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.


  1. If you are interested in understanding how morality can exist without religion, one analogy that has helped me is the gold standard. For years people thought that the reason currency had value is because it was backed by gold. If you took the gold away, the paper would become worthless, the thinking went. But now we know that isn't the case, and paper money (and now, digital ones and zeros) retain their value because that value was never based on gold in the fist place. The value of currency is derived from something much more nuanced: the economic strength of the underlying society. Interesting, the value of gold itself works the same way.

    It is common to hear theists make the same arguments about religion and morality. They believe that if we take God away, morality will decline, becase they believe morality originated in religion. But studies show that this is not the case. Religion simply reflects the morality that already exists in society. The actual basis of morality is more nuanced and we are only beginning to understand it, but it appears to have its roots in evolution.

    Think about your mental process when reading the bible. It condones things that you know are immoral, such as slavery or stoning your own children. How did we learn that these things are immoral? Clearly, not from reading the bible. My point is that each of us develops a moral compass that we bring with us when we read scriptures or other moral texts, that tells us when certain teachings ring true and when others don't. Surely this moral compass is influenced by our religious upbringings, but logically, religion alone cannot be the sole source of morality, or we would have no basis to conclude that certain religious teachings are immoral.

  2. Touching on all you've put forward here is a bit in excess of what I have the energy for. I will say this, however, because it's important:

    "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?"

    This is a very valid point, but not as relevant as you seem to think. Your recent influx of commenters seems to have some relation to reddit, and for this group of people that assertion is mostly simply not made.

    Put another way:
    The vast majority of the so-called "new atheists" do not actively assert that God does not exist - the various claims as to the existence of one are many, and comparatively few are falsifiable. This is extremely important to understand: atheism, in modern parlance, is NOT about disproving God, it is about making the observation that there is very little evidence to suggest that any of the gods popular today exist. As such, I consider it very, very hard to deem this atheism arrogant. Narrow-minded, perhaps, in that it usually does not give credence to "personal relevation" and other such mystical claims (personal relevation is experienced by believers of virtually all faiths - what does that say about their truth value?), but quite frankly, a scientific worldview is what has gotten us results, historically.
    Cue the materialism debate. -_-

  3. Adam, I can very easily see for myself how our "post-religious" society is doing on the moral front. Take a look at statistics on crime, teen pregnancy, drug/alcohol problems, gangs, etc., in that time period? Dumping religion has NOT benefited anyone other than by letting them talk themselves into thinking anything they want to do can be rationalized and justified, which would make sense if you refuse to acknowledge any standard above human convenience and pleasure.

    Gnyffel, I will thank you to be honest about atheism. Do spend some time in places like JREF and see the hate and arrogance spewed by the anti-theist crowd. Then come back and tell me that that willful refusal to admit there MIGHT be something more than us humans is not based on either arrogance or petulant refusal to accept moral constraint. As stated in the actual post, you don't get to invalidate my direct personal experience just by making assertions that I know to be false.

  4. I'm giving up on any form of dialogue with the anti-theists posting comments (and no, Nikki, calling me "afraid" to answer your alleged points is NOT polite). You just keep screeching the same drivel at me and expect to bully me into caving in to you. Not happening, and further comments on this post will not be published. I have a life, and do not have time to keep answering the bombardment of attacks on the most cherished parts of my life.

  5. And no, closing pointless talking past each other is not a concession in any way. In fact, the comment bombardment simply reinforces my opinion of anti-theism (including stooping to insult when the believer doesn't bow to your "superior intellect and reason" and throw away her own direct knowledge coming from a much greater source) and strengthens my conviction of my belief. Try looking at the fruits of your non-belief, including spending a lot of time harassing a stranger online to try (unsuccessfully) to bully her into agreeing with you. Just convinces me even more strongly that you have to be angry, proud, and rebellious to dismiss God.

  6. And yet more example of anti-theist "I'm just too good to listen to anyone else" in comments I've declined to publish, for reasons stated above. I'm still getting people saying "yeah, I know you've called this one closed, but you still need to read and publish this". Basically, "I know what you said, and I don't care, harping at you to give up your personal knowledge for my intellectual pride is what matters". Doesn't do much to convince me anti-theism does not stem from a proud, rebellious attitude, guys.


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