Sorry, but I won’t permit myself to be set up like this.

 

 

“For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Roughly four hours ago, the following item, from someone calling himself or herself “wayfarer,” appeared on a typically rather hostile ex-Mormon message board.  It represents a reply to a previous entry on this blog:

 

I posted the following response on ‘sic et non’/Dan Peterson’s blog. I’m going to guess it doesn’t survive his moderation.

 wayfarer wrote:

In doing a little research on your post here, I believe I am the “pseudonymous poster who had been wondering, given her own unbelief (I’m simplifying here; her position is somewhat obscure and perhaps incoherent), whether she still belongs in a church in which nasty people like me insist so firmly on the literal deity of Christ, his physical resurrection from the dead, and the literality of Joseph Smith’s First Vision and of the visits from Moroni.”

 I love the Gospel of John. In it, a well-educated, rational Jew named Nicodemus interprets Christ’s words literally that we must be born again. He asks, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” After which Jesus explains that there is a difference between heavenly things and earthly things, and that spiritual things are equally real even if not physically so. That’s why Jesus taught in parables — the truth is the normative value of the story, not the physical literalism thereof. 

Nicodemus continued to be caught in a literalist mindset, so Jesus asks, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”

I have stated that it is possible to be a fully faithful member of the Church in good standing and not have a literal belief in certain claims. Faith is distinct from belief, in that faith recognizes explicitly the difference between knowing something, and hoping for and acting on something while not knowing it is true. Belief is passive, faith is active. Belief does not recognize the difference between knowing and not knowing, but simply claims to know. Belief does not distinguish whether something is true or not: faith in something not true, by Alma’s definition is not faith at all. 

To recognize that someone can have faith in something without knowing it is true seems to be entirely consistent with Alma 32′s definition of faith. This is and has been my position. I hold this position because by not anchoring on the literal, my faith can withstanding the knowledge, for example, that the Book of Abraham was not a translation of the Papyrus as Joseph Smith claimed, or that the Book of Mormon is not a literal history of the native americans as a whole as prophets have claimed up until recently. 

To be specific, I do not know that Jesus physically resurrected from the dead — I neither believe it nor disbelieve it — there is no *reason* to believe it — meaning that it defies logical proof (“reason”) — yet I know through personal experience and testimony that He lives. How is an honest self-appraisal of the lack of valid empirical evidence for something an obscure or incoherent position? Yet you and others “insist so firmly on the literal”, implying that those who are honest and sincere about their lack of knowledge are somehow lesser Mormons than you. Your colleagues have gone so far as to call those who don’t believe ‘anti-christs’, and having asked you to repudiate this, you have firmly stood behind it.

I consider you, Dr. Peterson, a master of Mormon Israel. How is it that you do not know these things?

-wayfarer

 

In the fading hope of protecting my mental health, I don’t participate on that message board.  But I was bemused by wayfarer’s claim, and commented on it elsewhere:

 

Sorry, but I have to raise this somewhere, to put it on public record:

For several pages of this thread, wayfarer accused me of calling him names, mocking him, abusing him, and etc., on this very thread.  I was mystified by his claim, because I had done nothing of the sort.  In fact, I challenged both him and yootaw to give specific examples of my alleged name calling and abuse, and they both refused.  Wayfarer eventually vowed that he would stop posting here, because he couldn’t abide by the “terms” that I demand on this board.  But I had demanded no “terms.”  None at all.

I became genuinely exasperated when, over on the message board where he plainly feels more comfortable, he repeated the charges (to predictable applause there) and amplified them by . . . calling me names (really, really harsh ones) and claiming that I’m mentally ill, etc.

I found it so odd that I actually invited a specific person from that other board whom I considered reasonably fair minded, even though he’s typically hostile toward and critical of me, to come over and have a look.  He could find no real name calling on my part, he admitted, and he commented that wayfarer seemed intent merely on stirring up trouble.  (Unsurprisingly, perhaps, he made that comment only in a private email to me; back on his board, he was silent as the tomb about it.)

Nearly three hours ago now, on that other board where I don’t participate, wayfarer posted a fairly lengthy and substantive comment that he claimed to have already submitted to my blog.   It’s uncharacteristically civil, but he predicted that I won’t allow it to appear.

Which is likely to prove true, considering that, so far as I can tell, he hasn’t really submitted it to my blog.

It seems possible that I’m being set up.

What motivates this sort of nonsense?

 

Somebody has now told wayfarer that I claim never to have seen anything submitted from him to my blog, and he has now commented further:

 

SteelHead wrote:

And, as I can’t find it at sic et non, I am guessing it didn’t survive.

you are correct. By timestamp, he has posted an article as well as responses to other posters after I submitted my response to him. These are the terms of the apologist: he can sling mud, but when someone posts a thoughtful response that doesn’t fit his worldview, it doesn’t exist. 

I posted a response to all three of his most recent blog-posts on sic-et-non. None of them survived moderation, so I posted “My responses to an apologist” on my blog, for those very few readers who go there…

gramps wrote:

DCP claims it was never submitted.

Of course he does. That way, it’s easier to absolve responsibility for labeling and dismissing those that oppose you.

He is free to comment on my blog — I don’t actively moderate, so anyone is free to post.

 

I’ll comment on wayfarer’s original comments above a bit later, after I get a few more important things done and when I get some time.  Probably in the “comments” to this very entry, as I don’t want to litter my blog with these nonsensical “inside baseball” exchanges.  For the record, I haven’t seen a single comment from wayfarer actually submitted to my blog.  Not a single one.  And certainly not three.

 

 

 

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  • danpeterson

    Wayfarer has responded, on his home board: “My only comment to Dan is: Get help.”

    • danpeterson

      In a separate comment, wayfarer has now confided that he finds my behavior “evil,” and that he blames my evil behavior for bringing out the “evil” in him. And he’s repeated his counsel that I go for professional “help.”

      I believe that this is what counts as civil conversation in wayfarer’s world.

  • Roger

    MADB is NOT an anti-Mormon site.

    A haven for a particular clique of left-of-center “apologists” with their own special dispensation and for pious arksteadiers seeking to undermine the testimonies of the faithful, certainly.

    But not definitely NOT anti-Mormon.

    • danpeterson

      Roger is a very funny fellow.

      • Roger

        And not the LEAST bit opinionated….

  • Margaret

    This is an interesting article about venomous and toxic media out of control:
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2013/0104/1224328422900.html?via=mr

    Interesting how nasty and dishonest people can be when anonymous!

    • danpeterson

      Indeed.

  • h_nu

    I dunno, wayfarer’s claims may have something to them.

    You continue to engage emotionally abusive people instead of ignoring them. I’m sure a counselor could help you identify why you do so.

    • danpeterson

      LOL. Good point.

  • Collin

    Dan,
    You should agree to seek counseling once he agrees to do the same (with proof that he has done so). You might improve your enemy’s life substantially if you can get him to do it.

    By the way, he probably thinks he is insulting you by saying “get help” but actually we all need help, especially those who don’t think they need it. I get help from my God, my helpmeet and my counselor.

  • danpeterson

    Here, as promised, is my response to wayfarer’s reply, which was included in the blog entry above:

    Thank you, wayfarer, for your uncharacteristically civil note. My responses are interspersed below:

    “I have stated that it is possible to be a fully faithful member of the Church in good standing and not have a literal belief in certain claims.”

    That’s likely true in many areas. I’m not sure, though, that a person who lacks a literal belief in the existence of God, say, or in the literal historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, can be described, adequately and fully, as a “faithful member of the Church.”

    “Faith is distinct from belief, in that faith recognizes explicitly the difference between knowing something, and hoping for and acting on something while not knowing it is true.”

    This is not how “faith” and “belief” differ in my mind, in my experience with language. Not as a matter of Mormon theology but purely as a matter of English usage.

    “Belief is passive, faith is active.”

    That, I think, is a useful distinction. I’m not sure that everybody makes it, but Latter-day Saints surely do, and it has solid scriptural foundation.

    “Belief does not recognize the difference between knowing and not knowing, but simply claims to know.”

    I don’t think that’s true at ALL.

    English speakers ROUTINELY use the verb “to believe” to suggest that they don’t fully know: “I believe that he said he would be here by ten, but I could be wrong.” “I believe that Mayor Blowhard will be reelected, but lots of things could go wrong between now and the election.” “I believe her to be innocent, but others disagree.” “Jack believed for a long time that the reports of his daughter’s drug use were untrue, but, in the end, he couldn’t deny it any longer.” There’s nothing at all peculiar, in terms of their use of the verb “to believe,” in any of these sentences, or in hundreds of thousands of analogous sentences that could easily be constructed.

    “Belief does not distinguish whether something is true or not.”

    I don’t believe this to be true.

    “faith in something not true, by Alma’s definition is not faith at all.”

    Alma is making an important theological point, and I’m certainly willing to grant that, in the sense he’s talking about, his distinct is valuable. But in normal, everyday English usage, both Mormons and non-Mormons often talk about such things as “misplaced faith.”

    “To recognize that someone can have faith in something without knowing it is true seems to be entirely consistent with Alma 32′s definition of faith.”

    Yes, it does.

    ” This is and has been my position.”

    If that’s your position, I can’t see why you’re so upset at Professor Midgley, let alone at me. I doubt that he has any problem with that position; I certainly don’t.

    “I hold this position because by not anchoring on the literal, my faith can withstanding the knowledge, for example, that the Book of Abraham was not a translation of the Papyrus as Joseph Smith claimed, or that the Book of Mormon is not a literal history of the native americans as a whole as prophets have claimed up until recently.”

    This is where you begin to lose me.

    “To be specific, I do not know that Jesus physically resurrected from the dead — I neither believe it nor disbelieve it”

    Again, your use of the verb “to believe” here seems very idiosyncratic.

    “there is no *reason* to believe it”

    A peripheral point: I disagree. I think that there is indeed reason to believe it (I’m not alone in this), though I think that, as typically happens in historical issues, the evidence falls short of, say, the ideal of geometric proof.

    “meaning that it defies logical proof (“reason”)”

    Yes and no. As I say, proof for it is not available. But evidence is, and, thus, belief in Christ’s literal resurrection, whether ultimately correct or incorrect, is not contrary to reason.

    “yet I know through personal experience and testimony that He lives.”

    I’m sincerely happy that you do.

    “How is an honest self-appraisal of the lack of valid empirical evidence for something an obscure or incoherent position?”

    Partly because of your idiosyncratic use of common terms. Also because, although your self-description above seems very plainly to show that you’re not among Professor Midgley’s “targets” (let alone mine), you passionately insist that you ARE — to the point of accusing me of mental illness and etc. for declining to apologize for insults against you that I haven’t made. This is, among many other things, confusing.

    “Yet you and others ‘insist so firmly on the literal’, implying that those who are honest and sincere about their lack of knowledge are somehow lesser Mormons than you.”

    I’ve never said — and I don’t believe that either Professor Midgley or Professor Hamblin has ever said — that anybody is a “lesser Mormon” than I am, or than they are. It’s very unfair of you to portray us as arrogant Pharisees. Just as this was never about you, it’s not about us.

    But I can imagine very few Latter-day Saints who would disagree that somebody who, for example, rejects the existence of God and denies the historical existence of Jesus is less Mormon, in a very important sense, than is somebody else who, all other things being equal, believes in God and trusts the New Testament gospels.

    And please note the active verb “rejects” that I used. It’s significant.

    “Your colleagues have gone so far as to call those who don’t believe ‘anti-christs’, and having asked you to repudiate this, you have firmly stood behind it.”

    They haven’t “called those who [simply] don’t believe ‘anti-christs.’” This is not true. And no, I won’t “repudiate” a statement that they haven’t made. To do so would be, among other things, to suggest that I share what I regard as your plain misreading of what they’ve written.

  • danpeterson

    A further comment, about remarks from two of wayfarer’s supporters on the board where s/he apparently feels most comfortable:

    * “The apologist crowd at the madhouse profess Christ and assume the role of the accuser.” This comment is allegedly responding to a now-closed thread on the “Mormon Dialogue and Discussion Board”:

    http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/59579-so-called-middle-way-or-new-order-mormons/

    I may, of course, be hallucinating, but it honestly seems to me that, on that thread, it was WAYFARER who was doing all of the accusing, while I was DENYING his accusations and asking (vainly, as it turned out) that he JUSTIFY them. Others are entirely free to look at the thread, and particularly at the posts by wayfarer and me, in order to form their own judgments. (If anybody is so inclined, I wouldn’t mind a report back. But it should be supported with specific citations, not just airy judgments based on predetermined hostilities or preexisting sympathies.)

    * “What exactly is it that makes Dan’s online persona that of a bully? . . . There is just something about his posting style that is offensive and yet very hard to itemize or nail down.”

    A fascinating observation. I’ve repeatedly asked those who claim that I’m a bully, that I’ve been uncivil to them, etc., to provide specific examples of my allegedly bad behavior — behavior that is, apparently, unusually horrible even by comparison with message board and internet norms. (I made that request probably a half dozen times of wayfarer himself.) Such examples have almost never been forthcoming. Once or twice, somebody has offered up some really weak thing that could, if a person were strongly predisposed to see me as a bully and a jerk, possibly be interpreted as less than completely nice, but, by message board standards, and often as measured against the behavior of the critic himself, these have always been distinctly mild and unconvincing specimens. I have my own hypothesis on the matter, but it will seem rather self-congratulatory and, so, I’m not inclined to share it. (No use drawing more fire than I already get!)

    • SteelHead

      The phrase “assuming the role of the accuser” was in reference to your (speakign collectively of those engaged in the activity) labelling of others as “anti-christs”. There were a coulpe of threads being woven together in this drama.

      • danpeterson

        I was only active on one of them, and I’ve never called ANYBODY an anti-Christ.

        The New Testament uses the term, though, and I’m not disposed to repudiate the New Testament at the moment.

  • SteelHead

    Sheesh what I get for not proofreading. Edited for typos.

    The phrase “assuming the role of the accuser” was in reference to your (speaking collectively of those engaged in the activity) labelling of others as “anti-christs”. There were a couple of threads being woven together in this drama.

  • SteelHead

    Repudiate the NT? Seriously I ‘lol’ed.

    Judge not, that ye be not judged.

    For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again

    • danpeterson

      You’re accepting wayfarer’s accusations at face value. That’s not wise.

      In the threads to which you refer, whom have I judged? Whom have I accused?

  • Bob

    You claim: “In the fading hope of protecting my mental health, I don’t participate on that message board.”

    Yet you obviously are still reading that board most every day (evidenced by many rebuttals to that board content you’ve posted here) and merely choose to post your responses here in your blog.

    Sounds to me like your still participating in the topics of that board.  Why the attempt to rationalize the way you do?  

    • danpeterson

      I rarely post responses here to that board. I’ve done it a few times, but the ratio of such responses to the hundreds of blog entries that I’ve posted here is very, very small.

      No rationalization is involved. I’ve never denied looking in on your board. I’ve repeatedly and publicly and expressly said that I do, and that I find it . . . interesting.

      But I ceased participating there quite some time ago, and have neither the intention nor the desire to go back. Participation there was, for me, at best exasperating and a massive consumer of time.

      Anyway, this is at the most a peripheral issue. Please post on the topic of this thread, or else, if you don’t want to do that, feel free to post on other things elsewhere. I don’t plan to get back into the endless, substanceless back-and-forth of that place — not there, and not here.

  • SteelHead

    Did you not see the use of the word “collectively”? And yet, you have refrained from denouncing those who did (label)…. Is that tacit support then?

    If “The most powerful sermon any of us shall ever preach will be the sermon of our lives”, what sermon does boorish behaviour on the interwebz preach?

    Wayfarer was spot on when he noted that you (again collectively as a group) tend to personalize the arguments, and then turn on the individuals instead of the concepts. Just my opinion and observation. I could be entirely wrong.

    • danpeterson

      You are, in fact, entirely wrong.

      And nobody made the accusation that you claim they made. Wayfarer has, whether through carelessness or hypersensitivity or disingenuousness, been distorting what was said.

      I won’t repudiate what he claims they said because, as I repeatedly pointed out on the now-closed thread, I don’t agree that they said it.

      • SteelHead

        Dan, by this logic does Bill Hamblin = Nobody ?

        Bill Hamblin:
        If Jesus was not the Messiah, he was not resurrected.
        If Jesus was not resurrected, he could not have appeared to JS.
        If Jesus did not appear to JS, then JS is either a liar or a lunatic for claiming that he was visited by Jesus.
        If Jesus did not appear to JS, then LDS Church is not the Church of Jesus Christ.

        I’m sorry that people don’t like the implications of their disbelief, but that does not change the fact that if one denies that Jesus was the Messiah, then one necessarily rejects the authenticity of the LDS Church. There is no way around it. It is utterly incoherent to claim otherwise.

        Why, then, do unbelievers get so upset when we simply point out the clear and unavoidable implications of their disbelief?

        Continuing:
        I’m not judging anyone. When John Dehlin or Seth Payne publicly say they don’t believe that Jesus was the Christ, they are judging themselves. What am I supposed to do? They are the ones who say they don’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. I’m not making this claim for them. I’m not putting words in their mouths. They say it publicly.

        Followed by:
        Why is it unchristlike to point out the implications of their publicly professed disbelief?
        For all I know Seth Payne and John Dehlin are nice people.
        All I am doing is analyzing their ideas and their implications.

        Yeah….. no one was labelling. Right……………..

        • danpeterson

          It’s true that the author of the Johannine epistles was engaged in labeling. And it’s true that I don’t intend to disavow them.

          Professor Hamblin was simply reasoning. Reasoning involves distinctions. If you oppose making distinctions, you have no option but to be silent, because thinking is making distinctions. If you oppose making distinctions, you certainly cannot criticize (or, for that matter, though the thought has surely never entered your mind, praise) me.

          Professor Hamblin judged nobody.

          If you have a problem with the New Testament, take it up with the folks who created it.

          • Steelhead

            Prof. Hamblin could have well preached the same message without naming any names.

            There are anti christs and then there are those who engage in un Christ like behavior.

          • danpeterson

            Maybe he could have and maybe he couldn’t. I haven’t read the relevant portions of the threads, and I’m reluctant to take anybody else’s characterization of the posts from my friends at face value. (I have good reason for my reluctance.)

  • http://theomorphicman.blogspot.com/ Mark Bukowski

    As William James showed, I think very clearly in his “Varieties of Religious Experience”, a religious experience or what we would call a “testimony” is indeed a “reason” for belief and indeed a level of certainty about that experience at least as high as any other kind of experience we can have. Plantinga would call such beliefs “properly basic”. On that basis alone, I have no problem saying “I know the church is true”. Direct, personal experience of events is about as good as it gets in the knowledge business!

    • danpeterson

      Excellent comment.

    • http://survivingphalaris.petermccombs.com Peter McCombs

      “Direct, personal experience of events is about as good as it gets in the knowledge business!”

      Unless you’re an epistemic reliabilist, that is.

      Once, when I was a kid, I stood on a sidewalk awaiting the crossing guard to conduct us across the street. I watched her raise her stop sign and advance into the middle of the road. As I had done countless times prior, I stepped off the curb to follow. Suddenly I found myself yanked backward and, coming to, found that I was staring at wide-eyed kid through the passenger window of a station wagon. I had nearly been run down, and the crossing guard had saved my life.

      Where my experience had proved reliable in seeing me safely home on most days, on that day something went wrong and I learned that, just because I know something, knowing doesn’t make it so.

      I have known religious truths, but I wonder wherein my knowledge is superior to that of those who have contrary evidence through personal experiences that are allegedly of a similar quality to my own. I am unaware of any perfectly reliable method for knowing the things of God, for even my spiritual sense has been aroused by things that many others would consider in error.

  • SteelHead

    Q.E.D.

    And on that note I am out to work in the garage, having spent entirely too much time pursing the inane on the web this weekend.

  • Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury

    You might want to consider this quote from Elder Maxwell:
    “We may never become accustomed to untrue and unjust criticism of us but we ought not to be immobilized by it. Neither should we be surprised at the proximity of such protagonists and the falsity and the fury of their pronouncements.”
    as posted here:
    http://fornspollfira.blogspot.com/2012/12/todays-maxwell-quote.html

    • danpeterson

      Very helpful advice. It certainly rings true for my experiences of the past six or seven months.


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