30 June 2009

Can't Resist a Challenge

Not a lot's going on in my life currently. Hiding out indoors a lot due to hot weather.

The next 40 days are going to be intense, but enjoyable and hopefully educational. I'm part of a challenge to read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in 40 days. This can be done, but will involve about 11 chapters of reading total per day (6 for the Book of Mormon, 3-ish for the Doctrine and Covenants, and 2 for the Pearl of Great Price). The Pearl of Great Price repeats five times during this.

If you'd like to join in, there are two places to go: the LDS.net forums or the Watchmen on the Tower social network on Ning.

After that comes the New Testament in 40 days. This will be a little lighter, averaging 6.5 chapters/day (I don't stop mid-chapter, so the amount per day varies a little).

Looking at the amount per day for the first challenge, I'm thinking the Old Testament in 80 days (about 11-ish chapters/day) might actually be doable. We shall see, after the other two are done.

I'm looking forward to this Scriptural feast.

10 June 2009

Omnibus Response

Well, well, well. The anti-Mormon and anti-theist crowd are going around bombing blogs with comments again. Over half the current wave got rejected for anonymity or personal attack. Nearly all of those were also very poorly spelled or ungrammatical. I'm starting to think literate people in that crowd are a minority. I'm also noticing an apparent belief that even following conventions of spelling and grammar in English or complying with a blog's stated comment policy is just not something these "special" types should have to bother with.

I'm also noticing a strong pack mentality. I can just picture it: "Oh no, I can't go near that awful Mormon's blog by myself, if I quit whipping myself into a frenzy of hate, I might actually start thinking there's a human being with a valid point of view here. Quick, I need herdmates!!!"

I did actually get some literate and intelligent atheists writing in, but none of them are persuasive to me. Simply put, I have personally experienced events in my life that clearly show a purpose and plan above my own intelligence, and the presence of a caring higher being. I have also received guidance and direction from a source that was very clearly more than human. There is no way I can look at various events of my life and believe there is no God without lying to myself and wishing away contrary evidence.

I grew up in a family ranging from apathetic about religion to rabid hatred of any faith in God. As I think I've mentioned here before, it dawned on me recently that in my family, those with the most anger toward belief are also the ones with the worst addiction or psychiatric issues. I can't help thinking there's a correlation.

Answering various points:
The harm coming to marriage from allowing gays to redefine that word to take in their alliances is that as a society, we cannot redefine that which God has defined, established, and declared sacred without incurring His judgement. Those of us who have promised to follow God and stand for His laws cannot accept this. Marriage is a sacred relationship ordained of God. He has made it very clear that marriage is between man and woman, and that He will not accept man and man or woman and woman as being such. Answering one commenter who thinks that to be consistent, I should favor a ban on divorce: in her haste to "score a point", she completely missed the fact that as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that marriage is meant to be for eternity, rather than the built-in divorce at death that comes from marrying "till death do us part". I would very much favor a return to much stricter divorce laws (adultery, abandonment by one spouse, or abuse being the only acceptable grounds), but our "it's all about my freedom, I shouldn't have to be bound by commitments or obligations I'm tired of" society won't go for that. I'm quite confident that when God's law is again obeyed, divorce will be basically unheard of (since people obeying those laws would not commit offenses against their spouses that justify divorce).

Several people claim one can have a moral code without religion. Uh, where did you think those codes originated again? Yep, religion. If you insist on rejecting sexual morality based on the source being religion, to be intellectually consistent, you also have to reject moral codes regarding murder (and other violence), theft, etc., as also coming from religion, thus we have the "free for all" state referenced in "Just Some Stuff Stuck In My Head", which is where the blizzard of comments can be found (coming from readers of an anti-Mormon site who've chosen to periodically form a pack and bombard me with commentary). Without an absolute standard (ie God), everyone can (and does) say "well,
I don't think there's anything wrong with this" and can only be constrained from harming those around them by force of law, and that's not working well, either (the whole "criminals getting more rights than their victims" thing is a whole different post I'll probably do sometime).

We supposedly live in a "post-religious" world, where belief in the supernatural is obsolete. Instead, we worship the science lab and our own intellect. Considering how changeable science is, strikes me as a shaky at best foundation to base your life on. Alternately, we can have the "can't believe in anything" mentality, which I've directly observed and even experienced. This leads to a very depressing view of life as pointless and ourselves as animals with no self-control (or need for self-control). Looking at the jump in crime, mental illness, etc., since God supposedly became obsolete and irrelevant (which will bring some harsh judgements on our society, I firmly believe), I really don't think that's working terribly well. See this post by InTheDoghouse for a good commentary on the "secular humanist" mindset.

Every instinct I've had since my childhood proclaims God's existence. This was confirmed to me during my investigation of the Church, in a very clear and unmistakable way. Not all of reality is measurable in a lab. Random chance does not yield the world we live in, or the complexity of the body. It's very clear to anyone not locked into "human intellect is the best we have" that there is a God organizing and guiding.

[Later edit: I came across an article about the misuse of science to deny God here and would challenge any atheist claiming to be "open-minded" to read that article.]

A good point made elsewhere is this: how arrogant do you have to be to dogmatically state that God does not exist, when you can't prove it?

I've seen and experienced the fruits of being too sure of human intellect and reasoning to be willing to humble oneself and admit to a higher Being, with greater knowledge and perspective than we mortal humans. That fruit may look desirable (such as not having to bother with morality), but the taste (in results) is very bitter indeed.

04 June 2009

Must Have Hit A Nerve

Apparently, a lot of atheists read Society for the Prevention of Anti-Mormonism (a site I personally strongly recommend). I made reference in a comment I posted over there to the paragraph in this post on my blog dealing with how atheists present themselves IMO (see paragraph 2). I'm pretty sure this was the source of the reaction I got, since I think only about ten people normally read this blog, and that's the only place I've called attention to that paragraph.

This had about the same net effect as stirring an anthill with a stick. I have yet to post any of the comments I received, since all of them fell into at least one of these three categories (many were two or more):
1. foul language - self-explanatory. Language WILL be kept PG or cleaner. If you can't say it on network TV, you can't say it here (and there are phrases used on network TV I deem inappropriate).
2. ad hominem personal insult against me specifically or against theists in general - as you will see in the comment form, I refuse to post comments including such
3. anonymous - I quickly came to the conclusion that most of the commenters were apparently afraid to stand behind their remarks, choosing to hide behind anonymity. I refuse to reward such cowardice with publication.

[Later edit: I have, since original writing, received civilized commentary, which has been duly published.]

I don't edit comments I receive, even to correct spelling or typing. Either a comment meets my standards (not that difficult, since they're listed above and on the comment form) or it doesn't get published. Yes, I will publish a comment if it doesn't agree with me (while reserving the right to rebut in a follow-up comment), if you meet my simple criteria. Those criteria exist to keep this blog civilized. I'm quite happy to discuss, but I won't allow vandalism by foul language, aggressive hostility, or hiding behind anonymity.

My blog, my rules. Anyone who isn't willing to abide by those rules is welcome to post elsewhere. I think it took me roughly five minutes to set up my account here on Blogspot. I spent a lot more time tweaking layout, but that's me.

Administrative matters aside, this was mildly entertaining, foul language, very poor literacy, and all. Certainly didn't do a lot to raise my opinion of anti-theists (the more rabid division of atheism). When you respond to someone commenting that a group you belong to generally seems quite angry by spewing insults and venom, that doesn't exactly help your case, gang. ;-)

My opinion of anti-theists in large part stems from my reading on the JREF Forum, which purports to generally be of the "skeptic" mindset about psychics, Bigfoot, extra-terrestrial visits to Earth, and just about anything else you'd find on "The X-Files". What the prevailing orthodoxy on that site amounts to is the worship of science as the source of all knowledge (reminding anyone that science has a way of changing its orthodoxy periodically in response to going outside the "current knowledge has everything" mindset is not well received), and an attitude toward belief in anything outside/greater than our world that is condescending at best and frenzied rage at worst. A lot of the posters over there really hate the idea of God or anything else that can't be measured in a lab.

That's their problem, really. I do respect true science, which does not close off possibility and will admit there are limits to what is known or knowable by lab research. I do not respect "scientism", which basically states that science defines reality and that anything not measurable in a lab is not real. The fact that this would eliminate things like consciousness, love, conscience, beauty, and quite a few other very nice things that are not reducible to test tubes and graphs gets glossed over at best.

I consider my own personal experience as real as what a lab could tell me, subject to verification (I do realize that my own perception can be in error). I have had experiences in life that really do not have a natural, lab-reproducible explanation, and can only be explained by accepting the existence of God. I'm not good at wishing away my own experience to conform to the gospel of scientism, and don't care to try. I'll stick with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which works a lot better in the real world than the "it's all random chance, there's no purpose to any of it" philosophy. I grew up in a family that ranged from indifferent to faith to active hatred for same (the ones most hostile toward God were also the most generally messed up as far as emotional problems and addictions. Interesting that I just now really realized that), so I'm familiar with the man-made philosophies that purport to replace or disprove God, and they really don't work for very long, not unless you're willing to deny or rationalize away what doesn't fit that. I much prefer to adjust my beliefs to fit experience and common sense.