In my first post I gave a bit of my history on Mormon Matters and explained the players that were there when things began. I also covered my previously mentioned reasons for quitting, which included feeling like my interest and the communities did not match and also feeling like Mormon Matters played a certain important role that I was personally disrupting by my presence.
Was Mormon Matters Balanced?
I had come to the conclusion that Mormon Matters was not intended as a true open discussion about Mormonism. (i.e. it claimed to be a “one stop shop” but in fact wasn’t.) I believed that it was (as I said in my previous post)…
… a friendly place to ‘let off steam’ for those that didn’t believe in the LDS Church’s defining beliefs any more (sometimes still practicing, sometimes, not) while still allowing them to interact with a certain kind of Mormon that still believed, but was sympathetic to their concerns. This belief-with-sympathies approach really only worked if the believers were willing to not strongly challenge the post Mormons on their new beliefs or on their concerns.
To explain why I had come to this conclusion, I’m going to post about a number of related subjects. While I doubt I can convince anyone of my position, if I can at least get you to say “yes, I can see why you’d draw such a false conclusion” I’ll consider these post as having wildly exceeded my expectations. Continue reading
In my last post I gave some background on my stint on Mormon Matters and then talked about some of the important players.
When I left Mormon Matters my dear friend, DougG, was the only person that really noticed I had disappeared. He was also the only person that actually asked me to return. When I talked with Doug on the phone (that was when he asked me to come back) this is what I told him.
I said I felt like Mormon Matters played an important role of being a friendly place to ‘let off steam’ for those that didn’t believe in the LDS Church’s defining beliefs any more (sometimes still practicing, sometimes, not) while still allowing them to interact with a certain kind of Mormon that still believed, but was sympathetic to their concerns. This belief-with-sympathies approach really only worked if the believers were willing to not strongly challenge the post Mormons on their new beliefs or on their concerns.
So I had come to wonder if my presence there – where I would directly challenge a former members new beliefs — was disrupting that purpose. Was it possible that I was even causing people to quit by my presence?
We had several post Mormons quit within my short stint due to “too many posts supportive of the LDS Church.” After they quit, John Dehlin quickly utilized his post-Mormon network to find new replacements — and this took all of 30 seconds in most cases. And not a single post Mormon that quit ever said “I quit because I don’t like how Bruce is challenging me too much.” It was generally just the existence of too many “pro Mormon posts” that caused the problem. On at least one occaision, we had a blogger quit because she was upset with how Hawkgrrl had moderated a comment. (If you know how permitting Hawk is with comments, you will laugh at that last statement. You have to be cussing and threatening some GA before she’ll consider cutting the comment. Yet it was true that this angered at least one blogger that then quit.) Continue reading
Prisoner: What do you want?
Number Two: Information.
Prisoner: Whose side are you on?
Number Two: That would be telling…. We want information…information…information!
Prisoner: Who are you?
Number Two: The new Number Two.
Prisoner: Who is Number One?
Number Two: You are, Number Six.
Prisoner: I am not a number; I am a free man!
Number Two: [shouting] Why, why, why did you resign?
Prisoner: I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own. I resign.
Number Two: Why did you resign?
Prisoner: For peace.
Number Two: You resigned for peace?
Prisoner: Yes. Let me out.
Number Two: You’re a fool.
Prisoner: For peace of mind.
Number Two: What?
Prisoner: For peace of mind!
Number Two: Why?
Prisoner: Because too many people know too much.
Number Two: Never!
Prisoner: I know too much!
Number Two: Tell me.
Prisoner: I know too much about you!
My Introduction to the Bloggernacle Through Mormon Matters
Recently Bonnie from Wheat and Tares asked me a question that no one had ever asked me before. She wanted to know why I had resigned from Mormon Matters. Actually “resigned” is the wrong word. I supposed I never in any sense officially resigned. I simply stopped posting one day and stopped even visiting or commenting. It didn’t even really happen all at once. It started out with me taking longer and longer breaks from blogging on Mormon Matters and then one day the “break” was so long there was no point in my coming back. Continue reading
Note: This post takes several of my threads (i.e. What is morality?, What is atheism?, What is theism?, What is religion?, One Moral Will, and the concept of meaning-memes) and shows that they are all deeply inter-related.
This was the final conclusion I was able to draw from my last post on Supernatural Morality:
Theists can rationally justify (though they do not prove) their belief in objective morality via their additional premises (i.e. the existence of an afterlife, with perfect knowledge, and inescapable consequences). Atheists cannot justify their belief in objective morality and are merely being rationally incoherent when they believe in (or act as if there is) objective morality despite all the evidence against it.
Now, of course, this is probably a hollow victory if there is in fact no God. If there is no God, does it really matter that morality is a delusion? This is a thought for a future post. But the question does point out one thing: there is some sort of link or connection between belief in God and belief in Morality. At a minimum, that connection is the rational coherence of morality as stated in the quote above. (Making here some possible allowances for an “atheist” that receive answers to prayers or believe in heaven.)
I now want to explore the relationship between belief in God and belief in Morality further, for there is clearly some sort of link there that few speak enough of. Continue reading
So far we’ve talked about how religion is all of the following things:
- Religion is a cultural unit of transmission that is replicated much like a gene. That is to say, religion is a meme.
- The adherents of a religion are the resource used to replicate the meme.
- In most cases, the meme a religion replicates is rooted heavily in a set of beliefs about certain truth claims. Often, as in the case of the LDS Church, it’s a set of beliefs and truth claims about a narrative that answers difficult questions about life and gives people a feeling of connection and purpose.
- Religion is a subset of a larger family of memes that we could call ‘meaning-memes.’ They are memes rooted in our biological sense of morality and create a reason to live (and sometimes a reason to die) by giving us a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.
I want to emphasize that as far as the theory of memes goes, genes and memes are not intended to be mere analogy. The epistemological claim being made is that memes are an actual unit of information that Darwin’s natural selection applies to and the same laws are followed. In principle this means that memes can be understood and measured through some future information theory, though we don’t yet know how using our current theories.
Elsewhere, I talked about the ‘organism’ for a meme. Now to be clear, I did intend this as just an analogy. Memes literally obey the laws of natural selection, but they do not literally have an exact equivalent to a biological organism. Continue reading