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The ethics of belief

Our discussion of religious beliefs brought so much opposition from the 'pious', I thought that this topic, which was discussed in my philosophy of religion class, held particular merit.

It comes from British philosopher W.K. Clifford. He argues that there is an ethics to belief that makes immoral all believing without sufficient evidence.

"If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it--the life of that man is one long sin against mankind"

What do you think? Should there be sufficient evidence to warrant belief? If not, what justification do we have in believing any particular religion?

Your a daisy if you do

Ok, the Mexican Scientist, I'm your huckleberry!
So, do you want our testimonies of how we got warm fuzzies while singing follow the prophet during primary, or do you want us to break down and give you a step by step reason for why we believe as we do? I believe that the evidence that many people take as authority of why there religion is true can always be mis or reinterpreted by any other faction to suit there own agenda. A reason that some stop reading is that they don't want to argue, or they don't want to justify there life style. A big reason may very well be that with all that is going on in this life that we become very apathetic to the minute details of religion and focus on being good people with out killing each other.

Are you taking philosophy of

Are you taking philosophy of religion from David Paulsen?

I haven't read Clifford. However, from the quote you provided, it does not seem that Clifford is advocating that one must have sufficient evidence to accept a certain religious belief, but rather that one must not have a certain belief that goes against the evidence.

Joseph Smith once said that we can come closer to the turht by proving contraries. I take this to mean that we may not be able to have an absolute knowledge of what is true, but we may know what is not true. This is much like Popper's philosophy of science. By eliminating falsehoods, we can come closer to understand truth. This is because it is much easier to prove something invalid than it is to prove something sound.

Does this sound familiar, Provopulse? You are all wrong:)

I think Clifford is totally correct.

A person that:

"purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it"

never truly understands why they believe what they believe. An inquisitive nature is absolutely necessary for exaltation. Yet, simply because members fear they might be wrong, they oftentimes silence any questions that might oppose their beliefs. Even if those same questions productively cause a person to really understand their religion.

I think most members react out of fear. They truly don't know if the church is true, or they are scared that it might not be true, so they silence anyone that might confirm their fears. Ultimately, they have a very superficial understanding of what they believe.

I think this type of belief system leads to living the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law. You can only live the spirit of the law if you understand the purpose of the commandment. You can only understand the purpose of the commandment if you ask questions, search for yourself, and ponder on those searchings.

Unfortuntely, all questioning, even if it is productive, is frowned upon in our church culture. Where am I wrong, Provopulse?

Dude

"A big reason may very well be that with all that is going on in this life that we become very apathetic to the minute details of religion"

Good point. Yet, what would you consider to be "minute details"?"

Well, the unexplained yet implied truths that we surround ourselves with. Why is it that whenever I go to 7-11 to get a Dr. Pepper I have to ask for a brown bag to carry it home in or else suffer the consequences of judgementalism, but I have never been in a meeting where they say don't drink Dr. Pepper.

A person that: "purposely

A person that:

"purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it [the LDS faith]...

might just be tired of seeing the same tactics and styles of arguments. This person might have a testimony and know from experience that those who call in question teachings of the Church (meaning, anti-Mormons) have never brought forth productive material in the history of the Church. Of course, if you're not referring to anti-Mormons, then maybe this same person is just reluctant to listen to someone they don't consider an authority. For example, if I hear a BYU professor say that gambling is okay, but then President Hinckley says no, it isn't, then President Hinckley's statement stands. Personally, I accept revelation as a source of authority, and even if I don't fully comprehend the reasoning and the philisophical proof behind everything doesn't mean I won't sleep well at night.

An inquisitive nature is absolutely necessary for exaltation.

Yes, as found in Robot 3:16.

Yet, simply because members fear they might be wrong, they oftentimes silence any questions that might oppose their beliefs.

Who does this? How could you possibly know that members are silencing their questions, and even if you somehow could know this, how could you possibly know the motive behind it? You can only speak for yourself, unless you have a mind-reading ability.

I think most members react out of fear. They truly don't know if the church is true, or they are scared that it might not be true, so they silence anyone that might confirm their fears. Ultimately, they have a very superficial understanding of what they believe.

Again, what do you have to base this from? These might be good guesses at what some people are thinking, but it sounds a lot like you think this, and you reason that you think that because you think this other thing, and then you draw a conclusion from these rationalizations.

You can only live the spirit of the law if you understand the purpose of the commandment.

Maybe true, but you can live the law (by spirit or, in some Provopulse terminology, by blind obedience, and either way you are still living the law.

Unfortuntely, all questioning, even if it is productive, is frowned upon in our church culture. Where am I wrong, Provopulse?

I think I made a couple of points. But I wonder what Church you have been going to, because I've never had a leader who has frowned on me when I've asked questions. Not bishops, not stake presidents, not mission presidents, not BYU religion teachers, and not apostles (yes, I have asked apostles questions). Actually, they usually are very helpful at giving me sources to find more information on whatever I ask about.

But you'll get your argument here, and I suppose that's what you are looking for.

Challenging your beliefs

Tyler has made a couple of comments, one that I agree with and one that I think is a prime example of why having a discussion with him is so hard.

all possibly controversial questioning, even if it is productive, is frowned upon by those like provojoe, hhhhh, djake, and mason within our church culture.

My only question is tyler, as somebody who has poor assumptions made about him, why do you insist on making poor assumptions about other people?


Now for the one that I like

By eliminating falsehoods, we can come closer to understand truth. This is because it is much easier to prove something invalid than it is to prove something sound.

I think that the person who sits back and lets his testimony rest is doomed to lose it because, like muscle, a testimony that isn't put to work is going to experience atrophy. I've never understood the person who will run away from questions about one's faith because if your faith is that weak, why have it at all.


When you consider that intelligence is all that you get to take with you from this world into the next, you'd think that the a premium would be placed on the aquisition of that commoditity instead of others. Intelligence regarding the nature and disposition of God and His son, Jesus Christ would have to be of the utmost importance. (I can't remember the exact quote, but Jospeh Smith said something to the effect of having a true understanding of the nature of God is a major prequisite for gaining faith that has the power to save.)

Gospel Principles

I go to a community college in western Kentucky. My Geography teacher is 58 and I had to explain to him the difference between Mormon and LDS. I haven't lived in Utah since I was 13. I served my mission in Las Vegas, Nevada. I hope that my posting isn't taken as harsh criticism or vulgar in any way, that's not my goal. However, I have noticed veins of apostasy throughout these blogs. I have a couple of suggestions that could remedy such "spiritual garbage."

1.) Assuming you go to church: please stand on the seats rather than sitting. This will prevent any gospel principles from "going over your head."

2.) Get out of the blogs and on your knees. Pray for forgiveness and understanding so that you aren't "blinded by the subtle craftiness of men." (D&C 121)

3.) Get out of the blogs and into the Standard Works.

Don't expect me to have a refutation in a couple of days. I can feel God's sorrow just reading everyone bicker back and forth.

Interesting, Zachv.

"I believe that the evidence that many people take as authority of why there religion is true can always be mis or reinterpreted"

I agree, but should we not try to understand and explain what we believe?

"A reason that some stop reading is that they don't want to argue"

Another good point. Why is it that they don't want to argue? That is, do you think that people necessarily have to get into a yelling match in order to explain themselves?

"A big reason may very well be that with all that is going on in this life that we become very apathetic to the minute details of religion"

Good point. Yet, what would you consider to be "minute details"?

"Where am I wrong, Provopulse

"Where am I wrong, Provopulse?"

I believe you are wrong when you say "all questioning, even if it is productive, is frowned upon in our church culture."

While I am also guilty of such generalizations, I think the proper way of stating it would be "all possibly controversial questioning, even if it is productive, is frowned upon by those like provojoe, hhhhh, djake, and mason within our church culture."

Many of the elite scholars of Mormonism (such as Richard Bushman, Teryl Givens, David Paulsen, James Faulconer, Hugh Nibley, Blake Ostler) and former elites (such as James Talmage, BH Roberts, Orson Pratt, John Widstoe) did the very intellectual questioning condemned by the likes of many in here.

Where is the proof?

Unfortuntely, all questioning, even if it is productive, is frowned upon in our church culture. Where am I wrong, Provopulse?

I've been in many different scenarios and settings where tough questions have been asked, and honest discussion followed. I have never met a leader yet that said you can't ask those kinds of questions. I'm willing to bet that if you had the chance to sit down with President Hinkley that a similar experience would take place. So I ask you, how is questioning frowned upon?

Wrong.

"Maybe true, but you can live the law (by spirit or, in some Provopulse terminology, by blind obedience, and either way you are still living the law."

Are you saying there is no difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law?

lol!

"Well, the unexplained yet implied truths that we surround ourselves with. Why is it that whenever I go to 7-11 to get a Dr. Pepper I have to ask for a brown bag to carry it home in or else suffer the consequences of judgementalism, but I have never been in a meeting where they say don't drink Dr. Pepper."

Zach, that is funny. A brown bag for DP,lol!

Prophet Noah:

I hope this is not taken as criticism or too vulgar (this is definitely not my intention).

But, I think your post proved three things:

1. Blogs can help people be more Christ like, i.e., loving
your enemy.

2. You should never declare that you go to a community
college in Kentucky.

3. You don't have to be from Utah to be a moron.

Thanks for posting :)

I'm sure the thing that will

I'm sure the thing that will turn this blog around is overwrought pretentiousness, Noah, so thanks for hooking us up with that.

And I don't know what you having a poor geography teacher has to do with anything, other than to reinforce that you are, indeed, from Kentucky.

Thanks.

"I think the proper way of stating it would be "all possibly controversial questioning, even if it is productive, is frowned upon by those like provojoe, hhhhh, djake, and mason within our church culture."

You are right, Tyler. However, I still think that people view questioning, regardless if it is controversial, of why we believe something as:

"What are you talking about, God said it, so we should just obey it".

Wouldn't you agree?

Hmmm.

Djake, obviously our subjective experiences might be vastly different; however, is there an emphasis on obedience, or is there an emphasis on understanding in our church culture?

LOL

While I am also guilty of such generalizations, I think the proper way of stating it would be "all possibly controversial questioning, even if it is productive, is frowned upon by those like provojoe, hhhhh, djake, and mason within our church culture."

Tyler, have I ever attacked you for posting controversial questions? NO. I have attacked you because you take on judgemental holier-than-thou-but-on-the-other-end attitudes and start criticizing LDS members when try their best but maybe they are not as "bright" and "insightful" as you. I know I was harsh in my last reply to you (I meant to be harsh) but you'll see that I did not criticize your opinion but I criticized the hypocrisy and judging in you own criticism. Both your topic and your opinion were insightful but not your Saducee (opposite to Pharisee) attitude.

Personally, I think people should question their faiths. I had a primary testimony (which I consider also valid and important, as opposed to Tyler, Mexican Scientist et al.), but the confirmation to my testimony came only when I prayed to God and told Him that I wanted to know whether the Church was true and that I would honestly, truly leave the Church if He answered negatively (it was scary for me but I was dead honest). I am happy to say that He answered me with a positive. It took a bit but I guess I needed to reach the point of submissiveness and real intent first.

Are you saying there is no di

Are you saying there is no difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law?

No, I'm not. I'm saying whatever your motivation for obeying the law, if you're obeying the law, you're obeying the law.

I never said anything about the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law. Your question deals with different ways of observing the law, while my statement deals with different reasons for obeying.

Thanks, Hhhhh.

"have I attacked you because you take on judgemental holier-than-thou-but-on-the-other-end attitudes and start criticizing LDS members when try their best but maybe they are not as "bright" and "insightful" as you."

This is exactly what Clifford was refering to, thanks for proving my point.

He states: "and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it--"

My belief...

My belief that it is both. Obedience is the key to recieving further light and knowledge and understanding leads to a greater knowledge of the workings of God. I would suggest that you need both, and that the Church, in my experience, expects both.

"whatever your motivation for

"whatever your motivation for obeying the law, if you're obeying the law, you're obeying the law."

Is there a difference between giving an ample fast offerings because in your heart you want to help out the poor and giving an ample fast offerings because you want to impress the person next to you who can see how much you are donating?

Is there a difference between not killing someone because you choose to love that person and value their life and not killing someone because you happen are scared of getting arrested?

Is there a difference between refusing to lie because ou value the relationship you have with others and refusing to lie because you don't want it to catch up with you or you don't want to go to hell?

Is there a difference between feeding a starving child because of the love you have for children and feeding a starving child because of the promised blessings you will recieve in heaven?

If you answered no, then you and I believe in a different gospel.

If you answered yes, then please explain to me what you mean by that and how that differs from what Robot and I have been saying

You need to read my posts...

...before doing copy and paste (actually those letters and symbols that appear on your screen have a meaning behind it).



I mean, you tell me: am I criticizing your guys' opinions, or rather Tyler's attacks on other people? I explicitly said: I-am-not-criticizing-your-opinion, I-am-criticizing-your-judgemental-attitude-towards-other-people. What's so hard to understand about it?

He states: "and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it--"

Sorry, but that it is NOT what Clifford was refering to. I am not against questioning. Just read my post above...oh, wait, sorry. I forgot you don't read posts. My bad.

This is apples and oranges.

This is apples and oranges. The reference I made, but apparently didn't explain well enough, was that you can obey a law because you trust and obey the lawgiver, or you can obey a law because you fully comprehend all the reasons behind it. But since you made comments that got me thinking...

Is there a difference between giving an ample fast offerings because in your heart you want to help out the poor and giving an ample fast offerings because you want to impress the person next to you who can see how much you are donating?

Not to the person who benefits from the donation.

Is there a difference between not killing someone because you choose to love that person and value their life and not killing someone because you happen are scared of getting arrested?

Not to whoever didn't get killed.

Is there a difference between refusing to lie because ou value the relationship you have with others and refusing to lie because you don't want it to catch up with you or you don't want to go to hell?

If you're honest with people, I guess the motivation doesn't matter.

Is there a difference between feeding a starving child because of the love you have for children and feeding a starving child because of the promised blessings you will recieve in heaven?

No, there is no difference at all. Just tell that to the starving kids. "Sorry kids, I just don't have the love for you that I should. I know I'd be blessed for helping you out, but since my reasoning isn't good enough, I won't do it."

If you answered no, then you and I believe in a different gospel.

I guess you're right. I believe that the bottom line really depends on whether or not you do things. Thoughts and intentions are great, but they are only stepping stones. So if they don't motivate you to do good, then they aren't worth a damn.

When I was out on my mission a few months, I had some hard times. I met with my mission president and said, "President, I really think I came on a mission for the wrong reasons." He said, "Elder, it doesn't matter why you came. You're here." Things got better after that.

I think you've made an excellent point though, tyler. We have vastly different understandings of the gospel. I believe that the person who gives a huge fast offering to impress the guy next to him, who feeds starving children because he's afraid of hell, who is honest because he's afraid of his lies catching up to him, etc., is in much better shape than the guy who doesn't do those things because he feels it would be hypocritcal if he doesn't have the "correct" motivation to do so. So yes, back to my original statement, if you're obeying the law you're obeying the law. It's not that simple, but then again, it is.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

On obedience.

"My belief that it is both."

I totally disagree. Next time you go to your block classes, count the amount of times someone says that we need to "obey". There is definitely an emphasis in our culture to obey rather than to understand. In fact, I cannot count the number of times I have heard that our obedience to the gospel is inimical to our understanding.

Why is this a problem? Who cares? It is all comes from God, right? Wrong. We, like everyone else on earth, interpret the gospel with our own individual and cultural biases. One of these biases is that man is only here on earth to obey.

It is common to hear how humanity is lower than the dust of the earth, because unlike the dust, we do not simply obey the will of God. This idea reinforces the social mentality that man exists solely to be acted upon by the will of God. In my opinion, in our own church culture, it seems as though obedience is the first and last law of heaven.

This idea, coupled with guilt, systematically marginalizes man's agency. That is, if our purpose is to simply obey the will of God with exactness, our agency becomes a liability. Man's worth is solely determined by how many mistakes he does not make. But on the other hand, if obedience is all that man is good for, why did God give us reason? Instead, our societal focus should be on our God-given ability to become fully developed human beings with an emphasis and respect on our ability to choose for ourselves. Why else did God make us the only creature on this earth that can think for himself?

Easy.

"I explicitly said: I-am-not-criticizing-your-opinion, I-am-criticizing-your-judgemental-attitude-towards-other-people. What's so hard to understand about it?"

What is the distinction between someone's opinion and their judgmental attitude?

That is, rather than focusing on what that person said in the first place, many commentators have made(obviously not everytime) judgments on another's character. i.e., 'his judgmental attitude.'

For me, the value judgments placed on people's intentions are really just an attack on the person for bringing up controversial issues in the first place, which would correlate with Clifford's statment.

So, for you, you might be attacking his intentions, which is almost impossible to verify over the internet; however, I would argue that you (if not others) are really upset for him questioning things in the first place. Pegou?

Apples and Oranges?

Farker, there is this really great person, named Jesus. You can read about him in the New Testament. He had a lot to say about apples and oranges (this is a reference to your post. He did not really speak specifically on apples and oranges); I think you should give it a whirl and see what you come up with.

"I think you've made an excel

"I think you've made an excellent point though, tyler. We have vastly different understandings of the gospel. I believe that the person who gives a huge fast offering to impress the guy next to him, who feeds starving children because he's afraid of hell, who is honest because he's afraid of his lies catching up to him, etc., is in much better shape than the guy who doesn't do those things because he feels it would be hypocritcal if he doesn't have the "correct" motivation to do so."

I think it's pretty hilarous how you turn comparisons of two people who did with different intentions to a comparison of one man who does with the wrong intentions and one who does not at all.

Take Robot's advice. Read the New Testament. In it, this guy named Jesus makes comparisons of people both obeying commandments, yet condemns one set for not having the right intentions. Check it out, though you might not like it. That Jesus fellow was pretty radical and progressive... even liberal.

You make some interesting points

I don't go to BYU or UVSC or institute, so I don't have any point of reference when it comes to the institutional religion. All of the religious experiences I have come from personal study, church involvement and the discussions that I have with those around me. That being said...

The command was given: "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." I can't remember where it is quoted, but Joseph Smith said that it would be long into the next life before we are able to achieve that goal. Even that being said, Christ did not mince his words in this regard, ye should be perfect.

The D&C also tells us that the glory of God is intelligence, and that more knowledge and intelligence we gain in this life the greater advantage it will give us in the next world. Throughout the scriptures, and I would suggest coming from the leadership of the church today, that the seeking of knowledge is tanamount to one's eternal progression.

My own conclusion is that obedience is a close sibling, if not a twin to knowledge and the seeking thereof. Why did God make us the only creature on this earth that can think for himself? Because celestial glory is a choice.

LOL

What is the distinction between someone's opinion and their judgmental attitude?

That is, rather than focusing on what that person said in the first place, many commentators have made(obviously not everytime) judgments on another's character. i.e., 'his judgmental attitude.'

That should be an obvious one, but I guess I'll have to explain it. It is possible to have the same opinion but with different attitudes. I might be against abortion, and approach it in a respectful way in order to understand why pro-choice supporters don't like the idea of the government intervening in that aspect. Actually, in ZogDog's forum I did pose that very same question trying to be respectful, and although most opinions disagreed, just the fact that nobody had an aggressive attitude helped to carry on the conversation with civility. Although I'm still against abortion, I learned why people oppose abortion ban, and I think I understand why their positions make sense to them. But it could been just as easy to start a flame war that benefits nobody. PLEASE, ask Tyler what his intentions were when he started the blind obedience thread. Then, after he answers, ask him what his REAL intentions were.

For me, the value judgments placed on people's intentions are really just an attack on the person for bringing up controversial issues in the first place, which would correlate with Clifford's statment.

Well, that is your opinion. I am telling you that I have nothing against bringing up controversial topics. It doesn't fill me up with ire or anything like that. I might disagree, but the world would be very dull if everybody would agree in everything. What does upset me is seeing Tyler thinking that people that doesn't agree with his opinion on the issue are immoral when they are actually trying to do their best. I don't claim that whoever doesn't share my opinion is immoral. Neither have I criticized Tyler for his opinion on the issue itself.

So, for you, you might be attacking his intentions, which is almost impossible to verify over the internet; however, I would argue that you (if not others) are really upset for him questioning things in the first place. Pegou?

Yea, you can never know what other people are thinking about over the Internet. You can choose whether you think I am lying or not, I really don't care at this point. I don't have to submit to your scrutiny.



Anywas, I do think that Tyler's opinion was interesting. I just think that putting some "flavor" (adding criticism with a holier-than-thou attitude) to it detracts from the topic. Tyler was right when he said that God expects people to get a testimony on every principle that comes from the prophets. I will never deny that, although I don't think God will let everyone know of things right away. I thought it was interesting that Tyler would focus so much on disagreements between prophets, but that is a concern that is valid to him, and that is what matters. I don't judge him for that. But him accusing everybody of being immoral for not questioning, please, come on. I think Tyler thinks that people should not be hypocritical and judge others EXCEPT HIMSELF. I mean, how is this different from the guy who looks down on you because you drink caffeinated Coke or watch R-rated movies? He could have expressed his opinion in a way that would have not started a flame war that offended people's beliefs (which for Tyler are not that important) only to satisfy his ego and to say to himself: "I am such a good blogger, I can argue with an entire forum and win". As soon as the thread starts losing interest, he'll go and look for a new topic to present his opinion and add an antagonistic twist at the end to feed the flame.



Now I ask you, Robot, do you think Tyler was right by saying that everybody who does X or does not Y is immoral?

Funny you mention it...

Jesus was also a staunch conservative.