Technology, you keep using that word

With recent revelations by the LDS church that Joseph Smith Jr. did, in fact, use a seerstone, many bloggers and notables including Richard Bushman and Greg Trimble have taken to calling the seerstone “A technology we do not understand”.

You keep using that word

Technologynoun, plural technologies 

  1. the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts,engineering, applied science, and pure science.
  2. the application of this knowledge for practical ends.
  3. the terminology of an art, science, etc.; technical nomenclature.
  4. a scientific or industrial process, invention, method, or the like.
  5. the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves withthe material objects of their civilization.

Let us juxtopose this with the definition of “Magic”:

Magic- Noun

  1. the art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; legerdemain; conjuring: to pull a rabbit out of a hat by magic.
  2. the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.

These bloggers like to call the seerstone a “technology” however the word is simply misused.  It was not developed by Science (That is to say, observation, forming a hypothesis, then using experiments to try to reject that hypothesis), it was not provided by the group itself for its benefit and it was not applying scientifically derived tools for practical ends.

However it does match the definition of magic in that it was “producing a desired effect or result through incantation or other techniques that assume human control of supernatural agencies or forces of nature.

In other words, yes the Seerstone and your iPhone are both made of minerals, however the arrangement of the minerals in an iPhone, and the results are reproducible, verifiable, and falsifiable.  That is the definition of technology.  The seerstone cannot be reproduced (although an article in the Juvenile instructor does say how one can chant incantations to make one’s own seerstone), cannot be verified, nor has one every been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and it is not falsifiable (otherwise, certainly the Kinderhook plates and Book of Abraham issues would call serious doubt into its abilities).

To call it technology is an extraordinary claim.  To be specific, these bloggers and historians are saying that the rock is able to contact an individual being who lives on a planet near a star named Kolob, and it was prepared for Joseph Smith Jr. to find in a well, thousands of years after it was placed.  That makes it an alien technology, if it be technology.  Further this technology emits no power signal, no waves that are noticeable or have been measured, and is perfectly fine sitting in a vault unused since it performed a single set of tasks.  If you believe all that, I tell you seriously I have a dragon in my garage.

So, I await those historians, bloggers, and others to actually produce extraordinary evidence that the stone is, in fact, technology and not magic.  Until then, we are RIGHT to call it magic.

It would be like saying that a person who created Ashley Madison wasn’t an adulterer if he married 33-40 women but we couldn’t prove he had sex with them.  You can’t just bend words to mean different things to make your position seem less preposterous.  Words have meaning.  Deer are deer, horses are horses, and magic is magic.

As soon as the church produces a line of Seerstones each person can use, and sets up a tech-support line so that people can call in if they have issues, and they send out an update that improves the software; I’ll call it technology.  Until then, it is, what it was known as in the contemporary context of Joseph Smith:  Folk Magic.

Peepstone Joe

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Last edited by Mithryn on August 21, 2015 at 4:03 pm

3 Responses to Technology, you keep using that word

  1. Tom Doggett says:

    I bring it up only because I know others will, too, but what about Clark’s Third Law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”? Certainly the technology employed by an all-powerful Deity would be magical in nature?

    I admit I am playing the devil’s advocate here a bit, but I’m pretty sure that will be the standard response to what you have to say here.

    I find the perspective of a seer stone or a divining rod as “technology” to be absurd because they are, as far as I’ve ever heard, natural objects that were, until the practitioner came along, sitting quietly by themselves in nature for years (in the case of the rocks even millions of years). They have been used by various practitioners for centuries before Joseph Smith ever came along, Joseph used them in the same way as other practitioners as far as the record shows (certainly Oliver, who was a dowser, never called his methods into question), and there are even today still dowsers and scryers. Are we really to think that God seeded the world with super-advanced technology during its creation and random people just happened to find them? That seems to be the logical conclusion of someone who would continue to view seer stones as technology: we’re all living in a global, sci-fi version of the 1980 film “The Gods Must Be Crazy”.

    • Mithryn says:

      I thought I had tackled this, but clearly I wasn’t clear enough.

      It /could/ be an advanced technology, but that claim needs to be backed up by evidence. We can’t just pick up any old rock and say “This is alien technology” and expect credibility. It would need some kind of extraordinary evidence before that claim would be accepted.

      • Mel says:

        Exactly. If I went back in time and showed someone how my iPad worked, he’d be right to call it technology. If my iPad ran out of power and did nothing, but I *claimed* that it would show pictures and such… well, that’s indistinguishable from a rock.

        Even magic has to do something. We have literally no evidence that the supposed “seer stone” did ANYTHING, much less help someone translate a language that nobody alive has ever seen. That the seer stone is actually *technology* depends on whether or not Joseph Smith can be trusted, and we know the answer to that one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.