Sunday, September 12, 2010

9-Page Reply #2

And here I was thinking I’d be making fewer posts. I honestly like arguing and debating on the less shallow levels of atheism, theism, god, etc... and so replying to the 9-page rebuke is quite fun. I think I’ve commented on my last post enough to move on to the next part:
My defense of Mormonism.

Yup, you heard me. As much as I despise Mormonism in some areas, find it funny in others, am annoyed by it in yet other areas, there are some good things about it. But first I want to talk about Hitchens.

Hitchens, when asked, many times, why he only writes about the bad of religion and doesn’t say anything good he replies that there are enough books and works and people saying the good things about religion that he feels he has no need to. I agree and disagree. I agree that he’s correct in saying that, and also correct in writing his very inflammatory and excellent book. I have to disagree on one level though, that we do need to recognize that ‘some’ good comes from religion. This is not the point of my blog, but again, I don’t think that religions only do evil in the world, so to portray myself on my blog as believing that religions are pure evil is dishonest at best.

Moving on, I brought up how Boyd K. Packer mentioned that he never asks his fellow apostles if they have seen Christ. This says that they don’t talk to Christ weekly in the temple on Thursdays. The folklore in the church says they do though. Now, I agree the blame mainly rests with the parents who, at FHE, tell their children that Jesus will be meeting with the prophets on Thursday. But it is not like these men didn’t hear the same things growing up. Or that they ever doubted the old accounts of prophets meeting Jesus or God or ancient beings. But when they actually get into the position of power they realize the folklore is just that … but don’t say anything. Of course, what would they say? “Hello, brothers and sisters, this is Pres. Packer. I want to point out that we have never had Jesus come to our meetings as of yet.” No, they have no good reason, from their point of view, to tell the membership this. So, for me, the blame is on both sides. Take Joseph Smith for example. When the mummies and scrolls came through the people wanted him to translate. They blindly believed and kept the story going, and he had to please ‘his’ people.

Another thing I said only in passing, but this is something I do need to clarify. This is it:
"The church reeks of cover-ups, white lies, half truths, and a vigorous effort to skew things in its history to not sounding so bad. The PR of the church is quite amazing, but after really getting into the stuff, I cannot deny that the church purposely tries to rewrite history and hide things from its members."

Okay, I do not want to sound like a conspiracy theorists. This could easily be seen in that light, or that I give the brethren too much credit. That is not what I think at all. When I say this I mean the church in general, and the PR especially of higher ups, mainly the corporate-type side. People on all levels tweak things, and try to make things look better. The brethren don’t sit up there on ivory towers lording over the membership saying, “boy, this is the life, these people are stupid, how much tithing money did we make this month?” No, I’m sure they believe they are in the right, though I still believe that some of the brethren, maybe only one’s in the past, have had serious doubts. But the ones who hide things, tone things down, rewrote things in the past, those are probably normal members or church employees, all on their own. I do doubt that the apostles really know a lot that goes on. All together they might, but there’s too much to do for 15 old men to be completely involved in everything.

And with the church hiding things, yes, but that’s usually it, they ‘hide’ it from plain view. They tell the teachers not to talk about certain things, Deseret doesn’t release certain books, and they don’t talk about taboo topics at Gen Conf. But they still allow members to write books like The Mountain Meadows Massacre, or they allow members to talk about polygamy, just don’t teach about it in Sunday school. Regardless though, I do not agree with this in any way. They purposely are holding back from the members, and not informing the membership on some of the darker sides of the church or its history. Then when a new member finds these things out on his or her own they are generally more troubled and disturbed if they had been informed in the first place.

I little while back I had my ‘horror, the horror’ moment on campus and was put in awful awe of BYU. I think back on the millions wasted on Prop 8 by members, my time spent on my mission, all the temples that really are pointless, and all the waste the church does with people’s time. But, it isn’t all a complete waste. My mission? I wouldn’t take it back, but if I traveled back in time, I probably would. Temples? Besides all the waste they pose, they are nice buildings, some of them anyway (Provo isn’t), and they do help unity with friends and family, give meaning to people’s lives. BYU? Still is a decent place for the believer, and some secular ideas do get thrown at the budding Mormons, but it's just not for someone like me. And being like me is a compliment. Prop 8? … uh, still a waste.

The point: the church gives a lot of money to charities, does a lot of philanthropy work, and does good in the world in the same sense of any other group of concerned human beings for the lives of others. The church does help people get over addictions, emotional issues, and the such. But I disagree on two issues: one is that just about any church or organization can do these things, and second, I cannot live a lie when I cannot believe that the church is true.

So I’m still where I was. Religion is not perfect, and it doesn’t work very well, but we can’t get rid of it. Some religions are better than others, Mormonism is a colossal waste of time and money, but it a relatively nice and warm religion. Till we find something better than religion I don’t think the world could survive without it. And lastly, I think the world is heading in a good direction, and I think we have good possibilities for the future. We may move out of religion and into some new and better form of ethics in the future, but we may not live to see its fruition.

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