We feel annoyed or disturbed when others fail to do this. We are haunted by the delusion of epistemic safety in numbers, the idea that if enough people agree with us, our convictions must be true. We might vanquish doubt in crowds, but we will never find knowledge this way. Integrity requires each of us to bear witness with honest hearts. Spencer Case has a Ph. Everything you said I totally get. If a thing is simply not believable, then it is not to be believed. This was a well-written essay.
But the subtext throughout, made explicit near the end, is that the avowedly secular oxymoron intended are equally prone to the phenomena he artfully describes. So I very much appreciate this kind, respectful, and well written article. First, a small thing, they were not golden tablets, they were golden plates, which are thin sheets of some form of gold-metal alloy.
I want it to be true and I hope it is true.
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It definitely brings me happiness and purpose to my life, so I keep attending. And I totally agree that the pressure or shame that can sometimes be felt or pushed on those who are struggling with believing is completely inappropriate. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a lifetime journey, not something you figure out as a teenager and then you are set for life. And finally when it comes to obtaining a testimony, a leader in the Church put it really well by saying:. A testimony is not thrust upon you; a testimony grows. We become taller in testimony like we grow taller in physical stature; we hardly know it happens because it comes by growth.
It is not wise to wrestle with the revelations with such insistence as to demand immediate answers or blessings to your liking. You cannot force spiritual things. Such words as compel, coerce, constrain, pressure, demand, do not describe our privileges with the Spirit. You can create a climate to foster growth, nourish, and protect; but you cannot force or compel: you must await the growth.
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God likes to test us, and he tests us all differently as individuals. For some a testimony comes very easily like the people I taught on my mission and for others it comes very difficult like for me and many other people that are born in the Church. And again, that you for you kind and respectful article. My best friends from high school are Mormons. They actually live what they believe and are honest with themselves and others when they fail. Really appreciate your nuanced response to the author. I am a convert to the Church. Being part of this faith has brought me closer to God and Christ, but too often in Relief Society and in conversations with fellow members I hear platitudes that are meant to comfort but end up turning me away.
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Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. Bull…they dont even tolerate divergent views when it would result in children being safer. The exd Sam Young and did nothing to Joseph Bishop. Nice try Tom. Also Mormonism does not truly foster real consideration of other ideas. It may go thru the motions but the script is pre written to always arrive back at a position of affirmation of the religion. Cmon, you know this.
I spent 18 years in the church and read the Book of Mormon cover to cover and prayed about it. It is simply not a genuine ancient record. It disproves itself by verse 4 of 1st Nephi when it mentions Zedekiah as being a king who preceded any Babylonian invasion. Zedekiah was installed by the Babylonians. The fact that my nephews have grown up fine, outstanding, moral and well-adjusted young men I do attribute to the strong influence of that Church in their formative years; but it does demand a great deal of people. I must say the Mormons mostly DO walk their talk. I did go up and bear my testimony many times hoping that I would find it in the bearing of it.
I have struggled for literal decades to find my testimony before I finally gave myself permission to stop seeking. While there are a lot of positive things that have come into my life as a results of those things, there is also a lot of difficulty that is in my life now as I try to balance being an ex-mormon within my own mormon family. And Latter-day Saints are on the higher end of retention rates when compared to other Christian religions.
Although outside of Western Nations the Church is doing better than ever population growth wise. And Latter-day Saints are definitely allowed online, not sure where you heard that. Full-time missionaries even have smart phones and online proselyting is part of their daily activities. Typically they contact their families weekly by email. And public libraries are a great place for that.
Again, your points are generally sound and appreciated, but I would like to gently push back on a few. So secularization is only part of the picture. The availability of data which run counter to or undermine traditional LDS narratives is also part of the problem. But they are discouraged somewhat from investigating critical claims. In addition full-time missionary internet access devices almost certainly block all major critical or critical leaning sites such as the CES Letter, MormonThink, and Mormon Stories. Also make sure that your companion reviews anything you plan to email, post, comment, or message except for letters to your mission president and emails home.
Do not reset your device or erase your online history.
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As directed by your mission president, missionary leaders may also conduct device reviews. You rarely find that anymore and I miss being around those types. They are hard to find. I would visit other churches with friends growing up and was shocked at how authoritarian they were or presented.
In it, he also relates that one of his biggest barriers to recruiting students to Tuskegee were…. Some things never change. My biggest pet peeve. Honest as in truly logical and thoughtful individuals. My primary observation is the author seems to miss the forest for the trees when it comes to the purpose of religion. He seems hung up on not being able to feel some magical witness. Are the ten commandments not helpful? Do you feel like they will not help you live a fulfilling life? Have you tried them out?
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If you have tried these things and come to the conclusion that these things are not helpful it would be interesting to read your thinking. But throwing everything over because of the lack of some ethereal witness I find odd and shallow. The other issue is the authors skipping over of any discussion of why religious belief does not qualify as justified belief. The first half of the article is full of anecdotes about this individuals church experience and feels like he is cherry picking the negative ones and then just assumes that religious experience is antagonistic to justified belief.
The overwhelming emphasis on a belief experience is something impressed on the author by the Mormon church, not by himself. And Mormonism is not alone in that insistence on witnessing. Author is not discounting the general value structure of judos Christian tradition.
This is an article about how we know what we know. It resonates with my experiences. I had a good friend who struggled greatly with his testimony and I had immense respect as he bore his feelings at a youth conference testimony meeting once of his hope to gain a testimony. It meant a great deal to me at the time that he publicly acknowledged as a youth the struggle you and so many others face growing up in the faith. It has also allowed me many opportunities to serve my fellow-man. Anyways, it goes something like this:.
You are in a runaway carriage going down a hill at a high speed, you have two choices, either jump out or stay in. You attempt to gather information on which one would be safer, but really its hard to tell. A decision simply has to be made. Rationally speaking, being a member of the Church and living the gospel simply has to be the best option available, even if your confidence in that decision is very low.
This is known as epistemological solipsism. Philosophers for thousands of years have stared at their own hand and fretted whether they can know their hand actually exists. I am also exmo but a woman. Give, oh give. If it helps, the available evidence suggests Joseph Smith had very little sexual relations with his wives and probably none with a majority of them.
Hopefully it provides some prospective. They were among the first to grant them the right to vote, 50 years before the rest of the US. The first women to hold public office in the US were to a large degree Latter-day Saint women. And during this time Women were challenged by the Church to become doctors and scientists when the rest of the US would see this as blasphemy. These are just a few examples.
Tom, do you think women will ever be ordained to the priesthood in the mainstream LDS Church? Blacks were able to become ordained as of ; is it possible that women will be eventually be allowed to become priests as well? Very comforting. And how could anyone today possibly determine the frequency of sex he had with these wives?
The available evidence also suggests that Smith was a fraud and a conman. Mormons are kind, decent people. None of that changes the fact that the LDS is a borderline cult predicated on the fabrications of a charlatan. I share the majority Christian view of Mormonism as a regrettable distortion based on the teachings of a single unstable person Smith , with apologies to the feelings of the Mormons here….
I want to share a quotation with you which refers back to the person who is really at the centre of Christianity:. They had never known a man like this Man — there never has been such another. Sayers, Are Women Human? Great comment, Fuzzy. GREAT reading, thanks! Heads would be rolling! However, I certainly have no strong feelings one way or the other about it.
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No emotions about it at all. Leastwise not until my maple syrup supply is endangered. Like how my secular behavior incorporates the existence of stop lights, the provisions of the US Constitution, etc. But feelings…? Certainly not the foundation or definition of my religiosity.
Good and reasonable question. Theological questions. To which many solutions have been suggested. But not by the seminary teacher the author describes. And amen regarding conformity and virtue-signalling. Likewise any other belief system, religious or otherwise.
I could have written my experience growing up with Mormonism and it would have read almost word for word identical. This was like reading my own life. Except I served as a wild land fire fighter instead of the military. But had a similar experience when we thought we might be caught in a crown fire. Thank you for sharing your story, Spencer. By staying a member, you allow yourself to be counted among the membership, and the best thing to do with organizations like this is to vote with your feet as it were.
Its done amazing things for my family. Growing up I never felt my concerns were minimized, but always encouraged to learn for myself what is true. Its too bad the author had a different experience. Thank you Spencer for this thoughtful and heartfelt account of your experience in the LDS church.
I have had many LDS friends and acquaintances over the years, and they have been genuinely kind and considerate people. As other commentators have noted, they generally walk the talk of Christian charity. I was raised Catholic and converted to evangelical Christianity at the beginning of my senior year of high school.
By the end of my second year of college, I had abandoned my Christian faith, such as it was. By my senior year I was reading Nietzsche of my own accord and professing atheism. No professor of mine had ever assigned Nietzsche and his name had only been mentioned in a negative association with Nazis, but his philosophy spoke to me on a very personal level. Nietzsche rejected faith in general, and Christian faith in particular, quite viciously as is well known. Though I so earnestly wanted to be a believer in my youth, I always harbored doubts that I could not ignore.
Nietzsche advocated a harsh, elitist ethic that embraced the anxiety of relentless skepticism as a sign of strength, the antithesis of Christian faith. Nietzsche also mocked the concept of discipleship and exhorted his readers to question the authority of mentors. I took this ethic to heart. I have since softened my hostility to religious faith and accept it in good faith.
I have also learned to avoid living in a state of constant anxiety. I harbor no animosity toward religious faith or believers. The human capacity to love and be loved can manifest itself in a variety of belief systems. But I can honestly say that I have learned from the Spirit, in a way beyond anything emotional, that God does live, cares about me, and has a plan for me. This life is designed to help us build faith and be more like our Father in Heaven. This article reveals what religion is all about. It has nothing to do with faith, nothing with belief, and of course nothing with truth.
Pretense is required — as an investment in the trust and cooperation of other people.
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Spencer, complete your journey, come to the Church of the apostles and the Emperor, come to the Church of the beginning and the end, join the Orthodox Church. I have joined Greek Orthodox through marriage but there are many national flavors to choose from. If the deviation was corrupted perhaps you can find what you seek at the root. An honest account. But transcendent experience is an observable phenomenon common to all times and all cultures. It cannot reasonably be dismissed as so much play-acting, which is essentially what most modern atheists say.
One stems from the absence of emotional reaction, the other from its presence. An atheistic confession is no different and on no higher intellectual plain than a religious one. Both are statements of belief. I disagree. Atheism is a statement of nonbelief, not a statement of belief. Different traditions use similar methods prayer, meditation, fasting, ecstatic rituals, psychoactive substances, etc. These effects can be replicated using non-religious means, such as drugs and direct brain stimulation. The same is true of near-death experiences.
All of the common features of NDEs a tunnel of light, a sense of oneness with the universe, out-of-body sensations, visions of loved ones can be explained and stimulated scientifically. I know this argument and you have stated it well, but I think you are still stuck with a definition of verifiable that rules out transcendance a priori; you hold transcendence to a standard of material proof. Yet is not the acknowledged shared transcendent experience of peoples across time and cultures also not proof to be considered?
I think the ongoing efforts to reduce these phenomena in biological processes is always tenuous since there is simply no biological understanding of consciousness itself. Describing a biological sub-routine in the context of an immense over-arching mystery is not proof of anything, I say. Curious, yes, but not proof. Consciousness is a mystery from a scientific perspective, but in my view religious explanations simply compound that mystery with additional mysteries. Do humans have a soul? How does it interact with physical matter? We know beyond any reasonable doubt that minds are dependent in some sense on physical brains.
I believe that consciousness is an emergent property of the functioning of brains. You might argue that brains are the means by which souls express themselves in the physical world, comparable perhaps to radios tuning into broadcast stations. Instead, the specifics of religious beliefs seem to be completely determined by human cultures. I think that supernatural explanations and naturalistic ones are both viable possibilities. I am totally in agreement with you in the opening half of the first paragraph above.
We unquestionably have physical minds with observable physical properties. The frontier of understanding of the physical world creeps outward in some cases, and, if we are being honest, atrophes in others. The frontier wiggles back and forth over time. I think it is a great error to assume that the burst of technological knowledge in the last century is somehow permanent and irreversible, or that we have not recently lost significantly in other areas of knowledge.
This is really the point of divergance. After the statement of belief, the rest of the argument flows quite naturally and is well stated. I see it as a needlessly constraining principle that is far more difficult to apply than its proponents admit. Of course it is useful in our age of hyper polemical argumentation, but I really think it postulates a false dichotomy. I was raised in a similarly strict denomination and have since left that environment with many of the sentiments expressed in this essay.
My life changing crisis did not involve mortar shells, but it did result in a continued belief in the person of Jesus Christ. Thank you. Your experience tracks well with my experience in the Christian church. I originally left my religion at Age 19 because I had concluded there was no way to prove the existence of God. I remained an agnostic, albeit a hopeful one. I neatly avoided the subject until age 41, when I admitted I was an alcoholic.
I returned, first to God, then to the church, then to Jesus, but when I reached The Bible everything came to a screeching halt. I decided that if God existed and if he took a personal interest in me, the very least I owed him was an honest relationship. On the contrary, I was met with anger. This time I left the church for their good, not mine. Today I remain an even more hopeful agnostic. I still pray because I believe that there is a God and he may hear me. I also pray because regardless of whether God exists or not, it changes me in a good way.
What touched me most about your article was the fact that you saw what I saw: So many good people pretending, not daring to question their belief structures for fear of being different from the crowd. Even with a stout testimony of the Church I hate the culture that has developed in just my lifetime. My personal conversion within the church has evolved from being a white shirt RM — to a blue shirt nihilist who realizes there is more going on behind the scenes.
I still go to church because its fundamentally good — but it comes at a price of being amused by the zealots whose every move is to please God and gain his blessings through faithfulness — all the while they forgot to live life and enjoy the small moments. I even think the church is holding back truth. The true meaning of the Tree of Life. Interesting suggestion. I am sure I will write many things in the next 20 years. I probably will revisit it. Also I am not a philosophical materialist. Could I add that even within materialism is that where you would place yourself now?
I guess you could say I was looking at religion instrumentally. The testimonies were what turned me off. At a certain point they basically pressure you to make a choice, and when push came to shove I just found the testimonies to be a turn off. These kinds of stories crop up with some regularity and the more I see them, the more they suggest to me that the authors are still conflicted about their beliefs, otherwise why go to so much effort to defend the stance they are portraying?
Fittingly, the early church employed this image to speak of the Eucharist when it was administered to a dying person. The viaticum, the bread of one's last Communion, was seen as sustenance for Christians on their way from this world into another. Sometime later, the word was used not only to describe a last Communion, but as the Sacrament of Communion for all people. It is as if to say: our communion with Christ within world is provision for the way home.
The viaticum is God's answer to Jacob's vow, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God. This is my body. The world of humanity is flattened by the realities of death and sorrow. From the invitation to consume Christ's body and blood in the Last Supper to the desolation of that body on the Cross, we are undone by events that began before us and will continue long we are gone.
We are, in the words of Isaiah or the sentiments of the psalmist, like grass that withers, flowers that blow away like dust. But so we are, in this great earth, a richer dust concealed. Walking in cemeteries we realize this; following Christ we can proclaim it. Walking through Lent as dust and ashes bids us to see our need for God's unchanging provision.
God offers us the Cross for the journey, the communion of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, and the life everlasting. Your podcast has started playing below. Feel free to continue browsing the site without interrupting your podcast! We believe that the world makes more sense when we have a right view of God and the world. Learn about RZIM. Search Our Media Library.
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