“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
I have been working on a series of posts about morality for a while now. In some previous posts I talked about the following:
- The human perception of morality is not rationally justifiable and can’t be justified without an appeal to some supernatural Something-Like-God.
- 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
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
I was reading Andrew S’s article about Joanna Brooks over at Wheat and Tares: Who Puts the Mormon in Mormon Girl? I’m good friends with SilverRain and I was enjoying her comments on this thread as the commenters all chime in what what they think it is about Mormonism that makes it have such a ‘psychic impression’ that a Joanna Brooks can stop believing in it doctrines and even its culture but still want to be fully involved in it. Here, she tells us herself why:
I went back to church so that my daughters could know the same loving, kind, and powerful God I was raised to believe in
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