You’re not a Liahona – You’re a Laman/Lemuel

September 8, 2013    By: Jeff G @ 5:46 pm   Category: Bloggernacle,Personal Revelation,Scriptures,Truth

I assume that most people in the bloggernacle are aware of the Liahona/Iron Rod distinction wherein those who surrender personal responsibility by following the prophet (like the Iron Rod) are contrasted with those who accept a more robust kind of responsibility by following their own spiritual promptings (like a Liahona).  This metaphorical distinction, I submit, is nothing but the philosophies of men mingled with scripture – a clever sophistry which serves to undermine the prophets by democratizing priesthood authority.

My beef is not with the Iron Rod metaphor whose meaning is not currently in dispute – we are supposed to follow the word of God as given to us by His uniquely authorized representatives.  What I do want to dispute is the idea that this is in anyway different from the metaphorical meaning behind the Liahona.  Remember, the Lord did not give each person in Lehi’s family a Liahona of their own.  Rather, a uniquely authorized few were to consult the Liahona regarding the entire group’s plan of action while the rest of the group were to follow the directions of that uniquely authorized few.

The only metaphors in Lehi’s family which do suggest the democratization of authority and leadership were Laman and Lemuel.  They thought that their own reason, experience and preferences were just as legitimate as Nephi’s consultations with the Liahona.  The thing is, if you look at things from their perspective, their case sounds rather familiar. Nephi’s directions were neither consistent nor infallible in that the group was forced to backtrack on a number of points.  Nephi openly and humbly admitted that he wasn’t sure about a number of his decisions, decisions which often causeed a significant degree of hardship and suffering.  Unsurprisingly, Nephi was occasionally outnumbered (outvoted?) and it seemed arbitrary (unfair?) that his views should outweigh those of so many others.  Accordingly, it sometimes seemed necessary for Laman and Lemuel to take matters into their own hands and undermine Nephi’s leadership.

This, I submit, is a strikingly accurate depiction of the self-identified Liahonas within the bloggernacle.  Like Laman and Lemuel, these people never tire of pointing out the inconsistencies in church policy across various contexts, reminding us of the admitted fallibility of church leaders, the equality if not superiority of their own qualifications when it comes to many topics, the hardships which church leadership has inflicted upon themselves and others, the tension between current church teachings and public opinion, etc.  Furthermore, just as Laman and Lemuel were able to compromise the performance of the Liahona, sometimes leading both Nephi and the entire group astray, so too these people have occasionally compromised the direction of the church, leading it down worldly paths which the Lord never intended for it.

In summary: If you are not a duly authorized priesthood leader, you are not really a Liahona – but you still might be an Iron Rod.  If, however, you use reason, experience and preference to critique, evaluate or judge the prophets, you are not really a Liahona or an Iron Rod – you’re a Laman/Lemuel.  If you think that the fallibility or inconsistency of church leaders somehow authorizes you to “correct” them, you are not really a Liahona or an Iron Rod – you’re a Laman/Lemuel.  If you think that a general consensus in public opinion trumps the uniquely authorized church leaders, you are not really a Liahona or an Iron Rod – you are a Laman/Lemuel.  If you think that the hardships suffered by those within the church authorize you to speak against the church leaders, you are not really a Liahona or an Iron Rod – you’re a Laman/Lemuel.  I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

157 Comments »

  1. I think you would have gotten along very well with Harold B. Lee. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/06/the-iron-rod?lang=eng

    Of course, the iron rod is defined as the “word of God.” That is what we are to grab hold of. One meaning of “word of God” is that which is spoken by God. To my knowledge, the church has never taught that we are to accept all that is spoken by leaders as the word of God. What is spoken by leaders may be well reasoned, but that does not make it God’s word nor doctrine. As J. Reuben Clark wrote, the way to know if that spoken by a leaders is inspired by the Holy Ghost is if the Holy Ghost moves us to accept it as such.

    Another definition of the “word of God” is Jesus Christ, our Savior. See John 1:1. That is, holding the iron rod means to follow and rely upon Jesus Christ.

    I don’t think it means submitting our will to the leaders’, it means submitting our will to God’s, which may or may not included accepting without question (or after questioning) what authorized leaders have stated or ordered us to do.

    Comment by DavidH — September 8, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

  2. Love it, wish the whole bloggernacle world would take this to heart.

    Comment by SteveF — September 8, 2013 @ 7:18 pm

  3. “so too these people have occasionally compromised the direction of the church, leading it down worldly paths which the Lord never intended for it.”

    That’s a pretty sweeping accusation. Care to back it up?

    Comment by Casey — September 8, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

  4. DavidH,

    Were Laman or Lemuel supposed to accept all that Nephi spoke? Were they supposed to submit their wills to Nephi?

    Here are your options:

    1) If you disagree because of personal revelation, fine, keep it personal and don’t speak it.
    2) If you have revelation and the authority to speak it, I’m defending you here.
    3) If you disagree, but not because of revelation of any kind, get over yourself. You aren’t even pretending to know what God wants.

    Casey,

    Is it sweeping? If anything, the claim that they have NEVER done so seems far more sweeping. Either way, church history is full of such examples. The law of Moses and the law of consecration are the most obvious examples.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 8, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

  5. Wait, who exactly is “they”? I thought we were talking about contemporary, generally liberal/heterodox bloggernacle denizens. Are you arguing that ALL people throughout history who have for any reason disagreed with the men you deem solely authorized to speak for the Lord are essentially the same in character and motivation? That’s an even stronger (and stranger) claim than I thought you were making before!

    Comment by Casey — September 8, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

  6. You actually raise a good point. This post is primarily about all those attempt to democratize church leadership. Obviously this extends well beyond those people in the bloggernacle, but the bloggernacle serves as a great example precisely because so many people think that democratizing authority is a good thing. (I’m not saying it’s always bad either.) Hence the way in which they call themselves “Liahonas” with such pride.

    Getting back to your request for examples, they are quite easy to find in scripture as well as church history. It is, however, a little more difficult to find a contemporary example, if only because the process of revelation is so much less transparent than is used to be. (Again, there is no reason why is ought to be transparent to faithful members.) Of course, I have my hunches (and I bet you do too), but discussion of these particular cases is not what I want to get into. Such a discussion would almost certainly make a Laman/Lemuel out of me.

    Suffice to say that I think quite a bit of revelation has come in the same way that Joseph got permission to give away the 116 pages. God tells us to go ahead with a crappy decision precisely because we insist on that crappy decision and refuse to listen when He tells us how crappy it actually is.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 8, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

  7. As we will learn in Early-Morning Seminary in about an hour, the major difference between Laman and Lemual and Nephi is that Nephi prayed. Nephi said that after he prayed, his heart was softened, So what was the condition of this heart before that? In this case the answer id B
    Seminary answers
    A. Fast
    B. Pray
    C Read the scriptures.

    Comment by wonderdog — September 9, 2013 @ 2:23 am

  8. I like the general sense of your reflections on the lack of reflection on the problematics of democratizing leadership and decision-making. But do you really think God is in the business of telling people to go ahead with their crappy decisions? That simply by being stubborn we can get God to tell us to do evil?

    Comment by Dave — September 9, 2013 @ 5:10 am

  9. I have a testimony that your supposition is wrong, apparently you don’t enjoy much personal guidance from the Spirit. How do you rationalize; if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law?

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 6:23 am

  10. Clearly the church has drifted in the past I offer four illogical and inconstant statements as evidence: Blacks cannot hold the priesthood. Blacks can hold the priesthood. The prophet cannot lead us astray. We do not know how the ban on blacks came about.

    In this case the course correction came from outside the church in the form of secular enlightenment agitated via. the civil rights movement. Setting your authorized agent circular argument aside (with the exception of Joseph LDS prophets weren’t even called prophets until 1955) how do you know God isn’t correcting the church again?

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 6:47 am

  11. BTW, isn’t this post your philosophy mingled with scripture?

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 6:54 am

  12. Here are just a few examples of Church leaders referring to Joseph’s immediate successors as the Prophet:

    “When the design, the rule and the order of the Church are announced by the Prophet of God, know all Israel that God hath said it; and we know He hath spoken.” (Francis M. Lyman, Conference Report, October 1897.)

    “The Lord, through His servant, the Prophet Wilford Woodruff, told you Latter-day Saints, at the time that great Temple was being dedicated, that the bitterness would be taken out of the hearts of our enemies, and their hearts would be softened towards us.

    “The Elders who were laboring in the South at the time of the dedication, and there were 160 of them, testify that a very marked and radical change has taken place in their experience, for the words of the Prophet are being fulfilled.” (Jonathan G. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1898.)

    “The Prophet Brigham was in Boston, with Apostle Woodruff…. How was it, when the Prophet Brigham came back to Nauvoo, that he realized that the powers of the Priesthood and the keys thereof had come down upon him?” (F. D. Richards, Conference Report, October 1898.)

    “I say here today that I know the mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon the Prophet Brigham Young…. The Church of God under the leadership of God, using the Prophet Brigham Young as an instrument in His hands, has grown and increased and spread abroad in the land, and has filled these mountains.” (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1898.)

    Comment by R. Gary — September 9, 2013 @ 7:05 am

  13. We cannot communicate reliably through the direct, personal line if we are disobedient to or out of harmony with the priesthood line.

    Comment by R. Gary — September 9, 2013 @ 7:16 am

  14. R. Gary, the presidents of the church were not typically referred to as prophet until 1955.

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 7:18 am

  15. Jeff, I guess I have to disagree that so many past problems were the result of people trying to democratize church leadership–in fact, I’d argue that individuals like Alma the Younger, Paul, and even Jesus were arch-democratizers compared to the priestly orders they opposed. So although I’d honestly never thought about it exactly that way, I’m happy to claim the term for myself! Likewise I’m okay with applying reason and what I believe to be personal revelation to critique prophets, because I believe that’s why God gave those gifts to us. Of course there’s the ever-present danger of trusting in the arm of the flesh, but I’d say that warning also applies to relying too heavily on the word of others, even authorized servants. It’s a dilemma all believers face.

    FWIW, though, I don’t really like the Liahona/Iron Rod dichotomy either: while it can be a useful model, folks who label themselves “Liahonas” often seem to do so in self-serving and even prideful ways, which can be genuinely hypocritical.

    Comment by Casey — September 9, 2013 @ 8:33 am

  16. The reference to Galatians 5 is interesting. Paul is writing to Church members who presumably have received the Spirit. They, in turn, decided that they wanted to re-subject themselves to Mosaic law. It stands to reason that they thought the Holy Spirit was leading them to this conclusion. So, under the logic presented by some commenters here, what business did Paul–or any other apostle–have in demanding that they change their ways?

    Incidentally, Conference Reports back to 1942 are available online, and back to 1898 via GospeLink. Do a text search on “prophet” and, in addition to numerous references to Joseph Smith, you find statements like these:

    “God designed to guide this Church by the voice of revelation. When I see any lack of confidence on e part of our people in the wisdom of the Prophet of God and his associates, I am impressed wi the fact that we are lacking in that faith which belongs to the work of God.” –Matthias F. Cowley, April 1900 Conference.

    From the same conference:

    “I desire to bear my testimony to you, my collaborators, that God has inspired His Prophet in this day with regard to the law of tithing . . .” –William H. Smart, April 1900 Conference

    “It is a testimony and a confirmation of the remarks of our Prophet yesterday, . . .” Heber J. Grant, April 1902 Conference

    “. . . as you heard by the mouth of the Prophet of God this morning . . .” –Joseph E. Robinson, April 1904 Conference

    [Referring to Brigham Young]. . . the events which have transpired sine that vision to the prophet of The Lord . . . “. –Seymour B. Young, April 1907 Conference

    “On that hot July morning in 1847 when the Prophet Brigham Young . . .” –David O. McKay, April 1910 Conference

    The above is just a random sampling. Seriously–do your own search, and you’ll see.

    Incidentally: the facile logic presented above regarding the priesthood ban omits the record of President McKay expressly requesting permission to rescind the ban–and receiving a clear “no” In response. “We don’t know” does not mean “orthodox Mormons shut up while heterodox Mormons promulgate their conclusions as Gospel”. It means “we don’t know.”

    Comment by JimD — September 9, 2013 @ 8:40 am

  17. For the most part, pretty good comments.

    Dave,

    I’m just reporting what the scriptures say. The law of Moses, the 166 pages, the law of consecration. These were all less than ideal decision which the Lord reluctantly allowed.

    Howard,

    Nowhere do I deny personal revelation. But like we are always told in church, keep personal revelation personal. If you have a problem with the chain of command, then deal with it through the chain of command, not on a public forum.

    Gary,

    I always thought that “The Prophet” referred to Joseph in the same way that “The City” typically refers to New York or San Francisco, depending on where you are from. It’s just what some people happen to call one among many prophets or cities.

    Casey,

    Those men were big proponents of personal revelation, which has nothing to do with democratizing church leadership.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 9, 2013 @ 9:11 am

  18. JimD, the title prophet for the president of the church came into common usage in 1955 as gauged by Deseret News usage in headlines.

    Please clearly explain how President McKay’s experience affects the logic.

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 9:17 am

  19. Jeff G, I understand you firmly believe in the chain of command but that doesn’t deal with my comment it simply repeats your circular logic.

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 9:21 am

  20. Jeff G, I believe you are correct that “The Prophet” (upper case T) refers to “The Prophet Joseph.” I thought we were talking about “the Prophet” (lower case t).

    Comment by R. Gary — September 9, 2013 @ 9:44 am

  21. 1) Your counterexamples were all accounted for in the original post.
    2) I don’t care what my reasoning was, since it’s all based in the scriptures… unlike that of the democratizers.
    3) My “reasoning” is far less self-serving than that of the democratizers.
    4) The reasoning of the democratizer is just as circular, something which is far more problematic for their position than it is for mine.
    5) I was being nice by not acknowledging your attempts at telling me what I have and have not experienced spiritually.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 9, 2013 @ 9:44 am

  22. Howard,

    Just because God may use outside pressures to get his Prophets to ask questions (or for His purposes in general), does it make it morally justified for an individual to be a part of pressures in opposition to the Church leaders?

    For example, Christ’s death for the redemption of mankind came about because of the wickedness of the Jews pressuring and asking for Christ to be put to death. God used these pressures of man to bring about something good–the redemption of mankind. Does that mean those Jews were morally justified in having Christ put to death? If you were a Jew, or a follower of Christ, should you have sought for Christ’s death because these pressures would lead to the greater good of the Church and mankind?

    Comment by SteveF — September 9, 2013 @ 9:44 am

  23. Gary,

    All that ridiculous fussiness about “the prophet” was Howard, not me. I was agreeing with you.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 9, 2013 @ 9:45 am

  24. On “the prophet” conversation – if Church Presidents were acknowledged as prophets (which it is clear they were re R. Gary’s and JimD’s provided quotes), whether they were called that often or not seems irrelevant to the conversation.

    Comment by SteveF — September 9, 2013 @ 9:59 am

  25. Jeff G, regarding 4) if one side’s circular logic justifies it’s use by the other side, what can we possibly hope to accomplish here?

    SteveF, that’s a pretty extreme example far beyond what is being discussed here, but I would say that if the Spirit is influencing this outside the “priesthood line” of lobbing, it is without a doubt morally justified – see the death of Laban.

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 9:59 am

  26. Howard,

    That’s easy, recognize the limitations of reasoning, and listen to the prophets…. Which is exactly what my post is about.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 9, 2013 @ 10:08 am

  27. SteveF, the church asked Duane Hiatt to write the song Follow the Prophet in 1987. It became common to refer to the president in 1955. The comcept that people follow a prophet has been around since ancient times, so has the concept that people follow the Spirit but the subtly implied idea that following the prophet somehow overshadows following the Spirit or that the Spirit’s guidance will never contradict or conflict with the words of LDS prophets (even though they contradict themselves) is modern.

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 10:16 am

  28. Thanks for clearing that up Jeff G!

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 10:21 am

  29. @Howard. You act as if it is possible for the Spirit to influence others to publicly oppose the Lord’s approved prophet, as if God at times works against His own established Priesthood order rather than working within it. Sorry, but a house divided against itself cannot stand.

    I picked an extreme example to make the point obvious: the end does not morally justify the means.

    Let evil work against God’s established order, and let the righteous uphold it, and God will use these pressures for His purposes as He sees fit. And regardless of the ends, evil will still be accountable for evil, and good for good.

    Comment by SteveF — September 9, 2013 @ 10:22 am

  30. SteveF, clearly the church was adrift for sometime on the issue of blacks and the priesthood. The message that blacks were NOT the things LDS prophets had been saying they were was carried by the secular world to the feet of LDS prophets because blinded by their biases and a belief that all was well in Zion they failed to trim their lamps and inquire of the Lord! This type of oversight can never be repeated?

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 10:36 am

  31. “the Spirit’s guidance will never contradict or conflict with the words of LDS prophets (even though they contradict themselves) is modern.”

    The Spirit may give a person personal revelation on a principle that has not been revealed to the church as a whole. This of course is personal (Alma 12:9) and ought never to be used to command those at your head (D&C 28:6). As mentioned previously, a person may confide with the Prophet their concerns, a person may ask genuine questions, and the Spirit may even inspire someone to work within this established Priesthood Order in this way to aid in change and progression, but the Spirit will never prompt a person to oppose or work in opposition to the Lord’s approved Church and Priesthood Order (so long as the Church has not fallen into apostasy and therefore has not had its authorized heavenly keys revoked necessitating a new dispensation to come about, but I know this extreme example does not apply to the Church today).

    As for the priesthood/temple ban, and any other potential imperfections in doctrine/practice past and present (that I fully expect to exist until we progress to the full redemption of Zion), I think the frameworks I have suggested fully apply in each situation. And if you (speaking in general) willingly fight against God’s established order rather than working within what He has given us, regardless of the ends you will still be held accountable for this opposition.

    Comment by SteveF — September 9, 2013 @ 10:52 am

  32. Howard, first you say LDS presidents weren’t even called prophets until 1955, and then when proven wrong the best you can come back with is “well, that’s what the Deseret News did, anyways”? Since when does the Deseret News define reality?

    McKay’s experience is important because it shows a Church leader who *did* “trim his lamp and inquire of the Lord”. Read Edward Kimball’s article on “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood”. McKay wanted the policy gone. He pled with the Lord for a revelation overturning it, and when it didn’t come McKay nevertheless did everything he felt authorized to do, to limit the practice. So much for your notion of LDS leadership being “blinded by their biases and a belief that all was well in Zion”.

    If the Church was truly adrift during the period when the priesthood ban was in place, it was because of a problem with the membership–not the leadership.

    Comment by JimD — September 9, 2013 @ 11:15 am

  33. Howard,

    Do you not see the irony? I produce an argument against the sufficiency of reason and you produce an argument for it. You then claim that reason isn’t sufficient to decide between the two arguments, to which I agree wholeheartedly. Am I wrong to think that your position seems far more circular than mine, even when mine isn’t all that opposed to circularity?

    Comment by Jeff G — September 9, 2013 @ 11:53 am

  34. JimD, I made the first post from memory and without detail from my android on the run offered as a general statement. When does anything define reality? Looking at headlines is one way to get a look at what’s going on. I remember reading about how the CIA tracked column inches to track trends behind the iron curtain. How would you do it?

    I’m aware of McKay’s role but there were more than a hundred years for lamp trimming between Joseph and McKay and btw President Kimball admitted that he had to wrestle with his own bias to end the ban.

    Yes Jeff G. you are wrong to think that. Why don’t you try dealing with my argument? Something like the ban on blacks can never happen again and cannot be happening now? Why not?

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

  35. I have no clue what your argument even is here. What does the priesthood ban have to do with the democratization of authority to leader the church?

    Comment by Jeff G — September 9, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

  36. Well we reached a point in history where the world could see that blacks are not what LDS prophets once said they were even though many LDS members and leaders still could or would not, is it impossible for todays leaders to be wrong in a similar wat about women and gays?

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

  37. Jeff G.,

    Thanks for another great post. I appreciate your insight.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — September 9, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

  38. Howard,

    That is exactly what Laman and Lemuel said about Nephi. Well put.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 9, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

  39. Thanks for an enlightening discussion Jeff. Reminds me of a snake eating it’s tail!

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

  40. Howard, you desperately seem to want to get bogged down in minutiae; but the bottom line is: you wanted us to think that the Church wasn’t regarding its presidents as prophets until the mid-20th century; and the assertion has been demonstrated to be incorrect.

    If you want to convince me that the Church’s modern leaders are wrong about women or gays (not about explanations for policies–I already disagree with some of them–but for the policies themselves), first you’ve got to convince me that they were wrong about the priesthood ban (again, not about explanations for the policy, but about the policy itself). You’ve not yet done that. Your underlying assumption about the priesthood ban seems to be that for over a century the Lord was trying to tell the Church leadership to “stop it, stop it, stop it!”; but that the leadership was just too bigoted or too power-hungry or too insensitive to hear it. McKay’s experience indicates that as of the mid-1950s the Church leadership was more than willing to be guided by the Lord and to change the policy, if He wanted it changed–but that God Himself, for whatever reason, demurred.

    Comment by JimD — September 9, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

  41. JimD wrote: Your underlying assumption about the priesthood ban seems to be that for over a century the Lord was trying to tell the Church leadership to “stop it, stop it, stop it!” No this is not correct!

    President Kimball said in a letter to his son; “Revelations will probably never come unless they are desired. I think few people receive revelations while lounging on a couch. . . . I believe most revelations would come when a man is on his tip toes, reaching as high as he can for something which he knows he needs, and then there bursts upon him the answer to his problems”

    So I believe they have to ask for it and work to get it and who is going to spend months on their knees seeking an answer they don’t agree with?

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

  42. JimD, I was pointing out that from the 50s on the theme Follow the Prophet grew greatly strength. Contrast this with Brigham Young’s teaching “the greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord.”

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

  43. For the record, this post was not about “follow the prophet” per se. By all means, let us all pray about it and get the witness in our own hearts, but never for a second think that this somehow gives you any kind of authority whatsoever to lead the church. Whatever you want to do in your private life, the church is not a democracy. What we unauthorized, non-church leaders think and want for the church means absolutely nothing.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 9, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

  44. I have spent hours, days, months on my knees, seeking an answer that was ultimately not something I agreed with. If someone has not, and believes themselves in alignment with God’s will, I submit they are sadly delusional.

    Prayer is the process by which we bring our will in alignment with God’s, not vice versa.

    Excellent post, Jeff G. I am always confused by people who claim that the leaders of the Church are “doing it wrong,” and try to seize the wheel, yet fail to go elsewhere to those who are doing it right.

    For me, it doesn’t matter one whit whether a policy of the Church is “wrong” or the prophets “misguided.” I answer for my own stewardship, no more and no less. I don’t have energy or time to bother myself overmuch about the stewardships of others. I will work within my sphere, and use the guidance of the Spirit to decide what I shall do, not to decide what others should do. Especially not those humble, poor, overworked men who have been called as special witnesses of my Savior.

    Comment by SilverRain — September 9, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

  45. Jeff G,

    I admire this post, and your patience with the duck.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — September 9, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

  46. I have spent hours, days, months on my knees, seeking an answer that was ultimately not something I agreed with. If someone has not, and believes themselves in alignment with God’s will, I submit they are sadly delusional.

    Well if this statement is true I guess it’s safe to say each of the church presidents between Joseph and McKay were busy doing their due diligence not only on the black question but all questions least they risk becoming out of alignment or sadly delusional

    Comment by Howard — September 9, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

  47. Thanks for saying what needs to be said.

    One problem with the Liahona-Iron Rod metaphor besides the gallons of self-regard is that it makes salvation very much an individual matter where the Church is just a flawed instrument that we graduate from as we move to higher levels of being. Whereas the truth is that our salvation consists of coming along together, families, friends, wards, and stakes.

    Comment by Adam G. — September 9, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

  48. Howard, as usual, your response makes no sense.

    Comment by SilverRain — September 9, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

  49. @AdamG (47)

    I don’t see that as a problem — I see that as the benefit!

    Comment by I-rod — September 9, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

  50. What I seem to be reading, over and over again, is variations on the theme of “Priesthood leaders must always be (publicly) followed because priesthood leaders have always taught that they must be (publicly) followed!” Unfortunately even the best of priesthood leaders are ultimately just men (unfortunately ONLY men, but that’s for another day…) One can obtain a spiritual witness that priesthood leaders must always be followed–but any witness to the contrary is by definition invalid, because priesthood leaders have said so. Personal revelation thus isn’t really revelation, but a tool for confirming the philosophies of men (mingled with..well, you know the rest). It’s a wonderful ideology of control if you buy into it, but I don’t accept that it’s necessary. If the prophets and apostles show good fruits, they will inspire followers of Christ to want to follow them. If they do not, Amen to their priesthood. Incidentally, I find that although I disagree with a few things, church leaders do show good fruits, which is why I’m a member of the church! But anyway, I guess there’s no convincing anyone at this point. I’m glad the church is big enough for all of us, even if our religions differ slightly.

    Comment by Casey — September 9, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

  51. Well then I don’t know what you’ve been reading since I’ve said the exact opposite of that over and over again.

    I find it interesting that not one person has framed their objections to this post in terms of the Laman and Lemuel story. I explicitly said that Nephi wasn’t infallible and I openly acknowledged that he had to backtrack on a couple issues. I certainly never insinuated that Laman and Lemuel were supposed to agree or even follow him no matter what. If Laman and Lemuel honestly believed “amen to Nephi’s priesthood” or that his fruits were bad, they were plenty free to walk away. But the fact remains that none of these things, not a single one, authorized Laman or Lemuel to start giving the group directions.

    And that is the rub. Most of the Liahonas in the ‘nacle simply see no distinction between disagreeing and undermining/competing with the prophets. They believe in the virtue of “peer review”, a virtue which is very much condemned in the scriptures. It is not our place to “peer review” the prophets by way of reason, evidence or any other process which assumes that we are in some way on the same footing as them. All of these democratic processes are clearly the philosophies of men which certainly have their place outside of the church, but not within it.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 9, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

  52. “One can obtain a spiritual witness that priesthood leaders must always be followed–but any witness to the contrary is by definition invalid, because priesthood leaders have said so. Personal revelation thus isn’t really revelation, but a tool for confirming the philosophies of men.”

    Not so. The reason being is that the Church is technically liable to fall, and thus God could/would revoke his authority/keys from the Church in such a scenario. Therefore it is possible that you could receive a witness not to follow the final decisions of those in authority, meaning that an apostasy has occurred, and Christ has cut his marriage from the Church and revoked His keys of authority.

    The only impossibility/contradiction would be to receive the answer not to publicly sustain and follow the prophets, but that the Church still retains heavenly keys and thus is still God’s approved true and living Church. They can’t go together, it would break down the system of being able to collectively progress in unity (destroying the possibility of Zion and a heaven on earth), and it would break down the purpose of having a prophet guiding the church at all, since when it comes down to it, with everybody only following when they personally agree with the prophet they are not really following the prophet at all, just there own personal mind and preferences. And this leaves only individual salvation as a possibility, which Adam G. pointed out is not really the truth of salvation at all.

    So if you accept that the keys are still in the Church and that the LDS Church is still the true and living Church of Christ, then yes, you can’t get around the admonition and commandment to follow those holding the heavenly keys and be morally justified in publicly opposing and not sustaining church leaders. There might be questioning, and there might be appeals to higher authority (when not dealing directly with the prophet), but in the end after all is said and done final decisions must be sustained. That or heavenly keys have been revoked and the Church has fallen into apostasy, at which point you shouldn’t care what the leaders have to say anyway.

    Comment by SteveF — September 9, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

  53. “Excellent post, Jeff G. I am always confused by people who claim that the leaders of the Church are “doing it wrong,” and try to seize the wheel, yet fail to go elsewhere to those who are doing it right.”

    @SR, I always love your posts and comments. You made me think a lot when I read your one about making God in our own image. I think a lot about what does a God mean to me if He has nothing to teach me that I don’t agree with already. Relates to this for me at least.

    I too am puzzled by those in the Church who refuse to “bite the bullet” and join the CoC where many of their pet issues whether BoM historicity, emphasis on fallibility of prophets, priesthood restrictions, SSM, and all manner of other things seem right up their ally–John Hamer is the only one with the conviction to vote with his feet it appears.

    Comment by jpv — September 9, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

  54. I agree that the categories of “Liahona” and “Iron Rod” Mormons should be redefined so that they match the Book of Mormon. I propose the following classification:

    Class A Liahona Mormons–Individuals who follow revelation given through physical objects delivered by heavenly messengers. This would include the Lehi using the Liahona and Joseph using the Urim and Thummim.

    Class B Liahona Mormons–Individuals who follow revelation given through physical objects not delivered by heavenly messengers. This would include Joseph when using a seerstone dug from the earth, Oliver Cowdery when using of a “Rod of Aaron” cut from a tree, water witches who are Mormons, and Mormons who receive revelation based on what page their scriptures open to. Also included are LDS lecanomancers.

    Comment by Paul 2 — September 10, 2013 @ 4:29 am

  55. It would probably be helpful to read the original essay where this symbolism was deployed. It actually has very little to do with Jeff’s pet bugaboo about people who want to “democratize” authority in the church: http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V02N04_109.pdf

    Comment by Kristine — September 10, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

  56. The essay which Kristine links is a pretty fascinating one…. which has exactly nothing to do with the point of my post…. Just like she said.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 10, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

  57. Kristine is spot on: Jeff G creates a straw man and redefines the parameters established in the original essay that spawned the two classifications, Liahona and Iron Rod.

    The original essay had nothing to do with the “democratization” of the word of god, if such a thing exists in the church today. It dealt with how folks experience life within the church, and that neither group was better than the other, but had a tough time understanding each other and their good intentions.

    I have reread Jeff G’s post a few times, and I just don’t see the connection. You can start your own classifications if you want, but don’t try to redefine how 99% of us understand the two groups to make…well…I don’t actually understand what the point of the post is.

    Comment by Abe Froman — September 10, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  58. I’m a little confused–you argue with the terminology introduced by this essay, yet acknowledge that your usage has nothing to do with the definitions laid out in the essay? Why use the term “Liahona” at all, if you’re just going to change the definition to mean “people I disapprove of”?

    Comment by Kristine — September 10, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

  59. I wish there were a like button, Kristine…

    Comment by Abe Froman — September 10, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

  60. I didn’t mention the paper or its author. Why would you think I was talking about it at all?

    Comment by Jeff G — September 10, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

  61. Just to clarify, I have no interest in debating the merits of that paper. That is not what this post is about. What it is about is how the two terms have come to be used in the bloggernacle. More specifically, it’s about the Laman and Lemuels in the ‘nacle who use the Liahona metaphor so as to convince themselves and others that theirs is really just a different (superior?) kind of faithfulness. It’s not.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 10, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

  62. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.

    And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were aprophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 7:50 am

  63. D&C 107:99: “Our Heavenly Father’s house is a house of order, where his servants are commanded to ‘act in the office in which [they are] appointed’ (D&C 107:99). This principle applies to revelation. Only the President of the Church receives revelation to guide the entire Church. Only the stake president receives revelation for the special guidance of the stake. The person who receives revelation for the ward is the bishop. For a family, it is the priesthood leadership of the family. Leaders receive revelation for their own areas of responsibility. Individuals can receive revelation to guide their own lives. But when one person purports to receive revelation for another person outside his or her own area of responsibility*#8212;such as a Church member who claims to have revelation to guide the entire Church or a person who claims to have a revelation to guide another person over whom he or she has no presiding authority according to the order of the Church—you can be sure that such revelations are not from the Lord.” (Dallin H. Oaks.)

    Comment by R. Gary — September 11, 2013 @ 8:12 am

  64. Only the President of the Church receives revelation to guide the entire Church. I wish he would but inspiration because it is more man than God falls far short of revelation which is more God than man and group inspiration probably falls even shorter due to the number of men involved.

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 8:28 am

  65. Are you really trying to correct Dallin H. Oaks about what its really like to receive revelation for the church?

    Comment by Jeff G — September 11, 2013 @ 8:36 am

  66. Thus saith the Lord revelation is much more conversational and therefore much more nuanced and information packed than simply asking a yes or no question like a child consulting a 8 ball; should blacks be given the priesthood? and waiting for a confirming non-verbal feeling. Clearly the church today doesn’t enjoy the open channel of communication with God that it once did. I would love to see this reversed but your regression to the iron rod moves against having open channel of communication with God.

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 8:45 am

  67. Moses was a great prophet who apparently didn’t mind the competition but is is understandable that lessor prophets might.

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 8:52 am

  68. Clearly you have no clue what you’re talking about.

    And I might add that there is no contradiction between everybody enjoying the gift of prophecy and a uniquely authorized few retaining exclusive leadership rights over the church. This seems like a pretty basic and obvious point.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 11, 2013 @ 9:14 am

  69. This is no different than acknowledging that the gifts of the spirit can be found in other churches, but not the priesthood authority.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 11, 2013 @ 9:16 am

  70. Jeff G,
    You’re arguing against positions I have not taken, why the straw men?

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 9:47 am

  71. You’re arguing against positions I have not taken, why the straw men?

    Oh, the irony!

    Comment by Jeff G — September 11, 2013 @ 9:50 am

  72. It’s fine with me that a uniquely authorized few retaining exclusive leadership rights over the church. Does this make them immune from comparisons to Great Prophets?

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 10:06 am

  73. Under the prophetic inspiration of Thomas S. Monson, we are witnessing the greatest era of missionary work in the history of the world. Monson is in every way a prophet like unto Moses.

    Comment by R. Gary — September 11, 2013 @ 10:43 am

  74. Are you talking about the change in missionary age?

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 10:50 am

  75. R. Gary wrote:Monson is in every way a prophet like unto Moses.

    I don’t know; And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face.

    I never heard President Monson testify to any experience close to that, he can wiggle his ears though and he likes widows.

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 11:07 am

  76. God does not classify His prophets as greater or lesser, as major or minor. In such a classification, John the Baptist would be a lesser prophet, the same John of whom Jesus said, “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.”

    Comment by R. Gary — September 11, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

  77. Well, God doesn’t classify his mountains either but some are obviously greater than others.

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  78. I don’t see what any of this has to do with priesthood authority and the keys of the kingdom. This post is not about who can recieve revelation. We all can. This post is about who each of us can recieve revelation for.

    Now stop accusing people of building strawmen when youre not even willing to address the main point of the post.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 11, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

  79. Sure Jeff G,
    If the post is about who each of us can receive revelation for, I think the post is largely based on a false assumption. Much of the criticism leveled at the church and or it’s leaders has nothing at all to do with receiving revelation for the whole church or outside one’s stewardship, it’s much more about enlightenment vs naivete, it’s much more about consciousness raising. For example with regard to lifting the ban on blacks President Kimball said:

    “I had a great deal to fight, of course, myself largely, because I had grown up with this thought that Negroes should not have the priesthood and I was prepared to go all the rest of my life till my death and fight for it and defend it as it was.”

    So President Kimball had to confront his own bias in the late 1970s, yet a civil war, the freeing of black slaves and later a multiracial civil rights movement shouted loudly to the church and it’s leaders for many years to open their eyes and minds and look at something they had not trimmed their lamps or minds to see!

    This was an example of secular enlightenment or in other words God’s inspiration received outside of official LDS priesthood channels leading the church to a significant course correction. Something similar may well be going on today with regard to women and gays.

    Btw, don’t judge the Liahonas because they sin differently than the Iron Rodders

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

  80. “it’s much more about enlightenment vs naivete, it’s much more about consciousness raising”

    This is EXACTLY what Laman and Lemuel said about their brother and father. Exactly!

    “to open their eyes and minds and look at something they had not trimmed their lamps or minds to see!”

    Even if you are right about them, what in the world makes you think that it’s your place to fix that problem?

    “Btw, don’t judge the Liahonas because they sin differently than the Iron Rodders”

    I literally facepalmed myself on that one. Hey Howard, don’t judge the church leaders because they sin differently than the activists do. By your own reasoning you shouldn’t be critiquing the church leaders!

    Comment by Jeff G — September 11, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

  81. Well, the point is it doesn’t have to be as harsh as “judgement”, it doesn’t have to be adversarial, it can be as simple as conversation provided conversation on these subjects is actually allowed, not denied, discounted, pushed away or dismissed.

    When you frame it as a conversation can be viewed as a request and it fits the example of Zelophehad’s daughters under the Great Prophet Moses. For instance; a few feminists recently requested that after 182 years of being ignored that women be invited to pray at general Conference. Request granted, just like Zelophehad’s daughters! And currently a few feminists recently requested that the question of priesthood ordination for females be put before the Lord. What’s so hard or wrong about following Moses’ example?

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

  82. The belief that the Lord will bring change in his own time is often based on the mistaken belief that the Lord practically micromanages the church on a day to day basis and will tap TSM on the shoulder if he needs to know something, but we now know this is not true! Elder perry tells us the heavens are rarely open sighting 1978 OD2 as a recent example and President Kimball who brought us OD2 said: Revelations will probably never come unless they are desired. I think few people receive revelations while lounging on the couch or while playing cards or while relaxing. I believe most revelations would come when a man is on his tip toes, reaching as high as he can for something which he knows he needs, and then there bursts upon him the answer to his problems. So LDS prophets must inquire of the Lord because according Kimball it isn’t likely to happen the other way around!

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

  83. Boy, you guys sure hang an awful lot of weight on that one isolated story that happened 3,000 years ago!

    The difference between Zelophehad’s daughters and Laman/Lemuel is that the former actually went and put their question to the appropriate church leader. Laman and Lemuel, by contrast, griped to each other and those around them rather than discreetly going to the appropriate leader. Now unless I missed something big, the appropriate church leaders are NOT in the bloggernacle nor are they at Sunstone symposium, etc. All the self-proclaimed Liahonas in the ‘nacle are NOT like Zeophehad’s daughters; they are like Lehi’s murmurous sons.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 11, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

  84. We also know from the OD2 story that it was months of work for President Kimball to receive OD2 with a lot of that time spent on his knees. What motivates an LDS prophet to do this amount of work?

    Well with OD1 it was directly prompted by government agitation, the US government dissolved the church corporation and was about to seize it’s assets. OD2 followed the agitation of the civil rights movement. Two out of two strongly suggest agitation motivates LDS prophets to seek revelation!

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

  85. Yes indeed Zelophehad’s daughters put their question to the *appropriate church leader*, they went right to the top and here’s how they did it: Then came the daughters of Zelophehad…they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation saying… Do you really believe this approach is possible with President Monson and his body guards?

    Do you really believe in the modern top down church that a request through my Bishop will ever actually reach Monson?

    The simple fact is the Great Prophet Moses was far more accessible than President Monson is.

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

  86. These are all things that Laman and Lemuel would say. We all know what you’re trying to do when you critique and murmur. But we also know that it’s not your place to do those things. You’re not just raising questions. Indeed, not not saying anything at all directly to the appropriate leader. You are trying to rally people to help you steady the ark because the duly authorized leaders are too deaf and blind.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 11, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

  87. The ark needed steadying long before it happened on the black issue.

    Thank you for finally engaging me and briefly providing open minded dialog. May we meet at that place again in future discussions! Have a nice day Jeff G.

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

  88. The ark needed steadying long before it happened on the black issue.

    To be honest, that’s really the most I ever hoped you would concede. I know you won’t agree with the perspective which I am defending, by I sort of hoped that we would agree that the reasons for your not accepting it are largely not from the priesthood/prophetic tradition.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 11, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

  89. Sorry Jeff G, it isn’t my agenda, I simply follow the Spirit.

    Comment by Howard — September 11, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

  90. “If, however, you use reason, experience and preference to …evaluate… the prophets…”

    Ok, Jeff, I’m struggling here. What other tools should I use? As a convert I was asked by the then prophet to search, ponder, and pray, and to see if the church could offer something to make me better. I chose then and choose now to follow the prophet based on my reason and experience. Does this make me a Laman/Lemuel?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 11, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

  91. Perhaps I cling to closely to the words of Elder Widtsoe, but I’ve always felt encouraged by the following:

    Whether knowledge be obtained by any or all of the methods indicated, it should be carefully examined in the light of reason. The only knowledge that will help in the establishment of a satisfactory religion is true knowledge. Truth is the end of the search. False or apparently true knowledge often intrudes itself upon the attention and at times it is so well disguised as to be dangerously deceptive. Man must learn of the universe, precisely as it is, or he can not successfully find his place in it. A man should therefore use his reasoning faculty in all matters involving truth, and especially as concerning his religion.

    So if I am encouraged by an Apostle to use my reasoning faculty to evaluate matters of truth, especially in regard to my religion, is it thus Laman/Lemuel-like to not do so? Would an Iron-rodder blindly obey this admonishment to not blindly obey?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 11, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

  92. I think Howard and Jeff G should get a room to hash this one out.

    I think I was put off by the essay because it attacked a classification (Liahona) that has helped me still feel relevant at church, and to feel that, even though I don’t see the world as black and white as my fellow congregants do, I still can fit in this awesome universal truthness of Church that is the LDS faith.

    While it is true that straight is the way and narrow is the gate, I don’t think that correlates into “just because the gate is narrow that the path must be also.”

    Comment by Abe Froman — September 12, 2013 @ 10:22 am

  93. I think the problem with it is that “Iron Rodders” really don’t exist. Everyone is encouraged to seek knowledge, and rely on the guidance of the Spirit. Very few people see things as black-and-white as it seems. And the term has become a way to dismiss people who may not see things exactly the same way. There is a sense of superiority to the term “Liahona” that is unjustified by many of those who use it.

    Just because someone claims to be following the Spirit, doesn’t mean they actually are…and I suspect they aren’t when their time is largely spent criticizing others (leadership or no) and dismissing them as much less spiritually in tune as oneself.

    My experience with the Spirit has lead to a much more charitable outlook towards my fellowmen, especially those who have been called to a specific calling to serve.

    Comment by SilverRain — September 12, 2013 @ 10:35 am

  94. Matt,

    There are two points where I would like to clarify. First, when I talk about reason and experience, I’m referring to the rationalist and empiricist traditions which have no room for or patience with appeals to tradition, authority or the supernatural. Second, I’m not talking about what people personally believe, but what people hash out it public. I’m talking about people who want to “raise consciousness” within the bloggernacle, which is a euphemism for murmuring.

    Abe,

    On a similar note, I don’t have a problem with a single thing you bring up in #92. So long as people use the metaphor to follow personal revelation in their personal lives, I have no problem whatsoever. But, “being a Liahona” in the bloggernacle is not keeping personal revelation personal.

    SilverRain,

    Your way of putting these points is always so much more elegant than mine. Thank you so much for the light you bring to these discussions.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  95. “raise consciousness” is a euphemism for murmuring Well not really, it just seems that way until you actually begin to get it!

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 11:32 am

  96. Howard,

    I undergraded in philosophy at U.C. Davis and I fully embraced all the left-wingery that that implies. I know full well what raising consciousness is.

    However, there is a difference between raising consciousness among the church leadership in the hopes that they will bring a question to the Lord and raising consciousness among the the church masses in an effort to gain their support since the leadership doesn’t seem to be doing what you think they should be doing. When you pretend to do the former when you’re really doing the latter, you’re a murmuring Laman/Lemuel.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

  97. Sure there’s a difference but in an interview President Hinckley pretty strongly implied that agitation would necessarily precede female ordination! So support would be required to clear Hinckley’s hurtle wouldn’t it?

    Consciousness is a good thing not a bad thing, few would trade it for unconsciousness! When a progression like Maslow’s Hierarchy is considered it’s easy to see that we even benefit from small incremental increases in consciousness. The gospel is all about raising consciousness but the thing is people grow attached to their biases and comfort zones and don’t give them up easily and very few people choose self examination without some life crisis precipitating it so closed mindedness often becomes the ego defense of choice so it does require some effort to get things started.

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

  98. I don’t believe a single sentence in that comment. Not a single one gets support from the scriptures. Secular, enlightenment values – all of them.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

  99. The 10 commandments are bright-line behavior rules and their introduction began to raise the consciousness of the Old Testament people surrounding Moses eventually lifting them out of an eye for an eye world. Jesus raised our consciousness well beyond this with his message of loving one another and the beatitudes transcending bright-line behavioral rules. Likewise the mighty change of heart transcends repentance. God through the gospel and through inspiration is slowly raising humankind’s consciousness. Obviously we are no longer cavemen!

    Is it impossible to believe that at points in time on selected issues that some non-Mormons might be at a higher consciousness than some Mormons? Wasn’t this precisely true with regard to the black issue for some time? Or that younger LDS members might be at a higher consciousness on some issues than older LDS prophets like President Kimball who honestly admitted the struggle he had with his bias on the black ordination issue?

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

  100. In case you missed it, this is what President Hinckley said:

    David Ransom: At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church…Is it possible that the rules could change in the future..?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: He could change them yes…But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it.

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

  101. You don’t think any members of the Godhead are at a low level of consciousness do you? Isn’t Christ our example?

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

  102. The scriptures do not use the words “consciousness” “awareness” “open mind” or anything of the sort. Rather, they focus on the hubris of mankind thinking that their knowledge is anything close to sufficient that we should be able to rely on it.

    In other words, what you think means nothing. What you want means nothing. What you think is right means nothing. What decisions would make in different circumstances mean nothing.

    Moses gave the 10 commandments so that the people could know what God thought was right, because their theories meant nothing. What Laman and Lemuel thought meant nothing. God gave the Liahona to their leaders precisely because they acknowledged that their own thoughts and preferences meant nothing. “I know not, save the Lord hath commanded.” “I will go and do, that which the Lord hath commanded.” Time and again Nephi found himself commanded to do things that were the exact opposite of what he wanted or thought was right.

    I can’t help but wonder if Laman and Lemule knew what Nephi did to Laban and what kinds of “consciousness” they would have wanted to raise in response.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

  103. So teaching them correct principles and having them govern themselves means nothing as well? Working out our own salvation with fear and trembling before him is nothing more than a review of our obedience record to bright-line rules like obeying the WoW and doing your home teaching on time? Christ is nothing more than a guy more obedient than I?

    Sorry, but the scriptures are data points that show progressive growth in consciousness over time.

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

  104. Again, nobody is talking about obedience. Stop trying to change the subject.

    The correctness of the principles is to be judged by God, not you. Why can’t you simply let the church leaders govern themselves and that over which they (not you) have authority according to their correct principles?

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

  105. I’m not changing the subject I’m contrasting and paradoxing your position. Church leaders ARE governing themselves, did you think they were reporting to me?

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

  106. He scriptures are not “data points”. They are books that were never intended to be read through the secular, enlightenment lenses which see the world as “data”.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

  107. You are acting like what you think or want should matter to the church leaders. In other words, yes, you think that the church leaders should report to “the people” be they in the church or not. That is where you go wrong.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

  108. you think that the church leaders should report to “the people” be they in the church or not.

    No I don’t.

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

  109. Well then why spread consciousness among the people, if what they think and want regarding church leadership is totally without legitimacy?

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

  110. If you take a wider view of those books you will find a progression toward greater awareness, toward greater consciousness, towards God who if he isn’t conscious, what is he? Or is it your perception that we are just cavemen living in houses and driving cars with just about the same consciousness as the original cave men had?

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

  111. Well then why spread consciousness among the people…? Because consciousness is next to Godliness.

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

  112. If we’re all supposed to remain bright-line dumb why did Jesus teach in parables?

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  113. If the gospel isn’t a progression what’s contained in sealed two thirds of the plates, filler?

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

  114. What makes you think that we should take a wider view of scripture? That sounds like code for “ignore what’s plainly taught in them by interpreting them according to values which are not taught in them.”

    Who said anything about “dumb”? You really think those are the only two options: either embrace the values of the secular enlightenment or remain dumb?

    The difference is that I don’t pretend to know the order and timing of the things that the church should learn and do. Only God knows that, and that’s why we should leave it up to Him.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

  115. No that’s code for put them in rough chronological order to get some idea of where they’re headed! Try it!

    embrace the values of the secular enlightenment or remain dumb? No. Embrace enlightenment or remain dumb!

    It shouldn’t take much effort to outrun secular enlightenment but over the last hundred years we’ve fallen behind secular enlightenment and found ourselves in a reactive position when it comes to loving our neighbor.

    Only God knows that, and that’s why we should leave it up to Him. Sure, he knows but according to President Kimball God isn’t likely to tap TSM on the shoulder and tell him. TSM must go to God for that and if TSM as a man thinks women and gays are right where they ought to be it isn’t likely he will inquire without being provoked. But there is precedent for provoking the brethren; Joseph stated “the object of the [Relief] Society—that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor…

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

  116. “No that’s code for put them in rough chronological order to get some idea of where they’re headed! Try it!”

    Yes, I know that’s what you mean. My point is that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should.

    “Embrace enlightenment or remain dumb!”

    That shows a remarkable lack of imagination which is the entire fault I’ve been accusing you of. Why would you think that the particular set of values known as the enlightenment are somehow universal or exclusive in the sense that they can/must trump all other values? Why is that particular and contingent set of values so important to you? Why do you allow that set of values to trump the one which we inherit from the scriptures? Why do you insist that the ark of religious values needs steadying from arm of secular values?

    What makes you think that the handful of quotes from a few leaders given largely outside of a leadership context that ambiguously (the meaning “agitate” and “provoke” are far from clear) support the enlightenment values should trump the mountains of statements which go against these values?

    Why do you think that people who do not embrace the enlightenment (aka almost everybody that is found in the scriptures) must be dumb? The number of examples which we have been given to follow do NOT embrace the values of the enlightenment. This clearly shows that either 1) being dumb is a good thing which we are supposed to emulate or 2) there are ways of progressing which do not depend upon the enlightenment.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

  117. It shouldn’t take much effort to outrun secular enlightenment but over the last hundred years we’ve fallen behind secular enlightenment and found ourselves in a reactive position when it comes to loving our neighbor.

    Fallen behind according to what metric? Who’s measuring this race?

    In other words, why do you insist on measuring church progress by secular standards rather than the other way around?

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

  118. No, not “the” enlightenment, that shows a remarkable lack of creative thinking and over use of google. To become enlightened as in aware in a spiritual way, in other words spiritual consciousness raising leading to becoming one with God which is why it trumps simple obedience and home teaching and a bunch of other stuff. If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

    Why do you insist that the ark of religious values needs steadying from arm of secular values? Because the ark of religious values failed blacks for more than 100 years and it failed to ask women to pray in GC for 182 years.

    Why do you think that people who do not embrace…enlightenment…must be dumb? By dumb I mean partially asleep, unaware.

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

  119. Fallen behind according to what metric? Who’s measuring this race? Actually race measured this race and when it came to the black issue the church and it’s prophets clearly lost to secular enlightenment.

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

  120. “Because the ark of religious values failed blacks for more than 100 years and it failed to ask women to pray in GC for 182 years.”

    Says who? Again, you are measuring the church by the worlds standards rather than the other way around. Who says that the black issue was a contest that the church was ever even engaged in? Who were the ones keeping score in this contest? And who says that they lost that contest?

    Why is obedience “simple”? What revelation says anything about “awareness” or “conscious”? These are all phrases and values straight out of the secular handbook.

    Of course the church loses to the world in any secular contest. These simply aren’t any contests that the church really cares to win. Consequently, your murmuring/consciousness-raising really just amount to cheering for the wrong team in the wrong game. That’s why criticizing the church leaders is plainly and strongly condemned in all scripture.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

  121. Oops, logic ends and he falls back to the default position with the snake swallowing it’s tail again! Have a nice day Jeff G.

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

  122. I have to say, I’m baffled at your disengaging every time I raise these questions. They are not rhetorical questions, although they certainly are difficult ones.

    All I’m trying to highlight is how contingent these values that you embrace are, and how your prioritization of them over those of the church are a contingent choice which you freely make. I’m trying to get you to move beyond your values for just a second, to step outside them and see that they are by no means the ultimate arbiter that you think them to be.

    I am just as baffled by your saying that I’m being illogical now as I was when you thanked me for finally being logical. I thought I was being the same in both instances.

    The snake that is eating its own tail is no more my version of religion than it is your version of liberal democratic values. This is why scientists don’t like the science of science any more than sociologists like a sociology of sociology, or marxists like a marxism of marxism. None of these systems are able to survive the turning of their tools against themselves. They are all just tools which work very well within their particular niches, and there is no reason whatsoever to suppose that the church or its leaders must answer to them.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  123. Okay please clearly characterize the church’s position on the issues we’ve been discussing without becoming circular or infallible.

    Were LDS prophets proactive regarding the ban on blacks? If so what accounts for the the long delay from Joseph to Mckay/Kimball in raising the ban? Isn’t it true they don’t know how the ban came about and assumed for a long time it was justified? If so who was in charge during that delay, Christ? Was the timing civil rights movement that suspiciously proceeded the lift just coincidence?

    your version of liberal democratic values You seem to want to politicize these issues but I see them much more in the realm of religion and spirituality and btw I’m a republican.

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

  124. 1) Infallibility and circularity are secular values which don’t matter. That’s they are never mentioned in the scriptures. The same could be said for clearly articulating and justifying positions. A faithful church member shouldn’t care too much about those things.

    2) The answer is “I don’t know, you don’t know and (most importantly) we don’t have to know.” That’s the fundamental difference between you and I: You think that consciousness and knowing are FAR more important than I do. I think that my position is not only more humble, but it also matches with the scriptural description of “the arm of flesh” better than yours does.

    3) When I say “democratic” I’m not referring to the political party. I’m talking about liberal democratic (1st world) countries. I’ve pointing out repeatedly how the values in terms of which you insist on framing these debates do not come from scriptures, but rather from the modern intellectual history which these liberal democratic countries have bequeathed us. I know that you see your quest as a spiritual/religious one, but it is a spirituality/religion that has been vetted and diluted by the teachings of philosophers and intellectuals. This isn’t necessarily bad, unless you allow these philosophers and intellectuals to trump the prophets and priesthood leaders, which you clearly do.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

  125. Well if Infallibility and circularity are secular values which don’t matter, how do you expect this conversation to go forward? Shouldn’t you just bless the sacrament and pass it to me, then I’ll say the closing prayer?

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

  126. Oh, sure, they matter, but not as much as you seem to think. Don’t think that if logical consistency and empirical confirmation aren’t all that important to a pre-modern, religious tradition, that all standards are out the window.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

  127. Jeff I enjoy a close relationship with the spirit, I’m very aware that many people including me are given spiritual confirmation of seemingly illogical things. So what would you like to do here, have a logical discussion or a testimony meeting?

    Comment by Howard — September 12, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

  128. Hahaha. I have to admit, I feel a bit of a love/hate relationship blossoming.

    I don’t think those are the only two options. You act as if logical were the only thing preventing a free-wheeling, anything-goes discussion of non-sense.

    I do want to let my discussions be constrained by logic, but there are other constraints as well. So much of these discussions really boil down to a fight over whose values are prioritized better, as if there were some independent standard against which we could “objectively” measure them.

    I refuse to let formal logic dictate what is and is not rational, reasonable or right. Sometimes life fights back against those constraints.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 12, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

  129. I don’t think those are the only two options Okay what is there of value beyond logic based and belief based? So much of these discussions really boil down to a fight over whose values are prioritized better… What determines the priority if not logic or belief?

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 6:49 am

  130. You make it sound as if logic is some intrinsic part of the universe with universal scope. It’s simply one human activity among the many which we engage in. It’s no different from any other moral rule by which we constrain ourselves and others.

    Furthermore, just like all moral rules, sometimes logic comes in conflict with other such rules and a decision must be made as to how these rules are to be prioritized. Some cultures will exalt one rule over the other while other cultures will go the other way.

    For example, secular cultures tend to value egalitarianism, logical coherence and empirical data over authority, tradition and revelation while religious cultures do not. It would blatantly question begging to insist that those secular values are the very ones which must decide between these two cultures. That would be like a criminal being the judge in his own trial.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 13, 2013 @ 8:20 am

  131. Furthermore, just like all moral rules, sometimes logic comes in conflict with other such rules and a decision must be made as to how these rules are to be prioritized. Have you really thought this through to the point that you understand it or are we creating something new here? Logic or belief isn’t typically used to make that decision?

    Please provide common everyday examples of this where something other than some form of logic or belief or default is used to make that prioritization decision.

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 8:31 am

  132. I’ve definitely put some thought into this. It’s actually the main point I’ve been trying to argue for months now.

    I’m pretty sure that we are talking about how we justify beliefs and actions, and if so I agree that logic can be used (even though it doesn’t have to be), but I’m a little confused at what you mean by “belief”. I don’t think you mean that we justify our beliefs and actions by an appeal to beliefs, so I feel like we might not be talking about the same thing.

    I would say that the vast majority of the actions that we take are not guided by logic or conscious belief. Whenever I drive home from work, I prioritize certain paths/speeds/etc. without ever using logic or anything conscious at all. It’s just routine habit, which is sort of like a one-man tradition. Non-human animals certainly don’t use logic, and they are able to get by just fine. My typing on this keyboard would be another example where the conscious use of logic would be far worse than the subconscious routine I now use.

    Now of course you might be able to use logic to carve up and analyze all of these behaviors, but the point is that we don’t have to. Using logic to parse actions is an activity which we actively do, it’s not something that is just there. It is no different than construing all action in terms of God’s will, mere matter in motion, striving essences, or intentional agents. These are all just mental tools by which we carve up the world around us and some work better in some contexts than others.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 13, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  133. I prioritize certain paths/speeds/etc. without ever using logic or anything conscious at all.

    You believe this to be true because you are unaware of what is going on in your subconscious. Mastering meditation allows one to lower the water line between the conscious and the subconscious (true consciousness raising btw) making these background operations available for self examination if you choose to look at them and what you find is logic based on belief that has been habituated and ignored by your conscious mind to reduce clutter. Emotion aside from the physical sensation itself is also logic based on belief.

    You mind has two main modes or operation processing and receiving. When you stop processing (by meditation) you begin receiving; intuition, inspiration and revelation. This is the meaning of be still and know I am God. It is the process that leads to gnosis.

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 9:15 am

  134. I’m not sure Howard is totally right here. Logic is a conscious, not subconscious act. If you get down to emotional thinking, you find that a person can hold two contradictory beliefs at the same time. That’s why a person can both love and hate someone at the same time but be unable to intelligently articulate how this works. There are also plenty of instinctual beliefs that are illogical. If I have arachnophobia and I see a really scary spider, it might scare me to the point of vomiting. Presumably, my reaction to throw up is a way for my body to empty superflous material in order to help me sprint away from danger. But in reality the little spider in front of me can’t cause me any real harm (an itchy bite), making my fear dependent on a mistaken inference:

    Some spiders can kill me
    I should run from anything that kills me
    I should run from spiders

    Even if we are born with logical processes, such as causation, it seems that we are entirely capable of thinking illogically. And we can make justifiable conclusions illogically, such as appeals to tradition. I’m not sure it’s possible for us to think without synthesizing ideas according to logical processes, but logic is just a tool, not an innate part of our being.

    Comment by DavidF — September 13, 2013 @ 10:04 am

  135. For the record, I don’t think Laman and Lemuel’s problem was their reliance on reason, but their selfishness. They hated that Nephi got a dream showing he’d rule over them, and everything they did was to subvert Nephi.

    This is actually where I think the story starts to break down. Nephi implies that they hate him because they secretly know the dream is real and they’re jealous. That sounds ridiculous and hopelessly one sided to me (Nephi’s side). My guess is that the real reason they hated Nephi was because he was kind of a goody toe shoes who could do nothing wrong.

    Or maybe that’s why I don’t like Nephi. :)

    Comment by DavidF — September 13, 2013 @ 10:16 am

  136. Logic is a conscious, not subconscious act. This is not true. The reason it may appear true to you is because subconscious logic doesn’t benefit from the same conscious oversight and management thinking that conscious logic does.

    It isn’t illogical to hold two contradictory beliefs.

    Phobias are easily undone by assuming the fear makes logical sense to the person with the phobia and reverse engineering what that logic must be to produce that reaction and then presenting that subconscious logic to the person’s conscious. I dated an actress from a very well known major motion picture, as a result of making this movie she traveled all over the world to promote it. After many years of travel she developed a fear of flying, it turned out to be based on her mistaken subconscious belief that her chances of being in a crash was cumulative. She knows that now and she’s flying again.

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 10:21 am

  137. Is there any empirical evidence that there is thing called the subconscious and another thing called logic and that this latter thing somehow controls the former?

    I’m not arguing that such things don’t exist at all, only that just because we can construe people in terms of these two things, doesn’t mean that we must or that we are wrong if we don’t.

    Your insistence that there really is logic in all decision is really just an article of faith at this point. Granted, it is a very useful faith in a lot of contexts, but not all.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 13, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  138. Btw if you drill down on loving and hating someone at the same time it can fairly easily be parsed and nuanced into separate camps.

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 10:29 am

  139. It absolutely IS illogical to hold two contradictory beliefs. There are three classical rules of logic, and the law of noncontradiction is one of them. You cannot have both A and not A. Thus, believing in both A and not A is illogical axiomatically.

    You also make a mistake in reasoning against my phobias argument. The phobia may seem logical to the person with it, but it actually isn’t logical. Logical isn’t subjective that way, and the person with the phobia is not making a logical argument (see the syllogism I made above). The person may be using some logical processes, or cognitive processes which logic relies upon, and may have convinced themselves that they made a logical argument, but they certainly aren’t thinking logically, because they are making an invalid argument. Even if the conclusion is a valid one, and the person ought to avoid all spiders, the person didn’t get to that conclusion logically, but by some sort of fear-based thinking.

    Comment by DavidF — September 13, 2013 @ 10:36 am

  140. It is illogical for both cases to be true, but it isn’t necessarily illogical to hold both beliefs. Don’t scientists sometimes hold two contradictory beliefs until one can be falsified? Is it illogical for them to do this or logical?

    The phobia may seem logical to the person with it, but it actually isn’t logical. Logical isn’t subjective that way Their logic is typically sound but based on a false belief, correct the belief and their logic works fine.

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 10:50 am

  141. Carnegie Mellon Brain Imaging Research Shows How Unconscious… 7 1/2 min video

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 11:02 am

  142. Neuroscience and Free Will 6 min video

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 11:22 am

  143. Howard,

    I’m not sure if all those posts were just meant for David or not, but you have done nothing to address my point. You have only shown how much we *can* frame in terms of logic, something which I never disputed. You have done nothing to show that there are not other ways of framing things or thatit isnt sometimes better to use these non-logical ways of looking at the world.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 13, 2013 @ 11:37 am

  144. It is illogical for both cases to be true, but it isn’t necessarily illogical to hold both beliefs.

    What do you mean when you say it isn’t illogical to hold two contradictory beliefs? Do you mean that it is possible? Then yes, it is logically possible to hold two contradictory beliefs. But that doesn’t mean that holding two contradictory beliefs is a manifestation of thinking logically. Scientists hold two contradictory beliefs, but if they maintain that both contradictory beliefs are true without reconciliation, then they aren’t doing logic.

    For example, suppose I have a magnet and I notice it attracts some things but not other things. I can’t say it is both a magnet and not a magnet. That’s false. It either is or it isn’t. Logic helps me deny this absurd conclusion in favor of something else (i.e. it is a magnet but magnets only attracts some things)

    Their logic is typically sound but based on a false belief, correct the belief and their logic works fine.

    Actually this isn’t true. A logical argument can’t be sound unless the two premises forming it are both true and it’s impossible for the conclusion to be false.

    The first video doesn’t really tell us that much about this topic. All it says is that the subconscious synthesizes data while our conscious minds do other activities. It’s remarkably uninformative on how or why. I don’t have time to watch the other one right now, but I guarantee you that it doesn’t prove that our subconscious minds are logical as I have already demonstrated that they aren’t necessarily logical. I think you need to review what the term logical really means. I feel like you are working with multiple, imprecise definitions, and none of them seem to actually reflect what the term really means.

    Comment by DavidF — September 13, 2013 @ 11:45 am

  145. If you want a lovely example of how logic fails to neatly carve up the world, simply click the freewill category on the sidebar. There you will find a debate which lasted for a handful of years, dozens of posts and (literally) thousand of comments. In it I tried to argue that a robust sense of morality and freewill were logically compatible with causal necessity (material or otherwise). I failed because I didn’t understand that there is no reason why these two ways of construing the world must logically link up in a neat and satisfying manner.

    Logic is very useful when it is understood as one among many constraints which we must continually (re)negotiate across varying contexts. But if we think that logic is some kind of “super-constraint” which must in some sense trump all others, we unnecessarily and unwisely limit our options.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 13, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

  146. Jeff G wrote: You have done nothing to show that there are not other ways of framing things… I wasn’t attempting to. If you believe there are better ways then present them!

    DavidF wrote: But that doesn’t mean that holding two contradictory beliefs is a manifestation of thinking logically. I wasn’t asserting this. …if they maintain that both contradictory beliefs are true without reconciliation, then they aren’t doing logic. I agree, in 140 I said “*until* one can be falsified”.

    I wrote: Their logic is typically sound but based on a false belief, correct the belief and their logic works fine.

    DavidF wrote: Actually this isn’t true. A logical argument… I wasn’t making a “logical argument” I was making an observation. If you believe you entered the correct numbers in a calculator (but you didn’t) and the answer comes up nonsensical chances are is isn’t because the calculator has faulty logic, it’s because you used a calculator with good logic on a false belief. This analogy often fits phobias. Change the false belief and the phobia goes away.

    The videos weren’t offered as “proof” of anything, they were offered as a glimpse into our subconscious.

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

  147. Sure, but the mistake you made was in assuming that if the phobia rested on a true belief, then the phobia would be logical. But that’s simply not true. Going back to my syllogism, but tweaking it to make it more realistic to how someone with a phobia of spiders might think (which I had when I was a kid):

    All spiders are terrifying (A->B)
    If something is terrifying I should avoid it (B->C)
    I should avoid all spiders (C->A)

    Even if the premises are true, as they are for a person with a phobia of spiders, the conclusion doesn’t follow logically. It would be like entering in the right data into the calculator but getting the wrong result. Here is another argument that follows the same logical form but is clearly false:

    All children are humans
    All humans eat food
    Everything that eats food are children

    The fact is, we don’t always think logically, nor do we always think according to the rules of logic, both on the conscious and subconscious level.

    I actually think Jeff is essentially right about the limitations of reason and science in making sense of divine things. I’m just not quite as sold on how relatively worthless they are in the performance of that task. By analogy, it turns out that eyesight is a horrible crutch when it comes to understand reality around us, but for the most part, we just don’t have anything better with which to replace it.

    Comment by DavidF — September 13, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  148. DavidF, I don’t think you grasp what I have been saying about phobias. So please remove your logic hat and replace it with a phobia therapist hat. To someone without your phobia your fear appears to be irrational, you may or may not agree that you are acting irrationally but you do not want to be labeled in any way as irrational or crazy. So approaching someone as if they are irrational is therapeutically ineffective as it simply pushes them away and triggers their defenses. I’m a multiengine instrument rated pilot. Sometimes I have practiced in a simulator where it’s impossible to crash yet as my instructor begins failing systems I begin to feel stress and sweat. Yet my logic continues to do battle with the failures presented to me as if they are a true threat. Is this a simulator phobia? Am I acting rationally given there is no real threat? Am I acting irrationally?

    Comment by Howard — September 13, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  149. Howard, you’ve moved on to a different issue. Before your last post we were discussing how phobias demonstrate why the human mind does not always order knowledge according to the system that we call logic. Now you’re talking about something entirely different: how should we treat people with phobias? For the purposes of this discussion, why should I care one bit about therapeutic treatments?

    Where we’re really talking past each other is that when I refer to logical or rational thought, I’m using the normative definition, whereas you are using some kind of idiosyncratic definition where invalid arguments can apparently be sound, and bad arguments with false premises, because they’re believed to be true, can somehow be rational. It seems like you think that anyone who is thinking with their head is thinking logically, at least in respect to themselves, but I can’t do anything with that definition. It’s effectively meaningless.

    Comment by DavidF — September 13, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

  150. I’m pointing out that human thinking is generally logic applied to belief and I would like to add spiced with a little or sometimes a lot of emotion. Perfect logic? Who has perfect logic, 100% free of logical fallicies all the time, do you? So I’m not attempting to be a purest here, I’m explaining a model of human thinking and that model works well in clinical settings with the example you brought up which is phobias.

    You seen to take the position that it is irrational to be afraid of spiders. Following your logic isn’t it also irrational for me to have a stress response when flying a simulator? Yet all pilots have a similar response so maybe it is a rational response and the overly simple self evident conclusion you’ve drawn is wrong. Like the phobic I consciously know I’m in a simulator but the experience is so convincing I have trouble remembering that and act on the false subconscious belief that I’m flying an airplane instead. People with phobias consciously know their reaction is exaggerated but somewhere down in their subconscious still lives a child’s fear of spiders and that is the false belief their fight/flight logic is being triggered by.

    Comment by Howard — September 14, 2013 @ 6:44 am

  151. What about all those people (the vast majority) that know nothing about logic or any kind? Why would we assume that all the ambiguous, context-dependent and ever-changing nuances of language and thought could, or should be modeled by a abstract and inflexible structure? Aren’t these very reasons why AI reseachers have abandoned von neumann machines in favor of trained neural nets? Sure, you can model human thought in terms of logic, but to suggest that human thought just is logic incarnate has been an expensive failure.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 14, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  152. So you believe trained neural networks are void of logic? All they are is logic and wiring!

    A lot of logic is intuitive. An electronic game quickly makes sense to a child. A 4 or 5 year old poor rural third world little girl quickly made sense of my digital camera.

    Artificial Intelligence isn’t all there yet but why did they begin with logic if we don’t use logic to think?

    Comment by Howard — September 14, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

  153. Wait, what do you mean by “logic”? You obviously do not mean the syntactical manipulation of intrinsically meaningless symbols.

    Comment by Jeff G — September 14, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

  154. Logic: the use of valid reasoning in some activity including inductive reasoning, abductive reasoning, and deductive reasoning.

    We inherit logic genetically and we are taught logic through socialization, life experience and experimentation, this occurs even when those teaching us have never taken a logic class.

    Comment by Howard — September 14, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

  155. Well you don’t get to simply define yourself as right. What would be an example of human thinking which is NOT logic?

    Comment by Jeff G — September 15, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

  156. I’ve described human thinking as logic applied to a belief, we’re wrong when the belief is false and we’re wrong when we attempt to apply logical fallacies. Certainly much of human behavior appears irrational but it is rarely due to faulty thinking and usually due to the observer not understanding the belief or motivation behind it and often the person doing the strange behavior doesn’t understand it either because they are unaware of some of their own beliefs and motivations due to much of ego defense being subconscious.

    Comment by Howard — September 16, 2013 @ 7:32 am

  157. Btw introspective consciousness raising can put these otherwise subconscious beliefs and motivations under your conscious control increasing one’s anatomy and self actualization and solving phobias, fetishes and psychological blocks along the way. The process brings you much closer to God when that is your goal because these psychological issues present as noise in God’s signal so doing one’s psychological work by actually resolving it at what was once their subconscious level increases God’s signal to noise ratio as experienced by humankind. It greatly facilitates; The kingdom of God is within, be still and know that I am God.

    Comment by Howard — September 16, 2013 @ 7:50 am

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