Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mormon president? Allah help us...

I was reading another blog on the 2008 election... The blogger was saying how Romney's Mormonism isn't really a hurdle for him since, overall, Mormonism is "undeniably a plus for America"....

Obviously, I disagree... besides the disastrous track-record our current faith-based leader has exemplified, people that buy-into -- whole-heartily -- such non-sense are truly unfit to lead.

My response:

Whoa... Ok, for the most part these people are benevolent, but their belief system is the foundation of tyranny... as is all faith-based religion.

Groups that admit revelation (i.e. - knowlege based not on evidence or reason, but revealed dogma) is scary... Such people can -- and historically have -- been EASILY manipulated. Hitler started out a close ally of the Catholic church... And his following, as those who have followed other cults-of-personality, are exactly the same type of (sorry) simpletons: Ready to cast aside reason for the mass-appeal of "following" and becoming one of the group...

Anyone who can accept that a 19th century 14 year old boy met god in the woods in upstate New York... and translated his "word" by looking at a stone in a hat doesn't have a firm grip on reality. That is an obvious statement that shouldn't even have to be made. I think such non-sense should disqualify (via the exercise of informed public opinion, not via the law) these people from public office... Such beliefs should be held up to public ridicule: which they obviously deserve.

There are plenty of reasons to lead a good, moral life... none of them necessarily include the belief that ancient Israelites came to America 1600+ years ago and setup a civilization... Folks who need "god" to do good are not "good people" -- they are slaves of fear.


Roy said...

I am a Mormon and it's not my purpose to make an attempt to change your opinions on Mormons. I can plainly see you take issue with all religion in general. This brings to mind two things. First, I think you are missing the point about the Mitt Romney controversy. Most people who see Mormonism as a problem for Romney cite doctrinal differences but you lump all religion into a problem. This will be something you'll have to live with considering all of our Presidential candidates are religious. Obama, Hillary, Guilliani, and McCain (all Christian) belive that Moses parted the Red Sea. I don't see that as much more far fetched then Joseph Smith seeing God? Religion requires faith..period. Second I'm not sure the religion=tyranny comparison is quite fair. If you lump all religions into one issue I see your fuzzy logic but that simply isn't the case. Just because a religious person does something tyrannical doesn't mean all religious people will. I can take your argument one step further by saying "all humans are tyrannical". I can cite examples all through history of tyrannical humans then conclude that we need to vote a space alien into office.

Reign of Reason said...

I agree-- it is a problem with all our candidates and with the US population in general. Considering all of the industrialized countries of the world, ours stands alone in the degree to which people adhere to revealed dogma: this is a scary thing.

Faith is a problem: by definition it is belief in that which does not have evidence... hence the proliferation of Scientologists, Mormons, Christians, Jews and Islamists: all these faiths proclaim certainty of knowledge to which they (logically) have to insight other than "the elders and my holy book told me so".

I'm sorry, but such un-critical people are ripe for the siren-song of the personality-cult (e.g. - Joseph Smith, Saul of Tarsus, Mohamed). I don't argue that religion necessarily LEADS to tyranny, but that people that buy into 'revealed truth' are ripe for the picking. The disaster of the current administration demonstrates the correlation between a lack of critical thinking and incompetence.

Have you ever critically looks at the claims of your founder? If so, why not? Do you really beleive Israelites came to America before 1AD? Why isn't there ANY evidence of this civilization? And what's differentiates your claim to knowledge from that of the scientologist?

Reign of Reason said...

Again, succinctly, my point is that ANYONE who buys into "revealed truth" is unfit to lead... not just Mormons.

This is what the Enlightenment was all about...

Anonymous said...

Well again I've got two talking points. First you mention faith as a negative thing. Aside from religion there is some degree of faith even in the nonbeliever. Perhaps you have faith that when you order a Big Mac at McDonalds you're going to get a delicious hamburger, you have faith that the guy making your burger washed his hands after using the restroom; point being that some degree of faith is just a part of life. Understanding your "all religion is a waste of time" platform I might make note that Mormonism has never asked it's members to follow by blind faith. This is actually unique to Mormons and there is even science to it. Mormons are taught that God can physically connect with you to reveal truth. Mormons are strongly taught that all members are to develop a personal relationship with God and to find out directly from God if what they are teaching is true. Mormons are also taught that spirit is tangible matter. I'm not sure that it applies to this concept but it's interesting to note that studies have shown that when a person dies their body actually becomes slightly lighter for some unknown reason. Going back to my point...Spiritual things are always taught by Spiritual beings (John 14:26). It's usually the evangelicals who accuse Mormons of lack of archeological evidence. My rebuttal is how can pottery shards and ancient coins prove there is a God in heaven? You just can't do it. If it was that simple why haven't all of the biblical cities they've dug up in the last 150 years convinced you, a nonbeliver, there's a God in heaven. You have to know how to recognize spirituality. You have to consider that there is more then 1 way to learn truth. It's easy to argue religion either way based on tangible evidence but no man can explain how the universe in all of it's complexity came to be. The author C.S. Lewis stated, "I belive in God like I believe in the Sun at noon-day, not that I can see it, but by it I can see all things". Basically, what I believe about Israelites in America, translating golden bibles, and a bearded man floating in an Ark have little bearing on what is being dug up by archeologists. Ironically there are numerous archeological evidences to support the Book of Mormon (www.fairlds.org). Second let's talk about your point that anyone who believes in "revealed truth" is unfit to lead. Name a great historic leader who wasn't a man of faith. From any time or from any country. Our Founding Fathers were some of the most spiritual men in history. They didn't lead us astray. A wise men once said, "by their fruits ye shall know them". If a person does good take note of what drives that person. Take note of what core beliefs they have. Your problems arise when religion is forced on a population. America was based on dispelling this practice. Mormons strongly support letting men worship how and what they may. http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,106-1-2-1,FF.html

Reign of Reason said...

Come-on: Counting on the McDonald's cook to wash his hands is not "faith". By faith I'm talking about "belief in non-demonstrable phenomena". Yes, I hope he has washed his hands, but that hope does not entail belief in an as-of-yet unobserved "supernatural" phenomenon.

You're first point is a complete non-sequitur.

As for a "personal relationship with god" ... the human psyche is capable of comforting itself in many ways. The tangible experience you speak of is experienced by everyone from meditators to hindu's . Point being that there is much to learn about the human mind but there's enough evidence to dispute the necessity of a sky-god to explain the array of human experience related to contemplative experiences (which, again, recur in all cultures and faith traditions).

"...more than 1 way to learn truth" ... well, that may be true, but all pursuit of truth is based in reason: and faith and "belief" is, by definition, outside of reason. There is no more evidence for jesus being divine than there is for allah, yaweh, krishna, zeus or thor. Again, because contemplating a holy book or listening to teachings makes you feel like your in contact with a "higher power" is not evidence of his or anything's existence EXCEPT your own mind.

I don't have to explain how the universe came to be... Science has put us on a dependable path to truth: true it may make mistakes, but the process is self-correcting. you cannot say the same about religious dogma. As Sam Harris said "not lying to oneself" about what you know takes discipline. I find religious people the most presumptuous of all: they claim to have knowledge of the origin of the universe, our place in it, etc. all based on (mostly) the writing of bronze age tribesmen. This would be completely laughable if so many (at least in this country) didn't still cling to such fork-lore.

As for our founders - I have heard and rebuked this argument many many times... I suggest you read the letters of Jefferson directly (not some church-goers biography of him). Same of Washington, Franklin, et al. You'll find many had an open disdain for christianity while some accepted some of the teaching while tossing out the silliness (Jefferson comes to mind: his development of the Jefferson Bible, in which he dutifully excised all the miraculous junk from the new testament - with a razor blade - to arrive at the "moral teachings of jesus of Nazareth").

In a letter to the Universalist physician, Benjamin Rush, Jefferson wrote:

I am a Christian in the only sense (Jesus) wished anyone to be; sincerely attached to his (ethics), in preference to all others; ascribing to him every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.

I am glad that Mormon's profess to let people worship as they please. That is a belief we both share.

I find it amazing that people demand "proof" and a chain of reasoning in most aspects of their lives: but when it comes to matters that they use to guide their lives, they blindly adhere to portions of ancient dogma that even a elementary school student knows to be false.

Reign of Reason said...

I'll leave you with another good quote from Sam Harris -- he's much more eloquent than I:

Of course, people of faith are right to insist that there is more to life than being reasonable-which is to say there is much more to life than merely understanding the world and getting one's beliefs about it to cohere. But we can have ethical and spiritual lives without lying to ourselves and to others and without pretending to be certain about things we are clearly not certain about. Anyone who thinks he knows for sure that Jesus was born of virgin or that the Qur'an is the perfect word of the Creator of the universe is lying. Either he is lying to himself, or to everyone else. In neither case should such false certainties be celebrated.

Anonymous said...

Here're my last two talking points. First we have somewhat agreed that knowledge of a "sky-God" is a truth that absolutely cannot be obtained by any man-made device. Now if we could just explain this to the Evangelicals who base their faith in Christ on pottery shards and ancient coins. I think that we can also agree that if there actually is a God and people "know" he is real they must be getting that knowledge from somewhere besides the county library. This is where the spiritual knowledge comes in. Most so called "christians" consider it a mockery that Mormons base lifelong devotion to their faith on what some describe as a "burning in the bosom" when praying to God to know it's true. Evangelical insist this is Satan decieving us. I can tell you this much. If you don't excercise the faith enough to sincerely ask God if he is real, you certainly will never experience spiritual knowledge. Christ said,"knock and I shall answer". Mormons are the only Christ based church that believes we existed as tangible spirits in the presence of God prior to our birth. We also believe that the purpose of this life is a test of our faith. We intentially have been veiled of our prior knowledge of God and as we excercise faith this veil is thinned. We also believe that God has a tangible body and through this test we have divine potential. In other words; we are Gods in embryo....I can only assume you strongly dissagree with this (along with orthadox Christianity), but that is the core of what makes Mormons unique and following my prior comment I wouldn't expect you or anyone else to belive this through any means other then revelation from God. That's the Mormon way of learning truth. I must admit it's hard to debate religion with a person who has none. Another unique Mormon belief is that we don't base our faith on "bronze age tribesmen" but rather a living Prophet of God. If our prophet came out and said the whole bible was fabricated and God wants us to eat nowhere but McDonalds..we would follow that council. We live the same adherence that the Children of Israel lived following Moses through the desert. Second, I'm sure you are far more versed in Jefferson History but it was his contemporaries that put "in God we Trust" on our money. He may or may not have been a devout Christian but he certainly agreed with it's principles as taught in Christian Scripture.

skip sievert said...

Christians are losers in the thinking dept. as are any religious people. Religion is based on bigotry. Bigotry is the explanation of, and believing things that do not make sense, and then elevating those things to fact, or 'truth' - usually with the aim of tricking people, lying to people, and controlling people, and also punishing people who do not agree.
Good points RoR.

Reign of Reason said...

as always, to the point Skip. Somewhat rude, but to the point…

First: we do not agree --- knowledge of a "sky-God" is a “truth” that must be demonstrable and based on reason, evidence and logic. Other explanations are untenable. Since it is not demonstrable, I take it to be false. Just as you take - out of hand - every other religion/god to be false.

"I think that we can also agree that if there actually is a God and people "know" he is real " -- my point: you, nor anyone else on this planet "knows" god is real. You are making an unfounded claim on truth/knowledge. You have a feeling in your heart/head that tells you god is real. So what? Devote Hindu's experience a similar feeling... So do Jews... and so do Muslims who are willing to strap explosives to themselves based on the "knowledge" that they are fulfilling god's will. And so do Buddhists – of which many sects don’t believe in divinity at all, yet their metaphysical experience is similar to that experienced by all other religious devotees.

And therein lies the problem: once you admit of "knowledge" based on your gut/heart/feeling you are screwed... All it takes is a sufficiently good story (i.e. - makes you feel good), a neuro-chemical reaction in the brain (e.g. -boy this seems right) and you have another cult... Human psychology is filled with examples of behaviors based on perceived reality – which in no way correlates to objective truth: that’s why scientists train themselves to be objective – to critically peer review each other work.

The practice of religion in general is antithetical to that process and basis its conclusions on “revelation” and “personal experience” – both of which are incredibly unreliable sources of knowledge.

You rely on the logic and reason when making most decisions in your life: if you do not, you'd be labeled insane. If you continually tried to walk thru your front door without opening it, you’d eventually be taken to a mental hospital. However, I’m sure you pray to an imaginary friend every day – the behavior pattern is the same.

So why do you believe you existed as a spirit before you were born? Do you have memories of this?

You base your faith on a living prophet… how do you know what he says is from god as opposed to mental delusion? Don’t you believe the old testament was inspired by god?? What do you make of the book of Judges? It’s horrendous in the extreme… What about numbers? The entire old testament is despicable. It sets a terrible example for human behavior (e.g. – the Levit and concubine, etc.)

What about the Ten Commandments? You actually believe the creator of the universe – who took the time to write with his own hand 10 laws for living – made the 10th “…thou shalt not covet thy neighbors ox”. With everything humanity could learn from an omniscient deity, this is what he choice to admonish us about? Livestock? Isn’t it far more likely that men made up these rules?

The entire affair is silly in the extreme!

Somehow society has given religious belief a pass with regard to a sanity check. People are allowed to make outrageous claims about the universe, sky-beings, etc. without ANY demonstrable evidence. Personal belief is one thing, but this rubbish is increasingly being used in the public schools and by policy makers. It is abhorrent.

In short, it is mass lunacy supported by the strong human desire to live beyond time.

I’d much rather cherish the time I have here knowing it is short and precious… than live under the delusion that some paradise (conforming to all our most earthy desires – rather unimaginative don’t you think?) awaits.

skip sievert said...

How is it one can equate science as a belief system ? A belief system is supported by nothing more than an opinion. --- Science is nothing more than the prediction of the next most probable.--- Any belief system is supported by nothing except imagination, while the next most probable is supported by observation of some phenomenon that can be recreated under the same conditions by anyone, at any time and the result will be the same. This is Science. This is how fact is established.--- One can imagine anything, however it can only become Science when it can be measured i.e. detected either directly or remotely. Failing this it simply does not exist.---
Well there you have it. A little different way to say the other thing I said. Ha.

Reign of Reason said...

Religion comes down to people trusting an 'experience' they have in their gut/heart.

Science, as you say, is based on demonstrable, repeatable observation.

Trust the latter... shun the former: it gets people in trouble.

Capt. Fogg said...

Why does religion require faith and how can you trust any hypothesis that not only does not provide evidence but requires you to believe in the face of contrary evidence. Remember any con, any grifter requires your belief and anyone can believe in anything regardless of how ridiculous it is.

Speaking of confidence, how do you reconcile Joe Smith's completely fake translation of the Egyptian Shayt en Duad or the Book of the Dead into some bogus book of Abraham, with his status as a prophet who must be believed simply because he says so?

How many lies is a prophet allowed?

Capt. Fogg said...

Actually, I'm far less concerned with Romney's being a Mormon than with his ever shifting opinions that seem to slide further and further into the cesspool of right wing theocratic tyranny. What I deduce from his pandering is that he'd rather be President than be honest.

Reign of Reason said...

To quote a couple of the "graders" of Smith's translation of ancient Egyptian:

Dr. W.M. Flinders Petrie of London University wrote, "It may be safely said that there is not one single word that is true in these explanations".

Dr. Arthur C. Mace, Assistant Curator for the Department of Egyptian Art of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York explained, "The `Book of Abraham,' it is hardly necessary to say, is a pure fabrication."

Amazing how demonstrable facts don't influence the believer.

Reign of Reason said...

Romney is following in the long tradition of Republican pandering -- of the worst kind: playing to religious fervor.

Back to my orig point: if our society is going to truly progress, we have to get to a point where people who believe ridiculous things are publically ridiculed.

Capt. Fogg said...

I agree - let the ridicule begin!

A good definition of faith is the willful suspension of disbelief - which is the definition of farce.

So many ridiculous beliefs, so little time.

skip sievert said...

I have no 'faith' in the American Political System - It attracts egoistic pontifficaters, like Mormons and Gores, and Bushies. Then they flaunt their stupidity, which the American public seems to love, because they have been dumbed down.
Special interests are the true controllers.
Our system is doomed with choices being made wrong, because they are based on belief, and not scientific reality. That is the huge difference as we have mentioned here. Both the Repubs and Dems use the vehicle of faith to deliver their messages, and that is our undoing.
It only gets worse from here, until we have a system change. If no system change we destroy ourselves, and everyone else in the process.

Reign of Reason said...

It would certainly seem that way. Religion, nationalism, racism... all ways to divide people and create an us-vs-them view of the world. If it was based on anything real it might make sense: but all these divisions are essentially illusion.