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Things that don’t bother me about the Mormon church

August 26, 2009

In conversations I’ve had with believing Mormons and non-believing ex-Mormons (and everyone in between), I keep feeling like I just have different circuitry than others. Some things that bother many others (and may have led to others’ leaving the church) do not affect me, or if they do, not nearly as much. Here are just a few of these things:

  • Baptisms for the dead. Since I don’t believe they do anything (other than lead to some kid getting wet and invoking some name in the name of some other name, amen), this doesn’t bother me.
  • Past racism/priesthood ban/statements about blacks and Native Americans. Quite simply, I am way too used to racism to do anything more than affix my face to my palm. I don’t have unrealistic expectations of the church somehow being a beacon of morality with regards to race relations. This is awkward sometimes, because people expect that I should flip out over the black issue (darn identity politics!). But really, when racism gets to me, it’s not based on the past or what the church has said or done. (Don’t get me started on the church’s activities against gay marriage, though. That’s a button. But even this isn’t and wasn’t why I began moving away from the church.)

  • Historicity of the Book of Mormon/Abraham/etc., I dunno…maybe I just always had the apostate in me, but it all always seemed kinda incredible (in the literal sense of the word) to me.
  • Deception/lies/misinformation from the church. I guess this goes with the historicity point, but just in a broader sense. My nonbelief isn’t some kind of reaction to feeling lied to. Some times, I think people just put way too high a premium on honesty. I know people aren’t going to like this comparison, but sometimes, when people say they lost their belief because they realized they were misled, I feel they are like those TV cartoon characters who eat (and absolutely love) some exotic mystery dish, but insist the food is and always was gross when they find out the secret ingredient. My take is: if the food was tasty enough for you before you knew what was inside it, then why not afterward? I understand arguing on other grounds, but don’t say it was never tasty…that you never experienced something good from it.

Speaking more about that, it’s like those people who stop eating meat after seeing slaughterhouses. I think that’s pretty lame (and if I do something like that…please point out my lameness). I mean…I’m pretty squeamish, and I’m not a huge fan of meat, but it’s not because I saw the inhumanity (note: animals aren’t humans :3) of cows being brutalized. It’s because I already didn’t like the taste of meat that much.

Even though I know people are going to kick and scream: “That’s not at all similar!!!”, I think there’s something to this half-baked (half-slaughtered?) analogy. If I don’t like something or if I don’t do something or if I don’t prefer something, then it’s because I lack a personally persuasive reason. I don’t gravitate toward huge steaks because the taste isn’t all that good to me…I don’t even have a craving to persuade me to seek steak. It’s easy for me to avoid soda because the carbonation hurts. Meanwhile, juices and water go down easier and have a better taste to boot! (This effect reverse for water with a bad aftertaste [!!] or juices with factory-finagled syrup instead of real frut flavor [!!!].)

So my “issue” with the Mormon church wasn’t any particular issue. I don’t care how many wives Joseph Smith had, how old they were, or that he lied about them (or rather, even if I care…this isn’t relevant to why I’m moving past the church.) The “issue” is simply…I didn’t (and don’t) believe it.

What a novel idea! One doesn’t believe because…one doesn’t believe! For me, the church doesn’t click; it doesn’t appeal; it doesn’t make me feel anything good (although if I read the scriptures in bed…I can fall asleep more quickly. That’s better than NyQuil.) Interestingly enough, this is my experience regardless of the factuality or counterfactuality of the church claims (so perhaps that’s my pragmatic answer to Seth Payne?) In the same way that finding out a weird ingredient doesn’t change the taste of food, if I found out a dish I hated had an excellent, wonderful ingredient within, that still couldn’t persuade me to eat something that is so experientially bland or even distasteful.

Trying to force things doesn’t even seem like a good goal…because attempts to force it make me feel like fighting against myself. And that only brings a deep misery. Deficiency. Inadequacy. Guilt. Shame. I haven’t found a personally convincing or persuasive reason to justify moving toward those kinds of ill-tiding things instead of away.

I’ve made things simpler for myself, and have tried moving toward things that counter the destroying effects. And I wonder if this has been my way of separating the peel from the juicy orange?

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73 Comments
  1. sxark permalink

    Andrew:

    Your preamble sort of reminds me of that song: “Is that all?, – Is that all there is?, Well if thats all there is, – then ……”
    Others might say the preamble is “inappropriate affect” or some form of depression. But it certainly sounds luke warm.

    “I keep feeling like I have different circuitry than others.” Well, “variety is the spice of life.”
    This may be how you feel today, – but, tomorrow – is another day.

    If, tomorrow, your Bishop asks for volunteers to guard the ward chapel – 24/7, in shifts, because chapels have been under attack by political/social demonstrators, who are against official Church policy [that you don’t agree with anyway], and the police are spread too thin to provide protection.
    What would you do?

  2. If the Bishop asked for volunteers in a church meeting, then I wouldn’t hear about the request until after the demonstration occurred ;), so how’s that?

    If I heard about it, I probably still would stay home, and blog about how neither side should be proud of themselves. 🙂

  3. sxark permalink

    ok

  4. that response is kinda anticlimactic…don’t I at least get a “grade”? A-? C+?

  5. sxark permalink

    The grade is A+’
    No mistakes in grammer and your points were presented clearly.
    Therefore, one can safely place you in a certain catagory of like minded individuals.
    There is a large wall, somewhere, containing 100+ slots, describing catagories, and for now, you are slipped in, over there.

    But as you continue to read, study, and ponder – some sort of stimuli will strike you in such a manner, that changing your position might be a more attractive option.
    Then, you can be placed in a different catagory.

  6. Well, I’m pretty sure that when I read, study, and ponder, there are *some* stimuli that strike me. My realization is simply that it is not the doctrines and theologies of the church that do it.

  7. sxark permalink

    However, you still did not answer the question. Just assume you were contacted by the Bishop.

  8. sxark permalink

    The doctrines and theologies of the Church are not subject to scientific verification, not yet, that is.
    Then again, it could be possible that you might, in the future, have an experience similar to Saul before he became the Apostle Paul.

  9. actually, sxark, I did give my response. If I were contacted by the Bishop, I would stay home. The action would not concern me. This doesn’t mean I agree with the with the demonstrators’ message, necessarily, however.

    as for you second reply, I wasn’t saying it should be subject to scientific validation. I was going based on the Saul->Paul thing. I haven’t had any experience like that (or anything of any magnitude less) for the church, and so it is that lack of experience that is why I don’t believe. If I have such an experience in the future, then wonderful! I recognize that things could change. But I wouldn’t hold my breath and gamble on it, especially when I have to live my life every day.

  10. sxark permalink

    You wouldn’t gamble on it? If you take into consideration “Pascal’s wager”, – then you have a 50% chance of losing, as opposed to 100% of winning. Are you willing to live your life with those odds?

    I only brought up Saul/Paul as an example. My original point was reading, studying, and pondering, assuming that it might be LDS material and the stimuli can come in different forms.
    However, if you block it off – then your confronted with “Pascal’s wager”, of which you only have a 50% chance of winning.

  11. sxark, do you know how flawed pascal’s wager is accepted as being? I certainly hope you’re not living your life based on it…

    First of all, your very statistics (50% chance of losing) makes it sound like you don’t really grasp the many, many, many, many different religions out there.

    Next, you fail to account for the possibility of a God who 1) would want you to be true to yourself instead of feigning a belief in hopes of trying to appease him or 2) who would be able to see through fake belief and be enraged at this most heretical lie.

    Finally, you fail to account for the fact that if you live your life according to something you don’t believe in and you’re wrong, that isn’t “100% chance of winning.” No, that means you will have lived your life completely miserably (when you could’ve lived it and enjoyed it). And on top of that, your misery was for no just cause. Ouch!

    Not to mention, this reveals a really shocking idea about your philosophy of life. You would have people live their lives under a lie for the hope of a specific afterlife (that may or may not exist). Personally…I would rather live my life with integrity…so if there is a god who will want to punish me for that…well, that really wasn’t a god I wanted to follow anyway. If that sends me to hell, then I don’t count that as a “loss,” and I am a bit disappointed that you would.

    Secondly, you miss what I’m not gambling on. I’m not gambling on the chance of having a life-changing spiritual spiritual experience. So, Pascal doesn’t quite apply here…

    I don’t quite get you. I’m not “blocking anything off.” I’m recognizing that certain things don’t get me anything, and other things do. I’m going in the direction of things that get me something.

  12. So once a person forms an opinion based on limited knowledge, they’re lame if they change the opinion once they learn more?

  13. Jonathan,

    I left an opening…I think that these people should argue on *other* grounds.

    It’s silly to taste something, experience deliciousness, find out what’s inside and then frown and spit and gag, thinking it’s not delicious anymore. However, just because you find it delicious, you can still find out that it’s, say, unhealthy, and argue on grounds of unhealthiness. But if you found it delicious, you should be prepared to answer people who will stick with that food, saying, “I don’t care if it’s unhealthy; it’s delicious.”

  14. sxark permalink

    Andrew:

    Well, you certainly are not luke warm about holding your “wordly” views, no matter how jumbled it came across to me.

    Please consider an adaptation of Pascal’s wager:

    If you believe in God and die and God is there: You Win.
    If you believe in God and die and God is not there: You Win.
    If you do not believe in God and die and God is not there: You Win.
    If you do not believe in God and die and God is there: You Loose.

    Just include LDS doctrine in the wager
    Pascal’s wager may not be an absolute, but it’s a good start.

    Please explain one “jumbled” comment you made.
    “Personally, I would rather live my life with integrity…if that sends me to hell, then I don’t count that as a loss”.

    According to LDS doctrine, “hell” is described as not living in the presence of God.
    Presently, you may not care about living in the presence of God. But should your mind be greatly expanded after death, as LDS doctrine teaches, you may think otherwise.

    When you state that your not blocking anything off, – I was referring to your earlier comment that ‘ some’ stimuli may strike you -‘ but not any doctrines and theologies of the Church that do that’. I interpret that as ‘blocking off’.

    I hope your not offended by anything I’m writing. I don’t know how to use those little smiley faces.

  15. sxark:

    Hah! I guess it’s a good thing I’m not lukewarm about my so-called “worldly views.”

    I already considered your application of the wager. This is precisely the wager I called flawed (and which you should probably defend/counter my arguments if you want to continue using this argument). Your simplification doesn’t address my points.

    Let me redefine the wager for you with my perspective (about living with integrity):

    1) You live your life the way that brings you peace (with INTEGRITY), this ends up leading to belief in God, and God exists: win
    2) You live your life the way that brings you peace (with INTEGRITY), this ends up leading to belief in God, and God does not exist: win
    3) You live your life miserably (No integrity!), feigning belief in God (so you’re lying to yourself and God!), and God exists: bittersweet to lose. I think I am forced to look down on you and your view of God if you consider this a win.
    4) You live your life miserably (No integrity!), feigning belief in God (again, lying to yourself and God!), and God does not exist: lose. (A waste of a life)
    5) You live your life the way that brings you peace (Integrity), this leads to not believing in God, and God exists: bittersweet to win. I think I am forced to look down on you and your view of God if you consider this a lose.
    6) You live your life in the way that brings you peace (this is integrity), this leads to not believing in God, and God doesn’t exist: win.

    Do you see the difference? If you follow your soul and it doesn’t lead you to believing in God, I think it is a great sin to lie and pretend to believe in God. Furthermore, I believe this lie will make the person who commits to it miserable because they *know* they aren’t being honest with themselves.

    And I should HOPE that if you believe in a God, he would also disapprove of this behavior. I hope your God would not reward feigned belief. If God does not reward feigned beliefs that make people miserable, then I think you should count all the answers that have “You live your life that brings you peace” as definite wins. Either that, or provide a foolproof way for someone to come to genuine belief…since apparently, the church’s way, the book of mormon’s way, the bible’s way, the quran’s way, every text on the market’s way does not work in a foolproof way.

    …now, if you want to include LDS doctrine in the wager, then this really is a no-brainer. None of us have anywhere near a fulness of the gospel, so outer darkness is out of the question.

    Please explain one “jumbled” comment you made.
    “Personally, I would rather live my life with integrity…if that sends me to hell, then I don’t count that as a loss”.

    According to LDS doctrine, “hell” is described as not living in the presence of God.
    Presently, you may not care about living in the presence of God. But should your mind be greatly expanded after death, as LDS doctrine teaches, you may think otherwise.

    According to LDS doctrine, I wouldn’t go to hell, because I don’t have a fulness of the Gospel. I was “blinded by the craftiness of men”, and my prize: terrestrial kingdom. Sounds like a Sweet deal, man!

    Next, if you’re goiing by LDS doctrine, then realize these two things about LDS doctrine.1) The same spirit that possesses my body in this life has the same power to possess it in the afterlife…so I may not think otherwise. HOWEVER, if I do think otherwise, then 2) I will have the chance accept the spirit in the afterlife, go to terrestrial kingdom. Or, if I accept and receive all necessary ordinances in the spirit world, then I go to the Celestial Kingdom. Now that’s what I call a Sweet deal, man!

    It seems like Pascal’s Wager doesn’t work as well as you want it to with LDS doctrine…you have to take a protestant cosmology instead.

    Your comments on blocking off don’t make sense to me. You assume that I’m making a conscious action, but I’m not doing such. The simple fact is that I don’t choose which doctrines strike me or not. If the Word is like a seed, as Alma said, then I don’t control whether the seed will sprout or if the seed is dead.

    Don’t worry about offending me; I’ve got much tougher skin, you know. Really, I’m just wondering if these are actually your best arguments…if they are, I’m a bit disappointed. Most people realize that Pascal’s Wager is flawed in several ways, and it’s neutralized with LDS theology.

  16. sxark permalink

    Andrew:

    Give me time to go over “all” this.
    My legal gardian is yelling at me – have to go now.
    Tomorrow – is another day.

  17. no problem; take as much time as you’d like…tomorrow I should be traveling for a big part of the day, but I should get to all comments eventually…

  18. Your situation reminds me a bit of a conversation I had with Holly after her “Divine Malfeasance” presentation at Sunstone. She said that she still feels a lot of rage and anger about the evil of the God of the Bible. I didn’t really feel the same kind of rage because I stopped believing that that God was real before I started thinking critically about the morals/ethics of the Biblical God (especially in the Old Testament). So my reaction was closer to your situation with respect to meat — I didn’t really have any expectations about that God being good or loving, so I had no reason to be angry or even disappointed.

    As far as the Mormon church is concerned, most of the items on the list don’t bother me. However, I’ll admit that I get irritated by the calculated deception on the part of LDS Inc.’s propaganda arm (see free expression basics, not to mention their response to the Main Street Plaza kiss fiasco).

  19. I really like how you express things.

    I am a total believer, but if someone has not had a significant religious experience confirming their belief, then they should do what seems to bring happiness. This doesn’t mean they should just give up. We should probably not make to firm of a conclusion based on partial data either way.

  20. I think that ignores the psychological reality that once you know how the sausage is made, it might not taste as good anymore in reality. Their subjective experience of the sausage has changed because of their new experience.

    I’ll agree with you if you’re saying that people shouldn’t pretend that the sausage never tasted good to them. That’s just denying history. But if they say “Once I saw how pigs were slaughtered, sausage turned my stomach,” that’s not the same as denying history.

    So my enjoyment of the LDS church (and I did enjoy aspects of it) was based on the reality of its mythos. Now that I perceive that mythos as false, I no longer enjoy the LDS church.

    If we assume for the sake of discussion that the LDS mythos is false, then it can be argued that the enjoyment of the mythos is somehow less-than because it is grounded in naivete, kind of like living in the Matrix. Did Bane make a reasonable choice to return to the Matrix?

  21. sxark permalink

    Andrew S.

    I will respond as simply as I can. Too bad these comments aren’t numbered, it would be easier.
    I suggested to you earlier that “…as you continue to read, study and ponder – some sort of stimuli will strike you in a manner, that changing your position might be a more attractive option.” I should have said: [stimuli ‘may’ strike you]
    However, you ‘boxed’ yourself in by admitting that ‘some’ stimuli may strike you – but that you have come to the “realization that it would not be the doctrines and theologies of the church that do it.”
    Yet, later on, you grudgedly admit that the possibility does exist for you to have an experience similar to Saul, before he became the Apostle Paul. “If I have such an experience in the future then, wonderfull! I recognize things could change.”
    Had you stopped there, I believe the thread would have evolved in a different manner than what it has.
    For you added: “But I wouldn’t hold my breath and gamble on it…”
    Which now brings up Pascal’s wager. It appears to me that the “flaw” is your interpretation of this wager.
    Pascal’s wager only contains 4 elements, not 6 – and is put together using the ‘KISS’ principle: – 2 to believe and 2 not to believe. One ‘wins’ on 3 of the elements but ‘looses’ on the last element – which is 50% of ‘not to believe’.
    I acknowledge an error by suggesting to include LDS doctrine in the wager.
    Since you proclaim yourself as an atheist, in your bio, I found it odd when you jumped way ahead by bringing up concepts of God and how I may believe this or that, in regards to Pascal’s wager.

    I gave up counting the errors you made in your two long statements. But there is a critical one of note: Unfortunatly, according to LDS doctrine, if one has a chance to accept the Gospel in this life, and does not do so, they will not be given a 2nd chance, as you suggested.
    “If I accept and receive all necessary ordinances in the spirit world, then I go to the celestial kingdom. Now that’s what I call a sweat deal, man!”
    Your excuse that ” I was ‘blinded by the craftiness of men’ wins you no prize.

    But enough of this. I don’t want to develop Carpel Tunnel syndrome responding to all your mistakes.
    I give you one challenge:
    Will you refute, before the world, your earlier statement: “My realization is simply that it is not the doctrines and theologies of the church that do it [stimuli from reading, studying, and pondering that provokes change]” in light of your later statements, where you proclaim that it would be ‘wonderfull’ should you have, in the future, an experience similar to Saul before he became the Apostle Paul and that your not ‘blocking anything off’.

  22. sxark,

    I belong to a religion with a single tenet: you either give me $500 and spend eternity surrounded with every earthly delight, or you refuse and spend eternity being flogged with used jock straps by an old guy named Vinny in a musty locker room.

    When can I expect a check in the mail? (Or are you going to take a chance that my religion is false? (Or do you like being flogged by used jock straps?))

  23. sxark permalink

    Jon B.

    The chances are greater for you to be run over by a semi-truck, fully laden with used jock straps than receiving anything of monetary from me in the mail.

  24. I’m hurt! Well then, I guess Pascal’s Wager is dead.

    Or if not, at least you can sympathize with why the Wager doesn’t move some of us to adopt your particular faith (or any of the other myriad faiths that we must choose from).

  25. sxark permalink

    JB

    Philosophers still quible over Pascal’s Wager. Just Google it. I made the error of suggesting to include LDS doctrine in the wager and I withdrew my suggestion.
    Pascal’s wager is not absolute and was not ment to be by Pascal.
    So far, your analysis of what I stated is way off base.

  26. I’m aware that not every philosopher agrees about how valid the Wager is. The question of acceptance in philosophic circles is largely independent of whether I personally find the Wager persuasive.

    You apparently don’t find the Wager persuasive either. Just like you gave my religion a pass, I give yours a pass, probably on the same grounds: we find our respective religions incredible.

    But you’re passing up on the chance at infinite utility for a finite cost. Sure you won’t reconsider?

  27. sxark permalink

    JB:

    I do find that Pascal’s wager is persuasive for making that “leap of faith” for the existance of “God”.

    Sorry, I don’t understand “infinite utility for a finite cost”.

  28. Sorry, I was using the jargon associated with Pascal’s Wager.

    You’re passing up the chance for an eternity of everything you could ask for (that’s what I’m promising you) for a measly cost of $500. The math is simple. You get an infinite benefit for risking a finite cost. How can you pass up on this opportunity for infinite returns on your investment?

  29. sxark permalink

    JB

    I would pass on it because everything I could possibly ask for is only a very small percentage of the totality of what can be given to me were I to follow the doctrines of my religion.

  30. I can see you’re a tough bargainer. You’ll put me out of house and home, but fine. I’ll promise everything that your religion offers. You don’t even need to leave your current religion. I’m not jealous. You can hedge your bets. Give me $500 and live the LDS faith and double your chances of success.

    This is a limited time offer. Prices may go up. Operators may be helping other converts. If you get a busy signal, please try again. Call now.

  31. Sorry for the runaway italics. I was just so excited. I guess.

  32. sxark permalink

    JB

    However, the doctrines of my religion state that only a “God” can promise and deliver everything my religion offers.

  33. Well, you’re begging the question. You’re assuming that your religion is correct which is what we’re trying to address with Pascal’s Wager. If you have to resort to Pascal’s Wager, then you’ve acknowledged that you don’t know for sure that your religion is true. Hence, the necessity to make a calculated bet.

    Besides, my religion says that I am God. (And mine isn’t the only one. Sufism and parts of Hinduism, for example, say that I (and you) and God are identical.)

  34. sxark permalink

    JB

    A critical error you are making, is to continue with a position that was cleared up much earlier in this thread. It’s like you have eyes, but do not see, or brains, but do not think.

    Your assumption that I’m trying to use Pascal’s wager to show that my religion is correct, is simply wrong.

    And if your religion says that you are God, then I don’t think I would want to be in same room with you, when you meet the Maker.

  35. Oh wow, guys, I’ve been away all this day…and this topic gets so popular…let me try to address things

    re: chanson:

    I agree with your story…in many ways, that’s how I’ve viewed the whole church, so I particularly don’t “get” the argument that people suggest sometimes that I “took the church too seriously”. No, I definitely didn’t take it that seriously, and as a result didn’t have to dismantle any unreasonable expectations.

    re: Eric:

    While I’m all for people not making too firm of conclusions either way (and not blocking off future evidence, as sxark claims I’m doing), I’m not quite sure if this is the same as saying, “Don’t give up.”

    For example, I’m not going to block off a possible future spiritual experience. But since I’m content now, I don’t need to rack my brain continuing solely to search for one — which destroys the quality of my life in the process.

    Jonathan @10:31:

    I think you’re on to someone that I didn’t consider. I think what you say about experiences changing in light of new experience/knowledge is true. your matrix example is particularly interesting…

    I haven’t kept up with the matrix movies beyond the first, but from what I’ve wiki’d, I’m not quite sure if reality is always more justifiable than a lie. To counter-nerd this discussion, I’d have to raise Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Each of the kids sent to the fantasy world knew it was a fantasy, but just as well, each had some meaningful improvement to reality (e.g., one kid who was in a wheelchair could walk in the reality…one kid whose mother had died and father was an alcoholic had both of them back…and both were high up [the mom being queen of the nation, and dad chief judge].). In the end, the main character (who you play) is trying to bring everyone back to reality by crushing their dreams and destroying the fantasy world.

    In the end, you’re thinking, “Well, that was terrible.”

    now….on to sxark in the next comment

  36. sxark,

    “If you take into consideration ‘Pascal’s wager’, – then you have a 50% chance of losing, as opposed to 100% of winning. Are you willing to live your life with those odds?”

    You’re trying to convince someone that they should investigate your religion (BTW, you seem to be making a huge assumption that Andrew hasn’t done this already) based on Pascal’s Wager because we are not certain about whether your religion is true.

    I offered you the exact same wager except it involves my own religion. You then evaded by an appeal to the teachings of your God. So we’re back wondering why we should believe in your God and his teachings. We went in a circle because you begged the question.

    You’re in a corner because you’re being inconsistent. On the one hand you try to appeal to Pascal’s Wager to try to get someone to remain open to the possibility that your religion is true, yet you won’t apply Pascal’s Wager to my religion, or Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, etc. You can’t have it both ways. Let’s just drop the Wager and move on.

    Also, your religion sounds just as boastful and arrogant to other forms of Christianity. (I’m assuming you believe that you can become a god since you are LDS, although that assumption about the LDS is more and more tenuous these days.)

    And don’t let my hijinks fool you into thinking that the Sufis and Hindus are prideful. For example, take the idea of “thou art that” and you’ll see it’s much more reasonable than I have been.

  37. Andrew,

    It may come down to a matter of taste I guess. In cases where we can’t have both, do we want to know the truth or do we want to be happy? I don’t know that there is a right answer.

  38. re sxark @11:42:

    Once again, I have not boxed myself. If a stimulus does not “strike me,” then that’s on the stimulus, not on me.

    In fact, the fact that I noted that I could have a Saul->Paul-like experience (this was not “grudgingly admitted”…this was admitted quite candidly) shows that I’m not boxing myself. I’m not restricting myself. If there is a stimulus that will strike me (like, say, a Sauline experience), then it’ll come if it comes.

    But as I said before, I’m not holding my breath on it. I’m not betting on it.

    This is where you completely misunderstood me, and went on a tangent.

    When I say i’m not holding my breath on it; I’m not betting on it, what this means is that I’m recognizing that I do not expect such an event to happen. It’s a statement about possibilities. For example, isn’t it also certainly possible that I could be struck by lightning? But would I bet that I will be struck by lightning some time in my life? No, I wouldn’t. If I am, then I’ll deal with it then. But as of now, I have little reason to expect such an event. Same with a Sauline encounter.

    So, as I said before, your invocation of Pascal’s Wager is not even an appropriate response. It is non sequitur. It does not follow from what I was saying. You just latched on to the word “bet” and then thought, “OH WOW, WAGER IS LIKE A BET.” But you didn’t pay attention to the context of what I was saying.

    Regardless, in my past few comments, I entertained your argument. I pointed out how it was flawed, how most people, especially philosophers and theologians, note that Pascal’s Wager is a poor argument, how any set of variable can neutralize it. To this post, you have not provided any counterarguments. You have not defended the PW. You have continued just pasting the basic form, even though it’s been ripped to shreds conceptually.

    You hold that I make flaws in interpretation of the wager. But au contraire, friend, it is your job to somehow show me that your interpretation is best. If you cannot do this, you lose the argument. As of yet, you have not done this, and you have lost the argument. You cannot even begin to counter any of the numerous counterarguments I have raised…you just keep retreating back to your 4 point argument that I already reject. This 4 point argument is one that even you should reject, if you’re a good Mormon…so in fact, not only do you lose the argument, but you show you’re not a very good Mormon. If you want to argue from a non-Mormon perspective, then I can show you other ways the argument fails.

    Quite simply, I reject your four point argument with conclusions that “three ways you win and one way you lose.” Because to me, you forget a crucial variable: did you live this life with integrity? You completely ignore this variable, saying that it is a wrong interpretation. This shows me that you cannot counter this argument, so the only thing you can do is ignore it. If that’s the case, I’ll continue to live my life with integrity.

    As for LDS doctrine, check out Doctrine and Covenants 76: 73-75. Clearly, there is missionary work in the spirit world, and those who did not receive a testimony in the flesh will be ministered to by Jesus in spirit prison and have the chance to “afterward receive it. That’s the D+C. You should brush up on it. Note in verse 73 that it says, “AND ALSO”…so don’t try to say that this is just referring back to 72. Clearly, the people who died without the law in 72 are different from those “AND ALSO” in 73-75.

    And as it says of course, that’s the terrestrial kingdom. Which is quite far from Hell/Outer Darkness.

    Don’t worry about Carpal Tunnel syndrome! Worry that you’re being schooled in the gospel by an atheist. That should embarrass you to have more humility, but perhaps it won’t.

    I do not refute my past statement, because as it stands, there’s nothing wrong about it. You simply continue to misunderstand the words that I said. Or perhaps you don’t have ears to hear that I mean and eyes to see what I mean. If the future brings a change, then great. I’m all for new experiences. But this does not change the fact that right now, the scriptures are a dead seed that produce no fruit. I’m not blocking anything off. If the seed is dead, then it’s dead.

    • FireTag permalink

      Andrew:

      Sxark’s arguments (on multiple boards) are like Napoleon’s Imperial Guard: They die, but they never surrender.

  39. re Jonathan and sxark’s dialog:

    Even though I couldn’t respond to this dialog while it was going on, I got email updates on my phone…it was highly entertaining, and showed how even sxark doesn’t believe in Pascal’s Wager!

  40. sxark permalink

    Andrew:

    The ‘last’ thing an atheist will do is recognize the 4 points of Pascal’s wager. They scream and holler until they are crosseyed.
    “you just keep retreating back to your 4 point argument that I allready rejected.”
    I guess you just reject it outright because your counter arguments are actually ‘alternatives’ to Pascal.
    You have not even come close to: “Its been ripped to shreds conceptually.” – If so – its based on your frame of reference of reality – which you must surelly protect, against something like Pascal’s wager.
    Your anger gets the better of you, my friend, for you are the one who wants it both ways. By not refuting your past statement, you are saying: [1]. That you have concluded that you cannot receive [A] from [B]. [2]. You proclaim, later, that you are ‘not blocking anything off’, and if you were, in the future, to receive [A] from [B], then it would be ‘wonderfull.”
    Please do not “split hairs”, for [A] can only come from[B]. And [B] is God, His Doctrines, His Theologies, and His Churches.

  41. sxark permalink

    However, [A] can also come from [C]. Guess who that is.

  42. sxark,

    In all seriousness, Pascal’s Wager is old news. If atheists rant, it’s because we’re tired of hearing about it. It doesn’t hold water. You might want to read up on the criticisms of Pascal’s Wager. It’s not just atheists who think the Wager isn’t worthwhile. Even if it’s not completely refuted, it’s on very shaky ground.

    BTW, how seriously have you considered the Greek gods? I hear good things about them from a friend. My friend had some pretty convincing experiences that led him to worship them, not unlike Saul/Paul’s experience. You should start making oblations to Dionysus and see what comes of it.

  43. sxark @ 9:57PM

    because the ‘last’ thing anyone will do is recognize the four point Pascal’s Wager. That’s because no one — not even you, as your dialog with Jonathan shows — is persuaded by it.

    The thing is…you can’t give any reason for the primacy of the wager over any alternatives, nor can you give reason for the primacy of the wager on its own merits. This is why, even to this comment, you have declined to address these counterpoints. You don’t address these counterpoints because you know, just like everyone else here, that you don’t really buy Pascal’s Wager.

    Quite simply, you have a specific frame of reference. You are trying to defend this frame of reference while already taking it for granted…so when other people reject your frame of reference outright, you have nothing to say. Because you have not scrutinized the lens through which you are looking at things.

    You claim that my anger gets the best of me, but I’m not angry in the slightest. However, I am dealing with someone who has continually shown that they will not read and respond to comments, as you have. I am dealing with someone who must be spoken to in very blunt terms, with italics and bold print as guide points.

    Finally, you continue to misunderstand what I said in the very beginning: I have not concluded and I have never concluded “I cannot receive [A] from [B].”

    Read my comments. Read my post. You’ll find that I have never concluded I cannot receive [A] from [B]. Rather, what I said was…it is theoretically possible for me to receive [A] from [B], but I have not, and I do not have any reason to expect this to change in the future.

    the very fact that I recognize that I could receive [A] from [B] is a testament that you have misunderstood what I’m saying. It’s right in front of your face but you won’t correct your error. And even more, my words prove even more that I am not blocking anything — because if I did receive [A] from [B] I would not begrudge it…I’d say, “Great!”

    But the simply fact is that I haven’t received [A] from [B] and I’m not holding my breath in anticipation of that happening. In the meantime, I will live my life and experience joy and peace. So far, I haven’t needed [B] for that, and you have failed in showing otherwise.

  44. Basically, sxark, this is what you should be addressing:

    1) There are people who have not had spiritual experiences that point them toward God, the church, the gospel, etc.,
    2) While they could have these experiences, not all will.
    3) The chance of having an experience is unpredictable and unprobable, but most certainly possible.
    4) Without such an experience, these people should live their lives in whatever way that brings them peace, even (and ESPECIALLY) if it’s without gods, without churches, without the gospel, etc.,
    4b) Actually, EVERYONE should live their lives in whatever way brings them peace and joy. Whether it is with or without gods, with or without churches, with or without the gospel.

    So, what is your counter against this?

  45. sxark permalink

    Andrew:

    [words of Andrew 8/26 10:47 pm]
    “Well, I’m pretty sure that when I read, study and ponder, there are “some” stimuli that strike me.”
    “My realization is simply that it is not the doctrines and theologies of the church that do it.”

    If you want to amplify these two sentences by saying it is ‘theoretically possible for you to receive’ some stimuli that strikes you, from the doctrines and theologies of the church, then I will accept this ‘rift’ between you and I, as resolved.

  46. sxark permalink

    Andrew:

    I agree with your 4 principles but would add, that those who live with the Gospel will have the ability to reach their highest potential.

  47. re sxark @1:20AM:

    The problem is these sentences are already amplified as such. The rift has always been that you have not read what I wrote correctly..

    In fact, it should have been perfectly clear, because I already clarified it for you!

    I haven’t had any experience like that (or anything of any magnitude less) for the church, and so it is that lack of experience that is why I don’t believe. If I have such an experience in the future, then wonderful! I recognize that things could change. But I wouldn’t hold my breath and gamble on it, especially when I have to live my life every day.

    Re sxark 1:43AM:

    I would disagree…one size does NOT fit all…and I would point out all the many people who struggle, have been marginalized and have been destroyed within the church, within the gospel, within the institution, and because of bigotry, persecution, and “spiritual pride” of the church and its members.

  48. I tried basing my faith on Pascal’s Wager when I was 17 because I never really had that sure “Testimony”…
    Talk about a shaky, flawed foundation to build a belief in God (and ultimately in my case mormonism)! I think it was only a matter of a couple of years of basing my faith on Pascal’s Wager and trying to feel the spirit (I did all the “right” things) when I realized that IF an all powerful God exists, he wouldn’t want me to be as miserable as I was by attending church every Sunday and trying force myself to believe in something I really didn’t.
    People like sxark don’t realize how miserable the church can make some people.

  49. FireTag permalink

    When I was in high school I decided that living with integrity required me to oppose God, because a loving God couldn’t require the crap He put people through (and I still had a pretty naive notion of how much crap there was in reality). I told him so, and I never meant anything more in my life.

    I had my “sauline” experience 15 minutes later. I didn’t have my answers yet, but I had my testimony. It tool two more years of mental struggle to understand answers I could comfortably live with then, and the answers have changed and, hopefully, grown over the decades since.

    Part of the answer, in my mind, is that reality is exposing us to all the possibilities of our existence. The crap isn’t a bug in the system; it’s a design feature. (If you want to see how big the crap is, look at the right side of the heading picture on my blog and read the ABOUT page).

    Sometimes I live a variant of my life in which I don’t get that testimony. Sometimes Hypatia, or Chanson, or Andrew live lives in which they do. Sometimes we get the gift of faith. Sometimes we get the gift of no-faith. Sometimes Sxark grows up as a leftist progressive. Sometimes we get the gold; sometimes we get the numbing poverty. Sometimes we live as the privileged; sometimes we live as the oppressed. Reality is discovering the possibilities of its own existance as we discover the possibilities of our existence. Everything happens — that’s sort of the point.

    From where I stand, I could hope that you didn’t experience “no-faith”, but I’ve come to see how living in integrity without faith, even for a whole lifetime, can be an important part of growing our greater self. So don’t stay miserable at the expense of your integrity — no good (even in the Christian sense) will come from that.

    But do take time to explore what integrity means to you, if you haven’t done that already. You’re bound to find some good things from your culture to keep with you.

  50. sxark permalink

    To all:

    Please consider for the sake of arguement: Science has now discovered a comet coming straight to the earth and it will be here in 2 years.

    Would this new info bring all that has been said in this thread into sharper focus?
    2 years is a long time. The Scriptures say: [Math 20: 1-16] that the Kingdom of Heaven equats those that come and work in the ‘vinyard’ at the 11th hour, as the same as, those that come and work in the ‘vinyard’ in the 1st hour.

    Who here, among us, would proclaim – “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die”.?

    What then, does one do to prepare themselves to work in the ‘vinyard’ for this last hour?

    I recognize that I have many faults, but the last thing I would want to do, is plant seeds of, or reinforce discouragement concerning faith in the Gospel.
    And yet, I recognize that my ‘zeal’ in, supposedly, promoting faith, may in and of itself, may be considered a “Gospel hobby”. – Which is a title for another thread.

  51. re FireTag:

    Well, fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on whose perspective you’re at), I don’t believe anything of the sort that “you have to oppose God to live with integrity.” I think this is a — pardon my expression — “butthurt” way of living. I don’t think living in integrity requires God or God-concepts, because I don’t believe in God. I don’t “oppose” something I don’t even believe in. However…even if I don’t believe, I understand that there are numerous *ideas* of God. And these are things I can evaluate. There are numerous *institutions* that claim connection to God. These are also things I can evaluate. So, I can evaluate what the LDS church does, what Mormons do, what individuals do, or how certain beliefs and ideas play in their lives. So, if I oppose anything, then perhaps it’s that. But here…I’m not necessarily about opposing. Rather, I’m doing a much less ambitious task: simply showing that these things are not necessarily. It sounds more precise to me (and less “angry” and “angsty”) to say, “I don’t believe integrity requires the belief in gods” than to say, “I believe integrity requires opposition to belief in gods.”

    And again, I recognize things could change. Although 15 minutes have passed, it could be this month, this year, 10 years from now, etc., But so far, I’m finding out so far that peace and joy and integrity with one’s life do not require theism. For some, perhaps. But one size does not fit all.

    I don’t necessarily say, “x is a bug in the system” or “x is a design feature” (except when I’m in the middle of countering someone and want to be particularly vitriolic 😉 )…I think that “bugs” and “design features” are things that we project onto the universe based on ourselves and our biases. I’ll have to check out your about page sometime.

    Who knows? In the end, it could be that “integrity” and “peace and joy” — even if I do not see reason to attribute it in a certain way — are really the same thing as a life in good faith. And that all of this battling between people, all of the supposed disagreement and difference, was really all semantic.

    • FireTag permalink

      Andrew: I don’t think you and I are in any disagreement here; I’m simply describing it in the terms that have been meaningful to me in my personal life history. For me, I did believe in God and, like someone referred to farther up the thread, thought he had to be a monster to create this kind of universe.

      Your experience is yours, and I don’t assert it SHOULD be like mine.

  52. I would first volunteer whatever talent and resources I have to avert the destruction of humanity (assuming this is what you imply by your scenario).

    Whatever else I may do, I doubt that I would suddenly find a faith in Yahweh, Thor, Vishnu, Buddha, Cthulhu, or what-have-you. What does impending destruction have to do with evidence of the existence of your god? Lacking evidence, I don’t believe in your god or any other.

    It sounds to me like part of your faith in God is really fear that he exists. You may have doubts, but you can’t let yourself doubt fully because you seem to be afraid of what would happen if you’re wrong. Is fear of the Judgment Day propping up your faith?

    If this doesn’t describe you, then you seem to expect it to describe the rest of us. I, for one, am not afraid of God’s judgment. If he is all-knowing and merciful, then he knows my heart. He knows that I’m living true to what I have experienced. If such a god exists, then I’m confident that he will welcome me home. If such a god doesn’t exist, then I can face death knowing that I have lived well.

    Living a life of integrity is the answer to Pascal’s Wager. It is the only win-win solution. (Unless the deity that rules over us is actually malevolent or chaotic (D&D anyone?). Then it’s lose-lose no matter what we do.)

  53. re sxark:

    Trust me; I’m not trying to lead you wrong. I try to give you advice in order to help you in your goal.

    I understand what you’re trying to do, because I’ve seen it and experienced it from many, many people from many, many walks of life (not just from other Mormons, but from non-Mormons). And I have to tell you — being perfectly honest — that although you think this is the best way to promote faith, what you don’t realize is that your zeal and your argumentation actually does push people away. It makes the Gospel and the church unappealing. It reminds people of what they wanted to get away from in the first place. It does plant the seeds and reinforce discouragement and despair in the Gospel. This is the same with anyone that does it: from the non-Mormon Christians who tried convincing me when I was with the church to leave the church for the “real Jesus,” completely insulting my religion and me in the process.

    I know you don’t mean to do it. You may not even see what I’m saying, and think I’m just trying to attack you. You may not think I’m trying to help at all. Whatever. But still, I must speak candidly…if you engage adversarially and try to hit hard, then that will reflect back at you: others will engage back adversarially and hit harder. You don’t win any favors that way. If you misunderstand someone’s argument and use unpersuasive counterarguments that miss the mark, then no matter how excellent you think the arguments are, they will do nothing for you but diminish your credibility, your ethos as a speaker.

    Even with a comet, I would continue to advise the same thing that I always have advised. Live your life with integrity, peace and joy. Wherever you get that. If the vineyard master cares about that, then great. If he doesn’t, he hasn’t convinced me he bears good fruit or that his wine is good enough for my new wineskin.

    If my life is to end in 2 years from comet, I do not believe in selling all my possessions and living my life miserably worrying. I also do not believe in losing my values and my integrity and going crazy just because the world may end. I do what will bring me peace and joy regardless.

    So, I think if you want to be more effective, then you have to live by example. You have to show that you are not about being adversarial, you are not proud in your perception of “spiritual knowledge,” but that you are humble, kind, meek, willing to listen and willing to understand. Instead of telling people the Gospel, you have to show them the Gospel. If you can’t do this, then I’m afraid you won’t be very successful in your goals.

  54. sxark permalink

    Andrew & Jonathan:

    I would abvise that you ponder your words deeply and put aside, that I may be self righteous and that my zeal may drive others away from the Gospel.

    But think now, that you are before the Maker of us all, and how your answers to me or others might impact the Maker.
    I believe the Maker looks at the intent of one’s heart, but He also has expressed in several parts of spripture that He does not take lightly the words that men speak.

    And yes, I do fear the “Wrath of God” – D&C 59:21
    I may believe the 1st part of that verse but have my own problems adhereing to the 2nd part.

  55. If you read my last comment, then you have my opinion about being before the Maker.

  56. re sxark:

    The thing is, sxark, that both Jonathan and I have been in the church. We have been fully active members. We have pondered your words frequently — in fact, we grew up on them, and many others did as well. They have been found in many senses lacking. So, at this stage, you need new arguments, a new approach. The church needs new arguments, a new approach. You and they need “Plan B”.

    At this point, you’re still offering much of the same…and what I’m saying is that same isn’t persuasive.

    I can perceive of a few things before meeting any alleged maker (if he exists). 1) That he would say that I was righteous to follow peace and good fruits in my life, and that was what was important. So I achieve whatever I get. Great. 2) That he would say that I was unrighteous to follow peace and good fruits in my life, and so I will go to Hell/be cut off/whatever. If this is the case, I can’t say I will be pleased with him. He will then have to show me how his justice is just, for it will seem so unapparent to me at that point (as it does now).

    But even through that all, and even if he walks me step and step of the way, I will still lament. I will lament that he allowed me to go through this world (in such a scenario) and find him unappealing, unattractive, a bringer of misery and despair…and that his messagers were unfit to the task as well and pushed me away.

    If for that I must accept Hell, then I will gladly accept that than grovel for something that never seemed right.

    I agree with Jonathan’s sentiments here. I am really not afraid of whatever my fate is, as long as I’ve lived a good life.

  57. sxark permalink

    The actual “main” point is: Both of you are not involved working in the ‘vinyard’ now. I don’t have to bring ‘new’ arguments for you, or a “new” approach, or “new” anything.

    If you feel confortable about meeting your Maker now or in 2 years – based on your present frame of reference of reality, then I would, simply, counsel to reconsider – without any “new” arguments or such. You both have been exposed to enough. No “new” info will really change your minds.

    With the exception, that if science really were to discover that comet heading toward earth. That would be a “new” approach.

  58. he actual “main” point is: Both of you are not involved working in the ‘vinyard’ now. I don’t have to bring ‘new’ arguments for you, or a “new” approach, or “new” anything.

    …And at this point, you have once again discouraged faith, because all you can do is accuse others of error: you don’t show that your way actually is worthwhile. Congratulations! If you really think about it, what you have just done was act as an anti-Christ.

    sxark, I have a serious question…Do you ever wonder, according to YOUR belief and your scriptures, that you might meet your Maker and say, “Lord, Lord, have I not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”

    But then…after that, all the Lord will say is: “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”? Do you ever wonder about that? What do you do regarding that possibility? Or of other similar scriptures. You seem so sure that you’re a servant working in in the vineyard, but could it be that you’re not a servant working in the vineyard…but you are part of the vineyard? And in that case, might it be that you’re a tare, not wheat…you know, tares and wheat look very similar when they are growing up; that’s why the plant tares are referred to as “false wheat” or darnel…because you can’t often tell wheat from the tare until very late in the season. So even a tare might think he’s a wheat…but of course, the master of the vineyard would know what’s what, and he will cast the tares into the fire at harvest time.

    Quite simply, I don’t need even two years. I feel comfortable at any time — that’s what it means to live a life of integrity and peace. You know you are fulfilled, whether there is or is not an afterlife. But here’s what I don’t get — and you, the church, and the scriptures are each not helping: you say I’m not working in the vineyard…but you don’t even show WHY someone should even BELIEVE in the vineyard, much less want to work therein. Especially when instead of worrying about vineyards, people COULD be helping people find peace and joy. Because, as far as I can tell so far from how you and others speak about it (and to be true, this doesn’t go for all members, all Christians, all theists…) I can safely say that by your fruit, I recognize that your way brings misery, contention, and tyranny, and I’m not having that. Your way is a way of accusation, of backbiting, of guilt and shame, of fear. I’m not having that.

    Again, there could be a few solutions. 1) Get better “natural” evidences. E.g., the Christian representatives on this earth make a convincing and persuasive argument for the vineyard. or 2) God could find it fit to strike me at any time and show me something incredible (a Sauline experience). These are “new” things. But as it stands now, 1) your god, for whatever reason, isn’t giving out those experiences or making himself known in any way even to people who have been raised in the church, who have prayed, fasted, studied the scriptures, and racked themselves to get a witness. But more importantly, 2) from God’s man-made army, his zealous believers and servants in the gospel and the church as an institution, the Gospel is shown to be really a dark, bleak, and unattractive thing.

    That’s what you’re not getting. And I’m wondering if I can get you to even THINK about this for five seconds with any of my comments to you…because honestly, I want you to get better at this. I don’t want you to continue to make ineffective, vexing arguments. I don’t want you to continue pushing people away from something you obviously care about.

  59. Screw the comet. I could get in a grisly traffic accident tomorrow and die. I could die at any moment while I type this. I could be diagnosed with a brain tumor like my 8 year old cousin did and die a painful death suddenly and out of nowhere with or without the luxury of a warning.

    I don’t think anyone lacks belief because of a fact that they fail to see our mortality is staring us in the face. Trying to scare people into believing is not a good way to win people to your side.

    For one, I think I can have my heaven on earth today. I can see the wonder and beauty in this life and in the cosmos. I can see how lucky I am to even be alive in this mostly empty and “dead” universe.

    I find beauty in little things. I can have “spiritual experiences” when reading scientific articles about evolution of life, looking at the intricacies of a vine, or holding my child in my arms. But because I don’t assume that beauty and wonder originates from an all powerful god who looks like me and created me in his image and had a son, who was also him in purpose, who came to earth and died for my sins and then put the church on the earth just to take it away so that in the 1800s a man named Joseph Smith bring restore it, does that make my life any less meaningful? Any less worthwhile? Definitely not. For me, I would argue it even makes life less confusing.

    I tried to have faith in the church, but couldn’t even by mormon standards of discerning truth. Every time I prayed about Joseph Smith, or the Scriptures, or the Church, I would have “a stupor of thought.” My whole temple experience was “a stupor of thought.”

    But when I realized I didn’t believe, that I was trying to fool myself, my “stupor of thought” left me. I felt like a burden was lifted off my shoulders. I had the kind of experience I heard converts had to the church, except mine was a reverse example.

    No one can take my experiences away or tell me I don’t have them. Just like I don’t have the right to tell others what their experiences are or why they have them. It drives me nuts when I get told that I wasn’t “praying right.” etc. etc.

    I think that a sign of healthy discussion would lack people going around telling others that they need to imagine apocalyptic hypotheticals and consider them legitimate arguments.

  60. sxark permalink

    [Andrew writes 8/28 3:47pm] re sxark

    “Trust me; I’m not trying to led you wrong. I try to give you advice in order to help you in your goal.”
    Well, thanks Andy. Trusting a former LDS atheist to give me advice in order to help me in my goal is something I will ponder as I read statements like:
    “Apostasy consists in the abandonment and forsaking of these true principles [the true Gospel], and all those who do not believe and conform to them, are in a apostate condition, whether they are the ones who departed from the truth or whether they inherited their false concepts from their apostate fathers.”
    But I’m sure you know all that. You probably know more about apostasy then what I have read about it.

    [Andrew writes 8/28 4:54 pm]

    “I can perceive of a few things before meeting any alledged maker [if he exists]….[2] That he would say that I was unrighteous…If this is the case, I can’t say I will be pleased with him. He will then have to show me how his justice is just…”

    Suppose He doesn’t show you how His justice is just? What will you do? – Get mad? – Call Him some names?

    You sound so nonchalant about meeting your Maker. You didn’t even have the decency to capitilize any reference to Him.
    But instead of perceiving these few things before meeting “any alledged maker”, I would put forth that your only thoughts, at that time, is where are you going to get some new underwear. Because, now that you have written those things, – He knows, for sure, what you are going to ask.

    Thank you for your [alledged] concern over my welfare when I meet the Maker. However, I won’t be saying ‘Lord, Lord, Have I not done all these wonderfull things for You etc.’ Because I haven’t done any of those things.
    My issues are different, and at this point in time, His questions to me may be somewhat unconfortable.

    Your “victim stance” arguements about being further driven away from the Gospel by others, hold no real water.
    Everyone is responsible for their own actions.

    The only question left for you and others like you is:

    Will you remain a prisoner of the past or will you rise and take hold of those instruments that can assist you to reach your full potential?

    And don’t count on getting a 2nd chance to reach your full potential in the Spirit world. You have placed youself in a position where you will not be afforded that opportunity in the Spirit world.
    Your earlier assertions: “If I accept and receive all necessary ordinances in the Spirit world, then I go to the Celestial Kingdom. Now that’s what I call a sweat deal, man!”, are, simply, – incorrect.

    I don’t need to back up with references. You allready know enough.

    And I was looking so foward to being included in your preamble on this thread.

  61. sxark,

    “Well, thanks Andy. Trusting a former LDS atheist to give me advice in order to help me in my goal is something I will ponder as I read statements like:…”

    Now you seem to be trolling. Andrew is trying to give you an insight into how some former Mormons feel. If you want to have any hope in helping them see the light of the LDS gospel, you should pay attention. (hint: Fear simply won’t work on atheists. It’s like asking you to be afraid of the bogeyman.)

    “Will you remain a prisoner of the past or will you rise and take hold of those instruments that can assist you to reach your full potential?”

    Your statement is ironic because that’s a precise statement of why it felt wonderful to leave the LDS church: I stopped allowing my Mormon upbringing to dictate my choices and I started to live up to my full potential as a human being after a long, dark night of ignorance trapped by precepts that I learned at church.

    It’s been fun, but I’ve got to spend some more time reaching my full potential.

    end of line.

  62. Wow sxark,

    Jonathan is soooo wrong! Your approach is fantastic! You’ve convinced me! I will abandon my disbelief and re-join the church!. Thank you so much for invoking the fear and wrath of God in me, that’s the whole basis of what a testimony should be anyway, fear. I see now that I really did leave the one true and only living gospel because I was offended, or I committed some great sin. That’s the only reason any of us left after all. It clearly wasn’t because we just didn’t believe or found the whole thing deeply flawed or transparently absurd. That’s just ridiculous. Furthermore, we always really knew that the church was true deep down, I mean, were all really Kohriors that are deceived by the Devil’s angels. But, we always really knew that its all 100% true. We just wanted to destroy the truth, cause it’s great fun. But, now I see the light. Through your invoking of fear and retribution of an angry God I mend my ways. I fear judgment, I fear standing before God having lived a life devoted to love harmony and joy, but absent of belief, lest he smite me down to eternal torment for my deplorable acts of peace. Your absolutist certainty and misunderstanding of just about everything Andrew has said have saved me. Go forth and save others as you have saved me!

    (…sorry for the sarcasm, couldn’t help myself)

  63. sxark writes, “And don’t count on getting a 2nd chance to reach your full potential in the Spirit world. You have placed youself in a position where you will not be afforded that opportunity in the Spirit world.”

    Oh I get it. Apparently YOU are god. That’s why you’re so sure of yourself. After all, it is ONLY god who could pass such a judgment correct?

  64. re sxark @3:52AM:

    Well, thanks Andy. Trusting a former LDS atheist to give me advice in order to help me in my goal is something I will ponder as I read statements like:
    “Apostasy consists in the abandonment and forsaking of these true principles [the true Gospel], and all those who do not believe and conform to them, are in a apostate condition, whether they are the ones who departed from the truth or whether they inherited their false concepts from their apostate fathers.”
    But I’m sure you know all that. You probably know more about apostasy then what I have read about it.

    Again, I tell you truly: if you try to address an apostate in any other way than how the apostate would want be treated, then you will ALWAYS push people away from the Gospel. If you don’t care about the Gospel or the work in the vineyard (for example, you’re just trolling), then no matter. But if you don’t want to be an anti-Christ, actively leading people away from the Gospel, then I dunno…maybe you should find out from the source what people don’t like about the gospel and its followers?

    Because I think that’s win-win. If believers would cease spiritual trolling, that makes *everyone’s* life less hectic. Heck, believers might even become a bit more Christlike in the process and make the Gospel appealing as a lifestyle.

    Suppose He doesn’t show you how His justice is just? What will you do? – Get mad? – Call Him some names?

    well, why should I get mad? God does not control me. But since he apparently can read hearts, he would always have to know that he had at least one child who didn’t understand him, didn’t find him just and only begrudgingly accepted his fate (whatever that is). I would imagine this would make any CARING parent go nuts. But then again, who knows what God is?

    You sound so nonchalant about meeting your Maker. You didn’t even have the decency to capitilize any reference to Him.
    But instead of perceiving these few things before meeting “any alledged maker”, I would put forth that your only thoughts, at that time, is where are you going to get some new underwear. Because, now that you have written those things, – He knows, for sure, what you are going to ask.

    Because maker is not a proper noun. I don’t say, “My Mom.” I say “My mom.” If I’m referring to a specific one, then I don’t need the “my.” I just say, “Mom.” Similarly, “Your god” is uncapitalized. If we’re referring to a specific god, then we capitalize. Zeus, Hera, Jehovah, Allah, Elohim…and in English, we usually refer to Elohim as “God” too, so that explains the capitalization.

    I’m just trying to follow basic English here (oh yes, English is proper noun)

    TEE HEE, YOU MADE A JOKE THAT I WOULD PEE AND POOP MY PANTS. THAT IS SOOOOO FUNNY! LIKE, I THINK THE LAST TIME I HEARD THAT GEM OF A JOKE WAS IN 1st GRADE! WHAT A FUNNY MAN? LOLOLOLOL XD.

    Thank you for your [alledged] concern over my welfare when I meet the Maker. However, I won’t be saying ‘Lord, Lord, Have I not done all these wonderfull things for You etc.’ Because I haven’t done any of those things.
    My issues are different, and at this point in time, His questions to me may be somewhat unconfortable.

    So you already know God’s will, eh? You already know that you’re doing all of these wonderful things and that you’re not being spiritually proud? How amazing to have such confidence in something!

    Your “victim stance” arguements about being further driven away from the Gospel by others, hold no real water.
    Everyone is responsible for their own actions.

    Precisely. And my actions are to help people find peace and joy. My goal is to share the familiar tale of MANY of how the church does not bring peace and joy, but instead brings slavery and misery. So, everyone, because they are responsible for their own actions, has a responsibility to evaluate their lives and discover if that is true for them. If it is, then they have an obligation to live their life with integrity — even if it means leaving the church. They have an obligation to live according to their true beliefs — if they don’t truly believe in any god, then they shouldn’t fake it and worry about such an inconsequential matter.

    Will you remain a prisoner of the past or will you rise and take hold of those instruments that can assist you to reach your full potential?

    Oh, but don’t you see, I am rising up and taking hold of these very instruments! My past is the church, and I have broken the shackles of my oppression in it. Instead, I have taken hold of instruments that do assist me in reaching my full potential. These are instruments like reason, personal integrity, the radar for peace and joy, subjective experience, and courage.

    The problem that you *still* don’t get is that the church and the gospel are not necessary for people to reach their full potential. Maybe, by your experience, they are necessary for you, but one size does not fit all.

    You are tasked here to show how the gospel helps, instead of hinders, people reach their full potential. The problem is…you can’t do that, because you don’t know how. Instead, you can only show how the gospel is a tool of victimization, fear, guilt, and enslavement.

    And don’t count on getting a 2nd chance to reach your full potential in the Spirit world. You have placed youself in a position where you will not be afforded that opportunity in the Spirit world.
    Your earlier assertions: “If I accept and receive all necessary ordinances in the Spirit world, then I go to the Celestial Kingdom. Now that’s what I call a sweat deal, man!”, are, simply, – incorrect.

    I don’t need to back up with references. You allready know enough.

    And I was looking so foward to being included in your preamble on this thread.

    Oh, I had forgotten a scripture way back when. D+C 137: 5-9.

    Now, you say, I have placed myself in a position where I have not been afforded the opportunity? But how? Maybe it’s because you think I have already received the Gospel (especially since I’ve been a member). But again, I will point you to: D+C 76: 73-74. As it clarifies, what would “disqualify” me is if I had received a “testimony” in the flesh. But as a few verses later go on, I could have been “blinded by the craftiness” of men (including, for example, the craftiness of imperfect believers. This is why believers bear responsibility to preach correctly…because if you don’t, you are those who will blind people.) NO matter, because in the spirit world, the Son will allegedly preach the gospel. So, it seems you simply don’t understand scripture.

    Now, you might say, “but but but, you’re a son of perdition.”

    Let’s look at D+C 76: 43…Sons of perdition deny the son after he has revealed himself to them. Jesus has not revealed himself to me. I have had no Sauline experience. I have had no experience seeing the finger of God. I have not been struck blind, deaf, or mute. So it seems I’m only running off what men craftily say…by your own scriptures.

    The fact is you can’t back up with references, because you don’t know your scriptures. How embarrassing! This also discourages faith in Christ. So, I guess that’s on you.

    Not to mention, sxark, you’re arguing from a position of weakness. In fact, to “win” against your theology, I don’t need to get into the Celestial kingdom. To “win” against your argument, I simply need to avoid hell or outer darkness. Which, by Mormon theology, I have easily done so. Additionally, I have an even stronger position…because I reject your argument of what a “loss” is. So, even though you don’t have anything that would decisively say who goes to Hell (because you don’t know your scriptures), in fact, Hell is not what motivates me. As people here have said, Hell is nothing to be afraid of. Like the bogeyman.

  65. re Jonathan:

    Your statement is ironic because that’s a precise statement of why it felt wonderful to leave the LDS church: I stopped allowing my Mormon upbringing to dictate my choices and I started to live up to my full potential as a human being after a long, dark night of ignorance trapped by precepts that I learned at church.

    It’s been fun, but I’ve got to spend some more time reaching my full potential.

    EXACTLY stated!

  66. FireTag permalink

    Having quieted sxark for a moment, I’ve noticed something interesting in your comments. Like “bow and arrow”, you tend to say “peace and joy”. We tend to group “peace and justice” more closely in our speech. I wonder why?

  67. sxark permalink

    Jonathan Blake:

    “If you want to have any hope in helping them [former Mormons] see the light of the LDS Gospel, you should pay attention.”
    To Who? – Andrew?
    Actually, I never stated stated any goals.
    I’m sorry that many here wish to have LDS religeous info presented to them upon a ‘silver platter’ of their own design, or they will be offended.
    Boo Hoo.

    Marcus:

    Save your accolade for when you meet the Maker of us all.

    Hypatia:

    You are correct, that only God could pass such a judgement and the ‘intent of one’s heart’ is an important factor.
    But as you read, study, and ponder the ‘fables’ of LDS religion, at your leizure, you may come to a similar conclusion, as I have.

    Andrew:

    ok?

  68. re Firetag @4:20:

    Hmm…that’s an interesting thing to note…I tend to deemphasize “justice” because I feel that it’s something too far outside of ourselves…and it may not even be ascertainable (sure, we have our ideas of what justice is or should be, but these are personal ideas.)

    Peace and joy seem to be things that are within ourselves…so we can ascertain these things by being in tune with ourselves. Obviously, we know when something does not bring us joy. We know joy when we experience it. So this is something, along with peace, that we can search for and have an internal compass for. Justice? I’m not quite sure.

    re sxark @4:48:

    Your latest comment to Jonathan is interesting…As you note, you haven’t stated your goals. But of course, for you to come here and say the things you have said, you must have a goal (even if you haven’t explicitly marked it). We here have tried to figure out your goal, and evaluate on how well you’re reaching it. For example, if your goal is to troll, bravo, you’re a smashing success. If your goal is, as Jonathan said, to see “former Mormons see the light of the LDS gospel,” then as I have said, you’re missing the mark. You say it doesn’t matter if you miss the mark — that it’s not on you but us, but if that is the case, then why comment here when you know this isn’t your purpose?

    I guess all of the commenters here sure were fooled! It should’ve been clear to us that you aren’t really trying to proselytize or lead people to Christ. Nope, you’re just trolling, are you not? Because you’re trolling, you don’t need to respond to arguments or anything of the sort. Brilliant!

  69. sxark permalink

    Sorry, – I don’t understand “trolling”. I’ve only been online a few months and don’t have all the ‘terminology’ down yet.

  70. “But as you read, study, and ponder the ‘fables’ of LDS religion, at your leizure, you may come to a similar conclusion, as I have.”

    Yeah maybe after a nice cocktail of crazy juice.

    Oops… Now I’m trolling.

  71. FireTag permalink

    Andrew:

    I noted the difference between “peace and joy” and “peace and justice” precisely because the latter is more difficult to achieve BECAUSE of the personal differences about what justice involves. Peace and joy isn’t hard in the sense that if you get one, you probably get the other. Getting peace and justice is the kind of task that requires bringing a lunch, because you’re going to be at it awhile.

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