one BYU science professor who doesn't believe in evolution?

I'm not sure why you are holding to your 17th century belief when clearly the leaders of the church have moved on.

Evolution is no longer a "theroy". :-)

~dancer~

marg

Post by marg »

Hi Dan,

I skimmed your post and came to this part, the rest I'll address later

Dan Vogel wrote: SPAULDING ARGUMENT AGAINST PIOUS FRAUD

I wrote: "When this discussion was going on many months back in which you participated as did Dan, I remember Craig Criddle asking Dan if he'd like to argue/discuss the Spalding/Rigdon theory with him. Dan's response was along the lines that he was not fully informed to be able to debate/discuss it with Craig. He deferred to others knowledgeable on the theory in basing his rejection of it(I believe 2 individuals but don't remember their names)."

They didn't just ask if I wanted to discuss the Spaulding theory, they were wanting a knockout, drag-out fight over it. I was new to the board and wanted to talk about more meaningful things. I told them that I was no expert in the Spaulding theory and would rather defer to Lester Bush (in an old issue of Dialogue) and Matthew Roper (in FARMS Review). That was my way of trying to shift the discussion to what I know best--JS and the Book of Mormon.


Okay you probably don't know Craig Criddle. He's a Stanford (Science) University Professor who is exmormon. Extremely knowledgable on the Book of Mormon. I've observed him in discussions over a number of years on www.2think.org. He's posted a few times on FAIR, a number of times on the exmormon board. He's not now a regular poster on boards. In the last few years he's devoted some time to this Spalding theory, discussed with Dale Broadhurst and others. Set up quite a good web site on it (which perhaps you might take a look at, just do a search on Craig Criddle)and last I heard was intending to write a second part. He was the one who early on at RFM asked you if you'd like to discuss the theory and your response to him was along the lines of you weren't that knowledgable but what defer to the people you mentioned above. Trust me on this Dan, he wouldn't have wanted a knock down fight. He discusses like you, no games, no personal attacks. It's a shame you didn't take him more seriously.

Later, when Spaulding came up and someone made an argument, I responded to the argument. Of course, they said, "We thought you didn't know anything about the Spaulding theory?" To which I responded, "I said I wasn't an expert; I didn't say I didn't know anything about it."


There are a few people who probably would be worthwhile discussing this theory with you, who are quite knowledgable. Craig is not only knowledgable but extremely fair in discussion.

I wrote perivously:If Rigdon was the main mastermind behind the Book of Mormon and start-up of Mormonism that would put a large kink in the Smith "pious fraud" theory. As knowledgable as Dan is on Mormonism and Smith, if he isn't fully knowledgable on the Rigdon/Spalding theory he lacks a vital component affecting the Smith "pious fraud" theory.[/quote]

Look, Marg, I know enough about the theory, to know that it's a waste of precious time. I can't believe any former Mormon would give it any credence; I thought it was just the pet theory of Evangelicals.


You are now throwing out fallacious ad hominems against anyone who would adhere to the theory. That's not exactly the way to win points and/or convince.

To those who know the contents of the Book of Mormon thoroughly, as I and others do, the Spaulding theory makes no sense whatsoever. There are just too many autobiographical elements in the book and post-1816 environmental influences. There is no evidence linking Rigdon with the production of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith dictated it in front of witnesses, who explicitly state he used no manuscript. His head was in the hat, and he dictated from his own brain (except for the long chapters from the KJV).


I'm not the one to argue against. Perhaps if Craig has the time or someone else more knowledgable on the theory they'd be willing to come here and discuss it with you in the forum which is moderated...but I'm not the one who would or could do it. And by the way, I don't find J. Smith's witnesses convincing. They'd tend to lack objectivity in this don't you think?

Now, as to the use of the Spaulding theory to discount the pious fraud theory. You are attempting to shift the burden of proof to me to disprove the Spaulding theory in order to prove the pious fraud theory, when the onus is on you to prove your thesis. So far, the Spaulding theory has very little to support it, and very little support from serious Book of Mormon scholars.


I've not seen you argue against the Spalding theory with any serious Book of Mormon scholars Dan. You seem very keen on dismissing it by reliance on authority. Just because some writers Fawn Brodie for example dismissed the theory does not mean they should be relied upon. I believe on RFM some of the knowledgable people on this are Jeff H. Randy J, maybe Deconstructor, definitely Craig and on Mad Dale. Have you argued/discussed publicly on message boards with any of these people this Spalding Rigdon theory? I appreciate the Spalding Rigdon theory is very involved, contains lots of data.

As far as shifting burden of proof. it's not as if the Smith as pious fraud idea is a strong theory. The Spalding theory does change the dynamics of the players and makes Rigdon the more likely pious fraud...if one is interested in whether or not anyone involved in the start up was a pious fraud. The burden may shift if one takes the Rigdon Spalding theory seriously, but then again Dan people were interested in meeting that burden by discussing it with you.


previously: I think most people if not all, respect Dan for his research, his writing abilities, his gentlemanly conduct in discussions, but they aren’’t completely sold on him being open to objectively looking at all the data which could impact the Smith as pious fraud theory. And the question is why isn’’t he open to all the data? Why does he defer to others on the Rigdon-Spalding theory, given his position of being a researcher/historian in Mormonism? [/quote]

This is where I think you are naïve about what a scholar does. Because it is impossible to follow every strand in the evidence, a scholar follows the best leads--those that are most likely to pay off. No theory is thoroughly investigated, because it is impossible. In the philosophy of science it's called the problem of underdeterminism. Controlling all the data in a subject is also not possible, and so I have reviewed the evidence for and against the Spaulding theory and have concluded that it is a false lead. I don't need to become an expert in the Spaulding theory to know that it is weak and has no real explanatory power.


And I think you are wrong on this Dan. It's too bad you couldn't have shown Craig the problems in the Rigdon -Spalding theory rather than replying to him you defer to others.

by the way Dan, would you discuss the Spalding theory here in the moderated forum if someone or someones knowledgeable on it would come and discuss it with you? This would be a good forum to do so. The only problem with this forum is if it were to be deleted later, this forum has been known to crash in the past. But it is stillbetter than the exmormon one which stays up only 2 weeks and the Mad one which is too heavily moderated.

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Dan Vogel
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Spaulding theory?

Post by Dan Vogel »

Marg,

I thought you would focus on the Spaulding red herring argument against pious fraud.

Okay you probably don't know Craig Criddle. He's a Stanford (Science) University Professor who is exmormon. Extremely knowledgable on the Book of Mormon. I've observed him in discussions over a number of years on www.2think.org. He's posted a few times on FAIR, a number of times on the exmormon board. He's not now a regular poster on boards. In the last few years he's devoted some time to this Spalding theory, discussed with Dale Broadhurst and others. Set up quite a good web site on it (which perhaps you might take a look at, just do a search on Craig Criddle)and last I heard was intending to write a second part. He was the one who early on at RFM asked you if you'd like to discuss the theory and your response to him was along the lines of you weren't that knowledgable but what defer to the people you mentioned above. Trust me on this Dan, he wouldn't have wanted a knock down fight. He discusses like you, no games, no personal attacks. It's a shame you didn't take him more seriously.


Well, I know a little about the Book of Mormon myself. I have also seen both Broadhurst's and Criddle's sites. Evidence for the Spaulding theory is extremely weak and amounts to wishful thinking. Sure, they have a mountain of sources (after all, it was the reigning theory for about 100 years). But the analysis of those sources is what is lacking: lack of critical tools, poor logic, and one ad hoc rationalization after another, beginning with the invention of a second manuscript.

When I first posted on RfM, there were a lot of rabble rousers I was trying to avoid. Of course, I didn't know Craig, but at that time I went to his site, but wasn't impressed with the argumentation. I could have engaged in a debate, but I didn't think it would be worth the effort. I also didn't know what a cherished theory it was among RfMers. Frankly, I and a lot of others are mystified by those who think there is anything to the Spaulding theory. I was formerly under the impression that the theory was pushed by Evangelicals, who don't know any better. Regardless, I referred to two studies that attempted to debunk the theory, but no one bothered to tell me why those studies were wrong. That would have been the place to start. And when Spaulding advocates started presenting evidence, I did respond but their defenses were very weak. So, I think I avoided an unnecessary headache. I think when one understands the content of the Book of Mormon as well as Joseph Smith's early history, the Spaulding theory no longer has the appeal. So, my method is to bring people up to speed on those issues and let Spaulding die a natural death.

by the way, I could find nothing on the link you gave to support your views about Spaulding. I'm sure Criddle is intelligent, but so was Nibley. Intelligence is no guarantee of sound arguments. Arguments and evidence are all that matter.

There are a few people who probably would be worthwhile discussing this theory with you, who are quite knowledgable. Craig is not only knowledgable but extremely fair in discussion.


Well, you seem sold on Spaulding based on the knowledge of others. Why do you choose to believe their arguments over the arguments of the vast majority of scholars who do no believe the Spaulding theory?

Dan: Look, Marg, I know enough about the theory, to know that it's a waste of precious time. I can't believe any former Mormon would give it any credence; I thought it was just the pet theory of Evangelicals.

Marg: You are now throwing out fallacious ad hominems against anyone who would adhere to the theory. That's not exactly the way to win points and/or convince.


This is not an argument against the Spaulding theory. It is my honest reaction to the situation. I wouldn't want anyone to abandon the theory based on my personal reactions. But you avoided my first sentence.

I'm not the one to argue against. Perhaps if Craig has the time or someone else more knowledgable on the theory they'd be willing to come here and discuss it with you in the forum which is moderated...but I'm not the one who would or could do it. And by the way, I don't find J. Smith's witnesses convincing. They'd tend to lack objectivity in this don't you think?


Yet, you know enough to form an opinion about the theory and to use it against pious fraud. At least Beastie didn't defer to others in her discussions about pious fraud, but defended her position herself. But perhaps we should put your accusations of me to you. How is it that you can reject pious fraud based on evidence that you don't seem to understand or defend yourself?

Regarding objectivity: How is dismissing out of hand the testimony of believers any better than Mormon apologists who dismiss non-Mormon/anti-Mormon testimony, including the Spaulding witnesses? However, both believers and non-believers testified to Smith's method of dictating the Book of Mormon with his head in the hat. That's not to say he didn't use the Bible for the long chapters from the KJV, but the testimony is uniform for no manuscript being present from which Smith read. This is where some Spaulding theorists introduce elaborate conspiracy speculations.

I've not seen you argue against the Spalding theory with any serious Book of Mormon scholars Dan. You seem very keen on dismissing it by reliance on authority. Just because some writers Fawn Brodie for example dismissed the theory does not mean they should be relied upon. I believe on RFM some of the knowledgable people on this are Jeff H. Randy J, maybe Deconstructor, definitely Craig and on Mad Dale. Have you argued/discussed publicly on message boards with any of these people this Spalding Rigdon theory? I appreciate the Spalding Rigdon theory is very involved, contains lots of data.


Serious Book of Mormon scholars are rare. Many of the Spaulding advocates are weak on the Book of Mormon. I haven't relied on Brodie. I do point out that leading scholars are dismissive of Spaulding. But scholars are also dismissive of conspiracy theories in general. For example, serious scholars would also avoid debating some of the JFK assassination conspiracy theorists. Evolution scientists avoid debating with Creationists. This is mostly because no one wants to spend the time untangling the web of fallacious argumentation. I avoid it because the theory has little scholarly currency and devoting huge amounts of time to dismantle a minority theory is not economical.

As far as shifting burden of proof. it's not as if the Smith as pious fraud idea is a strong theory. The Spalding theory does change the dynamics of the players and makes Rigdon the more likely pious fraud...if one is interested in whether or not anyone involved in the start up was a pious fraud. The burden may shift if one takes the Rigdon Spalding theory seriously, but then again Dan people were interested in meeting that burden by discussing it with you.


Yes, people wanted to discuss it with me. But it's not about debating with me; it's about meeting the burden of proof to the scholarly community, and the theory hasn't done that. It is in the realm of wild speculation. The Spaulding theory is either true or it is not. There are no degrees of acceptance. Pious fraud is a completely different animal. When one discusses motives, there is never direct evidence. But assigning one motive to the exclusion of others is the reductionist fallacy. Pious fraud it a theoretical construct that explains more pieces of evidence than simple fraud. To maintain simple fraud one has to dismiss all evidence of sincerity as pretense. This inevitably leads to declaring Joseph Smith had no sincere religious beliefs whatsoever. Pious fraud forces people to listen closer to what Joseph Smith said and did--and a very complex person emerges, who is neither a complete hero or villain.

Dan: This is where I think you are naïve about what a scholar does. Because it is impossible to follow every strand in the evidence, a scholar follows the best leads--those that are most likely to pay off. No theory is thoroughly investigated, because it is impossible. In the philosophy of science it's called the problem of underdeterminism. Controlling all the data in a subject is also not possible, and so I have reviewed the evidence for and against the Spaulding theory and have concluded that it is a false lead. I don't need to become an expert in the Spaulding theory to know that it is weak and has no real explanatory power.

Marg: And I think you are wrong on this Dan. It's too bad you couldn't have shown Craig the problems in the Rigdon -Spalding theory rather than replying to him you defer to others.


I don't think you understood what I said about theory and underdeterminism. You are placing too much reliance on a Spaulding debate. I have already told you that such a notion is fallacious. You can't dismiss pious fraud based on another theory which has no definitive evidence in its favor. Given the lack of direct evidence, the outcome of such a debate could only be inconclusive (as with Creationists and JFK conspiracy theorists). However, we do have direct evidence that Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon, which overturning will require convoluted and cumbersome ad hoc rationalizations and special pleadings.

Why not defer to critics of the Spaulding theory? Why should I rehash arguments they should have dealt with on their own?

by the way Dan, would you discuss the Spalding theory here in the moderated forum if someone or someones knowledgeable on it would come and discuss it with you? This would be a good forum to do so. The only problem with this forum is if it were to be deleted later, this forum has been known to crash in the past. But it is stillbetter than the exmormon one which stays up only 2 weeks and the Mad one which is too heavily moderated.


I don't see why not. But rather than it being a one-on-one debate, I think it better that all be allowed to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence. I'm very interested in various reactions. But it should be moderated with off-topic comments deleted.

I think the person defending the Spaulding theory should begin the discussion by outlining the strongest evidence (perhaps with links to longer discussions of each piece of evidence) so that we can see the entire flow of the arguments and conclusions. Then we can examine each point in more detail and debate the merits.

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Rollo Tomasi
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Post by Rollo Tomasi »

Dan Vogel wrote:I hope you don't mind if I take issue with some of your statements here of the past few days. For convenience, I have arranged my comments by topic. Sorry for length.

....

Great to see you here, Dan. I hope you continue to participate. I've always enjoyed your writings. I have no idea why Steve Benson 'lost it' over at RfM, but if it led you here, then all the better. Welcome!
"Moving beyond apologist persuasion, LDS polemicists furiously (and often fraudulently) attack any non-traditional view of Mormonism. They don't mince words -- they mince the truth."

-- Mike Quinn, writing of the FARMSboys, in "Early Mormonism and the Magic World View," p. x (Rev. ed. 1998)

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Post by Dan Vogel »

Thanks Rollo. I have been lurking here for some time, but thought I would make some comments here on my recent experience at RfM and defend Beastie, since she was so kind to defend me.

marg

Post by marg »

Hi Dan,

I just spent at least 1/2 hr.if not longer writing a reply to you and went to post and lost it because somehow I got logged off. I hate that, I should know better to write on word first, because it's happened to me enough times with this site.

Give me some time to get back to you, I'm currently on cough syrup medication and didn't sleep well last night. I noted you'd be interested in a fair discussion moderated on the topicof spalding theory. I'm going to look into if I can find someone knowledgable and willing. Shades is quite interested in this topic and perhaps he'd oversee the moderation. I'll get back to you on this. I really would love to see you poke some fairly large holes in this theory.

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Post by wenglund »

marg wrote:Hi Dan,

I just spent at least 1/2 hr.if not longer writing a reply to you and went to post and lost it because somehow I got logged off. I hate that, I should know better to write on word first, because it's happened to me enough times with this site.

Give me some time to get back to you, I'm currently on cough syrup medication and didn't sleep well last night. I noted you'd be interested in a fair discussion moderated on the topicof spalding theory. I'm going to look into if I can find someone knowledgable and willing. Shades is quite interested in this topic and perhaps he'd oversee the moderation. I'll get back to you on this. I really would love to see you poke some fairly large holes in this theory.


Hi Marg,

I am not sure that it is possible to poke large holes in the Spaulding theory because there isn't much in the way of confirming substance to poke holes in. It would be like trying to poke holes in a dust storm or flack.

Part of the staying power of the Spaulding theory is that it can't entirely be refuted or negated (due to the lack of confirming substance).

It is also why, as Dan intimated, it is somewhat pointless to debate the theory. What really is there to debate?

However, others of us look at the theory from a different perspective. We aren't so much asking the question whether it can be disproved, but rather whether it is believable or not.

We also ask the comparative question of how it stacks up to other theories (as well as the authoritative version) in best explaining all the historical data.

The answer to both questions, in the minds of many of us, is that the Spalding theory is unbelievable and woefully inadequate as compared with other the explanations.

For my part, I think the Pious Fraud theory is unbelievable and woefully inadequate compared with the authoritative version of Book of Mormon origins, but I think it somewhat superior to the Spalding theory.

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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Re: Spaulding theory?

Post by SatanWasSetUp »

Dan Vogel wrote:
Well, I know a little about the Book of Mormon myself. I have also seen both Broadhurst's and Criddle's sites. Evidence for the Spaulding theory is extremely weak and amounts to wishful thinking. Sure, they have a mountain of sources (after all, it was the reigning theory for about 100 years). But the analysis of those sources is what is lacking: lack of critical tools, poor logic, and one ad hoc rationalization after another, beginning with the invention of a second manuscript.


I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theories, which is why I'm not a big fan of the Spaulding theory. The Spaulding theory plays right into the apologists hands. It suggests that Joseph Smith could NOT have produced the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith as ignorant farm-boy is a myth that the church has been pushing for a long time, but anybody can attempt to write a book. The original 1830 Book of Mormon was very rough. The church has spent the past 170 years polishing the turd, and in 1981 they unveiled the final draft, which has finally been accepted as a religious text, but is NOT accepted by anyone outside the faith as an actual translation of an ancient document. Joseph attempted to write a book about Ancient Native Americans and failed. Nobody fell for it, except for his tiny fan base. It doesn't take a top-secret conspiracy to write the 1830 Book of Mormon.

That being said, the Spaulding THeory is far more believable than the angel and gold plate with magic seer stone story.

marg

Post by marg »

wenglund wrote: However, others of us look at the theory from a different perspective. We aren't so much asking the question whether it can be disproved, but rather whether it is believable or not.

We also ask the comparative question of how it stacks up to other theories (as well as the authoritative version) in best explaining all the historical data.



The answer to both questions, in the minds of many of us, is that the Spalding theory is unbelievable and woefully inadequate as compared with other the explanations.



You're precious Wade. Yes the church's theory is believable but the Spalding theory is really way out wacky. Sigh...

marg

Re: Spaulding theory?

Post by marg »

SatanWasSetUp wrote:I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theories, which is why I'm not a big fan of the Spaulding theory. The Spaulding theory plays right into the apologists hands. It suggests that Joseph Smith could NOT have produced the Book of Mormon.


It's irrelevant if the theory plays into any apologists hands that's not a criteria to even contemplate in dismissing it. It also does not suggest J. Smith could not have produced the Book of Mormon that also is another criteria which is irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether or not J Smith could produce the Book of Mormon...what matter is the BEST FIT of ALL data

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Post by wenglund »

Of course believability is in the mind of the beholder.

However, while the proportion is rather small of those who believe in the Book of Mormon as compared to those who don't, when it comes to the number of people who accept the authoritative version as compared with other theorized explinations for the Book of Mormon origins, the proportion is rather overwhelming wouldn't you say? (Not that the numbers are necessarily an indication of truth and verity, but rather in terms of believability).

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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