Sunday, January 17, 2016

Follow-Through, and Redefining Apologetics to be Evidence-Based

Alan Turing and Boris Pavlovich Belousov never lived to see the ultimate outcome of their contributions to science.  Their contributions would lead to a change that would effect the very understanding of science itself.  And that their ideas, coupled with the ideas of others would ultimately cause a paradigm shift.  And so, just because someone's research is not immediately accepted, that it is worth following through with it.  Turing showed how complex patterns emerge from simple mathematical principles:  a big, bold idea.

As Wikipedia says about Belousov:

It was while seeking an inorganic analog of the biochemical citric acid cycle that Belousov chanced to discover an oscillating chemical reaction. He tried twice over a period of six years to publish his findings, but the incredulous editors of the journals to which he submitted his articles rejected his work as "impossible". He took this very hard.
The biochemist Simon El'evich Shnoll, at the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics (Puschino), heard of Belousov's work and tried to encourage him to continue. Belousov gave Schnoll some of his experimental notes and agreed to publish an article in a rather obscure, non-reviewed, journal, but then essentially quit science. Schnoll gave the project to a graduate student, Anatol Zhabotinsky, who investigated the reaction in detail and succeeded in publishing his results. The reaction now bears the names of both Belousov and Zhabotinsky.
Belousov was posthumously awarded the Lenin Prize in 1980 for his work on the BZ reaction.

Belousov's reaction was the type of behavior in nature that Turing's work predicted.  And it was further added upon by the work of Mandelbrot.  In my case, I am suggesting a way of looking at Egyptian symbolism that has simple principles, but that those principles lays the foundation for the complexity that we see in Joseph Smith's Egyptian productions in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers and in the Explanations for the Book of Abraham Facsimiles.  Someone had to figure out the fundamentals that lay the groundwork for the complexity, and it isn't really complex so much, but rather, it has fundamentals on which the complexity is derived, and that if you focus in on some part, you will see those fundamentals in play at each stage.  If I am remembered for anything, perhaps it will be that I sought out the basic principles on which this complexity emerged.

There are people out there that sense patterns where others do not see that they exist.  There are people that can sense fundamentals in things that others cannot seem to sense.  This is what I mean to say, when I say that Turing and Belousov and Mandelbrot had a sense for the same type of elusive, underlying realities that Bohr and Einstein and Darwin had a sense for.  I have a sense for what I believe are underlying principles in Joseph Smith's Egyptian.

I had a time in my life also when I became acquainted with the New Atheists, the Transhumanists and the Skeptic Societies, like the James Randi Educational Foundation.  I learned that I had a lot in common with them.  I was even part of the Mormon Transhumanist Association at one time.  I found a lot of value in the book The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, strangely enough.  While Dawkins' work on religion is not of very much value, the fact is that Dawkins is a Transhumanist of a sort who described the possibility of Gods who are Extraterrestrial Beings who did not start out that way.  He has no faith in the god of the Sectarians who describe a being without body, parts and passions.  Transhumanists say that advanced humans that in the future would transcend our state in this life are "post-Human."  They say that humans in time will defy death, and become immortalized, and become colonizers and terraformers of worlds.  This is essentially a description of the Mormon God, that emerged on another world of humans, and went on after he achieved resurrection, to colonize worlds.  And so, by stating that God is a post-Human being is thoroughly Mormon, but strangely Transhumanist at the same time.  Strangely enough, the ideas promoted in the movies Prometheus and Interstellar are actually quite Transhumanist, and quite similar to the Mormon idea of an emergent being that became God, that is part of a natural species, not an unseeable, unknowable blob in space.

And so, I felt quite at home in this transhumanist/skeptical/evidence-based paradigm.  Yet, I sought to pair it with faith in Jesus Christ.  Skeptics and New Atheists have good points.  But they throw the baby out with the bathwater and malign all religion.  That is wrong.  I'm only interested in profiting from their good points.  So, that is what I sought for, to profit from their good points.  And so, I felt that I needed to have an evidentiary basis for my research as much as it is possible, while maintaining testimony.  That is what I call evidence-based apologetics.  And that is where I differ with John Gee and Apologists that strive to paint a picture that doesn't seem to square with evidence, and explain it away.  We need serious answers that harmonize with evidence as far as possible.  We need serious hypotheses and theories that actually explain the evidence that we see before us.  This is where I differ with FAIRMormon and other Apologists.  I want an evidentiary basis if it is possible to have one, or at the very least, strive for it.  I don't believe they try hard enough to do that, but are after just the best-sounding answer to their ears according to their current philosophical and paradigmatic backgrounds.  I don't believe that these conclusions actually fit the evidence, and that is one of the biggest problems that Anti-Mormons have with it.  Evidence ought to be explained..  Being a believer in Mormonism makes it so that I cannot evade the fact that I am still fundamentally an apologist in that I defend Mormonism.  Many people hate the word apologist, but I guess it is just something one is naturally if one defends one's religion.  I seek to redefine what that means in terms of being more careful with evidence and trying to be evidence-based.

In spite of the fact that I am woefully inadequate in comparison to others, I am most woefully inadequate in comparison to Savior.  And in comparison to him, even the greatest PhD's of Mormonism are woefully inadequate.  And the Bible says that the head cannot say to the feet that I have no need of thee.  Well, in Mormonism, in the apologetic circles, those of the establishment are respecters of persons, who say to the little guys, I have no need of thee.  Only time will change that.

If the Book of Abraham controversy cannot be framed properly by those who are losing faith, their souls will not be saved, and the fact that certain theories are not adequately considered may result in further loss of faith, if only a more robust theory were in place to give people better options to preserve faith.  Therefore, if certain people are not willing to get to the core of it and frame it properly, someone has to step forward, even if he remains a Belousov to the world.

In October 2016, in the talk "A Witness of God", Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:

The gathering of Israel is a miracle. It is like an enormous puzzle whose pieces will be set in place prior to the glorious events of the Second Coming. Just as we might be perplexed with a mountain of puzzle pieces, the early Saints must have seen the commission to take the restored gospel to all the world as a nearly impossible task. But they began, one person, one puzzle piece at a time, finding the straight edges, working to rightly frame this divine work. Little by little, the stone cut without hands began to roll forth; from hundreds to thousands, to tens of thousands, and now millions of covenant Latter-day Saints across every nation are connecting the puzzle pieces of this marvelous work and a wonder.
An enormous puzzle--Each of us is a piece of the puzzle, and each of us helps to set in place other essential pieces. You are important to this great cause. Our view ahead is now clear. We can see the miracle continuing and the Lord’s hand guiding us as we complete the gaps that remain. Then, “the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done,” and He will return in majesty and glory.
Each of us is a piece of the puzzle.
President Thomas S. Monson has said: “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together … to bring souls unto Him. … He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.”
The divinely appointed responsibility that once rested primarily upon the shoulders of full-time missionaries now rests upon us all. We all want to share the restored gospel, and gratefully, thousands are baptized each week. But even with this wonderful blessing, our concern for our brothers and sisters and our desire to please God bring a compelling urgency to share and strengthen the kingdom of God across the world.
It is not uncommon in Mormonism for inspiration to sometimes be from the bottom, up, where those at the top have the opportunity to profit from insights that originate from the bottom, not that the bottom is trying to tell the top how to run things.  Not at all.  But this is a Church of councils, and even the most lowliest of members of ward councils, for example, sometimes give insight that those with the keys can profit from, even though the buck stops with those with the keys, and ultimately, the members of a council unite with the decisions of the key-holders, and submit to it.

So, if I am a puzzle piece, and gave my widows mite in this thing, and any small thing was done through me, it is now up to those in the future to figure out what ought to be done with my research, as I have done all I can do on my own already.