Why react so strongly to Dr. Daniel C. Peterson?

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moksha
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Why react so strongly to Dr. Daniel C. Peterson?

Post by moksha »

I have to wonder why people react so strongly to Dr. Daniel C. Peterson. From the posts of his that I have read, he seems to be a likable fellow. I admit that I don't know the history some people have had with him, but without understanding their motives, such a strong reaction seems quizzical.

I suspect that he has been a lightening rod for giving out and receiving criticism simply by virtue of his position as chief apologist for the LDS Church, but why so frequent of lightening strikes?
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Post by The Nehor »

He is a primary LDS apologist and the only one I know of who spends large amounts of time online in discussion. Most don't. He makes an easy target. He does seem to have what appears to be a persecution complex but I let him off some because they really are all after him.

In my interactions with him he seemed friendly and likable and was always polite.
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Post by Runtu »

I'd like him a lot better if he'd just apologize to me. Hell, I'd be happy if he just responded to my email. But, sadly, the only time he's acknowledged my existence is to call me a liar.
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Post by Infymus »

Daniel is arrogant and self-righteous. He uses ten words for every one word necessary. He weaves a tapestry of words around a subject in a way to arrogantly wave his intellectual finger in your face, all the while telling you off very subtly.

When he first started corresponding with me, his only goal was to piss me off, for which he succeeded. I claimed that Daniel was being paid by the LDS church to be an apologist for FARMS. His arrogance immediately became evident:

There is no secret about the fact that Brigham Young University is funded by the “LDS Corporation,” as you choose to call it, and the fact that the “LDS Corporation” is supported by the tithes of its members is also widely known (particularly among tithe payers). Likewise, the fact that I’m employed by Brigham Young University is scarcely classified information: I’m listed in University catalogues, in the University’s telephone directory, and on the University’s website (among other places). I’m not precisely sure, therefore, why you imagine that tithe payers would be “unsuspecting,” or what it is that you propose to “look into,” but I certainly wish you well in your investigations. Courage!


I told him that I would look into his claims and get back to him. He wrote back:

I will be tensely awaiting the results of your research, whatever that will involve. Here are a pair of suggestions: I have no idea where you live, but, if you’re in Utah, I invite you to come by 3087 JFSB, where you will be able to see my actual name on an actual office name plate in the same area where other actual members of the actual faculty of the actual Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages have their offices. If you’re lucky, I myself (or, on your apparent theory, perhaps a deceptively similar “LDS Corporation” clone) will actually be in the office, pretending to be a professor of Arabic. Alternatively, even if you don’t live in the state, you can order one of the books produced by the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (either through the Brigham Young University bookstore or through the University of Chicago Press, which distributes them). Inside, you will find my actual name, as actual editor-in-chief of all four subsidiary series. This could win you the Pulitzer Prize.

I’m not sure what the timetable for your investigation is. I’ll be in Washington DC this next week, on business relating to the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative. (Anyway, that’s my story, and I’m sticking by it.) And then, the week before Thanksgiving, I’ll be in Philadelphia, at an academic conference there relating to Near Eastern studies. (Or perhaps I’ll be somewhere else entirely, lying about Mormonism. Pending the outcome of your work, nobody will know for certain.) I probably won’t pay much attention to my e-mail during those trips, but I’ll be on pins and needles until you’re able to inform me what my salary is for. Please do hurry.


Arrogant bastard.

I can’t stand him. I don’t care how well written he is, or what degrees he holds, how many books he has written or if he secretly has a herd of tapirs in his back yard – I think he's an asshole.

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Post by guy sajer »

Infymus wrote:Daniel is arrogant and self-righteous. He uses ten words for every one word necessary. He weaves a tapestry of words around a subject in a way to arrogantly wave his intellectual finger in your face, all the while telling you off very subtly.

When he first started corresponding with me, his only goal was to piss me off, for which he succeeded. I claimed that Daniel was being paid by the LDS church to be an apologist for FARMS. His arrogance immediately became evident:

There is no secret about the fact that Brigham Young University is funded by the “LDS Corporation,” as you choose to call it, and the fact that the “LDS Corporation” is supported by the tithes of its members is also widely known (particularly among tithe payers). Likewise, the fact that I’m employed by Brigham Young University is scarcely classified information: I’m listed in University catalogues, in the University’s telephone directory, and on the University’s website (among other places). I’m not precisely sure, therefore, why you imagine that tithe payers would be “unsuspecting,” or what it is that you propose to “look into,” but I certainly wish you well in your investigations. Courage!


I told him that I would look into his claims and get back to him. He wrote back:

I will be tensely awaiting the results of your research, whatever that will involve. Here are a pair of suggestions: I have no idea where you live, but, if you’re in Utah, I invite you to come by 3087 JFSB, where you will be able to see my actual name on an actual office name plate in the same area where other actual members of the actual faculty of the actual Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages have their offices. If you’re lucky, I myself (or, on your apparent theory, perhaps a deceptively similar “LDS Corporation” clone) will actually be in the office, pretending to be a professor of Arabic. Alternatively, even if you don’t live in the state, you can order one of the books produced by the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (either through the Brigham Young University bookstore or through the University of Chicago Press, which distributes them). Inside, you will find my actual name, as actual editor-in-chief of all four subsidiary series. This could win you the Pulitzer Prize.

I’m not sure what the timetable for your investigation is. I’ll be in Washington DC this next week, on business relating to the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative. (Anyway, that’s my story, and I’m sticking by it.) And then, the week before Thanksgiving, I’ll be in Philadelphia, at an academic conference there relating to Near Eastern studies. (Or perhaps I’ll be somewhere else entirely, lying about Mormonism. Pending the outcome of your work, nobody will know for certain.) I probably won’t pay much attention to my e-mail during those trips, but I’ll be on pins and needles until you’re able to inform me what my salary is for. Please do hurry.


Arrogant bastard.

I can’t stand him. I don’t care how well written he is, or what degrees he holds, how many books he has written or if he secretly has a herd of tapirs in his back yard – I think he's an asshole.


So in essence, he concedes the point (or he isn't denying it) that he is paid by the LDS Church to be a Mormon apologist?

When I started posting here, I suggested as much and caught no end of flack from people denying that DCP is, in effect, paid to be a Mormon apologist.

And here's DCP himself conceding the point.

If he's so damned smart and the expert he claims himself to be, why has it been so damned difficult for this guy to produce a single, peer-reviewed "scholarly" publication (and this doesn't include FARMS publications)? I don't get it?
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Post by harmony »

My feelings about Daniel change on a daily basis. One day, I'm laughing, the next I find him less than admirable. One thing stays the same though: as the chief apologist for my church, he has an obligation to represent the church well whenever he acts as an apologist, which means at least all the time he is online on LDS bulletin boards. He fails in this miserably. He has little understanding of his obligation to represent well. His life should be exemplary. I should be able to point to him as a good example of what it means to be LDS. I can't. And for that I'm disappointed on a daily basis.

I think he's probably a good man. I think he's only an average Latter-day Saint, if that.

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Post by The Nehor »

guy sajer wrote:So in essence, he concedes the point (or he isn't denying it) that he is paid by the LDS Church to be a Mormon apologist?

When I started posting here, I suggested as much and caught no end of flack from people denying that DCP is, in effect, paid to be a Mormon apologist.

And here's DCP himself conceding the point.

If he's so damned smart and the expert he claims himself to be, why has it been so damned difficult for this guy to produce a single, peer-reviewed "scholarly" publication (and this doesn't include FARMS publications)? I don't get it?


Not really, he concedes the point that tithe money pays him to be a professor, not to be an apologist.
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Post by The Nehor »

harmony wrote:My feelings about Daniel change on a daily basis. One day, I'm laughing, the next I find him less than admirable. One thing stays the same though: as the chief apologist for my church, he has an obligation to represent the church well whenever he acts as an apologist, which means at least all the time he is online on LDS bulletin boards. He fails in this miserably. He has little understanding of his obligation to represent well. His life should be exemplary. I should be able to point to him as a good example of what it means to be LDS. I can't. And for that I'm disappointed on a daily basis.

I think he's probably a good man. I think he's only an average Latter-day Saint, if that.


I disagree with the rationale. All Saints should represent well at all times, public and private. I don't think DCP is under a higher obligation than a shut-in LDS member.
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Post by harmony »

The Nehor wrote:I disagree with the rationale. All Saints should represent well at all times, public and private. I don't think DCP is under a higher obligation than a shut-in LDS member.


He is the chief apologist of the church. The least he could do is live his religion.

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Post by guy sajer »

The Nehor wrote:Not really, he concedes the point that tithe money pays him to be a professor, not to be an apologist.


You may well be correct. There's different ways, I suppose, to interpret this, but as I see it, he doesn't deny the charge. His response is more like "well, duh," than "no I'm not, I'm merely a professor."

In any case, it doesn't matter all that much. I'm not interested in DCP except to the extent as to why someone so apparently full of himself cannot even manage one puny peer-revieKwed pub in over 20 years.
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Post by moksha »

guy sajer wrote:You may well be correct. There's different ways, I suppose, to interpret this, but as I see it, he doesn't deny the charge. His response is more like "well, duh," than "no I'm not, I'm merely a professor."

In any case, it doesn't matter all that much. I'm not interested in DCP except to the extent as to why someone so apparently full of himself cannot even manage one puny peer-reviewed pub in over 20 years.


Obviously his apologetic function has been encouraged rather than discouraged. His superiors have not told him to knock off the apologetics and stick to Arabic. Given that these apologetics occupy a great deal of time and effort, wouldn't it be unreasonable to expect the same publishing efforts that you are talking about? Couldn't those Middle East book translations as well as other publications suffice?
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Re: Why react so strongly to Dr. Daniel C. Peterson?

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moksha wrote:I have to wonder why people react so strongly to Dr. Daniel C. Peterson. From the posts of his that I have read, he seems to be a likable fellow. I admit that I don't know the history some people have had with him, but without understanding their motives, such a strong reaction seems quizzical.

I suspect that he has been a lightening rod for giving out and receiving criticism simply by virtue of his position as chief apologist for the LDS Church, but why so frequent of lightening strikes?


Hi, Moksha. We have been over this before (or at least *I* have), but the reasons why he is such a "lightning rod" are quite easy to explain.
1. He is the Big Cheese of Mopologetics, and is thus a figurehead.
2. Unlike his predecessor, Hugh Nibley, Prof. P. is happy to interact with the "unwashed masses", so to speak.
3. He believes that he is engaged in an all-out war for moral superiority, which raises the stakes considerably.
4. As others on this thread have pointed out, he sometimes has an arrogant, condescending streak. In fact, I have received at least one report indicating that this condescension contributed to an apostasy.
5. He is charismatic, and just genuinely attracts a lot of attention.
6. He has drawn ire for his articles on ex-Mormonism. I.e., he attacks the critics, so the critics attack him back.

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Post by Bond...James Bond »

He's the face of Mormon Apologetics. I have a theory that he gains all of his magical powers by feeding on the energy of people writing about him....I'm hoping someday he'll go like Freddy Kreuger and disappear because we all forgot about him (thus rendering him powerless).

I seriously need to put my signature back to: "Everytime you mention DCP God kills a puppy".
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Post by The Nehor »

harmony wrote:
The Nehor wrote:I disagree with the rationale. All Saints should represent well at all times, public and private. I don't think DCP is under a higher obligation than a shut-in LDS member.


He is the chief apologist of the church. The least he could do is live his religion.


I don't and haven't met an LDS who does.....or a Christian who does for that matter.
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Post by harmony »

The Nehor wrote:I don't and haven't met an LDS who does.....or a Christian who does for that matter.


*sigh* Nehor, just from your exchanges on this board, anyone can tell you live your religion. You are kind, even when no one is watching, even to the least among us. The same cannot be said of our chief apologist. He goes out of his way to be unkind, to be condescending, to flaunt his arrogance. I may not agree with you, but you have my respect. I may not agree with Daniel, and he gave up any respect I might have for him when he made fun of people just because they don't agree with him.

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Re: Why react so strongly to Dr. Daniel C. Peterson?

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Mister Scratch wrote: 3. He believes that he is engaged in an all-out war for moral superiority, which raises the stakes considerably.


You had previously mentioned "High Stakes". Is this the battle for the souls of humanity we are talking about?

5. He is charismatic, and just genuinely attracts a lot of attention.


Ah, the efficacy of donuts! You are probably right about the charismatic part. He has quite a following at MAD, is influential in the Church and gets to travel all around the world talking to knowledgeable people. That would seem to be a very positive quality in his favor.
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Post by The Nehor »

harmony wrote:*sigh* Nehor, just from your exchanges on this board, anyone can tell you live your religion. You are kind, even when no one is watching, even to the least among us. The same cannot be said of our chief apologist. He goes out of his way to be unkind, to be condescending, to flaunt his arrogance. I may not agree with you, but you have my respect. I may not agree with Daniel, and he gave up any respect I might have for him when he made fun of people just because they don't agree with him.


I think it's a jump to judge how I live my religion from exchanges here. For all you know I'm howling obscenities while I type..... ;) (by the way, I'm not)

I have problems. Are they worse than Dr. Peterson's? I have no idea. Never met him. Just glad Christ is around for all our sakes.
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Post by Dr. Shades »

guy sajer wrote:You may well be correct. There's different ways, I suppose, to interpret this, but as I see it, he doesn't deny the charge. His response is more like "well, duh," than "no I'm not, I'm merely a professor."


I interpret it differently. He has gone on record many, many times, ad nauseum, to explain that he's only paid for his faculty duties at BYU as a professor of Arabic. With that, he always explains that any apologetic stuff he does is in his spare time and for free. . . "freelance," if you will.

As to his interaction with Infymus, I think it's more than clear that DCP was only playing around. He probably got tired of explaining the same thing over and over and decided to interject a little variety.
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Post by DonBradley »

Dan Peterson is a curious person.

From my experience with him in person and online I don't think he writes out of anger, hostility, or malice toward anyone--even those he most ridicules. He's quite sincere in his beliefs, and his personal construction of theism and of Mormonism in particular has an internal logic to it that he finds utterly compelling both rationally and morally. When I recently asked on MAD why he engages in such personal and agonistic discussion, he basically just said it was fun. I think he basically sees debate, whether online, in person, or in print, as a game. He enjoys rhetorically one-upping his critics and the critics of his faith, and sees this as both good clean fun and a way to defend his community and principles.

I think the biggest mistake one can make with DCP is to take his debating mode too seriously. To repeat: It's a game. While he certainly can engage in scholarly discourse, without the snide humor, 95% of what he writes online and much of what he writes in his introductions to the FARMS Review appears to be rhetorical play. I would suggest either ignoring him altogether or engaging him on his own ground and taking, and giving, one's lashes with good humor.

Don

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Post by Runtu »

DonBradley wrote:Dan Peterson is a curious person.

From my experience with him in person and online I don't think he writes out of anger, hostility, or malice toward anyone--even those he most ridicules. He's quite sincere in his beliefs, and his personal construction of theism and of Mormonism in particular has an internal logic to it that he finds utterly compelling both rationally and morally. When I recently asked on MAD why he engages in such personal and agonistic discussion, he basically just said it was fun. I think he basically sees debate, whether online, in person, or in print, as a game. He enjoys rhetorically one-upping his critics and the critics of his faith, and sees this as both good clean fun and a way to defend his community and principles.

I think the biggest mistake one can make with DCP is to take his debating mode too seriously. To repeat: It's a game. While he certainly can engage in scholarly discourse, without the snide humor, 95% of what he writes online and much of what he writes in his introductions to the FARMS Review appears to be rhetorical play. I would suggest either ignoring him altogether or engaging him on his own ground and taking, and giving, one's lashes with good humor.

Don


I don't take him seriously anymore for the reasons you mention. I'm beginning to take Mormonism in general less seriously, as well.
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Post by harmony »

DonBradley wrote:...95% of what he writes online and much of what he writes in his introductions to the FARMS Review appears to be rhetorical play. I would suggest either ignoring him altogether or engaging him on his own ground and taking, and giving, one's lashes with good humor.

Don


I repeat: be ye therefore kind to one another. Be thou humble. Love thy neighbor.

Living the gospel isn't difficult. It just requires a few basics of human interaction: kindness to others, loving your neighbor, humility. Daniel, and his humor, fails on all of those.

He loses the opportunity to live as if life is huge joke once he takes on the role of chief apologist for the LDS church. If he wants to lay that aside, then he can do whatever he wants. But if he's representing the church, or putting himself out to the public as representing the church, then he doesn't get to be unscathed when his humor is out of line with his position.

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