“Liberal” and “Orthodox” Views on the Faith of Abraham

AbrahamA while back I did a post called The Faith of Abraham where I discussed the considerable challenges surrounding the story of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice Isaac. I have been in conversation recently with a blogger from Wheat and Tares about this story because it really bothers him — to the point where he has come up with ways to discount it as truly having come from God. As the discussion went on we agreed to ‘take it public’ because its such an interesting topic for discussion. His response to my post is found here. He then posted it on W&T today.

One thing I’ve long believed is that this story largely defines the difference between what it generally means to be “conservative” vs. “liberal” when it comes to religion. Maybe I’m over emphasizing this, but this tends to be a pretty good litmus test. Further, this particular story and the discussion that follows is a fairly straightforward example of why I self-identify as a “conservative” despite being quite literally 25% atheist and only 75% believer. Those that know me know that I believe that liberal theology is a rational non-starter. It doesn’t even make it out the rational gate for me and this is a great example of why.

Summary of Liberal Friend’s Argument

First, let me summarize his argument, though I hope you’ll all go read his full post yourselves. Continue reading

John Dehlin’s Comprehensive List of Reasons He Doesn’t Believe in the LDS Church

John Dehlin“Doubt those who encourage you to doubt your doubts” — John Dehlin on his Facebook page, attacking President Uchtdorf’s talk. Mar 25, 2014

John Dehlin recently put together a comprehensive list of what he sees as all the issues with the LDS Church. He of course titled it “A Comprehensive List of Reasons Why People Leave or Stop Believing in the LDS Church” so as to position it as a helpful attempt to teach the Church how to stop people from leaving. However, as I read through the list, it’s not really clear to me how this document could ever be helpful in that regard since it makes no helpful suggestions at all and simply reads like an anti-Mormon tract.

Consistent with my policy of not advancing anti-Mormon tracts – intended or otherwise – like this, I am not going to be linking with it. Normally I make an exception for John because I at least believe he is well intended in what I see as a desire to reduce pain in the church through reduced ‘exclusion.’ (I am intentionally using that term the way John uses it – which really means fewer people feeling uncomfortable and therefore making their own adult choice to no longer participate with the LDS church.) But I’m still not really in favor of collecting every potential faith-breaking issue all in one place like this. I do, after all, still believe in the importance of belief itself when it comes to religion.

Does John Encourage Disbelieving the LDS Church?

I know John claims he is not trying to get people to disbelieve. I think this is true in limited a sense. If you really want to believe, I have no doubt John will not push you personally towards disbelief. And I think John doesn’t really see belief as in-and-of-itself some sort of evil. Continue reading

Morality and Coercion

I have been working on a series of posts about morality for a while now. In some previous posts I talked about the following:

  1. The human perception of morality is not rationally justifiable and can’t be justified without an appeal to some supernatural Something-Like-God.
  2. That any attempt to explain objective morality will always end up being a religion, for religions are what you get when you assume morality to be objective and then come up with an explanation of how that can be.

In one of my older posts I mentioned in passing that morality is (almost) always non-personal and is perceived as applying to everyone. In fact, it so strongly applies to everyone that it even applies to people long dead. Continue reading

What is Morality? The Relationship Between Morality and God

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

What is Morality? Error Theory and Supernatural Morality

Note: For those that don’t want to read the whole post, there is a short summary at the end. But remember the rule of summaries: they are not equivalent to the whole argument.

In my first post on Error Theory, I summarized Richard Joyce’s arguments that demonstrated morality was rationally incoherent in a naturalistic (only) worldview. In my second post I summarized his arguments that evolution can’t vindicate morality, and in fact undermines it as objectively existing. (See shorter summary here.)

Joyce, being an atheist, then goes on to argue against any supernatural view of morality. (i.e. arguments in favor of morality that invoke the existence of a “God”, Something-Like-God, or any other type of invisible world that our current science cannot see.) In this post, I am going to explore the idea of Supernatural Morality as well as include a short summary of Joyce’s argument against it. At this point, I’m just exploring, not arguing for or against. But no discussion on morality would be complete without considering the possibility that morality stems from the existence of a supernatural reality (or Being) that we do not yet see. Continue reading