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Rivers

Do Latter-day Saints have the best theology?

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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

There must be an afterlife otherwise what is the purpose of this life? What a waste of time this life would be if there is nothing after it. 
And the fact that as human beings we are able to even instinctively ask this question, suggests that there must be something after this life.
I am a scientist and considering the harmony in the biochemical processes that go on within the human body, I am convinced that it all did not come about by random chance. 

That is a standard “appeal to consequences”. It must be true because the reverse is too bad or terrifying to believe. You find it used the on the other side as the start of the theodicy difficulty. How could a good God have made this world?

Edited by The Nehor
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20 hours ago, Rivers said:

Then I would ask what kind of  if afterlife is  consistent with a benevolent God?  That obviously rules our Calvinism.  It would also rule out any religion that teaches anyone suffers forever in Hell for not having the right religion as is portrayed in the South Park movie.  Universalism makes  much more sense since God is loving.  And our understanding of varying degrees of glory is a universalist model that also takes into account the gradations of virtue and holiness that individuals attain. 

Calvinism is one of the worst examples of a loving God, that all are born “saved or damned”, from birth. Having said that, some are so wicked that God must punish them, maybe even eternally. But I think these “Sons of Perdition”, would never want to live with, or near a loving God. But punishment, has to have a purpose, or it is only punitive and lacking of “Love or Grace”. 

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2 hours ago, The Nehor said:
3 hours ago, JAHS said:

There must be an afterlife otherwise what is the purpose of this life? What a waste of time this life would be if there is nothing after it. 
And the fact that as human beings we are able to even instinctively ask this question, suggests that there must be something after this life.
I am a scientist and considering the harmony in the biochemical processes that go on within the human body, I am convinced that it all did not come about by random chance. 

That is a standard “appeal to consequences”. It must be true because the reverse is too bad or terrifying to believe. You find it used the on the other side as the start of the theodicy difficulty. How could a good God have made this world?

I understand that, but it is how I feel personally about the subject and what helps keep me going in the faith. 

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3 hours ago, The Nehor said:

That is a standard “appeal to consequences”. It must be true because the reverse is too bad or terrifying to believe. 

The idea that God is not benevolent is terribly frightening.  But I believe there is good reason to believe He is.  

Edited by Rivers
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On 11/7/2019 at 3:25 PM, Rivers said:

I’ve been thinking about how I would make a logical argument for the veracity of my religion to those of other faiths without relying on the traditional “read and pray” or testimony bearing approaches (not that those are bad).  

I feel the best approach is to go straight to the theology.  I would begin by laying out some basic assumptions:

-There is a God.

-God is benevolent.

I would then argue that there must be an afterlife since there is too much injustice in this life.  If God is loving then there would have to be an afterlife.

Then I would ask what kind of  if afterlife is  consistent with a benevolent God?  That obviously rules our Calvinism.  It would also rule out any religion that teaches anyone suffers forever in Hell for not having the right religion as is portrayed in the South Park movie.  Universalism makes  much more sense since God is loving.  And our understanding of varying degrees of glory is a universalist model that also takes into account the gradations of virtue and holiness that individuals attain. 

I can’t think of a better model consistent with a benevolent God.  Can you?

 

 

You don't even have to start with those as "assumptions" if you have the correct model of reality and how we represent it in language.

If you start with the idea that "there are no facts, only interpretations" of reality then your interpretation of your experiences of God are "valid" as spiritual experience, as valid as any other observation you have about reality.

Yes people will disagree with your observation, but in the idea that we all have our own "truth"  ( I am putting this crudely to get to the point- the overview in almost literally 25 words or less- it is a perfectly valid proposition in the context of what gives you purpose in life.

Belief in God gives your purpose in life, where science and other types of evidence do not.

Does your belief that Antarctica exists give you purpose?   No.

Does belief in God give you purpose?  Yes.

Your belief that God exists is as valid as the idea that murder is wrong- the belief that murder is wrong is beneficial to you because you do not end up in prison - and in society it has survival value in an evolutionary sense.   If we all believed that murder was OK our lives would not be pleasant!  ;)

So for morals and ideas about what gives YOU purpose in life- YOU are the ultimate judge and that becomes your "reality".   As Oprah says "It's my truth".   Maybe not your truth, but it is mine.

So starting from this YES we have the best theology based on Human values because GOD IS HUMAN, the ideal human being and the best we can all imagine

And so it is perfectly based in logic that we "should" become the BEST HUMANS we can be according to human values (all of these have to be detailed of course- ie the commandments and why they are the BEST moral propositions within their contexts- all this because it gives meaning to our lives.

And this idea that God is the Ideal Human then proves his existence AS a valid belief which gives billions of people meaning and values.

Even atheists will agree that murder is evil- and they are moral individuals as well of course.  How do they know what are the "best" values?

1- their heart tells them so ;) (Light of Christ)   Even atheists will grant that it is a "gut feeling" to act in a moral way.

2- Civilization is essentially based on treating others as you would want to be treated.   It is evolutionary and has survival value- societies base on these values - and family values make for... wait for it  ...  ;) - big families!!

And so the IDEAL HUMAN exists - as an ideal if nothing else.  What do we call that ideal human?   God.

Nobody else things God is a human like us- just exalted ("Evolved" ) to a level infinitely above us.   We believe we can BECOME like the "Ideal human" and that the perfect society is exactly that- a society made up of people all living to become the best possible humans one can be.

In Mormonese we call this "Zion".  ;)

etc.

etc. 

:)

Whatcha think I have been saying on this board all these years?  ;)

Think how powerful we could be if we, like Oprah, preached "OUR TRUTH" with the power she does.

THIS is what secular religion is- and there is no reason it has to be secular!  It is the essence of true religion as well.

And yes of course we don't take Oprah as a prophet.

But suppose we had a prophet who understood this and used the same arguments and changing the words to fit our values?

Think of the framework she uses here - and take it and put in OUR goals with confidence in the validity of "our truth" and what happens to the idea that "Mormons just believe"?

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints have THEIR own truth as well - just as valid as Oprah!

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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1 hour ago, Rivers said:

The idea that God is not benevolent is terribly frightening.  But I believe there is good reason to believe He is.  

Ironically "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom".

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8 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

I actually find this odd, unless I am mistaken. Aren't the two primary LDS theodicies the free will defense and the necessity of opposites?

We also discussed the eternal existence of man, premortal agency, and the full Plan of Salvation, including posthumous temple work and the preaching to the dead. I'm no philosopher (despite what my PhD stands for!), so I can only report what was said to me.

And I stick by what I said: the children in our branch would have been equally able to tell this man about all these points.

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10 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

And I stick by what I said: the children in our branch would have been equally able to tell this man about all these points.

Oh c'mon. The little children in your congregation cannot adequately discuss complex theological and philosophical issues, such as the problem of evil and, as you added on, the details of LDS cosmology.

Do you think a 9 year old could satisfactorily answer the question: If God is good, why does he allow hurricanes to devastate people's lives?

Or: If evil happens because God allows free will, why do you pray for God to intervene in criminals' free will and protect those you love from harm? Why would you pray to God to protect you if you were taken hostage?

It seems rather arrogant to claim that LDS children can adequately answer these questions. Do you really think your children are so smart or that philosophers are so dumb that they wouldn't be able to refute a child's answer?

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Regarding the problem of evil:

9 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

I actually find this odd, unless I am mistaken. Aren't the two primary LDS theodicies the free will defense and the necessity of opposites? Those are hardly new in philosophy and have their own issues, too. Or is there another theodicy that you are referring to? It just surprises me that a philosophy professor would say such a thing.

I was waiting for Hamba Tuhan's response to this before I commented on it (since the question wasn't directed at me or about my experience), but the doctrines that make the most difference to the problem of evil issue to me, and according to David Paulsen's speech on the topic are these:  The pre-mortal existence of men, coexisting with a loving God before creation, and the rejection of the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo (creation out of nothing) seeing that God created all things from unformed matter.  As far as I am aware, Latter-day Saints would be among the minority of modern faiths (perhaps the only one?) that believes that man co-existed with God in the beginning, and also rejects the popular doctrine of creation ex-nihilo.  (Are there any others?)

These doctrines are essential to answer to the classical problem of evil.  In Paulsen's speech, he addresses several classic arguments put forth by philosophers on this subject.  Here's one from the twentieth-century English philosopher Antony Flew:

"We cannot say that [God] would like to help but cannot: God is omnipotent. We cannot say that he would help if he only knew: God is omniscient. We cannot say that he is not responsible for the wickedness of others: God creates those others. Indeed an omnipotent, omniscient God must be an accessory before (and during) the fact to every human misdeed; as well as being responsible for every non-moral defect in the universe."

Paulsen's summarizes Flew's view as follows:

"If God creates all things (including finite agents) absolutely (that is, out of nothing), knowing beforehand all the actual future consequences of His creative choices, then He is an accessory before the fact and ultimately responsible for every moral and nonmoral defect in the universe"

Paulsen says that Joseph Smith's way out of this problem is to never "go in":

Quote

Joseph Smith’s way out of the conceptual incoherency generated by the traditional theological premises is to not go in. His revelations circumvent the theoretical problem of evil by denying the trouble-making postulate of absolute creation—and, consequently, the classical definition of divine omnipotence. Contrary to classical Christian thought, Joseph explicitly affirmed that there are entities and structures which are co-eternal with God himself. On my reading of Joseph’s discourse, these eternal entities include chaotic matter, intelligences (or what I will call primal persons), and lawlike structures or principles. According to Joseph Smith, God’s creative activity consists of bringing order out of disorder, of organizing a cosmos out of chaos—not in the production of something out of nothing.

Paulsen also quotes portions of 2 Nephi 2,(referenced in Hamba Tuhan's post) and proposes a variation on God's omnipotence. He says "we can coherently adopt an 'instrumentalist' view of evil wherein pain, suffering, and opposition become means of moral and spiritual development.  God is omnipotent, but He cannot prevent evil without preventing greater goods or ends—the value of which more than offsets the dis-value of the evil: soul-making, joy, eternal (or godlike) life."

It's worth listening to or reading his speech for the full picture.

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11 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I do not think relying on theological argument is a good idea. The truth must come by revelation or we must remain ignorant. The best theology is the one that is accurate whether it is satisfying or horrifying.

Yes.  The best theology is the one that actually is the right one.  We can invent ones that perhaps might sound better but if these alternate theologies simply do not match what is actually is true, it does not matter.   I might be a better person if I have different qualities than I have but at the end of the day, I have what I have and I have to live with that reality.

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21 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

Regarding the problem of evil:

I was waiting for Hamba Tuhan's response to this before I commented on it (since the question wasn't directed at me or about my experience), but the doctrines that make the most difference to the problem of evil issue to me, and according to David Paulsen's speech on the topic are these:  The pre-mortal existence of men, coexisting with a loving God before creation, and the rejection of the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo (creation out of nothing) seeing that God created all things from unformed matter.  As far as I am aware, Latter-day Saints would be among the minority of modern faiths (perhaps the only one?) that believes that man co-existed with God in the beginning, and also rejects the popular doctrine of creation ex-nihilo.  (Are there any others?)

These doctrines are essential to answer to the classical problem of evil.  In Paulsen's speech, he addresses several classic arguments put forth by philosophers on this subject.  Here's one from the twentieth-century English philosopher Antony Flew:

"We cannot say that [God] would like to help but cannot: God is omnipotent. We cannot say that he would help if he only knew: God is omniscient. We cannot say that he is not responsible for the wickedness of others: God creates those others. Indeed an omnipotent, omniscient God must be an accessory before (and during) the fact to every human misdeed; as well as being responsible for every non-moral defect in the universe."

Paulsen's summarizes Flew's view as follows:

"If God creates all things (including finite agents) absolutely (that is, out of nothing), knowing beforehand all the actual future consequences of His creative choices, then He is an accessory before the fact and ultimately responsible for every moral and nonmoral defect in the universe"

Paulsen says that Joseph Smith's way out of this problem is to never "go in":

Paulsen also quotes portions of 2 Nephi 2,(referenced in Hamba Tuhan's post) and proposes a variation on God's omnipotence. He says "we can coherently adopt an 'instrumentalist' view of evil wherein pain, suffering, and opposition become means of moral and spiritual development.  God is omnipotent, but He cannot prevent evil without preventing greater goods or ends—the value of which more than offsets the dis-value of the evil: soul-making, joy, eternal (or godlike) life."

It's worth listening to or reading his speech for the full picture.

Dude

Anybody that 1- understands AND SEES instantly why Paulsen is a genius is my bro regardless of whether you want to be!  ;)

Pragmatism/instrumentalism is absolutely the key to making our gospel rational.  God MUST be immanent- part of the universe- in order for any theology to make rational sense in my opinion.  I left Catholicism intellectually because of its transcendence doctrines and the confusions they called. 

I joined the church because of this point, at least intellectually- of course my religious experiences were a whole other thing!

Welcome to the family!  ;)

 

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35 minutes ago, carbon dioxide said:

Yes.  The best theology is the one that actually is the right one. 

Agreed, but unfortunately people seem to disagree about that

I think the question is more about creating a framework within which one could have some basis for making a rational case for their position.

That doesn't make it objectively "the right one" but at least one made the effort to find what God wants.   The one with the best essay wins.  ;)

 

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21 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Dude

Anybody that 1- understands AND SEES instantly why Paulsen is a genius is my bro regardless of whether you want to be!  ;)

Pragmatism/instrumentalism is absolutely the key to making our gospel rational.  God MUST be immanent- part of the universe- in order for any theology to make rational sense in my opinion.  I left Catholicism intellectually because of its transcendence doctrines and the confusions they called. 

I joined the church because of this point, at least intellectually- of course my religious experiences were a whole other thing!

Welcome to the family!  ;)

 

Because of you I'm doing a detailed investigation of Pragmatism. I have the usual video, if there are any texts on it I'd like to know about them. 

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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Anybody that 1- understands AND SEES instantly why Paulsen is a genius is my bro regardless of whether you want to be!  ;)

Well, God is the genius.  Paulsen just tells it like it is.  I really do appreciate his approach.

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45 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I find no evidence in the Bible or Restoration scripture that the Lord has ever considered little children incapable of grasping or sharing His message.

I agree.  The principles of the gospel are really quite basic and simple, and they don't need to be explained using fancy words for people to understand them.  When Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am?"  Peter gave a simple answer made known to him by revelation from the Father:  "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God".  Theology and philosophy tend to complicate things with nuanced words and special terminology, and debates about why "my God is greater than your God" (present thread included :) ).  But Peter got it right in an instant, and he was just a simple fisherman, not some graduate from a theological seminary.  These revealed truths of the gospel are what our children are taught, and they understand them.  They aren't that complicated.   

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6 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

But Peter got it right in an instant, and he was just a simple fisherman, not some graduate from a theological seminary.

I'm willing to risk controversy and boldly suggest that if it takes a theology graduate or trained philosopher to adequately discuss an issue, it's unlikely the issue genuinely belongs to Christ's gospel. Something really important -- 'plain and precious', even! -- has to have been lost before that can happen.

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34 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

Peter got it right in an instant, and he was just a simple fisherman, not some graduate from a theological seminary. 

Yes of course, but then there is Paul the very learned.  We need both of these types in the Gospel. Here is a confession,   we have been reading Paul in Sunday School and I consider myself to have at least average smarts.  Some of the things Paul writes I cannot process.  I know each word he uses but the way he puts them together many times I am baffled.  What a great missionary he was with his powerful eloquence and testimony.

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2 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I'm willing to risk controversy and boldly suggest that if it takes a theology graduate or trained philosopher to adequately discuss an issue, it's unlikely the issue genuinely belongs to Christ's gospel. Something really important -- 'plain and precious', even! -- has to have been lost before that can happen.

What is clear as a bell to some can be an insoluble puzzle to others. One's ability to give additional depth to the gospel ought to be treasured.

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3 hours ago, InCognitus said:

I agree.  The principles of the gospel are really quite basic and simple, and they don't need to be explained using fancy words for people to understand them.  When Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am?"  Peter gave a simple answer made known to him by revelation from the Father:  "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God".  Theology and philosophy tend to complicate things with nuanced words and special terminology, and debates about why "my God is greater than your God" (present thread included :) ).  But Peter got it right in an instant, and he was just a simple fisherman, not some graduate from a theological seminary.  These revealed truths of the gospel are what our children are taught, and they understand them.  They aren't that complicated.   

It seems odd though to say that, on a board dedicated to the gospel where we have so much contention 

We must all be at the bottom of the pack if we can't make this stuff simple.

 

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4 hours ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Why so peevish?

 can't 'adequately discuss complex theological and philosophical issues', either, but I certainly can share the simple, beautiful teachings that we Latter-day Saints have that provide a fit framework for addressing such issues. And yes, the children in our branch could too. They grow up singing 'I lived in heaven a long time ago, it is true' and 'I am a child of God' and reading in the Book of Mormon about agency and opposition and a God who cannot save His children in their sins. It all fits together perfectly, and as suggested above by InCognitus, neutralises many philosophical conundrums.

I find no evidence in the Bible or Restoration scripture that the Lord has ever considered little children incapable of grasping or sharing His message.

Then they hit the teen years and leave after reading a critical comment on the internet.

Should they be taught more so they can deal with the sophistry they will encounter, to enable them to overcome the world, or continue the nursery rhyme approach?

What happened to "putting off childish ways"?

If a simple approach is the answer why is it not working?


New King James Version
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

Edited by mfbukowski
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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

What is clear as a bell to some can be an insoluble puzzle to others. One's ability to give additional depth to the gospel ought to be treasured.

My experience is that the difference is not so much one of intelligence or even desire but mostly a matter of having access to revealed doctrine to provide context and understanding. And the actual Gift of the Holy Ghost helps!

1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Then they hit the teen years and leave after reading a critical comment on the internet.

I was actually thinking of the kids from my old branch last night and so tracked five of them down on Facebook. They're doing great! All returned missionaries, all raising families of their own in the gospel.

Quote

Should they be taught more so they can deal with the sophistry they will encounter, to enable them to overcome the world, or continue the nursery rhyme approach?

I've never found it necessary to dumb down the pure and simple truths of the Restored Gospel for children. I wholeheartedly endorse the words of Pres J. Reuben Clark to teachers in the Church in 1938:

Quote

The youth of the Church are hungry for things of the Spirit; they are eager to learn the gospel, and they want it straight, undiluted.

They want to know about the fundamentals I have just set out—about our beliefs; they want to gain testimonies of their truth ...

These students crave the faith their fathers and mothers have; they want it in its simplicity and purity. There are few indeed who have not seen the manifestations of its divine power; they wish to be not only the beneficiaries of this faith, but they want to be themselves able to call it forth to work.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is deep and satisfying but is equally accessible to fishermen and physicists, children and adults. Tomorrow is the first meeting of our newly formed ward. Our bishop has a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master's degree in engineering; he works in the space industry. His first counsellor has spent his life installing and refinishing floors. His second counsellor is one of my former Young Men.

I spent three years trying to get this boy just to attend activities -- no go. Then, when he was 15, a cousin brought him to church a few times, and something sank deep into his soul. For the next two years, he came by himself, with a lift from me. I taught him to drive (every morning to and from seminary), and from the age of 17, he started bringing his younger siblings as well. He and his brother have both served missions. The sister has her mission interview with our stake president next week. The mum and dad have come back fully and serve faithfully.

This young man knew nothing at age 15. (He managed to fail every academic subject he took in year 11.) But he loved the gospel 'straight, undiluted'. I'm looking forward to his interviewing me for a temple recommend next month!

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Then they hit the teen years and leave after reading a critical comment on the internet.

Should they be taught more so they can deal with the sophistry they will encounter, to enable them to overcome the world, or continue the nursery rhyme approach?

What happened to "putting off childish ways"?

If a simple approach is the answer why is it not working?


New King James Version
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

There is a deep belief among some that the childlike faith necessary to accepting the gospel is all that is needed to hold on to a testimony.

Childlike faith is vital.  But more must be taught to be able to stand.

Joseph Smith said: “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth."

 

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Some would argue that Mormonism doesn't have a theology, but merely a set of doctrines and practices that change over time.

Quote
theology
[THēˈäləjē]
 
NOUN
theologies (plural noun)
  1. the study of the nature of God and religious belief.
    "a theology degree"
    • religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed.
      "a willingness to tolerate new theologies" ·
      "Augustine assimilated Roman ideals into Christian theology"
      synonyms:
      religious studies · religion · scripture

19th century Mormonism had some leaders who attempted to "study the nature of God and religious belief" in a "systematic" way but I don't think we've seen anything like that for many, many, many decades. I don't think one could define Mormon theology. It's hard enough defining Mormon doctrine.

 
 
 

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