Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

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wakarusa
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by wakarusa » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:53 pm

I'm not sure I can listen to all 10 hours of this. I feel like they are soft debating minutae that doesn't matter. For example, why should anyone care about the accuracy of Heleman's military reports about the Stripling warriors and ignore the larger concern that all evidence suggests Nephites never existed.

All of these "little things" (treasure digging, First Vision accounts, JS polygamy, etc.) contribute to the major problem that JS isn't trustworthy, yet the LDS church expects its members to make major sacrifices based on JS' claims. So far (episode 1), that major problem is being ignored.

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Hagoth
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Hagoth » Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:42 pm

wakarusa wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:53 pm
I'm not sure I can listen to all 10 hours of this. I feel like they are soft debating minutae that doesn't matter. For example, why should anyone care about the accuracy of Heleman's military reports about the Stripling warriors and ignore the larger concern that all evidence suggests Nephites never existed.

All of these "little things" (treasure digging, First Vision accounts, JS polygamy, etc.) contribute to the major problem that JS isn't trustworthy, yet the LDS church expects its members to make major sacrifices based on JS' claims. So far (episode 1), that major problem is being ignored.
That's a good point. An essential LDS apologetic approach is to divert you from the big picture by digging into details like how the word "place" was used in a Book of Mormon verse in a way that resembles Hebrew syntax (actual example from an apologist friend when I was trying to talk about steel, horses, and DNA).
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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jfro18
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by jfro18 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 10:06 pm

wakarusa wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:53 pm
I'm not sure I can listen to all 10 hours of this. I feel like they are soft debating minutae that doesn't matter. For example, why should anyone care about the accuracy of Heleman's military reports about the Stripling warriors and ignore the larger concern that all evidence suggests Nephites never existed.

All of these "little things" (treasure digging, First Vision accounts, JS polygamy, etc.) contribute to the major problem that JS isn't trustworthy, yet the LDS church expects its members to make major sacrifices based on JS' claims. So far (episode 1), that major problem is being ignored.
Yeah this is what bothers me too -- he's doing some of the groundwork to setup that these issues are patterns with Joseph Smith but so far Bill hasn't been able to articulate it in a way that really seals all of these issues together.

He started to do it when talking about 19th century material in each of Joseph's works, but you need to take it one step further and just hammer home that every time you try and explain one away, another one pops back up.

When they discuss anachronisms, Bill concedes to Jim that the Book of Mormon has had many anachronisms found to actually be true over the years, and he does mention that the evidence for some of those finds is super thin, but he leaves out that since those days we also have new anachronisms such as Deutero-Isaiah which is a massive one.

I know I should withhold judgment until I get through it all, but that might take a while and it's fun to discuss with all of you here that are also going through them as time permits.

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Kishkumen
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Kishkumen » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:54 am

I'm half way thru part 2.
I don't know why I do this to myself.

Bennett has more than once compared mormonism to scientology and stating at least we're not as crazy/dumb as those guys.

Jim Bennett lives in a version of mormonism vastly different than the majority of active members. But, as with many rank and file, he simply chooses to believe despite all the controversy, inconsistency, evidence, and basic critical thinking. Honestly, good for Jim. If more members were like him, the church would be much better.
Last edited by Kishkumen on Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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jfro18
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by jfro18 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:19 am

Surprised to see that Jim Bennett has a blog post on FAIR about these discussions... he's basing them almost all on RFM's public comments in a thread I believe on Mormon Discussions?

https://www.fairmormon.org/blog/2019/02 ... -my-ground

I'm honestly not sure why Bennett feels so wronged to write a blog post, especially when he's cherry picking a few comments among all of them to do so.

If you ever read his reply to the CES Letter, it's pretty clear that things get under his skin really quickly. And I know that can be true of me as well with church stuff, but I just don't know if drawing more attention to the discussions is really the way to go.

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Hagoth
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Hagoth » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:21 am

Kishkumen wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:54 am
I'm half way thru part 2.
Me too.
Kishkumen wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:54 am
Bennett has more than once compared mormonism to scientology and stating at least we're not as crazy/dumb as those guys.

I'm starting to get a bit annoyed now because Bennett seems to be slipping more into artful dodger apologist mode.

First, he lost me when he proclaimed that only Mormon spiritual experiences are valid. That alone tells you that he is not really willing to truly entertain possibilities outside of his own conclusions.

Second is what Kish points out. Whenever Bill starts homing in on a valid point Bennett derails with either a straw man or picks the lowest hanging fruit and ignores everything else on the tree. Did some of the doctrines in the D&C come from Rigdon? Let's talk about the Rigdon-Spaulding theory instead. He wrote off all non-Mormon spiritual experiences as less-than because he thinks the Jehovah's Witnesses approach spirituality from a legalistic angle. OK, what about everyone else? I sense a disturbing undertow of arrogance in this attitude and approach.

Third, Bennett responds to every single point Bill makes with, "Well, you're making an assumption," and then goes on to refute it with three or four assumptions of his own.

Fourth, Gaslighting and other familiar apologetic Same Ol' Sh*t. "You expect Joseph's inspired translation to just come to him magically out of thing air? Are you some kind or idiot? Of course he borrowed from Adam Clarke. That's exactly what a really smart guy like me would expect (in retrospect). After all, only Mormons call angels "translated" beings, so why should we expect Mormon scripture to meet anyone's expectations... ..especially yours or Jeremy Runnel's."

I do appreciate that he can at least acknowledge that someone looking at the same information can come to a different conclusion. The problem is that he acknowledges it in a way that implies that anyone as well informed as himself would immediately see the error of their ways.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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Kishkumen
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Kishkumen » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:41 am

Hagoth wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:21 am
Fourth, Gaslighting and other familiar apologetic Same Ol' Sh*t. "You expect Joseph's inspired translation to just come to him magically out of thing air? Are you some kind or idiot? Of course he borrowed from Adam Clarke. That's exactly what a really smart guy like me would expect (in retrospect). After all, only Mormons call angels "translated" beings, so why should we expect Mormon scripture to meet anyone's expectations... ..especially yours or Jeremy Runnel's."

I do appreciate that he can at least acknowledge that someone looking at the same information can come to a different conclusion. The problem is that he acknowledges it in a way that implies that anyone as well informed as himself would immediately see the error of their ways.
I appreciate Bennett overall seems rather open-minded and accepting. Of course he's touting the party line, that's the whole point of the discussion, believer and critic.

One thing that strikes me is how big a wuss the mormon god is. God changes His methods, actions, messages and requirements depending on the frailities of the human He's working with.
Joe Smith is somehow familiar with magic rocks, so God says "Meh, that whole gold plates things isn't going to work for my son, Joey, so we'll scrap that plan and he can use a rock in a hat instead." Bennett seems to enjoy that Mormon God is a very flexible guy who will bend rules, traditions, standards at random to accommodate the weaknesses of His chosen leadership.

Mormon God "Joseph, my Son, I know you have a hard time keeping your zipper up but you can't have an affair with every other woman you coerce. So here's the deal, as long as you first give your wife the opportunity to accept polygamy, that is good enough. Even if she says no, you gave her the chance so the burden and sin is on her now and you may proceed."

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jfro18
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by jfro18 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:18 pm

Kishkumen wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:41 am
I appreciate Bennett overall seems rather open-minded and accepting. Of course he's touting the party line, that's the whole point of the discussion, believer and critic.

One thing that strikes me is how big a wuss the mormon god is. God changes His methods, actions, messages and requirements depending on the frailities of the human He's working with.
Joe Smith is somehow familiar with magic rocks, so God says "Meh, that whole gold plates things isn't going to work for my son, Joey, so we'll scrap that plan and he can use a rock in a hat instead." Bennett seems to enjoy that Mormon God is a very flexible guy who will bend rules, traditions, standards at random to accommodate the weaknesses of His chosen leadership.
This is always going to be the problem. They can not answer the problems using the claims of the church,so they have to expand the playing field.

Translation doesn't mean translation... it means what a dumb farm boy thought translation was.

The Book of Abraham isn't at all what Joseph claimed it was NOR was it what God claimed it was by referring readers to the facsimiles, but it was the only way he could get Joseph to think he was doing something important.

And I agree that he responds to every one of Reel's comments with "Well... you're making assumptions so here are my assumptions," but at some point Reel needed to hammer it back home a bit. When Bennett brought up Spaulding to dismiss Rigdon, Reel should've been ready with the priesthood restoration since that's a big one... and then continued to hammer home that it's a pattern that becomes undeniable unless you're willing to ignore what the people involved at the time claimed they were doing.
Hagoth wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:21 am
He wrote off all non-Mormon spiritual experiences as less-than because he thinks the Jehovah's Witnesses approach spirituality from a legalistic angle. OK, what about everyone else? I sense a disturbing undertow of arrogance in this attitude and approach.
I thought Bill responded OK here by pointing out that Mormon's give their testimony the way they do because they've been trained to do so, which is more than obvious when you see little kids running up at F&T to give the same standard lines that every TBM has given since adolescence.

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Hagoth
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Hagoth » Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:06 pm

Kishkumen wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:41 am
Mormon God "Joseph, my Son, I know you have a hard time keeping your zipper up but you can't have an affair with every other woman you coerce. So here's the deal, as long as you first give your wife the opportunity to accept polygamy, that is good enough. Even if she says no, you gave her the chance so the burden and sin is on her now and you may proceed."
But he already has at least 20 wives before he gets around to asking, but that's ok too. God says he will destroy her if she doesn't approve. Somehow Joseph is always in the right, even when breaking the rules.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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Hagoth
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Hagoth » Mon Feb 25, 2019 2:25 pm

it's also kind of hilarious how Bennett jumps down Bill's throat for using second and third hand sources (BoM witnesses) but has no problem doing so himself (long scroll).
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Hagoth
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Hagoth » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:02 pm

Best moment so far:

Bill: Names a number of instances when prophets just got it wrong.

Bennett: Prophets are people and sometimes their revelation isn't reliable. You have to get your own spiritual witness.

Bill: If the spiritual witness that prophets get can be wrong, why should I assume that mine is any more reliable?

I'm on episode 3 now. Bennett got some things about the BoA wrong, like that Facsimile 1 is the only example of a mummy in "struggling" - actually walking -pose (http://www.archaeologicalresource.com/B ... a.html?i=1) and he skipped over a lot of things. But overall I think he does the best job I've heard of defending the BoA, which is more or less to acknowledge that the evidence could reasonably lead someone to see it as a fraud and that the only viable answer is that we don't know how it might have happened. Personally, I think hypothesis that the Egyptians repurposed Abraham's drawings for their own pagan ceremonies but seem to have forgotten Abraham is ridiculously weak.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Corsair
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Corsair » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:06 pm

jfro18 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:19 am
Surprised to see that Jim Bennett has a blog post on FAIR about these discussions... he's basing them almost all on RFM's public comments in a thread I believe on Mormon Discussions?

https://www.fairmormon.org/blog/2019/02 ... -my-ground

I'm honestly not sure why Bennett feels so wronged to write a blog post, especially when he's cherry picking a few comments among all of them to do so.
Disclaimer: I have not yet listened to the podcast, but I did read Brother Bennett's reply you linked above. Thank you for posting it.

I suspect that Jim Bennett is legitimately concerned that decisions about church membership will be made on the basis of this podcast, and that decision will lean towards sleeping late on Sunday morning with a cup of coffee purchased, in part, with the tithing you are no longer paying. I can also accept that Brother Bennett has a strong testimony of the church and the Book of Mormon that is compelling to him. I wholeheartedly wish him well and hope he continues to enjoy his LDS church experience.

The reason that Jim feels slightly under siege by this line of questioning is that Prophets, Seers, and Revelators no long engage with Critics, Skeptics, and Apostates. I don't pretend that they are under some divine obligation to do so. You would think that somebody would. But I remain comfortable in my unbelief even while I continue to attend with my dear wife. I even attended the temple to see the new endowment presentation. The highest and holiest of sacraments of the church do not sway me.

My own personal relationship with divinity leaves me quite comfortable and even joyful in my disregard for any movement founded by Joseph Smith. Does there exist a prophet or apostle who could convince me otherwise? In their absence I am willing to listen to Brother Jim Bennett and see if his ideas could move me back to faith. Forgive my skepticism, but I've heard this explanation before.

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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by dogbite » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:03 pm

The church pays for FAIR. Directs the efforts. Yet FAIR must disclaim speaking for the church.

At which point I no longer care what any of them say or assert. They say themselves their answers are non authoritative. There is no reason to pay them any attention.

The apologists are speaking only for themselves. For all the effort the church puts into using only official approved sources , we are obligated to ignore the apologists by the churchs own stance for itself.

Once you open the door to other sources, the aplologists and church claims have no chance anyway.

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Hagoth
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Hagoth » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:38 pm

dogbite wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:03 pm
Once you open the door to other sources, the aplologists and church claims have no chance anyway.
If the truth claims were as self-evident as the apologist advertise - and the evidence as compelling, there would be no need for apologists. Jim Bennett keeps saying there is no satisfying explanation for the Book of Mormon besides angels, gold books, and magic rocks. To him this is the most parsimonious answer and I don't doubt that it feels that way to him. I hope he also recognizes that parsimony compels many of us, and all non-LDS scholars who have investigated it, to conclude that a human made it up.

But I really appreciate him stepping up to the plate like this. I think he does the best job of anyone I've heard so far.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

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deacon blues
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by deacon blues » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:19 am

First, I applaud Jim Bennett for engaging in a discussion with Bill. There has been no such situation in all my encounters with TBM family and friends where such an extensive discussion has taken place. Second, I skimmed Jim Bennett's reaction to what Bill Reel had written about the discussion, and it is no surprise that they come away with different conclusions of what they accomplished in the discussions. Jim felt a need to clarify his view of the the discussions, and that's fine. Third, I have long felt that it is important that we, as humans in general, view critics (from either point of view) as friends we can learn from, not enemies that we defy. The ten hour discussion itself is quite an accomplishment, and it barely skimmed the surface of the issues. (I'm judging this from the middle of the third installment.) I hope both Bill and Jim learned more about the issues from their discussions. I am certainly learning more. Well, on with the show. :)
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jfro18
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by jfro18 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:05 am

On a side note... when I listen to Bennett sometimes I think his voice sounds a bit like John Dehlin, but lately I keep picturing Frank Caliendo's impression of John Madden and I can't unthink it now! :lol:

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deacon blues
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by deacon blues » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:04 pm

I’ll add that I admire Bill Reel’s ability to avoid interrupting Jim Bennett’s comments. I am consistently saying to myself: “he must not know about X” or “he didn’t consider Y.” Jim’s observations remind me of thoughts I had 9 years ago, and still have occasionally. I just couldn’t make them fit reality.
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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by slavereeno » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:27 pm

TLDR; My point by point commentary on this discussion, this is all in here for my own catharsis, feel free to skip it, its far too long and just another armchair analysis.

Just starting ep 1, seems like Reel is really trying to go along to get along through this entire thing, letting Bennett just walk all over him to keep the peace and keep the conversation going. Bennett seems a LOT less gracious to me.

Did Bennett just say Pres. Nelson doesn't have any more access to heaven than anybody else? That's doesn't sound like a belief that he is prophet, seer or revelator.

I don't expect the members of the Q15 to be perfect, isn't this the kind of black and white thinking he chastised in the beginning. I never expected that. They can be as imperfect as they want, that does not automatically then mean we can excused them for never prophesying, revealing or seeing anything either. Why should I bother listening to a thing they have to say, they are just wandering around as blind and imperfect as the rest of humanity. No different than the pope.

Bennett says the anachronisms are getting better since the book was written, as in the book was more anachronistic in the 19th century and less so now. I got the impression from the MS Vogel interview that most of the anachronisms were not considered anachronisms by those of Joseph Smith's ilk. This isn't substantiated and Reel just lets Bennett have it.

I disagree with Bennett and Reel, that the BoM is a work of Genius. I am much more in the Mark Twain camp on this one. Its really not that great, full of unnecessary words, a bunch of the Bible, stuff borrowed from other ideas, all kinds of unrealistic numerical errors.

I disagree with Bennett about the entire point that the CES Letter is trying to make. The point isn't that all the things in the CES Letter about the BoM are exactly how Joseph Smith came up with the sources, but to show several examples of possible explanations for how it was written or answer claims of "impossible for a farm boy to know." I never got the impression that Runnells claims to know exactly how the BoM material was dreamt up.

There is little significant "doctrine" in the BoM that isn't a part of the pre-Mormon protestant teachings.

Bennett would have us excuse JS for hiding his treasure digging "Cuz that's what humans do", that doesn't fly either because its DIRECTLY related to his claim to be a prophet. If it was tangential like JS trying to hide he was a bully or a drunkard then I can see that excuse being a valid way out. Apologists seem to want it both ways, "Its OK that JS had this magical werld view, cuz that was normal and so that's how God had to talk to him" and then a few minutes later say "JS was ashamed of his magical world view so we have to excuse him from it"

Reel sounds a lot like an apologist to me in this. He give up almost everything to keep the conversation going.

Bennett says, "The church never lied about its history", if they didn't directly lie about it, they certainly, intentionally, misled and deceived the members.

Nice that Bennett has Scientology to use to appease his dissonance through relative morality. No great surprise, he is "Fascinated" by Scientology, it soothes the dissonance in his mind about his own religion.

Bennett says "The church does not refuse to answer when they are pushed or directly asked about things." I call BS, two simple examples, Ballard about the relationship JS had with his wives, and Holland about the oaths Mitt Romney took...

The BoM isn't the paragon on consistency that Bennett (and Reel!) make it out to be when trying to prove its divinity when compared to JS account of the First Vision, Just look at the generations between 3rd and 4th Nephi to see a simple example. Are they saying that its FAR better than all other books written in the 19th century!? Sorry, but this is just ridiculous to me, I guess I have spent too much time with the likes of Dickens, Bronte, Dumas, Hugo etc. etc. to concede that the BoM is so superior to all other 19th century written works, that it needs some extra-ordinary explanation, this is very frustrating. I feel like the BoM I have read a couple of dozen times isn't the same book these two are gushing about!

Second, the first vision accounts were separated by much more time and there were different "needs". Even my Dad, who loves to embellish his stories to make them more interesting does not tell so wildly different accounts as are found in the differing first vision accounts.

Bennett appeases himself by speaking for the church where he has no power to do so.

Reel actually fires back on the God Magic stuff a little, Bennett makes some impossible leaps about the 2000 stripling warriors, First he claims "We don't know if any of these guys die from Gangrene later, or that Helaman got it wrong." But there was a prophecy that said they weren't going to die. So was God also "mistaken" about there being casualties? Or are they also throwing the BoM prophets under the bus? What the hell is a prophet even good for?

This is so far from the BoM being "The most correct book on earth". By making all these excuses for the BoM doesn't it water it down? How is it better than messages in Don Quixote or Alice in Wonderland?

I didn't feel like this was balanced at all, Bennett had the run of the show.

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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by Hagoth » Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:54 pm

slavereeno wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:27 pm
Bennett says the anachronisms are getting better since the book was written, as in the book was more anachronistic in the 19th century and less so now. I got the impression from the MS Vogel interview that most of the anachronisms were not considered anachronisms by those of Joseph Smith's ilk.
Yeah, he says this multiple times. I'm with you, Slavereeno, from my observations the exact opposite is true. I think he's trying to say that as time goes by we have more apologetic answers to problems in the Book of Mormon that will help people cross them off their lists of potential problems. In Joseph's time most people didn't even know about tapirs, let alone loan shifting.

BTW, Bill volunteered that Alma 36 is an impressive chiasmus. It isn't. Like many other miraculous BoM parallels, it's an imposition of an apologist seeing what he hoped to see.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Re: Bill Reel v. Apologist Jim Bennett

Post by jfro18 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:04 pm

I think this is what Bennett is referring to when he says that with time we are proving that the anachronisms aren't anachronisms... and there are some massive issues with the leaps that FAIR makes to claim these anachronisms have been confirmed.

Image

I don't think anachronisms (especially smaller ones) are the biggest thing to discuss, but there are some of the big anachronisms (Deutero-Isaiah, steel, horses, wheels) that really become problematic for the plausibility of the book being true and that's where the focus should always be when discussing anachronisms (in my opinion, anyway).

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