Unction, Unction, What’s Your Placebo Function?

16 Sep

In response to a very interesting Infants of Throne interview with the cultural and biological anthropologist Chelsea Shields Strayer, who studies the placebo effect, I could manage only the following comment – startled as I was by the mention of the popularity of “essential oils” in Utah, which I had first heard about – and tried – the week before. The story is based on fact, though I take considerable poetic license with the dialogue – and the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and guilty). [1]

Essential oils … I had never heard of this until last week. Here’s my story.

My wife invited two of the sister missionaries over to help her paint our spare bedroom. When I came home I found one of them eating my Cheese Doodles and the other one – a Utah blonde – gushing about how her “essential oil” solved her insomnia problem. My wife said, “JT, maybe it’ll help you sleep better.”

I thought to myself, “Well, maybe, but I kinda enjoy that extra quiet time listening to Infants or Thrones, the Bible Geek, and what not.”

I turned to Sister Blondie and asked, “Hey sister, you got any of that on you?”

She handed me a dark glass vial, about the same size as the one I used to carry nonessential oil in.

“Lavender” she said with that “I have a testimony” smile.

“Where do I put it sister.”

“On the bottom of your foot” (I’m not kidding)

“Niiiiiiice,” I said.

That night, I carefully dripped the sweet unction onto the top of my arch. I let the tiny glistening stream meander toward the ball of my foot … then, at the last agonizing moment … I caught it with my middle finger and rubbed it in … deeply.

“What are you doing honey?”

“Uuhhh … just … uhh … administering the essential oil honey … to help me … you know … sleep better.”

The warmth of my fingers released its spicy sweet somnolent bouquet. I quickly slid my feet – and my full anticipation – under the covers, hoping to trap every innert molecule.

I waited … and waited …

Then I reached for my ipod and checked for new episodes.

[1] The Placebo Effect

Part 1 (http://infantsonthrones.com/the-placebo-effect-part-1/)

Part 2: http://infantsonthrones.com/the-placebo-effect-part-2/

Will Free Will Fill My Free Time?

14 Sep

I finally started reading philosopher Daniel Dennet’s Intuition Pumps and other Tools for Thinking. Though I’ve made little progress given the onslaughts of a new school year, I’ve enjoyed his opening discourse covering broadly applicable thinking tools and advice. In particular

  1. Cultivate the habit of making mistakes – But make them good mistakes, mistakes worth correcting … that provide a start … something to work with … that create the possibility of making something truly new.  It is important not to hide mistakes, especially from yourself … making them public provides feedback.
  2. Rapoport’s Rules: Follow these steps for engaging in productive critical commentary with a “target”: (1) Re-express your target’s position clearly, vividly, and fairly, (2) list the points of agreement, (3) mention anything you have learned from your target, and (4) only then permit yourself to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
  3. Sturgeon’s law: 90% of everything is crap. And that’s true whether you’re talking about physics or chemistry or evolutionary psychology or sociology…90% of everything is crap, so don’t waste our time and yours hooting at the crap. Go for the good stuff. [1]

Several years ago I read Dennett’s Religion Explained – the book that earned him a spot in pantheon of the “New Atheists” – and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, which I remember holding terrific insights, but somewhat dense … but not as dense as Consciousness Explained, which tamped down my motivation to start Freedom Evolves, in which he presented his compatibilist view of free will. [2], [3]  (Was this an ironic case of my emotions circumscribing my free will to choose to learn about free will?)

I have since felt reluctant to dive fully into the issue of free will – a topic hotly debated among naturalists/materialists. Sam Harris, another prominent New Atheist, wrote a very accessible short book on the topic Free Will that made a compelling case for it being an illusion [4]. Harris was also – I thought – at his rhetorical best lecturing on the topic. [5] My other light exposure to the topic came from reading some of the work of the psychologists Daniel Wegner (Harvard) and John Bargh (Yale), whose research focuses on unconscious cognition and automaticity. Both offer empirical evidence against free will [6], [7] 

I left these three free will skeptics emotionally comfortable with the idea that free will might very well be an illusion, though it’s hard to shake the pesky intuitive sense of a distinction between my experience of choosing and … let’s say an amoeba responding to a glucose concentration gradient. But that may only be a product of more complex information processing leading to the emergence of abstract representations, particularly the ability to simulate future outcomes, and then mentally rewind the clock from that imaginary future and choose the imaginary alternative course to another future.  A simulated “counterfacuality.” But even if our sense of free will arises from this sort of thing, then there is the more straight-forward issue of our unconscious doing more high-level cognitive work than we realize because – duh – it’s unconscious and we don’t have introspective access to it. Our choices are made before we have the conscious experience of a self “owning” them.  Our motor centers stimulate the appropriate movements automatically. Our self-aware selves are to our unconscious as a little girl is to her father on the dance floor.  She thinks she leads as she stands on his feet as they shuffle along. [8]

Returning to the idea of our counterfactual simulation ability. The common notion of free will is often expressed in terms of a counterfactual conjecture. That is, free will is associated with the belief that if the “clock were turned back” and a person were confronted with the same choice – all conditions being identical (and no memory of the first round) – he would be able to chose an alternative.  Unfortunately, since time reversal is impossible, this intuition provides a groundless basis for a free will claim.

On several occasions I tried to warm myself up to the task of entering this free will morass – to make the – ahem -choice of committing more time to it. Reading Dennett’s Intuition Pumps … reminded me of his Point of Inquiry podcast interview over a year ago in which he summarized his compatibilist position on free will. [9]  I went back this evening to re-read the comment I posted on the Point of Inquiry website, and discovered it was recognized as the “comment of the week” by the producers – well whoopie for me [10]

Here is that comment – which gives a sense of Dennett’s position – and which just might launch me into a my own free will project, motivated as I now am by such flattery – which I may not have the will to resist [11]

[I offer these] few of responses to Dan Dennett’s discussion of free will, fully acknowledging that I am picking at the following “nutshell” definition he offered starting at 29:00 minutes.

“Free will is moral competence of the following sort. A person – an agent – has free will who is well informed and has well-ordered desires and preferences, who is good at detecting when he or she is being manipulated by other agents, and is good at protecting itself from manipulation by others, and also in order to have free will in the requisite sense you got to have … “skin in game” – you’ve got to be punishable … have something to worry about … so it can be motivated not to do things because it would hate to be punished.”

First, this seems less a definition of free will than a statement of the underlying “requisite” cognitive capacities and conditions. Still, I can see an operational definition arising from this – it sounds synonymous with simple rationally. I agree this is sufficient for assigning moral responsibility

Second, these capacities are harder won than most suppose. Dennett seemed to be discounting those innate frailties of mind that undermine these capacities, even in intelligent educated adults. More fundamentally, the pervasive influence of the adaptive unconscious, coupled with our inability to uncover the root causes of our choices by introspection, poses severe limitations on these capacities. In other words, the psychological illusion of self knowledge overshadows – if not overwhelms -philosophical arguments over free will.

Third, I am not sure that free will qua cognitive capacity is the free will most people would find “worth wanting.” What most find worth wanting is fixed to the metaphysical axiom: “I could have chosen otherwise if we rolled back time.” For such people Dennett’s equation of free will with moral competence would sound circular, since there can be no morality – or moral responsibility – without free will.

Finally, framing free will in terms of moral competency seems a bit narrowing. Certainly there are many important choices we make in life that have no moral implications.

Having said that, I do feel free to blame my parents for all the bad personal decisions I’ve made since I turned 18! :)

Now, how to start myproject? Perhaps I’ll ease into Dennett’s denser discourses with the hour-long lecture he delivered at Edinburg University in 2007. [12] Then I’ll read the Stanford Encyclopedia article on compatiblism [13]. … Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. This may all depend on my body’s present configuration of atoms and all the atoms and photons “out there” already on a collision course with it.  At the moment I see them all conspiring to move me toward my bed.

References:

[1] Intuition Pumps and Other Tools For Thinking, by Daniel Dennett: http://www.amazon.com/Intuition-Pumps-Other-Tools-Thinking/dp/1491518871

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

[3] ]Freedom Evolves, by Daniel Dennett: http://www.amazon.com/Freedom-Evolves-Daniel-C-Dennett/dp/0142003840

[4] Free Will by Sam Harris: http://www.amazon.com/Free-Will-Sam-Harris/dp/1451683405

[5] “The Delusion of Free Will”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FanhvXO9Pk

[6] The Illusion of Free Will: http://www.amazon.com/Illusion-Conscious-Will-Bradford-Books/dp/0262731622/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410652762&sr=1-1&keywords=Illusion+of+Free+Will

[7] The New Unconscious: http://www.amazon.com/New-Unconscious-Social-Cognition-Neuroscience/dp/0195307690/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410652839&sr=1-2&keywords=John+bargh

[8] Some excellent general audience books dealing directly or indirectly with the modern scientific examination of the adaptive unconscious are.

Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious by Timothy Wilson (http://www.amazon.com/Strangers-Ourselves-Discovering-Adaptive-Unconscious/dp/0674013824)

Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinov (http://www.amazon.com/Subliminal-Your-Unconscious-Rules-Behavior/dp/0307378217/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1410699471)

Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind by Robert Kurban (http://www.amazon.com/Why-Everyone-Else-Hypocrite-Evolution/dp/0691154392/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410699570&sr=1-1&keywords=everyone+a+hypocrite)

[9] Point of Inquiry podcast interview of Daniel Dennett (http://www.pointofinquiry.org/daniel_dennett_tools_for_thinking/)

[10] http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/the_point_of_inquiry_weekly_wrap-up_daniel_dennett/

[11] Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting by Daniel Dennett (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbow_Room_%28book%29)

[12] “Is Science Showing That We Don’t Have Free Will” A Lecture by Daniel Dennet (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKLAbWFCh1E)

[13]  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/

A Serious Mis-Givens About Science and Reason

10 Sep

This is a response to a Mormon Stories podcast interview by its host, John Dehlin, of Terryl and Fiona Givens – well know progressive LDS intellectuals and authors, and, perhaps fair to say, soft apologists. Included in the interview was James Patterson, who set up the interview after reading the Givens’s new book, The Crucible of Doubt, which he found insightful and helpful in negotiating his faith-crisis. John interviewed James in the companion episode. I was impressed with James’s intelligence and candor – someone I’d appreciate meeting and talking to.

This interview with the Givens’s covered portions of their book, which is intended to offer LDS members who are experiencing dissonance and doubt new theological ways of navigating life as a faithful Mormon – a faith promoting “paradigm.” [1]

This is my response to just one of the several issues John Dehlin asked the Givens’s to address. But it is a fundamental one.  I did not post it because I am becoming more and more reluctant to leave comments that will be perceived as either contentious or against the grain of the purposes of a podcast.  And so I just record it here.

**********************

I was a bit flummoxed by Terryl Givens’s response to John when he donned his “doubter’s hat” and argued that reason and science are “the best methods we have for discovering truth” – as opposed to “unreliable” emotion that produces equally strong ”diverse and contrary” religious convictions.

Side-stepping John’s invitation to address the “unreliability” of an emotion-based (qua “heart” – qua “spirit”) epistemology, Terryl offered this:

“I’d say unfettered and unchallenged use of reason and science got us Hiroshima, and euthanasia and mass killing and the Nazi regime … so the unfettered use of reason can be just as perilous as the unfettered exclusive use of emotion – what we’re arguing is that there needs to be a balance of the two. In any wholesome and healthy life.”

This strikes me as a severe misrepresentation – and also a bit of misdirection – that hides what really lies at the “heart” of human evil and suffering. This is why:

First, Nazism was not the product of “unfettered reason.” It was a dogmatic, repressive, racist, ideology foisted on a distressed people emotionally primed for seduction into xenophobic nationalism and “Führer” worship. Hitler’s propaganda machine, secret police, use of social contagion, and pseudoscience, ATTACKED reason by leveraging emotions. Hitler’s regime exploited and twisted, and contracted human “hearts” either to motivate them to participate in atrocities, or cower in fear.  The greatest lesson that we should learn from this is how frighteningly easy it is to manipulate “unreliable” hearts.

Second, “Hiroshima” had a context. For one thing, the underlying science was decades old. For another, the tremendous resources the U.S. devoted to solve the engineering problem of building the atomic bomb was a life-preserving rational decision. Szilard’s rational fear of Hitler building the bomb first spurred him to contact Einstein who had enough celebrity and credibility to get Roosevelt to understand this danger. Perhaps there was a better way to avoid the likely catastrophic loss of American and Japanese lives in a ground invasion of Japan, but it was Truman’s incredibly “fettered” reasoning that led to that decision. America was facing an enemy devoted – here we go again with unreliable emotions – to their emperor-god. And finally there is the separate issue of the same science producing immeasurable benefits to mankind.

Givens’s mischaracterization of science and reason goes farther. Science is simply a collection of methods for generating accurate knowledge about the world. Similarly, reason is also just a tool. Neither is some kind of evil demon that possesses people and needs to be tamed by emotions. There is no intrinsic motivation associated with science and reason. Emotion drives motivation. People use science and reason to move them from some desire A to some desire B – but it all goes back to desire – to emotions.

If you need proof that science and reason have no intrinsic motivating force, just watch what happens when valid and sound reasoning no longer serves a person’s – or a group’s – desires. Their arguments pick up logical fallacies and biases. Motivated reasoning generates mere rationalizations. Emotions make meager possibilities feel like probabilities, and then like true knowledge.

This all means that setting science and reason in opposition to emotion creates a false dichotomy. Science and reason are not the things that need fettered – it is the “heart of darkness” that is so sensitive to a person’s social psychological ecology. That’s what’s truly in opposition to the “loving heart” that Givens places front and center – apparently distancing it – and distracting us from – from it’s evil twin, who is more easily awakened than we want to believe. Ignoring this is in part what blinds us from the unreliability of human emotion. [2]

 

References

[1] http://mormonstories.org/fiona-and-terryl-givens-and-the-crucible-of-doubt/

[2] Givens did say that “unfettered exclusive use of emotions” could be perilous, but he did not address that side – and I would say that the example of Nazism is the better illustration of this – as is racism and homophobia, which emotions – qua revelation – confirmed and preserved for far too long.

This Past Summer’s Reads

26 Aug

(The following descriptions are copied and edited from Amazon.com)

 

Gospel Truth: On the Trail of the Historical Jesus by Russell Shorto

“Russell Shorto does a crackerjack job of summing up the latest research on the historical Jesus. Without taking sides, Shorto draws a fascinating picture of Jesus the man by approaching the topic from all available angles, such as his Greekness, his Jewishness, his miracles, and his message. Although there is nothing in this book that hasn’t been said already, it’s value lies in its easy-to-read, balanced synthesis of the cacophony of scholarly and religious opinions. Not meant as a challenge to the Gospels but as an honest exploration of an issue of profound significance to so many Christians and non-Christians alike.”
 
On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason to Doubt by Richard Carrier

“Carrier re-examines the question [of whether Jesus' may be mythical] and finds compelling reasons to suspect [this] is correct. He lays out extensive research …  contrast[ing] the most credible reconstruction of a historical Jesus with the most credible [mythicist] theory of [Jesus] and Christian origins.  [The latter] theory posit[s] that the Jesus figure was originally conceived of as a celestial being known only through private revelations and hidden messages in scripture; then stories placing this being in earth history were crafted to communicate the claims of the gospel allegorically; such stories eventually came to be believed or promoted in the struggle for control of the Christian churches that survived the tribulations of the first century…”

Who is Jesus?: Answers to Your Questions About the Historical Jesus, by John Dominic Crossan

“This fascinating book makes the results of a lifetime of scholarship readily available to nonspecialists who want to meet the historical Jesus. Eminent biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan collaborates with pastor Richard G. Watts to rediscover the life, the work, and the message of the Man from Galilee.”

How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee by Bart Erhman

“The claim at the heart of the Christian faith is that Jesus of Nazareth was, and is, God. But this is not what the original disciples believed during Jesus’s lifetime—and it is not what Jesus claimed about himself. How Jesus Became God tells the story of an idea that shaped Christianity, and of the evolution of a belief that looked very different in the fourth century than it did in the first.”

Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth by Bart EhrmanIn

“Did Jesus Exist? historian and Bible expert Bart Ehrman confronts the question, “Did Jesus exist at all?” Ehrman vigorously defends the historical Jesus, identifies the most historically reliable sources for best understanding Jesus’ mission and message, and offers a compelling portrait of the person at the heart of the Christian tradition.”

Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgement by Michael Bishop and J.D. Trout

“Bishop and Trout here present a unique and provocative new approach to epistemology (the theory of human knowledge and reasoning). Their approach aims to liberate epistemology from the scholastic debates of standard analytic epistemology, and treat it as a branch of the philosophy of science. The approach is novel in its use of cost-benefit analysis to guide people facing real reasoning problems and in its framework for resolving normative disputes in psychology. Based on empirical data, Bishop and Trout show how people can improve their reasoning by relying on Statistical Prediction Rules (SPRs). They then develop and articulate the positive core of the book. Their view, Strategic Reliabilism, claims that epistemic excellence consists in the efficient allocation of cognitive resources to reliable reasoning strategies, applied to significant problems.”

Descartes’ Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason by Russell Shorto

“In [Descartes'] Discourse on the Method, this small, vain, vindictive, peripatetic, ambitious Frenchman destroyed 2,000 years of received wisdom and laid the foundations of the modern world. At the root of Descartes’ “method” was skepticism … In an age of faith, what Descartes was proposing seemed like heresy. Yet Descartes himself was a good Catholic, who was spurred to write his incendiary book for the most personal of reasons: He had devoted himself to medicine and the study of nature, but when his beloved daughter died at the age of five, he took his ideas deeper. To understand the natural world one needed to question everything. Thus the scientific method was created and religion overthrown. If the natural world could be understood, knowledge could be advanced, and others might not suffer as his child did.”

American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church by ALex Beam

“In American Crucifixion, Alex Beam tells how Smith went from charismatic leader to public enemy: How his most seismic revelation—the doctrine of polygamy—created a rift among his people; how that schism turned to violence; and how, ultimately, Smith could not escape the consequences of his ambition and pride.”

Perplexities of Consciousness (Philosophical Issues in Biology and Psychology) by Schwitzgebel, Eric

“In Perplexities of Consciousness, Schwitzgebel examines various aspects of inner life (dreams, mental imagery, emotions, and other subjective phenomena) and argues that we know very little about our stream of conscious experience. Drawing broadly from historical and recent philosophy and psychology to examine such topics as visual perspective, and the unreliability of introspection, Schwitzgebel finds us singularly inept in our judgments about conscious experience.”

Old School (a novel) by Tobias Wolfe

Babbitt (a novel) by Sinclair Lewis

Candide (a novel) by Voltaire

The Waterworks (a novel) E. L. Doctorow

 

A Mixed Blessing

25 Aug

A few weeks ago my wife and I drove to the ward of our son and daughter-in-law to attend the naming and blessing of their first child. I appreciated that my son’s blessing emphasized his hope that his son’s life would be one of service and caring for others. He didn’t walk his infant through the standard sequence of prescribed Mormon exaltation prerequisites. And so to me it felt expansive and hopeful rather than parochial and fearful.

This was the first I had attended a LDS sacrament meeting in well over a decade – as my wife has remained active and devout, with her association seeming mostly centered on service and community.

Very little seems to have changed – the same standardized architecture, furnishings, carpet smells, church-speak, and lobby-lingering by the elders. The only noticeable difference in the service was more talk of Jesus and less of Joseph Smith … with two notable exceptions.

It was a “fast & testimony meeting” and I was struck by the difference between the testimonies of the three women who spoke and the two three-piece-suited men. The former testified exclusively of relationships, service received, the love of neighbors and how the Savior supported these. Their expressions of thankfulness seemed tinged with latent guilt for service not sufficiently rendered. On the other hand the “suits” bore testimonies of righteous confidence in the truth of the Book of Mormon, of inspired Priesthood leaders – both local and general – and of inspired ward youth who – just back from Youth Camp – uniformly desired to serve missions. One of these brethren (still lower case but likely a high priest) ended by testifying that the Atonement (i.e. salvation) was inextricably tied to the Priesthood.

It is, perhaps, possible to read too much into these differences, but listening to these low-level managers pumping their hegemonic masculinity with their patriarchal priesthood power was as annoying as listening to the sisters (forever lower case) was inducing of sympathy.

And so I experienced a direct shot of mix of emotions. On the positive side, I saw a caring community that would embrace and support of my son’s young family – and heard my son’s blessing reflect that. On the negative side, I saw the insinuation of that dogmatic in-group mind-set of the “only true and living church on the face of the whole earth.” This is the ambivalence I have been quietly living with with so many years now.

One Eternal Round

17 Aug

Question: When the innocent children “destroyed” by God in the Great Flood finally get to the celestial kingdom by virtue of Mormon proxy ordinances and become gods themselves, will they find it necessary to destroy their own spirit children – wait, or is it younger spirit siblings? – in their own Great Floods. Will that complete another cycle of the “one eternal round”?  [1], [2],

I’m not sure how this non-Biblical “one eternal round” phrase found its way into the Book of Mormon, or what it was intended to mean [1].  My guess is it was borrowed from the musical term for the overlapping repetition of song stanzas – as done with “Row, row, row your boat.” Hence, a metaphor for never-ending cosmic repetition. [3]

Last night I listened to a debate between an Evangelical Christian scholar, James White, and a Mormon apologist tag-team, Daniel Peterson and William Hamblin. It was moderated by Martin Tanner, the LDS host of the “Religion Today Show” produced by KSL Radio in Salt Lake City. [3], [4], [5], [6]  It turns out that James White is a bit of a gadfly to Mormons (and others).

I found that debate after listening to another between James White and the agnostic/atheist Biblical scholar Robert Price. Their debate topic was “Is the Bible True.” [7].  It was one of better debates I’ve listened to. I have grown to appreciate these as a means of seeking a better understanding of the art and craft of partisan argument – of the rhetorical strategies executed, of the implicit premises injected, of the emotional drivers of the motivated reasoning evinced, and of the complexity, ambiguity, or lack of evidence leveraged for advantage.

I’m also interested in understanding the apparent personal need of apologists to defend their faith with reason, despite ultimately demoting it as the final arbiter of their belief in favor of their more certain spiritual witness. But in this – let me ungraciously call it a hedge – they seem to betray their greater faith in reason than faith in faith. This is no more evident than when they ironically criticize their secular adversaries for relying on faith themselves to abide their dogmatic naturalistic presuppositions. They effectively say, “you are arguing from no better position than we are.” Such a tacit admission is an odd way to defend their own position.

Finally, I also try to go “meta-cognitive” as I listen and evaluate both sides – attempting to check my own biases. Alas, I do notice it’s easier for me to identify the flaws in the theists’ arguments.  And so I am left wondering what evidence would outweigh the fact that so many people glom onto their parochial and diverse supernatural belief systems all convinced by the same symmetrical subjective feelings-based epistemologies.

Belief in specially-pleaded special cases of religious affiliation – like Mormonism – is not merely the psychological flip side of doubt – right?  Perhaps it is the flip side of a dogmatic atheism that excludes every possible conception of deity.  But it’s not the flip side of not being able to distinguish one set of religious artifacts and faith-claims from any other when their subjective grounding is – again – attained by such symmetric subjective means. Indeed, it seems far more likely that these are the natural product of human communities struggling to survive and make sense of a complex, confusing, and contingent world.

Perhaps religion-making is the true “one eternal round” that draws in one generation after another.

[1] See Luke 17:27 for the NT affirmation of OT history
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/luke/17.27?lang=eng#26

[2] See 1 Nephi 10:19; Alma 7:20 and 37.:12, D&C 3:2 and 35:1
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/search?lang=eng&query=One+Eternal+Round&x=0&y=0

[3] http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/about/

[4] http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/author/dan/

[5] http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/author/william/

[6] http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/author/martint/

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmA6c0yoVrQ

You’ve Got to Hand It to Him

9 Aug

Who can say that LDS scriptures aren’t practical?

D&C Section 129

Instructions given by Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, February 9, 1843, making known three grand keys by which the correct nature of ministering angels and spirits may be distinguished.

There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones—

 For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

 Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.

 When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.

 If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.

 If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear—

 Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.

 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.

 These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.

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