I know you readers are all eager for the next part of the series on From Darkness Unto Light (and it's awesome), but I'm delaying it by a day because the new Religion 280 class has been in the news a bit. I mentioned it before. Here are some links.
This course is another very positive development for the establishment of Zion.
Here's a link to the teacher material:
I'd like to see this course added to the Self Reliance program along with the Emotional Resilience course, which every Latter-day Saint should take.
This class, like the Emotional Resilience class, will elevate the Latter-day Saints who take it above the logical and factual thinking errors we see among both our LDS apologists and our critics.
A good example is the section "Microtraining 3, How to Assess the Reliability of Sources."
I wish every Latter-day Saint would read and re-read this section. It articulates exactly what I've advocated ever since I started this blog. Like the introduction to the Gospel Topics Essays, this microtraining is the antithesis of the M2C/SITH citation cartel's approach.
While people are free to believe whatever they want, it's easy to assess the relative reliability of the teachings of the prophets vs. the teachings of the scholars.
No scholar alive today was present when Joseph and Oliver translated the plates, when they received the Priesthood, etc.
Section 2 below suggests we ask: "How closely connected is the author to the events being described? When a source addresses something from Church history, ask yourself how far removed the source is from the event it is discussing. Stories based on second- or thirdhand accounts are often less reliable."
Let's see how well SITH and M2C survive this guidance.
We have Joseph and Oliver both explaining, multiple times, that Joseph translated the record with the Urim and Thummim that came with the plates. Yet our modern scholars teach that Joseph and Oliver misled everyone because they, the modern scholars, know that Joseph actually didn't use the plates or the Urim and Thummim but instead Joseph merely read words that appeared in the stone in the hat (SITH).
We have Oliver explaining it was a fact that Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is in New York, we have Joseph's mother explaining that Moroni identified the hill as Cumorah the first time he met Joseph, we have David Whitmer explaining that one of the Nephites took the abridged plates from Harmony to Cumorah, etc., but our modern scholars reject all of that. Why? Because they teach that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled everyone until they, our modern scholars, figured out that there were "two Cumorahs" and that the real Cumorah is somewhere in southern Mexico.
Seriously, how more obvious could this be?
In section 3 below, we read this: "Does the author intentionally ignore available evidence in order to mislead? Some authors deliberately omit important facts and ignore critical evidence to support their particular point of view."
To promote both SITH and M2C, our modern scholars deliberately omit important facts and ignore critical evidence to support their points of view. We've seen how the book From Darkness Unto Light does this, and the next installment will provide more examples. The citation cartel consistently omits evidence that contradicts M2C and SITH. Even the Gospel Topics Essay on translation omits what Joseph and Oliver said about the translation in favor of the theories of the scholars who wrote the essay.
As the principles of this new course permeate LDS culture, we will see a lot of new approaches to Church history and other topics. More and more Latter-day Saints will see that the evidence supports and corroborates the teachings of the prophets.
Who knows? Maybe even our scholars will someday value the teachings of the prophets over their own theories.
Patrick Mason was quoted in the article. He made a good point, but it's a bit self-congratulatory, seeing that he's a professional historian himself.
Sources are key. Patrick Mason, head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, recently told The Salt Lake Tribune that those researching church history, for instance, should stick with primary sources and the work of professional historians.
“Go look at the original stuff and make your own judgments,” he said. “Don’t just rely on what somebody on the internet happened to say about it.”
To the extent professional historians provide access to primary sources, they're awesome. But to the extent they present their opinions as fact, they're counterproductive. I discussed a significant example here:
Here's the link to microtraining 3.