Detailed response to CES Letter, Conclusion

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Detailed response to CES Letter, Conclusion



A FAIR Analysis of: [[../|Letter to a CES Director]], a work by author: Jeremy Runnells
Googling is not a synonym for seeking.

—Steven C. Harper, Joseph Smith's First Vision: A Guide to the Historical Accounts (2012), 11–12
Chart CES Letter conclusion.png

Response to section "Conclusion"

Summary: The author concludes, "FAIR and these unofficial apologists have done more to destroy my testimony than any anti-Mormon source ever could. I found their version of Mormonism to be alien and foreign to the Chapel Mormonism that I grew up in attending Church, seminary, reading scriptures, General Conferences, EFY, mission, and BYU. Their answers are not only contradictory to the scriptures and teachings I learned through correlated Mormonism…they’re truly bizarre."


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Response to claim: "FairMormon says...'Googling is not a synonym for seeking'...This is like saying, 'The library is not a synonym for seeking'"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

FairMormon says... "Googling is not a synonym for seeking." Google is a search engine. It is simply a tool. It is not a source. It is not a destination. It is not a conclusion. Google is the taxi; not the location. It's the phone; not the conversation. This is like saying, "The library is not a synonym for seeking." The library is just a tool or gathering place of books, papers, works, and sources. FairMormon is now perpetuating the general perception and reputation that the Church and its apologists do not want its members to be balanced researchers or to look up information about the Church and its history on Google.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

It is nonsense to state that FairMormon, an internet-based organization with thousands of online articles that show up in search engines and to which Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is of primary importance, is "perpetuating the general perception and reputation that the Church and its apologists do not want its members to be balanced researchers or to look up information about the Church and its history on Google."

Logical Fallacy: Argument from Ignorance—The author has difficulty understanding the topic, so he or she assumes that it simply must not have any validity.

The author completely fails to comprehend the meaning of Steven Harper's quote.

"Google" is a noun. It is the name of the tool used to search the online "library" of information. "Googling," on the other hand, is a conjugation of a commonly used 21st century verb "to google". It is a 21st century euphemism for the verb "to search."

"Library" is a noun. It is the name of a repository of information, not the tool used to search that library. There is no verb "to library." The author's phrase "The library is not a synonym for seeking" is a non-sequitur.

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Response to claim: "Among the first sources I looked to for answers were official Church sources such as Mormon.org and LDS.org. I couldn’t find them."

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The author states, "When I first discovered that Joseph Smith used a rock in a hat to translate the Book of Mormon, that he was married to 11 other men’s wives, and that the Book of Abraham has absolutely nothing to do with the papyri or facsimiles…I went into a panic. I desperately needed answers and I needed them 3 hours ago. Among the first sources I looked to for answers were official Church sources such as Mormon.org and LDS.org. I couldn’t find them."Note: The Gospel Topics entry was added in 2014 after the Letter to a CES Director was written.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Some of the things that the author claims couldn't be found on LDS.org were actually there. Some of the items have since been added.

Additionally, there are many references to many apologetic issues such as those raised in this document that can be found on lds.org.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "FAIR and these unofficial apologists have done more to destroy my testimony than any anti-Mormon source ever could"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The author claims, "FAIR and these unofficial apologists have done more to destroy my testimony than any anti-Mormon source ever could. I found their version of Mormonism to be alien and foreign to the Chapel Mormonism that I grew up in attending Church, seminary, reading scriptures, General Conferences, EFY, mission, and BYU. Their answers are not only contradictory to the scriptures and teachings I learned through correlated Mormonism…they’re truly bizarre."
See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: "Once again, Google delivers where the Church does not"
Response to claim: "If one assumes that FAIR's undisputed silence is acceptance of the facts..."

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author was examining anti-Mormon sources long before he looked at FairMormon. It is clear from his statements online (shown in the link below under "Longer response(s) to criticism") that he went to MormonThink and online discussion boards first. It is also evident that the author is only familiar with selected quotes from a variety of primary sources (including lds.org) that are included on critical websites.


Christensen (2014): "His Letter and his response to FairMormon works from an assumption that LDS leadership should display no weakness, have no common manner of language, never err in their statements"

Kevin Christensen, "Eye of the Beholder, Law of the Harvest: Observations on the Inevitable Consequences of the Different Investigative Approaches of Jeremy Runnells and Jeff Lindsay":

A large portion of the complaints that Runnells makes both in his Letter and his response to FairMormon works from an assumption that LDS leadership should display no weakness, have no common manner of language, never err in their statements, never need to seek wisdom since they should already have it all on the shelf, never sin and therefore never need to repent, and have all knowledge from the start so that no one, especially not Runnells, might ever need to change their thinking on any subject, no matter how trivial, especially not after having attended EFY, read some “approved” books, and served a mission.[1]

Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Once again, Google delivers where the Church does not"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

You cannot find this on lds.org or on any official Church website. In fact, you have to hunt it down on the internet. Once again, Google delivers where the Church does not. FAIR states: “The following is contained in the online archive of the Improvement Era." FAIR doesn’t tell the reader that this “online archive” is a non-LDS website archive.org that you have to do a Google search to locate. In other words, it’s archived and hidden off the official LDS websites and servers.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

No, Google did not "deliver where the Church does not." The back issues of the Improvement Era were scanned and placed on Archive.org by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Google can be used to locate these articles only because the Church scanned and uploaded them.
The back issues of the Improvement Era were scanned by the Church and placed on Archive.org

Improvement Era - Online Index

1900–1909, volumes 3–13

1900

1901

1902

1903

1904

1905

1906

1907

1908

1909

1910–1919, volumes 13–23

1910

1911

1912

1913

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

1919

1920–1929, volumes 23–33

1920

1921

1922

1923

1924

1925

1926

1927

1928

1929

1930–1939, volumes 33–42

1930

1931

1932

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

1938

1939

1940–1949, volumes 43–52

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

1947

1948

1949

1950–1959, volumes 53–62

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

1960–1970, volumes 63–73

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970


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Response to claim: "If one assumes that FAIR's undisputed silence is acceptance of the facts..."

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

If one assumes that FAIR's undisputed silence is acceptance of the facts, FAIR agrees with 79% of Letter to a CES Director. You’d have a difficult time seeing this by looking at FAIR’s answers. The trick is in the silence; facts in the CES letter that FAIR leave alone and don’t dispute.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

This claim is untrue. FairMormon consists of unpaid volunteers, who choose to work on its materials in their spare time, and only when they are not otherwise busy with their families, their day jobs, and church responsibilities. All of those things take priority over providing additional responses to claims made in the CES Letter. As a result, some claims have not yet been addressed. However, additional responses have been slowly added over time by FairMormon volunteers, and they will continue to be added in the future. Often during apologetics, apologists are simply concerned about the interpretation of the facts. Naturally, the reality goes undisuputed but what the reality means can be reinterpreted through careful thought. At other times, there are facts that are disputed and not their interpretations. The author seems to think that we acquiesce to both for the majority of his claims. We don’t. We disagree on almost every point in one or both.


Longer response(s) to criticism:


Notes

  1. Kevin Christensen, "Eye of the Beholder, Law of the Harvest: Observations on the Inevitable Consequences of the Different Investigative Approaches of Jeremy Runnells and Jeff Lindsay," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 10 (2014): 214.


A FAIR Analysis of:
[[../|Letter to a CES Director]]
A work by author: Jeremy Runnells
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