Saturday, September 01, 2007

What Should Not Be Known

This curmudgeon has been bothered by two recent incidents: one involving a ditzy, blond, teen beauty queen contestant and the other concerning an older senator accused of soliciting homosexual sex in public.

The blond made a dumb remark in a beauty contest, and AOL has been featuring it for days, including parodies on YouTube. What does one expect from an event like this, especially from a teen? Beauty pageants are inherently vain, vapid, and stupid. There is no need to broadcast this further and further humiliate a young, clueless woman. There is no need to know.

The second situation is more serious, since it involves a high elected official and a deep moral offense. I make no pronouncement on the man's guilt or innocent. I do knot know. However, broadcasting the recording of his encounter with the policeman in a bathroom is worse than pointless. It appeals to our sinful craving for gossip and shows disrespect for the senator and the police profession. There is no need to know.

These two incidents represent a large and dark trend of broadcasting events that appeal only to our sinful curiosity, our penchant for gossip. In an age of increasing surveillance and publicity, expect more of it--and lament. Cultivate your ignorance about what you do not need to know.


Kevin Winters said...

Oh, come on! Can't you forgive a girl for getting flustered? Can't you forgive a girl for not being as articulate as yourself? For shame that she doesn't have the 'stage experience' to handle such a high-stress situation. My goodness, she must be an imbicile to be incapable of answering a question in front of millions of viewers and a live audience when genuine possibilities of doing good in the name of Miss Teen USA, scholarships, and other leadership oportunities are at her feet! What a ditz!

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


Your instinctive and unreflective antipathy for everything I post really shows in this one.

My point was not to further embarrass the girl, but to point out that her comments were not noteworthy, not newsworthy, not worth knowing. I feel no animosity toward, only a faint pity.

Kevin Winters said...

That you immediately called her "ditzy" and "clueless" (not to mention that you can't even spell "vane" right) shows your own "unreflective antipathy" for the girl. Without knowing her, her background, her performance in school, or perhaps the possibility that she might be one among the many people in this world with performance anxiety shows that you're just looking for people to point fingers at (dare I say it, a "vane" work on your part). Show some reflective empathy for once.

As for your opinion of my responses, I would say the same for your "scholarly" work on so-called postmodernism that is just as "vane, vapid, and stupid" as you think beauty pageants are (a shame that Miss Teen USA is not a "beauty pageant" as beauty is only one small part of what they examine). I have little respect for those who don't take their positions as teachers seriously enough to take the time to actually know those they are criticizing. It is a betrayal of your students' (or readers') trust to claim expertise where little is present.

Sarah Geis said...


Beware of emotional diatribes...they tend to render an argument entirely useless and utterly ridiculous. Friend, I'm afriad that you STILL miss the point; it is not about knowing (or bashing) an individual personally, it is about analyzing the big picture.

Don't miss the forest for the trees.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


Why bother reading this blog or posting on it? You have better things to do. Thanks for checking the spellllllllling mistake, though!

Doug Groothuis

Kevin Winters said...


Yes, I am not focusing on "the point" because hidden within it is a not-so-subtle insult by Groothuis of a girl that he doesn't even know! I see the point and I agree: such things are not news-worthy. But Groothuis is thoughtlessly insulting someone in the wake of making his point. What, are insults ok as long as they aren't part of the "bigger picture"?


I post here largely because of what I see as inaccuracies in what you post. I post here because I don't want people who come to read your blog to think that you are some knowledgeable expert on postmodernism when you don't even have an adequate grasp of those you are trying to critique (much like Moreland, Craig, and Schaeffer before you, so why would you question yourself when in such company?). I fully agree: relativism is not only bad philosophy, but also a potential danger. But some of whom you include in so-called "postmodern" circles are not relativists!

Then again, that you think "Dr." Walter Martin is one of the great Christian thinkers of our time should have indicated to me that you aren't that interested in being accurate, but merely in scoring points against "the enemy."

The Daily Fuel said...

The incident involving the Miss Teen USA contestant deserves no comment.
I disagree that there is no need to know regarding the second incident (Senator Craig's arrest.) When a man is determined to condemn certain behaviours as sinful and immoral for political advantage, his failure to abide by the rules and standards by which judges others makes him fair game for the hypocrisy police. If that involves divulging a recording of his encounter with the policeman (to refute his denial of the way in which the incident occurred) so be it. Just punishment for a hypocrite, I say.

Paul D. Adams said...

Back to the forest....

Someone (rather inspired you might say) once said, "I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil" (Rom. 16:19).

Solemn and important words for those being assaulted by media in the name of "news."

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


Good conclusion to the matter. I will post no more on it.


Craig Fletcher said...


I'd like to know why you commented on Dr. Walter Martin, and why you put "Dr." in quotes. Are you questioning his education or credentials?

As I know you are a Mormon from previous posts, I'd be curious to know where you think Dr. Martin erred in his critiques of Mormon theology since you claim that he is an inaccurate teacher more or less.

Are his critiques of your faith the reason for you discrediting him as a great thinker? Where is he wrong?

I am not attacking you at all, I seriously want to know where you think Dr. Martin is inaccurate. Would you be so kind as to oblige me, and other blog readers here about this?

Kevin Winters said...


I cannot take the time necessary to adequately answer your question. One useful paper, by Louis Midgley, titled A Tangled Web: The Walter Martin Miasma, looks through his career and addresses such foibles as Martin's continued proposal of the Spaulding Theory as an excellent account of the Book of Mormon's origins (despite its being in disfavor by a number of other anti-Mormons during his lifetime, which fact he seemed to have been ignorant of), his referencing "Dr." Dee Jay Nelson's "scholarship" on the Book of Abraham (whose PhD is just as fake as "Dr." Martin's), and a few misunderstandings of basic Mormon doctrine (there are more, but Midgley points out a few good ones). You can find many references in there that will direct you to other worthwhile works (Robert and Rosemary Brown's They Lie in Wait to Deceive, Vol. 3, is the best source for information on "Dr." Walter Martin's academic posturing, hands down, but it is not yet available online; Midgley refers to it in footnote 44). "Dr." Walter Martin is no more a "Dr." than I am, and much less than Groothuis is.

You might also look at John K. Wise's Clouds Without Water, Zeal Without Knowledge for a number of examples of false claims in relation to Mormon doctrine.

Craig Fletcher said...

Thanks Kevin.

I did not know that Walter Martin never earned a Ph. D. I wonder why he went by "Doctor" then? Even still, this doesn't mean that he was not a great thinker. If he did have an earned Ph. D., that would also not necessarily mean that we could trust the accuracy of his work more.

It sounds like you are familiar with the claims that the Book of Abraham is a fabrication that Smith invented from the hieroglyphic papyrii brought to Kirtland by Michael Chandler in 1835. In 1880 the Mormon Church canonized the Book of Abraham and it became part of the Pearl of Great Price. Standing side by side with the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, this is included as part of Mormonism's "Standard Works."

Upon seeing the ancient writing, Smith claimed he could translate it and there are preserved notes even today that show the symbols and Smith's definition of them right next to them from his diary. From what I have read, Egyptian scholars have unanimously determined that these translations are far from accurate, and that the book of Abraham papyrii actually describe funerary activities.

The best responses from Mormon apologists I have read are that the sections of the papyrii that Smith did actually translate are not the sections that we have today, but were lost. This is a weak argument in my view. That's like saying there used to be a section on Botany in my Chevy Trailblazer's service manual but it got torn out. Totally unrelated material.

He also "added" to the imagery of the papyrii... I'm sure you know that as well? His additions are nowhere near what the images originally portrayed.

This is just one of many reasons why I think the BOM is merely the result of a very fertile imagination, and spiritual deception.

2 Cor 11: 12-15 12And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Kevin Winters said...


True, a PhD does not make someone more or less reliable. But someone consistently lying about having a PhD and even going by "Dr." for 10 years before he supposedly got it does put his character into question. What else would he lie about? Why would he feel the need to hide behind his false PhD? Perhaps in order to make his work seem more "accurate" or "scholarly"?

For the Book of Abraham issue, let me clarify what happened with the fragments: they were discovered on November 27, 1967, less than a month from the December 11th deadline for submissions to the January issue of the Improvement Era (now called the Ensign). In the January issue you can find Jay M. Todd's "Egyptian Papyri Rediscovered" in which he says quite explicitly,

"Some of the pieces of papyrus apparently include conventional hieroglyphics (sacred inscriptions, resembling picture-drawing) and hieratic (a cursive shorthand version of hieroglyphics) Egyptian funerary texts, which were commonly buried with Egyptian mummies. Often the funerary texts contained passages from the "Book of the Dead," a book that was to assist in the safe passage of the dead person into the spirit world."

Thus, right from the very beginning the LDS Church recognized that the fragment was from the Book of the Dead. Todd's article was followed by a series of articles written by Hugh Nibley who concurred with this claim: "the texts of the 'Joseph Smith Papyri' identified as belonging to the Book of the Dead." Again, "The largest part of the Joseph Smith Papyri in the possession of the Church consists of fragments from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the fragments having been recently translated and discussed by no less a scholar than Professor John A. Wilson" (Improvement Era, August 1968). Nibley himself wrote a translation for the manuscript in his (now republished) The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment where he continued this claim that the fragment of the Joseph Smith Papyri that was rediscovered was, in fact, from the Book of the Dead. I say this only to show that the LDS never claimed otherwise and we didn't need others to tell us this fact.

As for the missing manuscript theory, the best historical documentation currently available shows that there were two rolls of papyri along with other fragments of texts. Only portions of those were framed for preservation and we only have a small portion of the scrolls that Joseph possessed, so the missing manuscript hypothesis is not too far fetched from this alone.

But I think this takes us too far afield for this topic.

Craig Fletcher said...


Appreciate the dialog.

So Martin intentionally lied about his Ph. D for 10+ years, and this is on record? Strange...

RE: The Book of Abraham,

Do you personally agree with FARMS that there were multiple rolls of papyrii (believable, sure) and that JS translated the other rolls, the ones we no longer have?

So the view goes like this (correct me where wrong):

Along with the ancient mummies, there were two (or more)rolls of papyrii that had ancient egyptian text and images on them, one contained egyptian funerary rites, and the other, the one that JS actually translated supernaturally, contained holy scriptures actually hand written by Abraham himself about such things as celestial marriage, etc.? Totally unrelated material and authorship, yet in the same place?

Is that what you (and other thinking Mormons) honestly believe to be true?

If so, this is one of those cases in my view where people are believing something quite unbelievable because they need it to be true, not because they actually believe that it is.

Craig Fletcher said...


Additionally, you did not comment on the fact that we have JS's diary that records information regarding the translation of the BOA, including his 'translation' of specific symbols, which have been proven by scholars to be totally off the mark.

What of this?

Chuck Kinzie said...

From the "What Would Jesus Do?" Department: Would Jesus publicly refer to a teenage girl as "ditzy?"

Dr. Groothuis said to Kevin, "Why bother reading this blog or posting on it? You have better things to do?"

Dr. Groothuis: Kevin sometimes points out your mistakes (which, IMO, are quite few. I LOVE your blog!) It doesn't reflect well on you, IMO, to discourage him from posting. He keeps you from becoming too sloppy!

Jim Pemberton said...

I often read your news feed and haven't commented before. Do you often get this many off-topic comments?

You're on the money with this one. I've made a similar observation over other such silly pop news. My term for it is "institutional gossip." People in high places sin no less than people in low places. For discipline, Christ's own admonition echoed by Paul seems to offer dignity through grace to the sinner for the purpose of eliciting repentance. We do no great service to popular sinners by awarding their sin with our excessive attention. Let those closest to them discipline them.