Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Conversation with a Mormon -- Objective Truth

This has to be one of the most unique and fun conversations I have ever had at Mormon.org. That said, I want to give a brief intro to this one; I was connected with "Austin" prior to this exchanged, and I asked him if he believed in Absolute Truth, which he said he did. This is where our conversation went from there....

Austin: Hello Ken
Ken: hi Austin
Ken: we were just speaking a moment ago
Ken: and i think you must have missed something
Ken: i said
Ken: I asked you if there are two contradictory testimonies, if they could both be true
Austin: Yes, I remember
Ken: did you have an answer for that question?
Austin: Yes
Austin: I said, if they are really contradictory then they cannot both be true. But I also said that sometimes two testimonies can appear to be contradictory until further information shows that they are not
Ken: ok
So this is Good, he accepts the 1st law of Logic
Ken: So then, If you have two testimonies that are contradictory, say yours and a Jehovahs Witness... What would be the proper way to find which is true?
Austin: we believe that you can ask God and gain your own testimony
Now I know that mormons are big on Personal testimony, however, notice that the appeal to personal 'revelation' as opposed to something objective. In answering this question, Austin, rejects the very idea of knowable absolute truth, because EVERYONE claims to have been given truth by God.
Austin: everyone has the right to believe what they think is best
Ken: You didn't answer the question
Ken: you avoided it
Ken: How do you find which testimony is actually True?
Austin: what do you mean?
Ken: how can one find which testimony is truth
Austin: how would you find out which of two results to the same scientific experiment were true
Austin: you would do it yourself and see what result you got
Austin: the same applies here, I thnk
Austin: ask God for yourself and gain your own testimony.
Gaining, a personal testimony doesn't mean one is objectively true.
Ken: to gain your own testimony is a bit of a relativistic concept that is equal to saying I feel this one is true. How do you know objectively or absolutely which is true?
Ken: we need to find truth which is outside of man correct?
Ken: if it is from God as you have said.
Austin: that's right
Ken: I guess, i don't understand why you wouldn't appeal to something outside of man
Austin: God
Austin: God is outside of man
Austin: you should ask God for yourself
Ken: because even with a personal testimony... both sides claim God
Ken: So If I ask God and lets say that it is revealed to me that the Jehovahs witness has it right, would that be an objective basis for me to say that you are wrong?
Austin: Yes, a personal spiritual experience only provides reason for the experiencer to believe. It does not provide objective reason for anyone else to believe.
Ken: so you have no objective truth, it is only true for you
Ken: you couldn't say that the Jehovahs witness is wrong
Austin: I believe that it is true for everyone, but that does not force anyone else to believe it. I cannot force my beliefs on anyone else
Austin: I believe they are wrong, but no, I cannot prove it. That is between God and other individuals
Ken: i understand it is "what you *believe* is true for everyone" but that isn't objective is it?
Notice that he is claiming to KNOW truth for all of us, aka the LDS church, but that he can't prove it.
Austin: From my personal experiences, I know that the LDS Church is God's organization on Earth just as much as I know that I exist. But you're right, I cannot give that knowledge to anyone else.
Austin: It must be received by God, through His Spirit
Ken: i notice that you haven't appealed to scripture at all when trying to find what is true... does experience trump scripture in terms of what is true?
Austin: no, of course not. we can compare what we think we recieve from God with scripture. But we must also gain a testimony that scripture is true. Learning to recognize the Spirit in our lives is a process
Ken: so does scripture trump experience?
Austin: Truth trumps all. In order for scripture to mean anything to you, you must accept that 1) God exists and that 2)scripture comes from God 3) God has Truth and 4) God freely gives truth
Austin: that acceptance can come from God himself
Austin: scripture and experience must go together
Ken: so scripture has no value outside of personal belief in/about it
Austin: do you believe that scripture is the word of God?
Ken: depends on what book you mean by Scripture
Ken: but yes
Austin: why?
Ken: because they claim to be (scripture) and they are accurate in prophecy, history,ect.
Austin: we believe that God can give us more definite knowledge than that, through His Spirit. We believe that God can only be understood through His Spirit
Ken: how are personal 'testimonies' that can be mistaken via emotionalism, or personal agenda, or presuppositions, more definite then written words?
Austin: how can you know for sure who wrote the words? or whether they have not been changed since originally written? or whether the writer was mistaken, etc.
Notice now that he Attacks Scripture, rather then answer the question. This is called a Red Herring.
Ken: hmm, good questions
Ken: when you look at the number of Greek manuscripts that exist, there are actually very very few textual variants...
Ken: basically, the authors esp. of the NT claim to be speaking for God, and that other apostles are speaking for God
Ken: and we have very early manuscripts that show that the text has not been changed
Ken: moreover if you look at the writings of the early church fathers, every verse of the entire bible can be constructed, save about 30
Austin: The best I can say is that if you had experienced in your life, what I have experienced in mine...there would be no doubt that it was from God. We believe that God can lead us and we can learn to recognize His guidance more over time.
Ken: so you would say that you know in your heart that the LDS church is correct?
Austin: not just my heart. I know in my heart, mind and soul. I know that as much as I know anything else.

Ken: ok
Ken: thank you for your time
Austin: you're welcome

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