Do Mormons even CARE about truth?
This post may seem frustrated, but there’s been this phenomenon I’ve been noticing for a while…but I haven’t been able to articulate my thoughts about it well enough to write about it. I still don’t think I can really articulate it.
Here goes nothing.
Have you ever noticed that many Mormons become enamored with creative ideas of truth?
…Even now, I have to qualify, and qualify my qualifications. I actually think that many Mormons are obsessed with very traditional, Platonic, “Correspondence Theory” kinds of truth. I believe most members believe what they do because they actually trust that there are factual events out there in history, and that the Book of Mormon, Bible, the words of the Prophets, and so forth accurately reveal or discover the nature of these events.
I believe that many ex-Mormons also are obsessed with this idea of truth…so when they suspect that Mormon teachings may not align with what they believe the outside world and universe holds, they maintain their framework (one hyper-interested in the pursuit of truth [or the appearance thereof]) and become disillusioned with the church.
And that leads another category of Mormons…one that I’ve increasingly dealt with on the internet…and this group is the one I’m talking about today.
This group recognizes the problems with Mormon history or doctrine or whatever…but maintain a testimony. It’s just that…their testimony is…different. Maybe they recognize that the church is “good,” instead of true. Or maybe they recognize that allegories and metaphors may still tell truths about the world and our dealings with it.
I’ve seen plenty of articles in this vein…one of the latest I’ve seen is one at Wheat and Tares about how we “make belief/ve“. John at Mormon Expression had a far more cynical article somewhat tangentially related.
I responded once to Glenn’s article, but that really just sent my mind racing with more thoughts.
See…I don’t really have an issue if someone is willing to find value out of their religion through “making” their beliefs…
It just seems to me that there are a few issues with this:
1) People generally are raised to believe that beliefs are supposed to intersect with actual reality. This alternative approach, then, is immediately foreign to most people.
2) If beliefs *do not* intersect with actual reality, real life consequences result.
3) The church itself espouses that its teachings correspond with reality, often in a literal sense.
So, it seems straightforward to understand that a Mormon (or ex-Mormon, or non-Mormon) would adjust his beliefs on the idea that he is seeking truth. But it seems to me at some point that people are trying to seek “useful” or “good” things over true things.
And I don’t understand this.
The question that I just have now thought to ask is this: oh New Order/Middle Way/liberal believing Mormon, would you take such a stance toward truth and beliefs had you never been Mormon?
It seems to me that the major reason these people take such a position with truth is because they once believed in their beliefs (the Mormon ones, at least) as those which aligned with a literal reality…and then had something that shook that paradigm. As a coping mechanism, they readjusted the entire goalposts for believing itself, coming up with these admittedly innovative, but avant garde reasons for believing or methods of defining truth.
It seems to me that this method of thinking has practically been enshrined as a “higher” “stage of faith.” Maybe the reason I look at it negatively is because I have not reached that plane of existence or whatever?
It just seems to me as well that most people would not come across this method of thinking. When I raise up the idea of a “belief” to most people, it is very connected with ideas of real, actual, literal truth, and truth is something “out there” that your beliefs can either align with or not. Maybe I’m too steeped in the kool-aid, but I can’t even begin to comprehend Rorty’s arguments against CTofT, for example, and I don’t think I’m alone in finding alternative views like his to be strange.
Yet, there are so many members for whom if there are difficulties with Book of Mormon historicity…no worries! It can still be an inspired document if we will but adjust what criteria we would have for an inspired document.
…at some point, I know I’m just talking about weak, pathetic, “cerebral” beliefs, as Seth R. would discuss…things that pale in comparison to how people actually live their lives and how their lives are improved (and how they improve others’ lives) by their actions. But I feel like my point, even though it has talked about “cerebral” beliefs and truth, really DOES impact actions people will want to take. And this will impact lives.