Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Just to Make Sure We Keep Talking Past Each Other . . .

In a recent post, a seemingly devout atheist made a comment that I'd like to respond to:
My fear, with this documentary, is that more people might think that this is a religion. As an atheist, I'm somewhat disturbed by all religious belief. But mormonism is so silly, it's beyond my own understanding of how the world works.

Let me get this straight...a kid goes into the woods and talks to god and jesus. Then, a few years later, he finds some gold tablets that nobody else saw. Then he put a rock in a hat and dictated a new account of jesus.

Mormonism, for the most part, encourages good morals and teaches good things. Why is it necessary to believe that some kid could look into a stone and write a bible to be good people? Can't we be good without silly stories like this?
For those who share that view, how do you deal with someone who says something similar about your views? For example, someone could say the following about a documentary on modern physics:
My fear, with this documentary, is that more people might think that this is actual science. I'm somewhat disturbed by the cult of physicists. They seem nice and even charming, but what they teach and believe is so silly, it's beyond my own understanding of how the world works. They say that an object can be in many different wave states at once, which mysteriously collapse into one whenever you look at it.

They say that plain old empty space is actually a brew of virtual particles coming in and out of existence with a vast spectrum of activity, and that what we plainly see and feel as solid matter is really (depending on which of the contradictory sects you talk to) a tangle of invisible strings or waves or higher dimensions wrapped up in weird forms with properties that have nothing to do with what we experience. They also talk about whole universes inflating out of nothing, and on and on with such rubbish and nonsense - even crazy stuff like "sterile neutrinos" and "dark energy" and "Higgs bosons" and "magnetic monopoles" (not to mention antiparticles and muons and gluons and whatever-they-want-to-do-ons) - and we're supposed to believe that these invisible things exist because some techno-priest with a Ph.D. sticks his head in a dark chamber and claims to see little flashes of light from some kind of peep device that shows supposed little trails from collisions of invisible particles that reveal to him the laws of the universe???? Hello??

Any idiot can see it's all made up, all fantasy, just a way to get tax money and tenure and power over the "uneducated" common man with all this B.S. They talk about mythical particles and states and dimensions and "theories of everything" that have nothing to do with the basic laws of physics that we experience. It takes more than blind faith to believe it - it takes utter insanity. I think they are all frauds and charlatans. But they are nice and some even know a few good jokes, and they rarely kill their neighbors (excepting those that gave us the atomic bomb), so I can see some good in them and imagine they are trying to do good - but do we really need all those insane beliefs to just be good people?
That's just my little contribution to help polarize, obfuscate, and divide in our mutual efforts to talk past each other.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for such creative thought to talk to my atheistic friends. I have used some of these ideas but this is fresh material. We need someone like Jeff to write a book like the "Cosmic Jackpot" to show how far the mind has to bend to except that all that we now know just got here by luck.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,
Do you have any creative thoughts on the line of how microbiology just sprang into existence.

Anonymous said...

The book The Case for Faith has a chapter on how ridiculous it is to believe in macroevolution (the idea that we evolved from one species to another; microevolution is the idea that we evolve within a species). The book has various interviews on subjects that challenge Christianity, and each chapter is on a different subject where the interviewee is considered somewhat of an expert on their subject. The evolution chapter interviews a biologist from Texas A&M for his responses. One warning: there is a fairly anti-Mormon part in one chapter where the interviewee calls it a cult and Joseph Smith a charlatan, but beyond that it's at least decent. You might look for it in Barnes & Noble and just read the evolution chapter.

Anonymous said...

This post is symptomatic of the anti-intellectualism in the church. Science IS NOT our enemy. Logic IS NOT of the devil.

While I do find the atheist's comments really funny given that perhaps he believes that a belief in Christ raising the dead isn't silly, or perhaps that Noah building a huge arc wasn't silly, but the belief that Christ, who admittedly healed the sick, fed thousands with a few loaves, and even raised the dead, the idea that Christ came to the Americas? Well that's just silly.

Now if he thought all religions were equally silly, then he's most welcomed to do that. Remember we think the Vikings silly for believing that the earth began under the Yrgdrasil tree, we think some hindus silly for thinking a giant turtle carries the world on it's back. We think the romans were silly with their gods all galavanting about. But each of these had their own devoute followers. Religion from the outside is intrinsically a silly thing.

As for the "Case for Faith" it's full of psuedo science, and most of the book has been disproven, or proven to be intellectually dishonest. I wouldn't suggest it.

Anonymous said...

"An old guy walks up a big hill similar to that of the Smokey Mountains. He hears what must be a fog horn and then a voice on a loud speaker. The voice tells him to be nice to everyone. The major points of the conversation were written down on some stone tables because the old guy may be in the first stages of Alzheimer's".

Moses would surely disapprove of such a summation. Boil the above down without my colorful additions and you end up with a paragraph similar to that of the aforementioned atheists.

Big deal, you can do this type of thing with any topic. Jerry Seinfeld has millions doing so.

Anonymous said...

This is going to sound argumentative but I think it is on point. I am not the author of this paragraph, Google it and you will find the site. Goofy but does it really represent an atheists point of view?

"Billions of years ago, a big bang produced a large rock. As the rock cooled, sweet brown liquid formed on its surface. As time passed, aluminum formed itself into a can, a lid, and a tab. Millions of years later, red and white paint fell from the sky, and formed itself into the words "Coca Cola 12 fluid ounces.""

Mormanity said...

How do you define "anti-intellectualism"? Do you define intellectualism as NOT accepting God? That's mental apathy. Recongizing the evidence for God, in spite of human error, and reconciling it with science, is an expression of genuine intellectualism.

The chidlish rejection of what we don't understand is what's silly and anti-intellectual, and that's expressed in the satire about the cult of physics.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment. An athiests view is a cop out for not wanting to put the effort into understanding anything. A lazy and dismal look on life if as I see it. The 'I believe in myself' idea is a cop-out.

Q'Ekoi said...

I don't understand what you guys are talking about.

Therefore, you don't exist.

ruadamu2 said...

So now someone that chooses not to believe in God is lazy and expresses mental apathy.

Couldn't the same be said for them that choose to believe in God? You know, God makes it easy to explain away the unexplainable.

Russell said...

Couldn't the same be said for them that choose to believe in God? You know, God makes it easy to explain away the unexplainable.

Quite the contrary, such belief simply demonstrate that the God-fearers themselves are lazy Christians--"the mysteries of Godliness" they say. Such an attitude flies in the face of Mormonism--any attitudes to the contary within Mormonism, as Elder Maxwell notes, are "local and not institutional in nature."

Chesterton (the intellectual inspiration for C.S. Lewis--far from Mormon) would note that Christianity holds the promise of actually providing answers to the great questions--he uses mercy and justice as an example:

"Christian doctrine detected the oddities of life. It not only discovered the law, but it foresaw the exceptions. Those underrate Christianity who say that it discovered mercy; any one might discover mercy. In fact every one did. But to discover a plan for being merciful and also severe—THAT was to anticipate a strange need of human nature...that was an emancipation."

We are intellectually incapable of maintaining a neutrality between meaning and meaningless for long. Soon, we either adopt a severe form of relativism or hunker back into the cells of our constructs. In other words, EVERYONE believes in a god, even if it is the God of their own being.

ruadamu2 said...

Russell,

I have no idea what you just said but will attempt to summarize.

If you believe in God, you are not being lazy, but no matter because we all believe in God in one form or another.

Not sure that makes sense to me.

All I know is that it is not being lazy to devote a lifetime of research and study to discover the mysteries of the universe and of life itself.

It is being lazy to simply accept unfounded myths as absolute truth without any further need/desire for discovery.

BTW, is C.S. Lewis in the FP or is he an Apostle? He seems to be quoted here alot as if he is the last word.

Robert said...

ruadamu2,

You seem to have a fairly dichotomic view of belief and laziness. If you believe in God then you are lazy and no longer seek for knowledge. If you do not believe in God, then you are not lazy because you seek for knowledge unceasingly. Unfortunately the world of belief and intellectualism is not so clearly divided. There are many scientists who believe in God and yet seek to understand the world through their own discipline of study. Are they lazy simply because they believe, or are they not lazy because they seek a greater understanding of the mysteries of the universe? No, in the end, it is lazy to label summarily someone who believes as "lazy".

Russell said...

As a matter of fact, C.S. Lewis was not quoted AT ALL. No wonder you didn't understand the post if you didn't even pick that up.

"It is being lazy to simply accept unfounded myths as absolute truth without any further need/desire for discovery."

And I wholly agree--it is not lazy at all to search for truth through research (our religion demands it in fact--check out D.C. 109:7, 14--those who fail to seek truth through all means available will be stunted in their spiritual growth). I will be pursuing graduate education in history this coming fall--my livelihood will depend upon my ability to research in a fairminded way (better get my excommunication story ready, eh? :) Of course, I say that with more than a little sarcasm, given the overwhelming success of Mormon intellectuals (in spite of the isolated stories of Quinn, Toscano, and others).

I agree with Robert. We need to use both constructs--intellectual and spiritual--to find salvation. Otherwise, we'll be left as ignorant fools who will be waiting a little longer in the afterlife for celestial glory.

Robert said...

Thank you, Russell. I believe there is a very good reason we were given a mind along with a spirit. And no, that reason is not so that we will have a "natural man" need to think which conflicts with the "spiritual man" need to believe blindly. Instead I see the mind as an important functioning aspect of our humanity - both mortal and eternal. Knowledge can strengthen a testimony just as service, prayer, and scripture reading can - if that knowledge is tempered by wisdom. Wisdom to understand and appreciate what the importance of said knowledge is. The mind can be a beautiful thing, and a person of faith can exercise his mind in powerful ways that do not detract from his belief, but very often uplift it. I've enjoyed your comments, too, Russell.

Ruadamu2, I really do feel for you. I know your situation is a dire one right now, what with you hating the church but feeling forced to remain a member. I am by no means equipped to tell you how to solve your dilemma, but I would encourage that the path of light - and not the path of "intellectual enlightenment" but the "path lighted by the Savior" - is a beautiful and blessed way. I am sorry you disagree. I wish you all the best.