Romney: Grounded in the Galaxy?

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Up until this week, Mitt Romney had played down explicit demonstrations of his Mormon faith during the campaign.    However, earlier this week he invited the press to follow him and his wife in to join him in a Church of Latter Day Saints Sunday service, and it was just announced that a member of the Mormon Church would deliver an invocation at the Republican National Convention.   We may now feel freer to begin to openly question to what extent this candidate for the highest office buys into the explicit doctrines of his faith, because these doctrines defy common sense, history, and scientific knowledge.


Much has been made of the fact that until 1978 the LDS did not allow blacks into their priesthood, but a history of racism, and sexism would not distinguish Mormonism from most of its sister religions.  What is more remarkable, and dubious, are the origins of the Church, and the maintenance of the outrageous claims made by its founder.

Joseph Smith had been involved in unsuccessful claims to be able to divine buried treasure (leading to a trial in 1826 based on a suit brought by a disgruntled business partner) for years before escalating his claims to a new level:  to have found golden tablets left for him by the Angel Moroni, who helped him complete a translation of the otherwise undecipherable Egyptian script in 1830, not into the lexicon of the time, but rather into the 17th century English of the King James Bible.   Needless to say, the tablets subsequently disappeared, and were returned to heaven by the accommodating angel before any independent confirmation of their existence could occur.

Among the remarkably dubious claims within the translated book of Mormon and the ‘revelations’ that derive from it is that an otherwise historically and anthropologically undocumented and unrecorded lost tribe of Israel somehow made it to the Americas in antiquity and flourished here, and that the resurrected Jesus visited what is now Missouri, where the Garden of Eden apparently had been located, and where he will return as a part of his second coming, commuting from Jerusalem as time permits.

It is very difficult to imagine how such a history would not provoke at least a smidgen of healthy skepticism, and it would be good to know if Mr. Romney, who is vying to hold the highest office in the land, simply takes it on faith.  Maybe it would be relevant to understanding whether similar faith is the basis of his assertion that his and Paul Ryan’s fiscal proposals will reduce the national deficit.

However, as an astrophysicist, one of the most intriguing claims of the Mormon religion cannot help but be an astronomical one.  It is that after an observant life on planet earth ends, good Mormons can achieve semi-divine status, each ruling a new planet somewhere in the Universe.

In this regard, Mitt Romney can take solace from the discoveries of the Kepler satellite, which has revealed a plethora of new planets surrounding other nearby stars, over 2000 so far.  The data suggests that perhaps every star may house a solar system, many of them with exotic properties hitherto thought to be at best unlikely, based on ideas about how our own Solar System formed.  So there may be 100 billion solar systems in our galaxy alone, more than enough to assign a planet for each person alive on Earth at the present time. 

Of course of the 2000 planets so far detected, no Earth-sized planets in what is known as the “habitable zone”, where liquid water and an Earth-like atmosphere might exist, have yet been observed. Most are either uninhabitable giant gaseous orbs or smaller scorched rocky planets that, like Icarus, have moved too close to their suns.  But, by the evidentiary standards of Mormon faith perhaps this is merely an inessential detail. 

As a bishop of his church one might imagine that Mr Romney has bought into this doctrine, as well as the ones described earlier. If he does, all of this puts Mitt Romney in a position that is unique amongst all major previous presidential candidates.  He cannot lose.  Even if he does not win this election and with it the opportunity to govern the most powerful nation on Earth, he is guaranteed one day to rule over, not over merely an individual country, but an entire planet.  One can only hope that in his case, it won’t be a gas giant. 

 Lawrence M. Krauss is Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University.  His most recent book is A Universe from Nothing.

Written By: Lawrence M. Krauss
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151 COMMENTS

  1. As an ex-Mormon, I am delighted to see Romney’s beliefs exposed to the voting public. A few of the details mentioned here are not entirely accurate, and Mormon apologists will undoubtedly try to distract readers by nitpicking them, but by and large the cult does, indeed, have such doctrines.

    Here are more crucial questions that I wish reporters would ask Romney point blank to give voters a wider perspective of his politics –and character:

    Why Candidates’ Religious Beliefs ARE Important
    http://bit.ly/KqNw9d

  2. Actually I think he should rule over a gas giant.  He already rules overly a fairly gaseous group of constituents. 

  3. I’m often quite hesitant in my mocking of the more universally absurd religions – namely Mormonism and Scientology – simply because I feel like these are the religions that people of other religions laugh at as well. I feel like I have to make a caveat saying: “But, of course, it’s no more ridiculous than your Catholicism or your Islam!” Otherwise, I feel very uncomfortable criticising or mocking them.

    Does anybody else feel like this?

  4. Following on from Lavjot Mudhar’s comment earlier, I too sometimes feel uncomfortable making fun of the ‘low hanging religious fruit’, especially when you hear purveyors of more mainstream nonsense ridiculing followers of these less common (less powerful) cults.

    But of course, that is how the ‘established’ religions became powerful in the first place – by picking off the weaker faiths (not with evidence that their religion was true, of course, but with brute force) and thereby converting what remained of the adherents to their own brand of woo-woo.

    So I think it’s okay to mock them, as they are no more or less absurd than Catholics, Muslims or Hindus – but in a small way, they should also be admired for having the courage to believe in something slightly more original than the dogma dictated and enforced by those who sadly wield so much earthly power.

  5. Unfortunately, we can not vote against a candidate for president, so I will have to do the next best thing. Vote for the man that has the smaller ( by several orders of magnitude ) electrical fire burning in his head!

  6. Of course. It is because of the superior provenance we have available for Mor(m)onism that it seems easier to ridicule, but I think it’s fair to make your disclaimer. I generally do the same.
    @ DrBobNemesis: “Low-hanging fruit” indeed, but more recently picked. 😉
    Steve

  7. Me too. I can’t let anyone think that I object to some minority religion just because I am in the majority. I reject it because it is absurd.

  8. I want a planet,,,,,,,I WANT A PLANET!!!!

    I’m thinking I want to be in charge of the Moon. Just so I could kick Gingrich off. And I like cheese.

  9. Most politicians, Mormon or otherwise, don’t rise to high office by ostracizing themselves from family and colleagues.  They try to be all things to all people.  Unfortunately they spend all their life making money and networking their social structures instead of picking up a good science book, or taking a moment to look at their religion’s history from an external vantage point.  Romney is too vested in that faith now, as are most other politicians to their own faiths–believers or not.  Romney seems to be devout.

    Hasn’t Obama coddled Islam to the detriment of the country and world, while touting christian beliefs?

    The best we can hope for is that, with all the focus on Romney and religion, people are seeing the silliness of ALL  religion.  Mormonism is going under the microscope for all to see, and I think we are at least setting the table for 2016 to be the first election in America where it may be a disadvantage to align with any religion.   It should be fun to watch in the mean time.

  10. Hi, Dr. Lawrence and RDFR. The real disconcerting thing for fiscal and conflict on interest purposes is whether or not Mitt Romney can be faithful to his oath of office as a political leader and abide by the Law of Consecration, which every adult Mmormon must swear an oath to and which consecrates everything one has (not omitting political office) to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Law of Obedience, which is sworn to in the same ceremony says that the initiate promises to obey the current prophet and Church leaders. At a difference to Mitt’s Dad, who promised to leave the Church if they tried to persuade his political motives. Since the Gay Marriage assault in 2010, we see that the Mormon Church is not above using it’s members’ resources to influence politics for purely doctrinal purposes.

  11.  Hasn’t Obama coddled Islam to the detriment of the country and world, while touting christian beliefs?”

    How has Obama coddled Islam, except in the sense of trying to repair the damage done to the relationship between America and the Islamic world by George W Bush in his disastrous tenure as president?

  12. Yes the beliefs of a potential president are important.  At times when he has difficult decisions to
    make will he consult experts, collect all relevant data and using logic calmly
    consider what to do.  My fear is that at
    times of stress he may revert to prayer. 
    What if the next day he wakes with an inner conviction, the thought terrifies
    me.

  13.  Sr. Yanquetino,
    Me han encantado las preguntas a las que enlaza. ¡Completamente de acuerdo! Ha dado en el clavo.

    That was Spanish for: I loved the questions you linked to. I entirely agree. You have nailed it.
    [Translation provided Just in case my comment was considered spam]

  14. As an outsider, of course I like Obama more than Romney, but Obama too, as far as I know, has also said that he’s a devout Christian that believes in the ressurection of Jesus. Which means he is either atheist, but also a liar that has no problem saying anything to get a vote, or indeed Christian and believes some day Jesus will come in a cloud, destroy the world and establish New Jerusalem – after of course Michael fights the Dragon.

  15. Reading this and thinking about these issues I can’t help but feel enormous satisfaction at the fact that my country’s president is agnostic.
    Secularism is very important, I can’t imagine the issue of someone’s belief being the subject of public discussion here. That’s one of the reason I didn’t like it in America when the question of your belief (or not) in god pops up every couple of days T_T. I remember how offended I was when someone told me ‘god bless you’, I don’t remember why (I had not sneezed) or how I laughed for 5 minutes straight when my host mum told me she was a creationist because I though she was joking (up until that moment I had no idea such people still existed… I was young)

  16. I’m an American born and raised in the bible belt.  I can sympathize with you.  I have always been terribly embarrassed by the culture of fundamentalism and evangelicalism so prevalent, especially in the southern states.  I’m sorry you had to experience that.

  17. Even having experienced this (I was in NY state and it wasn’t that bad), I cannot relate to what atheists or  simply not religious people have to go through in the US. What’s worst is that when once America was regarded as a country of tremendous opportunities and advancement it is now considered with a lot of … well skepticism. When there is a documentary about the Americans on T.V it’s always to say how they are either just very fat or very religious or both. That’s the new stereotype. The fat creationist has replaced the cowboy and I keep wondering about the long term damage this is going to cause.
    As a matter of fact, the only time I heard about american atheists on french tv was to show them congregate and perform a sort of ‘atheist’ mass. ‘What to think of a country where even atheists behave like religious people’ I thought then.
    For a long time I wondered why atheists in America felt such a need to get together like that, I hadn’t realized how lonely it can get when you’re surrounded with others religious beliefs.
    My point being that I think it’s important american atheists make themselves heard abroad as well …

  18. Replying to Lavjot Mudhar:

    Yes. It is like jumping on the bandwagon and joining/ranting alongside the deluded mainstream Christians.  I also had reservations when The Kochhar Humanist Education Center  proposed the “The Ten Commitments” as a educational tool for Public Schools.   It was a list of Altruistic values that seemed  to mock the “Ten Commandments.”  The fact that they used the same-sounding word “Commitments” and limited to the number ten, meant to me that instead of starting with a scientific or rational perspective, they skewed the construct to match their anger, rather than their wisdom therefore it is unlikely to prevail.  I do listen to Lawrence Krauss very closely because he has helped me understand some of the difficult areas of Physics and I do agree with him here. As far as a good candidate for President goes…I am looking forward to the Singularity, when the self-aware computer takes charge. Right now it looks too much like an Idiocracy, and I find myself looking for that red pill.

  19. I am an ex-Mormon myself and always notice that apologists can’t see the forest for the trees. Having said that, I must admit that the small details that are missed when critiquing Mormonism still bother me; articles from heavyweights like Krauss and Dawkins and the late and superlative Hitchens never miss the salient points, but are sidetracked by editorial minutiae. And having said that, Krauss is spot bloody on.

  20. I truly wonder sometimes if Romney has ANY real unchanging, inner, core beliefs. He’s
    flipped his beliefs on so many political issues, that he probably even has the Mormon
    Church Elders wondering if there’s any remaining core substance inside his stuffed suit.

    The man seems to regard the Office of the Presidency like a personal Christmas present
    he’s getting for himself. Whee—another “electric train”, so to speak.

    Akin to a very old piece of barely radioactive material—–he’s simply out of substantive half-lives!!!!

    Romney as President—– geez, what else,——“The finest office money can buy!!!!”

  21. And really, he’s not done that terribly much. Drones are still flying over Afghanistan and Pakistan, and presumably Iraq and other places of interest. “Collateral damage” influences people, but it doesn’t make you friends. It’s not really coddling, either.

  22.  I agree – hence I used ‘slightly more original’, simply meaning that at least their orbiting teapot is a different shade of yellow to the IKEA autumn 2012 range model, if you get my meaning.

    The net result is the same though – a teapot is a teapot, regardless of its colour or whether it is used to make jasmine tea or earl grey…

  23. I recently listened to a radio show (NPR) which featured several Mormons talking about the positive aspects and teachings that the church upholds about financial “wellness.” The story featured several individual Mormons in a positive, responsible light.Each person was well spoken and seemed reasonable about their financial affairs. Everything they mentioned about spending, saving, and investing was good sound advice. This story would not have been of interest a year or two ago, but with Romney facing possible office, this radio feature seemed to be a good marketing tactic on the part of the Republicans. Something needed to be said that would offset the questioning and negative views of Mormonism. They found it. The interesting thing is, nothing that was said was dependent upon a supernatural force. Any financial adviser could have suggested the same. The show succeeded in presenting a highly criticized religion in a way that the average middle-classed American could relate and sympathize.

    My eyes were wide open because of the show. It revealed how cherry picking could be potentially misleading and cause problems.  Nothing was stated about the beginnings of Mormonism; nothing about the sexism, racism, the beliefs that are synonymous with fairy tales.  I highly doubt many people further researched the religion – its tenants, the beliefs, the rules, etc. after the show ended. More likely, they were left with a warm and reassuring feeling that Romney would be a good choice during this difficult economic time. 

  24. All those questions are important for any candidate to respond to, thank you for posting them.

  25. “…how such a history would not provoke at least a smidgen of healthy skepticism.”
    LDS on LSD?  Or whatever it is that makes a person/group turn a blind eye and deaf ear.

    I do like the idea of ruling a planet – I’ve dibbs on Neptune.

  26. “It is that after an observant life on planet earth ends, good Mormons can achieve semi-divine status, each ruling a new planet somewhere in the Universe.”

    Is the Sun considered a planet? If so, I’ll take the Sun.

  27. Is the Sun considered a planet? If so, I’ll take the Sun.

    I don’t think so. Anyway, how would you live there, unless you moved off-world during the day and only returned at night when it’s not as hot?

    I feel bad for the Mormon who died and was assigned Pluto. What happened to him in 2006 when it was reclassified as a dwarf planet?

    Did God move him to another, proper planet or is he still there kicking his heels and waiting for the first manned rocket ship from Earth to land and give him a lift to a nice, non-dwarfy one?

  28. Maybe Joseph Smith had a sense of humour and built in all these names with hints of the moronic not far from the surface  … Mormon, moroni, Nephites, Lamanites, Jaredites and Mulekites, just to see how many morons would actually believe his bull. Was Smith and early L.Ron, just a chancer, seeing how far it would go, until he really began to believe it all himself?

  29. Let us assume that everything in the Book of Mormon is literally true.  That does not change the fact that anyone who would unquestioning believe such highly improbable tales is a gullible nitwit. A healthy skepticism is an absolute requirement for dealing with folks like Putin, Hu Jintao, Amadinejad or even Rupert Murdoch.

  30. All valid points, but the same is true of all Christian and other religions.  As much as you and I hate it, having faith in what appears to be nonsense is a norm of our society, and our leaders are not exempt.  Christians (including Mormons) tend to ignore the “stupid” aspects of their religion and instead focus on the other positive messages in the text.  Anti-religious groups enjoy spotlighting the idiots who do interpret scripture literally, but those who interpret it literally are the minority, as most don’t even study it.  I’d rather live in a world where reason triumphs over religion, which will eventually occur via natural evolutionary means, but until then we have to put up with both political parties embracing religion. I’ll vote based on who embraces reasonable fiscal policies.

  31.  Obama coddled Islam? Hasn’t he continued to support Zionist Israel in the face of international opinion? Next thing you’ll be calling him a socialist!

  32. Joseph E Smith and L Ron Hubbard seem to be the products of reincarnation(both religion creating con men).
    What is it about religion where people in a free society become bound up in its nonsense?
    A n amusing article from a very admirable brain.

  33.   I also had reservations when The Kochhar Humanist Education Center  proposed the “The Ten Commitments” as a educational tool for Public Schools.   It was a list of Altruistic values that seemed  to mock the “Ten Commandments.”  The fact that they used the same-sounding word “Commitments” and limited to the number ten, meant to me that instead of starting with a scientific or rational perspective, they skewed the construct to match their anger, rather than their wisdom therefore it is unlikely to prevail.  

    Isn’t that called “parody”?

  34. I’m an “equal opportunities” religion piss taker….I think they are all as barking mad as the other and I have no truck in extracting the urine from them all when the chance avails itself. 

  35.  “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”

    —L Ron Hubbard

  36. Take any of the major religions out there and transpose them to the state of Missouri in recent history. Add a healthy dose of claims of transubstantiation, 72 virgins, chariots or whatever and they would all sound ludacras. To paraphrase Mark Twain, Our candidates in the United State cannot be elected unless they claim to believe in that which isn’t so.

  37. Look on the bright side – at least if he’s ever faced with an impossible problem, he’ll be able to find a solution by looking into his hat.

  38. To the extent that a candidate indicates that his or her religious beliefs inform political decisions, such beliefs clearly become fair game, in my opinion.  While saying so may be the overwhelming majority opinion on this site (preaching to the choir, so to speak), I fear that this is not the case in the United States, at large, at least not for Republican/Conservative candidates who practice a version of Christianity.  Although it was long before my time, JFK had to face questions about his Catholic beliefs when running for President.  Candidates who practice Islam are spotlighted for special scrutiny.

    Personally, I think a candidate’s religion is off the table unless he or she puts it on the table in some way, either expressly, or by way of actions indicating that religion plays a role in the formation of policies and beliefs.  Merely going through the motions of making the necessary appearance at a church for the cameras isn’t really enough to put it on the table, at least from a practical point of view.

  39. We have removed a number of comments that were not only off-topic but also unhelpfully snarling.

    We do understand that disagreements on the internet generally descend pretty quickly into rage and insult, but please remember that that is precisely the kind of environment that we are actively trying to AVOID on this site.

    This site is intended for the reasonable, rational, civilised discussion of various points of view, and we ask users to bear that in mind and NOT to indulge in the kind of aggressive interactions that may be the norm elsewhere.

    But we also ask users to remain on the topic of the OP.

    Thank you.

  40. I do too. It’s easy to laugh at the Mormons and when I do I always imagine that the mainstream Christians are laughing alongside me. I then feel uncomfortable and mentally turn on them and say ‘Is your fairy story any less rediculous than this one”?

  41. I hardly think he’s done anything to promote or protect the state of Islam in America, which is almost certainly a good thing.

  42. If Mormons are followers of Smith and the angel Moroni. why are they not called Morons?  I mean called morons universally?

  43. The wonderful thing about Joseph Smith’s concoction of the LDS is that it shows us exactly  how so-called revealed religions come into being. The newfangled Church of  Christ of the Latter Day Saints is the instantly decodable Rosetta Stone of Organized Superstition. Someone with a gift for self promotion claims to have witnessed something, and to have been instructed to proclaim it. The superstitiously thirsty rubes lap it up. Jesus, Mohammed, Nanak Dev, etc., all followed the formula.  I’m not a Dawkins pawn, because I think he’s barking up the wrong tree. I’m more influenced by Harold Bloom and Scott Atran. Supernaturalism, like violence, is in the blood. We’re  a species of mammal, and in my view the sooner we stop anthropomorphizing ourselves by appeals to inhuman empiricism,  the better. Rational arguments against superstition are a fool’s errand. 

  44.  

    alf1200
    I want a planet,,,,,,,I WANT A PLANET!!!!

    If these right-wing AGW denying religinuts get elected, we are all going to need a new planet!

    (If there was a god, do you think  She would entrust any of these environment-destroying clowns with another one?)

  45. Can I please have Magrithea, home of Slarty Bartfast? Where new planets are designed and built to order. 

  46. I went to the Palmyra Festival in Upstate NY several years ago.  It describes the ancient beginnings of the religion & how the angel moroni buried the gold plates, etc.  It was quite entertaining & as well done as a Broadway play, but believable? Not in the least .  Nevertheless it would have been a fun way to spend an evening except for the pouring rain we all had to sit out in.

  47. I’ll take it! However, LV 426 was a moon! Romney can have Fiorina 161! A planet inhabited by criminal religious nuts, somewhat fitting!

  48. Larry,

    You are being very unreasonable and clearly biased in you assessment.  I myself have lost two tablets (I-pads) in the past year alone. My wife lost 2 iphones, hell, Mosses lost the ten commandments and nobody gives him any grief over it. So he lost the golden tablets; shit happens man!!!

  49. Missouri is, in many places, a lovely state.  But the site of the garden of Eden?  Anyone who has ever been there would recognize that claim as sheer fantasy.

  50. “… he is guaranteed one day to rule over, not over merely an individual country, but an entire planet. One can only hope that in his case, it won’t be a gas giant”

    Nor this one!!

  51. Not to overly nitpick here, but I am curious as to how  you could possibly  conclude that this phrase means that they are planning on transforming the nation into a “Mormon Theocracy”.   “the Latter-day Saints-the Elders of Israel-will step forward to its rescue and save it (it being the constitution).” 
    If they plan on saving the US constitution when it is hanging by the thread, I don’t think they will find that the document they just saved has much wriggle room for allowing them to then rule as a theocracy.   Although I see your fears as a bit irrational based on what this prophecy actually states, still though, it’ll probably get old hearing Mormons claim that one of their prophecies is fulfilled if Romney is elected.     

  52. One important question is to what extent such an irrational view of the world will influence the decitions of a leader with power to destroy the entire planet. According to most religions life on Earth is of passing importace compared to the proposed afterlife, in heaven or on another planet. What is urgenly needed now are leaders who base their actions on rational reasoning.

  53. What is the alternative? It’s politically incorrect to as much as whisper anything even slightly negative about the alternative but let’s face up to facts, Obama is also unacceptably religious.  Sitting in Rev Wrights crazy church for 20 years, sending his kids to that nutty Sunday school and a religious primary school and having Rick Warren pray and speak at his inauguration.Get real, both of these presidential candidates are unacceptably too religious. One may, or may not, be slightly less religious than the other. To focus on just one is hypocritical.I would say that men such as Todd Akin are far better to palliate religiosity than the silent insidious type of “faith” that is spread by Obama. At least with Todd Akin his statements are so ridiculous that they are a comedy and show up the nonsense that religion really is.

  54. This is a great site for silly mormon thoughts with the relevant passages noted.

    http://www.worldviewweekend.co

    Not really related, but I just read your book Quantum Man. Amazing!!! Just amazing. I even started taking a calc class to refresh my memory as its been nearly 18 years since I took a calculus class! Just wanted to know you inspired me by showing me how much Feynman had inspired you.

  55.  As an ex Mormon  I agree that Mormonism is a cult.  I knew it was ridiculous when I joined. It is a long story, the point of which is that the ludicrous beliefs don’t matter so much as the social and family pressure put on people to join and remain in the church. The Mormon church claims to venerate the family, at least the family according to it’s own definition.  It seeks to cut people off from contact with mainstream society, and controls and manipulates it’s members.  I was a teenager when my mother and sister  joined, I was becoming more and more estranged from my family. I thought that if I joined I would get peace, to get on with studying for exams and get peace from the relentless pestering. We had previously been Protestants, and generally ignored at church, I expected Mormons to behave in a similar manner. Before joining I was targetted for ‘fellowshipping’, which meant constant visits and attempts to befriend me and persuade me to go to ‘church’ just to see what it was like. There were visits all day and Mormon missionaries had access to our house.  Children and young men were sneaking up to my bedroom door, knocking and running downstairs while I tried to study.   There was also constant gossip and a stream of sexual and sexist allegations, because Mormons believed that people outside of the church have no moral values, sexual and otherwise. It’s difficult for teenagers to cope with constant unfounded allegations from their own families, and difficult to live as a normal teenager with constant supervison, snooping, gossip and accusation.  They describe people who leave as becoming carnal, sensual and devilish, and enemies to God. The beliefs don’t matter, the extent of social control over members, the pressure on family members to join and vilification of those who leave, does matter.
    I have known Mormon missionaries highly critical of the church,and learned from them about it’s financial operations, and believe that some of them are under pressure to carry out missionary work, as it is the only way in which they can get jobs in the Mormon controlled areas.
    I believe that religious freedom should include the right to leave a religion, unmolested. The Mormon church counts as members many people who have left and who detest it’s teachings and operations. Its’ practices, social control, intolerance of individuality, and psychological manipulation of members are far more sinister than it’s silly literature and beliefs.

  56. Q:  What’s the difference between Mormonism and Scientology?

    A:  About 100 years!

    (Not mine, I’m sure I read it here some time ago.)

  57. Is it wrong for him to lie in this case? I am a utilitarian so for me I must look at the consequences to derive good and bad. It would be impossible to have a president that isnt a christian at this time, would you rather we have real devout christians in charge? Change is gradual, and yes the pretenders must necessarily come first, so I welcome them. Of course I would love a president that denounced religion but we must be practical here.

  58. An interesting read, but I don’t really consider these beliefs any more far out or less believable than any other religious claims. The reason why we snigger at Jesus coming to Missouri is that we’re used to the biblical stories, but they’re just as far-fetched and unbelievable. I really can’t say that a Mormon in the White House is any worse than a devout Christian – they’re both equally deluded.

  59. “Turn off your fucking cell phone.”  Not the best of Hitch’s 10 commandments but, my favorite.

  60. I think the difference is twofold.  First, Mormonism is even more obviously a sham and that should be obvious even to Christians.  I think that getting people to stop treating all religion as “scared” and beyond reproach is a good start.  Second, Romney is siding with a party and platform that actively shoves religion down people’s throats, actively campaigns against secularism and against science.  Obama and many Democrats may believe crazy things, but they are not actively seeking to make the US a “Christian Country.”  And Romney, though he is a Mormon, is more than willing to play along.  These are not small differences.  Secularism will be under even more of an attack if Romney is elected, especially if the Republicans gain more seats in Congress.

    Whenever Obama and the Democrats use God to justify their actions, we should of course call them on that. We need to fight for the separation of church and state and for rational believe systems. I believe that RDFRS does that.

  61. I see, so rather than acknowledge that presidents in general have done a horrible job of dealing with the middle east (previous administrations having given aid to both Hussein and Bin Laden before their acts against this country) You wish to turn the course of this discussion to your opinions of the administration. As opposed to dealing with the crux of the article, which is the religion of the man attempting to become president, which is as ludicrous as it is blatantly false.

    Also demonstrating evidence of your claims is in the mission statement of the website. So, you should probably consider doing that.

  62. Great article, good to see serious discussion of Mormonism these days.

    I don’t believe Joseph was too specific about the entity that an exalted, God-like,  Mormon male and his wives would get to rule over. Some said “planet” but many thought they would get their own universe. My parents believe that the current leadership’s denials of “getting a planet” are confirmation that it will indeed be a universe awaiting as a celestial reward for Romney and his ilk.
    I also need to point out a small clarification (because Mormons will use any small error to claim the entire article is wrong) – the Book of Mormon never states that the garden of Eden is in Missouri. Joseph revealed that in the modern-day scripture, the “Doctrine and Covenants”:
     http://www.lds.org/scriptures/
    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/

    The Book of Mormon is not specific where Jesus was supposed to have visited ancient America; it predicts the building of Zion or the New Jerusalem in the Americas, but is so non-specific about where things happened that there are two opposing factions within Mormonism. One faction champions a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon, while the other backs the “Heartland” model, centered on Missouri and surrounding states. It is the D&C that confirms that Zion will be in Missouri.

    Mormons have also made their own interpretation of Richard Dawkins vs Brandon Flowers on Swedish TV – I hope the RDF will respond!
    http://www.deseretnews.com/art… 

  63. Please feel free to quote anywhere I’ve mentioned being a supporter of either candidate.

    And why precisely are you throwing the allegations on a thread dealing with the subject of the Mormon religion of the other candidate? Are you a Mormon?

    And once again, my point is that presidents in general have handled dealing with the middle east badly, which you seem to overlook. 

    Your ‘logic’ seems tantamount to how most theists approach a conversation here, so I’ll treat you as such.

    1. This thread is not about President Obama. If someone makes mention of the issues of the OP, which is of the religion of the candidate running against him, it does not qualify them automatically as a supporter of either candidate. If you looked past your clearly paranoid obsessions you’d see you’ve come across an atheist website that often discusses a myriad of subjects pertaining to religion and science with an emphasis on the burden of proof. Simply put having an opinion about a politician’s religion does not make one a supporter of another person by default. Stop being obtuse.

    2. When you spend as much time going off topic and in such rude fashion you get the attention of the mods.Mindless insults are not tolerated for very long and will likely result in banning. Exercise some restraint and actually make a point pertaining to the thread.

    3. Based on your ‘observations’ you have a nagging tendency to jump to conclusions (the fact that you label people that don’t fall in line with your line of thinking the enemy in the bizarre form of Obama supporters) as even if any portion of your statements are accurate they don’t automatically reach your conclusion.

    Ignorance is what happens when you make assumptions about people you don’t know. It’s what happens when you close your mind to whatever may actually be true of someone to support whatever notion you might have. In that respect very much like those that would be willing to follow a blatantly bogus religion (not that any of them aren’t). 

    Ignorance, prejudice and fear walk hand in hand, and you seem to keep right in step with all three. Bring a rational argument relating to the thread.

  64. We have removed a number of comments which were off-topic and/or abusive to other users.

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    Please therefore take another look at those Terms of Use before posting:
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  65. I once dated a mormon. She was really nice. We stayed together for two months. Today, I can only thank her for reminding me to never ever date a religious person again. Just one word: wacko.

  66.  I just got banned from posting on the CNN website for typing
    “Magnificent Mittens and his Miraculous Mystical Underwear.”  So much
    for free speech in America.  It’s free until you question or parody
    archaic beliefs and flat out demonstrably wrong ones.

  67. Of course of the 2000 planets so far detected, no Earth-sized planets in
    what is known as the “habitable zone”, where liquid water and an
    Earth-like atmosphere might exist, have yet been observed. Most are
    either uninhabitable giant gaseous orbs or smaller scorched rocky
    planets that, like Icarus, have moved too close to their suns.

    isn’t that an artifact of our detection technology?

  68. Hopefully after Willard Romney’s demise, he would go to rule over a planet orbiting around 0.5 AU or less to a star like Eta Carinae or Beetlegeuse. That might show him what a “hell” would really look like. But alas, nonsensical, trivial, non-evidential nonsense does not mean that a Mormon afterlife exists. On the contrary, the evidence points towards the most likely reality, that Joseph Smith was nothing but a con-man, a liar, and a fraudulent human being. I hope that Mormons will come to realize this and hopefully, in the future, people of other religions will realize that their claims are simply nonsense as well.

  69.  Actually, no. It is not an artifact in the sense that it is some archaic piece of human creation, or any other sense for that matter. Its artifactual or non-artifactual properties don’t really matter much in terms of his quote however. It is quite obvious that it was intended as humor and that Mr. Krauss does not share Mr. Romney’s religious beliefs. The ultimate point was (to my understanding) that Mitt Romney’s church’s view on postmortem planetary rule is comical at best, and he pointed out that of the many hundreds of exoplanets that have been discovered, none of them are Earth-like. Of course, that may very well be because exoplanet detection systems are not sensitive enough to pick up planets of that size, in those habitable zones. But the joke was that Mitt Romney will have nowhere suitable to go after his departure from this world.

  70.  No doubt an unfortunate consequence of a relatively low intelligence in terms of cosmic understanding. Our brains can only comprehend so much. Sadly, many people suffer even more than others in the cerebral department.

  71. How I wish somebody would openly pose the question to an aspiring politician:

    “Should the ability to distinguish fact from fiction be a pre-requisite for public office?”

    Oh go on. If Professor Dawkins said it, it would at least be repeated in the Press…maybe Bill Maher could turn it into a catchphrase…

  72. Alf, you’re not giving this the seriousness it deserves. Besides I’ve noticed the moon disappears, like, completely, once a month, so it really wouldn’t be safe.

  73. It was shocking, but I managed to logically argue the situation out with the moderator and he lifted the ban. I argued that he had more control over my actions while i was using an ID that I had invested over 2000 posts with, than if I opened a new ID for the CNN site. He saw the logic in what I said. I also told him he should consider temporary bans and posting vacations in the manner that Wikipedia uses, this is more effective than all out bans. All out bans tend to produce trolls.

    I am still surprised that someone tried to silence me for my comments regarding Mitt Romney’s religion. Perhaps the moderator was Mormon or Republican and took strong offense. Either way the situation was resolved civilly and we reached a fair agreement now.

  74. lawrance , I find it ridiculous that your are critical of Romney while the other guy is telling the world through his UN speech that future does not belong to anyone who slanders Islam. Do you really think that the guy who has been considering an international law of blasphemy is any better than Romney?

  75.   By all means. I personally think it just another, rather pathetic, attempt to vilify someone because they don’t agree with their political views by mocking their religious views. Just for the record.. when one speaks of character, there is no doubt, the people of the Mormon faith,
    as well as Quakers and also the Amish are renowned for their integrity.
    Anyone disputing that is not being truly honest with, well, anybody.
    They may have some strange traditions to you, but they are not ashamed
    of them and will tell you about them if asked. I know of no president or
    presidential hopeful that didn’t belong to a church of some kind, and lets face it, all religions have their crazy little quirks. Mr. Obama says he is a Christian. I can easily come up with plenty of questions for him about his beliefs as a Christian, and point out how it makes him look just as silly or questionable as a leader. yanquetino,, I say shame on you for even going there. If you can’t make an argument against the man’s political stance, you just aren’t trying. I can show you plenty of lies Mr. Obama has told.  And you want to talk about character?  

  76. I find it amusing that people are posting remarks about events that took place after this article was written, as if the writer should have been cognizant of what was to happen in the future. Equally amusing is the fact that people are still attempting to turn this into partisan bashing.

     

    when one speaks of character, there is no doubt, the people of the Mormon faith,as well as Quakers and also the Amish are renowned for their integrity.Anyone disputing that is not being truly honest with, well, anybody.

    It is never a good idea to speak in absolutes when dealing with the whole population of any faith on such abstracts as character or integrity. Have you met every Mormon, Quaker and Amish person? Then your statement is impossible to verify. Assume all you like, but that won’t get you very far here.

    If you see the OP as being partisan as opposed to relating to a candidate that belongs to a religion invented in the late 19th century by a con man then please demonstrate it.

  77. And now at last to comment on the OP of the thread itself as opposed to just refuting the partisan insanity of uninformed posters who seem to enjoy trolling.

    As it has been made more and more apparent over the years, no religion has the monopoly on facts since most will outright refuse to acknowledge them if they don’t suit their needs. So the religion invented by Joseph Smith, complete with an angel with a name containing the word moron, American Indians as the lost tribe of Israel and planets to have as your very own in the afterlife is a special kind of absurd.

    The real problem of religion in politics is not that people have a given faith (even one as openly delusional as this) but that having faith is considered not only a virtue but a necessity to gain office. Especially when said faiths are more interested in attempting to dominate the dialogue on issues it knows nothing about merely for the sake of maintaining control. So it in no way matters who’s making the lunatic religious claims in my view. It is dangerous on all sides to have people thinking only the faithful can uphold the morals and ethics of any given nation. We see the result of that thinking in other countries enough to know one clearly does not follow the other.

    So to have anyone hold the absurd beliefs of Mormonism in any regard but laughable and seek public office is not only ridiculous, it also underlies the problem of church and state in the US. If you put their crazy views in the public square, people take offense because it is they claim a matter of personal belief. If they have no faith then it should be equally irrelevant, but that is obviously not the case. Then suddenly your personal beliefs are the focal point of the public discourse as opposed to the issues important to the nation.

    The contradiction of conviction in this madness has always vexed me.

  78. Professor Krauss, to avoid duplication on this site, I refer you to my recent comments on Professor Dawkins’ earlier and even more crass pronouncement about Romney’s Mormon faith here: http://www.richarddawkins.net/news….  It puzzles me why a respected scientist and academic like yourself would trot out banal criticisms and mockery without first checking the ‘facts’ being cited about Mormon beliefs.  Other commentators have pointed out some of the errors in your OP; I could list a few more.  You would not get away with this approach in serious academic circles if you were presenting something related to your own field of expertise.  Here however, you get away with it, partly because the tone of the OP is satirical, not academic, and partly because your audience shares your firm bias against religion in general. 
     
    Presumably, you do not consider the subject to be serious enough to warrant application of the academic process – checking primary sources, considering views on both sides of the argument, etc.  Instead, you are happy to make unequivocal pronouncements, here and in other public forums, based on a superficial level of knowledge.  For example:
     
    “the explicit doctrines of his faith… defy common sense, history and scientific knowledge.”
     
    I, and millions of other Mormons who know more about the explicit doctrines of Romney’s faith than you do, wholeheartedly disagree.  With knowledge gained from the two radically different sources – from science and history on the one hand and revealed from God through Joseph Smith, biblical and other prophets on the other – I have found more agreement than you could possibly imagine (I suspect that your mind is closed to that possibility).  Knowledge from each source has different coverage and gaps, but there are many, many touch points, since it all occupies the same space of truth (and that’s an explicit Mormon doctrine!).
     
    Although my personal experiences have convinced me that there is a God (and within this paradigm, none of Joseph Smith’s claims are so ridiculous), I can no more prove to you that God exists than you can prove to me that there is no God.  Within this stalemate, neither of us has an intellectually superior position, nor the right to mock the other.  You have absolutely nothing to fear from a Mormon President.

  79. And yet in neither of your responses to the threads on this site have you offered a single reason why your beliefs should be taken any more seriously than any belief refuted here. You do not in fact have the stalemate you claim, as science does not come into things with a fixed notion of how things are in when making decisions about what is real and what is not. Religion, regardless of what variety has a fixed idea and centers all its ideas around it. The idea of a deity responsible for the creation and subsequent actions of the universe. An idea that has no evidence and absolutely no scientific merit. How precisely does Mormonism separate from this?

    Additionally, are you saying that Joseph Smith was not a con man? That the things in the article above are not accurate regarding the beliefs in Mormonism? Can you explain if they are true how they don’t come off as being completely absurd? Can you explain how your definition of revealed truth is any less false than the claims of every other faith that proclaim the same?

  80.   @ Tim B
    …  considering views on both sides of the argument, etc.  Instead, you are happy to make unequivocal pronouncements, here and in other public forums, based on a superficial level of knowledge. 

    For example:
     
    “the explicit doctrines of his faith… defy common sense, history and scientific knowledge.”

    This claim is well supported by evidence, and is in no way “superficial”. It is fascinating that believers claim the knowledge of others is “superficial” , when challenging well evidenced information which comes from the places where the believers refuse to look.
     

    I, and millions of other Mormons who know more about the explicit doctrines of Romney’s faith than you do, wholeheartedly disagree. 

    As you are unlikely to personally acquainted with “millions of Mormons”, this looks like a wildly exaggerated assertion at best!

    With knowledge gained from the two radically different sources – from science and history on the one hand and revealed from God through Joseph Smith, biblical and other prophets on the other – I have found more agreement
    than you could possibly imagine (I suspect that your mind is closed to that possibility).

    Theist-mirror and confirmation bias come to mind.
    Seriously??  – History and science!  Could these be edited Mormon versions of these subjects per-chance?  Adjusted to comply with the writings of Joseph Smith. (Circularity alert!)

      Knowledge from each source has different coverage and gaps, but there are many, many touch points, since it all occupies the same space of truth (and that’s an explicit Mormon doctrine!).

    Ah well!  If it’s a doctrine it must be true (at least in the eyes of trooo believers!), – regardless of historical or scientific objective evidence.

  81. Achromat666,
     
    My intent was not to promote my beliefs here, but to point out that Mormons, like many other religious people, are as open to the logic and reason of secular learning and knowledge as any atheist scientist.  We are also open to knowledge from a different source; a divine one that has been rejected by the atheist, usually because it has been so cloaked in dogma that it has been made to appear entirely contrary to the logic of secular understanding.  All that we know about God is what he has revealed about himself to man – to the hearts and minds of individual believers, as well as through prophets, his official spokesmen throughout history.  Nothing new here, you may say. 
     
    The new insights provided by Joseph Smith reveal a God not fixed in opposition to nature, but rather very much compliant with it.  Yes, he has power to act on nature in ways that we do not currently understand scientifically, but he is bound by nature’s laws, including those we do not yet understand.  Dawkins pointed out that if you show any primitive civilisation technology that is sufficiently advanced beyond their understanding and experience, they will view it as magical.  Similarly, when God operates in accordance with physical laws that we have not yet fathomed, it appears to us supernatural. 
     
    The vast majority of God’s responsibility for the universe he delegates to natural processes that increasingly we observe and understand.  I commend to you again the article by Nibley that I linked to my post on the other thread (here’s the link again: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.ed….  Whereas once the origin of species was unknown to man and therefore attributed to God’s supernatural power, we now understand how he did it, and see no need for his intervention in the process.  This advance in human understanding, however, does not disprove God’s existence.  The same applies for our increasing understanding of how our universe formed and functions.
     
    Mormon belief in God is not based on a need for a gap-filler for the inexplicable.  It is based on God’s communication with mankind, through his representatives and direct to the hearts and minds of men and women willing to believe in him.  Such personal experiences are real, but are no more transferable to others than they are measurable (either to confirm or disprove) by the scientific method.
     
    So, I am saying that Joseph Smith was not a con man.  Since his claims principally related to his communication with God, you can no more prove that he was a charlatan than you can prove that God does not exist.  Regarding Krauss’s other criticisms of Mormonism, more-accurate, informed and balanced information on these topics is readily available on Wikipedia.

  82. Alan4discussion, I have been studying Mormon doctrine for over 30 years, I have looked in many of those places you refer to.  I have read histories from all sources, not just those produced by Mormons, which are increasingly frank and comprehensive in this internet age when facts cannot easily be hidden.  The Joseph Smith Papers project, sponsored by the Church, is a case in point (http://josephsmithpapers.org/).  That’s what I call a primary source.  I also have 3 Masters level degrees in science and engineering disciplines, 2 of them from the University of Cambridge.  I think I’m qualified to tell when someone has a superficial level of knowledge about Mormonism!  Do atheists have mirrors or confirmation biases?

    I constantly test my beliefs against new information and evidence, whatever its source.  Often I find it’s the critics of Mormonism who are the patent charlatans (I am not talking about you here) when they deliberately misquote, present events and statements out of context, or present as doctrine the personal opinions expressed by past leaders.  However, there are also occasions when I find that my own assumptions and beliefs were incorrect, so I modify them.  It’s the same process as for scientific or other secular knowledge.

    You are right that I do not know personally the millions of Mormons worldwide.  I am not claiming that the weight of numbers is evidence of truthfulness.  The point is that I know how much a person is taught about explicit doctrines of the faith before being baptised, and as a result every one of them knows more about it than Krauss does – he has’t even got basic facts straight.

  83. You said:

    My intent was not to promote my beliefs here, but to point out that Mormons, like many other religious people, are as open to the logic and reason of secular learning and knowledge as any atheist scientist.

    We are also open to knowledge from a different source; a divine one that has been rejected by the atheist, usually because it has been so cloaked in dogma that it has been made to appear entirely contrary to the logic of secular understanding.

    No, in absolutely no way is any portion of this statement true. It is in fact the very issue with the religious position in general. The very fact that you make the singular claim to have access to a different source of wisdom with absolutely no evidence whatsoever, this constant clamoring of a revealed wisdom. You accept reason, logic and secular reasoning because the room for religious ideas in the areas that science has demonstrated actual evidence has shrunk so far as to leave no other option save to retreat to the extremist position many come to this site with if you don’t.

    You said:

    All that we know about God is what he has revealed about himself to man – to the hearts and minds of individual believers, as well as through prophets, his official spokesmen throughout history.  Nothing new here, you may say.

     

    And so far all your positions are the same tired emotional pleas for acceptance that have come here from every other faith. You present positions with nothing to back them up except doctrine which itself has no evidence to prove itself.

     
    You said:

    The new insights provided by Joseph Smith reveal a God not fixed in opposition to nature, but rather very much compliant with it. Yes, he has power to act on nature in ways that we do not currently understand scientifically, but he is bound by nature’s laws, including those we do not yet
    understand.  Dawkins pointed out that if you show any primitive civilisation technology that is sufficiently advanced beyond their understanding and experience, they will view it as magical.  Similarly, when God operates in accordance with physical laws that we have not yet fathomed, it
    appears to us supernatural.

    The vast majority of God’s responsibility for the universe he delegates to natural processes that increasingly we observe and understand.  I commend to you again the article by Nibley that I linked to my post on the other thread (here’s the link again: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.ed….  Whereas once the origin of species was unknown to man and therefore attributed to God’s supernatural power, we now understand how he did it, and see no need for his intervention in the process.  This advance in human understanding, however, does not disprove God’s existence.  The same applies for our increasing understanding of how our universe formed and functions.

     

    To start, you’re on a site that in its mission statement requests posters to demonstrate evidence for the claims it makes. So far, for someone who does not wish to promote their beliefs you seem to be doing just that. Facts, not faith are the nature of the discourse here.

    In order to demonstrate a single strand of your position as true regarding any aspect of your deity you have to demonstrate things no poster has ever been able to:

     1.      That there is any evidence of a deity or any demonstrable need of a deity as the
    progenitor of the universe.
    2.     That you can demonstrate said deity is in fact the one you worship.

    3.     That you can establish evidence you can determine his intent.

    Not a single one of those points is demonstrably provable, and saying that science cannot disprove the existence of a deity does not make your position in any way valid. Going from my second point alone, you would have to prove that any creator that could be proven (which never has been) is not one of the myriad of deities that have been worshipped in the past or is still being worshipped in religions around the world.

     
    You effectively have no legs to stand on with this position. Attributing scientific principles to your
    theistic positions do not in any way come close to validating any aspect of your notion, as science does not require a deity. You are positing one there because of your belief, not from the facts.

    You said:

    Mormon belief in God is not based on a need for a gap-filler for the inexplicable.  It is based on God’s communication with mankind, through his representatives and direct to the hearts and minds of men and women willing to believe in him.  Such personal experiences are real, but are no more transferable to others than they are measurable (either to confirm or disprove) by the scientific method.

     

    So, I am saying that Joseph Smith was not a con man.  Since his claims principally related to his communication with God, you can no more prove that he was a charlatan than you can prove that God does not exist.  Regarding Krauss’s other criticisms of Mormonism, more-accurate, informed and balanced information on these topics is readily available on Wikipedia

    This is precisely what I’m referring to. You’re making claims based on your faith and not offering a shred of evidence why anyone would take such a position seriously. Because you for some reason believe the tenets of a particular faith. The belief alone does not validate your position as true in any conceivable sense, it is simply the ideas you accept as such. Offer actual evidence for a single one of these claims before arbitrarily stating them as facts we should simply accept because you do.

    And all religions inherently fall back to the default of the ‘gap’ position as no evidence exists for a single claim they make. Yours is no different. Your attempts to cling to the idea of revealed wisdom only reinforce the lack of any substance to the claim itself. You are free to have your opinion but on this site you have to present evidence for your claims regarding revealed truths or your particular god as being any more valid than any deity that has ever been trotted onto the site as being the true one.

    Prove your god exists before entering it as a given in your discourse. If you cannot, then there is
    effectively nothing further to discuss.

  84.  I question the authenticity of your question. It would appear to be self evident that that is a rhetorical question.

  85. It sounds to me like we are basically in agreement about the inability of believers to provide unequivocal scientific evidence of the existence of God.  I haven’t once asked you or anyone else to accept as fact the things that I believe on the basis of knowledge revealed from God, nor have I tried to prove them to you – I’ve already told you that I can’t.  All I am seeking here is a little respect for people who do have such beliefs, by demonstrating that those beliefs are not contrary to scientific understanding, which most here have assumed that they are.  If someone has religious faith, that alone is not sufficient grounds for ridicule or branding that person as irrational.  This is my claim.

    “you’re on a site that in its mission statement requests posters to demonstrate evidence for the claims it makes.”

    This brings me right back to the OP.  Krauss has made claims about the “explicit doctrines” of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith that he has rehearsed with patent inaccuracy.  He has provided absolutely no evidence to support his claims.  The burden of proof is on Krauss to show us how the real doctrines of Mormonism “defy common sense, history and scientific knowledge.”  He’s the one who should be providing evidence substantial enough to test. 

  86. Tim B
    My intent was not to promote my beliefs here, but to point out that Mormons, like many other religious people, are as open to the logic and reason of secular learning and knowledge as any atheist scientist. 

    We are also open to knowledge from a different source; a divine one that has been rejected by the atheist,

     Your second sentence clearly contradicts your first one! 
    You cannot be open to evidenced secular scientific learning if your view of this is over-ridden by stuff dreamed up by yourself or anyone else who may claim to be a “prophet”!

    So, I am saying that Joseph Smith was not a con man.  Since his claims principally related to his communication with God,

     

    “Communications with gods” according to neuroscientists, are internal processes within individual brains.  Claiming the “authority of a god” for them  IS a con!

    The evidence on J. Smith is clear even if some CHOOSE to disbelieve it.

    you can no more prove that he was a charlatan than you can prove that God does not exist.

    As regards gods, do I take it that you believe in all the gods you cannot produce evidence to “disprove”! –
    List of deities –
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L
    .. .. … . or do you accept that the onus of proof is on those asserting the presence of their gods?

    Such personal experiences are real, but are no more transferable to others than they are measurable (either to confirm or disprove) by the scientific method.

    That is the usual claim of conmen, or about imaginary or non-existent features or psychologically delusional claims – they claim to be immune from scientific testing – as a denial of their repeat failures on test or the lack of presenting a falsifiable hypothesis at all!

    At the end of the day, what can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

  87. I can accept that you have your beliefs and have no respect for them. Those are 2 entirely different things. A person can in fact be intelligent and have beliefs that completely defy the otherwise logical and reasonable discourse they are capable of. This is often referred to as cognitive dissonance.

    But more importantly you continue to contradict yourself when you say having religious faith is not grounds for branding those ideas as irrational. It is not rational to accept the precepts of a supposed divine text that has no evidence as being in any way divine.  And the beliefs are completely contrary to scientific understanding, I’m pretty certain I gave examples of why in my previous response. Deities in general are not scientific and are by their nature non evidential, how can you claim that any theistic belief system accepts such things are scientific and evidential?

    Accepting that the things science has proven are true and still accepting whatever doctrine you worship is not the same as both being compatible ways of getting the facts. This is a prime example of circular reasoning and cognitive dissonance. 

    I asked earlier what claims in the OP are not true in regards to your religion, and you have yet to clarify that. If you have an issue with someone’s position, it is your burden to make that clear before expecting anyone to properly respond to it.

  88. Alan how are you doing the quotes? I’ve been having issues with that since I starting posting on the new Dawkins site.

  89. All I am seeking here is a little respect for people who do have such
    beliefs, by demonstrating that those beliefs are not contrary to
    scientific understanding, which most here have assumed that they are.

    There’s a difference between respecting a person’s right to hold ridiculous beliefs and respecting the ridiculous beliefs themselves. Personally, I’m for the former but not the latter.

    The burden of proof is on Krauss to show us how the real doctrines of
    Mormonism “defy common sense, history and scientific knowledge.”

    The problem here is the use of the word ‘real’. It’s almost a certainty that no matter what doctrine is demonstrated to be ridiculous this will turn out not to be a ‘real’ doctrine of Mormonism.

    ‘God’ (in almost every definition I’ve ever seen) is contrary to scientific understanding.
    Temple garments that provide ‘spiritual protection’ is contrary to scientific understanding.
    Any kind of afterlife is contrary to scientific understanding.

    Of course, these will turn out not to be ‘real’ doctrines or I’ll have misunderstood what is meant by god or an afterlife and, when pressed, I have little doubt that (like most religious definitions) the goalposts won’t just be mobile, they’ll be on the back of a pick-up truck with the engine running.

    So us outlining doctrines is pointless as none of them will be ‘real’. You say above that you intend to demonstrate those beliefs are not
    contrary to scientific understanding – would you care to list some of
    them here for us to assess, please?

  90. Your comment seems to have crossed with mine. 

      All I am seeking here is a little respect for people who do have such beliefs, by demonstrating that those beliefs are not contrary to scientific understanding, which most here have assumed that they are. 

    There is a great deal of difference between your ASSERTION that your beliefs are not contrary to scientific evidence, and the actual situation viewed objectively, when Mormon beliefs are compared with scientific evidence.

    If someone has religious faith, that alone is not sufficient grounds for ridicule or branding that person as irrational.  This is my claim.

    That depends on the claims of that particular faith.  Many such claims ARE ridiculous.

    The burden of proof is on Krauss to show us how the real doctrines of Mormonism ”

    Claiming “real doctrines” is  cherry picking and begging the question with a “No true Scotsman fallacy – http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/N… You have not defined details of your objections, and without these a refutation or rational consideration of them is not possible.

    There is no disrespect for the person, in telling a person ridiculous or irrational views are ridiculous or irrational. 
    In a competitive political arena or a scientific debate, it would be dishonest to do otherwise. 
    The claim that “revealed knowledge which popped into someone’s head”, can override scientific evidence IS both irrational and ridiculous!

    Those who lie about science, cause disasters in the real world which affect numerous other people. 
    That is why scientists put a high value on integrity, and a negative value on pseudo-science and false or incompetent claims.

  91. achromat666
    Alan how are you doing the quotes? I’ve been having issues with that since I starting posting on the new Dawkins site.

    Put <blockxquote> in front of the quote and </blockxquote> at the end. – Missing out the “X”s which I have added so the words remain visible. 

    Edit it later if you get the format mixed up or need to tidy the layout – as I often do!

  92. It seems utterly absurd to waste time arguing about whether mormons are better or worse than other crazy christians. It’s a bitl like choosing whether Stalin was worse than Pol Pot
    Obama was not raised in a religious home but chose to join Rev Wrights church for 20 years.
    Romney was brought up from birth with no choice.
    Romney has proven his business acumen, that is what is needed now.
    Scientists may not agree, but then they should should stick to their field, physics or whatever.
    I have never believed in god but I have run a fair sized company, a subsidiary of a US chemical corporation.
    World economics is in a mess, we need rational business knowledge now. Tomorrow we can look at the stars and wonder where it all started.

  93. Once again, this isn’t about the political aims of the person in question, so opinions about who is better suited to run the country are moot.

    Read anywhere in the article and quote me where it says one candidate is better than the other. Read me anywhere in the article where it says anything about the business acumen of either candidate. This is about the religion of the candidate, pure and simple. If you wanted to argue that the other candidate’s religious belief is just as absurd that would at least be relevant.

    If you wish to pursue the political aspects of the discussion between the 2 (as well as any strengths or weaknesses) it would be better suited on a thread that reflects that.

  94. So, are you
    saying that you believe that the planet Kolob exists, that Moroni gave tablets
    to Joseph Smith that were written in Proto-Egyptian, that American Indians are
    a lost tribe of Israel, that Jesus visited North America et al?  I’d very much like to see the evidence you
    have for any of these things and how science and history support these beliefs.

  95. It defies common sense, history and scientific knowledge that American Indians are a lost tribe of Israel.  No scientific/historical evidence supports this idea and given the transportation technology of the day, it defies common sense that they would be able t travel from the Middle East to North America.  The same can be said for the existence of the planet Kolob.

    You are asserting these things.  Where is your evidence?  

  96. Wow, so many questions.  I wish I had time to address them all.  I’ll come back tomorrow.

  97. “Rational” business knowledge (whatever that is) is largely responsible for the current economic mess.  It is the creature of that most rational of places, Wall Street. 

  98. “So, I am saying that Joseph Smith was not a con man.  Since his claims principally related to his communication with God,”  “you can no more prove that he was a charlatan than you can prove that God does not exist.  “
    The courts of the day found him guilty of being a charlatan/con man.  The testimony is much more convincing than Smith receiving communication from god.

  99. wsayeth4 -The courts of the day found him guilty of being a charlatan/con man.
     The testimony is much more convincing than Smith receiving communication from god.

    It will be interesting to see how his followers try to deny this!

    BTW: You may find this link helpful in presenting clearly separated quotes in DISQUS: – http://www.richarddawkins.net/disc

  100. The business community is not rational; not if they do not “believe” in the evidence for global climate change, or in the mountain of geological evidence that our fossil resources are finite, or in the ecological evidence that no species can continue to grow in numbers forever on a finite planet.  

  101. Real, explicit Mormon doctrines.
    My use of the term ‘real doctrines’ is intended only to distinguish beliefs actually held by Mormons and contained in their scriptural canon from the caricatures presented by Krauss.  I am not trying to disassociate Mormonism from anything inconvenient to explain.  It is worth pointing out though that there are prevailing opinions amongst Mormons that are extrapolations of doctrines or scriptural details, but not fully justified or necessary.  Explicit doctrines of the Church can be found on the official Mormon.org website, and the full canon of scriptures is on http://www.lds.org. I’m sure you don’t want me to list it all here!
     
    Within the details cited by Krauss above, there are several inaccuracies relating to the Book of Mormon alone (there are others).  Here are corrections:
    The gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated were witnesed by 11 other men before being returned.  Although several of those men subsequently parted ways with Joseph Smith, none of them recanted or denied their witness.  That sounds like independent verification to me.  Smith claimed to translate the record by the gift and power of God, assisted by ancient ‘seer stones’ buried with the record, using mortal scribes, not the angel, to assist with the translation.

    Nevertheless, the official version of events still contains significant claims of divine interaction in the origin of the Book of Mormon.  Presumably that is the affront to common sense that Krauss refers to.  He may consider the following information we find in the Book to be a candidate for the affronts to history and science:

    “an otherwise historically and anthropologically undocumented and unrecorded lost tribe of Israel somehow made it to the Americas in antiquity and flourished here”

    For completeness, the Book of Mormon describes 3 separate groups that migrated by sea to the Americas, most likely Mesoamerica.  The earliest group (Jaredites), contemporaries of the Tower of Babel, are thought by some Mormon scholars to have got there after migrating across Asia, launching near the Bering Straits and continuing down the Pacific coast before making landfall in Central America. This route is constructed from scant detail in the Book.  The group that occupies the majority of the Book of Mormon narrative (Lehites – later splitting into Nephites and Lamanites) left Jerusalem in 600BC, consisting of 3 family groups, crossing the Arabian peninsula before building their ship according to divine plans (like Noah; not by using contemporary designs).  They too made landfall in Mesoamerica, and indeed flourished there.  A third group (Mulekites) also originated in Jerusalem, leaving a few years later.  They are first encountered by the Nephites about 400 years later.

    Although there has been a prevailing opinion amongst Mormons that all native American peoples descended from these groups, it is not supported by the text.  It may have been fuelled by descriptions of Lamanite groups whose dress and culture was superficially similar to the ‘Red Indians’.  Most now recognise that the narrative of the Book of Mormon is quite localised, and in no way rules out the presence of or intermingling with other ethnic groups throughout the Americas.  The term ‘Lamanites’ comes to be used in a very general way to describe all those who were not of the smaller, Christ-believing group of Nephites, in much the same way as biblical Gentiles.

    So, is Krauss claiming that the documented history of Mesoamerica is so complete in its geographical and chronological coverage that there is no room for a small group to have slipped in unnoticed?
    Is he also claiming that our current scientific methods are even capable of detecting the entry of 3 Hebrew families into the native American gene pool in 592BC, let alone that anyone has actually looked for evidence of this in the DNA of 21st century natives or conclusively disproved it?
    If he is, where’s the evidence?

    This linked article presents a comprehensive resume of pro- and anti-Mormon scholarship (there seems to be very little neutral territory in this debate) on the Book of Mormon, its origins and content, addressing both of the issues above:
    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.ed

    For Achromat666 and Alan4discussion: if I’ve time, I’ll adress Cognitive Dissonance  and communication from God later this week.

  102. As I’ve said before, Wikipedia is actually a pretty good source for balanced, accurate information on these topics.  More information, with context, on the trial Krauss refers to can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E
    Although it’s possible that Joseph Smith was convicted of something, the record is not conclusive.
    These events were early in Joseph’s life – he still had a lot to learn about the ways of God.  Nevertheless, enemies of the Church frequently filed trumped-up charges against Smith after he had established the Church and it was growing in numbers and local influence.  He spent many months during his later life in jails, awaiting trials, but was never convicted.
    That he was put on trial in his early life for his part in a local treasure-digging scheme does not detract from the amazing things he achieved in his later life; those achievements utterly transcend his unimpressive beginnings, suggesting that they were far beyond his natural abilities.

  103. Tim B,

    Any evidence of the 11 people in public record? Any reason why any would believe a golden tablet appears seemingly out of nowhere and not make that a matter of public record, or why it wasn’t corroborated by outside sources? Any reason why the translation of said tablets would end up in a dialect ripped from the King James bible, made a couple centuries before? Doesn’t it seem damn convenient that the tablets vanish before anyone able to verify such ridiculous claims can examine them? That is of course unless you can prove that among your 11 are any type of people experienced in science in any way, and then give evidence of their findings.

    And reason beyond the claims of religious text anyone should accept the Mesoamericans as the lost tribe? Any historical, archaeological, or any form of record to substantiate a whit of this claim at all?

    Do you see the amount of leaps you have to make to accept any of your claims as fact in any conceivable way? And once again, any reason why your particular faith should be taken more seriously than any other faith claim made? 

    Here’s the problem: Regardless of our perception of what you believe, you’ve made a number of claims that your faith is compatible with science, and not proven your claim. If held to scrutiny, it crumbles for precisely the same reason as any other religion.

    Worse in some cases, and this case in particular. With most of the other bronze age faiths, you have the lack of records from those times in some instances to make that a harder claim to dispute, but doesn’t make their claims any more true. This is a product of the 19th century where there are plenty of records of the events of the time and numerous ways in which they would have been documented and verified if a single one of them held a single truth.

    You want to illuminate us on the aspects of your faith we may be ignorant of? Good for you. You’ll have to go a lot farther to prove a single bit of it as not being as absurd (or more so) than any other faith claim, and farther still to make a single claim in it even remotely legitimate.

  104. Achromat666,
    First, I thank you for the civility of your posts.  As stated before, my purpose in entering this discussion was not to prove to readers the verity or comparative merit of my beliefs, but rather to demonstrate that Krauss in his OP, like Dawkins, is ridiculing Romney on account of his Mormonism, without the faintest understanding of what Romney actually believes.  He has made claims without providing any evidence in support; conversely, it is evident that he has made no serious study of the subject.  Still none of you have provided the evidence.
     
    What we are seeing here is people approaching the question of God and religion with a fixed world view that is utterly closed to the possibility of the existence of God.  The excuse for this position is that only one type of evidence is acceptable to them – scientific evidence that can be demonstrated repeatedly in a laboratory.  You appear to be prone to this same type of thinking when you suggest that the testimony of the 11 witnesses of the Gold Plates (that’s a full jury’s worth if you include Joseph Smith himself) is only admissible if they were scientifically trained  (how would our legal systems survive if only scientists could give evidence in court?).  People with this world view, confident that there is no scientific proof of God’s existence, blithely dismiss anything else or anyone else suggesting a world view that includes God.
     
    Here is the problem: God has hidden himself from discovery by science, but he can still be found by every individual human being.  The God Hypothesis (by this I mean the description of God given by his prophets, not the straw man constructed and gleefully knocked down by Dawkins) cannot be tested in the science laboratory.  But, it can be tested on your knees (in prayer – see Moroni 10:3-5 http://www.lds.org/scriptures/… and in the laboratory of your own life, observing the results of the choices you make (see John 7:17 http://www.lds.org/scriptures/…, including where you place your trust.  The essential condition for positive results to these tests is willingness to believe, or being open to the possibility that God exists (see Alma 32:27-28 http://www.lds.org/scriptures/….  Without this, you are unlikely even to begin the test, let alone approach it seriously enough to get a result.  This is the only leap you need to make on the journey from your world view to mine.  Though it may appear a giant precipice from where you stand, it turns out to be quite a small step that is quickly rewarded with affirmation (a scene towards the end of Indiana Jones’ Last Crusade, comes to mind – it’s surprisingly profound).
     
    Here is the point: your negative scientific result, in testing for God’s existence, in no way nullifies my repeated positive spiritual ones.  You’ve been trying the wrong experiment, in good faith, as it were.  And this is why you have no right to mock, and neither do I.
     
    Regarding your most recent questions, I’ve already pointed you towards several rich sources of information containing most, if not all, of the answers.  These kinds of questions and criticisms of Mormonism have been posed and answered ad nauseam for over 150 years in the public record, though there have been significant developments in historical and scientific understanding that have improved both the questions and the answers.  It can all be found on the internet, so I don’t need to repeat it here.  Again, Wikipedia is a great place to start, since people on both sides of the debate have editorial access, resulting in accurate, balanced, well-referenced information.
     
    However, I will address the Book of Mormon questions here, since they come up with such regularity.
     
    The Book of Mormon itself is a phenomenal piece of evidence, even if you do not like its claimed origin.  The content of the Book is a marvel of detail and complexity, unique but in total harmony with the Bible, Old Testament and New.  In my experience, shared with millions of other Mormons, its teachings have transforming majesty and power.  Yes, it is rendered in the familiar scriptural language of the King James Version of the Bible.  However, the more significant linguistic style evident in this translation is the ancient Hebrew of the original record, in passages that have no biblical parallel.   Here’s some evidence of its authenticity as a translation, not a fabrication:
     
    Proper nouns.  There are 337 names of people and places in the Book, 188 of which are not found in the Bible but have identifiable Hebrew or Egyptian origins (see http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/B….
     
    Hebrew writing forms.  The Book is full of patterns and forms that are uniquely found in ancient writing, Hebrew included.  The appearance of Cycloides, complex Chiasmus, and many others unrecognized in Joseph Smith’s time, is remarkable (see
    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.ed… and http://byustudies.byu.edu/chia….
     
    Means of authorship.  Joseph Smith, then an uneducated, 24 year-old farm labourer, dictated the entire text of the Book of Mormon to a scribe over the course of less than 65 days, never reviewing or repeating what had already been dictated, except to confirm that it had been written down correctly (see http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/in….
     
    If you reject the claimed origin of the Book, you have to come up with an alternative and sufficient hypothesis for its authorship, with evidence.  Many have tried, but none have come anywhere close to explaining it all (see again this resume linked to my previous post: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.ed….
     
    Interestingly, the Book of Mormon even presages the very debate being played out here.  Korihor was the Richard Dawkins of Preclassic Mesoamerica! (See Alma 30:12-28 http://www.lds.org/scriptures/

  105. Achromat666, 
    First, I thank you for the civility of your posts.  As stated before, my purpose in entering this discussion was not to prove to readers the verity or comparative merit of my beliefs, but rather to demonstrate that Krauss in his OP, like Dawkins, is ridiculing Romney on account of his Mormonism, without the faintest understanding of what Romney actually believes.  He has made claims without providing any evidence in support; conversely, it is evident that he has made no serious study of the subject.  Still none of you have provided the evidence.

    And you haven’t made the case for why your position deserves that merit in this context. As I already stated, if your purpose is to illuminate on what your beliefs are vs. our perceptions have at it. It doesn’t change the lack of evidence for the position.

    You continue to persist that your not trying to prove the merit of your claims yet all you’ve been doing is justifying those very beliefs, which strikes me as an effort to obtain credibility. You can’t espouse the ideas on an evidence based site and then simply claim that’s not what your doing.

    And my job is not to prove what Krauss thinks of your faith, I mentioned in my very first post responding to yours that your faith claims are no more valid than any other, so whether or not Krauss has all the facts regarding it doesn’t change that.

    What we are seeing here is people approaching the question of God and religion with a fixed world view that is utterly closed to the possibility of the existence of God.  The excuse for this position is that only one type of evidence is acceptable to them – scientific evidence that can be demonstrated repeatedly in a laboratory.  You appear to be prone to this same type of thinking when you suggest that the testimony of the 11 witnesses of the Gold Plates (that’s a full jury’s worth if you include Joseph Smith himself) is only admissible if they were scientifically trained  (how would our legal systems survive if only scientists could give evidence in court?).  People with this world view, confident that there is no scientific proof of God’s existence, blithely dismiss anything else or anyone else suggesting a world view that includes God.

    I don’t care if it’s a jury’s worth, you aren’t addressing my central issue of the claim. It’s the very same central issue that is made of any faith claim, especially damning of your position because it’s so recent: such an event would be made news outside of the telling if there were any substance to the tale. Not just in the form of scientific query, but in the relating of it to others outside of the event. 

    Think about the fact that the apostles in the NT all have varying versions of the stories about the same person. Now imagine if that had happened in a community where access to far more modern technologies are available. There would be far higher scrutiny for said claims scientific or not, and more importantly some outside version of the events as the news spread. Additionally, do the 11 people have names? Why don’t they have their version of the events documented somewhere? Scientific or not, it’s incredibly hard to accept they would simply say nothing in light of what your claiming.

    And now we arrive at the central issue with all theistic claims that your threadbare explanation exemplifies: In light of having absolutely no evidence of any sort, we push the goalposts back so as to not have to worry about the burden. Your evidence is somehow different from everyone else’s but not to worry, it’s just as real and fits in somehow with our scientific understanding.

    That isn’t how it works, neither at this site nor in reality. What is real is real regardless of whatever ideas we wish were true. That doesn’t change because you follow a particular faith. What is to stop any other religion from making your identical claim, and what once again would make your faith any more valid?

    Here is the point: your negative scientific result, in testing for God’s existence, in no way nullifies my repeated positive spiritual ones.  You’ve been trying the wrong experiment, in good faith, as it were.  And this is why you have no right to mock, and neither do I.

    I do not think that phrase means what you think it means. 

    If the experiment you refer to is to try to accept what you believe as true, then you fail to understand what purpose of an experiment is. You keep claiming to be on equal footing with science with no offer of a single reason we should accept any of this as being any more valid than any other faith brought to the site.

    Explain how in any conceivable way how any of your claims is equal to the scientific method of examining what is and isn’t true. I’m not interested in a single other point you have to make regarding your faith and how well I do or don’t know it. That was never my point. You persist in claiming to having a way of finding what is true without providing a single valid reason anyone should accept any aspect of it. 

    Being of a faith does not mean you get to change what is true simply because it comforts you, or suits your needs. I’ve explained the things you would have to present for any aspect of your ideas to have any footing in reality beyond your beliefs. If you can’t present them, at least have the common decency to simply say these are thing you accept as an article of faith. 

    Stop claiming what you cannot prove.

    PS. Claiming your book as evidence is completely unacceptable, as every other faith claiming to have the one true one would try to use the same trick. If your theories and beliefs do not comport to the scientific reality that exists, no amount of quoting is going to change that. So no your book is not evidence. If it is what needs to be proven as factual in any context it can’t be evidence in and of itself. The claims of the books must be proven before being perceived as being in any way evidential. Good luck with that.

  106.   –
    Tim B
    So, is Krauss claiming that the documented history of Mesoamerica is so complete in its geographical and chronological coverage that there is no room for a small group to have slipped in unnoticed?

    No unnoticed leprechaun, fairy, or gorilla DNA found either?

    Is he also claiming that our current scientific methods are even capable of detecting the entry of 3 Hebrew families into the native American gene pool in 592BC, let alone that anyone has actually looked for evidence of this in the DNA of 21st century natives or conclusively disproved it? 

    Gap-ology 1.01  – “Here is my unevidenced claim presented in a complex area which would take lots of investigation to eliminate all possibilities, so DISPROVE IT!” 

    “Science does not know everything  – therefore any totally unevidenced wild speculation is valid”? – Hardly?

    If he is, where’s the evidence?

    Indeed!  It is a Mormon claim, so that is where the onus of proof  lies.  Where is YOUR evidence?

    I have already explained this back here:-

     

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/foun… –
     As regards gods, do I take it that you believe in all the gods you cannot produce evidence to “disprove”! –
    List of deities –
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L
    .. .. … . or do you accept that the onus of proof is on those asserting the presence of their gods?

    Ah!  The “hidden from unbelievers and science”, backwards thinking:

    Here is the problem: God has hidden himself from discovery by science, but he can still be found by every individual human being.  The God Hypothesis (by this I mean the description of God given by his prophets, not the straw man constructed and gleefully knocked down by Dawkins) cannot be tested in the science laboratory. 

    Actually it has been tested in the science laboratory and sources identified by neuroscientists and psychologists:

     

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re

    New research shows that spirituality is a complex phenomenon, and multiple areas of the brain are responsible for the many aspects of spiritual experiences. (Credit: iStockphoto/Stefan Schulze)

    But, it can be tested on your knees (in prayer

    Human brains do not have self diagnosis or self testing capabilities. – so speculative perceptions, emotional responses, wishful thinking, and confirmation biases is all this will produce. 
    Only independent testing can produce objective results, and these indicate the “god images” are internal to the brain.

  107.  

    What we are seeing here is people approaching the question of God and religion with a fixed world view that is utterly closed to the possibility of the existence of God.  The excuse for this position is that only one type of evidence is acceptable to them – scientific evidence that can be demonstrated repeatedly in a laboratory.

    This isn’t true. The question of whether a god or god exists is a scientific question. If it exists, it CAN be examined by science. We might not currently have the tools to do it but if it exists, we can build the necessary tools. Some things we can posit that are incredibly hard to examine but that doesn’t mean they’re outside the realm of science – we just need to dig up half of France of Switzerland in order to examine them. If someone can give a proper definition of god, we can examine it.

    Here is the problem: God has hidden himself from discovery by science, but he can still be found by every individual human being.

    How do you know? Without using the scientific method to assess gathered ‘evidence’, how can you be sure that what you feel isn’t simply a chemical imbalance, a misfiring in the brain, confirmation bias, hallucination, a self-generated emotive state or simply subconsciously lying to yourself?

    I know full well the limitations of our senses because I experienced it myself at an early age. I was about 11 or so, in my room and I shouted for my sister to come hither. She said she’d be there in a minute. After 10 minutes I went looking for her; she wasn’t there. She couldn’t have been there because she was with my Dad about 30 miles away. Yet I heard her clear as day. I absolutely heard her respond to me. Now, either it was a momentary glitch in the Matrix, a brief intersection with a parallel universe… or it was an audio hallucination. Now, even though I can remember that moment as perfectly as memory allows (because it had a hell of an impact on me) and I KNOW absolutely I heard her voice, I also know that’s so implausible that it must have been a hallucination and my conviction is wrong.

    Now, if that happened regularly (rather than the once, ever) we could test that. I could sit in a soundproofed room and I could say when I heard the voice and then all the people in lab coats could look at the mic pickups and shake their head… or immediately shit themselves – depending on the results.

    You, on the other hand, are saying that something which happens all the time, to countless people across the world cannot be tested by science? I call horseflops to that. We can test it. We can perform all kinds of analysis on it. And you know what… we have. Nowhere have we found god.

    You cannot posit a god that exists beyond the realms of science and yet still interacts with the natural world. That god is literally impossible. Impossible. If he interacts with the natural world we CAN measure it – because the natural world will have changed. I tire of people trying to move god outside science. If it’s outside of science, it doesn’t exist. Simple as that.

    The essential condition for positive results to these tests is willingness to believe, or being open to the possibility that God exists

    Scientists are always open to such possibilities when given a proper definition of what’s being proposed (in this case, god). I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a definition of God which is even worth testing. Most are logically impossible, incoherent or vague to the point of not qualifying as a definition. Define it credibly and we can test it. I might lobby for that to be the new strapline for science. Perhaps you would oblige us with what you define god to be? Besides being outside the realms of science and therefore non-existent – a definition I’m quite happy to agree with.

  108. BenS, you said:
    “The question of whether a god or god[s] exists is a scientific question. If it exists, it CAN be examined by science. We might not currently have the tools to do it but if it exists, we can build the necessary tools.”
     
    I actually agree with you here, in theory, and need to qualify my previous statements by saying that I was talking about our current scientific tools and methods and those that I can foresee in the near future.  I am not sure that my faith in human scientific progress is as strong as yours, remarkable though that progress has been.  To use Rumsfeld’s proverbial ‘unknown unknowns’, I am sure that there are physical processes going on that we haven’t even observed yet, let alone have the tools to measure or explain.  But that is straying beyond my field of expertise, and I will gladly defer to Krauss on this matter.
     
    “If someone can give a proper definition of god, we can examine it.”
     
    Only God can give us a proper definition of his nature.  He has chosen to define himself primarily in terms of his relationship to and with mankind, our world and the universe, not in terms of his physical properties.  This is a difficult starting point for a scientific test.  I agree with you that man-made theological attempts to define the metaphysical nature of God are patently inadequate and unhelpful.  If you can come up with a testable definition from the scriptural record, then we could move beyond this impasse.
     
    However, he has provided us with the instructions to test and experience this personal relationship and his promises, and it doesn’t even involve digging up large sections of the European landmass!  As predicted, your personal motivation to find God is not strong enough to accept the conditions of the experiment.
     
    “If he interacts with the natural world we CAN measure it – because the natural world will have changed.”
     
    Again, I agree with you, in theory.  However, consider Chaos theory.  Those interactions with the natural world could be so small and so far removed from the observed end result as to remain undetected, even if they are theoretically detectable.  Again, I think you vastly overestimate the reach of science in relation to the totality of existence and reality.  There simply aren’t enough scientists with enough measuring devices to capture the functioning of the whole system, even if they did understand how it all worked. 
     
    For all these rational reasons, God can exist and act without being detected by science.  So what evidence is there to make the God hypothesis worth considering, versus any other supernatural or mythical claim?
     
    Though his interactions with the physical world are imperceptible, his influences on the hearts and minds of men are ubiquitous.  I have experienced many myself, and I know countless examples of other people receiving knowledge that they could have gained by no other sensory or intellectual means.  These examples range from the seemingly trivial – feeling an urgent need to stop the car moments before an out-of-control vehicle comes into view, careering across the road where they would otherwise have been – to the monumental.  The Book of Mormon, like it or not, is on the monumental end of that scale.  It contains information and details, historical, linguistic, etc, since corroborated, but completely unknown to Joseph Smith or any of his associates at the time.  I’ve provided links to several articles containing evidence in support of this claim, as well as the outmatched counter-arguments.
     
    It is not intellectually rigorous to continue to reject claims supported by evidence, simply because they do not match your current world view.  Nobody here, not Krauss, not Achromat666, nor any one else has provided a shred of evidence or a sufficient explanation of how else the Book of Mormon came about, if not as claimed, with divine assistance.  Where else did this knowledge come from that has stood the test of time?
     
    Alan4discussion, speaking of spiritual influences on the brain, states:
     
    “Actually it has been tested in the science laboratory and sources identified by neuroscientists and psychologists.”
     
    Yes they have identified the locations of neurological activity associated with these experiences, but this is not the same as identifying the source of the stimulus!  Neuroscientists can identify the neurological activities associated with sight and hearing, etc, but that is not the source of the stimulus.  For those, they can also observe the source of the stimulus and the path of transmission to the brain, so they know it does not originate in the brain.  For spiritual experiences, the source of the stimulus and the means of transmission is completely beyond their (current) ability to observe.
     
    Similarly, if you could measure the electrical activity in the circuits of a mobile phone, but knew nothing of microwave radiation and had no means of measuring the digital signals modulating that carrier, you might conclude that the voices coming out of the earpiece originated in the phone’s circuits.  We still have absolutely no idea how God communicates with man, nor any clue where to search for those ‘transmissions’ that have a measurable effect on the brain.  The alternative, internal hypotheses for their source (including wishful thinking, confirmation bias, misfiring, etc) are woefully insufficient to explain the sometimes miraculous outcomes.
     
    Although I began responding to specific criticisms of Mormonism, I am not answering only for the Mormon faith, but for all people who believe in God because they have experienced his love and power in their lives.  Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus can all be included here – we all seek the same God, in spite of diverse interpretations that stem from all kinds of sociopolitical, cultural and historical factors.

  109. well, if romney does rule over a gas giant then it would match his intelligence perfectly

  110. It is not intellectually rigorous to continue to reject claims supported by evidence, simply because they do not match your current world view.  Nobody here, not Krauss, not Achromat666, nor any one else has provided a shred of evidence or a sufficient explanation of how else the Book of Mormon came about, if not as claimed, with divine assistance.  Where else did this knowledge come from that has stood the test of time?

    You don’t really understand how evidence works, do you?

    To say I don’t have an explanation of how the book came about is nothing to do with evidence which makes your claims true regarding what is in it. You do realize one does not automatically prove the other?

    Think very carefully about what I have mentioned in my previous posts about what you would have to demonstrate just to prove the existence of the god you in particular worship. There are many things that would no doubt have to be demonstrated beyond it to be certain, but those are the broad strokes. Let me cast that idea on your book:

    1. Claiming that 11 people and Joseph Smith saw a Golden tablet does not automatically translate to proof that it happened, or that it consisted of the things your faith claims it does. Especially if none of the things were said to be seen by anyone else. This raises a huge amount of red flags by itself.

    2. Even if a book or tablet did magically pop out of nowhere, it doesn’t mean that the claims in it are automatically true, for the same reasons that a person born of an immaculate conception that walked on water doesn’t prove that he’s the son of an unproven God (none of which have ever been proven to have happened). Until there is verifiable correlations to reality they are and will remains the claims of a book.

    3. ‘Standing the test of time’ is until the actual claims of your faith are demonstrated as true a meaningless notion. Literally. Positing god where it is unnecessary (in scientific theory) doesn’t prove that he exist. If you can’t prove that he exists, you can’t attribute events that you yourself can’t prove happened. You weren’t witness to said events and no one beyond the 12 have been able to verify a single aspect of your fascinating tale. You are literally putting the cart before the horse.

    Claiming that god communicates with man is in short an empty claim until you can prove god. Everything else boils down to what you believe, especially when you’re not even an eyewitness.

    You have a book, just like any other faith, that you believe in. You don’t have evidence that any of the tales of the book are real. Which means you accept these ideas as an article of faith. Simple as that.

    Although I began responding to specific criticisms of Mormonism, I am not answering only for the Mormon faith, but for all people who believe in God because they have experienced his love and power in their lives.  Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus can all be included here – we all seek the same God, in spite of diverse interpretations that stem from all kinds of sociopolitical, cultural and historical factors.

    Well, isn’t that kind of you?

    You may notice that most every question I’ve posed to you has been in reference to what makes your claim any more significant or proven than any other claim. This is to say that religions all make the same claim and all lack the same evidence. And for the record all are not seeking your particular deity, indeed Buddhism doesn’t really have what you would consider to be a God, per se. But in the end, the result is the same.

    Facts over faith. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And so far despite your position (and apparent interest in theistic solidarity)your claims haven’t even yielded ordinary results.

    Believe what you wish, just stop claiming that it’s compatible with science.

  111. Only God can give us a proper definition of his nature.

    Bollocks. That’s like saying that only a banana can give us a proper definition of a banana. I reject that utterly.

    He has chosen to define himself primarily in terms of his relationship to and with mankind, our world and the universe, not in terms of his physical properties.

    Even were I to accept this, it still doesn’t matter. As long as whatever it is has ANY relationship with the natural world then it can be defined and tested. I explained this in the post above.

    If you can come up with a testable definition from the scriptural record, then we could move beyond this impasse.

    Why don’t YOU do it. I’m not going to bother for the same reason there’s little point in shredding religious doctrines. Unless YOU put it forward yourself then anything I dismantle will not be the ‘real’ doctrine or the ‘real’ god as you caper around dragging the goalposts.

    Furthermore, it’s not an impasse. You appear to be flat out refusing to define your god. That’s not an impasse, that’s you being wilfully obstructive.

    As predicted, your personal motivation to find God is not strong enough to accept the conditions of the experiment.

    This is the height of being disingenuous. You won’t define god and then when someone fails to find something that you can’t even define you accuse them of not looking hard enough.

    Those interactions with the natural world could be so small and so far removed from the observed end result as to remain undetected, even if they are theoretically detectable.

    So, you’re saying god’s actions are so small and undetectable that it’s not possible to separate them out from the natural workings of the universe? In which case, a universe with a god is indistinguishable from one without – which renders the whole concept of god moot. Also, it’s not possible to get from ‘god cannot be found’ to ‘this is what god says’ without there being something to test in between.

    Though his interactions with the physical world are imperceptible, his influences on the hearts and minds of men are ubiquitous.

    An absolutely empty, unevidenced claim – and also utterly contradictory. If something affects the hearts and minds of men (but not women, apparently) then it’s an affect. We CAN measure it. I keep saying this. If god takes an action that affects the natural world then we CAN measure it, regardless how small it is.

    If you’re saying your god has so little an effect on the universe that it’s impossible to measure then it’s a shit god. I mean a really shit god. If *I* can affect the world more than your god then why not worship me.

    It is not intellectually rigorous to continue to reject claims supported by evidence, simply because they do not match your current world view.

    It’s not intellectually rigorous to claim evidence where there is none. Personal revelation is NOT evidence. Hearsay is NOT evidence. Wishful thinking is NOT evidence.

    I’ve had a look at the ‘evidence’ in the links you put forward above. I wouldn’t expect an eight year old to bring me that claiming it was evidence.

    Summarised as: “The book is evidence for the book, because we couldn’t expect an uneducated charlatan to invent it all then it must be true and the proof is that the book even says people won’t believe it. Also, you can’t say where it does come from therefore god.”

    Poor. Just poor. Why hasn’t this amazing evidence been submitted to science journals and why hasn’t the scientific community embraced the Book of Mormon as the divine work of god? Because your idea of evidence and that required by proper scientists is wildly different. If I need to spell it out, your concept of ‘evidence’ is vastly inferior to that required by science.

    Nobody here, not Krauss, not Achromat666, nor any one else has provided a shred of evidence or a sufficient explanation of how else the Book of Mormon came about, if not as claimed, with divine assistance. 

    Because they don’t have to. I have a book here, it was on my desk last night. The Book of Frogs. It accurately predicted that I was going to have a cup of tea this morning with one more sugar than usual. AND I DID! How do you explain that? You can’t. Ergo, it must have been written by Jimmy, the Divine Frog. Given that was true, the next page said he lapped up the Mormon god with his tongue and verily did ribbit. Given the Prophecy of the Brew was true you must now also accept the Lapping of the Mormon God was true. Jimmy ate your god. You haven’t provided a shred of evidence otherwise.

    Where else did this knowledge come from that has stood the test of time?

    Jesus. A Jesus hawk on a speedboat. The environment. Bears. Family. Magic.

  112.  
    Tim B –
    Alan4discussion, speaking of spiritual influences on the brain, states:

     

    “Actually it has been tested in the science laboratory and sources identified by neuroscientists and psychologists.”

     
    Yes they have identified the locations of neurological activity associated with these experiences, but this is not the same as identifying the source of the stimulus! 

     

    They do not have all the details, but it is well established as biochemistry and physics.  Brains are made of atoms and molecules and respond to chemical and electrical stimuli. 

    Neuroscientists can identify the neurological activities associated with sight and hearing, etc, but that is not the source of the stimulus. 

    Obviously they have to look at the physics of light and sound in conjunction with neurocircuitry and neurochemistry.  The sources of light and sound are nevertheless  well known in physics.

    For those, they can also observe the source of the stimulus and the path of transmission to the brain, so they know it does not originate in the brain.

    That is correct re. the light and sound; – although emotional or rational responses (eg to fear, music etc ) along with the mental processing of sounds and images, clearly do originate in the brain.

      For spiritual experiences, the source
    of the stimulus and the means of transmission is completely beyond their (current) ability to observe.

    You just made that up as assertive ignorance, based on wishful thinking and a desperate search for gaps in scientific knowledge where magic can be inserted. 

    External chemical or electrical connections are detectable, and none have been found in subjects while testing “spiritual experiences”, unless drugs etc have been introduced. 

    All the evidence shows effects are from internal chemistry and electrical impulses, passing through neurons between nerve cells.

    Indeed experiments with drugs and hormones show chemical effects on thought and behaviour, while brain-damaged accident or tumour  patients, show neuroscientists the effects of sectional disabling of parts of the brain.

    We still have absolutely no idea how God communicates with man, nor any clue where to search for those ‘transmissions’ that have a measurable effect on the brain. 

    Finding evidence on non-existent phenomena (transmissions) is indeed difficult – actually impossible.
     The supernatural is a paradox. 
    If it has any effect on the atoms, molecules, or energy of the physical world, it is detectable by science. 
    If it has no effect it is irrelevant or non-existent!

    The alternative, internal hypotheses for their source (including wishful thinking, confirmation bias, misfiring, etc)

     .. .. … Has substantial supporting evidence unlike the false dichotomy presented as an “alternative” on the “evidence”  of  “having no idea”.

    . . . .. are woefully insufficient to explain the sometimes miraculous outcomes.

    The evidenced hypotheses  may be insufficient to  persuade those with closed minds in denial of the science, while those unevidenced and undescribed  “miraculous outcomes”, seem to accurately match the definition of  “magical wishful thinking”!

  113. Ah yes, I see the truth of it now.  First draw your curves, then plot the data (from Rules of the Lab).

  114. Guys, it’s been a stimulating debate, but if I spend any more time writing comments on this thread, I think my wife will kill me!  Since I don’t feel quite ready to create and rule my own universe (why limit yourself to a single planet?), I’d rather remain a mere mortal for the time being 😉
     
    Before I bow out, just a few parting shots for you to choke on, or for your continued entertainment as the case may be.
     
    To Achromat666:
    Of course the 11 witnesses of the Gold plates and all of the other events surrounding the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are matters of public record, with numerous contemporary sources of information (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L… and click on the hyperlinks for ‘Three Witnesses’ and ‘Eight Witnesses’).  Nobody is claiming that the Gold Plates popped out of nowhere, rather that they were historical artifacts, retrieved from their resting place of 1400 years.
     
    To BenS:
    I have the beginnings of a testable definition, from what God has revealed about himself:
    1.   God is the ultimate scientist.
    2.   He is also a devoted family man, with countless children, and he loves each one dearly.
    3.   He was once a mortal man like you and me (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K
     
    To all:
    Finally, to reiterate, Mormonism has no quarrel with science.  I have not rejected any science here, rather I welcome it all, and the light it sheds on the workings and nature of our universe and the living things within it.  What I have done here is challenge the assumptions you have used to reject the idea of the existence of God, in terms of what Mormons (and others) believe, the availability of external corroborating evidence of our claims, and the current reach of science and its sufficiency to answer this question. 
    As proponents of science and reason you really need not fear a Mormon President.  For those of you in the USA, I hope that you get one, so we can all test that hypothesis!

  115.  

    Tim B
    I have the beginnings of a testable definition, from what God has revealed about himself:
    1.   God is the ultimate scientist.
    2.   He is also a devoted family man, with countless children, and he loves each one dearly.
    3.   He was once a mortal man like you and me

    ..And the evidence of the existence of this anthropomorphic god,  the method of communication of this defined information to yourself, and the citations reporting the tests confirming  its accuracy, –   are in which scientific publications?? 

    Then there is the question of inconsistency with the multitude of other theist definitions of their versions of ego/god(s) which they have in their brains!

    I have not rejected any science here, rather I welcome it all, and the
    light it sheds on the workings and nature of our universe and the living
    things within it.

    Your  “miraculous outcomes”, did  rather look like  rejections of science which I refuted in this very recent comment:-  http://www.richarddawkins.net/foun

    What you are saying is, ” You have not rejected any of your personal perceptions of science, after you have edited the science to conform with your religious views.

    All the real science people have explained to you, has just passed you by without connecting.

    Science starts with testable evidence and works towards conclusions.
    Theists regularly  start with prejudged conclusions and construct rationalisations to prop up their unevidenced answers.  The semantic contortions, denials,  and logical fallacies involved in these processes can be quite amazing!

    Since I don’t feel quite ready to create and rule my own universe (why limit yourself to a single planet?),

    Dream on! 
    Meanwhile, I will continue to associate with scientists who actually know and seek the details of other planets. – http://www.richarddawkins.net/news

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/news

  116. To Achromat666:
    Of course the 11 witnesses of the Gold plates and all of the other events surrounding the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are matters of public record, with numerous contemporary sources of information (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L… and click on the hyperlinks for ‘Three Witnesses’ and ‘Eight Witnesses’).  Nobody is claiming that the Gold Plates popped out of nowhere, rather that they were historical artifacts, retrieved from their resting place of 1400 years.

    Did any of them manage to actually prove they saw what they claimed they saw? If I claimed I saw a giant squid that gave me an scroll made of seaweed would it validate my claim because I got some other people to testify they saw it too? Do you see how ridiculous such a claim sounds?

    Worse yet, if we simply go back to the idea of Smith as a con man (a notion that has not been disproven), how hard would it be for him to get others in on the con? Pretty much every bit of this falls into place under that assessment.

    You seem to think that people making a claim that they then state they saw makes it true. Such a claim should have then been verified by other sources, if you expect anyone here to take such claims seriously. You couldn’t get such a claim to be made on a scientific theory, because it would require verification and testing by multiple sources. Actual methods to assure veracity. You don’t have proof, you have claims.

    And worse, you have a dozen people making these claims about something that can’t even be examined because an angel popped in and took them away? And you honestly wonder why no one is keen on this? You claim that the item was there for 1400 years when no one can prove this? Seriously?

    To quote Hitchens: What is more likely, that the laws of physics have been suspended in your favor or that you are mistaken?

    You still haven’t proven anything, you’ve only demonstrated that you are willing to believe anything.

  117. TB is truly
    delusional.  Smith was  convicted of being a con man because of his phony treasure hunting scam.  This absurd moroni/seer stones thing is really
    just a variation on that theme.  Most of
    the so-called witnesses later parted ways with Smith because they came to believe that he was a “false
    prophet” which I think is just another way of saying con man.  Of course, according to the mormon scam
    literature moroni conveniently picks up the golden tablets after Smith is
    finished with them.

     

    You’re
    completely correct, TB hasn’t proven anything. 
     And, none of this is a matter of
    public record.  No governmental agency
    has recorded or in any way validated this drivel.  This is a matter of mormon fantasy which they
    make available to the public.

  118. This (when rationally considered) is a good example of a theist foot-shooting analogy.

     
    Tim B
    Similarly, if you could measure the electrical activity in the circuits of a mobile phone, but knew nothing of microwave radiation and had no means of measuring the digital signals modulating that carrier, you might conclude that the voices coming out of the earpiece originated in the phone’s circuits. 

    Yep!  That’s how theists with no equipment and no understanding do their research!  The message could be coming from the phone’s circuits by magic  OR  (as a false dichotomy) – from GODS!

    Science of course well understands electrical/electronic  circuits AND ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION and measures both. 
    Science duffers, however think scientists know nothing (just like themselves) so believe in MAGIC  sky-fairies.

    We [Mormons]  still have absolutely no idea how God communicates with man, nor any clue where to search for those ‘transmissions’ that have a measurable effect on the brain

    Physicists however are familiar with the laws of thermodynamics, and are very adept at detecting communicating radiations and interactions between remote sources and local molecules or energy systems (like brains).

      We [Mormons]  still have absolutely no idea  …. ..   nor any clue where to search for those ‘transmissions’ that have a measurable effect on the brain.

    Err!  There aren’t any such measurable effects on the brain – as I explained back here – http://www.richarddawkins.net/foun…  – Strange that Mormons can confidently make dogmatic pronouncements on this basis!

    This (“communication” by the  no-idea hypothesis)  is simply repetitive unevidenced assertion contradicting neuroscientists.   –

    What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

  119. Albeit a little late in the day, what do you mean by “Wasn’t it Icarus?”

    Prometheus stole fire, and Icarus’s waxen wings melted when he flew too close to the sun.

    So, Lawrence is right.

  120. In the original version of the article, Krauss said Prometheus, and I corrected him, and the article was amended based on my correction of the original.

  121. Just wondering why earth is the stepping stone for mormons that live an observant life to rule other planets and what does it mean to rule? Are their inhabitants subject to the whims of their god like the ancient biblical god, picking a “chosen” people, forcing them to stone to death unbelievers and non compliant followers? Will he be as petty as the biblical god? Absolute nonsense!

  122. So Mormons have taken a leaf from the Islam book except that apostates are pressurised but not murdered.

  123. Lawrence Krauss should stand for president!
    His intellectual acumen is well in advance of Messrs.Obama and Romney .
    Also he does not have the pathological baggage of sky fairy belief.

  124. Wow.  I’d lamented (off-topic) on another thread, that I don’t see theists here any more. 

    I missed this thread as it developed and failed to notice that a mormon apologist had participated. 

    It’s been a fascinating read.  Fascinating because it came out exactly the same as debates with catholics, debates with muslims, debates with evangelical christians and debates with new-agers. 

    Where have I heard this before?

    >My intent was not to promote my beliefs here, but to point out that Mormons, like many other religious people, are as open to the logic and reason of secular learning and knowledge as any atheist scientist.

    >I constantly test my beliefs against new information and evidence, whatever its source.

    >Only God can give us a proper definition of his nature. He has chosen to define himself primarily in terms of his relationship to and with mankind, our world and the universe, not in terms of his physical properties.

    Then, I would expect you to provide evidence.  How do you know that HE does this? 

    >As predicted, your personal motivation to find God is not strong enough to accept the conditions of the experiment.

    Presumably, if we all accepted your unevidenced assertions, you would deem our motivations strong enough.  But if we don’t believe you (because you have no evidence), it’s because of the limitations of our motivations, not because you have said and/or done nothing to convince us. 

    You say that your deity is “beyond evidence” and yet you point to prophets, messiahs and golden tablets as evidence.  What you mean is that you have accepted the flimsiest of evidence .  chosen to ignore our human inclinations to believe things that aren’t true, and do not have to account for the veracity of your claims.  On that basis, you get to tell us that there is a deity named (unimaginatively) “God” and that HE  has revealed HIMself to people who claim to be prophets. 

    Then, you go on to mention that there is no complete knowledge of MesoAmerica and that your claims can’t be disproved, without providing a speck of evidence for your claims. 

    At the same time, you are frustrated with a physicist not understanding the TRUE tenets of mormonism, because he has ignored the “evidence” that you take seriously, which more accurately describes TRUE mormon beliefs than  does the “evidence” that  less-informed mormons take seriously. 

    If  I’ve begun to sound confused, it’s because I am.  Are you saying that there are no mormons who believe in magic underwear? 

  125. Alan4:

    >Science of course well understands electrical/electronic circuits AND ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION and measures both.

    And if it didn’t, it would figure it out.  Tim B.  really DOES shoot himself in the foot, here. 

    TimB:

    >you might conclude that the voices coming out of the earpiece originated in the phone’s circuits. 

    If phone circuits somehow occurred naturally, it would take science to figure out electrical/electronic circuits and electromagnetic radiation because they would NOT conclude that the voices originated in the phone’s circuits.  A meticulous examination of the evidence would indicate that our feelings about things were wrong.

    Science is a method that best determines whether we are or aren’t fooling ourselves because it is not “beyond evidence”. 

  126. Alan, you’ve lured me back into the debate!  If your scientific analysis failed to detect the deliberate ironic humour in my last post, then the joke is on you, my friend!
     
    Returning to seriousness, I am not convinced of the merits of debate as a tool for changing people’s minds.  You feel that I have missed some of your finer points, but from my perspective you and your fellow protagonists have done your fair share of point missing.  When two parties oppose in debate, they are usually both right in many points, but reach different conclusions because of their differing personal values.  This is almost always true in the political arena, where opposing sides have valid but conflicting policies that match their own priorities at the expense of things that matter less to them, but more to their opposition.  Debate can, at least, increase understanding on both sides. 
     
    In this debate, in essence, you have stated that you place no value on human experience that cannot be independently, scientifically verified in a lab, since any such experience could have been internally generated in the brain – wishful thinking, hallucination, etc.  I, on the other hand, have greater confidence in the reliability and validity of human experience.  There are many experiences of my own and of others that cannot be explained satisfactorily by this internal model, due to correlation with external events, things that could not have been known at the time, etc.  My own experiences of divine communication lead me to conclude that such things could not be replicated in the lab.  That sterile, controlled, sceptical context is not conducive to receiving sacred communication from God.  Like it or not, God does not want to be discovered scientifically, but rather through individual human experience.  This is not the same as an absence of evidence of his existence.  Just not evidence that you can measure with a scientific device.
     
    A belief in some things that cannot be proved scientifically does not lead automatically to a belief in all things that cannot be proved by science!  The religious things that I believe in fit into a consistent and coherent narrative that matches my own life experiences, observations of human nature, behaviour and consequences, and even fit with things that we do know from science.  Clearly they do not match the conjecture of scientists about things that we don’t know from science!  Before trusting anything that another person reports or claims, I examine the person’s motives and reliability, as evidenced by the pattern of his own actions, past, present and future.
     
    The other value where we differ is confidence in the ability of experimental science (current and foreseeable future) to discover and measure all things relevant to this debate.  You have it, I don’t.  For example, you state:
    “Physicists however are familiar with the laws of thermodynamics, and are very adept at detecting communicating radiations and interactions between remote sources and local molecules or energy systems (like brains).”
    I think you need to have a word with your theoretical physicist colleagues!  How are you getting on with gravity?  Scientists and philosophers have observed its effects for millennia, and since Newton, experimental scientists have had a working formula that matches their measurements.  More recently, we have a validated spacetime model. Detected the communicating radiation (graviton) yet?
     
    I am not belittling the enormity of the effort leading to the recent discovery of Higgs’ boson, but you’ve still got a long way to go on the experimental front.  Superstring theories predict 11 or more dimensions needed to harmonise general relativity with quantum theory.  Are you seriously telling me, before any of the 7 new ones has been characterised, let alone measured, that there is no possibility of communication by waves, particles or strings (or yet another mechanism) in any of them?  This is the target of my mobile phone and microwaves analogy.  I do not share your confidence in the current reach of experimental physics.
     
    As long as there are groups whose personal value dials are set differently for trusting human experience and belief in the omniscience of science, this debate will rage on.  These different value dials do not make one group irrational and the other rational.  Each has their own rational, consistent world view, one including God, the other excluding him.  Neither side has a monopoly on confirmation bias!
     
    My final, final point: if God is a far better scientist than you and he wishes to remain hidden from human scientific discovery (both aspects consistent with his doctrine), then you will never be able to find him your way.  You have to do it his way.

  127. Tim B For example, you state:

    “Physicists however are familiar with the laws of thermodynamics, and are very adept at detecting communicating radiations and interactions between remote sources and local molecules or energy systems (like brains).”

    I think you need to have a word with your theoretical physicist colleagues! 

    The Second Law Thermodynamics is one of the near certain laws.  Casting doubts based on “Gapology” really does not work on this sort of evidenced science.  It simply demonstrates an ignorance of the subject.

    How are you getting on with gravity?  Scientists and philosophers have observed its effects for millennia, and since Newton, experimental scientists have had a working formula that matches their measurements.

    Scientists CAN evaluate probabilities for many aspects of the material world.  For normal conditions on Earth, Newton’s laws are 99.9999999% accurate before relativity produces a 0.0000001% variation.
    Gapology claims have  > 0.0000000000000% evidence, and frequently have contradicting science of which claimants are ignorant.

    More recently, we have a validated spacetime model. Detected the communicating radiation (graviton) yet?

    The thing about space/time is that you have to understand the scale at which effects have an influence, in order to understand processes of interaction.
    That is why most god-of-gaps claims are usually  comically inept, being wrong by a factor of thousands or millions.

    The other value where we differ is confidence in the ability of experimental science (current and foreseeable future) to discover and measure all things relevant to this debate.

    We should not forget the INABILITY to objectively and reliably measure any of them, WITHOUT using scientific methods when evaluating “alternative” claims from the vast range of possibilities.

    A belief in some things that cannot be proved scientifically does not lead automatically to a belief in all things that cannot be proved by science! 

    The problem is , that it does not provide a rational basis for excluding ANY of them, so belief without evidence is an unreliable source for knowledge. 
    There is no way of knowing what may or may not be correct or incorrect or what may be proved by science or in the future.  Many disputed claims have already been disproved by science, and are merely expressions of personal ignorance or incredulity.

    The religious things that I believe in fit into a consistent and coherent narrative that matches my own life experiences, observations of human nature, behaviour and consequences,

    – So do the conflicting perceptions of experiences by all the other religious people who use “faith” as a research tool!
     Confirmation bias and irrational thinking cause rejection of knowledge conflicting with models learned or indoctrinated in childhood.

    and even fit with things that we do know from science. 

    Using blind copying as a learning process, it would be remarkable if no correct knowledge or methods had been copied from some people who have studied objectively.

    My final, final point: if God is a far better scientist than you and he wishes to remain hidden from human scientific discovery (both aspects consistent with his doctrine), then you will never be able to find him your way.  You have to do it his way.

    Alternatively, if gods are a property of the subconscious mind, hidden from many , but not from all, some of us do not have to be dominated by these primordial thought processes, but can rationally and objectively, evaluate the world and universe around us by using our higher conscious brain functions.
    Those who project these properties on to an imaginary external father-figure, will continue looking as far away from the subconscious source as possible – (hence the outward migrating claims about gaps in knowledge the distant universe, and the denial of neuroscience).

    An awareness of proven science, awareness of possibilities, boundaries of knowledge, and of what is known & unknown at the frontiers of knowledge (personally and collectively), using scientific methods, – gives the best and most reliable system we have for doing this.  Other methods have proved consistently unreliable when objectively tested and measured.

  128. As long as there are groups whose personal value dials are set differently for trusting human experience and belief in the omniscience of science, this debate will rage on.  These different value dials do not make one group irrational and the other rational.  Each has their own rational, consistent world view, one including God, the other excluding him.  Neither side has a monopoly on confirmation bias!

    There is no omniscience in science, this represents the ultimate lack of comprehension on your part of the difference between science (or simply reason) and faith. There is a broader comprehension of how the universe works based on an actually consistent model built by science on the backs of researchers over the long course. There is literally no belief involved, we can demonstrate what is true of something consistently. Religion has no such system, it literally makes stuff up to explain away what it does not prefer and as you have been doing tries to throw a god into the gaps it perceives even when there isn’t one there.

    If anyone is making a claim of omniscience, it’s those who claim to know the will of a deity they can’t even establish as being real and claiming to comprehend his full intentions verbatim. You know, as opposed to every other faith that makes identical claims about the flavor of deity(ies) they worship. 

    Science is quite humble in its understanding that it doesn’t know everything, but its process ensures we comprehensively understand what we do know (not believe) and allows us to broaden our knowledge through what can be proven, not what we make up. 

    My final, final point: if God is a far better scientist than you and he wishes to remain hidden from human scientific discovery (both aspects consistent with his doctrine), then you will never be able to find him your way.  You have to do it his way.

    My final, final, final point: You do not get to simply throw in a god without proving he exist. If something is inherently unknowable and incomprehensible, it is a state identical to non existence. How can you claim to have a monopoly of knowledge on something you are incapable of discovering? Based on a doctrine you didn’t even write? There is no ‘his way’ if you can’t establish if he is even real. It takes an article of faith to even summon the ignorance to make such a claim.

    Facts over faith.

  129. I looked at the questions on the website and they aren’t exactly confounding question you realize.  Anyone with half a brain could answer those questions regardless of whether or not they were religious. As an ex-Mormon I am sure you could answer those questions in a logical way and still remain a faithful member. However, I do think the questions are important I just think if they have made as far as the presidential election it would be pretty evident if they were fanatical. When you were Mormon would those questions have been difficult for you answer? I doubt they would have been. 

  130. Excuse me…? Half a brain?

    Actually, yes, since you ask: those questions would have been difficult for me to answer in good conscience –which is why I apostacized from the Mormon cult. Such beliefs fly in the face of logic, reason, and historical, scientific, empirical evidence.

    Let’s be frank, if you’re going to assert “half a brain”: do you believe in seer stones? That Native Americans are Jewish? That the earth is less than 10,000 years old? That homosexuality is a “choice” and thus a “sin”? That poligamy is an eternal principle to be practiced in “heaven”? That darker skin color is a curse from God for wickedness? If so, and you were a candidate for office, then I could not vote for you either. We need leaders in this world who are capable of facing reality rather than living in a la-la land originally founded on a blatant, obvious, proven, unconcionable lie.

  131. bjchiaro50
    I looked at the questions on the website and they aren’t exactly confounding question you realize.  Anyone with half a brain could answer those questions regardless of whether or not they were religious.

    Indeed anyone with “half a brain” can answer questions.  ( http://www.richarddawkins.net/news… )
    The tricky bit is giving honest scientifically evidenced, competent, rational answers. 
    Script continuity and self consistency, simply produce plausible story-lines  which can easily fail the objective scientific reality test.

  132. First off I was not implying that you yourself have half a brain. I did say that the questions were important and the candidate should have to answer them because in Mormonism there is a lot of different opinions to each one of those questions. When I was Mormon I don’t think I would have had any trouble with those questions because as a representative of the people it isn’t your job to fight for your own personal beliefs but the beliefs and interests of those you elected you. 
    To answer your questions, no I don’t believe in seer stones or that Native Americans are descended from Jews. I accept the evidence that the world is about 4.5 billion years old and I don’t think that homosexuality is a sin. In fact I wouldn’t say yes to any of those questions. 

  133. Give me an example of one of those questions that you think a Mormon would have trouble answering.

  134. In reply to #163 by bjchiaro50:

    Give me an example of one of those questions that you think a Mormon would have trouble answering.

    I think comment 161 covers that.

  135. Just recently I had expressed my opinion of the mormon scriptural book called “Doctrine and Covenants” which is a book listing the revelations of Joseph Smith as revealed to him by the mormon god through his only begotten son Jesus Christ. I had been a Mormon for about 40 years but in the last 10 to 15 years my faith had been greatly diminished. This apostacy began when I started studying these Doctrines and Covenants in earnest. My wife is still a firm believer in Mormonism. She is an extraordinarly good person with the faith of a child. She is a distance cousin of Emma Smith who was the first wife of the mormon prophet Joseph Smith. Emma Hale Smith was a successful hard working industrious woman when she met the attractive and charismatic Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. They eventually married and It would be good to say that they lived happily ever after but this was not to be. Joseph was a dreamer who spend a great deal of time seeking buried treasure thoughout the area where he lived in the north east United States. Well as the story goes, he eventually had a visitation by an Angel who told him of golden plates written by an early American prophet of god named Mormon. These golden plates were dug up by Joseph and translated from the early Egyptian hiergliephics to 17 century English. Keeping in mind that Joseph’s english was 18 century English. Of course prior to getting official authentication of these golden plates they were taken up to heaven. Thus began the Mormon religion. to get back to Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph began getting revelations from god that he was to take on additional wives, which didn’t go over too well with Emma. Eventually Joseph started receiving revelation where god started warning Emma of losing her eternal soul if she didn’t accept god’s commandment to Joseph to take more wives. This is when I finally said No way Jose. Joseph eventually married 23 additional beautiful Mormon wives. Recently when I expressed my opinion to mormon missionaries who were guest at my home one of them placed what could only be called a curse on me. I am 72 years old and it took me this long to recognize fairy tales. I now belive in only empirical evident such as Darwinian evolution.

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