Thursday, January 02, 2014


"Epistemology: from Greek ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē, meaning "knowledge, understanding", and λόγος, logos, meaning "study of") is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge and is also referred to as "theory of knowledge". It questions what knowledge is and how it can be acquired, and the extent to which knowledge pertinent to any given subject or entity can be acquired."

I don’t understand the LDS method for determining truth. It is all based on emotions, feelings, and logical fallacies. Yet apostles even admit that feelings are unreliable and can even be deceptive.  

"You can be given false spiritual messages. . .The spiritual part of us and the emotional part of us are so closely linked that it is possible to mistake an emotional impulse for something spiritual. We occasionally find people who receive what they assume to be spiritual promptings from God, when those promptings are either centered in the emotions or are from the adversary." (Boyd K. Packer, "The Candle of the Lord," Ensign, Jan. 1983 p. 53)

This even happened to Joseph Smith when he sent a group to Canada to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon. When they returned unable to sell the copyright he admitted that the revelation must have come from the devil. Perhaps this is the story to which President Packer refers.

The logic seems to be that if we have a good feeling that leads us toward obeying the church, then that is from God. And a good feeling that leads us away from the church is not from God. This answer is a win-win situation for the church but to any critical thinker it is no answer at all. Heads I win, tails you lose.

So do we rely on feelings, or not? A church leader tried to explain to me that the spirit is not a feeling. “It’s a spirit to spirit communication”. I can accept this idea. So I asked for a way of knowing that was happening and all he could give me were some examples of more feelings and emotions. Finally he said, “When you experience it you will understand it.” Well that’s a cute little sound-bite, but it doesn’t answer the question. I wonder how he would feel if he were lost in an unfamiliar land and the only directions a local could give him was, “when you get there you’ll know it.”

To me it seemed obvious that emotions are unreliable and ineffective at determining truth. Something else besides emotion is required. Yet nobody could describe the process to me without using emotions and feelings. “a warm feeling, happiness, a quiet confidence, etc., etc.”. So far nobody has been able to tell me what other tools to use in my quest for truth. The church has far too many unanswered questions once I put the emotions aside.

I have many reasons for leaving the LDS church. I am willing to discuss them all, in public or privately. I believe I am open-minded and willing to be proven wrong. I choose to start the New Year off with this post because I believe that every other doctrinal question will hinge on the answer to this one. We simply have to agree on how truth is determined before any other discussion can proceed.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see you posting again!

    You're asking a powerfully difficult question in any context, but all the more so for religion. Some religious apologists want us to believe that religion - *their* religion, anyway - offers access to knowledge that we can't get via our senses or reason. But as best I can tell, there's often no way to verify or validate such information. When there is, it's no more likely to prove correct than any comparable non-religious material. Sacred writings are often historically inaccurate, prayer doesn't consistently lead to good decisions, religious teaching on social matters are often contradictory from one tradition to another in what is ostensibly the same religion - the list goes on and on.

    All good wishes for the new year, and best of luck with this and your subsequent discussions!