Sunday, February 16, 2014

British Court Charges The Mormon Church With Fraud Over Its Teachings

Head of Mormon church Thomas Monson summoned by British magistrates' court over Adam and Eve teaching, article.

A British magistrate has issued an extraordinary summons to the worldwide leader of the Mormon church alleging that its teachings about mankind amount to fraud.

This could get interesting, to say the very least.
Have they though about which churches are safe if they win this case? 

How can you prove something true or untrue? 

How about we take this beyond religion. For example, scientists who takes monetary grants while professing the Big Bang theory. It's not easy to defend. If the universe started with a big bang, what was it that exploded? What was there just before that explosion? Who or what created time? Who or what created the explosion? If there was no matter and no time before the Big Bang, how can an explosion and Time come out of this, without non-physical causality? 
OK, this may be funny, but seriously I am agog that the world's most promoninent scientists take this theory for the truth with a straight face. It's ludicrous.


Ken said...

I expect they can't be a fraud if they seriously believe in what they teach, both Mormons and physicists. For religious groups promising a better life after death if you give us money now is one of the things that courts would rather not be involved with, and anyway provided the church is a non-profit it is simply spending the money on services.

I think the theory is fairly well worked out how you can have nothing and then it explodes, as Terry Pratchett described it. Quantum mechanics is a very strange discipline.

Andreas Weber said...

> What was there just before that explosion?

Ahem, if the existence of time started only with the Bang then there was no "before" where something could have been ...

Alex Greene said...

Actually, what was here before the Big Bang was ... us.

Earth. Sol. The Milky Way. Andromeda. The local cluster. The rest of the galaxies, and all the dark matter. All of it. Everything that ever was, is and ever will be.

We were in one location - actually, you could say that there was no "location," because spacetime was also one point.

The phrase "Big Bang" is kind of misleading, because everybody still thinks of it in terms of some sort of big White Light combustive event, as if some old beardy man in a bathrobe had set up some big Acme firework, lit the fuse, and taken off on his sandalled heels to a safe distance to watch the sparks fly.

The entire universe didn't suddenly expand to meet us.

We're still inside it. We're part of the explosion.

As for what it was before the Big Bang ... where do bubbles come from? And where do they go once a bubble's life span is through?

Anonymous said...

How can you prove something true or untrue?

You can probably never prove something untrue, but proving it true is easy. You just have produce whatever it is you believe in to show that it really exists. If you can't do that, don't expect anyone to be convinced.

OK, this may be funny, but seriously I am agog that the world's most promoninent scientists take this theory for the truth with a straight face. It's ludicrous.

This is perfect for anyone who ever doubts when you're called an idiot. Do you have any clue at all how science works? This is the Danish education system, I guess, exposed for its many flaws. Or maybe it's just you.

The Big Bang was for one thing a name thought up by one of the idea's religious detractors. Scientists believe in it because it's the best we have right now. The way science works, and part of the beauty of it, is that theories are modified as we gain more knowledge. Unlike religion, which has to stay the same with its "universal, eternal" truth.

Ol' Ben said...

"there was no "before" where something could have been ..."

...unless there is even a grain of truth to the legends of the faerie realms, Avalon Hill, or Rip van Winkle. Consider that there may be multiple timelike dimensions, but that we generally have access to only the one.

Or perhaps what we call time IS a spacelike dimension, but that the momentum from the "Big Bang" forces us to stay with the current. Could "we" be stuck in a slow-moving backwater while the "mythical" creatures are surging "futureward" in the main channel? Can't prove/disprove THAT in a courtroom!!! ;^)

Iggy Pop said...

Consider that there may be multiple timelike dimensions, but that we generally have access to only the one.

Possible, but for now just an idea.

Can't prove/disprove THAT in a courtroom!!!

Or prove it.

What's the point of substituting one set of insane beliefs for an equally insane but newer set?

Alex Greene said...

+Anonymous: What is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Anon 1 makes a very fundamental point there: it is virtually impossible to prove the non-existence of, well, pretty much *anything*, based on the argument that "it hasn't been found / it's never been observed" or the likes. Hence, to quote one of my classes on Epistemology, namely the chapter "Objective & Subjective, Science vs Belief": "The phrase «sea serpents exist» is non-scientific because there can be no rational process to formally prove it false". If you can find at least one, then that's that. But absence of proof is no rational proof of absence, ad vitam aeternam.

A real scientist would just roll their eyes about ghosts and say: "There hasn't been any serious evidence to back your oddly firm belief in the existence of that stuff... nor of pixies. So quit mixing facts with beliefs and let us investigate properly what's going on here. Now, do you think you can stop loudly talking around to your deceased grandmother while I listen to the creaks and howls coming from the attic of this old house... which started at the same time as the windy storm?"

Hence the problem with teaching the Adam & Eve myth (I use "myth" in the academic term, which includes religions, legends, and even fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood or the Smurfs.) You simply cannot "teach" this story under claims of scientific factuality, because it is simply a dishonest fallacy. To say nothing of its internal contradictions.
I've personally met many a delirious paranoid schizophrenic who believe their hallucinations are real visions (good luck disproving THAT!), and rationalize their sense of persecution as they being prophets tormented by meanie demons to try their faith. Should THEY also be allowed to "teach" stuff as fact simply because they adamantly and sincerely believe in it?
Which is more than can be said about some religious teachers, I'll grant you that. The entire status of religion in modern society remains very delicate, simply because people are still very attached and sensitive about their ancient beliefs. The whole heated debate in the West about laicity (especially in France) is symptomatic of that uneasy and painful process of siritual maturation. It takes some exceptionally wise people (hence a rare minority of elites) to accept the intrinsic unprovability and *uncertainty* of what they believe in.
Mormons, and their likes, are crooks when they "teach" falsehoods not about their beliefs, but about the intellectual "certainty" of the aforementioned. Thet never say "we believe", always "tis the Truth, straight from God, none but wicked miscreants would question it".
Only honest scientists keep forever in consideration the possibility that their hard-verified certainties may one day be revealed "not so certain after all". One simple example: Newtonian laws. Endlessly confirmed by all predictive experiments... until Einstein & Co scratched at the limits where those very decently approximative laws ceased to apply in an honestly satisfactory way confirmed by strict measuring. F'rinstance, extremely big or small space scales (see quantum blur), asmptotic light-speed velocities, intense gravitational fields...

Objective/scientific is universal, the facts apply samely to all. Subjective is eminently personal, and inseparable from emotions and personal life experience. There are 6.7 billion unique versions of the One God on Earth!!! Brain chemistry is objective ; feelings of Love are subjective. Yet both happen together...

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Bear in mind, that I have yet to even read that article on the court ruling. :-)
Nope, it wasn't dishonest from my part, so there! I was merely stating general philosophical principles.
In an ideally sensible society, religion would find its rightful place: a SUBJECTIVE belief, oft very useful and necessary to a person's spiritual balance, that may, or may not, be correct, but this we can never tell, therefore nobody has any right to impose anything religion-based to others. Hence the civilized transition from arbitrary religious law to patiently constructed social morals, which unlike the former are forever evolving. Hopefully in the right direction. Hopefully.
Mormons, evangelists & other "conservatives" are frankly pulling the other way. Any change threatens the statu quo of their very convenient authority, hence any evolution is bad.
It still amazes me to this day how I didn't become a complete atheist, and instead have simply embraced the absolute uncertainty of my beliefs. (Embraced it, in fact, with a feeling of great happiness.) Starting with the existence of a one God, who will necessarily be very different from the old children's books naive images written by neurotic control freaks.

"There's no way of telling whether the Pastafarians' beliefs are any more correct than the other religions out there, but they definitely stand out of the crowd with at least one thing: their sense of humor!" This here is a scientific statement, objectively and factually proven.
Jesus himself didn't take religion too seriously. He kept warning people against getting too serious about it! Namely, the bigots, the fundamentalists and the hypocrite holy-asses.
Not implying anything about Mike Huckabee. ;-)
Even though I rooted for Ron Paul. :-D

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

As for the Big Bang (also known to some as the Original Climax, for it created all Life in a mighty spurt of blinding bukkake whiteness ;-) :

It's not that Mormons believe in stuff that sounds like the fabric of fantasy, not even when it's fabric for miraculous underwear! The problem is, they try to "disprove" science through the unrebuttable argument that "we believe this is false, and God makes us infallible". Stubborn arbitrary belief against rational scientific thinking: that's like fighting books with fish! Let's hope they can miraculously multiply their ammunition. :-p
See, whenever we're dealing with stuff that had no witnesses (or none reliable, or gifted with intelligent speech), we have to rely on the best option: forensics and the equivalent objective disciplins of deducing past from the factual present.
The Big Bang is, basically, as solidly known as a bombs expert piecing together the shattered fragments (and the ground flesh bits) after a jihadist attack, and picking up traces of explosive: "I wasn't there, since all those present are dead, but I can tell you exactly what happened. See, the dispersion pattern shows us the blast point." Same with the trajectories of Galaxies: they all diverge geometrically from a Zero Point, about 13.6 billion years ago! Rewind the movie backwards, and you'll see it all converge.
If you find pieces that would reconstitute a perfect hollow glass sphere, it is blatant poor faith to claim that "the theory of the Shattered Crystal Ball is bogus". Ockham's razor. Hence the court ruling prohibiting the presenting of a fallacy as "an equally valid theory/belief". A BELIEF IS NOT IDENTICAL TO A THEORY.
Theories always rely on experimenal facts that can be tested. Like the Red Shift of outer Galaxies.

There remain of course some blanks in the Big Bang scenario, but unless you want to go with the Book of Genesis option, or the Epic of Gilgamesh, or the Mayan Mythology, or the Referent Pharaoh's Holey Blog, it's still by far the most intellectually honest, believable and convincing scenario. Because it's built on Cartesian reason, not fantasmatic visions.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

P.S.: Physical Time begun with Space because the two are as related as e=mc². Mass = energy, Space = Time, because of the Higgs Boson and all that bedsheet. But that doesn't mean there was nothing "before". We can only say for sure that rewinding the film leads us to a point where all the physical laws we have cease applying and "before that, we can't know". This is VERY different from saying "there WAS nothing". ("And then, even that exploded. We called it the Lebanon War. Since then, the hot air has been in permanent expansion.") :-P
Many theories, for the moment completely unverifiable, suppose the possible existence of a "pre-Universe". But no way of telling whether it had similar physical laws... which includes Time! "Before that, there was nothing like what we know." It's not a scientific scam, it's a philosophical debate. You try and describe life in the deep oceans to a butterfly, or the cosmic to a fish. You try and define time without any sort of circular logic. Go ahead, try your best, I dare you.
Methinks your aversion for the Big Bang, aside from easy allusions to your asexuality, is a paradigmatic error about initial parameters. Or a confusion between the abstract concept of Science and the very flawed/contradicting humans trying their best to BE scientists. Sometimes, they fail.
All scientific studies should begin with a course in Epistemology: the definition of rational scientific thinking. Would spare countless sterile debates over conceptual misunderstandings.
See, speaking of Time outside out Universe is like trying to name a text page outside the boundaries of the Encyclopedia. It holds everything we know, but different things may very well exist outside. Stuff totally different from printed word. :-)

To be continued.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

OK, I've read the article now. Feeling very unrepenting about every single word I wrote above.
These folks frankly promote some embarrassing nonsense. Starting with their adamant "belief" that there were no Homo sapiens on Earth 50 to 200 thousand years ago!!! Uhm... hello? "Evidence has been found of the existence of that alleged «myth»"!

And, frankly, presenting such ludicrous nonsense as the basis of a Path of Truth which will lead parishioners to Salvation provided they contribute financially to the "Church"? I think this can understandably be considered as grounds for a fraud trial. No, gentlemen, I do not find this lawsuit the least bit "bizarre". Unlike your fantabulous evil-proof Hogwarts Underpants.

How come so many Green Berets survive even though they're "going commando", hunh? :-P

Todd Bridges said...

Fuck God up his fat wrinkly ass.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

That's not an actual God, Todd. It's just a crafty wizard hiding behind a curtain, pulling levers and switches to control smoke and mirrors.
BTW, your gerontophile tendencies make me deeply uncomfortable. Shoot, whatever happened to young pulpous Islamic houris?