The Mormon Church Still Can’t Figure How to Not Conduct Proxy Baptisms of Victims of the Holocaust

Seriously? The Mormon church can’t freaking figure out how to NOT do this?

How many times is the Mormon church going to apologize for this practice but not change it?  At some point, their apologies simply lack credibility.

I can’t understand how correcting this constant oversight is so difficult.  Whether or not you believe the Mormon church’s baptism for the dead is a meaningful ritual or not, it shouldn’t be difficult to suss out why this practice offends many people, especially Jewish families who lost relatives in the Holocaust.  The sick paradox is that the people performing the rite mean well; I seriously doubt there’s any malice intended.  But that doesn’t make it any less offensive.

Mormon leaders should figure out a solution and soon.

  1. #1 by cav on February 14, 2012 - 6:45 pm

    How about one, all inclusive ‘blanket’ dip that covers all life forms from Kolob to Bountiful and back? After that maybe a little reality will begin to seep back in.

    Won’t be holding my breath.

  2. #2 by brewski on February 14, 2012 - 7:22 pm

    How about not coinducting proxy baptisms of anyone?

  3. #3 by cav on February 14, 2012 - 7:52 pm

    Given that ‘Life Is But A Dream’, what fun would that be?

  4. #4 by Larry Bergan on February 14, 2012 - 8:12 pm

    Seeing as differing religions don’t take anyone but themselves seriously, I don’t see what harm is being done to the the Holocaust victims.

    Both sides are being silly.

  5. #5 by Ken on February 14, 2012 - 8:43 pm

    For one thing we don’t ask Jews to not practice tenants of their faith so please don’t ask us to not practice ours.

  6. #6 by Ken on February 14, 2012 - 8:54 pm

    Those that are demanding the LDS Church stop practicing their religion is persecution and is the kind of hate that lead to the holocaust. Those that are offended by our practice should be ashamed and are hypocrites especially those that have been persecuted for their own beliefs.

  7. #7 by brewski on February 14, 2012 - 9:03 pm

    Ken,
    I’ll keep your being persecuted in mind next time I am told by a Mormon that this is “their” state and that it is perfectly fine for Mormon employers to discriminate against non Mormons.

  8. #8 by Ken on February 14, 2012 - 9:05 pm

    This would be like the LDS Church demanding Jews stop eating Kosher. It was a heinous act to even ask the LDS Church to stop.

  9. #9 by brewski on February 14, 2012 - 9:07 pm

    Pretty bad analogy Ken. Try again.

  10. #10 by cav on February 14, 2012 - 9:40 pm

    Really, it’s not as though the peculiar practice has even the smallest shred impact on the Objective world. Or presumably any other world – aside from the fold’s idiosyncratic frame.

    Baptize away. Grow fins.

  11. #11 by cav on February 14, 2012 - 10:06 pm

    I wonder why it is no one seem to properly appreciate whiny-assed victimhood anymore. Seems to have gone the way of so many other things. And good riddance.

  12. #12 by cav on February 15, 2012 - 8:38 am

    Pastafarians baptize in the names of excommunicated Saints, they always come out soft, noodley and supremely heavenly.

    The Church of the Sub-Genius baptize teetotalers in High-test Jello-shots and other ‘candy’ alcoholic confections, I believe.

    This is REAL too! No joke.

    But, it just now occurs to me; there may be a pact between these Churches and the institutions sitting on whatever confiscated wealth the deceased may have stashed away in, Swiss Banks for example. I suppose they’d love to have some ‘case’ for the ownership of that supposedly sizable package.

  13. #13 by Glenden Brown on February 15, 2012 - 9:29 am

    Ken – I believe that as a matter of sensitivity and in the spirit of ecumenism, the LDS church could agree to at least flag the names of person in their genealogical databases who were or are suspected of being Holocaust victims and not having proxy baptism for those individuals. It’s not about stopping the rite entirely but rather recognizing that this situation is unique and requires extra care and attention.

    I’m sure you understand why the Jewish community finds this act particularly offensive. We’re talking about persons who were murdered solely because of their religious identity. For LDS persons and the institution to hold proxy baptisms for them is an affront to their memories. The church has repeatedly offered assurances such baptisms would no longer place and yet we keep discovering instances in which it has happened.

  14. #14 by Shane on February 15, 2012 - 9:38 am

    The holocast Ken? Really?

    No one is asking you to drink caffine, or stop wearing magic underwear, they just want you to pretend to respect their dead. Why is that too much to ask?

    Oh I forgot, when your beliefs infringe on others it is your freedom of religion, but when actual real rights like marriage are on the line you can ignore the constitution and go all prop 8 on everyone right? Your right to get wet in the name of people you never knew even though it insults their actual living decendents is just fine, but somehow if Bill and Fred get married it threatens your marriage? What kind of make believe world do you have to live in to make that make sense in your mind? And I am amazed you are a science denier! Ha! That is nothing!

    It is long past time your entire embaresment of a religion grew up. Take a message to the ward, stop acting like children if you want to be treated like adults.

    • #15 by Glenden Brown on February 15, 2012 - 10:09 am

      Here’s an article on the topic of baptism for the dead. My favorite quote:

      “It’s such a quirky practice,” she said of the posthumous baptisms, which many Mormons believe are an act of reverence and love. “What’s happened is that Mormons have gone underground.”

  15. #16 by brewski on February 15, 2012 - 10:15 am

    Glenden,
    If being killed for your religious identity is the standard for not having a proxy baptism in one’s name, there there are a whole lot of other people in addition to the Holocaust victims who should also be on that list. Christians by Romans, Pagans by Christians, Christians by Moors, Moors by Christians, Christians by atheist communists, Protestants by Catholics, Catholics by Protestants etc etc etc. So we need to expand the list of people whom not to baptize by proxy to many millions more than only the Holocaust list.

  16. #17 by Glenden Brown on February 15, 2012 - 12:30 pm

    brewski – sure why not, but the LDS church hasn’t agreed to stop performing baptism for the dead for those folks and then failed to live up to its agreement. I’m also unaware of the descendants of such persons specifically asking them to stop performing the rite for their ancestors.

    As I said before, I don’t believe this rite is performed with malicious intent. Richard Dawkins recounts a story of a teenage girl baptising a jewish baby then stealing the baby from his parents claiming that since they weren’t christians, they weren’t fit to raise their own son. There’s some historical resonances here that are part and parcel of the problem beyond simple the question of Jewishness, at least to my mind.

  17. #18 by Barry on February 15, 2012 - 12:47 pm

    Even if the LDS Church tries to be sensitive about this, it’s not that easy to create a foolproof net to catch Holocaust victims in the database. It turns out that even if we knew the names and birth dates of all the Holocaust victims, some people born on the same day have the same name. And even if the LDS Church were to flag the names of all known Holocaust victims in its own databases, people are constantly adding new names to those databases, and sometimes there are duplicates that don’t get caught for a while.

    So Glenden, the fact is that the LDS Church is trying to handle this as sensitively as possible, but your failure to understand why it’s so difficult to put a foolproof system in place reveals only that you haven’t thought about it much.

    For Pete’s sake, unroll your panties about such stuff. Probably tens of thousands (at least) fundamentalist Christians pray (a religious ritual) for the Mormons to see the error of their ways. So what? I wouldn’t even care if they thought their secret prayers actually secretly converted us. LDS proxy baptisms are merely supposed to allow people to accept the LDS religion after death IF THEY WANT TO. Again, so what?

    • #19 by Glenden Brown on February 15, 2012 - 1:13 pm

      Barry – No one is expecting a fool proof system – but from where I sit, it seems as if the LDS church isn’t trying handle the issue as sensitively as possible. They’ve known there’s an issue for a long time and yet it keeps happening. That suggests that they’re doing precious little.

      Take the case that brought this issue to light again – Simon Wiesenthal’s parents. Are we supposed to believe some lineal descendant requested the rite? Really? That seems likely to you?

  18. #20 by Ken on February 15, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    There is a misconception that we are baptizing the dead into the Church and then they are counted as church members. This is not the case. The work is merely done for them so they can accept it or reject it in the afterlife. It is entirely up to them. There is no loss to free agency.

  19. #21 by Shane on February 15, 2012 - 2:18 pm

    Ken there is a misconception that what you just said matters to the people the practice offends. It doesn’t.

    Either way, the church has said it would stop in certain cases. It hasnt. No dogma changes that. And to further suggest that what was requested is somehow like the holocost is to basically announce that you have no idea what is happening. Or what happened. Certainly one of them, perhaps both.

  20. #22 by Barry on February 15, 2012 - 2:42 pm

    Glenden,

    The LDS Church already INSTRUCTS individual members to only submit names for which they are descendants, or have permission from the descendants. What you are suggesting is that the LDS Church should institute a policy that they have to PROVE they are descendants before submitting. That would bog down the system in so much red tape that it would be unworkable.

    And if you had actually followed the previous instances of this “controversy” popping up, then you would have known that the Church spokespeople have brought up such difficulties in the past. They have, in fact, never promised to implement a system so foolproof that someone couldn’t get around it if they wanted to. For Pete’s sake, for many years certain idiots got it into their heads that they should submit Adolph Hitler’s name for Temple work. No matter how often it was taken off the roles, some moron would do it again.

    You quite candidly say that you don’t think anyone is doing this out of malicious intent. So ask yourself this. What kind of jackass would spend his/her life perusing the LDS Temple records to see if they can find some dead person’s name that would offend someone by being there? I think that if you’re honest, you will have to admit that such a person is a complete TOOL. And yet, here you are getting hot and bothered about it when you know full well that nobody meant any harm.

    Take a lesson from Brigham Young. “He who takes offense when offense is not intended is a fool.”

    • #23 by Glenden Brown on February 15, 2012 - 3:19 pm

      Barry read Shane’s comment – they said they’d stop something happening and they haven’t stopped it. Isn’t that really what it boils down to? It keeps coming up, it keeps happening.

      We don’t need to attribute any effects to the rite to nevertheless understand why it might offend people.

  21. #24 by Larry Bergan on February 15, 2012 - 2:50 pm

    Barry is right when he says:

    LDS proxy baptisms are merely supposed to allow people to accept the LDS religion after death IF THEY WANT TO.

    If they baptize a holocaust victim and nothing happens, so what? If, in fact, that holocaust victim is able to choose whether he wants to become a Mormon in the afterlife, that means that Mormonism IS the one, true religion and the victim may benefit.

    I don’t see what the fuss is all about.

  22. #25 by cav on February 15, 2012 - 3:13 pm

    No way ‘regular guy’ Mitt Rmoney, is going to escape these preposterous behaviors.

  23. #26 by Barry on February 15, 2012 - 3:30 pm

    Glenden,

    They said they would do what they could to stop it happening, and your entire case against them is that whatever they have done, it hasn’t worked absolutely perfectly. And why did they say they would try to stop it? Because they understand why it might offend some people.

    Here’s a little exercise for you, in case you want to try to be fair to the LDS instead of criticizing them over stupid, nitpicky stuff like this. 1) Look up all the past instances where this problem was raised, and 2) see how many names were found since the last time it cropped up. Is there a trend? That is, does the number of Holocaust names that show up seem to be increasing, decreasing, or staying steady? Such an exercise might actually be valuable feedback, whereas simply demanding perfection is the mark of a (fill in the blank–what would you call such a person?).

    Face it. Your blog post is petty.

  24. #27 by brewski on February 15, 2012 - 3:43 pm

    It’s only offensive to the extent that it matters and whether people think that it matters. In one sense while I am sure it is not malicious, it is at least condescending the presumptuous.

    The number of self-identified Mormons is something like 6 million people. So if the world has about 7,000,000,000 people, than means that 0.0857% of the world thinks that they need to save the other 99.9143% of the people by baptizing them on their behalf without asking them. On the other hand, some of those 99.9143% have been asked when they had some pimply kid in a white shirt knock on their door. Nevertheless, even when some of those 99.9143% said no that they will get baptized by proxy anyway.

    And Mormons wonder why non-Mormons think they are a kooky cult?

  25. #28 by Glenden Brown on February 15, 2012 - 3:51 pm

    Tell you what, visit the synagogue and let them know this a petty concern, then we can talk. If they’ve left any metaphorical flesh on your bones.

    You want to argue “it doesn’t happen often therefore it doesn’t matter.” That’s your right. If something only happens only once a year but happens each and every year, it becomes a pattern. In the beginning of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera talks about the idea that something that only happens once has no weight, but something that reoccurs generation after generation, year after year, become weighty. (that’s a really truncated version of what he wrote about and someone like Shane who is a philosopher could add far more meaning but it’s what stuck with me from the novel.) The weight of Jewish persecution and harm is immense, it has occurred generation after generation, century after century. When even well meaning Mormons submit the names of holocaust survivors, they are invoking that weight of persecution. I mentioned above the story Richard Dawkins shared of a Christian teenager baptising a jewish baby then stealing that baby from his parents. In the world here and now, without any reference to or concern with the afterlife, these acts are offensive. At some point, the church’s promises to correct this problem become hollow, it can begin to seem that the offense it intended. Maybe in a generation or two it won’t be the same, but now it is problematic.

    I would also suggest that it fits into a larger pattern of Mormon attitudes toward other faiths – one that dismisses their concerns, that treats those faiths as lesser, as false, as unworthy of respect. Bear in mind, that’s not a universal experience – I’ve seen many, many Mormons engage in respectful and meaningful ecumenism, efforts which can be undermined by recurring controversies. (I’d make an analogy to official Mormondom’s behavior and words towards glbt persons; every step forward is accompanied by three steps back.)

  26. #29 by Glenden Brown on February 15, 2012 - 3:53 pm

    brewski – that’s a side of your personality that’s fun to see. Trenchant, witty, pithy and ironic.

  27. #30 by Ken on February 15, 2012 - 4:41 pm

    This reminds me when Mel Gibson made the Passion of the Christ and some Jewish groups went crazy because Gibson portrayed the movie to the letter of scripture and they went crazy wanting him to change things ie non-scriptural. Really it was the New Testament they were protesting and using Gibson’s movie as a proxy.

    It is the same situation where they are trying to dictate practices of another religion because it offends them.

  28. #32 by cav on February 15, 2012 - 4:46 pm

    I disagree that this is stupid nitpicky stuff. This is at bottom reflective of magical thinking that really has no place in the world as we’ve come to know it.

    Now, you can believe the world is flat – that does not make it so.

    The offense, for me anyway, isn’t that they are offering Jews, or anyone else for that matter, a second shot of adopting some preposterous faith which they, in their deadness can opt out of they choose – it is that the Church persists in making any kind of deal regarding such nonsense.

    People can’t handle not knowing what is, so they paint pretty pictures of what they’d like it to be, then pitch the nonsense to their kids as though there was something more to it than any imaginitive campfire story.

  29. #33 by cav on February 15, 2012 - 4:52 pm

    Call me disrespectful, but I’m much to rational for this continuing goofiness.

  30. #34 by Barry on February 15, 2012 - 6:34 pm

    Cav @31 has hit the nail on the head. Most of you are really offended by baptism for the dead because it strongly implies that Mormons think their religion is right! How can modern people tolerate others thinking they are right, especially when they are obviously wrong, because they contradict your opinions?

    And just think, the original pretense of this discussion, in which you have exposed yourself as raging bigots, was to discuss how insensitive the Mormons are! Priceless.

  31. #35 by brewski on February 15, 2012 - 7:32 pm

    I have never witnessed an actual crucifixion, but I would hazard a guess that they were all pretty bloody.

  32. #36 by cav on February 15, 2012 - 8:08 pm

    Disclaimer: I’m a carpenter myself and know which end of a hammer packs its punch. I’ve seen baptism from both sides, and much prefer simpler. I value my insecurities.

  33. #37 by cav on February 15, 2012 - 10:28 pm

    Further disclaimer in case Barry is accusing anyone besides me of insensitivity, I would like to suggest most others – to my way of thinking, attempted not to be so. I, projecting the position that there is no room in the universe for both God’s will and random chance, abandoned my questioning mind, prompting Barry to take my words as a ‘correctly’ professed accusation of wrongness.

    I will say that all ways of making sense of the world are riddled with problems and inconsistencies. Yet that doesn’t stop us from trying to make sense of it.

    The key for me is to find ways to use randomness and my valued insecurity to some advantage. I Understand others have English translation (be they correct or not) of, and trendy commentary on the sacred texts to which they sometimes sheepishly adhere.Yet Mystery remains an abiding principle, even though we want to reject it.

    So, in the same way I resist others foisting their beliefs on me, I do hope I haven’t teen to strident in laying my own on you.

  34. #38 by Larry Bergan on February 15, 2012 - 11:14 pm

    I have to agree with Glenden. The Mormons should stand by their word and either stop baptizing dead holocaust victims, tell them they don’t intend to stop or punish people in their faith who disobey.

    Ken will decline to respond to hard questions. He always does that.

  35. #39 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 7:01 am

    Glenden @28,

    Let’s deconstruct your last attempt to defend yourself against the charge that your blog post was simply a petty excuse to vent some of your anti-Mormon feelings.

    Before you will consider anything I have to say, you require that I visit a synagogue and announce to the assembled Jews that their concerns about Mormon baptism for the dead are petty. But then, I didn’t actually say that I thought THEIR concerns were petty. I said I thought YOUR blog post, in which you demanded that the Church exercise perfect control over millions of individuals, was petty.

    Let’s just get that out of the way from the start. I don’t see you as a spokesman for the Jews.

    Then you twist my words to mean that things that don’t happen often, don’t matter. You even put it in quotation marks, even though I said nothing of the sort. Pay attention. I said that the Church (as an institution) has been trying to get its members (millions of individuals) to comply with their rules about submitting names to the Temple, but a truly foolproof system would be unworkable. Therefore, the fact that someone still can slip through a Holocaust victim’s name once in a while doesn’t necessarily mean that the Church (as an institution) hasn’t been putting forth a reasonable effort.

    To bolster your strawman point, you then compare LDS baptism for the dead (which doesn’t affect any living people, is done out of the public eye , and is not publicized) to a Christian teenager baptizing and stealing a Jewish baby. Let’s just say that you’re obviously trying WAY too hard, here.

    Next, you say this. “I would also suggest that it fits into a larger pattern of Mormon attitudes toward other faiths – one that dismisses their concerns, that treats those faiths as lesser, as false, as unworthy of respect.” Ahhh, here we come to the crux of the matter. You are apparently one of those individuals for whom “tolerance” is the supreme virtue. But for people like you, “tolerance” doesn’t mean “tolerating” beliefs and attitudes that disagree with your own. Rather, it means adopting some sort of saucer-eyed belief that all opinions are equally valid, and equally likely to be correct. The one thing you can’t “tolerate,” however, is people who think their own opinions are the most likely to be correct. How dare they?

    Finally, you say one thing that may have some merit, but doesn’t really have much to do with the case under discussion. “I’d make an analogy to official Mormondom’s behavior and words towards glbt persons; every step forward is accompanied by three steps back.” On the one hand, this is yet another expression of your aversion toward anyone who holds strong opinions opposed to your own. On the other hand, at least here the Church has actually promoted actions (like Prop. 8) that have some real effects on LGBT people’s lives. From a certain point of view (in which government-sanctioned marriage is a “right”,) that could legitimately be interpreted as “persecution”.

    So try dealing with my actual criticisms. Your entire case is that you think the LDS Church has been disingenuous because they haven’t implemented a foolproof system to stop submission of Holocaust victims to the Temple. And yet, you make no attempt to grapple with the real issues that would hamper the implementation of such a system, and you make no attempt to gauge whether what the Church HAS done has had any positive effects. You just demand immediate perfection, which marks you as someone who is simply looking for an excuse to find fault.

  36. #40 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 7:54 am

    Larry @38,

    What, exactly, would you suggest the LDS Church do to “punish” people who submit Holocaust victims’ names to the Temple? Should they make allowances for unintentional mistakes, or should your Inquisition demand perfection, regardless of intentions?

  37. #41 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 7:59 am

    Brewski @27,

    “It’s only offensive to the extent that it matters and whether people think that it matters. In one sense while I am sure it is not malicious, it is at least condescending the presumptuous.”

    This is yet another example of how the real issue for some of the commenters here is that the Mormons have the gall to think they are right and others are at least “less right”. Oh, how condescending and quaintly pre-post-modern it is for people to hold strong opinions!

  38. #42 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 8:03 am

    Oh, and Larry @38,

    Did you read this passage from the article Glenden linked?

    “‘We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the church led to the inappropriate submission of these names,’ Michael Purdy, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a statement issued Monday. ‘We consider this a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person’s ability to access our genealogy records.’”

    I gather you don’t think this punishment is enough. What, exactly, do you demand happen? Excommunication? The rack? Should the offender be drawn and quartered? Do tell what you have in mind.

  39. #43 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 8:07 am

    Glenden,

    Did you see my last comment, where the following passage from the article you linked was quoted?

    “We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the church led to the inappropriate submission of these names,” Michael Purdy, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a statement issued Monday. “We consider this a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person’s ability to access our genealogy records.”

    I have to say that it astonishes me that putting sanctions on members of the LDS Church who break the Temple submission rules isn’t enough to convince you that the Church is putting forth some kind of reasonable effort to enforce their rules.

  40. #44 by cav on February 16, 2012 - 8:57 am

    Still thinks most dogma is only an attempt to freeze time and promote authoritarianism.

  41. #45 by cav on February 16, 2012 - 9:05 am

    Sums up all human experience. Period, end of story. Or not?

  42. #46 by cav on February 16, 2012 - 9:15 am

    If not carefully controlled, what fresh Hell would the _____________tribe be foisting of on us now?

    (Backs slowly away from the tread – keeping a watchful eye on Barry)

  43. #47 by cav on February 16, 2012 - 9:19 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=olLDrvc1qt4#!

    Unmitigated trollery! And I said I was a carpenter. Scoff.

  44. #48 by cav on February 16, 2012 - 10:47 am

    In remembrance of all Holocaust victims – isn’t it surprising / at all suspicious, that people on both sides of the “Israel / Iran war froth are being killed by ‘motorcycling, magnet-bomb planting assassins?

    To me, there is a greater than normal suggestion of Provocation by some third party.

    Makes the stomach churn as we again get our wars on…well the bright side – bomb, drone and bullet manu’s and users will have cause for another gleeful trip to the bank. Even more baptisms to process.

  45. #49 by Glenden Brown on February 16, 2012 - 11:08 am

    You’ve built up quite a head of steam, there, Barry. Yet despite offering some weak as water reasons the LDS church hasn’t done what it said it would, you’ve entirely not addressed the issue. No one said it would be easy for the church to stop baptizing Holocaust victims. But the church has repeatedly said it would do so and obviously has not.

    What’s interesting to me is that you are trying to turn a discussion of the church’s apparent failure to make good on its commitment into a fight between Mormons and non-Mormons. To do this, you’ve constructed several straw men – for instance the claim that anyone has called for a perfect system; you invented that no one called for such a thing. You’ve claimed without evidence that the problem is intolerance of Mormon beliefs; it’s a convenient straw man that allows you to cast Mormons as victims without actually grappling with the critique of the behavior which is the issue.

    A while back, I wrote a post entitled Rehearsing Mormonism’s Persecution Narrative (Further Thoughts on Religious freedom). In your comments, I see the dynamic I identified in that post:

    [Cannon’s editorial is intended for a Mormon audience, intended to rally the faithful to the defense of the faith. Cannon like Dallin Oaks assumes that criticism of Mormonism is per se unacceptable and amounts to an attack on Mormonism . . .

    Mormon mythology requires that Mormons were/are innocent victims. In the aftermath of Prop 8, the outpouring of anger at the Mormon church’s political activities actually surprised a great many faithful members of the LDS church. So ingrained is the notion of Mormon victimhood that members could not actually believe – and continue to not believe – that the Mormon church of today is not the besieged minority religion of the 1840s. Cannon’s editorial reinforces the mindset of many Mormons – inviting them not to reflect on the role the church played in politics but instead to see themselves and their church as besieged victims of overpowering outside forces.

    Claims that any church possesses anything like the truth do not withstand much critical scrutiny. I’ve addresed this before (here):

    Enlightenment thinkers did not reject objective truth, they rejected revealed truth. The idea of revealed truth lays at the center of Mormonism. Revealed truth is offered by prophets and religious figures as more valid than observed truth. The Enlightenment invited the Western world to begin examining the natural world in a deep, methodical way and to ask questions about what is accepted. It’s an old part of school science classes to point out that natural processes explain the world around us. Valid knowledge is testable, replicable, and measurable. To put it another way, the Enlightenment’s greatest gift to us was the scientific method. Just one example: during the long dreary age of faith that preceded the Enlightenment, people believed mental illness was caused by demonic possession; science has learned better and we now know in fact that mental illness has organic causes – the brain isn’t working right and we have (albeit imperfect) far better treatments than simply locking someone up or attempting an exorcism to treat mental illness.

    Okay and I keep getting distracted so I’ll post this now and come back.

  46. #50 by cav on February 16, 2012 - 11:54 am

    Unless thoroughly trained in the subtleties of correct hammer operation, it’s use should be left to those who have, until proper supervision can be arranged.

  47. #51 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 2:30 pm

    Hi Glenden @49,

    You say:

    No one said it would be easy for the church to stop baptizing Holocaust victims. But the church has repeatedly said it would do so and obviously has not.

    Can you point me to where the Church promised it would never happen again? I seem to remember them promising to make a rule against it and try to enforce the rule, but then explaining that it’s hard to enforce it perfectly. In this case, the rule was broken by an individual, and the Church put sanctions on that individual. Can you tell me what more you think they should have done? Because you haven’t ever said what you think they should have done, except to say: “Mormon leaders should figure out a solution and soon.”

    You then say that I’ve

    constructed several straw men – for instance the claim that anyone has called for a perfect system; you invented that no one called for such a thing.

    Yes, you keep saying that you don’t require the LDS to have a perfect system, but then you always follow up such claims with statements that the bottom line is that “it keeps happening.” For instance, @19 you say:

    Barry – No one is expecting a fool proof system – but from where I sit, it seems as if the LDS church isn’t trying handle the issue as sensitively as possible. They’ve known there’s an issue for a long time and yet it keeps happening. That suggests that they’re doing precious little.

    Let’s break that down. You say that 1) no one is asking for a “perfect system,” but then imply that 2) whatever “imperfect” system the Church is supposed to adopt, the issue is never supposed to crop up again.

    Ummmm… exactly WHAT does the word “perfect” mean to you?

    As I pointed out, you have made absolutely no attempt to find out whether the Church’s policies about this have had any positive or negative effect on the frequency of this problem. All you have done is point to the fact that it still happens from time to time. So the problem is not that I’m creating strawmen, but rather that you can’t seem to mentally process the implications of your own words.

    So here’s the bottom line, Glenden. 1) Tell us all what level of imperfection is acceptable to you (once a year, two years, 20 years?), and then 2) make some attempt to determine how far off the Church is from meeting your expectations and whether they are making any progress toward that goal. Otherwise, you should 3) stop whining.

    And for the record, I don’t feel persecuted by you. I feel annoyed by you. Specifically, I find your self-contradiction annoying, your whininess annoying, and your pseudo-intellectual claptrap annoying.

    WRT your “pseudo-intellectual claptrap,” here is Exhibit A:

    The Enlightenment invited the Western world to begin examining the natural world in a deep, methodical way and to ask questions about what is accepted. It’s an old part of school science classes to point out that natural processes explain the world around us. Valid knowledge is testable, replicable, and measurable. To put it another way, the Enlightenment’s greatest gift to us was the scientific method.

    What nonsense. What you’ve just described is called “Positivism,” which has been discredited in the Philosophy of Science for over 50 years. (And btw, I’m a PhD scientist who has taken multiple philosophy of science classes and published papers about teaching philosophy of science in introductory classes.)

  48. #52 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 2:39 pm

    And by the way, Glenden, you may be surprised by this, but you can actually look up what the Church promised, rather than waving your hands and claiming that they promised not to do it anymore. For instance, read this 2008 news release. Here’s an excerpt.

    The Church stands by its word. It has no intention of performing baptisms or other rites in its temples for Holocaust victims, except in the very rare instances where such people may have living descendants who are members of the Church. Such exceptions were noted and agreed to in 1995. The understanding reached in 1995 determined that the Church would remove Holocaust names from its public database immediately, which the Church has done. It further said that Jewish groups would provide to the Church any names that reappeared on the database so the Church could remove them. The Church cannot understand why Mr. Michel has refused now to provide those names to the Church so the Church can maintain the spirit of that 1995 understanding.

    Can you point to anyplace where the LDS Church has promised what YOU said they have promised?

  49. #53 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    Glenden,

    Also check out this 2005 press release. Here is an excerpt.

    Representatives of the Family and Church History Department spent considerable time explaining the processes and mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure consistency, as far as possible, with Church policies and procedures.

    Did you catch that “as far as possible”?

    Also look at the most recent press release. Here is an excerpt.

    The policy of the Church is that members can request these baptisms only for their own ancestors. Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited.

    In this case, the Wiesel family names were not submitted for baptisms but simply entered into a genealogical database. Our system would have rejected those names had they been submitted.

    In a few instances, names have been submitted in violation of policy. Whether this is done by simple error or for other reasons, the Church considers these submissions to be a serious breach of protocol.

    So it seems that the Church has protocols in place for its own systems, but someone found a way to circumvent that. Now that it has come up, maybe they can close that loophole.

  50. #54 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 2:49 pm

    Sorry, here is the link for the most recent press release.

  51. #55 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 2:56 pm

    And btw, did you notice how in the latest case the Wiesel family names were NOT submitted for baptism?

    So after all your whining about how “The Mormon Church Still Can’t Figure How to Not Conduct Proxy Baptisms of Victims of the Holocaust,” it turns out that this time THERE WAS NO PROXY BAPTISM.

    Please apologize in an update to your post.

  52. #56 by Glenden Brown on February 16, 2012 - 3:14 pm

    So you’re a PhD level scientist who believes natural processes don’t explain the world around us? So you’re claiming science doesn’t believe natural processes explain the world around us? Where’d you get your degree? Hogwarts?

  53. #57 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    Glenden @56,

    No comment about how the LDS Church didn’t actually do what you accused them of?

    And yes, Naturalism is a fundamental assumption of science. So what? When scientists do science, we routinely assume things for the sake of simplicity that they KNOW are not exactly true, or not always true. E.g., for many calculations I can assume the Earth is a sphere. It isn’t EXACTLY a sphere, but the assumption is close enough for many purposes. Likewise, when I do science, I assume Naturalistic causes are at work, but just because I make that assumption for a particular purpose, it doesn’t follow that I have to believe to my core that Naturalistic causes are the ONLY causes that EVER operate in the world.

    The key point to take away here is that Naturalism is a convenient ASSUMPTION, and assumptions can’t be proven.

  54. #58 by Glenden Brown on February 16, 2012 - 3:33 pm

    It wasn’t Elie Wiesel that brought this issue up, it was the baptism of Simon Wiesenthal’s parents.

    There was an article on HuffPo Tuesday alleging Wiesel’s name was submitted for proxy baptism but I’ve pointed out we’re talking about Simon Wiesenthal’s deceased parents. Wiesel is still alive so what would that have done to the cosmic slot machine? A baptism for the dead for someone who’s not dead would probably short circuit the whole mechanism.

  55. #59 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 3:56 pm

    Glenden @58,

    Sorry about my mistake.

    However, you seem to be imputing beliefs to Mormons that we don’t actually hold. That is, WE never said that mistakes are impossible in such rituals, and WE never said that mistakes like that have some magical, cosmic significance. For Mormons, rituals are generally a way of formalizing a covenant with God, which is one reason why we don’t think baptism for the dead does anything for people who don’t accept the covenant. Perhaps you are confusing us with Catholics, who do believe that baptism does something to people, regardless of whether they accept it (which is why they baptize infants).

    I’m betting you knew all that, however. You just wanted to put in another petty little dig at the Mormons.

    Now, back to my challenges. I said:

    So here’s the bottom line, Glenden. 1) Tell us all what level of imperfection is acceptable to you (once a year, two years, 20 years?), and then 2) make some attempt to determine how far off the Church is from meeting your expectations and whether they are making any progress toward that goal. Otherwise, you should 3) stop whining.

    And:

    Can you point to anyplace where the LDS Church has promised what YOU said they have promised?

    Are you going to attempt either?

    • #60 by Glenden Brown on February 17, 2012 - 2:07 pm

      Barry – I keep getting distracted today so if this response is disjointed, please ask for clarification.

      It seems to me that you’re saying baptism for the dead is a meaningless ritual – that it has no effect or force. As I understand the theology, the claim is that certain things have to be done on earth baptism being one of those things. That makes absolutely no sense. If we accept the claim that God wants people baptized, but someone wasn’t for whatever reason, why would god not be able to fix that in the heaven or the afterlife or whatever we’re calling it. What’s more, why should god need those acts done at all. It seems to me that in the afterlife or heaven or whatever we’re calling it, then souls there would have more information about that real than we have here, including probably the existence of God. If God is real and the afterlife is real and souls can convert to Mormonism in the afterlife, then why should they need baptism for the dead? There’s a bigger than normal amount of mumbo jumbo here. By way of contrast, most mainline protestants that I know consider baptism a ritual about joining community.

      It seems to me that there is a disconnect in how you describe baptism for the dead. If it is an important ritual, wouldn’t you strive to avoid mistakes? And if its an important ritual, the wouldn’t mistakes be considered problematic? But then you talk about it as simply “entering into covenant.” I think that gets us into an area that Mormon use of terminology is different than other Christian use of the same terms. For example, I’ve heard Mormons talk about the gospel in ways that is distinctly at variance with other Christian use of the same term – if often seems that Mormon use of Gospel corresponds to obedience to moral rules rather than the good news of other Christian theology. Like Shane, I heard baptism for the dead described by Mormons as post death conversion to the faith. I also heard baptism in the Mormon context explained as washing away one’s sins (a Mormon leader demonstrated this by putting blue dye in water, then adding bleach and describing that as baptism).

  56. #61 by cav on February 16, 2012 - 7:18 pm

    Barry, by way of clarification, are you suggesting baptism for the dead has an essential equivalence with the remembrance when eating and drinking sacrament that it is God’s blood and body? I confess, I never thought of it that way. My take heretofore was something akin to converting dead people – projecting in their silence adoption of the dogma.

  57. #62 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 7:30 pm

    Cav #60,

    Yes, that’s the concept.

  58. #63 by brewski on February 16, 2012 - 7:58 pm

    Jesus commanded us to drink wine and eat bread and remember Him.

    While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

    He did not command us to baptize dead people.

    So there is no “equivalence”.

    Not understanding the difference between the two is why Christians hesitate in calling Mormons, Christians.

    Also, most non-Catholic Christians don’t believe in transubstantiation. Nor do a lot of Catholics.

  59. #64 by cav on February 16, 2012 - 8:23 pm

    First, it is not as though we really do what Jesus said we ought to be doing.

    Second, it’s been suggested, even in the face of ‘One-True-Churchism’, that there have been other prophets and revelators – that not all of their commandments have 100% overlap, and that even so, any little ‘god spawn’ with a mind for such things still has the prerogative to view bathing ritualistically or ritual bathing as a covenant with their Creator.

  60. #65 by Barry on February 16, 2012 - 8:35 pm

    brewski,

    I don’t know what you are talking about. I thought Cav was asking about how MORMONS view baptism for the dead. For US, both of them are rituals meant to make covenants with God, and baptism for the dead isn’t supposed to DO anything for or to the deceased without their consent.

  61. #66 by cav on February 16, 2012 - 10:04 pm

    Barry, I was, you answered and I appreciate that.

  62. #67 by Shane on February 17, 2012 - 8:15 am

    Barry, having been brought up mormon, and having done baptism for the dead, I have to disagree. Everyone who ever spoke to me about the topic and all those who performed the ritual that I know of saw it as exactly a ritual of converting dead people. That may not be the churches position, but it is the understanding of literally every Mormon I have ever known on the practice. So the LDS church is failing twice. They are not doing the job of removing names they said they would do, and they are not explaining the ritual to some fair percentage of those doing it.

    Also, one of your posts implies that the scientific method is equal to positivism. You might want to rephrase that. Glen is writIng about the enlightenment in a perfectly acceptable way. For you to tell him that his talk about a movement from the, what, 1600-1700s (?) is actually about Comte or Weber is pretty disingenuous. Positivism is an entirely different beast than making a claim that the scientific method works or the world runs on natural processes.

    I do hope this isn’t an example of how you teach philosophy of science.

  63. #68 by cav on February 17, 2012 - 2:30 pm

    If we could only apply these mind-strengths and logics to the absurdity that is our federal government, I’d say a gargantuan ‘Huzzah’ and never stop applauding.

  64. #69 by Barry on February 17, 2012 - 6:14 pm

    Shane #66,

    I grew up Mormon, and still am. And I have never heard ANY Mormon ever say that baptism for the dead automatically converts anyone. So if what you say is true, then you must have been running with a particularly ignorant bunch of Mormons. If you don’t believe me about this, look it up on Wikipedia.

    Also, my post did not imply that the scientific method is equal to Positivism. I said that Glenden’s description of “the Scientific Method” was essentially Positivist philosophy of science, which has been long discredited.

  65. #70 by Shane on February 17, 2012 - 8:48 pm

    I didn’t say they were particularly bright, I simply stated their beliefs. The point is that if members of the faith can be under that impression, then is it really shocking that people outside the faith believe it? And I don’t need to look it up. The reason I so well know the position of so many LDS members is because I spent a few years in my youth trying to explain that they were wrong, that the church in fact claimed otherwise. I am not claiming you are not explaining dogma, but that others fail to understand it.

    While you may not feel you are saying the scientific method IS positivism, you are still implying it. And Glens description of it is hardly Positivist, or at least not any more than it could also be described as “Naturalist” or “Empirical” or “enlightenment based”. One of the common complaints about the strict positivists was that the movement seemed to rule out such things as abstract thoughts. Is that something you feel Glens discription does as well? Or perhaps you feel he is discussing what is experienced by scientists rather than the universe as it actually is?

    Not to mention that “lacking in followers” does not equal “discredited” by any stretch of the imagination.

    All of which you follow up with talk about “assuming naturalism” even though you “know it isn’t exactly true.” Really? You know that the universe doesn’t operate based on natural laws? You do your science based on natural laws for convenience but know that the real guiding principles are supernatural?

    …speaking of psuedo-intelectual claptrap and non-sense.

    Please do explain to me exactly what in the quote you take from Glen is “positivist” rather than a rough discription of basic enlightenment values. To be honest I can’t find a way to read what you quoted that makes it sound like positivism rather than basic empirical values. Maybe you can try explaining it.

  66. #71 by Barry on February 17, 2012 - 9:11 pm

    Hi Glenden @67,

    From the very earliest times (read some good Catholic commentaries that quote Early Church Fathers here) Christians have believed that baptism is a requirement for entry into the Kingdom of God. This goes back to John 3:5. Protestants have mostly jettisoned that view.

    This is why, for a long time, Catholics were very insistent that non-Catholics go to hell (whether Orthodox counted varied over the years), and why they thought unbaptized infants go to “Limbo”, which is neither heaven nor hell. Since Vatican II, especially, they have softened that, and there’s no hard stance on what happens to unbaptized infants, and they believe some people get to heaven who were never Catholics. Mormons believe BOTH that baptism is a requirement (except for little children who die) AND that people who died without a proper chance to be evangelized aren’t necessarily denied heaven. That’s where baptism for the dead comes in.

    But what if a ritual like baptism is performed, and it ends up not “taking”? Does that mean baptism is “meaningless”, as you suggest? Shouldn’t God be able to “fix” whatever glitches occur? Well, let’s ask an analogous question. Why did the Israelites have to sacrifice animals and such? Couldn’t God just forgive sins or whatever without that? But God did ask them to sacrifice, so it must have had SOME purpose.

    People of all religions I know perform burial rituals. And yet, most of them don’t think these rituals NECESSARILY do anything for the deceased. Catholics sometimes pray for the dead so they can move through Purgatory quicker, but they don’t think such prayers actually FORCE the deceased through Purgatory quicker.

    So what are these things all about? They bind us together with those who have passed on. When talking about baptism for the dead, Mormons usually point to Hebrews 11:39-40. The passage is talking about prophets and martyrs that lived before Jesus’ time.

    “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

    Huh? The author of Hebrews says that those long-dead people can’t “be made perfect” “without us”? What could WE possibly do for THEM that God couldn’t do Himself?

    Anyway, that’s how Mormons look at it. For us, the ritual has great meaning and purpose, and yet we don’t think of it as forcing anything on anyone. Which is why we are generally kind of astonished that anyone would make such a big deal about it, especially when the Church is trying to be sensitive to others’ feelings.

    You say:

    It seems to me that there is a disconnect in how you describe baptism for the dead. If it is an important ritual, wouldn’t you strive to avoid mistakes?

    So, in your mind, does “striving to avoid mistakes” mean “never making mistakes”? I’m not getting your point.

    And if its an important ritual, the wouldn’t mistakes be considered problematic?

    “Problematic” as in “should be avoided,” or as in “cause an existential meltdown whenever they happen”? Are you being serious? Perhaps you have Mormons confused with Fundamentalist Christians who can’t admit there are any mistakes in the Bible.

    But then you talk about it as simply “entering into covenant.” I think that gets us into an area that Mormon use of terminology is different than other Christian use of the same terms. For example, I’ve heard Mormons talk about the gospel in ways that is distinctly at variance with other Christian use of the same term – if often seems that Mormon use of Gospel corresponds to obedience to moral rules rather than the good news of other Christian theology.

    For us a “covenant” is sort of like a 2-way agreement.

    Mormons use several definitions for the word “Gospel”. One of them is “the Good News about Jesus” like everyone else uses it. Other definitions range from “revealed doctrine” to “the Church” to “the Commandments” to “all the Truth in the Universe.” If you hang around Mormons much, you will find them using all sorts of strange definitions of the word, and frankly, it annoys me, too, so you’re preaching to the choir on that one. It seems like we ought to make SOME attempt to not confuse outsiders by our idiosyncratic definitions if we are supposed to be sharing our faith with others.

    Like Shane, I heard baptism for the dead described by Mormons as post death conversion to the faith.

    See the link I gave Shane. Whoever talked to you must not have been striving very hard for completeness and clarity. Or they were ignoramuses.

    I also heard baptism in the Mormon context explained as washing away one’s sins (a Mormon leader demonstrated this by putting blue dye in water, then adding bleach and describing that as baptism).

    That one is a pretty common object lesson. Here’s a more technical explanation. Mormons believe that when people enter into the covenant of baptism, they are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ, i.e., their sins are forgiven through Christ’s Atonement. (Baptism doesn’t literally wash away sins. That’s just a metaphor.) After we are baptized, we also are given the Gift of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. If we accept this gift throughout life, we believe that the Holy Spirit gradually sanctifies our souls, changing our nature. So anyway, that’s what Mormon baptism is really all about–justification and sanctification. I don’t really think that particular point is so horribly different from how many other Christians view it.

  67. #72 by Barry on February 17, 2012 - 10:11 pm

    Hi Shane @70,

    I didn’t say they were particularly bright, I simply stated their beliefs. The point is that if members of the faith can be under that impression, then is it really shocking that people outside the faith believe it? And I don’t need to look it up. The reason I so well know the position of so many LDS members is because I spent a few years in my youth trying to explain that they were wrong, that the church in fact claimed otherwise. I am not claiming you are not explaining dogma, but that others fail to understand it.

    I don’t think it’s shocking. But I do think people should be called on it when they make public, snide remarks about other people’s beliefs, when they haven’t made any real attempt to find out what those beliefs are.

    Here’s an example. Mormons generally don’t understand the Trinity doctrine as taught in the Nicene Creed. Is that surprising? No, because most Christians who are supposed to believe it don’t understand it either, in my experience. But when some Mormon starts making some snotty comment about how stupid the Trinity doctrine is, based on a misunderstanding, I try to correct them.

    While you may not feel you are saying the scientific method IS positivism, you are still implying it. And Glens description of it is hardly Positivist, or at least not any more than it could also be described as “Naturalist” or “Empirical” or “enlightenment based”. One of the common complaints about the strict positivists was that the movement seemed to rule out such things as abstract thoughts. Is that something you feel Glens discription does as well? Or perhaps you feel he is discussing what is experienced by scientists rather than the universe as it actually is?

    Here’s what I thought was “positivist” sounding. Glenden said, “Valid knowledge is testable, replicable, and measurable.” The claim of the positivists was that only verifiable propositions are valid. It was “discredited” as soon as someone brought up the fact that this proposition was not verifiable. ;-) In reality, much of any scientific theory isn’t strictly “verifiable”. We can typically only verify certain points.

    All of which you follow up with talk about “assuming naturalism” even though you “know it isn’t exactly true.” Really? You know that the universe doesn’t operate based on natural laws? You do your science based on natural laws for convenience but know that the real guiding principles are supernatural?

    Go back and read what I actually said.

    I said scientists “routinely assume things for the sake of simplicity that they KNOW are not exactly true, or not always true.” I then used the assumption that the Earth is a sphere (for mathematical convenience) as an example. We use this assumption regularly, and yet we know it isn’t strictly true. I never said that I “know” that Naturalism “isn’t true.” I was merely explaining how it is that a scientist can be fine with assuming Naturalism for the purpose of doing scientific work, and yet not believe that every single thing in the Universe is the product of natural laws. If it’s a decent approximation of the truth, then it will be a good assumption for most purposes.

    I have no illusions about science and religion being in perfect harmony. If you have one system of thought that allows supernatural causes and another that doesn’t, they are going to conflict from time to time. So what? Lots of things in life aren’t perfect, but are still useful and good.

  68. #73 by Shane on February 17, 2012 - 10:12 pm

    With the trivial objection that most Christians think that the person being baptisied should actually be the person being baptisied and not someone else doing it in their name without right, reason or permission. Other than that, yeah, exactly how most other Christians do it.

  69. #74 by Shane on February 17, 2012 - 10:36 pm

    So you don’t think naturalism is in the same context as other assumptions that you “know aren’t true,” you just like to make sure that they are thrown in together in the discussion even though they aren’t related. Got it.

    I do like that after you claim you didn’t say that you know naturalism isn’t true, you then state that you believe it isn’t true.

    It is interesting that your discription of what sounds positivist sounds exactly like the common understanding of science. What Glen seems to be saying sounds rather more like Popper’s critic of positivism. The concern isnt that it is verifiable, but falsifiable. In the full quote, Glen was not making a claim that no metaphysics exists, or that all of knowledge can be codified into a single grand theory of science. He is simply pointing out that revealed truth doesn’t hold up to the common sense concept of verification. You can’t test it, because it is untestable. It is not falsifiable. That isn’t positivism. That is the critic of positivism.

    In any case, to suggest that in making a basic common sense appeal to science verses revealed truth he is in fact making the error of believing a “long discredited” philosophy is to make the most intellectual strawman I have ever seen. But it remains a strawman.

  70. #75 by Barry on February 18, 2012 - 1:17 am

    Shane @74,

    I do like that after you claim you didn’t say that you know naturalism isn’t true, you then state that you believe it isn’t true.

    Exactly. Now that we’ve cleared that up, can you explain why it’s so silly to believe something I can’t say I know for sure? I thought I was just being honest and precise by saying that, but apparently you think it’s some huge gaffe.

    It is interesting that your discription of what sounds positivist sounds exactly like the common understanding of science.

    Exactly. There is quite a bit of science education literature bemoaning the fact that the common understanding of science is positivist.

    What Glen seems to be saying sounds rather more like Popper’s critic of positivism. The concern isnt that it is verifiable, but falsifiable. In the full quote, Glen was not making a claim that no metaphysics exists, or that all of knowledge can be codified into a single grand theory of science. He is simply pointing out that revealed truth doesn’t hold up to the common sense concept of verification. You can’t test it, because it is untestable. It is not falsifiable. That isn’t positivism. That is the critic of positivism.

    You are mixing up concepts. “Verification” is determining that something is true. “Falsification” is determining that something is false. Popper’s whole point was that you can’t truly “verify” a theory–you can only falsify it. That’s why he said science is “forever tentative”.

    Later philosophers like Imre Lakatos and Thomas Kuhn showed, using concrete, historical examples, that Popper’s “falsificationism” was oversimplified, too. When an experiment doesn’t pan out, it’s often hard to determine what, exactly, has been falsified. Anyway, I like Popper ok, and he still has some followers. I just don’t see why you think Glenden’s discussion has anything to do with Popper.

    In any case, to suggest that in making a basic common sense appeal to science verses revealed truth he is in fact making the error of believing a “long discredited” philosophy is to make the most intellectual strawman I have ever seen. But it remains a strawman.

    So let me sum up what your main objections seem to be.

    1) You object that I called Glenden on making nasty comments about the Mormons that were at least partially based on his own misunderstanding of our beliefs. That’s my fault because lots of people have the same misconception, including (according to you), a number of ignorant Mormons.

    2) You object that I called Glenden on his weak attempt to show that my beliefs don’t deserve to be taken seriously because now we have “The Scientific Method,” which he clearly doesn’t understand. But that’s my fault because lots of people have the same misconception.

  71. #76 by Barry on February 18, 2012 - 1:21 am

    Shane @73,

    With the trivial objection that most Christians think that the person being baptisied should actually be the person being baptisied and not someone else doing it in their name without right, reason or permission. Other than that, yeah, exactly how most other Christians do it.

    So you agree with my comment that LDS view baptism (in general, and obviously not including proxy baptism) in a way that is pretty similar to how many other Christians view it?

  72. #77 by cav on February 18, 2012 - 8:45 am

    Can we now baptize umbilical chords and scrap placenta and get on with spiritual stem cell research in the kingdom?

  73. #78 by Shane on February 18, 2012 - 12:19 pm

    Exactly. Now that we’ve cleared that up, can you explain why it’s so silly to believe something I can’t say I know for sure? I thought I was just being honest and precise by saying that, but apparently you think it’s some huge gaffe.

    I have no problem with that. I have not stated it is any kind of problem for you to have a belief as opposed to knowledge. What I said was a problem was the way you are phrasing the issue. It really isn’t important.

    Exactly. There is quite a bit of science education literature bemoaning the fact that the common understanding of science is positivist.

    I would assume there is, but I don’t really know, it isn’t my area.

    The real problem is that when Glen makes a very commonly understood comparison between what he is thinking of as basically empericism and supernatural claims you acuse him of psuedo-intellectualism. Glen, in case you are unaware, is not a philosopher or a scientist. What he is really doing is using a generalization about science to make a point about your thoughts process as he sees it. That is something the average person does. Think of it this way, I may know that there are background metaphysical details about differnet views of science, but there are some basic assumptions we can still make to speak about the issue.

    …or if you prefer, I know the earth isn’t actually a sphere, but in most cases it just doesn’t change the math enough to make a difference. It might be considered an assumption for simplicities sake, because it is good enough to do the job.

    For you to ascribe to him a collection of metaphysical assumptions that he is not discussing or taking ownership in any way, and then use that assumption to claim that he is clinging to a discredited philosophy, is pretty pathetic. Especially because your “discredited” philosophy isn’t nearly as discredited as you make it sound.

    You are mixing up concepts. “Verification” is determining that something is true. “Falsification” is determining that something is false. Popper’s whole point was that you can’t truly “verify” a theory–you can only falsify it. That’s why he said science is “forever tentative”.

    No, I am not mixing up concepts. I am very well aware of the difference between falsification and verification. I am stating that based on what Glen said we could ascribe either one to him. Or niether. Yet you are projecting out to his comment a lot of bagage that he did subscribe to.

    So let me sum up what your main objections seem to be.
    1) You object that I called Glenden on making nasty comments about the Mormons that were at least partially based on his own misunderstanding of our beliefs. That’s my fault because lots of people have the same misconception, including (according to you), a number of ignorant Mormons.

    No, I object to your inability to see that the issue is a PR problem, and that the reason it is an issue is a lack of undertsanding of your beliefes. Which is shared at least in some part by your fellow members.

    You are esentially attacking the messenger. This is a PR issue, and your solution is to attack people who are pointing it out. Do you want the general population to think you are a collection of ignorant assholes? That is the outcome. Do you want to personally look like an ass for attacking the messenger? Your choice.

    2) You object that I called Glenden on his weak attempt to show that my beliefs don’t deserve to be taken seriously because now we have “The Scientific Method,” which he clearly doesn’t understand. But that’s my fault because lots of people have the same misconception.

    No, I object that you think that I or anyone else has to take your metaphysics seriously. We do have the scientific method, and while there is no reason to disreguard beliefs only because of it, there is no reason to accept your magical fairy thinking either. One of these systems has produced results. The other has produced nothing of value. It is your choice to follow it, but making fun of others as “pseudo-intelectual” when your own beliefs are not even of that level of intelectualism is pretty pathetic and a weapons grade level of projection.

    Or as Julia Sweeny points out “the invisible and the non-existant often look very much alike. The universe work exactly as we would expect it to if there where no supremem being.” The universe shows not one single bit of evidence for being more than a natural system. If you expect me to care about your metaphysics, you are going to need some pretty substantial evidence.

    …but since the primary issue in this post was, is, and remains the fantastically bad image that this gives the LDS church, you might want to focus on that, rather than attacking the messenger.

  74. #80 by Shane on February 21, 2012 - 9:04 pm

    I notice on the news tonight that Anne Frank was baptisied.

    Shall we make popcorn or wait until the next one?

  75. #81 by Pantheist Priestess on February 21, 2012 - 10:08 pm

    Let’s all go worship rocks and trees and dance around painted in mud.

  76. #82 by cav on February 22, 2012 - 12:27 am

    Gods image’s gotta include the rocks and trees themselves…and where would they be without MUD? Yet still there’s room for beards and clouds…even girly things!

    :intended to be affirming rather than argumentative or heretical:

  77. #83 by Shane on February 22, 2012 - 7:20 am

    What a cute attempt at trolling!

    Did you know for just a dollar you could get a good reference app, look up pantheism, and not sound like an idiot? In fact you can even use the Internet connection you have now to access the same information! I am having a class on this next week. All the moron rightwing family members who keep forwarding me debunked emails about Obama’s birth certificate are coming. You are invited.

    cav, as the zen saying goes, “where is the Tao? Is it not in the lowest of things as well as the highest? If it is not, how can it be the Tao?”

  78. #84 by Pantheist Priestess on February 22, 2012 - 12:12 pm

    My statement of pantheism is about as informed, intellectual and accurate as all of your posts on all subjects. It’s called mockery. Look in the mirror.

  79. #85 by cav on February 22, 2012 - 8:30 pm

    When I look in the mirror alls I see is a pantheistic, hedonistic, dirty f*cking hippie. Ouch!

  80. #86 by cav on February 22, 2012 - 10:19 pm

    I guess I’ll change parties, vote Frothy, who will then save me from Satan’s grasp.

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