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Do Lds People Structure Their Belief System So That No Evidence Could Ever Disprove It?


Doug the Hutt

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Go surfing around theist-atheist sites and eventually you'll find someone who says that religious people structure their truth claims so that they could not possibly be proved wrong. And then there appear to be people so dedicated to unbelief that it makes you want to pull your/their hair out and hurl large quantities of wet noodles at them (perhaps that's just me....).

How is your belief system structured? Is there something about the scriptures, leadership, members or foundational claims that would make you an unbeliever in the LDS Church (or any church for that matter)? If you have had a powerful experience that you interpreted as being from God Himself, does your belief system allow for that experience to have been misinterpreted (hallucination, mania, self-deceptive, etc.)?

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Go surfing around theist-atheist sites and eventually you'll find someone who says that religious people structure their truth claims so that they could not possibly be proved wrong.

It sounds like a desperate shot at believers or something. Afterall I, nor most believers I know, are the one's who "structure" our truth claims.

How is your belief system structured?

I'm LDS. You can check it out if you like. Other than that I'm not sure what you mean. Please clarify.

Is there something about the scriptures, leadership, members or foundational claims that would make you an unbeliever in the LDS Church (or any church for that matter)?

I dont really know what you mean here either. But, I can safely say, I am atleast somewhat open to the possibility of being wrong.

If you have had a powerful experience that you interpreted as being from God Himself, does your belief system allow for that experience to have been misinterpreted (hallucination, mania, self-deceptive, etc.)?

Why of course.

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How is your belief system structured?

There are a few things that I "know" to be true. ("know" as well as I "know" anything.)

There are a lot of things that I am currently convinced are true, but given contrary evidence I will re-evaluate. (This happens on occasion).

There some things that I was convinced were true, but when I was given contrary evidence I re-evaluated and gave up believing.

There are some things that I didn't believe, but when given evidence for, I re-evaluated and now accept as true.

Is there something about the scriptures, leadership, members or foundational claims that would make you an unbeliever in the LDS Church (or any church for that matter)?

????

Not that I currently know about.

If you have had a powerful experience that you interpreted as being from God Himself, does your belief system allow for that experience to have been misinterpreted (hallucination, mania, self-deceptive, etc.)?

Sure! A divine being telling me in person would do it.

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Do Lds People Structure Their Belief System So That No Evidence Could Ever Disprove It?

I think all Christianity relies on several facts/events that cannot be proven or disproven by any mortal science:

1. The existence of God.

2. The concept of sin.

3. That Jesus Christ was the son of God.

4. That Jesus Christ Atoned for sin.

5. That Jesus Christ was resurrected.

etc.

So I think that historicity of other provable events, not being proven at the moment, does not really matter. Nor does the percentage of proven historicity one's religion can claim. Where historicity matters, it that whenever historical claims are made, they must turn out to be or have been true at some point either now or in the future to a reasonable degree; allowing for allegory and metaphor in the details. In other words, no matter what, it takes faith to believe.

Even if God speaks to you face to face and tells you it is so and shows you a vision, it still faith because you weren't actually there to witness or you don't understand all the details. And thus we see that there is faith in science as well.

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How is your belief system structured? Is there something about the scriptures, leadership, members or foundational claims that would make you an unbeliever in the LDS Church (or any church for that matter)? If you have had a powerful experience that you interpreted as being from God Himself, does your belief system allow for that experience to have been misinterpreted (hallucination, mania, self-deceptive, etc.)?

I don't know I've seen pretty much every argument against the church and they just don't hold any water for me. Maybe because I have read enough on the other side to know how unreliable history can be when we only have limited documentation and knowing how subject it is to bias. Scholars have been working on the the Joseph Smith Papers project for 10 years now, which shows how much effort is going into making sure everything is as accurate as can be. What I have seen and heard of this seems to indicate that those scholars working on this have had their testimonies of the truth claims of the church increased. So more knowledge doesn't necessarily mean a loss of faith. In fact it would seem to me that the problem with the antis and critics is they don't have enough knowledge. How could they when many documents have been locked up in church archives for years.

My spiritual experiences are such that it would be very difficult to explain them away either through self-deception or hallucination. Especially when others were present when some of these things took place.

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How does someone disprove one's personal experiences?

Agreed....how does one disprove belief?

There are any number of beliefs that were once held by christians that have since been disproved (earth is 6000 years old, etc.), yet christianity continues on.

It is hard to disprove something that is based on belief or personal experience, rather than empirical evidence or fact that can be scientifically analyzed.

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Go surfing around theist-atheist sites and eventually you'll find someone who says that religious people structure their truth claims so that they could not possibly be proved wrong. And then there appear to be people so dedicated to unbelief that it makes you want to pull your/their hair out and hurl large quantities of wet noodles at them (perhaps that's just me....).

How is your belief system structured? Is there something about the scriptures, leadership, members or foundational claims that would make you an unbeliever in the LDS Church (or any church for that matter)? If you have had a powerful experience that you interpreted as being from God Himself, does your belief system allow for that experience to have been misinterpreted (hallucination, mania, self-deceptive, etc.)?

Do I do what they claim? Yes, I do. =).

Why do I do that? Because it is God's job to prove or disprove it; it is not men's job.

The thing is... some men seek to do that job.

So I develop a belief system that cannot be broken, so they can't do that.

So when people try to punch through this belief system... they get bruised.

More often it is their pride that is bruised though... not their capabilities.

I have to be careful though, cause sometimes I want to laugh about it... but really... I shouldn't be laughing at them for doing it.

I should be sad. I should be humbled. I should be meek and kind. That is what I should be.

Best Wishes,

TAO

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Go surfing around theist-atheist sites and eventually you'll find someone who says that religious people structure their truth claims so that they could not possibly be proved wrong. And then there appear to be people so dedicated to unbelief that it makes you want to pull your/their hair out and hurl large quantities of wet noodles at them (perhaps that's just me....).

How is your belief system structured? Is there something about the scriptures, leadership, members or foundational claims that would make you an unbeliever in the LDS Church (or any church for that matter)? If you have had a powerful experience that you interpreted as being from God Himself, does your belief system allow for that experience to have been misinterpreted (hallucination, mania, self-deceptive, etc.)?

Powerful experiences do not lock you into a never-changing belief system or paradigm. Anyone who believes that an epiphany or theophany entitles them to a place of "arrival", where their faith is fixed and complete, is going to discover that they are very much mistaken.

And yes, the opening post question applies to anyone who believes. When you believe you actually do not have a choice. Like emotions, when they come you can only deal with them, not NOT feel them. So believing in things is not a choice; also, failure of belief is not a choice. When you believe you can deny it, but then you are lying to yourself. It will end in tears. Equally, when you keep telling yourself that you believe in something and you do not (or no longer can), it will end in tears.

The only thing we can do is accept that we do or do not believe in something. Then, if we want it to be otherwise, we can only be honest with ourselves if we work to make a change by educating ourselves with facts; as many as we can gather together. This is all we can do. But there is no guarantee of success.

In my case, I wanted to believe the LDS paradigm or world religious view of my parents. I did not want them to be mistaken, at all. As I matured, I decided that believing was a personal matter, and my parents were entirely separate from my beliefs. I still wanted to believe in the LDS paradigm: because my family was committed to it going back five generations. That meant something: all those people could not be wrong, when they said "I know".

I did not know. I did not know if I even believed. But I acted as though I did, and lived the commandments the best I could (which means some things well, other things not well). I studied my religion, to further my ability to believe, and to at least have faith in those who knew more than I did when they said "I know".

But a tipping point comes, either in or out of faith, and that tipping point is belief and unbelief. Not disbelief. The disbeliever never wanted to believe in the first place. The believer can become an unbeliever. It isn't always (or even often) a desire to be so. It just occurs when facts get in the way.

So the person who encases himself in belief without facts is invulnerable. As long as facts are not sought, and are actively ignored or pushed away, belief systems cannot be assailed or breached.

But how many of us are that dedicated to mindless observance, without any curiosity as to what is happening to those we know and possibly love? Not many, I am saying. It is only a matter of time before the sheer volume of information being talked about penetrates the carapace of every living soul; either in this world or the next. Ignorance, blind faith, mindless devotion, are not on offer....

[edit: "are"]

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Powerful experiences do not lock you into a never-changing belief system or paradigm. Anyone who believes that an epiphany or theophany entitles them to a place of "arrival", where their faith is fixed and complete, is going to discover that they are very much mistaken.

Very good post. I agree wholeheartedly.

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If you can take the word "God" from the literature and apologist writings of any religion and replace it with the word "cheesecake" and the apologetics and doctrine make the same sense, there's something very wrong with the logic and thinking.

Also, if you attribute ANY occurrence that may happen to a deity pointing you towards Mormonism, no matter what happens, that's is problematic. On Sunday, if it's raining during church you can think it's a sign to you that you should not attend rugby practice. If it's sunny you consider it a test of your faithfulness. You can also worship a cheesecake, set up a church of the cheesecake, and think the same way about the weather and rugby practice.

If you really want to believe in something, there is NOTHING that can happen that can stop you. Look at the Flat-Earthers.

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If you really want to believe in something, there is NOTHING that can happen that can stop you. Look at the Flat-Earthers.

And apparently if you don't want to believe there is nothing that can convince you otherwise.

The point being the same arguments can be made for any belief system even if that belief is non-belief. As many of us have said before it takes more than just believing to sustain faith. There has to be on-going evidence in some form to continue to support that belief. And for those of us who believe that evidence has been forthcoming.

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I think all Christianity relies on several facts/events that cannot be proven or disproven by any mortal science:

1. The existence of God.

2. The concept of sin.

3. That Jesus Christ was the son of God.

4. That Jesus Christ Atoned for sin.

5. That Jesus Christ was resurrected.

etc.

So I think that historicity of other provable events, not being proven at the moment, does not really matter. Nor does the percentage of proven historicity one's religion can claim. Where historicity matters, it that whenever historical claims are made, they must turn out to be or have been true at some point either now or in the future to a reasonable degree; allowing for allegory and metaphor in the details. In other words, no matter what, it takes faith to believe.

Even if God speaks to you face to face and tells you it is so and shows you a vision, it still faith because you weren't actually there to witness or you don't understand all the details. And thus we see that there is faith in science as well.

g'morning BCSpace,

Let's look at items 2-5. Sin, according to LDS theology (based in the scriptures and reconfirmed repeatedly by Prophets, Seers, Revelators and other great guys for oodles of years), was committed by Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, they fell from paradise into the mortal world which brought death into the world. There needed to be salvation from sin, which is why Jesus came, lived a perfect life and died for us. The critical parts of that part of the belief system would be Adam & Eve, The Fall, Sin, The Atonement.

So what happens to the belief system when a person does not believe in a literal Adam & Eve, or the Garden of Eden, or the ability to gain knowledge by eating fruit, or that death came into the world as a result of sin, or that the atonement was needed to clean up the sin brought into the world by the first man and woman? Is there a way to believe in the need for the Atonement, but not believe in Adam & Eve or The Fall, and if so how does that belief system look? Is there a way to believe in the Atonement but recognize that death has been around on the Earth for 400,000,000 years -- long before anything resembling a man ever showed up? Seems to me that The Fall and The Atonement are two sides of a coin, yin and yang, both married together -- if the were no fall there would not be a need of an Atonement. 2 Nephi goes into great detail on the Fall and Redemption from it.

http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/2?lang=eng

I always appreciate your wisdom and look forward to hearing more of it. Thanks a bunch.

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If I did not have the confirmation of the Holy Ghost on my side, I would quickly dismiss Joseph Smith and the Church as false. I give the LDS Church more footing and wiggle room because I believe the LORD has informed me this is His Church that He wants me to be a member of.

JMS

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There are a few things that I "know" to be true. ("know" as well as I "know" anything.)

There are a lot of things that I am currently convinced are true, but given contrary evidence I will re-evaluate. (This happens on occasion).

There some things that I was convinced were true, but when I was given contrary evidence I re-evaluated and gave up believing.

There are some things that I didn't believe, but when given evidence for, I re-evaluated and now accept as true.

????

Not that I currently know about.

Sure! A divine being telling me in person would do it.

Vance,

I like where you're going with those grades or levels of belief. +1

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How does someone disprove one's personal experiences?

I don't know that it's so much disproving one's personal experiences, but more like recognizing where one has appealed to wishful thinking in their analysis.

Example: one night several decades ago I recall being at a crossroads in my life (looking back it was one of *many* such crossing roads). I recall praying and being emotional and going through the rollercoaster of feeling the weight of sin and trying to get some resolution with God for all the things that I'd done, etc. I recall asking for a sign -- that's when I saw a star in the sky appear and in my own personal mania I thought it was a miracle. After calming down a bit and giving myself time to think about things I came to accept that a star didn't appear in the sky, it was an airplane on approach to Salt Lake International Airport and I just happened to see its headlight as it positioned itself for landing. In the moment it seemed like a sign and a miracle, but mostly because of my altered state. It actually was quite mundane -- no more of a miracle and a sign from God Himself than a streetlight flickering on or off, or thinking of a song finding it playing on the radio a few seconds later; it was too heavily influenced by my emotional condition at the time combined with the coincidence of being where I was at the time. I recognize that too many of my own interpretations of "spiritual" situations were misguided, flawed and insufficient to base my life upon. I used the wrong belief system and despite using it in good faith I was jack-hammered and steamrolled by reality. I envy 'normal' people who just seem to get it ( == not like me, Dr. Dumb***), who didn't have to go through all the garbage that made me the Hutt/evil doctor I am today. My previous epistemology was woefully inadequate, and I'm still just looking for one that works as advertised, hence these types of questions.

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Powerful experiences do not lock you into a never-changing belief system or paradigm. Anyone who believes that an epiphany or theophany entitles them to a place of "arrival", where their faith is fixed and complete, is going to discover that they are very much mistaken.

...The only thing we can do is accept that we do or do not believe in something. Then, if we want it to be otherwise, we can only be honest with ourselves if we work to make a change by educating ourselves with facts; as many as we can gather together. This is all we can do. But there is no guarantee of success.

...But a tipping point comes, either in or out of faith, and that tipping point is belief and unbelief. Not disbelief. The disbeliever never wanted to believe in the first place. The believer can become an unbeliever. It isn't always (or even often) a desire to be so. It just occurs when facts get in the way.

So the person who encases himself in belief without facts is invulnerable. As long as facts are not sought, and are actively ignored or pushed away, belief systems cannot be assailed or breached.

But how many of us are that dedicated to mindless observance, without any curiosity as to what is happening to those we know and possibly love? Not many, I am saying. It is only a matter of time before the sheer volume of information being talked about penetrates the carapace of every living soul; either in this world or the next. Ignorance, blind faith, mindless devotion, are not on offer....

I can relate with a lot you wrote.

"An egoist will never get anywhere because he thinks he's already arrived." - MJ Ashton

I feel so passionate about education - & how it opens up so many possibilities - which can contribute to our temporal & spiritual progression.

Yet, I am learning the passion of passion! ha ha... Really, it's not all about facts, but BELIEFS. Often we are only happy after we believe in positivity.

There's this challenging balance of weighing facts with passionate beliefs.

Much evil can come from unchallenged passionate beliefs.

Yet, all facts & no passion makes life b o r i n g.

IMO, Ultimately, just as we instinctively breath air in & out, we also strive for what we think is best, through trial & error... & eventually, we'll "get it."

Doug the Hut,

I know what you mean about "wishful thinking."

Thoughts are powerful - for good or bad, but we usually prefer the good - & that's good, right?

Except, when we're in such denial that it interferes with ours or others' well-being & progress.

We can't help but think wishfully, or even fearfully... because our survival depends on making sense of what is, what could be & what we want or don't want.

Yet, IMO, there are some "illusions" more healthy than others... even within the lds religion...

IE: It feels unhealthy to have anxiety about spirituality.... even when scriptures & some lds leaders teach fear.

It feels unhealthy to be ashamed of being imperfect.... even when Nephi & other scripture authors admitted to being imperfect, yet a church's mission statements is "perfecting the saints."

It feels healthy to believe in personal revelation & the hope of divinity within us, as J.Smith taught.... even when some consider it blasphemy or arrogant.

It feels healthy to believe in loving others, serving...even if there's so much to be done worldwide, we only are a drop in the bucket.

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Go surfing around theist-atheist sites and eventually you'll find someone who says that religious people structure their truth claims so that they could not possibly be proved wrong. And then there appear to be people so dedicated to unbelief that it makes you want to pull your/their hair out and hurl large quantities of wet noodles at them (perhaps that's just me....).

How is your belief system structured? Is there something about the scriptures, leadership, members or foundational claims that would make you an unbeliever in the LDS Church (or any church for that matter)? If you have had a powerful experience that you interpreted as being from God Himself, does your belief system allow for that experience to have been misinterpreted (hallucination, mania, self-deceptive, etc.)?

Isn't that true for everyone? Doesn't everyone do that to their own belief system?

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How is your belief system structured?

I read that as: How do you determine what you believe or accept as the truth?

What I would accept as a general answer: By placing trust in someone or something such that what they say or think is the truth is considered to be the truth.

My a little more personal answer: By believing whatever God tells me, or what I believe God (or who I believe to be God) is telling me.

Is there something about the scriptures, leadership, members or foundational claims that would make you an unbeliever in the LDS Church (or any church for that matter)?

I don't believe in the Church, which consists of fallible people, in the sense of relying upon whatever the members tell me as the basis for my own knowledge of the truth.

I believe in God and in what God tells me is the truth, to the extent that he does, and I primarily seek to know the truth of "good" things.

There are a lot of things that are true that are bad, and I would rather soak up the good news that is true than to focus on true things that are bad.

And btw, if I were to become an unbeliever in the Church (or anything else), do you think that would mean that such a thing no longer existed, or that such a thing would no longer be true? I ask because I wonder what you think it means when someone unbelieves or doesn't believe [something].

In reality, truth (which is reality) is independent of whatever someone believes is the truth, such that even if someone doesn't believe something is true, when it is, the truth is still true. And yes, part of the truth includes the fact that there is someone who doesn't believe what is true, when it is.

If you have had a powerful experience that you interpreted as being from God Himself, does your belief system allow for that experience to have been misinterpreted (hallucination, mania, self-deceptive, etc.)?

Yes.

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Agreed....how does one disprove belief?

There are any number of beliefs that were once held by christians that have since been disproved (earth is 6000 years old, etc.), yet christianity continues on.

It is hard to disprove something that is based on belief or personal experience, rather than empirical evidence or fact that can be scientifically analyzed.

I didn't say belief. I said personal experiences.

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Go surfing around theist-atheist sites and eventually you'll find someone who says that religious people structure their truth claims so that they could not possibly be proved wrong. And then there appear to be people so dedicated to unbelief that it makes you want to pull your/their hair out and hurl large quantities of wet noodles at them (perhaps that's just me....).

How is your belief system structured? Is there something about the scriptures, leadership, members or foundational claims that would make you an unbeliever in the LDS Church (or any church for that matter)? If you have had a powerful experience that you interpreted as being from God Himself, does your belief system allow for that experience to have been misinterpreted (hallucination, mania, self-deceptive, etc.)?

The First Vision is not testable. Neither is the Doctrine and Covenants. The Book of Mormon, by contrast, is held up to the world as if to say, "Take your best shot".

Critics of the church have been taking their shots for 180 years and failed to discredit it although many have convinced themselves that they have.

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And apparently if you don't want to believe there is nothing that can convince you otherwise.

The point being the same arguments can be made for any belief system even if that belief is non-belief. As many of us have said before it takes more than just believing to sustain faith. There has to be on-going evidence in some form to continue to support that belief. And for those of us who believe that evidence has been forthcoming.

You forgot a few things - in order to continue to sustain faith you must ignore all evidence that shows what you claim to believe in is something entirely different. You have to actively avoid truths that may contradict what is said by church leaders and somehow rationalize the existence of these truths by shelving them as "not important for my salvation" or "not faith promoting". You must compartmentalize what you are told and what you see in reality.

Your response ignores the many, many people who actually did want to believe, who were devastated to their core when they tried to reinforce their belief through study, but found they had been deceived. They wanted very much to believe, but facts convinced them otherwise, and for that they are often labeled evil, apostates etc.

When church leaders actually tell you to ignore evidence, even if it is true (Dallin H Oakes) or that not all truths are useful (Boyd K Packer), most rational adults will ask why truth is not what the true church wants its members to discover. If the church is true, all truths will point to that, and church leaders should have no reason to warn members to ignore some truth.

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