my brother the athiest.

The place for religious discussions -- doctrinal or cultural, Mormon or otherwise.

Moderators: Lady Celtic, Eric's Moderator Brother, seespot, Sara without the H

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue 03 Dec, 2002 03:31 pm
Location: Provo, UT

Postby Matt » Mon 29 Oct, 2007 12:10 pm

Card wrote:I think this conversation is really interesting. Thanks, everyone for sharing your perspectives. I feel that we choose what we believe in and we choose who we love, etc. I haven't always thought that, but through different experiences and situations that have been presented me, that's the conclusion that I've reached.
I have frequently been in a position where I wished that I could believe. I find it hard to believe (heh) that presented with those situations that I would not have chosen to believe if belief was really just a matter of choice. I mean, how cool would it be to actually be part of the society I live in and not be afraid of identifying my real beliefs to the people in my neighborhood or even my extended family? I guess this is a small fraction of what it feels like to be a closeted gay person hearing about how they could be straight, if only they would choose to do so.
goto 10

User avatar
Karenins_SuperSon
Posts: 1081
Joined: Tue 09 Aug, 2005 03:30 pm
Location: Not in Australia anymore. :(

Postby Karenins_SuperSon » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 01:14 pm

Matt wrote:I think there is a subtle difference. First, I'll admit that for myself and my non-believing friends, we really are befuddled that people believe what they believe and what their reasons for believing are.

Actually, I don't really think that there is.

What you just said above is exactly that attitude. You're "befuddled that people believe what they believe and what their reasons for believing are", but in a like manner, that's kind of how "believers" feel about agnostics and atheists. We're amazed at how people can see the same things, exerience the same experiences, etc., and NOT believe in a higher power or Supreme Being.

But, it's that attitude of "befuddlement" that is condescending and makes "believers" out to be naive and simplistic. The concept that "if you were only smarter, you'd come to see things the way I do and as I believe they are."

You're approaching things in a scientific fashion, which isn't necessarily wrong, but it's not necessarily right either. 1000 years ago, there wasn't the scientific data to prove that the earth was round, so people may have believed it and been seen as simpletons. But, now there is the data that proves it.

All I'm saying is that some people make their decision based solely on the data available in the past and current. The people that viewed the earth as flat were regarded as correct because of the data that was available to them. So, while there may not be sufficient scientific data currently to prove to them that there is a God, that doesn't mean that there will never be that data, nor does it preclude him from existing currently. Just as the earth was still round 1000 years ago, whether people believed it or not. The truth of that was constant. It was people's understanding of that truth that changed based on new data and evidences.

But, you yourself have said that it's not that it's impossible for you to change your mind...just that with the data that you currently have, this is the decision that you have come to. And I completely respect that, even though I hold a different opinion.

The scientific approach to this doesn't rule out the existence of a God, but rather that there is insufficient evidence to prove without a doubt that there is.

So, I completely respect your conclusion because it is something that isn't based on a whim. It has rational thought applied behind it. But, as per the example above, I hold a different opinion that may not necessarily be incorrect, but just one that hasn't been proven in the scientific realm just yet. When that will happen, I don't know. It may never happen. But, for me, I don't need it to happen. Others may. Others may have also needed much less "spiritual evidence" than I did to come to a similar conclusion.

That says nothing about the individual and says everything about the diversity and complexity of the human mind and psyche. That's what I think makes everything about all of this so fascinating.
Her lips were saying "no," but her eyes were saying, "read my lips."---Dr. Niles Crane

RenLass
Posts: 1225
Joined: Fri 16 Aug, 2002 05:19 pm
Location: winter in San Antonio

Postby RenLass » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 01:19 pm

But I also think many people who think they are atheists have a spark of belief deep inside.


Pizzo: (I'm also, just as an aside, somewhat offended when people tell me I still believe, deep down inside, as if I were a child or a liar.)
Momma said she thought many, not all, people still had a spark of belief. Pizzo, you have never been one of many people. You are a one of a kind! :D

And really, you are the only one who can say that there is no spark left inside. Just because there are others who may have a spark left, it doesn't reflect on you. Only you can reflect on you.

Fairysasha: But there was a point (in) which a shift in behavior and declaration of ideals occurred. Deciding to make that shift and let it be known to the family etc...involves a choice.
I think the arguments here are semantical. I think a more clear way of wording statements like the above would be to say that "deciding to ACCEPT that shift....involves a choice." (Forgive me fairysasha, if that was not what you meant, it just seemed to me to be what you were saying) As with many arguments on many subjects, one person says one thing, meaning something that is very clear to them, and another person sees that as meaning something else that is also very clear to them. And arguing about it is a lose/lose proposition. Case in point:

Matt: I'd much rather be told that my beliefs are stupid than that I am lying about them.
OK, your beliefs are stupid :shock: ......Just Kidding! No, really, what I wanted to say was that no one here on this thread has said or even implied that athiests are lying about their beliefs. It was Pizzo, (who I assume is an atheist now) saying he "feels" like that is what people are saying when they talk about a spark still being inside. So from Momma saying what she thinks about many people, based on her knowledge of some people, we have travelled all the way to Matt being called a liar for being an atheist. And all because we are writing in a medium that doesn't allow voice or facial expression or personal knowledge of the persons speaking and we are left to make assumptions based on our own experiences. Yes, if we were all very careful of every single word we wrote, and double checked them for hidden meanings before posting, we could (maybe) avoid hurt feelings, but that would take way too long and all spontanaity would be lost. So please, please, lets not get too nit picky here and lets assume only the kindest intentions of each other.
When the devil reminds you of your past,
remind him of his future

RenLass
Posts: 1225
Joined: Fri 16 Aug, 2002 05:19 pm
Location: winter in San Antonio

Postby RenLass » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 01:23 pm

And "Here! Here!" to what KSS said.
When the devil reminds you of your past,

remind him of his future

User avatar
Lowdoggy Dogg
Posts: 1770
Joined: Thu 21 Aug, 2003 08:08 am
Location: Gatortown, FL
Contact:

Postby Lowdoggy Dogg » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 01:27 pm

Word.

User avatar
Karenins_SuperSon
Posts: 1081
Joined: Tue 09 Aug, 2005 03:30 pm
Location: Not in Australia anymore. :(

Postby Karenins_SuperSon » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 01:34 pm

Karenins_SuperSon wrote:That says nothing about the individual and says everything about the diversity and complexity of the human mind and psyche. That's what I think makes everything about all of this so fascinating.

Shorter version: I LOVE that two people can "see" the same thing and "see" completely different things. I find that so fascinating and intriguing.
Her lips were saying "no," but her eyes were saying, "read my lips."---Dr. Niles Crane

User avatar
Card
Posts: 1436
Joined: Mon 14 Aug, 2006 11:25 am
Location: Monopoly Board, UT

Postby Card » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 02:25 pm

Matt wrote:
Card wrote:I think this conversation is really interesting. Thanks, everyone for sharing your perspectives. I feel that we choose what we believe in and we choose who we love, etc. I haven't always thought that, but through different experiences and situations that have been presented me, that's the conclusion that I've reached.
I have frequently been in a position where I wished that I could believe. I find it hard to believe (heh) that presented with those situations that I would not have chosen to believe if belief was really just a matter of choice. I mean, how cool would it be to actually be part of the society I live in and not be afraid of identifying my real beliefs to the people in my neighborhood or even my extended family? I guess this is a small fraction of what it feels like to be a closeted gay person hearing about how they could be straight, if only they would choose to do so.


I think that what you wrote illustrates that there is a choice. Just because people are saying various things around us doesn't mean that we have to believe what they say or subscribe to their thought processes. To be true to what makes sense to us or choose to think is right or believe is true is a great thing!

I can tell you that I don't believe what I believe just because of the people around me. I have continually made choices in my life that have provided me with experiences or information on which to base other choices and beliefs. When people tell me otherwise, it sounds insulting, as if I am some sort of brainless zombie.

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue 03 Dec, 2002 03:31 pm
Location: Provo, UT

Postby Matt » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 02:37 pm

But, it's that attitude of "befuddlement" that is condescending and makes "believers" out to be naive and simplistic. The concept that "if you were only smarter, you'd come to see things the way I do and as I believe they are."
Why should that be condescending? It's actually the lack of naivety or simplicity that causes my befuddlement. Its my smart friends, the ones who understand the logical problems that I see in faith yet discard them and simply accept the correctness of the faith position, that make me scratch my head. They don't have answers to those problems - they just decide not to factor them in. That's confusing to me. My confusion should not be a cause for offense.

So from Momma saying what she thinks about many people, based on her knowledge of some people, we have travelled all the way to Matt being called a liar for being an atheist.
I never said anyone here even implied such a thing. In response to the comment by Pizzo about being called a liar, KSS countered that there was a similarly annoying insinuation by atheists that theists are stupid. I was only responding to that conversation, not anything that Momma said.
goto 10

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue 03 Dec, 2002 03:31 pm
Location: Provo, UT

Postby Matt » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 02:48 pm

I think that what you wrote illustrates that there is a choice. Just because people are saying various things around us doesn't mean that we have to believe what they say or subscribe to their thought processes. To be true to what makes sense to us or choose to think is right or believe is true is a great thing!

I can tell you that I don't believe what I believe just because of the people around me. I have continually made choices in my life that have provided me with experiences or information on which to base other choices and beliefs. When people tell me otherwise, it sounds insulting, as if I am some sort of brainless zombie.
I don't how much more insulting that could be than suggesting that I have chosen to isolate myself from family and friends, but I try to avoid arguing that something cannot be true simply because the implications are insulting or disturbing.

It may be unsettling to accept that we are largely the product of our environment, but there's not really any other good explanation for the fact that people who grow up in Mormon families and in Mormon communities are more likely to end up as Mormon adults and that the same applies to other religious, political, and ideological positions. That doesn't make us mindless zombies, but it does constrain the probabilities about what we are likely to believe.
goto 10

User avatar
Card
Posts: 1436
Joined: Mon 14 Aug, 2006 11:25 am
Location: Monopoly Board, UT

Postby Card » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 03:19 pm

Matt wrote:
I think that what you wrote illustrates that there is a choice. Just because people are saying various things around us doesn't mean that we have to believe what they say or subscribe to their thought processes. To be true to what makes sense to us or choose to think is right or believe is true is a great thing!

I can tell you that I don't believe what I believe just because of the people around me. I have continually made choices in my life that have provided me with experiences or information on which to base other choices and beliefs. When people tell me otherwise, it sounds insulting, as if I am some sort of brainless zombie.
I don't how much more insulting that could be than suggesting that I have chosen to isolate myself from family and friends by not adopting their ideology. But I try to avoid arguments that imply that something cannot be true simply because the implications are insulting or disturbing.

It may be unsettling to accept that we are largely the product of our environment, but there's not really any other good explanation for the fact that people who grow up in Mormon families and in Mormon communities are more likely to end up as Mormon adults and that the same applies to other religions, political affiliations, and other ideological positions. That doesn't make us mindless zombies, but it does constrain the probabilities about what we are likely to believe.


Regarding the first paragraph, that's sort of what I was getting at. I can be insulted by other people's ideas about me, or I can just realize that they have a different perspective. It works both ways.

Second paragraph: I agree with that and think that it extends far past religious boundaries and into what makes us who we are. We are most definitely constrained by our experiences and situations and are likely to believe or subscribe to the ideology with which we surround ourselves. Therefore, the things with which I choose to surround myself do affect who I am. And in spite of what I choose or what I perceive, I realize that truth is truth, and that doesn't change with cultures, time periods, or anything else.

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue 03 Dec, 2002 03:31 pm
Location: Provo, UT

Postby Matt » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 03:35 pm

We are most definitely constrained by our experiences and situations and are likely to believe or subscribe to the ideology with which we surround ourselves.
But even that we have limited control over. You don't get to choose your parents, or most of what your parents subject you to for your first 10-15 years of life. Sure, you'll might diverge in your teens - many people do - but we are a lot less "free" than we might like to believe. And choosing to surround yourself with an ideology is different than choosing to believe the ideology, though the end result may eventually be belief.

I can choose to smoke, but I can't choose to get cancer. If I smoke a whole lot, I'm a lot more likely to get cancer, but it's never a distinct choice.

It's even harder with an ideology. I can choose to volunteer for the campaign of a political candidate which I disagree with, and doing so *might* bring me around to his point of view, but even embarking on that task can feel like a betrayal of one's own ideals.

And in spite of what I choose or what I perceive, I realize that truth is truth, and that doesn't change with cultures, time periods, or anything else.
Agreed. So I'm doing my darnedest to be as rigorous as possible in determining what that truth is.
goto 10

User avatar
Card
Posts: 1436
Joined: Mon 14 Aug, 2006 11:25 am
Location: Monopoly Board, UT

Postby Card » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 03:55 pm

Yes, I agree with your last post (except the part about being less free than we think). But it will probably cause you to shake your head at me that I still think that belief is a choice. :D

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue 03 Dec, 2002 03:31 pm
Location: Provo, UT

Postby Matt » Tue 30 Oct, 2007 04:01 pm

Card wrote:Yes, I agree with your last post. But it will probably cause you to shake your head at me that I still think that belief is a choice. :D
Nah. I can accept that perhaps you can choose to believe. I just know I can't - not directly. The more distance there is between an action and its result, the less of a "choice" that result becomes and there is a lot of distance between any choice I could possibly make today and belief in the supernatural.

I also think it's possible that you're definition of choice is different than mine.
goto 10

Ishmael
Posts: 82
Joined: Fri 04 Nov, 2005 10:23 am

Postby Ishmael » Mon 05 Nov, 2007 01:56 pm

But Matt, you have to be able to choose what you believe, because if belief is not a choice, then how can you be condemned for your lack belief?

The idea that belief is not a choice goes against the very basic religious idea that we will be judged for our beliefs.

It's not unlike the whole debate about whether homosexuality is a choice. If it's not a choice, then it can't be a sin.

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue 03 Dec, 2002 03:31 pm
Location: Provo, UT

Postby Matt » Mon 05 Nov, 2007 03:26 pm

But Matt, you have to be able to choose what you believe, because if belief is not a choice, then how can you be condemned for your lack belief?
That's a pickle, isn't it? Of course, not all religions reward/condemn based on your belief, but for those that do, the constraints on individual choice that I've mentioned should pose a problem. Presumably heaven isn't intended to be a lottery payout, so one would hope that the geography of your birth wouldn't be a factor in your chance to get there.

It's not unlike the whole debate about whether homosexuality is a choice. If it's not a choice, then it can't be a sin.
There is the LDS thing about only acting on homosexual impulses being a sin. Just having them is not sinful. So, at least in that case, you can chose whether you will sin or not regardless of how you feel towards members of the same gender. Whether you choose to have those impulses in the first place is not an issue.
goto 10

Ishmael
Posts: 82
Joined: Fri 04 Nov, 2005 10:23 am

Postby Ishmael » Mon 05 Nov, 2007 08:33 pm

There is the LDS thing about only acting on homosexual impulses being a sin. Just having them is not sinful.
The LDS Church is more progressive in that regard than some others, that's for sure. (Although it looks to me like their position has softened in response to overwhelming evidence that sexual orientation is not the result of conscious choice.)

Maybe there is some hope for you, yet. Your statement earlier about sometimes wishing you could believe sounds like something from Alma 32.

User avatar
InOregon
Posts: 2689
Joined: Tue 04 Mar, 2003 09:30 pm
Location: Oregon
Contact:

Postby InOregon » Mon 05 Nov, 2007 09:06 pm

Ack! Are you implying that Matt is a (mostly) lost cause? Please be careful, the fact that your life experience isn't his life experience only means he's different.
"reading is polushun. someday it will kill me."

My Bonnie lies over at Flickr.

vegastransplant
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed 16 Jun, 2004 03:03 pm
Location: Las Vegas
Contact:

Choice

Postby vegastransplant » Mon 05 Nov, 2007 10:49 pm

It's a little sad to see all this justification and rationalization for someone's choice. Especially from a group of people who, at least at one point, seemed fairly strong.

You can't believe unless you choose to believe - even if that choice is defined as choosing to believe in the possibility. It at least begins with that choice.

Conversely, "deconversion" requires a choice to no longer believe. If doubts begin to arise, one must choose to entertain those doubts.

All action, thought, and belief is a result of choice. The principle of choice is central to the entire gospel.

You choose to leave God, not the other way around. One shouldn't talk around it with a false air of intellectualism to justify one's lack of spirituality.
Vegas Transplant

Man it sure is hot down here.
Go BYU!

alanyst
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon 11 Aug, 2003 11:05 am
Location: The brink.

Re: Choice

Postby alanyst » Mon 05 Nov, 2007 11:10 pm

vegastransplant wrote:One shouldn't talk around it with a false air of intellectualism to justify one's lack of spirituality.


This is not a charitable thing to say. You don't know the hearts of people here.

There is no scripture that I know of that supports the notion that ALL belief is the result of a free and conscious choice. Maybe some beliefs are chosen, but that's as far as I'd be willing to go. In fact, we know of scriptures that state that testimony comes in different flavors and is a spiritual gift from God: "To some is given the testimony of Christ... to others it is given to believe on their words" (D&C 46). Just as not all of us have strong gifts of healing or charity or interpretation of tongues, I think it likely that some people have a gift for believing the gospel while to others it occurs with much more difficulty, if at all.

My personal thought (and I could be wrong) is that if God is merciful enough to save those who died before they could hear and accept the gospel on this earth, then He is merciful enough to account for our capacity for belief, when we are to be judged. If the thoughts, words, and works of a person incapable of full belief are all good and worthy, then I believe that person's reward will surpass that of a strong believer whose thoughts, words, and works were judgmental, high-minded, and inconsiderate.

(Edit: it's D&C 46, not 50 as I originally wrote.)
This signature is self-contradictory.

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 1776
Joined: Tue 03 Dec, 2002 03:31 pm
Location: Provo, UT

Postby Matt » Mon 05 Nov, 2007 11:34 pm

You choose to leave God, not the other way around. One shouldn't talk around it with a false air of intellectualism to justify one's lack of spirituality.
Wow.

Is there someone or something in particular you are addressing? Perhaps you should quote what you are responding to.
goto 10


Return to “Religion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests