Sunday, February 11, 2024

The Earth Is Flat! (Maybe)

Previously: We Are Against Israel Because We Are Jews

My detractors are certainly going to have a field day with the title of this one. "Did you hear? Rock Waterman believes the earth is flat!"

Well no, that's not what I said.  The truth is, I don't "believe" the earth is flat.

I don't believe the earth is round, either.

The fact is, I don't know what shape the earth is.  How can I, when even the experts are not in agreement?  Today, some have theorized that the earth might actually be more of an oblate spheroid, like this:

Others surmise it might be sort of pear-shaped like this:

Or this, which they also consider pear-shaped, though to me this looks more like a potato made of Play-Doh:

Remember, these are the experts, the current mainstream scientists, not those wacky flat-earthers.

So by now you may be asking, "what does all this have to do with Mormonism, anyway?"
Well, the reason I'm addressing the flat earth controvery is to illustrate a larger point which I'll get to soon enough, so stay with me. I'm going to demonstrate how discovering what is true and what is not true can be applied to some fundamental controversies currently taking place among Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

Believing Vs. Knowing
Epistemology is the philosophical discipline that asks the question, "How do we know what we know"? That's a fundamental question that almost no one asks when confronted with an idea that, on the surface, may seem utterly absurd.  So when, for example, we hear someone tell us that the earth is flat, we tend to reject that premise out of hand because we know the earth is round. We never apply epistemology to ask ourselves how we know the earth is round.  We just know it, that's all.

In a previous post I spoke briefly about Rene Descartes, generally recognized as the father of modern Western philosophy.  Descartes devised a set of rules by which a person could determine the truth about just about anything.  Rather than try to prove that the earth exists or the universe exists, or even that God exists, Descartes first applied these rules to what has to be the most fundamental question of them all: "how do I even know that I exist?"

Applying his own Rules For The Direction of the Mind, Descarte proved his own existence, resulting in the famous conclusion, cogito,ergo sum or "I think, therefore I am."  In other words, he knows he exists because he has the ability to think about whether or not he exists.  Applying these rules also led Descartes to conclude that God exists as well. 

Rene Descartes is also famous for saying "doubt is the beginning of wisdom," which might strike the modern mind as being antithetical to his overall philosophy.  But that's because these days people tend to think that doubting an idea that seems foreign to them means the same as dismissing that idea out of hand. Far from it. To doubt means to question.  Question what?  Well for one thing, you can do what Descartes did and question the very existence of God.    

A suggestion like that might horrify some believers, but trust me, God doesn't mind you questioning Him. Like Descartes, God also knows that doubt is the beginning of Wisdom, because sincere doubt leads to sincere questioning.  He wants you to inquire about Him, not to simply dismiss His reality as unlikely.  One way to ask is embodied in Janice Kapp Perry's song for children, "Heavenly Father, Are You Really There?"  No formality required; just lie in bed and ask.  That method of inquiry works for us grownups just as well as it works for children.

So, to go back to our earlier analogy: W
hen I was first confronted with the proposition that the earth might be flat, my first reaction was "well, that's ridiculous. It's not flat, it's round."  That was my skepticism kicking in.

But since I like to think of myself as a sincere skeptic, it would be wrong to simply dismiss that proposition out of hand, especially given the number of otherwise intelligent people who were beginning to take this apparently wacky thesis seriously. (I soon learned that virtually everyone I came across who was promoting the flat earth theory started out intending to disprove it, and were now its most ardent proselytes.)  I knew that if I was to approach this topic intelligently I would have to apply epistemology to the matter, and ask myself "how do I know the earth is round?"  And the answer to that question is that I only know it's round is because way back in the recesses of my childhood somebody told me it was round.

Ever since I was very young I've been repeatedly taught that the earth is round.  That teaching was reinforced in every classroom I ever attended when the teacher pointed to California on the globe and showed me that is where we were right now, right there in Anaheim, which was so tiny the name of our town wouldn't even fit.  So all my life it was a "given" that we live on a globe that is constantly spinning through space. I had no reason to question it, but now I have to admit that the only reason I "know" the earth is round is because everybody says so.

Well, I've been a grownup for some time now, and I have come to learn that "everybody says so" is no way to determine whether a thing is true or false.  

So again, if you want to know what I believe about the shape of the earth, I'll say this: "belief" is not the word I'd use.  In the epistemology canon, a belief is an attitude that a person holds regarding anything that they take to be true.  Since I have no way of knowing whether the earth is truly flat or not, I can't say I believe it is.  

By way of illustration I have a firm belief that God exists because I have experienced Him; in February of 2007 I experienced the baptism of fire and felt His presence in me all the way through to my bones. That is my evidence that God exists, that He knows who I am, and that He loves me in a way that is impossible to describe.  But like anything else, I can't transfer my personal experience to you. I can't use my experience to provide proof to you that God exists.  Whether it's the shape of the earth or the existence of God, each of us has to make our own inquiries and come to our own conclusions.

As for whether the earth is flat, round, oblate, like a fruit, or like a lump of Play-Doh, I have no way of knowing.  I've determined that I would have to have the powers of Superman and be able to fly far above the earth in order to get a proper look at it; I can't think of anything other than an experience like that to persuade me one way or the other, because the photos of the horizon provided by NASA were taken with fish-eye lenses, which give the false appearance of curvature. 

So is the earth flat? I remain a skeptic -which means I remain in the question- until I can figure out how to see it for myself. So I guess I don't believe the earth is flat, but I'm open to the possibility that it might be because to be frank, it no longer makes sense to me that the earth is a globe.  After watching Eric Dubay's 200 Proofs The Earth Is Not A Globe, I don't believe the earth is a globe spinning through space at a thousand miles an hour.  The globe earth theory, to me, now seems like the wackier hypothesis. Sorry, but I'm just not buying it.

Happily, I don't think my eternal salvation depends on my knowing the shape of whatever this thing is that I'm standing on.  I realize that others feel this knowledge is somehow essential, but I see the whole controversy as an intriguing intellectual oddysey that I may engage in further sometime down the road.  Or I may just wait until I die and find out then. As the late great rabbit hole chaser Mae Brussell was fond of saying, it's all food for thought and grounds for further research.

Did Abraham Lincoln Free The Slaves?
No, he did not.

Now, I may not be able to offer an informed belief about the shape of the earth, but I can give you, without any reservations, my sincere belief that Abraham Lincoln was a cad.  A monster, actually.  In fact, I agree with Chuck Baldwin, who puts Abraham lincoln first on his list of a America's Ten Worst Presidents.

History is another area where we can benefit from the epistemological query, "how do we know what we know?"  Most of us have unquestioningly accepted what we learned in school, but by simply asking that simple question and then applying Descartes' rules and the Socratic line of reasoning, we can find out if what we think we know is the truth or not.

My awakening to the sinister character of Abraham Lincoln first came while reading Lerone Bennett's
corrective history, Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream.  Far from actually freeing any slaves, Lincoln's fraudulent Emancipation Proclamation managed to keep slaves in bondage for at least two years after the proclamation was announced.  Lincoln's proclamation allowed the Northern states to keep their slaves (yes, there were slaves in the North; in fact Union General Ulysees S. Grant kept two slaves with him on the battlefield to serve as his cook and valet). 

Most tellingly, that famous proclamation did not free any slaves in the Southern states. Not a single one.  As for that "white dream" referenced in the title? That refers to Lincoln's hope of one day shipping all the negroes back to Africa and killing off the Indians so the American continent would be inhabited only by white people.  We don't know if Lincoln would have been able to see that plan fulfilled because thankfully he was killed before he had the chance to implement it.  

Lerone Bennett was a black historian and one-time editor of Ebony Magazine, which back in the day was what Life Magazine was to us white folks.  You can watch him in an interview discuss how lincoln really felt about the negroes infesting his country by clicking here.

Since then I've found that Lerone Bennett was far from the lone voice in this area.  Many historians have awakened to the bill of goods sold to us by the court historians.  Another book I own on this topic was written by another black author who wasn't fooled, the late Stanley K. Lott, who wrote The Truth About American Slavery I also recommend Samuel Mitcham's It Wasn't About Slavery: Exposing The Great Lie About The Civil War.  No matter what you've heard or read, the war wasn't fought over slavery; it was fought over money.  President Lincoln was in a panic over the Southern states seceding because they were no longer providing him the tariffs he depended on.

I bought this book several years ago but I just found a free download in pdf format here. If you want to get right to the meat of it, jump to chapter XI, "The Real Cause of the War."  You can also hear a forty minute interview with the author by clicking HERE.

But if you really want a smorgasbord of offerings on this topic, Thomas DiLorenzo has written a slew of articles available at  I've pulled up a link to some of them HERE.  You can also find quite a number of videos featuring DiLorenzo on Lincoln. Here's one where he proves the reason Lincoln started a war that killed 600,000 Americans had nothing to do with slavery. If you can't invest the time for that video, here is Thomas DiLorenzo compressing everything you need to know about Abraham Lincoln in just nine and a half minutes.

DiLorenzo's books are well worth owning. They include The Real Lincoln, Lincoln Unmasked, and his most recent volume, The Problem With Lincoln. Within these pages you'll not only learn the truth about our 16th president, but also why the Lincoln cult historians are still covering for him a century and a half after his death.  And if you want to read Abraham Lincoln's actual sentiments toward people of African descent before those words were scrubbed from the history books, you may be interested in Lochlainn Seabrook's The Unquotable Lincoln.

And speaking of going against the conventional narrative: before the internet was a thing I came across a stunning eye-opener of a film that I've had a hard time finding again, but here's a fifteen minute clip from it assuming I was able to get it to load properly. I don't know how long it will stay available, but that video led me to this jaw-dropping download that was originally published two decades ago and is now impossible to find in its print edition.  I have no opinions to express about either of these items, not the least because bucking the official narrative on this is a taboo that can get a person arrested in some European countries.  So make of it what you will. 

And Now We Come To The 'Mormon' Part Of Our Program (Finally!)
As I hope I've successfully demonstrated above, whenever you see or hear of something that sounds so absurd that it goes against everything you think you know, the proper response -especially if you notice that growing numbers of intelligent people are embracing that supposed absurdity- is to take a cue from the epistemological discipline and ask yourself "how did I come to know what I think I know about this topic?" Then follow the rule of skepticism and investigate to see if what you think you know can be verified as true. 

Another way I have learned to separate truth from error was by learning to think like a lawyer. Now, I get it if your understanding of "thinking like a lawyer" means to think in a way that is cunning and crafty, because goodness knows there are lawyers who behave in that manner.  But thinking like a lawyer doesn't mean trying to twist the truth. It means working to uncover the truth, to suss it out, filtering all the false detritus until only the truth remains. To think like a lawyer, in a nutshell, means to follow the admonition of the apostle Paul: investigate all things, then hold fast to that which is true.

So how do you do that? First, you learn to question everything, especially your own assumptions. Don't cling to your own favored prejudices, which is another way of saying keep your feelings in check.  Don't get emotional about your opinions.  These are not your living, breathing, children; they are only ideas you have lived with so long that in some ways they may feel like living "children" that you're reluctant to let go of.  Wrong opinions are often based on emotion rather than independent truth. Let them go.  Learn to depend only on reason, logic, and common sense when evaluating evidence, even if what you are investigating strikes you as unreasonable.  A good lawyer does not simply dismiss the views of the other side; he learns his opponents arguments so well that he could argue his opponent's case.  In other words, he trains himself to be able to see all sides of an issue, not simply his own. 

Denver Snuffer is a lawyer, which is one reason he was so perfectly positioned to put to bed the controversy over the Book of Abraham.  You may have been aware of arguments made the past few years that the Book of Abraham was a fraud. Denver investigated the topic so thoroughly that he was able to show that the popular narrative had been proceding on a number of false assumptions.  You can find a link to that video presentation in my post titled The Book of Abraham Controversy Finally Laid To Rest, but I recomend the book because it contains footnotes and sources. (the Kindle version is only $3.99.)

This blog you are currently reading is chock-full of essays documenting my discoveries within the Church that were introduced after Joseph Smith's death, but that, upon investigation, are clearly undoctrinal.  That's one reason so many so-called Mormon beliefs are so easily shot down by our enemies: because in modern times we have  come to believe what Mike Agrelius used to refer to as "faith-promoting rumors," false teachings that are frankly not supported in our scriptures.

Although I embrace the Book of Mormon, the divine calling of Joseph Smith, and the core doctrines of the Restoration, I have come to discover that much of what I was taught growing up in the Church was based on what our scriptures warn us are "the traditions of men."  So asking yourself "how did I come to know what I think I know?" makes a very handy tool for figuring out whether some "doctrine" you cling to came from scripture, or from some faith promoting rumor you picked up in Seminary.

The Two Greatest False Teachings In The LDS Church Today
To begin, I will assume you believe as I do that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, appointed to that role by the Lord himself as revealed in D&C 124, D&C 112, and elsewhere.  So here is the question: Given that Joseph Smith was a prophet, does it then naturally follow that any or all of the men who succeeded Joseph Smith as presidents of the Church were also appointed by God to be His prophet as well?  Or is it possible they were never actually appointed as Joseph was or given the gifts and authority the Lord bestowed upon Joseph?

I created a post on this platform that I believe proves that the authority these men claim is not the same as was given to the prophet Joseph, and that the method they claim to follow that asserts their claims is contrary to the very instructions God provided in the scriptures.  That proof is contained HERE.  If you have not read that piece already, I hope you will give it the epistemological test and ask yourself "how do I know what I think I know about succession to the presidency, and does what I think I know agree with the instructions the Lord Himself gave on that topic? Or do I just believe it because that's what I've always been told?"

If we are going to go around admonishing each other of the importance of following the prophet, shouldn't we want to make absolutely certain that the man we are referring to was appointed by the Lord to actually be His prophet? 

Here is the second greatest false teaching in the Church today: It is widely taught that Joseph Smith was the one who originated plural marriage, and that he did so because he was instructed to do so by the Lord.  Now the question: Can you provide any contemporary evidence to support that claim?

Before you attempt to answer that question, allow me to direct you to the incredibly informative Youtube Channel hosted by Michelle Stone, titled 132 Problems: Revisiting Mormon Polygamy.  Michelle has created a channel that has become Information Central for all things relating to the provably false claims that Joseph Smith originated and sanctioned plural marriage.  This is where you will learn that far from promoting polygamy, Joseph spent the last weeks of his life attempting to stamp out that vile practice that had begun to take hold in the Church. His vigorous campaign to expose the true villains is almost certainly what got him killed.

A few weeks ago I was a guest on Michelle's program, and if you want a decent introduction to what Joseph was really on about before he was taken from the earth, I think that interview is as good a place to start as any.  Here it is:

The number of faithful Mormons now coming to realize that we have been lied to about Joseph's role in polygamy is massive and growing, and like I said above, if you see a concept in opposition to a belief you consider already settled suddenly gaining acceptance on a large scale, it may be time to start asking yourself "how do I actually know what I know about this?"  Lately, in addition to Michelle Stone, a number of skeptics have been uncovering incredible new findings.  People like Amberli Peterson, Whitney Horning, Jeremy Hoop, Rob Fatheringham, Shanhi BuddyJustin Griffin, and many others have, in the past several weeks, been digging through dusty tomes and discovering things about this topic we never knew before.  So get ready for some bombshells to come. 

At this stage, given all the information that is right out in the open and readily available, it seems to me that those who continue to stubbornly insist that plural marriage originated with Joseph Smith can no longer just claim simple ignorance.  A more accurate word to describe such people would be gullible.  You think I'm being too harsh?  Check out just a few of the resources available from the six names I listed above, or just a few of the discussions taking place over at 132 Problems and decide for yourself.


Notes & Asides:

One Final Recommendation
If you enjoy going down rabbit holes as much as I do, you'll want to check out the latest series at Book of Mormon Perspectives, where the author is currently juggling more crazy possibilities than even I can keep up with, such as where did those impossibly intricate buildings come from? And what was Brigham up to on those curious trips he took to Boston?  I'm particularly intrigued by the account of Brigham Young's connection to the prominent Jesuit Priest Pierre De Smet.  De Smet's close acquaintance with Brigham Young and his many conversations with him concerning the Rocky Mountain region, as the Knights of Columbus history gives the account, "probably determined the choice of the Mormon prophet, and led to the decision which ultimately settled the Latter Day Saints in the fertile lands they now occupy in Utah." 

Or you can just believe the traditional narrative, which is that Brigham had intended to take the Saints to California before deciding the Salt Lake Valley was close enough. It's your call.


A Note To Readers:
This blog now does accept anonymous comments, which means you don't have to use your real name if you don't want to.  Make up any fake name you want, but please don't post as "Anonymous" because that just serves to confuse others who may want to respond to your comment.