My Objectives: An Interlude

My Objectives: An Interlude

Some additional information has come to light (for me) about the Book of Mormon translation that I need to dig into more before I publish part two of my Book of Mormon translation analysis (long story short I might be wrong about everything). In the meantime, here is something that I have been working on to try and better express what I am trying to accomplish with my blog, and address some of my limitations and biases. I thought I would share it with you.

What is the purpose of this blog?

There is only one primary motivation behind this blog. It’s a place for me to practice writing and expressing my ideas. I find myself sitting down with a pen and notebook and working though thoughts, I find it helpful to slow my mind to the speed of my pen on the paper instead of trying to parse them while they are whirling around at a million kilometers an hour. I love to write but I don’t have a lot of opportunities to do so; I’ve been getting a little rusty. As long as I have these ideas written out, I thought I would clean them up a little and share them with friends and family. My hope is that by posting my thoughts on a public blog it will encourage me to learn to express my ideas more clearly and concisely, give me motivation to develop good writing skills, and incentivize me to do those things on a more regular basis. Consequently, any feedback on that front is greatly appreciated!

Right now, a lot of what I want to write about is what would probably be classified as apologetics. With that comes a secondary goal for the blog: if someone reads this who is finding themselves in the middle of a faith crisis and they are looking for a reason to stay in the church, I hope that sharing the things I have learned while going through my own faith crisis and subsequent journey might give them hope that there is a path through the faith crisis that leads back to the church.

Which leads me to

What am I trying to accomplish with my apologetics?

I have done enough historical research to determine that doing historical research, at least for right now, is not my cup of tea[1]. The idea of going out into the world to collect all of the evidence I need sounds exhausting. The thought of critically analyzing each of those pieces of evidence to determine their reliability seems daunting. The amount of self-reflection required to be confident that I’m dismissing a piece of evidence because it’s no good and not because it doesn’t fit within my own biases seems uncomfortable[2]. If I liked those things then I would probably be a professional historian, not a software engineer.

But what I think I can accomplish is to take the things I have heard and learned and try to piece them together into a cohesive narrative. I have learned from my wife, an avid comic book reader, about the Marvel No Prize. It was, at a time, not given out to people who merely found continuity errors in Marvel’s vast collection of story lines, but to those who found the errors and could create an explanation for how they were not actually continuity errors. I suppose the idea was that anyone could point out what appears to be an error but only a truly devoted fan with a deep knowledge and understanding of the Multiverse, and a desire to maintain the story’s integrity, would be determined and able to provide a convincing explanation that reconciles the differences. My hope is that if some nerd can do it for a work of fiction, then I can do it for what I believe to be actual events.

My premises are that God lives, He calls prophets, Joseph Smith is one of those prophets, and Brigham Young is his rightful successor[3]. I believe those things to be true so, consequently, I believe that all historical facts will corroborate them. If there is any piece of evidence that seems to contradict one of my premises then I want to do my best to reason through how, if looked at correctly, it might not be so contradictory. My goal when engaging in apologetics is not to have the definitive answer on all questions, but rather to produce at least one plausible explanation that proves by its existence that the seemingly contradictory evidence does not necessarily undermine the truth of my premises.

As usual, I look to Jonathan Neville, for inspiration. “We recognize that rational, informed people can reach different conclusions based on the same evidence. Our intent here is not to propose a definitive narrative that everyone must accept. Instead, we propose an addition to the existing spectrum of multiple working hypotheses… we recognize alternatives are plausible and we welcome additional insights and discussion”[4]

While I’m not necessarily actively seeking every possible historical document, I am happy to accept and consider any new evidences that come my way and update and refine my hypotheses and theories as more information comes to light.

  1. As Elder Holand would point out, I “shouldn’t be [drinking] tea anyway.” Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul, April 2010 General Conference ↩︎

  2. Although, I have been doing that a little bit with the Book of Mormon translation and it hasn’t been too bad. It has even been enjoyable a lot of the times: learning new things, considering perspectives you haven’t considered before, etc. Though I will admit, it was much easier, faster, and more fun to read the books I agreed with than the ones I didn’t. ↩︎

  3. I understand that you may not share those premises, and that’s okay. This is an idea that is going to come up a lot as I write. I’ll probably have a whole post related to this topic, but a brief version is that I find that debates on many subjects (religion in particular) are completely fruitless because the different parties have different premises. Often all the points from both sides are completely true and valid if their corresponding premises are true. But neither side can agree on the premises and for some reason the underlying premises are never acknowledged or put up for debate and so the conversation goes absolutely nowhere. Now you know where I am coming from; hopefully that will help any conversation we might have. ↩︎

  4. By Means of the Urim and Thummim, in the introduction, I think… I don’t know I ran out of renewals and had to return the book to the library, writing good citations is among the writing skills I am rusty on ↩︎


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