Date: October 15, 2013 08:18PM
Thanks for the link lemm0n. I have (finally!) read this lengthy review with interest.
Assuming that you shared this review with a genuine interest in my thoughts, I will briefly share those thoughts in this reply.
The reviewer's entire argument, from my perspective, could perhaps be best characterized as a sophisticated betrayal of doubt, given a seeming disavowal or denial of the literalist, physicalist and undeniably dogmatic teachings of Mormonism, as well as his retreat to the "mystic", "metaphorical","mythic" and "archetypal" realms of religiosity.
As an argument, I consider this one-sided review to be both an attack on a "straw man" (falsely characterizing, and associating my analytical approach as merely and exclusively "positivism") and a "red herring" (i.e. a mis-direction of my argument to his 'straw man').
I also found the reviewer's argument riddled with several additional telling and significant problems. These include, in my judgment, various "ad hominem" attacks and attempts to "poison the well" though misrepresentation, as well as "limited depth" in his review of my psycho-social assessment of mormonism, defensive (evasive) intellectualizing,the use of question-begging scriptural exegeses,the fallacy of reduction based on "false choice" ("Sophic" vs. "Mantic" and Barbour's "religion vs. science"),"redefinition" or "equivocation" of the Mormon concept of 'God'and doctrine of deity, the ad hoc "spiritual fallacy" of insisting that something meant to be taken literally is actually 'spiritual' (whatever that could possibly mean beyond merely and exclusively a purely human, neuro-psychological experience interpreted metaphorically as such), and various "non-sequiturs" arising from all the above.
As for the reviewer's turn to the "mythic", archetypal or humanistic approach to religious experience, and to theistic religiosity in general, I would respond that there is no credible denial of the patriarchal, authoritative (and authoritarian) stance of the church regarding its foundational, and yes, "incorrigible" doctrine of deity. regardless of how vague, evasive and guarded the church has been in discussing and affirming such.
What I found interesting, and perhaps telling, was this reviewer's insistence on engaging in "God-talk" but his or her evasion of the questions asked regarding such talk. The reviewer is critical, for example, of the fictional Mormon involved in my "Instructive, Deconstructive Conversation" but does not (cannot? will not?) answer the questions of the also fictional "Objective Outsider from Another World". Nor does the reviewer attempt to answer any of the summary questions posed in Chapter 8 except to dismiss them as mere "positivism".
Also, the reviewer speaks of 'God' repeatedly but never bothers to address the questions about 'God'that would establish, in principle, the justifiability of a belief in the existence such a being (if indeed such god is a being) as a factual reality.
The reviewer also speaks of "revelation" and "spiritual experience", but not what the source of such experience is, and what the human criteria are by which we might be able to distinguish such experiences from purely natural, human, psychological experience originating in the human brain?
Finally, the reviewer speaks of his or her "faith" as "trust and commitment compatible with considerable doubt about particular interpretations", but leaves the reader wondering what the object of such faith is, apart for just 'God'. In other words, "trust and commitment" to what or who, specifically, and "considerable doubt" about the "particular interpretations" of what exactly? Official church doctrine? Official church history? official church policy? The interpretations of key scriptures and doctrines, or god's will, presented by the church's (and god's) chosen prophets, seers and revelators?
Mormonism as a theistic life-form consists of its own language games and corresponding and diverse web of beliefs. These beliefs are not balkanized from other life forms within our global culture, or from critical inquiry as to their justifiability as alleged truth claims.
What we're looking for here is not "proof" or "evidence" or "verification" or "falsification" as the reviewer wrongly takes from DM. Nor are we dealing with "models" and "paradigms" as the reviewer I think also wrongly suggests. What we are dealing with, as I make abundantly clear in the book, is the question of the warranted assertability, or justifiability,of beliefs held and represented as truth claims. If all we're dealing with here is metaphor, mythology or poesis then there is no need for justification. But mormonism is neither of these as a belief system. Nor is it regarded as a "model" or "theorem" open to, or tolerant of, radical interpretation, loyal dissent, or even the pursuit of dialogue, unforced consensus or "creative realism" as the "September Six" (and I'm sure many others) found out (and have since found out) the hard way...through excommunication or dis-fellowship.
Mormons, as the reviewer knows well, make "truth claims" about gods, intelligences, spirits, angels, devils, and the "Plan of Salvation", including the pre-existence, creation, fall, atonement, resurrection and eternal life. They make truth claims about "kingdoms of glory" and "perdition", and about the nature, literal efficacy, necessity and power of prayer (including the "True Order of Prayer"), as well as of faith, repentance, ordinances, covenants, commandments, and obedience and self-sacrifice (which are also covenants). And they make truth claims about the reality revelation and confirmation from god and the "spirit" concerning the "Truth" of their beliefs. They do all this all the time, and in every way they practice or "testify" of their faith to each other or non-members.
Moreover, as the reviewer also knows well, such truth claims are considered authoritative (even if subject to change through putative "continuing revelation") and are also consequential socially and psychologically in the Mormon authoritarian programs designed to condition or indoctrinate its members from birth to accept fundamental mormon beliefs as "True", to seek spiritual "confirmation" of such "Truth", to be faithful and obedient to such "Truth" to the end of their lives, to adhere to church standards, and to eschew doubt ("put it on the shelf"), make faith a decision, and not challenge church leaders, etc.
This cannot be refuted in the main, regardless of how believers (in this case the reviewer) choose to interpret scripture, or how they choose to re-form the faith and the scriptures as "salad bar" believers (or perhaps as hopeless, intellectual idealists who can't let go and move on, as our reviewer seems to be).
So lets cut through the reasoning fallacies and intellectualizing in this review -- as well as your unwarranted declaration of its 'decimation' of DM -- and stay focused on the therapeutic, analytical process I espouse in the book, and the true purpose of such a process, as articulated plainly in the Introduction and Chapter 1 of the book.
Thanks again for the link.