Subject: Dallin Oaks and the truth....
Date: May 12 03:04 2004
Author: Brandnewtatoo

Lots of electrons flowing recently in threads about Oaks and his capacity for telling the truth or respecting the truth. I wrote most of these notes last summer in response to similar Oaks-themed threads, but thought I'd repost them here since the same topics seem to be on our minds again. My thanks to Rollo Tomasi and Randy J.

These thoughts are long and not sometimes dull, but hopefully some readers may enjoy them. If not, skip 'em and move on. And thanks for the great exmo board and community.

This post is a compilation of my sometimes random thoughts on a speech Dallin Oaks made to a FARMS audience back in 1993. This isn't a formal essay by any means, and wasn't meant to be, so please don't respond that it looks amateur. I already know that. It was written for a bulletin board, not a scholarly journal.

The transcript of Oaks’ speech is here and is worth reading first if for no other reason than giggle value:

Dallin Oaks strikes me as the general authority having the least excuse for putting out such drivel as this. He is a highly educated former university president, textbook author, judge, and all-around scholar. It is simply unforgivable for him to write the things he did in this paper. Law school is all about the Socratic method, digging through the dross to find facts, identifying and eliminating the temptations and blind-alleys of hearsay, and coming to the most likely conclusion based on the reliable evidence. From the title of Oaks' essay, it appears that he wants readers to think he is doing just that--using his skills as scholar, thinker, and writer to come to the most reasonable conclusion based on the evidence available, but keep reading, that isn’t his intent at all.

From the very beginning he tells us The historicity--historical authenticity--of the Book of Mormon is an issue so fundamental that it rests first upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Right out of the gate he is admitting that the Book of Mormon must be taken on faith if it is to be "taken" at all. The very first thing is faith. Without it, according to Oaks, establishing Book of Mormon historicity is simply impossible.

Well, that sort of solves the problem, doesn't it? The next 11 pages of the essay are irrelevant at that point. All we need is a healthy dose of faith and the Book of Mormon's historicity is proven. Rock solid. Waste no more time on the subject.

But, moving on...

Despite having shown that faith is the key, he decides to plow on anyway and seek to use rational argument, but at the same time notes that he will not rely on any rational proofs.

Well, why the hell not? By saying this, he is intimating that he actually has such proofs, but that he just doesn't want to rely on them. That strikes me as the sort of double-talk only a FARMS scholar or a lawyer could come up with. In essence, he is saying: "I could prove it to you by argument and evidence if I wanted to, but since faith is more important, let's just take it on faith." It’s a comical McCarthy-esque assertion…”I have here…in my pocket…a list of names….of members of the Communist Party…” Only Oaks is subtly claiming that his is a list of valid evidentiary proofs of the Book of Mormon.

That just doesn’t cut it in scholarly writing. The title [and I assume purpose] of this essay was to establish the historicity, or historical authenticity, of the Book, not its spiritual authenticity, or "spiritualicity". If he has a list of proofs in his pocket, now is the time to pull it out and read from it. The world is listening. Shout it form the rooftops, Dallin!

He next writes that he: maintain[s] that the issue of the historicity of the Book of Mormon is basically a difference between those who rely exclusively on scholarship and those who rely on a combination of scholarship, faith, and revelation.

Or, in other words…”Wishing it to be true makes it true” Or to put it in legalese for an Oaks paraphrase…”hearsay is good enough for me.” The thrust of his argument is basically from this point on: the Book of Mormon is a historical document even though I haven’t put forward a single piece of evidence to show a prima facie case for its being so. Those who rely exclusively on scholarship to prove it will fail. We have to believe the revelation of those who tell us that it’s true.”

In this same paragraph Oaks also tells us that if we rely exclusively on scholarship to prove scholarly things, we are “rejecting revelation and fulfilling Nephi’s prophecy.” Isn’t that interesting? Here we have a man, justly famous for his wisdom and intellect, telling us that if we fail to believe the Book of Mormon’s claims we have thereby proved the Book of Mormon to be true by fulfilling a supposed prophecy contained in it. Oaks is using the work to be proven as proof that that very work is true. He is saying that The Book of Mormon is a historical document because it says people will disbelieve it when they are unable to find evidence tending towards proof of its claims. Since the Book predicted such skeptics, it must be proof that it is true. No further need for evidence or argument. Case closed.

Down a little further Oaks writes, with almost predictable pomposity, that he is speaking as one “whose profession is advocacy.” Well, ok, I guess that solves everything. It must be true, because Oaks says so, and of course, his profession is advocacy. Not only is the Book true because the book itself tells us it is true, now it is “doubly-true” because the book’s advocate tells us it’s true too. Oaks is telling us with a straight face that since he is an advocate, then the Book of Mormon really is a historic document, and we should take it on his authority---as an advocate. Fallacy, Dallin. Apparently, in the twenty or so odd years he’s been away from the practice of law, he has forgotten that advocating on behalf of a position [or client] does not necessarily make that position correct. Both sides of every argument have advocates. Good advocacy is irrelevant to proof. Argument is not evidence. Saying something is so, even saying it with heartfelt conviction, does not actually make it so.

In this same paragraph the self-proclaimed distinguished advocate now tells us that the case against the Book of Mormon is practically impossible because unbelievers have to prove a negative. News flash, Dallin. The burden of proof, at all times and in all places and in every circumstance is on the claimant. The Book of Mormon may or may not be true, but it is certainly not the burden of myself or the other 6 billion or so non-TBM-believers on the Earth to either prove it false or accept it at face value. The burden of proof is on the claimant. It has to be or we would be required to believe all sorts of bizarre things. My neighbor might really have an invisible pink unicorn in his garage. If he says he does, then we all have to believe that he does until we can prove him false. My sister-in-law might really have a wonder-woman-like invisible jet with which she commutes back and forth to work each day. We can’t see it, but it’s really there. If she says it’s so, we’d either have to disprove it or believe in it, according to the rules Oaks wants us to live by.

Besides which, Oaks seems to have already forgotten that he “lowered the bar” at the beginning of his speech. He wants to prove the authenticity of the book without providing competent evidence, but rather by relying on faith [as he stated in the first few paragraphs], while at the same time requiring skeptics to prove the negative position [which isn’t even their burden to begin with] by competent evidence. To steal an applicable metaphor from Daniel Dennett, if the net is lowered for Oaks’ serve, it should stay lowered for our return volley.

That is, if it is okay for Oaks to “prove” his case by faith instead of evidence, then it is equally okay for skeptics to prove that the book is a fraud, by faith as well. “I believe the Book of Mormon to be an uninspired work of 19th fiction. Therefore it is so. Abracadabra. Alakazam. Poof! I win.” According to the standards Oaks has set up here, that is a valid method of proof. End of argument.

How are we to decide whose position is really correct? By determining who has the stronger faith? But how would we go about doing that? In his eagerness to avoid the harsh task of proving the historicity of the Book of Mormon by reliable and accepted means [while at the same time claiming to be able to do so], Oaks has painted himself into a corner from which there is no escape except by the way he got there. That is, he will have to backtrack and either admit that faith is not an acceptable way to conclude scholarly arguments or close his eyes, plug his ears and sing la la to the rest of the world and hope they are convinced by his displays.

Reading further we find that Oaks claims: I suggest that if one is willing to acknowledge the importance of faith and the reality of a realm beyond human understanding, the case for the Book of Mormon is the stronger case to argue... The case against the historicity of the Book of Mormon has to prove a negative.

Oaks seems to be suggesting that the burden of proof [or disproof in this case] is on the non-believer in the Book’s claims rather than on the believer. This sort of logic would appear to grant validity to almost any possible claim a person could conjure up in an active and unfettered imagination. Claims of heavenly visitations, UFO abductions and mother-ships hovering just out of earth orbit, invisible purple dragons, Bigfoot, Nessie, ESP, spoon-bending telekinesis, etc. By the standard Oaks has given us, every one of these claims has equal validity [so long as it is held with a testimony of faith] until detractors can provide reliable and verifiable evidence that the claims are false. And as I pointed out before, Oaks wants the “nets up” for the dis-provers. He wants hard, concrete, verifiable evidence of falsehood before he will concede the case, and with it, his belief.

Whether he realizes it or not, Elder Oaks has taken a very bold step here. He has undercut his own faith by seemingly allowing even the most ridiculous claim to stand unimpeded and immune from outside attack. Far from strengthening the position that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, he has lined it up alongside every other supposed revelation from on high jotted down since humans first learned how to write. From now on it is clear that every crackpot who comes along with the revealed word of God scrawled out on the back of a dirty barroom napkin is on equal footing with Joseph Smith and his Book of Mormon. I’m sure that’s not what he intended when he started out this speech, but in his own words the position that an idea is valid until otherwise proved wrong by detractors is an ”obvious insight”.

In the next paragraph, Oaks suspiciously writes: if the Book of Mormon only purports to be an account of a few peoples who inhabited a portion of the Americas during a few millennia in the past, the burden of argument changes drastically.

Actually, it doesn’t. For one thing, by its own definition the Book of Mormon is not a history of some small band of shipwrecked immigrants hiding out in total isolation near the mysterious “narrow neck of land,” desperately avoiding contact with all the other groups of people living all over the continent. It is, or rather claims to be, the history of a great, but fallen people who are purportedly the “principal ancestors” of the American Indians, and who supposedly at one time covered the entire land. It is a disingenuous bit of backpedaling for a man who calls himself an Apostle of the Lord to even hint that the Book of Mormon, the epic saga of good and evil in the Western hemisphere and cornerstone of the LDS religion, might be only an account of an obscure group of Jewish refugees who inhabited no more than a small, and as yet undiscovered, corner of the New World.

Such an interpretation makes verses like Ether 1: 38 [this is a land which is choice above all the earth] and the dozen or so other similar verses of patriotic fervor peppered throughout the pages of the Book of Mormon completely devoid of context and meaning to us if we are now supposed to reinterpret them to be describing only some small out-of-the-way corner of land that we can’t even find. Surely that wasn’t what Joseph Smith’s envisioned when he told the history of the Zelph skeleton; the remains of a Lamanite warrior supposedly famous in his day from “the Eastern Sea to the Rocky Mountains.” [Official History of the Church, Vol. 2, p.79]

Another point worth mentioning in relation to this “small-scale civilization” idea is that it is, above all, an assertion of first-order arrogance. For Oaks to declare that the burden of proof somehow “changes drastically” if he simply reinterprets the scope of Book of Mormon history and geography by narrowing it to his liking, and that now it will be even more difficult to disprove [as if there were ever a duty imposed on the non-believer to do so] is tantamount to admitting: Not only was I unable to exhibit the slightest bit of evidence from any place on the entire North American or South American continents to support the Book of Mormon’s claims, but now the sheer overwhelming paucity of evidence from any unspecified smaller portions of those same continents proves beyond any remaining doubt that the book of Mormon is a historically authentic document.

Not only is Oaks’ claim laughable, it is incomprehensible. Thinking of the problem in different terms, what we have here is the suggestion that even though the whole has been searched over and found to contain no concrete evidence supporting the Book of Mormon, a subset of that whole just might. In more familiar terms, he is engaging in the kind of loophole-searching double-speak a person might try when asked to back up a spurious claim he suddenly realizes is indefensible. “Umm, well, I realize now that there is no evidence to support my long-held contention that sharks are swimming around in the Great Salt Lake, but that’s because they only live in the quiet, secluded waters somewhere off of the southern tip of Antelope Island, and you just haven’t discovered them yet.”

Oaks’ next assertion is that ”opponents of the historicity of the Book of Mormon must prove that the people whose religious life it records did not live anywhere in the Americas.” Surely a man of his education and experience knows that the burden of proof [assuming he is still interested in pursuing proof through traditionally accepted scholarly methods] is actually on him and other Book of Mormon advocates to prove that even one person of Jewish descent actually did live in the Americas during relevant time periods. His book claims that the Nephite, Lamanite, Mulekite, and Jaredite people dotted the whole surface of the land, numbered in the millions, built concrete homes in the north countries, and lived, fought, and died in this “choice land” for a period spanning some twenty-eight centuries. His burden then, should he choose to accept it, is to give evidence for a single one of them, a single human, any particular person will do, who lived in any of those societies during any of that time period. He could do this by showing some evidence from any number of fields; linguistics, archaeology, genetics, etc.

But instead, typical of the FARMS crowd he is addressing, he denies the burden while maintaining the contention. “The Book of Mormon is true and I don’t have to prove anything. All I have to do is believe it. If you don’t have faith to believe it, it’s your duty to disprove it.” I wonder if Elder Oaks would admit to having the obligation to either conclusively disprove or accept at face value the “histories” of other peoples set out in comparable writings from writers of other faiths or traditions. I wonder if he believes the stories of the Greeks and Trojans told in the Iliad happened as Homer described with the gods coming down from Olympus to choose sides and take up arms.

Oaks next admission is somewhat more baffling. He states: it is our position that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. So, it appears now, only a quarter of the way into his speech, that Oaks is willing to call it a “draw”, although conspicuously, not because the evidence is equal on both sides, but for no other reason than that the evidence on both sides can never be equal. And that leads me to wonder, if this is his conclusion, why have an expensive organization like FARMS at all? What’s the point? Oaks, supposedly a spokesman for the Lord and special witness of Christ, has just admitted that no amount of “secular evidence” [a term he fails to define, but speaks of condescendingly] will ever suffice to prove the Book of Mormon. So why bother trying? Close up the FARMS shop, send all the FARMS scholars back to work on Sasquatch sightings, and just encourage everyone to follow Moroni’s promise from now on.

The situation is reminiscent of the Black Knight in the Monte Python movie who loses both arms and legs in a lop-sided sword fight with King Arthur then proclaims Arthur vanquished. When Arthur points out that the knight has no arms or legs the knight condescendingly offers to “call it a draw.” Oaks has come to the presentation without a single shred of evidence to support his position, offered to do battle “using rational argument” by advocating his position according to the customary rules of scholarship, and then when he realizes he has no ammunition and is rapidly losing strength [and credibility], he graciously announces that he is calling it a tie and walking away from the field only to spend the next seven pages rambling on about faith-based evidence for historical realities and making several appeals to authority along the way to back him up.

So where has he left us? Mid way through the speech Oaks is instructing us that despite the actual authenticity of the Book of Mormon being perfectly clear to those who have sufficient faith to believe in it, no amount of secular evidence would ever be able to conclusively prove it. Faith is the only way. Now get this, he’s not speaking as a Biblical scholar would who might point out, “Here is Jerusalem, here is Bethlehem, here is the old temple wall, here the Roman ruins, here are confirming contemporary accounts written by objective third parties, the facts fit the story, or at least don’t contradict it. The historical parts of the Bible are at least plausible, so let’s believe in the rest of the story by faith.”

That approach might not adequately establish the authenticity of everything that is said to have happened in the Bible, but it at least goes a long way toward authenticating the Bible itself as a historic document, genuine to the time period it claims to originate from. Bible scholars, whatever else they might believe about the supernatural claims contained in the book, have at least accepted the burden of supplying physical proof that their book is old. The evidence, real archaeological, linguistic, and geographic evidence, places the Bible into an understandable historical context and gives it the feel of respectability that Oaks is striving to hard to find for the Book of Mormon. But Oaks knows he has to do this without any tangible artifacts because there aren’t any. His task isn’t made difficult due to the small amount of real evidence supporting him, but by the complete absence of any hard evidence, and this despite having a fully-funded FARMS organization looking for it all over the western hemisphere.

What Oaks is saying in support of the Book of Mormon’s historicity is radically different from what Biblical archaeologists say, however. He is declaring something along the lines of “I don’t know where Zarahemla was. I have no clue why we can’t find Cumorah with all its bones and armor of the slaughtered masses. I don’t have the faintest idea where we would go to find a horse-drawn chariot in the western hemisphere or what a curelom skull looks like. I know there are no ancient examples of Hebrew or Egyptian writing in the New World, but you have to believe in all these things anyway.” Why? Because faith makes it so. That’s his final answer. And while it’s a terrible way to end an argument, he should have done so at this point.

If Oaks had ended his dinner speech right there and sat down to rub elbows with Hamblin and the rest of the FARMS crew for the remainder of the evening he would have made his point in two-thirds less time and with just as much credibility—which is, none at all among those who seek the facts, and complete among those who see by the eye of faith. He just couldn’t stop though. In a desperate attempt to stop the flow of blood he now calls on outside authorities to support him. Archaeologists? No. Linguists? No. Geneticists? Of course not. Oaks calls on the king of all Mormon apologists. No FARMS dinner speech would be complete of course, without at least one appeal to Hugh Nibley, the undisputed sleight-of-hand master in Mormon apologetics for nearly half a century now.

According to Oaks, Nibley said that the Book of Mormon was “packed…with a staggering wealth of [historical] detail.” What are those details? Oaks never tells us and readers are left to guess for themselves. But the important point to Oaks is not whether or not there really is a wealth of detail, or what those details might be, but that Nibley said there was such a wealth of detail…the message being that if Nibley says it, it must be so. But Nibley isn’t alone.

Oaks next comments glowingly on Orson Scott Card’s ”persuasive essay” on the language and cultural matters contained in the Book of Mormon. What language or cultural matters might he be speaking of? Who knows? He doesn’t list a single example, but the point is, Card’s a smart guy. He’s a well-known and respected writer. And, most importantly, he believes in the Book of Mormon; not just as a nice work of fiction, but as an authentic historical document. Therefore, since his views agree with Oaks’ own, Card must be authoritative. At this point I suppose Oaks was thinking he had just driven another nail into the coffin of Book of Mormon skeptics everywhere. The holy triumvirate of Mormon literary and scholarly authority [Hugh Nibley, Orson Scott Card, and a learned Apostle] has just teamed up to pronounce the Book of Mormon authentic. I can almost hear the faithful everywhere at that moment thinking to themselves, “that settles it for me.”

Oaks next attack is directed against those LDS critics who deny the Book of Mormon’s historicity while still praising its message. How, he wonders, can they “praise the contents of a book they have dismissed as a fable[?]” This statement leads me to wonder whether Oaks has ever read a non-LDS book in his life. Just off the top of my head I can think of works by Victor Hugo, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, and many others whose fiction writing, while decidedly non-LDS, evokes praiseworthy emotional responses in the reader every bit as real and sincere, every bit as deep and meaningful as anything the Book of Mormon can induce, but these books do so with images far more beautifully depicted than anything the Book of Mormon has to offer. And this is only modern literature.

Has Oaks never read the tragedies of Sophocles to see that the devotion and heroic self-sacrifice of Antigone makes the Nephi’ squabbles with his brothers or Abinadi’s last stand before King Noah look empty and ridiculous by comparison? Does Ammon’s adventure in lopping off a few bandits’ arms compare favorably with Hector’s great courage when he bids a tearful farewell to his family to go out and do battle against the great Achilles, knowing he would never return to them alive? Has this Apostle never read Virgil’s Aeneid and its depiction of the heart-rending passion of Queen Dido? Has he never read any other book whose characters or setting may be fictitious, but whose contents were thought provoking, intellectually enlightening, and spiritually stirring? Does he think the message of Christian love and sacrifice is less powerful and inspiring as depicted in Sienkiewicz’ Quo Vadis than in the rote regurgitations of King James scripture reprinted in 3rd Nephi? How narrowly read does a man have to be to say with a straight face in front of a large audience that one cannot praise the contents of a book while knowing full well that it is a work of fiction? Does nothing stir him except reading the same handful of half-baked stories over and over again for the rest of his life?

Continuing along his now familiar theme, Oaks next makes the statement that he feels there is “something strange about accepting the moral or religious content of a book while rejecting the truthfulness of its author’s declarations…” So, correct me if I’m wrong, but according to Oaks’ logic, when Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, or others wrote on morality related topics and some of their stories internally declared themselves to be true or “just so”, it is somehow strange for us not to take them at their word.

Apparently Oaks has had enough of this topic as well as he leaves these questions unanswered and quickly slips back into another appeal to authority. His ”valued colleague and friend”, who was a ”famous law professor”, [which of course also makes him an expert on pre-Columbian archaeology and linguistics], once gave a “charming illustration to promote the idea that lawyers should also be scholars. The inconsistency with Oaks quoting this unnamed famous professor after having completely abandoned all efforts at scholarship only a page or so earlier is worth remarking on. It appears that what Oaks means by the word “scholarship” is vastly different than what the rest of the world means. For example, Oaks says that ”scholarship, so-called, can also take what is sublime and make it mundane,” by which he implies, in the spirit of Boyd K. Packer, that the question we should be asking in all our scholarly searches is not whether a claim is true, but whether or not it is faith-promoting. Scholarship, therefore, is the quest for confirmation of our prejudices.

As a curious side-note to this discussion I’ve noticed that calling something “so-called” as a method of denigration has becoming a popular trick among the G.A.s. Oaks uses the words more than once in this speech and Thomas Monson used it in a recent and oft-quoted speech very similar to this one where he warned young people not to let “so-called science” introduce doubts into their minds that might harm their faith. The basic message behind it all is again, if it’s uplifting and faith-promoting it is good science, but if it makes you question the words of the prophets, it is an impostor and only “so-called scholarship” or “so-called science.” I wonder if these “so-called” general authorities really think that their words are “generally authoritative” on so wide a variety of topics. But I guess that has already been dealt with in Ezra Taft Benson’s “so-called” 14 points of a true prophet speech; that the “so-called” Lord’s anointed don’t actually have to have a clue what they’re talking about to speak authoritatively on any topic. So-called.

Oaks apparently hasn’t said it enough times in the past four pages so on the beginning of page 5 he says it one more time so that we will all be clear where he is taking us: ”[W]e must not be so committed to scholarship that we close our eyes and ears and hearts to what cannot be demonstrated by scholarship or defended according to physical proofs and intellectual reasoning. So now, in case anyone wasn’t completely convinced by the preceding four pages, Oaks is making it crystal clear that his message is: I can’t show you any evidence. I don’t have any proof. I can’t explain why after all these years not a single artifact has been discovered, but I still know it’s true and that only goes to show how poor science and scholarship are as methods of arriving at the truth. End of discussion.”

And, as Oaks is becoming increasingly repetitive, and decreasingly interesting, I’ll end my discussion of his speech at this point.

Thanks again for listening. I hope I haven’t wasted too much of your time.


Subject: There are different kinds of lawyers.
Date: May 12 07:06
Author: Stray Mutt

Sometimes an attorney digs "through the dross to find facts, identifying and eliminating the temptations and blind-alleys of hearsay, and coming to the most likely conclusion based on the reliable evidence." Other times, in defense of his client, an attorney will do his best to obscure and confuse the facts and find loopholes in the law. Oaks is the second kind of lawyer. His client is the church.

Subject: Dallin Oaks actually practiced law for a very SHORT period of time ....
Date: May 12 16:13
Author: Rollo Tomasi

and certainly wasn't an "advocate" (as he claims) for very long ... at least, that is, until he became an apostle. If memory serves, after he graduated law school, he worked as an associate at a large law Chicago firm for only 2 or 3 (maybe 4 at the most) years. Then he returned to teach at the U. of Chicago Law School -- law profs are not known as "advocates," but usually are legal geeks that couldn't cut it in the real world of law, so they decide to join academia. And, I think, he went right from teaching law to the presidency of BYU, then the Utah Supreme Court, then to the apostleship. So, the only time in his life he was perhaps a legal advocate was a couple of years doing legal research memos as a lowly associate. I think Oaks puffs his advocacy training. And his speech shows it.

Subject: Some more tidbits about Dallin Oaks ....
Date: May 12 16:21
Author: Rollo Tomasi

He is one of those rare apostles (perhaps the only one) who NEVER served as a (1) full-time missionary, (2) a bishop, (3) a stake president, or (4) a mission president. He was "called" to BYU and later as an apostle because of his secular achievements, not his ecclesiastical training.

Subject: Because he chose to marry at 19, instead ....
Date: May 12 16:51
Author: Rollo Tomasi

After his freshman year at BYU, he married his wife, then 17 years old.

Subject: Wow. Has he ever tried to justify it?
Date: May 12 17:01
Author: Searcher68

When I was 19 it was go on a mission or you were a real sinner. I managed to do both.

I know that this may be a stupid question but has he ever publicly faced up to his decision? If he was one of us and decided to not go on a mission, I would say, "Good for you"! But, after all, he is now one of the leaders saying that every WORTHY man should go on a mission. Or was WORTHY the problem? This is very fascinating.

Subject: Here's how it was explained at the time he was called as an apostle .....
Date: May 12 17:23
Author: Rollo Tomasi

This appeared in the June 1984 Ensign:

"It was while he [Oaks] was announcing high school basketball games as a college freshman that his wife first met him. June Dixon was still attending high school in nearby Spanish Fork when someone introduced her to him at a game.

"They were married on 24 June 1952, while both were attending BYU. It was the height of the Korean War, and he was in the Utah National Guard, expecting his unit to be called to active duty at any time. But while other, closely related units went, his was never activated. At that time, a limited number of young men were being called on missions because of the war, and Dallin was not among them."

I note that several apostles have served both missions and in the military. I guess Oaks figured he would never be called on a mission, and I'm sure teenage hormones played a part, so he married his 17-year old sweetheart. Their first daughter was born almost exactly 9 months later. Hmmm...

Subject: The problem with intellectuals like both Oaks and yourself, too, Bnt, is
Date: May 12 07:59
Author: not an intellectual

that you BOTH end up disappointed!

Oaks is disappointed that he can't use his oversized brain to "prove" the thing, and you are disappointed that the Book of Mormon doesn't make a bit of sense to your "oversized brain"--

and, you're both out in "cow-poop pasture", for so-doing.

I, myself, maintain that both F.A.I.R and F.A.R.M.S are nothing but groups of marginal Mormons, themselves, who "need" their own intellectual sophistry in order for them, themselves, to remain in the religion.
[Meanwhile, though, these groups were "established" as "arms" of the "church"--translated, here, as "arms of The Brethren", lest anybody remain confused about it--that exist for the sole purpose of remaining "outstretched" in such a way as to prevent all of the exmo-naysayers from making an end-run around, ENDS, in their "bid" to reach their opponents' endzone and goal posts]:

As Dallin's buddy Neal [Maxwell] once said, it [FARMS] "keeps the apostates from making an end-run around the church"--whatever that is supposed to mean.

In other words, FARMS is just a great big volume of hot air, smoke, and mirrors aptly suited for engaging intellectual dissidents [and apostates?], like you, Bnt (?)

I, myself, left the religion; but, I am no intellectual, thank God!
[I think all that "intellectual drivel" is about as interesting as watching a pair of pitbull terriers in a dog fight: I'd rather read a book, instead!]

Subject: Sorry, "not an intellectual" but I thought this was a great posting.
Date: May 12 09:17
Author: Searcher68

Thanks, Brandnewtatoo. I am going to make a copy of Oaks talk and your response and show it to my TBM wife and a TBM friend. It look forward to their responses.

Subject: I note that this Oaks speech was given during the same timeframe ....
Date: May 12 10:04
Author: Rollo Tomasi

that Oaks and Maxwell had several meetings with Steve and Mary Ann Benson about the historicity of the BofM, among other things. Simply coincidental, or could this be Oaks's response to the Bensons?

Subject: I interpreted it as Oaks trying to shore up his faith in public . . .
Date: May 12 23:54
Author: steve benson

I think he is a personally conflicted, slippery, ruthless and intellectually dishonest man.

Subject: Proving a negative
Date: May 12 13:47
Author: bull

Once again, this is brought up. In an earlier post I explained how proving a negative and proving something false are completely different things. It is actually fairly simple to prove something false. One simple way to prove something false is to find a contradiction in the argument. For example, the BOM was supposedly dictated without referring to any other document. And yet, it can be proven by textual analysis that passages were copied from the corrupted text in the KJV of the Bible. In other words, the BOM propagates and at times expands on scribal errors in the KJV that didn't exist in early manuscripts of the same texts. This is a clear contradiction. TSCC claims that Joseph did not copy anything to produce the BOM. The textual evidence pretty conclusively proves that he did. If he copied those portions, then why would we believe that he didn't copy other portions. This isn't about proving a negative. This is about being able to prove that certain claims are definitely false which calls the remainder of the claims into question.

I'm sorry, but there are many such problems with the BOM that would indicate that it is not a historical work, but a 19th century work. There is a wealth of evidence to back up this explanation and only "faith" (not really faith but mindless belief) to back up TSCC's claims.

Subject: Thank you -Excellent work and effort, sent a copy to my TBM. brother
Date: May 12 16:23
Author: oliver4

Is it any wonder why there are wars between nations and families when so called scholars willfully stand up and defend these lies, lies, lies, and then what's more amazing is they send their children off to promote the same unconscious behavior. This is truly disgusting and I look forward to the day this cult is brought to it's knees and is made accountable. - Thanks to Brandnewtatoo, this board and all who contribute, it is indeed a worthy cause.

Subject: True Believer Syndrome (Link)
Date: May 12 17:50
Author: Jason the Mason 

Quite a while ago, someone posted a link that explained (for me at least) why TBM's and their ilk buy specious arguments and "proofs" hook, line, and sinker. From the article:

"It is possible that those suffering from true-believer syndrome simply do not believe that the weight of the evidence before them revealing fraud is sufficient to overpower the weight of all those many cases of supportive evidence from the past. The fact that the supportive evidence was largely supplied by the same person exposed as a fraud is suppressed. There is always the hope that no matter how many frauds are exposed, at least one of the experiences might have been genuine. No one can prove that all psychic "miracles" have been frauds; therefore, the true believer may well reason that he or she is justified in keeping hope alive. Such thinking is not completely illogical, though it may seem pathological to the one admitting the fraud."


"Since by definition those suffering from true-believer syndrome are irrationally committed to their beliefs, there is no point in arguing with them. Evidence and logical argument mean nothing to them. Such people are by definition deluded in the psychiatric sense of the term: they believe what is false and are incapable of being persuaded by evidence and argument that their notions are in error."

Subject: Excellent post. Let's take it back to the top...
Date: May 12 23:34
Author: RichardSLC

for anyone that may have missed it. Dallin Oaks, Boyd Packer, and Hugh Nibley are three of my least favorite people. Your analysis of the Oaks talk was the best I have ever seen that refutes his "logic." I once referred to him as a snake in the grass in front of some good friends of mine that happen to be very TBM. I almost lost them as friends, but I have never lost that opinion of him. I have ignored Packer and never listen to him at all. I dislike authority figures as a general rule, and I dislike him even more as a specific rule. I took a Pearl of Great Price class from Hugh Nibley when I was still TBM in appearance at BYU, and hated the class, along with all other religion classes I was forced to take to graduate. Later, when I learned that he decided to turn his back on his own research on the Book of Abraham (he studied the newly found papyrii and facsimiles and saw the truth about them) and go with the official Church lies, I lost all remaining respect for him. He became the leading Church babbler (a senile pseudo intellectual that talks and talks about nothing and then declares it proof of whatever he wants it to prove).

This post combines all of these despicable people into one grand and excellent piece of writing that everyone with even a small lick of objective sense can understand clearly (thanks for not being "scholarly").

It's also very fun to read. You are very talented as a writer.

Related Topics   111
Dallin H. Oaks and the BofM      115 Oaks/Maxwell/Benson 1993    329 Can Mormon Leaders Tell the Truth?


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