The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Friday, July 31, 2020

Note on Producing Ancient Scripture

If you wondered why it is so difficult to reach consensus on basic issues such as whether Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, here's a fascinating example.

On another blog I've been discussing the book Producing Ancient Scripture.

Readers have been debating  the book at the FairMormon blog, here:

The participants are among the most prominent scholars in the Church today, all awesome people, smart, informed, etc.

You can see the range of opinions about the translation, the direction of the Maxwell Institute and other members of the M2C citation cartel, and even the Book of Abraham.

Notice the apparently unanimous agreement that Joseph "translated" with the "seer stone in the hat."

If you follow these issues, you know that people in the debate are essentially defending and promoting ideas they've been advocating for years. They are deeply invested in their ideas; hence the display of bias confirmation.

One lesson I take away from this: people will believe whatever they want (they develop a bias) and then find evidence to confirm their bias while ignoring, disputing, or not even seeing contrary evidence.

The exchange of ideas and facts is productive, even essential. We can only think and do things that we first imagine or conceptualize. After you read an exchange such as this, you are somewhat freer to make informed decisions for yourself.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Learn, unlearn, relearn

All the way back in 1970, Alvin Toffler provided an insight that is even more relevant today:

"By instructing students how to learn, unlearn and relearn, a powerful new dimension can be added to education…Tomorrow's illiterate will not be the man who can't read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn."

now usually quoted as ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn’
Future Shock (1970)

Technically, there are problems with this statement. For example, those who cannot read in the 21st century are still illiterate. But Toffler's claim suggests that a person with obsolete knowledge has just as much a disadvantage as a person who cannot read. Maybe more so.

The learn, unlearn, relearn paradigm explains not only how we improve by adapting to rapidly changing knowledge and understanding, but also how we improve by converting to different ways of thinking and believing.

The paradigm can be applied in two ways. People learn (school, from parents, peers, school, etc.) When new knowledge comes along, if they are flexible and open, they unlearn what they had learned and relearn the new knowledge.

Everyone in the world has learned, from a young age, a framework for understanding the world. They learn language, customs, culture, and values, often (but not always) within a particular religious context.

As we mature, we learn new things that force us into a choice: we can incorporate new things into our existing framework, or we can unlearn that framework to adapt to the new things.

A couple of scriptures help apply these ideas:

54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
(Doctrine and Covenants 84:54)

1 Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.
2 And you also lost your gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened.
3 Nevertheless, it is now restored unto you again; therefore see that you are faithful and continue on unto the finishing of the remainder of the work of translation as you have begun.
(Doctrine and Covenants 10:1–3)

the end

Thursday, July 16, 2020

discovering the simulation

One way to achieve some degree of consensus is seeing more of the same movie on the screen. Here's an idea:

The closer a civilization gets to being able to program a simulated universe, the closer it gets to discovering it is one.