Comment by JohnH on Can somebody explain this to me?: The computability of the laws of physics and hypercomputation · 2013-04-22T03:44:13.814Z · LW · GW

I see a problem with this: There doesn't seem to be a way to tell if omega itself is in the laws of physics or some finite precision approximation to omega. Given any set of finite observable phenomena and any finite amount of time there will be some finite precision approximation to any real number which is sufficient in the equations to explain all observations, assuming the models used are otherwise correct and otherwise computable. How would one tell if the universe uses the real value Pi or a finite precision version of Pi whose finiteness is epsilon greater then what is needed to calculate any observable value?

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-15T21:44:12.578Z · LW · GW

Mormonism is much more structured then that. There are different sects but those sects are different churches, both of us come from the LDS church, which is the largest and the one that everyone thinks of when they say Mormon (unless they are thinking of the polygamous FLDS).

There are those that call themselves New Order Mormons which are within the LDS church, by which they mean they don't believe in any of the truth claims of the church but like the culture (or something like that, I am sure I am taking what they say out of its "rich contextual setting").

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-15T21:17:35.045Z · LW · GW

I am mostly just answering direct questions, I am horrible at walking away when questions are asked. Since this conversation is far outside of the norms of the group, I will do so in a private message if atomliner wants to continue the conversation. If he would rather it be public I would be willing to set up a blog for the purpose of continuing this conversation.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-15T20:06:29.828Z · LW · GW

So, you can use your apologetic arguments all you want for whatever idea you have about Mormonism, but if they aren't based clearly in the scriptures

Please show what I said (excluding the reference to Confucius) is not clearly based in scripture, Numbers 11:29 may be helpful.

would not teach false doctrine?

Yes. that is unreasonable to assume

Do you think that a person who speaks face-to-face with Jesus Christ would then teach his own false ideas to members of Christ's One True Church?

Absolutely, if Jesus says something to a prophet then what Jesus said was correct. What the prophet thinks and communicates in addition to that particular thing has no guarantee of being correct and is very likely to be at least partially incorrect. The prophet will place the words of Jesus in the framework of other beliefs and cultural constructs in the world in which they live. Prophets just as much as anyone else do not receive the fullness at once, meaning that of necessity some of their beliefs (and therefore some of their teachings) will not be correct, excluding Jesus. Prophets are not perfect any more then anyone else is perfect and we are supposed to use the light of the Spirit to discern the truth ourselves rather then follow the prophet without thought or seeking to know for ourselves. In other words, telling people to seek God as to every question is calling them to be prophets.

Why is what he said logical to you?

Because I have not stood in the Divine Council and so I know that not only do I not know the secrets of God I also do not have a complete understanding of faith, repentance, baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, of loving God or of loving my neighbor as myself, nor will I until, either in this life or the next, I hear the Father say Ye shall have eternal life and receive an end to my faith.

And you are how old?

Why is that relevant? Older than you.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-15T17:23:37.407Z · LW · GW

Who authorizes messengers from God?

God obviously.

It's not like He has a public key,

There are actually quite a few rules given to determine if a messenger is from God. Jesus for instance said "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself", then there is the qualification in Deuteronomy, the requirement in John, the experiment in Alma, the promise in Moroni, and some details in the D&C. It is somewhat of a bootstrapping problem as one must already trust one of those sources, or the person presenting those sources, enough to move forward in trying to verify the source and messenger.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-15T17:11:35.518Z · LW · GW

you can be moral, healthy, and happy without faith in God

Paul saying those that didn't know God and that didn't have the law but that acted justly being justified because of their actions doesn't imply to you that it is possible to be moral, healthy, and happy without faith in God? How about this, where in "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." does it mention anything about having faith in God being a prerequisite for receiving a blessing? Where in "if ye have done it unto the least of these they brethren ye have done it unto me" does it say that one must believe in God for that to be valid?

"Till you have learnt to serve men, how can you serve spirits?"

But you have to admit it's hard sometimes to distinguish whether or not a prophet is acting as one.

" Would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!"

How could anyone ignore these parts of the Gospel while studying "deep doctrine"?

Very easily, as Jesus repeatedly stated.

every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were prophets, seers, and revelators and that they spoke directly with Jesus Christ, therefore they were incapable of teaching false doctrine to the members of the Church.

I am not sure how the first part of this lead to the second part of this, but I will believe that was your belief.

How long have you been a member of the LDS Church?

My whole life.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-15T14:37:51.739Z · LW · GW

What passages in the scriptures tell you that you can be moral, healthy, and happy without faith in God?

I already pointed you to Romans 2, specifically in this case Romans 2:13-15, did you want more?

Why wouldn't I?

A prophet is only a prophet when they are acting as a prophet. More specifically there are multiple First Presidency statements saying Adam-God is wrong; Statements by Apostles saying that the racist theology was created with limited understanding and is wrong (as well as more recent church statements saying explicitly that it is contrary to the teachings of Christ); I am not referring to polygamy as a practice but the belief that polygamy is the new and everlasting covenant itself, which again has revelation and first presidency statements and even the scriptures on polygamy saying that is wrong; Also given that none of those theories were presented to the Quorums of the Church and that Apostles and a member of the First Presidency disagreed vocally with Adam-God at the time I would have thought it was clear that one can disagree with ideas not presented as revelation and not sanctioned by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. I mean, the D&C has procedures on how to conduct a disciplinary council of the prophet so while the prophet will not lead the church astray they are quite capable of sinning and of theorizing based of revelation and their own prejudices as anyone else, though they seem to have mostly gotten better at not doing that.

what do you even mean by the "weightier parts of the gospel"?

The two great commandments: Love God, Love your neighbor as yourself, and the actual gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Statements of the effect of that being sufficient for anyone or even that being the doctrine of Christ and the only doctrine of Christ and anything more or less being declared as the doctrine of Christ being evil seem fairly objective in stating which parts of the Gospel are most important.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-15T03:40:15.457Z · LW · GW

Since it appears that you grew up in a pluralistic society then I have no idea why you considered everyone different then you to not be a good person and feel you were never exposed to the idea that they possibly could be a good person. Considering that Jesus (Matthew 25:40), Paul (Romans 2), Nephi, Benjamin, Alma, and Moroni all say that it is action more then belief that defines who is saved, who has faith, and who is good, happy and healthy then I don't know how it was a shocking revelation that those who do not have the law but that act by nature according to law are just as much blessed as those that have the law.

I fail to see how blood atonement, Adam-God, racist theology, and polygamist theology gave you the slightest impression that the Journal of Discourses was a good source of doctrine. It is my personal experience that generally those that spend the most time reading it are those least familiar with the gospel, on either end of the spectrum. The biggest fans of the Journal of Discourses seem to be those that are trying to prove the church wrong and those that are seeking "deep" doctrine while ignoring the weightier parts of the gospel, by which I mean those that try to square Adam-God statements or that speculate on the location of the ten tribes or Kolob.

For instance nearly everyone that has taken the time to figure out what Christians say of God in their arguments for God and what the D&C says on the subject quickly realize that the two are wholly incompatible. That those beliefs on God and the arguments in favor of those beliefs are mixing Greek philosophy with scripture to synthesis a new belief. Not that members of the church are not also guilty of mingling the philosophies of men with scripture, that is a very common occurrence as you note with "what is taught in the chapel and the dinner table", me, I tend to focus on the current authorized messengers from God and the Holy Spirit as I feel that is what I have been instructed to do.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-14T21:13:12.693Z · LW · GW

Why go to the Journal of Discourses? D&C 132 clearly states that those that receive exaltation will be gods, the only question is whether that involves receiving a planet or just being part of the divine council. The Bible clearly states that we will be heirs and joint heirs with Christ. The Journal of Discourses is not something that most members look to for doctrine as it isn't scripture. I, and any member, am free to believe whatever I want to on the subject (or say we don't know) because nothing has been revealed on the subject of exaltation and theosis other then that.

Personally, I think there are some problems with the belief that everyone will have a planet due to some of the statements that Jesus makes in the New Testament but I could be wrong and I am not about to explain the subject here, though I may have attempted to do so in the past.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-14T20:09:31.232Z · LW · GW

Calling us morons doesn't reveal anything to reason or even attempt to force me to address what you may think of as a blind spot.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-14T19:04:30.604Z · LW · GW

Being called a moron seems hostile to me, just to use an example right here.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-14T14:52:24.382Z · LW · GW

I am going to make a prediction that you likely grew up in a smaller community in Utah or Eastern Idaho.

In regards to the Journal of Discourse quote, the actual doctrine that Brigham Young is talking about it is very much emphasized and is found in the D&C, the Book of Abraham, and explicitly in the Temple. A dead giveaway is his reference to philosophers, he isn't talking about us being aliens but that our spirits always existed and come from where God is rather then being created at birth as thought in the rest of Christianity. Given this and your explanation of The God Delusion I take it you aren't that familiar with non-LDS Christian philosophy and the vast differences between us and them.

The church has not changed at all its position on same-sex marriage and just filed an amicus brief on the subject. I can see how your conclusion on the subject was drawn though.

Comment by JohnH on Wrong Questions · 2013-04-13T23:09:30.160Z · LW · GW

Applying Greek thought to "Ehyeh asher ehyeh" is an attempt to get at something that "explain(s) itself", I am sure you are familiar with St. Thomas Aquinas and his five ways.

I suppose you are also familiar with Divine Sophia in Gnosticism? Saying we have a logical reason for things existing seems to be on that same level of reasoning and appears to just add another turtle to me.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-13T21:54:22.712Z · LW · GW

I believe the result is that atheists have an above average knowledge of world religions, similar to Jews (and Mormons) but I don't know of results that show they have an above average knowledge of their previous religion. Assuming most of them were Christians then the answer is possibly.

In this particular case I happen to know precisely what is in all of the official church material; I will admit to having no idea where his teachers may have deviated from church publications, hence me wondering where he got those beliefs.

I suppose I can't comment on what the average believer of various other sects know of their sects beliefs, only on what I know of their sects beliefs. Which leaves the question of plausibility that I know more then the average believer of say Catholicism or Evangelical Christianity or other groups not my own.

[edit] Eliezer, I am not exactly new to this site and have previously responded in detail to what you have written here. Doing so again would get the same result as last time.

Comment by JohnH on Wrong Questions · 2013-04-13T21:03:31.234Z · LW · GW

Have you seen Gods as Topological Invarients? Note the date submitted as it is relevant.

Anyways the whole question seems a confusion: either the answer will be something that does exist or it will be something that does not exist, if it exists it would appear to be part of "anything" and therefore the question is not addressed, and if it does not exist then that appears to be contradictory.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-13T17:30:49.334Z · LW · GW

Some of that might be because of evaporative cooling. Reading the sequences is more likely to cause a theist to ignore Less Wrong then it is to change their beliefs, regardless of how rational or not a theist is. If they get past that point they soon find Less Wrong is quite welcoming towards discussions of how dumb or irrational religion is but fairly hostile to those that try and say that religion is not irrational; as in this welcome thread even points that out.

What I am wondering about is why it seems that atheists have complete caricatures of their previous theist beliefs. What atomliner mentions as his previous beliefs has absolutely no relation to what is found in Preach My Gospel, the missionary manual that he presumably had been studying for those two years, or to anything else that is found in scripture or in the teachings of the church. So are the beliefs that he gives as what he previously believed actually what he believed and if so what did he think of the complete lack of those beliefs being found in scripture and the publications of the church that he belonged to and where did he pick up these non standard beliefs? Or is something else entirely going on when he says that those were his beliefs?

This doesn't limit itself to atomliner; in my experience generally when atheists talk about their previous religion they seem to have always held (or claim they did) some extremely non-standard version of that religion. So is this a failure of the religion to communicate what the actual beliefs are, a failure of the ex-theist to discover what the beliefs of the religion really are and think critically about, in Mormon terms, "faith promoting rumors" (also known as lies and false doctrine, in Mormon terms), or are these non-standard beliefs cobbled together from "faith promoting rumors" after the atheist is already an atheist to justify atheism?

I know that atheists can deal with a lot of prejudice from believers about why they are atheists so I would think that atheists would try and justify their beliefs based on the best beliefs and arguments of a religion and not extreme outliers for both, as otherwise it plays to the prejudice. Or at least come up with something that actually are real beliefs. For any ex-Mormon there are entire websites of ready made points of doubt which are really easy to find, there should be no need to come up with such strange outlier beliefs to justify oneself, and if justifying isn't what he is doing then I am really very interested in knowing how and why he held those beliefs.

Comment by JohnH on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-12T18:40:03.904Z · LW · GW

I am Mormon so I am curious where you got the beliefs that Homosexuality would destroy civilization, that humans came from another planet, that the Ten Tribes live underground beneath the Arctic? Those are not standard beliefs of Mormons (see for instance the LDS churches and only one of those have I ever even encountered before (Ten Tribes beneath the Arctic) but I couldn't figure out where that belief comes from or why anyone would feel the need to believe it.

I also have to ask, the same as MugaSofer, could you explain how The God Delusion obliterated your faith? It seemed largely irrelevent to me.

Comment by JohnH on Pretending to be Wise · 2013-04-10T15:18:11.796Z · LW · GW

I think you are confused, this is the Solitudinem Party foreign policy, the Scorched Earth Party involves only the destruction of all non-Jews in the Middle East (facebook) and a lot of lead pipes. We of the Solitudinem Party do agree on some points with the Scorched Earthy Parties foreign policy but feel it doesn't go far enough in ensuring an end to suffering and world peace. We take as our party motto and guiding principle this sound advice:

ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant - Tacitus

It has a proud and honored history of effectively working. We feel we can more effectively implement that advice today leading to a perpetual world peace for at least the next few million years. It causes us deep physic pain to think that anyone (or anything) will ever experience the horrors of pain and suffering and our candidates promise to do everything in their power to eliminate these and all other social ills instantly.

Donations to our PAC are greatly appreciated and show your support for lasting world peace and a world free from all crime.

Comment by JohnH on Lonely Dissent · 2011-05-25T05:54:02.134Z · LW · GW


Comment by JohnH on Lonely Dissent · 2011-05-25T05:41:51.873Z · LW · GW

Forget the clown suit. Try defending theism in a place where atheism reigns. Try being chaste before marriage and happily married after. Try to stand up for what you know to be right even if no one else around you is.

It is fashionable and respectable to be a dissenter in pre-approved areas of dissent, try instead to stand up for the norms which one knows to be right, and see what happens.

This is the true lonely dissent and the true rebellion for which the "tolerant" are not able to tolerate regardless of whether it is right or true.

Comment by JohnH on Lonely Dissent · 2011-05-25T05:27:17.190Z · LW · GW

missionaries don't convert many outsiders,

More converts are obtained then are born into the church. Since missionaries are in pairs then last year there were an average of 10 converts per missionary pair. Does this count as many or few?

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-25T04:37:44.285Z · LW · GW

Your post only makes sense if God does not exist and if His prophets are not real. If the opposite assumptions are held, as they should by anyone of most religions and most especially someone that is LDS, then much of what you said falls apart. As if God is real and a book actually does contain His word then contradicting that book would be going against what is real and therefore not rational.

So it is not because an old book said so but because God said so and since it is God that said so one is able to confirm for oneself the truthfulness of not only the "old book" but also of the claim that it is wrong to forbid others from eating meat (or whatever else). Since God is all-knowing and we are not then when our limited understanding contradicts what God has said should we claim that God does not exist despite evidence that He does or should we think that we are mistaken in our views?

If God exists then that which is predicated on His non-existence becomes irrational and the rational thing to do is to change those views that contradict His. If there is no God to listen to then it is clearly irrational to listen to God, as He wouldn't exist in that case. However, if there is Something to listen to then why is it irrational to listen to It?

Many of the conclusions drawn on this site depend on the non-existence of God and fall apart if He does in fact exist (and one is able to verify for oneself that He does). However, even with the existence of God it is still extremely useful to learn to be more rational (the stated goal of the site) as God does not command in all things but expects us to govern ourselves based on the principles He has given. I wish all men everywhere would take ideas seriously and attempt to be rational in their beliefs and in their actions.

Comment by JohnH on Future of Humanity? · 2011-05-25T00:26:31.166Z · LW · GW

Nukes could be extremely useful in powering spacecraft, Pluto would be less than a year round trip. If the arsenals are to be reduced the nukes should be used for a Project Orion. Even without that, Nukes are useful in that they could potentially deflect asteroids.

Aggression and Competitiveness certainly have their place in a Capitalist society. The important thing is to direct such behavioral tendencies into business instead of into war or politics.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-23T21:58:57.330Z · LW · GW

Alma 32:18 [I]f a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. But if knowledge was just a belief with 100% confidence, then that you knew it would mean you had quite a few causes to believe it.

I always took it to mean that if one knows something one has no cause to doubt it.

Belief as defined at does work with saying that one does not believe something one knows, being if a statement has proof then one does not believe it (see # 2).

It seems to be using belief-in as opposed to belief-that. If not then you are right that my definition of knowledge doesn't work.

it was originally hot drinks in general which was changed later on when it became untenable

It appears to have been clarified in July of 1833 when the revelation was given in February of 1833.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-21T04:00:22.680Z · LW · GW

meaning two things by knowledge, depending on the context in which you use it.

I think you are right in this assessment.

when you wanted to start talking about scripture again I suspect you'd end up saying either, 'People don't believe that which they know.' Or, 'People don't believe that which they have faith in.'

??? - you lost me here. Why would I end up saying that people don't believe that which they know? Why would I have to redefine belief?

You could do the same sort of thing with the more day to day predictions of prophets from the Church but you'd need to compare them against experts in whatever field the prediction was being made in since the real world provides more information than they'd have in the coin flip case

Take the Word of Wisdom for instance the experts in the health fields are still not able to agree as to whether coffee, tea, and alcohol are good or bad for you in the long run. The LDS Church however has consistently said they were. If the revelations from God are correct then one would expect that those that follow the revelations would be healthier than similar populations, which is indeed the case. Is this the type of thing that you mean?

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-20T05:40:56.439Z · LW · GW

meaningful faith

what do you mean by meaningful faith?

knowledge would just be a high degree of faith

Knowledge would be certainty. However, this site works with the assumption that certainty is impossible so I am trying to get everything to work under that assumption.

I am looking at my computer right now so I am certain it exists were I to look away I would be slightly less certain of its existence. That difference in certainty of the current existence of the computer seems to constitute faith as used in scripture and lectures on faith. However, I am still certain that the computer did exist while I was looking at it even if I am not looking at it currently, I know it existed then (I would say that my degree of certainty of it currently existing would still constitute knowledge, but as used it would seem to be in some sense faith).

According to this site I can not say that I know with certainty that I am male. I wonder what the confidence level is that I exist or that you exist. I have seen examples of saying that one can not be certain of the prime numbers or of 1+1=2. To me all these things are certainties, I know them even if in reproducing that knowledge to an outside observer I might err in doing so. This is what I mean by knowledge, if you can come up with a better way of explaining it in terms of this site where there is no certainty other then what I have explained then please do so.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-20T05:29:55.161Z · LW · GW

Did you not understand that the peril of knowledge is only if one does not follow what one knows? Knowledge is not something to be feared but to be sought after and this is true of all knowledge. Of course with knowledge comes responsibility to use that knowledge well and this is again true of all types of knowledge.

if we become unworthy of returning to God that removes a lot of the reason for being here. Why not be embodied and immediately die? The purpose of life then having been completed.

I actually had a discussion on Less Wrong already that covered this. The only purpose of life is not just to gain a body but also to see if we would choose to follow what is right. I do not know what the state of those that die before they are able to make such choices is except that they are saved and exalted. I see I did not explain that this life is for testing to see what we will do without the constant certainty we had before.

If his revealing himself helps people to do right rather than wrong more than it imperils them, then in his not revealing himself to me I have lost something.

This is a personal thing, if Him revealing Himself to you helps you to do right rather than wrong more than it imperils you then in His not revealing Himself to you, you would have lost something. The only way it would hurt more than help is if you were to listen and to not follow, just as the only way it would help more than hurt is if you were to listen and to follow.

I'd be more than happy to give symmetrical power to an AI, assuming I had godly powers.

Would you then be willing to entrust that AI with control of some world populated with billions of people?

If you take it to the extreme, omnipotence and reason are mutually exclusive criteria. (Outside, perhaps, of an inability to commit logical contradictions, but that doesn't really seem to be involved here.)

We would need to precisely define omnipotence as it is often understood to be an nonsensical concept. Also, the type of omnipotence that God actually has (as understood by me, a Latter-Day Saint) is nothing like what other Christians claim He has.

There are more restrictions then just an inability to commit logical contradictions. If I have said something contradictory then please point it out so I can see if that is what I actually meant and if it is, if that is actually what the doctrine is.

I've seen no proof of right and wrong. A feeling certainly isn't proof; asides from anything else I've felt different ways about ethical issues at different points in time.

This goes back to why God reveals Himself, so that we can find out what is actually right. If you are doing what is right to the best of your understanding and knowledge as it currently is then that is fine. If with a greater understanding things you thought were right turn out to have been wrong then you are not accountable for doing what was wrong if you actually thought it was right. The ability to judge what is right and wrong is given to everyone.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-20T05:29:44.569Z · LW · GW

X is true - that you have not taken

I assume you mean by this that I have not proven to your satisfaction that X is true? I have presented to you most things that are easily with in my reach to show that God is real or to show ways to prove to yourself that God is real.

Consistency doesn't make it apply to reality but I feel it is a necessary prerequisite to doing so.

could you please tell me what brought you to this belief?

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Moses 1:39

Then the knowledge that God is a glorified and perfected man, that is when it says "in our image and likeness" it wasn't being figurative and that when Christ says He only does what He saw His Father do He was speaking literally. Also, "the glory of God is intelligence". Also, the fact that if God did not act consistently then He would cease to be God, as per the Book of Mormon. Also, the fact that when Jesus said that life eternal was knowing God He was telling the truth and God is knowable.

Therefore God has a purpose, He acts consistently, and He is understandable, and He was human but is now perfectly intelligent. Therefore He has reasons for everything that He does.

Comment by JohnH on The Aliens have Landed! · 2011-05-19T17:57:44.181Z · LW · GW

Why would we be willing to believe that they will stop the torture if we killed ourselves? Further, if we killed ourselves why wouldn't they delete or kill the people being tortured?

They gave us the diagrams of themselves if I understand correctly and from the story we have the understanding to tell they tell the truth. What is to stop us from building massive super computers that can simulate some way of torturing trillions of them unless they stop simulating the torture of us? By communicating this possibility to the aliens and letting them know that if they don't stop by the time the torture computers are built we will immediately begin construction on yet another torture computer to double the amount of torture then, if the aliens have the morality that they are assuming of us, they will immediately stop torturing the simulations.

Comment by JohnH on What bothers you about Less Wrong? · 2011-05-19T15:47:46.319Z · LW · GW

There is a category of religiously inspired posts that creep me out and set of cult alarms. It contains that post about staring from Scientology and that Transcendental meditation stuff that while I found it interesting and perhaps useful doesn't seem to belong on LW and now recently these Mormon posts abut growing organizations. shudder

I actually agree with this statement.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T23:51:04.106Z · LW · GW

the prohibitions of section 89 are at least laughably incomplete

Please remember it was given in 1833 and that there is continuing revelation such that many other substances not listed in the section 89 are likewise banned. Also, please note that in vs 3 it states that it is given for a principle so that if one is too weak to resist the addiction of X then that person should avoid X, that is the principle (well, the one that gets the most attention at least)

God does not command in all things and we are to be taught correct principles and then govern ourselves. Hence the reason that vegetarianism is perfectly acceptable to the church. Also the reason that God was not required to list all of the substances that would in the future need to be banned.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T23:20:19.468Z · LW · GW

It's a reasonable assumption, that's why.

What of the other things that are allowed yet still have caffeine?

you do not see the need to provide reasons other than God or revelation

I have the belief that there are reasons for what God does and what is in revelation. I do not claim to know all of the reasons, though and think that some of the reasons people assume for such things aren't consistent.

If God is real and is all knowing then when He says something then that is the way it is. How is that not consistent?

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T23:02:29.686Z · LW · GW

those supposed total alcohol death statistics

I just put up what I found from what are generally considered reliable sources.

the idea that total abstinence would make everyone (or even the majority of people in Western countries) healthier is just ludicrous.

If you say so. Every population study that I have seen puts latter-day saints that practice at or above the life expectancy of the other longest lived population groups such as Asians.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T22:44:22.249Z · LW · GW

Caffeine is not what is prohibited, that is an assumption that many people make but that is not well founded as there are many things that contain caffeine that are allowed.

It actually is wine and strong drink for the alcohol.

Shouldn't the Mormons ban ice?

Considering it is a revelation from God that statement should be changed to "Shouldn't God ban ice?".

As to the rest, we believe in continuing revelation, therefore it is completely consistent for the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve to have clarified the position. Anything more then that is between the individual member and God and if shared is speculation.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T21:25:36.127Z · LW · GW

You seem to be invoking, admittedly with some degree of displacement, the term in its own description.

I know, probably should be changed to "anything that is held to be true with such a level of confidence so as to not make any difference from 100%". That removes the term but doesn't seem to change the meaning.

faith would be something like believing with a greater certainty than the evidence justifies

hmm. That would certainly be faith but it doesn't fit exactly with how it is used in, say "Lectures on Faith". The confidence is the faith, it really is that broad of a concept.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T20:47:06.419Z · LW · GW

... this is certainly not what I had in mind.

I assumed it was, based on the "not in moderation".

But the Mormon church also forbids a glass or two of wine with dinner, once a week.

Yes it does. You are free to read section 89 where it is so forbidden to see why.

In any case, one can look at the rings of trees, match them up to older trees, match those up to still older trees..

Not sure the trees would have died. Also not sure of the exact nature of the flood. The myth is an extremely common one and myths are usually based on some sort of fact. That we haven't definitively shown what this was based on does not mean that it did not exist.

it is unethical to eat animals, for example, which the church would find to be incorrect

I just showed that the church would not find this to be incorrect. I actually know some members that hold this exact position and they are members in good standing. Like I said some of the presidents of the church have held this position.

Something being culturally being less acceptable has nothing to do with whether it is incorrect or not. That the culture within much of the church would be biased against holding a vegetarian or vegan position it is true but that is nowhere near the same as saying the church itself holds the position to be wrong.

This is EXACTLY what I mean by "playing logic games"

I assume that you do not hold that position then. I have had multiple discussions with people that did hold that position and it is one of the more annoying things to deal with.

I'm not even sure which one is responsible for more deaths per year,

Alcohol causes about 23,000 fatalities a year. Pools appear to cause about 3,500 fatalities per year. Tobacco causes about 400,000 fatalities per year. Cars cause about 40,000 fatalities per year.

Many of the alcohol deaths are also car fatalities as well.

Per usage alcohol has a higher death rate then either tobacco or pools. Over the long term tobacco clearly has a higher death rate. I am unsure as to if marijuana has a similar long term usage effect. To be consistent society should either make alcohol and tobacco illegal or legalize all other substances with a similar amount of harm. I personally think each state should be able to make the decision.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T14:40:49.659Z · LW · GW

Some of the nations were opened up before 1990. Further, this is not saying one country opened up but many. Perhaps you are not aware that in 1976 it appeared as though communism would last forever and saying not just one but that all of Soviet bloc would not be communist in 14 years was viewed as an impossibility.

if you're charitable enough to forgive 3 failures for each 1 amazingly correct prediction, the prophet cannot lose.

Where are the failures?

Comment by JohnH on Tolerate Tolerance · 2011-05-18T14:29:49.781Z · LW · GW

For me, this appears to be correct.

Comment by JohnH on Tolerate Tolerance · 2011-05-18T14:20:27.853Z · LW · GW

If one is intolerant of intolerance then one is just as intolerant as those that are claimed to be intolerant from which one should not tolerate oneself.

Not wishing to associate with someone is not indicative of being intolerant of them, though assuming they are not intelligent may be.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T05:38:16.302Z · LW · GW

why doesn't god provide whatever portion of the evidence doesn't quite tip me over that vital point yet preserves enough meaning to actually be evidence?

It is my understanding that He does.

'The more sure you are the more liable you are


all meaningful faith would be based primarily on some form of knowledge.

Which it is. An experience once provided does give knowledge of the thing, however it is possible to doubt your experiences. Also, the experiences only provide knowledge of one thing and there will remain many things that are not known with the same surety, some of which may be difficult to understand, and these things must be taken on faith until they too become known.

arbitrarily selected confidence it's going to become worse for us if we don't follow the relevant commandments.

I would think that it is a continuum such that someone totally unaware of anything about the subject is not liable for anything while those that have received knowledge of everything are liable for all of it.

Confidence in something not tested is faith. Anything not known with whatever level of confidence constitutes near enough to certainty to not matter for you is taken on faith. Knowledge is anything that is known with that level of confidence to constitute certainty. I am pretty sure that is a consistent translation of the terms into something understandable in this setting, I could be wrong.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T05:01:00.623Z · LW · GW

Second part

As to the most recent specific prophecies from the living prophet Thomas S. Monson so far I have come up with this:

There remain, however, areas of the world where our influence is limited and where we are not allowed to share the gospel freely. As did President Spencer W. Kimball over 32 years ago, I urge you to pray for the opening of those areas, that we might share with them the joy of the gospel. As we prayed then in response to President Kimball’s pleadings, we saw miracles unfold as country after country, formerly closed to the Church, was opened. Such will transpire again as we pray with faith. Thomas S Monson, President of the Church, October 2008

The fall of Communism in Europe was what opened up those countries. It to me therefore seems that President Monson was prophesying the current unrest in the dictatorships throughout the world and that this will eventually allow for LDS missionaries to enter some of those countries. As the missionaries are not currently in any of the countries (nor is the unrest overwith) this is one that we should be able to watch develop.

Plus the prophecy that there will be more temples built. Further revelation given is such things as the calling of a new apostle, the calling of missionaries, and other adminstrative things which while important to the Church I doubt anyone outside of the Church cares (excluding some ex-mormons (along with some social mormons that don't understand the doctrine) that are really upset over Prop. 8 and the reaffirming the Churches stance against homosexual behaviors, which they really should have known anyways).

I have previously listed some of the other prophecies that have come true as well as some other prophecies that to me seem very specific. I can try finding more but in the end it will almost always be possible to say that "my idol did it" or anyone could have known that or "Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken" or other such things. I am very much of the opinion that signs, prophecies, and miracles will not and should not provide sufficient evidence to convince someone without they themselves asking God to know if it is true. They should, however, provide evidence enough to begin to act and to be willing to test things out.

I do know of another precedure that is empirical but it is asking a lot more of people. Also, I am not asking for donations to my church, as I explain:

Malachi 3:10: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse ... and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to recieve it". Here is what I am actually suggesting, find some organization or charity that you beleive to be good and give that organization 10% of your income (measured however you think is honest with yourself) track your expenditures, your income, and net worth over the course of a year and then at the end of the year of so doing evaluate your situation, see if God followed through on His promise. If you believe that SIAI is a good organization then donate to them. I don't care who you donate it to as long as you believe it to be a good worthwhile cause, therefore if you don't think my church is true then please don't donate to it, as I doubt it will be effective if you do.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T04:57:52.700Z · LW · GW

hmm.. looks like it will be multiple comments as it is too long.

won't reveal his existence to save someone's immortal soul?

Some of this I will have already covered in other responses, I hope it is okay if I cover it again.

I think the best place to begin is to explain what the purpose of life is and then go from there. That is, there are reasons God operates the way He does and they are directly related to why we are here on Earth. It will seem round about and I am sorry for that, I can't think of a shorter way to answer that would communicate the necessary information.

First, Gods goal for us is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man". That is we are here to gain a body (in case anyone is wondering, you have succeeded at that part) and to qualify to return to the presence of God which will allow us to become gods ourselves (Joint-Heirs with Christ). Therefore the goal is to have us obtain the same state of power and knowledge that God has and just as we do not wish to give god-like power to an AI that is then going to screw things up so too God does not wish to do the same to us.

Previous to this life we lived in the presence God being His sons and daughters and we knew, as we could see him, saw the power he had, and had sufficient understanding to know, that He was God and what was right. Even in this state of knowledge 1/3 of all of God's children fell, they rebelled against God and were cast out into Hell (for simplicities sake I will use the term Hell, it isn't entirely accurate to do so but the purpose isn't to give you a complete understanding of all the details), forever. Those of us who get born on Earth did not fall but followed what was right when we knew for a surety that it was right.

Due to the fact that we did not fall we receive bodies and even after we die will again receive our bodies to no more part from them in the resurrection. This is what is meant by immortality and it is a free gift to all.

As to eternal life it is up to us on earth to live according to what we know to be right. Not what we wish was right but what we actually know to be right. This is primarily what we will be judged on. However, with the exception of Christ no one has perfectly lived according to what they know the right things to do are. We all fail and we all know that we fail, many when they so fail try to redefine what is right so that it appears to them that they have not failed but God knows their hearts and they can not fool him, or in the end themselves. Due to this state of failure, or sin, to follow what we know to be right we become unworthy of entering back into the presence of God.

This is where Christ comes in, He is our savior and able to wipe away our sins such that we can again be clean. For this to happen requires one to be baptized in the correct manner by the correct authority. After baptism one receives the companionship of the Holy Spirit to assist in making correct decisions, however one is still mortal and fallen and thus will still err regularly and so must regularly repent and renew the covenants made to obtain forgiveness again.

To obtain eternal life one must accept baptism while still alive, or at the first available opportunity when dead. That is, it does matter when one is baptized if one has heard the gospel sufficiently to have a high degree of confidence in its validity while still alive, if not then after death is fine. Refusing to hear more with the sole purpose so as to not have a that high degree of confidence (and thus not be required to change ones behaviors) is an action that demonstrates a sufficient degree of confidence for the penalty to apply

. After baptism following the commandments is required to maintain the state of grace. Everyone will have a chance to be baptized (and the other saving ordinances) whether in life or after death, this is what most of the work in the temples is.

In the final state we can end up in a variety of places, if we obtain a perfect knowledge and then reject everything then we end up cast out with those that rebelled at the beginning. Contrary to popular opinion, this is a state that will eventually be available to everyone to choose as we will all be brought back into a state of perfect knowledge and thus will again have the opportunity to reject it. If we never even tried to do what we knew to be right but accepted and reveled in our sins then we end up in the Telestial Kingdom, which is comparable to life on Earth but perfected so as to be a heaven. If we attempted to do what was right but for a variety of reasons did not accept baptism when we had the chance then we will end up in Terrestrial Kingdom, which is pretty much what is described when people are commonly describing the christian view of heaven (being no family units but a state of great happiness). The Celestial Kingdom is where God dwells and those that obtain it have eternal life, those that obtain it and are in a married family unit obtain the state of godhood called exaltation.

From all of this it should be clear that your immortal soul, while at stake, is not in any particular danger from God not revealing Himself to you. If you are trying to do what you know to be right then you have lost nothing. If you aren't trying to do what you know to be right then revealing himself to you could very well get you cast out, which is not what God is in the business of doing. He has provided sufficient evidence to suggest His existence while not casting out those that choose to not believe in the evidence provided. More evidence will be provided in the future as things get worse in the world, but until near the end it will continue to be such that many honest people that are trying to do what is right will not have to know the truth.

Warm fuzzies may or may not be a manifestation of the Spirit. It is often described as a still small voice or a burning sensation within (not a bad burning sensation, that is probably heart burn or something). It should be in both your mind and in your heart, being thoughts and feelings. This is the primary way with which God communicates with us as it testifies of the truth and lets us know what is right. It is also easily drowned out by other emotions and feelings and easily confused with other things (uncontrollable crying, a sense of community, trances, babelling incoherently, a sense of confusion are common things mistaken for the spirit) . There are a variety of other means of communication but all of them should be accompanied by this feeling of the Spirit (angels, visions, burning bush, talking donkey, dreams are some examples from the Bible of other means of communication (if I ever have a donkey or pretty much any other animal talk to me my first reaction will be to assume I had eaten something really bad or that I was crazy and either way need to seek medical attention, but it is there))

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T02:24:06.789Z · LW · GW

He's already playing the game. His values may be very different to our own but he's playing.

Ok, agreed.

kid tells you they're a god

I assume you mean there is a god?

Treating him lightly would be dancing off to believe in some random god because I got the warm fuzzies when I went to a church/mosque/whatever, or because of what I read in some book.

Also agreed.

he's being asked to do it as a parlour trick

This is what I was assuming you were asking to have happen.

I am working on a longer response now that I have a better understanding of what it is you are requesting.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T02:17:25.482Z · LW · GW

To begin with the Rapture as understood by the evangelicals will never happen. Therefore, it will not happen on May 21. I seriously doubt saying that will increase anyone's estimation of my religion.

I have provided specific examples of prophecy that have been fulfilled. I am also able to provide more if it is so desired.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T01:09:50.776Z · LW · GW

So a prophecy of something happening in the world at large does not count as evidence if it comes true but predicting a coin toss does?

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-18T00:27:21.370Z · LW · GW

We should be able to sit you down in a room with a fair coin - or some other thing that can be relatively easily measured - and have you call it.

If I were claiming to be psychic or something then maybe. You have pretty much the same opportunity to try this out using the given method as I do. However, what makes you think that God is willing to play such a game? He isn't a genie or oracle that grants every random wish. I could be wrong but I doubt He would be care to be treated so lightly.

. If knowledge is to be 70% confidence and god only calls it 69% of the time that 1% difference preserves your faith.

Um, I think you have the wrong idea on the type of confidence we are talking about. If we did such a coin toss experiment and the person trying to communicate with God got it right 69% of the time that would give a much greater than 69% estimate to the existence of said God. That is getting 69% of all coin tosses right over a very large subset of coin tosses should lead one to first check to make sure that the coin is a fair coin, then lead one to use a different coin even if it is, and then lead one to try and eliminate all other possible explanations, and if it is still 69% of the time right then one should a) believe fairly highly in however the person is getting that information and b) take that person gambling or have that person pick stocks for you (or figure out how to do it yourself) before publishing any results of the study.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-17T15:55:34.897Z · LW · GW

Put it this way, if you think that there is a 1% probability (e.g. you are convinced it is bogus) that I am right in stating that if taken seriously God will answer prayers as from the scriptures I provided and this is enough to get you to try out what they say then that was sufficient faith in that instance. Clearly at 1% probability you shouldn't be doing anything else that comes with believing in the Book of Mormon or being LDS (at least that doesn't already coincide with what you think of as being right).

If you follow through and get evidence to boost the Book of Mormon to say 70 or 80% level then that should likewise boost the level confidence of what the book says to do to high enough to test them out. Following what the book says and finding it to be right should then boost the level, eventually at least, to whatever you have preset as your critical value to say you know it to be true.

If however one waits until they have evidence to suggest something is true with ones preset critical value then one is not acting in faith. If one has evidence at that level and then doesn't follow the commands of God then one is worse off then someone that thinks it is bogus but has had someone tell them it isn't or someone that due to everything else thinks it has 51% chance to be right.

Does this make more sense to you?

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-17T15:24:46.185Z · LW · GW

What is your confidence level that putting your hand into a campfire is will burn your hand?

edit As in I assumed you were intelligent enough to see everything you said and to assume that I was also intelligent enough to see such things.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-17T15:18:16.998Z · LW · GW

Animals are for the benefit and use of man," for example... well, yeah, I just don't believe that. You state it like it's fact.

I am sorry, was I supposed to not answer from with in LDS theology? That is from scripture and therefore if one holds the beliefs that God exists and that the LDS Church is true then that statement is true. If I wasn't supposed to answer according to LDS theology, which is what I believe, then what system was I supposed to work from?

this is about what is really right and wrong

For me as well. However, you started that sentence by saying it wasn't a logic game. If logic and reason are not to be used in determining what is really right and wrong and divine revelation is out then what are you left with? Are you trying to say you have taken then indefensible but unassailable position of a relativist that also believes logic itself is relative? In which case, you should have let us know this to start out with as any claims of contradiction, if that is what you hold, may as well be saying that 1=1 is a contradiction.

My point: if it doesn't hurt anyone, then it isn't wrong.

And one of my points is that even with this definition most of what you have posted as being fun can and does hurt people and society.

I hope she gets as much joy and beauty and excitement and fun that life has to offer!

There is a scripture that says that "Wickedness never was happiness" but it can give pleasure. It is my position that she will have as much joy and beauty and excitement and fun as she can by making good decisions.

For alcohol, for instance, Wednesday is less likely to remember what she is doing if she is drunk so any fun she is currently having (if in reflection it really was fun) will hold less long term value then if she was not drunk. She would also be more likely to do things that she would regret latter. She is also risking her long term mental and physical healthy by drinking, especially if not "in moderation", as well as the health and safety of others.

there were no horses in America

False statement on so many levels of false. Horses were in the Americas and eventually went extinct. Archeology is not an exact science and just because something is not known now does not mean it will not be known latter. There have been horses found even still so the statement that there were no horses is merely an assumption that because there were no horses when the Europeans came that all horse skeletons found previous to that were either from the prehistoric (as commonly understood, not as defined by archeology) time periods or are otherwise anomalies.

There was no Flood, and no Adam and Eve

Again these statements are based on a lot of assumptions. Myths of the flood exist in almost all cultures so to me it seems arrogant to say it did not exist. Of course archeologist will say it doesn't but they also say that the Mayan ceremonial scepter and head dress were elaborations in the carvings and may not have existed even though similar things are found in dryer areas of mesoamerica and they were made out of wood and feathers. It is the way they work.

And it shouldn't contain spelling errors.

If it had been handed pretranslated from God to a prophet with some guarantee that the typesetters at the printers wouldn't err in placing the type then I would agree. However, it was translated by Joseph reading the plates to a scribe and then that translation being taken to the printers. Therefore, even if Joseph read everything perfectly there was still chances for errors in the scribes and in the printer that Joseph later corrected.

the absence of God is as much a fact as the existence of the Sun

I would have to be an idiot not to be aware of this fact on this site given how much of it I have read. I have stated that I know that God exists and have provided the way that anyone that so wishes can also know that fact. I have also provided other evidence. For me the opposite of that statement is true.

I am aware of many logical arguments for the existence of God but I, personally, do not find them to be convincing without the assumption to start that God may exist making all such arguments to be somewhat circular in nature. Further much of the evidence that I see for a God are used by others, including those on this site, to be evidence that there is not a God which means either I or they are misunderstanding the evidence or it isn't evidence for either position. In either case such evidence should not be used, in my opinion, in any argument over the existence or non-existence of God.

Comment by JohnH on Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted · 2011-05-17T13:25:15.196Z · LW · GW

Your argument only makes sense if you are a Bayesian that denies the whole idea of knowledge built off of axioms. Which is funny because Bayes theorem is built off of a set of well defined axioms. How do you know Bayes theorem is true outside of the axioms that it is built off of?

Anyways, change it to degrees of confidence such that knowledge is something like 90% and faith is anything below that. Or whatever critical values you wish to use.