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Can you explain these things to me?

October 25, 2009

I’ve been thinking of a couple of things that I know meant a whole lot to the writers of these things…but I cannot understand what point they are getting across. It’s not that I disagree or agree, think they are wrong or right. It’s that I can’t even comprehend what they are saying or if they are even saying anything at all.

Yet, I know that the things they have written are very meaningful…so I can’t just wave them off as being non-statements…

The first is Adam F’s “A thank you to my atheist friends: One reason why I’m a believer”. The second is the two-page patheos post by Sam Bhagwat — Thinking Myself into Mormonism.

It’s actually somewhat funny…I’ll admit that I haven’t been writing as much in recent days for a few reasons. First is that I’ve been busy with school. Second is that I haven’t had many topics that are relevant to the blog to write about. But actually, that second point is untrue…really, I have had ideas to write about, but I’ve been paralyzed because I can’t even begin to address them.

Because Thinking Myself into Mormonism was something that Seth R emailed to me to read…and I thought I would read it and write an article in the next day or so. Well, that didn’t quite happen as planned, as you can see. For the past couple of weeks, I have been frozen, because I can’t decode. Why does Sam feel the church is worth sticking with? I imagine he has some reason that he has expounded upon, but I can’t see it even if it is plainly in there.

So, I’m just putting these out there…if you have any thoughts, put them down. Maybe they might shed some light…

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11 Comments
  1. Okay, after reading Sam’s essay…I think the point is that for him mormonism is utilitarian. “It makes me feel good and it makes me want to be better, so it must be true.” When I began to see things that I felt uncomortable with, I initially felt the same way. “But the Book of Mormon is full of so many good ideas for my life, how can it be false?”

    Now I think – just because something is useful, doesn’t mean it is exactly what it claims to be.

  2. I recently finished reading the book “Breaking the Spell” by Daniel Dennett …. and he points out as well “just because something is useful, doesn’t mean it is exactly what it claims to be” but also ventures on the path of we also need to consider…. useful at what cost? Does the benefit out weigh the damage caused? How does religion score especially if you throw out the concept that we get our morals or ethics from religion?

  3. Molly permalink

    This bit:

    “This approach seems to consist of two basic propositions: (1) Mormonism has historical flaws and embarrassments, but (2) it really does have the truth and goodness it claims.”

    Just made me think “2 plus 2 is Five.”

  4. Simplysarah:

    While I could get the utilitarian thing if he were *only* saying “Mormonism is good” or “Mormonism makes me feel good,” that’s not the message I really get. Rather, I get the message that Molly pointed on…

    Sam believes that Mormonism really does have the truth it claims.

    How does he say this? Is it just because, “It makes me feel good, so it MUST be true?”

    If that line is all Sam is going by…then I’m willing to grant him a kind of pragmatic concession, but this is a vastly different example of “truth” than most people would use.

  5. Andrew, undoubtedly the reason you can’t decode is because Satan has cursed you with a stupor of thought.

  6. It’s SATAN who gives people stupors of thought?!

    I thought that was the Holy Ghost letting me know what’s incorrect…If I can’t even trust the spirits, who can I trust?

  7. Guest Writer 800+ permalink

    I haven’t read the one by Sam, but I did comment on AdamF’s post. I too was not sure exactly what the post was getting at other than existence itself somehow implies a God to him. I found it confusing, but rather than press him on it, I just voiced some of my own thoughts.

  8. 9 Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards them. I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.

    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 101:9)

    Andrew–I just think that one day you will return to find open arms, and warm hearts.

  9. uh, OK, Jared. I guess I’ll put that one in my “good luck!” bucket.

  10. Sofal permalink

    I just spent the weekend grading midterms and every once in a while I’d get to some student’s wild and elaborate answer that quickly started out with some inconsistencies and plunged into a rabbit hole of nonsensical logic in a desperate bid for partial credit. That’s what Sam Bhagwat’s essay reminded me of.

    Also, I think the “bloggernacle” experience just wouldn’t be complete without good ol’ Jared comments.

  11. Guest Writer 800+ permalink

    I read Sam’s post as well. I’m not sure what he was getting at. There was no direction to it. He just kind of said, “I believed, then I doubted for such-and-such reasons, then I stopped doubting for unclear reasons.”

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