Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 05 Jun 2017, 15:08

This came from a non-church source I believe.

Has anyone else seen it?

http://nativesnewsonline.com/2017/04/16 ... ddle-east/

I often wonder, being a convert, then coming from a tbm background, how much of my belief system is swayed by 'proof'. When I joined the church, the bom was an actual historical record. Even with horses etc. I didn't doubt, just felt like science was missing something. Then I gravitated to an agnostic approach on historicity, and at times felt that it was plausibly made up.

I see things like this and it brings me back to a more centered agnosticism toward the bom. Regardless I still find spiritual uplift-ment (is that a word?) from reading it.

Any thoughts?
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SamBee
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Re: Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by SamBee » 05 Jun 2017, 17:00

There are a lot of very odd features of pre-Columbian history. It doesn't help that only a handful of these cultures had written language.

Also, one thing that the BOM gets right - and I forget the verse, American civilizations have a tendency to collapse extremely quickly - amongst these I would note the Inca and Maya. The Mayan civilisation collapsed rapidly and mysteriously though elements are still living. The Incas rose very quickly and collapsed just as quickly. The mysterious mound building cultures of the Mississipi and Amazon basins also seem to have collapsed rapidly and left little trace.

Even post-Columbian cultures have this problem - Latin American countries notably Argentina seem to go through rapid cycles of change, Cuba's party days disappeared rapidly before Castro's forces and the USA nearly went completely under during the Great Depression.
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dande48
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Re: Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by dande48 » 05 Jun 2017, 19:01

I think it is very easy to view all evidence that supports your world view as authentic, and come up with alternative explainations/dismiss all evidence which does not. It all comes crashing down, when it becomes apparent that two or more of your long held beliefs come into conflict. Then, in much distress, you hash out what is true, and what is not. It's not a very comfortable situation to be in.
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DoubtingTom
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Re: Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by DoubtingTom » 05 Jun 2017, 21:17

I agree with Dande when it comes to the topic of "proof." But I also have some thoughts about this supposed Cherokee and Jewish DNA connection. Not to be too contrarian, but the little I have looked up about this specific topic brought out the following points:
  • Donald Yates is the only person to come up with the data supporting pre-Colombian Jewish DNA amongst the Cherokee
  • Donald Yates also owns the genetic company DNA Consultants that has done the testing to support this theory
  • Because Donald Yates owns the company and is heavily invested in his own theory, he has a strong bias to continue interpret the data in a way that supports it
  • As far as I know, there is not any other scholarly journals that support this notion. And Yates hasn't published any of his findings in any scholarly journals either, and there has been A LOT of DNA work now on Native American genetics (talking millions of samples now) and none support what Yates is claiming
  • Others that have looked at the data agree there is intermixed European, Jewish, and African DNA amongst the Cherokee, but that this is all post-Colombian admixture during early colonization. Yates is the only one to interpret the data to mean pre-Colombian sources.
So while this topic is interesting, I am far from swayed to believe it. In my mind, it would need to be validated by others in a scholarly journal and done by a DNA testing company that didn't have a an invested interest in confirming Yates' pre-conceived theory. The article cited even says, "At present, the researchers at DNA Consultants seem unaware that throughout the 1600s Iberian Sephardic Jews and Moorish Conversos colonized the North Carolina and Georgia Mountains, where they mined and worked gold and silver... How the occupants of the North Carolina Mountains became a mixed Semitic, North African, European and Native American population, known as the Cherokees, remains a mystery. Slave raids may have been a factor. The 18th century Cherokees were the “biggest players” in the Native Americans slave trade. Perhaps young Sephardic females were captured by slave raiders to be concubines and wives."

As far as "proof" of anything substantial, consider me unconvinced, other than that Cherokee have a mix of DNA in their heritage that is likely due to post-Colombian admixture.

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Re: Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Jun 2017, 04:11

Tom pretty much said what I came to say. This particular "proof" is sketchy at best.

In a broader sense, as a more orthodox member in the past proof or lack thereof had little to no bearing on my belief. I knew the BoM to be true so archeological (lack of) proof had no impact on that belief. As I have transitioned and don't believe the BoM to be what it is claimed to be, (lack of) proof still has no impact. When the topic comes up in PH (some are prone to cite evidence like the linked article on certain subjects) I usually do speak up using Mormonspeak to say something like "If you received a spiritual witness that it's true then other proof doesn't matter" (usually a bit more gently). Such statements are usually well received and others will generally jump on my wagon and change the focus. (Notice that I don't say I have had such a witness nor do I "lie" about it, and I usually include some sort of statement about how the book can bring us closer to God and Christ which I do believe. There are a couple people in the group who are aware that I don't have a literal belief in the BoM.) Likewise, no "proof" that there is or is not a God changes my beliefs about God.
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SamBee
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Re: Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by SamBee » 06 Jun 2017, 04:42

I think we really have a Catch 22 regarding DNA. In modern populations, it is impossible to document when a particular lineage came into an area. It is difficult to do this especially when there have been five hundred years of population mixing in the Americas. There are very few people who are pure native American anymore, and even in Europe a few people have Native American ancestry as well - some say Winston Churchill may have done but there are better documented cases. (Probably in Israel too given the American immigrants there over the past century.)

Really you need to get DNA from a variety of Cherokee who were alive before the 16th century and that is very hard to do.
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1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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SilentDawning
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Re: Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Jun 2017, 07:59

I don't consider it proof at all....in general, proof of spiritual matters tends to be a mixture of fact and conjecture. And religion itself precludes proof, hanging everything on the nebulous hook of faith.

I hate to say it, but I'm pretty comfortable in my beliefs now. If they came out with factual evidence that virtually assured that certain aspects of the LDS story are undeniably true, I'd probably ignore it for a while, then consider it. And then if I felt it was totally credible, make the necessary adjustments in my life.

But my life experience in the Mormon church has sidelined any commitment to being a full-tilt Mormon for the forseeable future, even with factual proof of its truthfulness. So, the sidelining of the Mormon experience in my life would probably not change even if I felt evidence proved the truthfulness of the church. That means I could hold a TR but refuse callings I don't want, NOT accept hefty leadership positions, go to the temple only when there is a major life event and I HAVE to go, do just enough home teaching to be in compliance, etcetera.

And I would continue with secular service as my substitute for church service.

The other thing -- for years and years, so many members were very frustrating to me. I was in high profile callings with mandates to get things done. I was committed, working hard, and so many people just lacked the commitment to follow through. Some mutinied, some were vengeful and unkind. Many leaders were quite happy to take all my disposable time and the equivalent of my retirement savings, yet were completely unresponsive when I had needs, such as a release from a calling or other things people here know about.

It seems like justice to me that people in leadership positions now have to accept the same uncommitted behavior from myself, less the meanness, that people inflicted on my when I was a leader.

Someone once said "the fact that your children grow up to be like you is justice". I think this could be adapted to say "the fact that former leaders become become uncommitted rank and file members, is justice" -- on many levels. As a kind of compensation for the maltreatment the former treatment I received, and as a kind of justice to existing leaders who have the same inattentive, uncaring attitudes the leaders I worked with back in my high commitment days.
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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Re: Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 06 Jun 2017, 08:14

It seems like there has always been this 'proof' both for and against for me. And I agree that spiritual matters don't need to rely on historical facts or even reality for that matter, but my usual knee-jerk reaction is that i do sway a bit either way. Then like SD, I step back and start to objectively look at it. Rarely though do I pray about each little obstacle or 'proof' that comes across my path. That I should do more.
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Re: Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by nibbler » 06 Jun 2017, 08:54

dande48 wrote:
05 Jun 2017, 19:01
I think it is very easy to view all evidence that supports your world view as authentic, and come up with alternative explainations/dismiss all evidence which does not. It all comes crashing down, when it becomes apparent that two or more of your long held beliefs come into conflict. Then, in much distress, you hash out what is true, and what is not. It's not a very comfortable situation to be in.
Yeah, it's all "spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers" until there's an article with a headline that distracts us with the promise of a little tangible proof. Then all of a sudden those spiritual answers aren't so important. ;)

But being serious, IMO tangible proof still serves as a distraction to spiritual answers. The proofs, one way or the other, are still focused on the literal.

Here's an exercise for nuanced/disaffected folk. Was Nephi real?

No: That's what I thought. I can continue to go about my day ignoring the stake goal to read the BoM before the end of the summer.
Yes: Wow. Really? Quit horsing around. Wait, you're for real. Well he was just a man, the leader of the church in his day. I can see how leaders of the church in my day are ordinary humans that can get things wrong, Nephi was no different. I can continue to go about my day ignoring the stake goal to read the BoM before the end of the summer.

Is it worthwhile to start off by asking ourselves whether proof of something, one way or the other, would affect our behavior? In this case: if the American Indians are of Jewish descent what will I change about myself? If the American Indians are not of Jewish descent what will I change about myself? I think we often already have our minds made up.

And to cover that base, sometimes the answer to the question will affect our behaviors a great deal. There's nothing wrong with that.
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Reuben
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Re: Does 'proof' sway your belief either way?

Post by Reuben » 06 Jun 2017, 11:30

Does proof sway my belief? I'm going to get pedantic because, well, me, and because I think the distinction I want to draw is important. Outside of very narrow reasoning systems with absolute assumptions - i.e. logic and mathematics - proof doesn't exist. Only evidence exists, in various strengths, and those strengths can be very subjective. People who say they've discovered proof of anything in life are either pushing an agenda or aren't thinking creatively enough to find alternative explanations.

So I can't answer the question, strictly speaking. My best attempt is, "It doesn't happen."

Would a claim of proof sway my belief? Not until I've had a chance to evaluate its strength as evidence. Well, maybe I'd believe even less at first, because I distrust proof claims.

As to evidence confirming Book of Mormon historicity, it would take a lot, and it would have to be independently verified. There's a lot of weak disconfirming evidence to overcome, and a lot of bias in LDS sources. In the 10 years or so leading up to my faith crisis, I believed the Book of Mormon was historical because I believed I had had spiritual witnesses. I didn't second-guess the line of reasoning from "spiritual witnesses" to "historical" because I bought into the (usually implicit) party line that believing in it while not believing it's historical means you're less worthy or even apostate. Also, I had found some of the supporting textual evidence to be compelling.
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