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LDS Apologetic Response to Atheistic Materialism


cksalmon

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uh huh. If you remember correctly. LOL

A clear minded person would see that it doesn't matter anyway. Imagine that I claim that everyone that doubts my ninja skills is a drunk. Now suppose you say to me that this is just silly. Would you be convinced if I said that the last person who doubted my ninja skills was later arrested for public intoxication.

Why can't you see how ridiculous it is on the face of it?

Considering the relationship between God and his people is often analogized as a marriage, someone who demands of God a sign can be seen as an nonfaithful spouse at the very least. To do so in such a way would seem to indicate that individual has put something above God in his heart....so adultery is not an outlandish claim if understood in such a fashion....

Now assuming that all those who have strayed from the Lord have also strayed from their spouses....in a physical sexual sense, if there is a connection, it is not a logical or automatically expected one.

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Along this line, it is my experience that LDS missionaries are woefully under-prepared to talk with atheists (this may be a reflection of the church at-large in that most of its apologetic efforts seems to be geared more towards defending: (a) "we are Christian" and (b) "we are Christian".

and if the Jehovas Witnesses are correct?

if the Catholics are correct?

if the Buddhists are correct?

if the Hindus are correct?

if the Shiites are correct?

if no one is correct

If.... (multiply by the uncountable number of possibilities).

My advice is to life as if no one really knows the answers to these speculative questions about ultimate meaning etc. (All indications are that, in fact, no one does really know.)

One has to find personal meaning in the face of cosmic uncertainty. It can be done in terms of family, charity, knowledge, art, music, friendship, and, yes,... pleasure.

Rarely do we see counterfeit $3 bills. That's because there are no real $3 bills. That we have so many religions, and that religion itself has always been apart of known human history, in my opinion, means it likely that somewhere in the mix of the many voices is something authentic.

My advice is to do one's due diligence and determine for oneself which out of the many voices (including Atheism), offers the best explanation to life, and which teachings work. For example, does the worship and propogation of cows and rat make for a healthy society?

As for "cosmic uncertainty", I think that is more of an excuse for one not to do their homework. Its elevating the chaos we see over the order we experience. We do live and are bound by some absolutes. For example, we are bound by physical laws. You jump, you will fall back to the earth. You hold your breathe too long, you die. That other living organisms are necessary to provide you oxygen to breathe demonstrates an inter-dependency to life. I would also argue that there are unseen moral laws, that when exercised work, and many are ingrained in our consciousness. I don't think we can get away with claiming ignorance of the order around us by pointing to the chaos apart from us.

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WWalker,

While JS's theological views took spirit and claimed it a part of the material existence, the theology also widened the discussion beyond what common Christianity considers. When the Book of Abraham claims that "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was..." it appears all that JS did was change the vocabulary. The nature of intelligence is not addressed, to my knowledge, in LDS theology, and appears very much similar to Christian "spirit". If the soul, as JS elsewhere taught, is the union of body and spirit, what still of intelligence?

I think one has to narrow their view in order to accept the "spirit=matter=materialistic religion".

But regardless, this is also not a case for arguing LDS religious practice from a position acceptable within atheistic materialism (because I propose you can not argue spiritual/post-mortal/pre-mortal belief from this position.)

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WWalker,

While JS's theological views took spirit and claimed it a part of the material existence, the theology also widened the discussion beyond what common Christianity considers. When the Book of Abraham claims that "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was..." it appears all that JS did was change the vocabulary. The nature of intelligence is not addressed, to my knowledge, in LDS theology, and appears very much similar to Christian "spirit". If the soul, as JS elsewhere taught, is the union of body and spirit, what still of intelligence?

I think one has to narrow their view in order to accept the "spirit=matter=materialistic religion".

But regardless, this is also not a case for arguing LDS religious practice from a position acceptable within atheistic materialism (because I propose you can not argue spiritual/post-mortal/pre-mortal belief from this position.)

One individual (I forget whom) described Mormons as materialists who function as dualists. The materialism is not the exact same as that usually presented by atheists. I would never argue that. And "intelligence" and "spirit" were used synonymously and sometimes inconsistently in the early days of the Church.

It is a rather mind-blowing topic. The dualism associated with it I think has a lot to do with levels of consciousness, but that isn't something I'm necessarily married to nor in a position to defend really.

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Considering the relationship between God and his people is often analogized as a marriage, someone who demands of God a sign can be seen as an nonfaithful spouse at the very least. To do so in such a way would seem to indicate that individual has put something above God in his heart....so adultery is not an outlandish claim if understood in such a fashion....

Now assuming that all those who have strayed from the Lord have also strayed from their spouses....in a physical sexual sense, if there is a connection, it is not a logical or automatically expected one.

The referenced example is in "The Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith".

A Key to Mysteries

Section Four 1839-42, p.156

I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn other, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives. The principle is as correct as the one that Jesus put forth in saying that he who seeketh a sign is an adulterous person; and that principle is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man.

Interpret it how you will.

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One individual (I forget whom) described Mormons as materialists who function as dualists.

I don't know this, but if I had to guess I would suspect Blake Ostler. Blake Ostler Online

The materialism is not the exact same as that usually presented by atheists. I would never argue that. And "intelligence" and "spirit" were used synonymously and sometimes inconsistently in the early days of the Church.

It is a rather mind-blowing topic. The dualism associated with it I think has a lot to do with levels of consciousness, but that isn't something I'm necessarily married to nor in a position to defend really.

Yes, it is interesting topic. I'm curious how others respond to any further developments, and if CK has other thoughts he'd like to share. I'm also curious what led to this line of questioning.

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Its elevating the chaos we see over the order we experience. We do live and are bound by some absolutes. For example, we are bound by physical laws. You jump, you will fall back to the earth. You hold your breathe too long, you die. That other living organisms are necessary to provide you oxygen to breathe demonstrates an inter-dependency to life. I would also argue that there are unseen moral laws, that when exercised work, and many are ingrained in our consciousness. I don't think we can get away with claiming ignorance of the order around us by pointing to the chaos apart from us.

Well put, especially that first sentence. The concept of proper function (something I think fits into what you call the "inter-dependency to life") indicates to me that there is purpose, order, and meaning. We all operate as if there is purpose, order, and meaning. I don't think it is a stretch to say, based on everyday conscious experience, that perhaps there is purpose, order, and meaning. To say there is no purpose, order, and meaning is a philosophy that no one actually lives by. It is lip-service only.

Now this doesn't necessarily point to the existence of a deity, but I'm with Alvin Plantinga that an existence with purpose, order, and meaning works quite well within a theistic worldview.

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I don't know this, but if I had to guess I would suspect Blake Ostler. Blake Ostler Online

Yes, it is interesting topic. I'm curious how others respond to any further developments, and if CK has other thoughts he'd like to share. I'm also curious what led to this line of questioning.

I think it was someone actually commenting on Blake Ostler. Or Sterling McMurrin. Or maybe both. It was a description that stuck with me. Nothing else really did though.

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The referenced example is in "The Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith".

Interpret it how you will.

Thank you, I was aware of it, but it's always nice to have the actual reference in the thread so everyone, including readers, are on the same page.
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I mentioned elsewhere that I was on a Barfield/Tolkien/Lewis binge. What I find fascinating about their reasons for being theists (in particular Lewis' conversion) is that it is all very personal. It consisted of reflections on purpose and meaning, aesthetics and joy, reason and imagination. It all came down to personal, conscious experience. Obviously, the eyewitness accounts of the Gospels had to do with their particular choice of Christianity, but otherwise it was personal yearning that they adhered to.

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Now this doesn't necessarily point to the existence of a deity, but I'm with Alvin Plantinga that an existence with purpose, order, and meaning works quite well within a theistic worldview.

The human brain has evolved to see order in the world to make sense of one's environment. While there is natural law and, in a sense, order the most common religious response to the real world that we can observe around us is really little more than commentary on how to make sense of the chaos. Reread Job. The God of Job is not just, maybe merciful (to Job only, maybe), and tells Job that that's just how things are.

I don't think that nature and our material world bear your point out at all. Rather, it points to man's need to find order (and thus religion) where there is none naturally.

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Well put, especially that first sentence. The concept of proper function (something I think fits into what you call the "inter-dependency to life") indicates to me that there is purpose, order, and meaning. We all operate as if there is purpose, order, and meaning. I don't think it is a stretch to say, based on everyday conscious experience, that perhaps there is purpose, order, and meaning. To say there is no purpose, order, and meaning is a philosophy that no one actually lives by. It is lip-service only.

Now this doesn't necessarily point to the existence of a deity, but I'm with Alvin Plantinga that an existence with purpose, order, and meaning works quite well within a theistic worldview.

I fail to see how God can help establish meaning and purpose.

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The human brain has evolved to see order in the world to make sense of one's environment. While there is natural law and, in a sense, order the most common religious response to the real world that we can observe around us is really little more than commentary on how to make sense of the chaos. Reread Job. The God of Job is not just, maybe merciful (to Job only, maybe), and tells Job that that's just how things are.

I don't think that nature and our material world bear your point out at all. Rather, it points to man's need to find order (and thus religion) where there is none naturally.

There is much chaos, certainly. The ancients believed in chaos. They contrasted the order of creation with the chaos that it emerged from. "Nonexistence" was equated with chaos. No argument there. But that doesn't necessarily mean that no order exists at all.

Your reference to the evolution of the human mind reminds me of Edward Feser's review of Daniel Dennett's work:

To avoid acknowledgement of irreducible purpose or goal-directedness in nature

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WWalker,

I believe it was Stephen J Gould who made the case that the biggest misconception about evolution is that it is a matter of progression TOWARDS something. Most people consider that something directionally as "up" or progressive.

The reality of evolutionary change is that it first - favors diversity, and then second - sustains individuals fitted to survival in a given environment in order to pass on their genes and continue life.

We see order in this process, whether we view it mythologically as the creation towards which Man is the pinnacle or a the progression of fish to homosapian sapian made so famous in the cartoons.

The order we see is there because when we observe the environmental conditions and the results we see the "logic" of why things are the way they are. But the reality is that it was a roll of natures dice. And the dice keep on rolling. Our ability to predict the future based on this order is related to matters of scale. We can predict outcomes of somethings that are very big (movement of planets, for example), or moderately small things within short time ranges (cooking to a recipe). But very small things are highly unpredictable, and anything far enough out in time at any scale of space/matter becomes a guess.

The chaos of nature, even within the rules or "order" we understand is fascinating and gives it a certain sublime beauty.

Anyway, I think we talk past one another if we assume that reality can exist at either extreme (ordered or chaotic) and try to argue for either as an absolute. I do think that the primary function of religion is to make sense of chaos, but then I would also argue that is the purpose of science. I think we find religion best succeeds where it seeks for "meaning" in the chaos.

I don't think that "meaning" CAN BE more material than it's observable impacts on the individual human life and how it is lived. I think if I were a believer and attempting to address the OP, this would be the angle I would pursue. But I also wouldn't be surprised to see negative examples raised from the same argument, as well as parallel examples from other interpretations of this "meaning".

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Same thing I told Selek. You can say God is physical,in the universe and has a spatio-temporal location, but that really opens up God as something that can be studied by the Physical sciences.

Certainly, I could say that, but I probably wouldn't, at least not in the sense you seem to mean. Totalizing worldviews that are in competition with one another often draw their metaphysical boundaries at different metaphorical radii.

You write:

I don't see God as a question for Science, do you?

Implicit in the question, it seems, is the assumption that, for "Science," God is an irrelevant conjecture. Now, that's certainly a common and time-honored view. But, it also seems to predict a more circumscribed range of possible questions about the universe than is available to the theist.

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Fair enough. I guess it would depend on the god and the ideas that accompany its existence.

I think this gets at the crux of the issue. The reality is we are addressing this God by his/her/it's "gravity" - or as you call them, "the ideas that accompany its existence."

Unless, as Stokes correctly points out, you want to make the physical God the point of the discussion. Experience has shown that as soon as this happens, we enter a whole new realm of speculation and metaphysics that is hardly material at all but rather suppositional.

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Fair enough. I guess it would depend on the god and the ideas that accompany its existence.

I don't think it really depends on the definition to be honest and let me show you why....

Let's take the Ontological argument, something that both Feser and Plantinga endorse. So God is a maximally greatest being, that which no greater is possible. Fine, I'll take it. What those arguments don't do is constrain maximallity. Give me Aquinas' first three ways and I'll give you a Universe of Set Theory, what could be more inclusive and greater than that? All possibilities and actualities are to be had, even the greatest possible world which has all moral perfections, all positive potentials are realized, and on and on and on.

The best part, the Naturalist can use math to start mapping this Metaphysic, and why not? Math works with anything that is consistently definable and cosmologists like Lee Smolin do this very well. If the naturalist invokes math, it becomes very powerful and not constrained by empirical testability. So when it comes to explanations , anything the theist can do, the atheist can do much better it seems.

So when I say something like, "There isn't anything Mormons have to offer" the above is what I have in mind.

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