Men are that they might have joy?

January 30, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 4:56 pm   Category: Theology

I have a question for you all. Do you think 2 Nephi 2:25 qualifies as a metaphysical claim about our eternal souls? Here is the well known verse:

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.


Thoughts on ethics (from a layman)

January 29, 2007    By: Jacob J @ 9:32 am   Category: Ethics

My entire approach to ethics relies upon a distinction between the morality of an agent and the morality of an action. This is not a ground breaking distinction to make, but I have to start small.

1. The morality of people is different than the morality of events.

There is something very different about the person who makes a choice, and the action that results.* The ought of morality only makes sense in relation to a person, who is free to choose one course of action instead of another. And yet, we judge events to be good or bad in a moral sense as well. Because the two are fundamentally different, they must be judged in a fundamentally different way. As Mill pointed out in Utilitarianism, “certainly no known ethical standard decides an action to be good or bad because it is done by a good or a bad man.” People deliberate before a choice is made, and the morality of their choice has to do with what forces win out in that deliberation. An event is simply what happens at a certain place and time, and the morality of events is determined by what happens after the event as a consequence.

Covey Habit 3: Put First Things First

January 21, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 5:40 pm   Category: 7 Habits

Ok, after a seven month layoff I figured now would be a good time to pick up my discussion of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you weren’t following along last Spring, you may not know that Habit 1 is: Be Proactive. In short, that means: “You have free will (in the full libertarian sense of the word) so use it. Do something. No excuses.” Habit 2 is: Begin with the End in Mind. This one is sort of about goal setting but it is also about metaphysics and mapping out existence for ourselves and trying to decide where we actually fit in the universe and where we intend to end up (whether in this life or past it). Now we’re on to Habit 3: Put First Things First. (more…)

Cruel Laughter and American Idol

January 19, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 10:24 am   Category: Life

Is it just me or have the makers of American Idol seemed more cruel this season already? I know that the “check out these idiots” portion of the auditions is always popular and I admit that I have laughed at many of the weirdos that have been featured over the years, but I have found myself cringing this season and pitying many of the sad folks featured so far. Seattle was especially painful with that poor software engineer being spotlighted for a good 5 minutes. (Nicholas Zitsman or something?) The producers of the show apparently decided that prolonging his humiliation by forcing America to sit through basically his entire a capella rendition of Unchained Melody would be good television. It started feeling like watching someone being tortured to me. I ended up rooting for the poor guy (who frankly seemed like he might be autistic or something) and disliking the producers for their apparent sadistic streak. But is the cruelty of the producers just driven by the cruelty of the audience? Are we the ones who demand more and more humiliation of the weak and downtrodden souls who are misguided enough to think trying out for American Idol is a good idea?

Faith and Proximity

January 17, 2007    By: Jacob J @ 1:03 am   Category: Personal Revelation,Theology

“Oh Lisa, vampires are make-believe, just like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.” (Homer)

Many of the different uses of the word “faith” in the scriptures can be accounted for by recognizing that belief itself is a complex phenomenon with many facets. The question of whether or not to believe in the existence of God is significantly different than the question of how to fully trust in the God whose existence is accepted. Despite these differences, both are questions of faith. The scriptures run the gamut from talking about faith at the most rudimentary level as a simple “desire to believe,” to talking about the faith of Abraham, whose trust in God was such that he was willing to slay Isaac, his only begotten son of promise, despite the obvious immorality of human sacrifice.

Guest Post: What is Mormon Doctrine? What is common consent?

January 9, 2007    By: Administrator @ 9:01 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices,Theology

[This guest post was submitted by Matt W., a regular contributor to discussions here at the Thang.]

Sometimes I like to pretend I am pretty smart about my faith and religion. At other times, I accept that I am just an eight year old in the Church. This is one of those times.

In a recent thread, Blake made a statement which has bothered me. He noted that one article on Agency “hasn’t been accepted by common consent…” as a basic way of debunking what was said therein. This bothered me not because I didn’t agree with Blake on that point, but because I have a hard time following the reasoning that Mormon Doctrine only equals those things sustained by common consent in General Conference. (more…)

Footnotes vs. Endnotes

   By: Jacob J @ 10:44 am   Category: Life

I love footnotes. I hate endnotes. Why, why, why is every publication switching to endnotes? As I read old books and articles, it seems to me that footnotes were once the standard. However, in new publications, endnotes seem to be much more common. Can someone explain it to me?

“Veto” Free Will

January 4, 2007    By: Geoff J @ 1:54 am   Category: Determinism vs. free will,Foreknowledge,Theology

[Edit: In this post I should have written that we generally live “as if” we were causally determined beings. Later discussions showed this mistake of mine confused a lot of people.]

There was an interesting article in the New York Times this week called “Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t” (Hat tip to the BCC sideblog). The author gives a quick review of the scientific arguments against the concept of Free Will (and in favor of causal determinism). I recommend you check it out.

There was one section and specifically one conclusion the author drew that I want to focus one in this post. The author recounted a now-famous experiment that has been brought up around these parts before (by some of our local science guys like Jeff G., Christian C., and Clark if I remember correctly). Here is the passage from the article:

Hermeneutical Assumptions and Open Theism

January 2, 2007    By: Blake @ 8:58 pm   Category: Foreknowledge,Scriptures,Theology

It is no secret that Open Theists read scriptures with different operative principles of interpretation than those who maintain classical theology. Open theists generally argue that scriptural passages demonstrate that God changes his mind, relents, repents or feels sorrow for things that have occurred. If they are correct, then at least to the extent such scripture is regarded as disclosing what is true of God, then God cannot be, as classical theists maintain: (1) immutable in the strong sense that none of God’s intrinsic properties is subject to change; (2) impassible in the sense that nothing outside of God influences him or otherwise has no feelings comparable to human feelings; (3) timeless in the sense that God is outside of any type of temporal succession; (4) prescient in the sense that God has infallible foreknowledge.